Category Archives: Waiting
The holidays are over. Times with family and friends celebrating the birth of Christ and the New Year are done for another year. There are so many good memories and many of us are filled with the incredible blessings we have received. However, the holidays can bring unspoken pain too.
In my family the holidays come with mixed blessings. We had a wonderful two weeks with our two granddaughters. We spent time with extended family many of those days. We were abundantly blessed during this time. We played games, had sleepovers, did all types of crafts, baking and had lots of meals together. If you were looking at our family gathering it would appear to be the perfect family.
However, you’d be wrong. This is not easy to share because it is so close to home. It exposes my disappointment, loss, frustration, anger, embarrassment, and lots of questions. We have not heard from one of our family members for two years. Some days the loss is incredibly painful. Crying out to God seems to bring no answers.
This is not news to many who face heartbreak on a daily basis, but it is always harder during the holidays and special celebrations. Whether it is death, divorce, separation across the miles, broken relationships, or health issues, the loss people face in life can be especially difficult during these events. Trying to remain upbeat, filled with joy, hopeful especially during the holidays can be overwhelming.
This year I was very grateful for the blessings of distractions with the remainder of my family, but always in the background is the thought, “Will we finally hear, or better yet, see?”
Pain can be crippling both physically and emotionally, but it can also be paralyzing spiritually. Through experience I have learned that there have been times when I have been so frustrated with this broken relationship that I have pulled away from and ignored God. Last year God filled me with a verse from Psalm 62:5 that I have had on my bathroom mirror for over a year …
When I see that verse I am reminded that my hope is not in the broken relationship, but in the Healer of the broken.
This season when I was struggling to stay focused a devotional caught my attention when it reminded me “God inhabits the praises of His people.” It got me thinking that when I am not living fully in the presence of God and under His authority I miss the ability to glorify God. Instead of looking UP to God, I end up looking in at myself.
Roger Bennett wrote, during 11 years of increasingly difficult health issues, “I am convinced that our enemy [the Devil] stalks us exactly in the way the Bible describes him, a roaring lion. He hides in the bushes waiting for any sign of weakness and then he strikes.” Bennett describes how he felt the Devil had struck even lower than his health issues; he attacked Bennett’s joy, confidence and hope. Bennett was filled with doubt. Then he focused on stories from the Bible – Paul and Silas were in jail – “they didn’t despair; they sang … it became their weapon.” Bennett began singing “one song after another came to my memory, and I sang them to my empty room … It may have been the most powerful blessing I’ve received in my life.” He realized just how true God is to His Word.
God really does inhabit the praises of His people. So when I am struggling with the losses and difficulties in my life, the last thing I feel like is singing. But I have been turning on that praise music, personally I am blessed with the depth of the words from the old hymns, but there are some newer songs that fill me with encouragement and hope. Blessings, 10,000 Reasons, In Christ Alone, Wonderful, Merciful Savior…
Reading a devotional from In Touch magazine, the author encourages us to be careful with our motive for praise.
Praise both magnifies and pleases the Lord, but we actually benefit from the practice as well. First, adoration of God modifies our estimation of “self”—it’s impossible to truly elevate God while clinging to pride. Instead, we come to recognize our sin, weakness, and dependence upon Him. As Scripture tells us, the Lord’s power is manifest when we show genuine humility (2 Cor. 12:10).
Next, praise appropriately humbles us, as it is a reminder of God’s greatness and our dependence upon Him. But at the same time, exalting Him strengthens our sense of assurance, thereby increasing our faith. Then we are able to look beyond ourselves and our circumstances to see life from God’s perspective. And consider one additional benefit of praise that involves our physical bodies: when we focus on Jesus’ goodness, tension leaves and we find new strength. All these supernatural effects of exaltation are possible because as we lift His name, God is present—Psalm 22:3 tells us that He inhabits the praise of His people (KJV).
