Putting Feet to It

Today a band of believers from Lifegate Church in Villa Rica, Ga embark on a time of fasting and prayer for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. I tell you this not to brag about our church; I am writing about this because when I last blogged, I had no idea that this was in the works. I also would like to invite you to join us in prayer for those suffering and persecuted. My last blog was motivated by the realization that 21 had been murdered because of their belief in Christ and the very day it posted another forty plus Christians were burned to death. Learning this was heart wrenching. The internet is a huge resource to find out about this topic. I will share a few links here:

Over the years I have learned just how powerful a thing prayer is. Prayer is also very personal, at least in my thinking. The Word of God is very clear that we are to go into our ‘prayer closet’ and pray.

When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.…Matthew 6:5-7

Maybe you can imagine my surprise, even angst, this morning as I prayed when I felt the tugging of the Holy Spirit nudging me as I finished my time of prayer. I felt Him guiding me to blog about this subject again and to include my morning prayer for His people. “But Lord, what about Matthew 6?” was my response…the nudge was stronger still… so here goes, we just talked about little acts of obedience in our small group last night. Perhaps someone is wondering how they can pray for those who are suffering for their faith and that is His reason for asking me to share; or perhaps it is for someone out there who is being persecuted for their faith to find and be encouraged that people care and God is leading us to pray for them. Also, before I begin, let me share with you the link we are using where there are additional suggestions to pray if you are interested:

Dear Lord,

You are my Lord and I praise you and lift up Your Holy Name. Father, I thank You for Your love, mercy, grace and forgiveness; Your salvation, provision and watch care! Today Lord, we begin a time of prayer and fasting for the persecuted church around the world. Your Word says in the last days this will happen and it will increase.. More and more people around the world are suffering for their faith; men, women, and even children.. Lord, I pray for their strength; to hold fast to their faith. I pray Lord that they will actually grow even deeper  in their faith and trust in You, and in Your love for them and in their love for You.   I pray for their release  Lord, but if not I pray for a supernatural move of God upon this planet. I pray that Your Spirit will be poured out and visions and dreams will visit  those who are responsible for  the torture and  death of Your children   I pray that the  reverential fear of the Lord will come on people like never before!  I pray Father that you will raise up prayer warriors all over the world to  pray like never before and that our united voices  for these precious people will make a difference; that they will know that they are remembered and loved.   May revival start one  by one in and through Your people, Your church  and spread all across this planet. May Your people  awaken too what is going on and rise up in prayer.  May Your Holy Spirit rule and reign in each heart that follows You and may He rule  and reign across this earth. May revival break out  as we take a stand on our knees!!  May  Your Spirit penetrate to the farthest nations around the globe  and be poured out on every person  spreading the love of Christ, His saving power and HIs love and grace. Spirit of Truth,  I pray  for revelation of every false god and every spirit of darkness and evil  to be seen for what it truly is. I  pray for increased wisdom and understanding for all Your people. Reveal things that help us know how to pray so that we can move to deeper levels of prayer and intercession for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Father, I pray  that the yokes of bondage be broken off  and Your people set free.  I  ask that those responsible will be set free from the kingdom of darkness and come into  the knowledge of truth. May they come to know the true God of Creation and His Mighty and loving Son. I pray that You raise up Your children in the spirit of 2 Chronicles  7:14,  humbling ourselves and uniting in prayer before You crying out for forgiveness, both personal and for our nations; seeking Your face; Your leadership;  Your will;;  lifting up those being tortured and killed and lifting up each other. One by one as we seek You, may revival come and people be saved,  delivered, set free and healed.  May lives be forever changed as You move and answer our prayers.  May we be Your humble and obedient servants. In the mighty Name of Jesus  te Name that is above all others I pray, Amen

A Burdened Heart

      Can I just be honest with you today? My heart is weighed down and burdened as I begin this day.  More people are being martyred today than ever before in history. It is all over the headlines; all over social media. Men, women and children, yes children are being murdered consistently because of their faith.  Astoundingly, searching the internet for estimates, I found the estimates for those martyred per year  because of their faith ranging from 100,000 in older articles to 159,960 in more recent articles. Some stats say more have been martyred in the last century than in all other centuries combined. One sight estimates as many as one person every five minutes is martyred for their faith yet until recently we have heard very little about this in news outlets.

      Now that awareness is arising, we are looking for someone to blame for allowing it to happen. Questions are flying. How can governments allow this to happen? Where is the Church, why are they not doing something? Why are they not talking about it more? As awareness arises, all sorts of questions come to the forefront. Emotions run rampant. I can only imagine how our Heavenly Father’s heart must ache at their pain, suffering and loss. In fact, Psalm 94 speaks to this very thing:

O LORD, the God who avenges! O God who avenges, reveal your splendor! Rise up, O judge of the earth! Pay back the proud! O LORD, how long will the wicked, how long will the wicked celebrate? They spew out threats and speak defiantly; all the evildoers boast. O LORD, they crush your people; they oppress the nation that belongs to you. They kill the widow and the one residing outside his native land, and they murder the fatherless. Then they say, “The LORD does not see this; the God of Jacob does not take notice of it.” Take notice of this, you ignorant people! You fools, when will you ever understand? Does the one who makes the human ear not hear? Does the one who forms the human eye not see? Does the one who disciplines the nations not punish? He is the one who imparts knowledge to human beings! The LORD knows that peoples’ thoughts are morally bankrupt. How blessed is the one whom you instruct, O LORD, the one whom you teach from your law, in order to protect him from times of trouble, until the wicked are destroyed. Certainly the LORD does not forsake his people; he does not abandon the nation that belongs to him. For justice will prevail, and all the morally upright will be vindicated. Who will rise up to defend me against the wicked? Who will stand up for me against the evildoers? If the LORD had not helped me, I would have laid down in the silence of death. If I say, “My foot is slipping,” your loyal love, O LORD, supports me. When worries threaten to overwhelm me, your soothing touch makes me happy. Cruel rulers are not your allies, those who make oppressive laws. They conspire against the blameless, and condemn to death the innocent. But the LORD will protect me, and my God will shelter me. He will pay them back for their sin. He will destroy them because of their evil; the LORD our God will destroy them. (‭Psalms‬ ‭94‬:‭1-23‬ NET)

     Scripture tells us in many places that in the last days these things will increase; evil will rise up and wars, hatred, envy, murder and malice will increase. Yet, I don’t know about you but when it does increase, it still seems to catch me by surprise. I guess that is probably because we get so caught up in life and it’s responsibilities. Then when these things happen we are taken a bit by surprise wondering how this could happen; how it could be allowed. Why isn’t anyone putting a stop to it? Much like I have wondered how the Holocaust could have gone on so long that so many millions were annihilated, I now wonder if or when anything will be done to stop this onslaught of persecution. The thought then comes, what can one person do? Another thought some will express is that it is the job of the government, the military or the Church. Others will be lulled into a false sense of security that it doesn’t have any effect them.  The truth is this behavior is spreading just like terrorism is spreading.  As  much as we  would like to believe it won’t happen in our country,  it could….

      SO,  what  can we do?  We can be informed. We can pray!!  Prayer is a powerful thing!! We can pray for our  government that powerful leaders  will arise, people of character and faith that will lead us well and make good decisions, wise decisions, and even tough decisions in  order to keep us safe..  We can pray for those who are in danger currently,, for their protection, their strength, for their faith  to be strong, for their safety, for the  families of those  who have suffered persecution to be comforted, strengthened and find peace for their hearts even in the midst of their struggles. We can ask others to join us in praying for all of these things. We can educate ourselves, research the candidates that are running for office and go and vote according to our conscience. We can educate ourselves on what God’s Word says about the last days because even if we are not yet there, we are closer than we have ever been and we need to equip ourselves to be able to recognize the signs of the times and equip ourselves against the evil in our world.

Ephesians 6:12 (NET Bible)For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.

These things are part of a great spiritual battle and one by one, together we can make a difference!

2 Timothy 2: 1-7  So, my son, throw yourself into this work for Christ. Pass on what you heard from me—the whole congregation saying Amen!—to reliable leaders who are competent to teach others. When the going gets rough, take it on the chin with the rest of us, the way Jesus did. A soldier on duty doesn’t get caught up in making deals at the marketplace. He concentrates on carrying out orders. An athlete who refuses to play by the rules will never get anywhere. It’s the diligent farmer who gets the produce. Think it over. God will make it all plain.  ((MSG)

We are the church, may we one by one unite together in love, in prayer and in purpose!!

 

Grace and Peace to you!

Beautiful

     As I look out the picture window in front of my desk, with a winter vista of leafless trees, a foggy mist just beyond the trees reaching from the ground almost to the tree tops all I can think of is Your beauty Lord! I understand that to many this will seem odd and may I just say myself, it is a bit of an oxymoron to say the least. Yet, it is true! In just a few weeks, before we know it and before my very eyes, the same trees that appear all but dead will break forth in tiny buds and within a couple more weeks will begin to fill with beautiful foliage. As spring begins to break forth, all this deadness will begin to be made new, trees and flowers will start with tiny spots of new life budding and before we barely blink, suddenly new life will be surround us as winter turns to spring… That is how You planned it! What a glorious plan! Just when all seems to be dying, grey, cold and bleak Your cycle begins all over again. Hope springs forth, faith rises, and You make all things new!!

     I can’t help but wonder how many of us question the way You choose to operate in our earthly dimension; why You choose to do things the way You do, Lord. Recently a little one asked, “why did God make the devil if He knew that he would do bad things?” Out of the mouth of babes. Oh the innocence of that sweet little guy! Yet even as adults we ask similar questions, and many times we are shaking our fist in frustration or anger rather than asking in child-like innocence. All I could think of  when I heard the sweet and innocent question this little one posed was Your Words in Isaiah 55: 

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.”This is the Lord’s declaration. “For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For just as rain and snow fall from heaven and do not return there without saturating the earth and making it germinate and sprout, and providing seed to sow and food to eat, so My word that comes from My mouth will not return to Me empty, but it will accomplish what I please and will prosper in what I send it to do.” HCSB  