I made a resolution for 2015 to see more of the blessings in my life and not dwell on the losses and difficulties. When I focus on the difficulties, I give the devil a foothold to fill me with doubt and fear. However, when I focus on the blessings in my life and around me, I am filled with joy and hope. I will be challenged to see more of the blessings by lifting my voice in praise to God and exalting Him. This doesn’t mean I won’t be afraid to pour out my heart to God with my concerns, for His word reminds us He wants to know our hearts, he knows everything about our lives. But I am convicted this year to remember – “God inhabits the praises of His people.” Psalm 22:3. (Now to go write that on my mirror …)
May God fill you with His abundant blessings ~ Faye
Another year begins with all its uncertainties, expectations and anticipations. It is another year we will need to decide how we react to life’s challenges and blessings. Blessings are obviously much easier to accept than challenges.
Living in the Midwest, it looks like we will face incredibly cold temperatures this weekend (-24° with windchills predicted -40 to -50°). This is the time of year we start hoping for Spring and the January thaw. We look at the ice on the river and realize that we don’t know what type of spring we will face this. Last year we had some flooding and with memories solidly in our minds from 2008 devastating floods we can easily let our minds dwell on worrying what will happen. We can become totally overwhelmed with the negatives even to the point of missing the beauty God breathes into the ice formations around us.
An interesting story occurred over Christmas. A Russian ship filled with 22 crew and 52 passengers (scientists and tourists) became stranded in the thick ice of Antarctica. Three icebreakers were initially dispatched to try and crack their way through the thick ice surrounding the ship, but all failed. After more than a week, the passengers were finally airlifted to a Chinese icebreaker by helicopter. The trapped passengers and crew had to stamp out a landing pad in the snow/ice for the helicopter to land. The helicopter had to make several trips to ferry the passengers to freedom.
Watching video clips posted by some of the passengers showed them making the most of their trial. They weren’t despondent; crying “where is help coming from?”. They made the most of their time performing more science experiments and having fun with their circumstances. WHY? They were stranded in subfreezing temperatures, away from family at the holidays and initial rescue attempts definitely were NOT encouraging when the first ice-breaker became stuck as well. They chose to enjoy the days filled with HOPE and JOY.
We all have trials we will face in the year ahead whether they are health, finances, relationships or whatever. I recently knew I would likely face the holidays without hearing from a loved one. In the past this has been a difficult challenge for me. During one of my devotional times, God placed the following verse on my heart from Psalm 62:5:
Let ALL that I am WAIT before God, for my HOPE is in HIM!
I have this verse written on my mirror where I see it every morning and several times throughout the day. I have taken it apart word by word, emphasizing different words and phrases. God has blessed me incredibly through these words. No, I didn’t hear from the loved one, but because of God’s assurance, I continue to WAIT in HOPE. I have chosen to HOPE as I WAIT before GOD. God is working in this person’s life and in mine. I will WAIT with HOPE that the work God is performing in each of us will be in accordance with God’s will and for His purposes.
I pray that God will fill you with His HOPE as you WAIT before God in the year ahead ~ Faye
It’s been an incredibly busy 2 weeks since I posted last. I was going to write more about Invitation to Solitude and Silence by Ruth Haley Barton right away, but God seemed to have other plans. I wanted to share about Elijah’s life, but I was coming at it from the incredibly spiritual high he had just had by seeing God’s power displayed miraculously with the prophets of Baal. (1 Kings 18) I couldn’t quite understand how going from that incredible experience Elijah decided to throw himself a huge pity-party and in that state of mind begged God to end his life because he was all alone. Didn’t he have the memories of God’s miraculous acts of starting fire on a water-doused altar to encourage him?
Then God had a talk with me. He reminded me of the spiritual highs, the closeness I’ve enjoyed with Him on many occasions (some even while writing for God’s Abundant Blessings). There are days I get into the mentality of “poor me”. “No one really cares about me.” “Everyone else has their own little groups.” Maybe you know the script. I hope not, because it isn’t an uplifting one. Anyway, I was in this blue funk about a month ago, and when reminded of the Elijah story, even looked at comparing myself to Elijah. But I didn’t have the incredible mountain-top experience … or did I?