      Then my thoughts jumped backwards quite a number of years to a song that at the time was a favorite…”How Would I Know” This song asks a lot of questions and I will use it’s thought process to ask this one…if we never see the bleakness of winter, how can we ever truly enjoy the beauty of spring, the warmth of summer and the beautiful colors of fall. Or perhaps this one, if we experience only good things, will we then take it for granted and no longer see the goodness in those things?  I have to believe in God’s sovereignty and His goodness. I am compelled to believe that Isaiah 55 is true and His thoughts and ways are higher and more complex, though I understand that many do not share this belief. I can even understand how to some my faith may seem silly or even as some call it a ‘crutch’. I can tell you with great confidence that it is not, however unless you have walked my path; share in my trials and suffering; experienced my joys and triumphs; and witnessed His hand at work in each of the seasons of my life, you may never truly understand! I can share my stories as vividly and sincerely as I possibly can, still some would not be persuaded. The Christian life is a faith walk that we each must choose or deny for ourself. Jesus provided for our salvation and made it available to anyone, it is a gift of God’s grace to reconcile us to Him but He gives us the choice to accept it by faith or walk away in doubt and denial. My job is not to convince you. That is the work of the Holy Spirit! My job is to be able to “But in your hearts set Christ apart as holy [and acknowledge Him] as Lord. Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully.” 1 Peter 3:15 Amp. Bible

     I can share the messes He has seen me through or gotten me out of and every answered prayer. I can tell you He has healed me of an aortic aneurysm and provide copies of the diagnosis report, a second report in which it had decreased a bit, and the latest report in which the aorta measured well within normal limits. Still, you may or may not be persuaded. The best  way to experience the faith walk and Christian life is to experience it personally, it is how God intended it to be. Personal, relational, experiential, you can not experience it for me, nor can I experience it for you. Yet when we share our experience with each other, we share encouragement and hope…”As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Proverbs 27:17 (NLT) Hopefully, we learn to love God better, follow Him closer, love those He places in our lives better even  when we do not understand their ways or His. He is beautiful and His ways are beautiful!

“Eternal One:My intentions are not always yours, and I do not go about things as you do. My thoughts and My ways are above and beyond you, just as heaven is far from your reach here on earth. For as rain and snow can’t go back once they’ve fallen, but soak into the ground And nourish the plants that grow, providing seed to the farmer and bread for the hungry, so it is when I declare something. My word will go out and not return to Me empty,But it will do what I wanted; it will accomplish what I determined. For you will go out in joy, be led home in peace. And as you go the land itself will break out in cheers; The mountains and the hills will erupt in song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands. Prickly thorns and nasty briers will give way to luxurious shade trees, sweet and good. And they’ll remind you of the Eternal One and how God can be trusted absolutely and forever.”  Isaiah 55:8-13 Voice

Resolved

     Tonight, as I reflect on this past year with each of its highs and lows, each joy and sorrow experienced, and yes each pain and each delight; my heart is determined and even resolved to move from 2014 into 2015 with great expectation! Maybe my scripture verse for this next year will be…“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (‭Isaiah‬ ‭43‬:‭18-19‬ NIV)

     Some would ask why forget? Well first of all, you can not truly experience the highs, joys and delights in life to the full unless you have also experienced lesser things that are dull, less exciting and perhaps even painful. Perhaps an example is called for here. My husband loves banana pudding, you know the homemade kind from scratch. So, about 2-3 times a year I will make him one and I believe He could eat the entire pudding if others were not around. Now, suppose I decided to make it weekly or even daily. After a time, no longer would it be an anticipated treat. Eventually, it would get old and at some point in time, I’m willing to bet it might actually become a chore to even think about spooning another bite into his mouth. There is much to be said for anticipation and only enjoying this delicious treat a few times a year builds anticipation and enhances the enjoyment. It prevents it from becoming commonplace and just another dull recipe that is over done and under appreciated.   

     Secondly, we are human and let’s be honest; many of us tend to spend too much time rehearsing and focusing on the negative and painful rather than the positive and joyful. This can lead us to places that are not good for us or beneficial to us therefore in many cases it just doesn’t prove in our best interest to remember the past. Focusing too much on the past can also distort our vision of the present and future. It can quench our hope and give fuel to any doubts we may have. Hopefully you’ve never experienced going through such a rough patch in life that you have wondered if this is all there is or if it is even possible that life will ever be any different. Yet many times it is during times such as these that God displays His goodness, faithfulness, grace and love in our lives. Not because He is not needed all the time in our lives but because we tend not to see our need for Him in the good times. 

     Unresolved issues with the past can also rob us of much future joy. It can cause us to not trust others and even not trust ourselves.  It can keep us at arms length from those we may care the most about; it can cause us to build walls of protection that over time can become chambers of isolation that seek to imprison us. 

     So today, on the cusp of a New Year I am resolved to not dwell on the past. I am resolved to remember His goodness, His faithfulness, His mercy and His grace. I am resolved to remember the times He has ran to my rescue in times of trouble or pain and remember the delights I have experienced in my relationship with Him. I am resolved to Let it Go where lesser things are concerned and focus once again on 2015 and the years to come with expectation. I am resolved to be alert to His movement in my life; to choose life and blessing;to choose love and forgiveness; to choose mercy and grace! Will I succeed or fail? Yes, for I am human. The past will try to sneak up on us and sneak in to remind us of it’s presence but there is a greater Presence and in Him we can be more than overcomers! 

Goodbye, 2014! Hello, 2015!!

Have a Happy and Blessed 2015! 

 May it be filled with grace and peace!!

 

 

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior (‭Isaiah‬ ‭43‬:‭2-3‬ NIV)

 

 

Resolved- Adjective- firm in purpose or intent; determined. Verb-to come to an ernest decision about; determine to do something; to settle, determine, or state in a formal vote or formal expression of opinion or intention, as of a deliberative assembly; to deal with (a question, a matter of uncertainty, etc.) conclusively; settle; solve:to resolve the question before the board. (Dictionary.com)

Wonder of Wonders

Lord my God, You have done many things—Your wonderful works and Your plans for us; none can compare with You.  If I were to report and speak of them, they are more than can be told. Psalm 40:5

     Oh how wondrous that  God seeks out opportunities to develop in us an intimate relationship with Him. Have you ever taken a trip through the Bible looking at the back stories of all the ‘heroes’ and ‘heroines’?  The one thing they all have in common is that they were totally human; flawed; made mistakes; made dumb decisions; and they had times of doubt! Basically, they were very much like everyone of us. God still sought them out and He loved them greatly. God did not give up on them when they floundered; He remained faithful to them even when they failed! This is proven true from cover to cover both under the old covenant and in the new. His Word, from beginning to end is a great love story. From creation, He has lovingly sought after us, pursued us. We may get lost in all the struggles, battles, history and fail to see the gentle thread of His pursuit of mankind but it is always there weaving it’s love story. Many times we get focused on the story and miss God. Some of us question why God acted as He did; question His motives, His kindness. For example, why did He allow a people group to be destroyed or enslaved? We often fail to be objective or see the whole picture but only see from our human perspective and understanding.

  • For example, when I was a fairly young girl my Mom took me to see Gone with the Wind on the big screen. I may have been about seven or eight. First, to be clear, I am in no way comparing any character in the movie to God but my focus for this purpose is how we can get so focused on the story, whether our own or someone else’s, that we fail to see the whole picture. My take away from Gone with the Wind as a small girl was this: Rhett Buttler is a giant monster! He rejected his wife, pushed her down the stairs, hurting her and loosing their baby, and killed his little girl Bonnie Blue. He was a monster and I hated his character. My opinion was framed by my young mind and small understanding. I did not see the big picture, I only saw the most obvious problems and those weren’t seen from a place of understanding. I felt sorry for Scarlet, not seeing the part she played in how her life was going. I was crushed about Bonnie Blue and if he hadn’t bought her the pony and encouraged her in her riding, she would have lived. I loved Melanie’s character, she was so gentle and sweet.  Then I watched it on T.V.  As a  young woman, my  perspective changed pretty dramatically. I could see Scarlet’s flaws and how a good bit of the things that happened to her were related to her own behavior. I saw Rhett in a slightly different light and realized he was not all bad. Some of his actions were out of hurt and rejection. I saw his love and dotting with Bonnie Blue. I was able to see that sometimes Melanie’s sweetness and kindness was actually indulgence that in time caused her pain and grief. Some would note it as weakness rather than indulgent love for her friends and family. Everything looks different, when you see it from a different perspective and I bet if I rented it today, my perspective would be different from the last time,

Now, back on topic. 

       A good example of God’s pursuit of people is Abram (later Abraham). Abram lived in an area where it was the practice to worship false gods, yet Abram did not worship the gods of his family and God was pleased with this. God called Abram to leave his hometown and to go to a place that God would show him. Abram agreed. He set out with blind faith in God and followed His request. Abraham walked in faith with God and is listed as a hero of faith in the book of Hebrews. He listened to God and was very obedient to God. Abraham is well know for his faith in Christianity, among the Jewish culture (his own people) and even in the Muslim culture. Abraham is a famous Bible character; he was also human. He had fears and doubts, at least where man was concerned. Just one example:  not once but twice, out of fear he said Sari (Sarah) was his sister, not his wife. Because of this, the king he feared and his people experienced punishment because of the Kings interest in Sarah.  My, point? Abraham’s mistakes did not stop God from pursuing him and having a relationship with him. It did not hinder God’s plan or negate God’s promises to Abraham.

  • God still made Abraham a great nation!
  • God still blessed Abraham!
  • God still made Abraham’s name great!
  • God still made Abraham a blessing to others!
  • God still blesses those who bless Abraham’s descendants!
  • God still curses those who curse Abraham’s descendants!
  • Jesus was was brought forth through the seed of Abraham!
  • Today, in Christ, we are considered the seed of Abraham!

     God never failed Abraham or his descendants. God kept every promise! God’s ways are wondrous and so much higher than ours! His love is a pure love that never fails even when we mess up. It is said by some that even our failures and sin cannot disappoint our God because He is all-knowing. Before we were born-before the foundation of the earth, He knew us. All our days were written in His book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139.  Wonder of wonders, He desires us, chooses us. He loves us, He forgives us and makes us His own. He is ever faithful. Even when we cannot see or understand His ways and His purposes, He has a plan and it is a good plan. We may question it’s goodness or His goodness because we just can’t see or understand the bigger picture. Lord, we do believe, please help our unbelief!  Please give us eyes to see and ears to hear the wonder of wonders, Your amazing love for us!

May His grace, peace, love and joy overwhelm you this Christmas and New Year!