This year my husband has had two heart procedures that have been slowly showing signs of improving his lifestyle, and if nothing else, at least he is still here with me. Last year my mother-in-law was diagnosed with terminal cancer – and she is still alive and doing very well today. Through the blessing of new medicine, my rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia that once caused severe pain when I lifted the bed sheets or turned a car key to having a physically active lifestyle and minor discomfort. After two years with no job, God blessed in ways I couldn’t imagine with a seemingly perfect job for me at this stage of my life. When the hospital bills have rolled in, we celebrate God’s faithfulness for good medical insurance. The list goes on and on … I’ve been blessed by God’s presence in my life in wonderful ways this year – both big and small (seeing 5 deer this morning on my foggy walk down by the river).
So why did I find myself about a month ago crying, “Poor me”? I think Satan likes to keep us in the pits of despair so we lose our focus on all that God has blessed us with and we come complaining to God. What parent would rather hear, “I love you Mommy,” than once more hear, “Why?” or the whiny “I don’t want to do that …” I can only imagine what God thinks of me when I start my pity-party once again, instead of praising Him. What He must go through when I whine and complain instead of worship and thank Him for all He has done for me.
In Elijah’s despair, God didn’t leave him alone. He sent an angel to minister to him with food and then sent him to Horeb, the mountain of God. He went into a cave to spend the night. And God appeared to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah goes on to tell all he has done for God and then begins to whine about his troubles. But the all-knowing God knew Elijah needed to understand who God really was. He told Elijah to “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Elijah had to take that step of faith and go outside of the cave. When he did, there was a severe wind that split mountains and broke rocks, but God was not in the wind. Then came the earthquake and the fire, but God was not in either of them. Then came a gentle whisper. Elijah heard it, pulled his cloak over his face in respect and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. God wasn’t in the chaos of the wind, earthquake or fire. God wasn’t in all the chaos that surrounded Elijah. When God moved Elijah out of the cave – with his whole self – the good, the bad and the ugly (Barton) – and go out and stand on the mountain and WAIT for the presence of the Lord to pass by. Once again God asked him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Barton encourages us to ask ourselves, “What are you doing here, Faye [your name]?” in this time in your life? Because it wasn’t until Elijah was most vulnerable and risked exposing himself to whatever God had to show him next, that the Lord’s presence passed by. I’m not sure I’d have been willing to leave the security of the cave after seeing mountains split, rocks break, earthquake and fire. I’m glad Elijah had the faith to step out and WAIT for what God had for him. If he hadn’t taken the risk, he would have missed what God had planned for him.
For several days after my blue-funk, I spent a fair amount of time in solitude and silence (those that know me know that the silence is actually the bigger challenge) with God. When I began to ask myself the question, “What are you doing here, Faye?” I realized I was learning to intentionally refocus on God and allowing Him to fill me more than any one person – anyone else ever can. I’m grateful He took me through those days earlier this month because this weekend we had the blessing and privilege of celebrating 40 years of God’s faithfulness to our little church. From my perspective as a worship leader looking out over the congregation and seeing all the different families that came back, I reflected on God’s abundant blessings in their lives – suicide; miscarriage; loss of a spouse, parent or child; abortion; cancer; heart-disease; chronic illness or pain; job loss; financial struggles; abuse … the list goes on. But through it all, I saw and was blessed by the hearts lifted up toward God in worship. Many of these people have been on the mountain-top and the depths of despair, but they’ve learned to continue to walk with God and see where He is leading them.
These seem to be some disjointed and random thoughts, but just praying and encouraging you to take the time to let God ask you, “What are you doing here, _______?” so that you can give Him an honest answer. And praying that in that next phase, God will bless you with things you can hardly understand, things too great for you to comprehend ~ Faye
I have talked with several people this week who are concerned over loved one’s behavior and choices, or facing serious health issues, or decisions about their future employment or move. I’ve spoke with a parent who is beating themselves up about their child’s lifestyle and how they could have changed things somehow, maybe … I’ve been in conversations about the mistakes – no, let’s call it what it really is – sin – we as Christians make daily and how that is observed from an unbeliever. Over the span of a few days I’ve found myself wanting to fix problems that were out of my control. I’ve found myself wanting to be bolder in my faith to have answered when someone challenged about someone calling themselves a Christian and yet spent time gossiping. And I’ve struggled with God trying to find the wisdom to know what I should do in certain situations.
We all want do-overs in life. There’s a part of us that wants to live a perfect life, but sin is ever-present in this earthly world. I’ve enjoyed reading The Quest for Serenity by G.H. Morling and Ruth Graham Bell several times over the past decade. Morling wrote the chapter, Leaving It All Quietly to God, based on portions of Psalm 62. Bell included a poem that reminded me not to live life with regrets but to give them over to God so that I may live a life filled with serenity that comes from God alone.
Leave quietly to God ~ My mistakes. The sins and shortcomings of others. The mistakes of others. That which is none of my business. Politics and world affairs. That which I cannot get done. And that which I cannot get undone. The un-understandable. That for which I am not remotely responsible.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.
The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of Your hands. Psalm 138:8
Praying you will be blessed with God’s serenity ~ Faye
I was reading through our Maundy Thursday worship service and was just humbled by what Jesus has done for us. The service is first person readings of accounts from Gethsemane to the crucifixion. One portion is Jesus telling how He was praying alone in the garden after leaving Peter, James and John a little farther away to pray. After praying an hour, he returned to find his closest friends asleep instead of praying for Him. Jesus say, “Why now, Father, I need comfort and support from my disciples and Satan lures them into sleep.” After it happens the second time, Jesus is portrayed as thinking, “My Father knew I needed support as I prepared for what was coming. Yet Satan was determined that I should walk this path alone.”
I’ve learned from a lot of people who suffer with chronic illnesses that there are so many times they feel alone. It gets old when someone asks, “How are you doing?” and you have to decide how much to tell them. The meds have changed again. The weather is affecting how your body responds today. You overdid yesterday and you are paying for it today. Dealing with insurance claims and payments are more burdensome. People who used to be close friends have distanced themselves because they don’t know how to help. … The list goes on. These types of thoughts and feelings lead those who are suffering with an incredible feeling of facing life alone. I know, I’ve been there. Fortunately, it’s only been for short periods of time.
I have learned that no one can give me the support and understanding that I need 100% of the time. My husband has job stresses. My daughter is busy with her family. Friends are dealing with their lives. I have learned there is only ONE CONSTANT, and that is God, my Heavenly Father. I’ve shared about the job loss two years ago, and sensing every time I prayed for new clients, a new job, what to do, God kept leading with – WAIT! Two years can go by quickly, but when you are waiting for something and you don’t know what it is, it can be forever. However, when we wait relying on God, we are filled with a calm (that Satan will definitely try to steal) that goes beyond understanding and human logic. Reading this perspective of what Jesus went through and the cry of, “Why now God, when I need You so much, do You seem so distant and my friends can’t support me either?”
Almost every time I’ve had a “waiting from God period” it has turned out to be a blessing that I couldn’t see. God was using that time to prepare me for what was to come. Recently, He showed me that even my obedience in writing this blog has been a learning experience for what is to come on the job He provided 2 years later. I’m bowled over by His planning, providing, leading, preparing. He is the master life-coordinator. If I just surrender to, listen and obey what He is telling me to do, it would happen without so much doubt, pain, frustration, impatience, etc.
I remembered the part of the Holy Week story where Jesus is “abandoned” by God on the cross. Where Christ suffers hell for us. But I guess I hadn’t really thought about His understanding that He knows the pain we feel when answers aren’t coming easily, when friends don’t support us, when family members aren’t there for us, or even when God is silent. He knows our pain and hurt. So He holds us closely when we cry to Him, “How long?” “Why?” “Where are You?” He knows the pain in our heart and empathizes in ways we can never show. When you’re struggling with feelings of being abandoned, alone, unloved, unsupported – run into His loving, open, understanding arms.
Praying you may be filled with God’s peace as you listen and wait for His leading ~ Faye
One of my dad’s favorite bible passage has been Isaiah 40:31. So for sentimental reasons alone, it’s been meaningful to me. I think of it more often because November through March we are blessed with seeing eagles near the river. They are an amazing creature. They can soar without flapping their wings, or take off with just a few strong flaps of their wings, and they are quickly lifted on the air currents. Then they can dive straight down to the river or corn field for their prey. I’ve watched two of them doing their air dance as they mate and play with each other. They never seem to tire when they are enjoying being carried by the wind.