The Wonder of His Love

     Most Americans have heard at one point or another the famous scripture, John 3:16; even if it was only in the context of seeing it on a sign at a ball park. It is probably the most used and most quoted scripture ever. That however, does not diminish its truth or power but it has been known to be so used that many stop listening as soon as they begin to hear it.  Some because they have been judged harshly by the same people who often quote it may tune it out, others because they think, “if He loves me, why would His people treat me harshly?” Other’s may have had a difficult, harsh or painful relationship with their own father and just can not imagine a loving Heavenly Father who is always looking out for their best interest, who wants them to thrive and be blessed in life. Still others suffer such difficult circumstances in life that they find it impossible to see or experience the wonder of God’s love. Finally, there are those who despite their harsh circumstances, whether illness, pain, or even poverty and lack, have found true joy and happiness in the wonder-filled love found in the Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus. Why the difference? What is it that causes people to see the Love of God so differently? Why do some see Him a bossy dictator; a harsh disciplinarian father? Yet others see His as a loving, kind Father who blesses their lives and always looks out for their best even when times are difficult or circumstances harsh?

     Honestly, my musings have been triggered by my return to a Bible study that I first completed about ten years ago. A small group of ladies wanted to do a study; from the list of studies I had, they choose the one on the fruit of the Spirit. Today’s lesson drew my thoughts to Psalm 139.  As usual, God always surprises me! No matter how many time you read a scripture or do a study, He can always draw out new nuggets that you did not see in the previous readings! Believe it or not, His Word is alive and active. There are always hidden treasures to be discovered as the Holy Spirit quickens and teaches us in the Word. That is just one of His marvelous wonders.

       Another is God’s unconditional love and His intimate knowledge of each of us. I know I may use these verses a lot but it is only because of how greatly the words have impacted me, so let’s look at Psalm 139:

O LORD, you examine me and know. You know when I sit down and when I get up; even from far away you understand my motives. You carefully observe me when I travel or when I lie down to rest; you are aware of everything I do. Certainly my tongue does not frame a word without you, O LORD, being thoroughly aware of it. You squeeze me in from behind and in front; you place your hand on me. Your knowledge is beyond my comprehension; it is so far beyond me, I am unable to fathom it. Where can I go to escape your spirit? Where can I flee to escape your presence? If I were to ascend to heaven, you would be there. If I were to sprawl out in Sheol, there you would be. If I were to fly away on the wings of the dawn, and settle down on the other side of the sea, even there your hand would guide me, your right hand would grab hold of me. If I were to say, “Certainly the darkness will cover me, and the light will turn to night all around me,” even the darkness is not too dark for you to see, and the night is as bright as day; darkness and light are the same to you. Certainly you made my mind and heart; you wove me together in my mother’s womb. I will give you thanks because your deeds are awesome and amazing. You knew me thoroughly; my bones were not hidden from you, when I was made in secret and sewed together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw me when I was inside the womb. All the days ordained for me were recorded in your scroll before one of them came into existence. How difficult it is for me to fathom your thoughts about me, O God! How vast is their sum total! If I tried to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. Even if I finished counting them, I would still have to contend with you. (‭Psalms‬ ‭139‬:‭1-18‬ NET)

Please Consider:

  • He knows us intimately, He did not just create and forget us.
  • He knows our every move, and NOT in a creepy way!
  • He knows our motives behind our thoughts and actions. When I behave a certain He knows if it is from a pure heart, a broken heart, a selfish heart, or a mean-spirited heart. Many times we do not even know our motive behind our behaviors!
  • He is aware of our travels and our rest. Not only that but He blesses His children with His Holy Spirit who is always with us. Also, His Word says He never leaves us or forsakes us and that He goes before us and He is our rear guard!

                 A. Goes before:  Isaiah 41:10; John 6:37; Romans 8:38-39; Hebrews 13:5

                               B. Goes with:  Deuteronomy 31:8; Isaiah 45:2

                                             C. Rear guard: Isaiah 52:12; 58:8
  • He knew us before we were born; as we were formed in our mother’s womb; and if that were not enough, before the foundation of the earth He knew us!
  • He says you and I are fearfully and wonderfully made, He made each one with value, worth, and purpose!
  • Each of our days were ordained and written before we breathed our first breath. This is big! He knew everything we would ever do, or not do, yet He chose to give us life and breath.

      How difficult to fathom His thought about me! How about you? This my friend, only begins to scratch the surface of the wonders of His love! He loves you with an everlasting love and has drawn you with loving-kindness!! Jeremiah 33: 3  Also, Zephaniah 3 tells us: “Don’t be afraid…Your GOD is present among you, a strong Warrior there to save you. Happy to have you back, He’ll calm you with His love and delight you with His songs. (‭Zephaniah‬ ‭3‬:‭16-17‬ MSG)

Be blessed! Grace & peace to you!

 

Just What is this Wonder?

Just what is this wonder that you speak of? Miriam-Webster online ( http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wonder ) defines wonder as something or someone who is very surprising, beautiful, amazing, hard to believe. The verb is described as to have interest in knowing or learning something, to think about something with curiosity, to feel surprise or amazement.  Now, if you will, let me describe wonder through my eyes…through what I observed watching this little grand-daughter of mine and through the eyes of her siblings and cousins over the last seven years when they were awestruck.