All of Isaiah 40 tells us of the secret of waiting on God, the anticipation and hope of His sending His Son to save us completely from our sins so that we may enjoy the glory of God. Verse 8 reminds us that God’s word will never fail, but it endures forever. Look, it has lasted for thousands of years giving guidance, comfort, encouragement and hope.
Whenever I need a reminder of who God is, verses 12-14 help give me some perspective:Who else has held the oceans in His hand? Who has measured off the heavens with His fingers? Who else knows the weight of the earth or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale? Who is able to advise the Spirit of the LORD? Who knows enough to give Him advice or teach Him? Has the LORD ever needed anyone’s advice? Does He need instruction about what is good? Did someone teach Him what is right or show Him the path of justice?
When I question what God is thinking, in time, in His perfect time, He reveals His plans. I’ve seen it time and time again. (I wish I’d learn, remember and trust Him more quickly.) Recently, God allowed me to see how even in His encouraging and prompting me to write this blog, He was preparing me for something else. It looks like I’ll be able to use some of the skills I’ve learned here with WordPress in my new job. If I had known I’d be taking on this project, I’d have been filled with a lot of stress and anxiety over it. But because God prepared me, in advance of this project, to learn the some of the WordPress blogging process, I’m even more relaxed letting things go to God in prayer. He’s had it all in His plan (Jeremiah 29:11).
I’m being reminded daily that if I resist anxiety and WAIT EXPECTANTLY for God to lead me, I’ll discover strength, resources, joy, hope and unexpected blessings for the journey ahead. I am filled with God’s strength, renewed by His precious words, and encouraged once again to Wait Patiently for God.
Praying God lets you soar in the blessing of His strength ~ Faye
Time. For some a week, month or year are but a blink of the eye, particularly from hindsight. But for others time trudges on – waiting for test results, living with chronic or terminal illnesses, serving a prison sentence, or trying to understand what the future holds can all make time seem to stand still.
In this world of all its worries and cares, there’s a simple little song that I find can calm my heart and bring me back to the perspective that God has all things in His control — In His Time.
We are hardwired to “do something”, especially in this fast-paced culture. So resting and waiting doesn’t come naturally. We want action. Waiting for God seems counterintuitive to what we believe we want and should do. An In Touch devotional reminded me that “waiting for the Lord means to pause for further instruction while remaining in the present circumstance. It is a purposeful, expectant focus on God — a choice to be actively still and quiet in our hearts, listening for His voice and watching for His intervention. The wait is not for events to work out as we want, but rather for God’s will to be done.”
We must surrender and submit to God. The photo of the ice on the berries reminds me clearly of that. This photo was taken December 2007 following an ice storm in the Midwest. Little did we know the beauty of that ice would be the beginning of massive flooding in June 2008. The devastation of the flood was overwhelming for many. But now, three and a half years later, many of us have been able to see the “beauty” God has brought through those difficult times. My husband and I personally saw God’s hand in the provisions of friends opening their home to us for 12 1/2 weeks!, saving most of the “things” in our basement, getting involved in flood recovery, and precious new friendships with people whom we likely would not have met without God’s intervening.
I can find myself so frustrated at waiting. How will I use my time and gifts that God has blessed me with? Sitting around seems like such a waste. But I’m finding more and more that in those waiting periods, if I am actively waiting and listening for God to lead and provide, He blows me away. What seems like delayed timing from my view is perfect timing from God’s viewpoint. The all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present God, Creator of all things and Lord of the universe can never be late.
The more I pour out my heart to Him, spend time with Him in prayer and His word and the more I intentionally bring my worries and concerns to Him, the more He shows me very clearly He IS there. He’s always paying attention. He knows intimately what we need. And if we keep looking for Him, He shows us clearly that He is there.
Twice this week I had times of, “Ok God! I get it. You are paying attention to my needs and You do care.” Running my home business, I need to pay for the more expensive TurboTax software. Well, being more frugal these days, I’ve been watching the sales and Internet, but realized the local club store had the best deal. However, I thought I’d keep watching for something better. Thursday morning I woke with the clear impression to head over to the store for the software. I walked in, and they handed me a flyer. The store had an unadvertised $10 discount on that item for the next four days. I could have just accepted it as coincidence, but I’ve learned those are God moments. Friday I had an auto maintenance scheduled. As I pulled into the garage Thursday, the car made an awful noise. So Friday I spoke to the mechanic about it. The fan belt was cracked and showing signs of pieces coming off. Praise God I wasn’t out driving in country roads and stranded, or it broke and caused more damage, and that I had the appointment already. God even provided for the majority of the cost of the repair with a dental reimbursement check.
Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. — Ecclesiastes 3:11
Praying you will sense God’s abundant blessing of peace and calm as you actively wait for His plans and timing ~ Faye
Sing a new song to the LORD, for He has done wonderful deeds. Shout to the LORD, all the earth; break out in praise and sing for joy! Sing your praise to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and melodious song, with trumpets and the sound of the ram’s horn. Make a joyful symphony before the LORD, the King! Let the sea and everything in it shout His praise! Let the earth and all living things join in. Let the rivers clap their hands in glee! Let the hills sing out their songs of joy before the LORD. For the LORD is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with justice, and the nations with fairness. Psalm 98:1,4-9 NLT
He said how much it reminded him that people from every tongue and tribe in churches around the world were gathered together to praise the LORD. His enthusiasm and awe were very transparent and catching. He wondered what it was like for God to hear the praises of His people rise to heaven to give Him glory in a multitude of tongues, hearts bursting with joy.
This beautiful song was written by Isaac Watts. I have a book on the background of songs written by Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace. Osbeck shares the emphasis of this Christmas hymn is the “reverent but ecstatic joy that Christ’s birth brought to mankind.” During Advent we focus on Christ’s birth on earth so that He could save sinful mankind from their sins and enjoy eternity with Him. The last part of Psalm 98 is a paraphrase of Joy to the World! Advent also focuses on Christ’s coming again to judge the world with justice and fairness.
As part of the background, Osbeck writes, “this psalm was intended by Watts to be a New Testament expression of praise.” Joy to the World was originally titled The Messiah’s Coming and Kingdom. So glad it was renamed. But I wonder if it were known by the old name if we wouldn’t sing it more throughout the year. We sing it as a Christmas hymn, but don’t the worlds reflect what has happened, what is happening and what will happen. Our Heavenly Creator gave us a Redeemer to pour out His blood for our sins. His grace and mercy wash away our sinfulness. When the LORD rules the world, the curse of sin is broken and truth and grace shine throughout the world. Truly this is a song that should be sung year round because it tells the wonderful story of the Messiah’s coming and His kingdom.
During this holy-day season, when you sing Joy to the World remember two things 1) Christ came for you, to save you from your sins and give you eternal life when you accept Him as your Savior and LORD, and 2) you are privileged and blessed to join with millions throughout the world lifting your praises to the LORD for He has done wonderful deeds, when you lift your hearts and voices to sing
Joy to the world! the LORD is come! Let earth receive her King; let ev’ry heart prepare Him room, and heav’n and nature sing.
Joy to the earth the Savior reigns. Let men their songs employ, while fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains repeat the sounding joy.
No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found.
He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove the glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love.
Praying you thoroughly enjoy the blessing of knowing the LORD is come! ~ Faye
I just finished my Bible study of 1 John. God loved us so much (even before we were born) that He sent His one and only Son so that we may have eternal life. The Apostle John is so persistent in wanting us to know this that he repeats it in John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” 1 John 3:16a – “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up His life for us. …” 1 John 4:9 – “God showed how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love – not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.”
John wants us to know all we need to do is believe in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, as our Savior and Redeemer. We will be saved. And one day, we will receive the gift of eternal life.
Advent is also a time of anticipating Christ’s coming again.
I was studying the bride of Christ recently and learned the future groom comes to the future bride’s father and gives a dowry as a betrothal that is a vow/covenant with the promise that he will come again to claim his bride. The man then returns to his father’s house to prepare a home for his future bride. Not until the man’s father says everything is ready for the bride does the groom return. He doesn’t even know when until the Father tells Him.
Comparing the church to the bride of Christ, it struck me that even Christ is anticipating His return. Christ has to wait – actively because He is preparing rooms for each one of His believers when He brings them home to eternal life. Christ has to wait because He doesn’t know when He will return, only the Father does.
Our waiting should be active as well. I think one of my favorite and goal-setting verses from 1 John is 4:17 – “And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.” I CAN’T WAIT to see my LORD face to face. And I want to be able to boldly and confidently approach His throne because I have lived for Him filled with His love. There are many days I’m afraid I would be ashamed if Christ returned at that moment. However, if I remain in /abide in /belong to Him, I will live for Him and like Him. That will allow me to be bold and confident to approach His throne because I am filled with His love and humility.
Too often I find myself worrying about tomorrow or thinking of regrets in the past. I need to live in today loving and serving my God and King. I am being challenged by several readings lately to be content. A quote I read recently said “Contentment is a hallmark of living fully in the present, not in the past or future”. At first I totally agreed, especially if looking at the past involves regrets or the future worries. But I believe God has been challenging me to be content in all times.
Content in the past – It’s done. I continue to learn from what has happened.
Content today – Because God provides for all my daily needs.
Content in the future – even with all its uncertainty because I know Christ will return. I live with the anticipation from Psalm 27:4, “One thing I ask of the LORD and this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in His temple.”
Praying you may be blessed while you wait with anticipation for Christ’s return ~ Faye
Often life hands us difficult circumstances. There are times things seem impossible to deal with.
As a Christian we are blessed to have Someone to turn to in those difficult situations. God’s word tells us, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” (Romans 8:26) I can’t imagine my just thinking a prayer and the Holy Spirit taking those thoughts before the throne of God; pouring out my heart to Him. What a wonderful assurance and blessing.
A recent devotional asked How do we go to God in prayer? What do we ask Him? At first glance that seemed strange. I figured I open my heart out to God and He hears my grief, pain, worries, etc., But the author was saying, too often we come to God with an Oh God, what am I going to do? Basically focusing on us. Instead he suggests our focus should be God, what are You going to do in me, through me, in this situation?
Impossible situations are opportunities for God to teach us valuable lessons.
Ones that we would likely not learn any other way but yield ourselves completely to Him. Surrender hasn’t been easy for me. Those who know me have called me stubborn, strong-willed, focus, driven and independent. I’d like to say that the majority of those words describe who I was. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect—I’m still a work in progress. But through the years of learning to deal with health issues, medication changes, a body that works sometimes and not others, I have spent a lot of time with God. He’s been changing me. I’ve not always liked it, most often I’ve dug in my heels or argued with Him. But when I’ve surrendered and asked Him, Ok God. What are You going to do through me, in me, with me? He has bowled me over.
I’ll try to give a “short” example. I was involved in youth ministry of some type for around 30 years. I LOVE teenagers! God made it very clear (literally woke me three nights in a row at 2:00 AM with the message, “It’s time. Everything will be okay.”) I knew He meant it was time to step down from youth group. I was devastated. I argued. I prayed. I looked to others for guidance and advice. But God continued to say “Trust me and obey.”.
During the last year of youth group I had begun having progressive health issues which were later diagnosed as Rheumatoid Arthritis. I spent the next year getting used to a new medical regime as well as finding out what my body would and wouldn’t do. I also continued to pray, “Lord, You’ve gifted me, and I want to serve You. How? What do You want me to do? For almost two years God continually said, “Wait. Be patient. Trust Me.” There were days I succeeded in doing that, and too many other days where I argued frequently with Him.
Then came the Midwest Flood of 2008 that hit our community. God placed me in a position with the gifts and abilities needed to help with flood recovery. By that time, I had grown in my dependence on Him. The medications were definitely helping with the RA. And in a pattern of circumstances that can only be called God’s providence, I spent the next two years aiding in flood recovery. The amazing thing is that not once did I have an RA flare. My body never acted up with either unmanageable pain or fatigue that I had dealt with in the previous years.
God is the God of the Impossible! When I surrendered my heart and life to His will. He took it, ran with it, shaped it, formed it, and made it useable for others. He knew two years ahead of the flood that if I were still in youth group I would not have been available to help my community in such a specific way. I am continually working at surrendering my plans to His hands, trusting Him and being obedient to His leading. When I do this, He blesses “immeasurably more than I can ask or imagine.”