My definition:  Wonder is an amazing, stop dead in your tracks, jaw-dropping, surprising and beautiful sight. It takes your breath  away; makes your heart beat a little faster in awe and excitement. For a moment or two everything stands still and pales in comparison to what your eyes and senses are beholding and you feel just a bit more alive. It brings a smile to your face and to your heart. You just want to linger in the moment and never forget it. You are captivated, feel like you have a great blessing before you and have no desire for the moment to end!

Wonders are all around each of us all the time. Many times we fail to see them for the cares of our world can be great and the demands all around us can keep us too busy to see what is right before us. I have been on a journey over the last ten years or twelve years to force myself to be more aware of the wonders that this world holds. As I said, it began around ten or twelve years ago. A well-known Bible study teacher in one of her studies was teaching on The Patriarchs, specifically on that day the story of Moses when he asked God to let Moses see Him. God’s response was to hide Moses in the cleft of the rock to protect him and then God would walk by and show Moses His glory for man could not see God’s face and live. She suggested during that video session that we pray for God to reveal His glory to us in our daily lives.  I did! Day after day, I was aware of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets, a rainbow, a majestic deer standing on the side of the woods as I drove by, shooting stars, a beautiful moon and the list could go on. Each time even if for a moment, it took my breath away, brought a smile to my face and reminded me of God’s love and majesty.  It reminded me I was not alone, God was with me and He was honoring my request to show me His glory. It became my habit to whisper as I gazed in wonder at  His latest example, ” You did that just for me, Thank You, Lord!”

Alas, even after learning such a great lesson in slowing the pace and looking for the wonders in life, life happens.  Schedules try to take us over and keep us from seeing the beauty, wonder and grace that is all around us. Burdens and circumstances try to rob us of the simple joys found in a child’s smile and laughter, in their hugs and kisses, in taking a break from the cares of life and just sitting along side a fire, a lake or river and just being.  Since that time, many times when I am feeling overburdened, overwhelmed, and in need of something or longing for something but I just can not put my finger on that need; I repeat that prayer. “Lord, please show me your glory.” He has always answered in some meaningful way. Whether it was small or grand, a whisper to my heart or a beautiful night sky filled to the brim with twinkling stars-one shooting across the sky; He always hears and draws my attention in some way.

You may be skeptical, I was too at first. The first few time the answers were blatant and easy to see, but they aren’t always so. Sometimes we may have to be a little more tuned in and attentive but they are no less wonderful. Like a grand game of hide and seek, just when you are about ready to “give up” and suddenly you find what you are looking for! Some call it practicing His presence, taking time out even if just for a moment.  In one of these times in my life, I felt a gentle whisper to my  heart. “I created you, you are a human being, (emphasis on being) not a human doing!”  You see, I was an avid perfectionist and a full-fledged people pleaser. If you are one or have been one, you are well aware what impossible burdens we place upon ourselves when we live this lifestyle. Thankfully, His words gave me the freedom to break from this lifestyle permanently.  Oh temptations still arise occasionally, but freedom is much more desirable! All it takes for me to say no now is to remember all the wonders of life I have missed trying to do the impossible on my strength. How much better is the freedom to just “be” at times.  To be still and know… to take time out and rest in Him, wonder at His creation and at His glory!

 “The Lord who made the earth, the Lord who forms it to establish it, Yahweh is His name, says this: “Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and incomprehensible things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

Grace, peace and joy to you!

Encouragement for a Struggling Heart

    Though we fight it, dread it and do all we can to avoid it, struggles come in our lives. Times when we would rather just bury our heads in the sand and hide out until the storm passes by. Some attempt to sleep through it, others shop through, some worry through, eat or drink through and many of us just muddle through times of darkness or distress!  It has taken many lessons over many seasons for me to learn to take those times quickly to the Lord. So many times I have tried to handle things myself and after making a mess or coming to a dead-end, finally choose to seek Him. Today I found a very helpful passage as I was reading in Psalms. Maybe I’ve read it before, I probably have. Perhaps it was because I was reading a different translation, but it struck a deep chord in my soul and I would like to share it because we are living in a time when many are struggling and need encouragement and this passage breaths fresh hope and encouragement!


Psalm 112:1-10 Praise the Eternal!How blessed are those who revere the Eternal, who turn from evil and take great pleasure in His commandments. Their children will be a powerful force upon the earth; this generation that does what is right in God’s eyes will be blessed. His house will be stocked with wealth and riches, and His love for justice will endure for all time. When life is dark, a light will shine for those who live rightly—those who are merciful, compassionate, and strive for justice. Good comes to all who are gracious and share freely; they conduct their affairs with sound judgment. Nothing will ever rattle them; the just will always be remembered. They will not be afraid when the news is bad because they have resolved to trust in the Eternal. Their hearts are confident, and they are fearless, for they expect to see their enemies defeated. They give freely to the poor; their righteousness endures for all time; their strength and power is established in honor. The wicked will be infuriated when they see the good man honored! They will clench their teeth and dissolve to nothing; and when they go, their wicked desires will follow. (Voice translation)

 

     What a blessed promise for those who revere God and seek to walk in His way! Their children will be a powerful influence and will be blessed; needs met; love for justice will endure. Those that are merciful, compassionate and love justice will be blessed with light even when all seems dark!when our trust is in our God, we will see good even when times are not particularly good. We will reach a place where fear and bad reports will lose their power over us because we have learned God is good and to trust He is for us. We gain confidence that God is in control and He is not caught by surprise by the things that bring us struggles or pain. He can bring good things out of every situation. He is able to turn difficult situations into life changing victories. What the enemy means for harm in our lives, He can turn for our good and His glory. It has been proven time and time again and my life and for this I am very grateful. Many times I did not see His hand at work during the struggles but now in hindsight I can trace the work of God’s hand through it all and can confidently say His Word is true, He is faithful! He has never left or forsaken me! Pain may have endured for a night or a season but joy comes! Peace comes! Blessing comes! 



Illusion or Reality

      There is a mind-set floating boldly through our culture that began very subtly and over time has taken hold in almost every possible area of our lives. Some of its slogans are now pronounced very boldly and dare to be challenged. They have masqueraded as subtle statements like “the world is your oyster” to proclamations that you can have it all; be it all; and do it all. 

     Perhaps these sayings and those like it were meant to encourage us, empower us to be better, challenge us to reach further, climb higher and to motivate us to stretch ourselves. Sadly, they also hold potential like everything in life  to be carried  to far and turn from a positive encouraging word into a dangerous, reckless way of life. Without balance in the above statements, we may find ourselves believing in our own self-sufficiency and leaving broken relationships in the wake we leave behind.  Maybe an example is in order. Let’s consider tenacious pursuit of a goal. Tenacious is defined as patient, persistent, resolute, tireless, unshakeable. Being tenacious when pursuing something can be a strength. It can be an admirable quality, however this same quality can turn into stubbornness, a hazard and a quality that can do much harm and damage to both ourself and others when we become so focused on a goal that all else is forgotten and left in the dust. When taken to the extreme, relationships and responsibilities can be risked and much is at stake for being lost. Just as most things in life,  the key is balance, keeping our perspective and having realistic expectations for both ourselves and others.

      My scripture reading highlighted this for me today. Sometimes we choose to see God through our current circumstances only, refusing to remember His past actions in our life or forgetting to hold on to the promises that He has given us. In those times tunnel vision takes over and balance is very often lost. Sometimes we lose track of the greatness of God and His goodness. Sometimes we can’t see past ourselves or our troubles; we forget who He is and how powerful God is. It is in these times we may tend to forget His faithfulness to us, forget to run to Him for our solutions and try to ‘fix’ things ourselves.  It doesn’t typically turn out in my best interest when this happens to me! Time and experience are teaching me it is always in my best interest to remember to seek Him, seek His wisdom, His Word, His comfort, and His direction rather than trying to ‘fix’ it myself! 

Isaiah 40:6-31 “Comfort, comfort My people,” says your God. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and announce to her that her time of forced labor is over, her iniquity has been pardoned, and she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.”  A voice of one crying out: Prepare the way of the Lord in the wilderness; make a straight highway for our God in the desert. Every valley will be lifted up, and every mountain and hill will be leveled; the uneven ground will become smooth and the rough places, a plain. And the glory of the Lord will appear, and all humanity together will see it, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. The grass withers, the flower fades; nothing lasts except the word of our God.It will stand forever. 

     A voice was saying, “Cry out!” Another said, “What should I cry out?”  “All humanity is grass, and all its goodness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flowers fade when the breath of the Lord blows on them; indeed, the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; nothing lasts except the word of  our God.   It will stand forever.   Zion, herald of good news, go up on a high mountain.  Jerusalem, herald of good news, raise your voice loudly. Raise it, do not be afraid!  Say to the cities of Judah,“Here is your God!”   See, the Lord God comes with strength, and His power establishes His rule.  His reward is with Him, and His gifts accompany Him.  He protects His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them in the fold of His garment.  He gently leads those that are nursing. Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand or marked off the heavens with the span of his hand?  Who has gathered the dust of the earth in a measure or weighed the mountains in a balance and the hills in the scales? Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, or who gave Him His counsel?  Who did He consult with?  Who gave Him understanding and taught Him the paths of justice?  Who taught Him knowledge and showed Him the way of understanding?

 Look, the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are considered as a speck of dust in the scales; He lifts up the islands like fine dust. Lebanon is not enough for fuel, or its animals enough for a burnt offering. All the nations are as nothing before Him; they are considered by Him as nothingness and emptiness.  

Who will you compare God with? What likeness will you compare Him to? To an idol?—something that a smelter casts, and a metalworker plates with gold and makes silver welds for it? To one who shapes a pedestal, choosing wood that does not rot? He looks for a skilled craftsman to set up an idol that will not fall over. 

Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been declared to you from the beginning?  Have you not considered the  foundations of the earth? God is enthroned above the circle of the earth; its inhabitants are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like thin cloth and spreads them out like a tent to live in.  He reduces princes to nothing and makes judges of the earth irrational. They are barely planted, barely sown, their stem hardly takes root in the ground when He blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind carries them away like stubble. 

“Who will you compare Me to, or who is My equal?” asks the Holy One. Look up and see: who created these?  He brings out the starry host by number; He calls all of them by name.  Because of His great power and strength, not one of them is missing.  Jacob, why do you say, and Israel, why do you assert:  “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my claim is ignored by my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard?  Yahweh is the everlasting God, the Creator of the whole earth. He never grows faint or weary; there is no limit to His understanding.  He gives strength to the weary and  strengthens the powerless. Youths may faint and grow weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.

          How easy it is to get wrapped up in our lives and circumstances!  How easy it is to get overwhelmed by our needs, our lack, our struggles. Sadly, sometimes it doesn’t take that much to make us lose sight of God’s goodness, power, past provision and love.  This passage  shows God’s desire for the comfort of His people; for their freedom from bondage. He is making His way to them/us, His reward and gifts are with Him. Who indeed is like our God?  Do we dare become so traumatized or so wrapped up in our own lives, agenda, desires, pursuits that we forget Him? Our lives are like grass.   In comparison to His greatness, we are as grasshoppers; our good deeds like filthy rags compared to His great goodness! Do we dare exalt ourselves and allow Him to be pushed to the back seat of our  lives? It can happen you know!  Do  we dare forget Him until things get tough and then suddenly realize how desperately we need Him?  Lord, may it not be so!  May  we,  Your children-Your sons and daughters, exalt You above all else in our lives knowing that when we do, all else begins to fall into right alignment. Help us to depend on You to guide us, free us, restore, renew, and regenerate us and not get trapped by the illusions the enemy sets before us as a trap to ensnare.

Peace Admist Chaos

     “God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble. Therefore we will not be afraid, though the earth trembles and the mountains topple into the depths of the seas, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with its turmoil. Selah” (‭Psalms‬ ‭46‬:‭1-3‬ HCSB)


       I have a confession. I am a news avoider! The thing is no matter how you avoid the news, and we do by not having any form of cable or satellite t.v.; the news will find you. Maybe I should clarify. My husband and I do not actively seek to watch network news of any kind on any regular basis because you see the same stories over and over, many times initial reports have speculation that later is found untrue. and if you allow it to, it can become overwhelming and depressing. That is not to say we do not stay informed by seeking out news from reputable sources, however. 

      Just a quick look at headlines from around the world and we can see stories of drought, flooding, wild fires, predictions of a possible eruption from a volcano or super-volcano, tsunamis, cyclones, wars, threats of wars, enemy planes flying into the territory of other countries, threats from Isis on the U.K, and U.S.A., even people being persecuted and killed for their beliefs.  The writer of Psalm 46 tells us even when these things happen we should not be afraid. As a matter of fact, you have probably heard as I have that the Word of God contains at least 365 verses the admonish us to ‘fear not’ and ‘do not be afraid’; one for each day of the year. The thing is, though it is good to be informed about world events and situations, if we are not careful we can get caught up in fear. 

     If I am honest, I have to admit that I am a recovering worrier and I was taught by one of the best! I also should say that I came to a decision many years ago that worrying did nothing but waste my time. Few of the things I worried about ever happened and those that did were not in my control. I could not stop them from occurring so what was the point of worrying? It did not prepare me to handle them any better.  I came to realize worry was just a a symptom of doubt and mistrust and my attempt at control. Perhaps my thinking was if I thought about every possible scenario, I could be better prepared or could head it off; holding on to some semblance of control. In reality, what I learned is to a great extent control is just an illusion. There are times we can not even control our own self, how in the world did I ever believe I could control the bigger things in life?  

      For me to be In Christ and hold on to those worries, fears, and need to feel in control was (choking on my words…) unbelief. Even now, that is hard to say! The truth is I fully believed He was who He said He was; for goodness sake He created the world and everything in it out of virtually nothing. Rather than getting hung up on whether or not I believed He could do what He said, my hang up was more on whether He would do it for me. I never doubted God’s ability and had faith that all His mighty works were true. I just questioned my worthiness for Him to act on my behalf.  That was until I joined a group of ladies in a study of the patriarchs. When you examine the lives of the people that God used mightily throughout the scriptures, you see He used all types of people but the one common thread was they all were flawed. They made mistakes, poor decisions, and at times were in rebellion to God. That did not stop God from accomplishing His will through them, nor sit it stop Him from acting on the behalf of His people. 

     One quick example is when the Hebrew people cried out to God for deliverance. God sent Moses and brought them out of slavery with His mighty hand, delivering their enemies into the Red Sea. Yet, after wandering in the desert they began to long for the tasty food of their old life and began to grumble against God. The manna of Heaven was no longer sufficient for them, they wanted meat. God provided them with meat, literally more than they could stand in the form of quail; despite the ungratefulness of their heart, He still moved on their behalf. The bottom line is that there really is nothing that we can ever do to be worthy of God’s love, of Jesus’ sacrifice,  or of God moving on our behalf! When God moves on our behalf, no matter how big or small; it is because of His goodness and His faithfulness! It is because of His character we can face personal crisis, chaos and even world crisis with strength and courage. We can choose to trust Him and trust in His love and faithfulness rather than collapse under fear and discouragement!  He is calling us…”Be still and know He is God!”

 

God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble. Therefore we will not be afraid, though the earth trembles and the mountains topple into the depths of the seas, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with its turmoil. Selah There is a river — its streams delight the city of God, the holy dwelling place of the Most High. God is within her; she will not be toppled. God will help her when the morning dawns. Nations rage, kingdoms topple; the earth melts when He lifts His voice. The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah Come, see the works of the Lord, who brings devastation on the earth. He makes wars cease throughout the earth. He shatters bows and cuts spears to pieces; He burns up the chariots. “Stop your fighting — and know that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth.” Yahweh of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah (‭Psalms‬ ‭46‬:‭1-11‬ HCSB)