Praying God abundantly blesses you, too ~ Faye
My heart has been heavy for my beloved son. You see it was his birthday recently, and we couldn’t even get in contact with him. He’s made some decisions to put other things in his life and family hasn’t been one. His parents grieve over a lost relationship. So do several others in the family, no one more so than his daughter who doesn’t understand his choices at all. So I continue to pour out my heart and soul to God who seems to remain quiet. I KNOW that’s not true, but from a mom’s heart, I want to SEE the answers right now and alleviate the pain for everyone.
With the holidays coming, I know many people dread the reminder of losses or the dramas of broken relationships that are likely to occur.
- There’s the issues regarding children with split custody and visitation dates.
- There’s the lost loved one and the absence amid the memories brings a deeper pain and reminder of the loss.
- There’s a prodigal son, daughter, brother, sister, parent, friend who have turned their back on God and all He has to give.
- You might be the one who will sit alone every day during the holiday. No one comes to visit. It seems no one remembers you anymore.
- You might be the one who longs for the time you could make handcrafted gifts, wrap presents, go out shopping and stand in long lines with dexterity, energy and without any pain.
- You might be the one who wishes she had the energy to bake holiday goodies with her grandchildren.
Many of us face these types of hurts and loss during the holidays and special occasions. I am learning it’s not about me changing my son during these struggles. Oh yes, I regularly pray that God will continue to work in his heart and bring him back to God and his family; but really my struggle is about me. Instead of worrying and dwelling on the loss, I need to pour out my heart to God. I need to praise Him and tell others what He has done for me. I need to remember God’s faithfulness throughout my life and especially in the difficult times of the past. This helps give me the assurance that God IS with me. That God cares about my son. That God hears those who grieve the loss of their physical abilities or relationships and carries them through the deepest pains.
Psalm 66:5 – “Come and see what our God has done, what awesome miracles He performs for people.” Sometimes the miracle isn’t healing the losses as much as it is dealing with us in our loss. You see we are creatures who too often tend to focus on the negative, worry about tomorrow, or dwell on our grief. Verses 9,10, 12b say, “Our lives are in His hands, and He keeps our feet from stumbling. You have tested us, O God; You have purified us like silver. … but You brought us to a place of great abundance.” Be filled with the precious knowledge that God knows intimately your suffering. That even though God is allowing you to be in the refining process, He will bring you out so that you may go forward and say to others,
“Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what He did for me. For I cried out to Him for help, praising Him as I spoke. If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the LORD would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw His unfailing love from me.” (vs. 16-20)
It may not be the answer I was looking for, but focusing on God’s abundant love for me has filled me with His peace. The knowledge of His great love for my son fills me with His hope. The knowledge of His sacrificial gift of His Son fills me with His love.
May God abundantly bless you as He answers your prayers ~ Faye
I’ve been in a study through www.goodmorninggirls.org looking at 1 John. It’s been a good verse-by-verse study. Today we looked at 1 John 2:28-29:
“And now, dear children, remain in fellowship with Christ so that when He returns, you will be full of courage and not shrink back from Him in shame. Since we know that Christ is righteous, we also know that all who do what is right are God’s children.” – The New International Version
What blessed words from John – Beloved, my precious people, God’s Kids – REMAIN, ABIDE, STAND FIRM/STEADFAST in CHRIST and in so doing enjoy the fellowship of believers in ALL areas of your life. The Message says, “Stay with Christ. Live Deeply in Christ.” J.B. Phillips says, “Live continually in Him.” How often do I let other things pull me away from my time with God? How often do I ABIDE; live deeply/continually IN Christ?
When we pull away from God, our relationships with others suffer. However, when we ABIDE in a close relationship with Christ, we will eagerly await His return and long to share that relationship with others. Imagine the child standing on her tiptoes waiting for daddy to come down the airport runway. She’s bouncing all over the place with anticipation to see her daddy return home from an extended time away. There is such eagerness and anticipation. Do I eagerly ANTICIPATE time with God? John asks, if our Savior would suddenly return or show His presence to us, would we hide our heads in shame and shirk away from Him because we had not REMAINED with Him? I want to live with the focus of the song that just played on the radio – I Can Only Imagine, by MercyMe. How will I respond to Christ’s return? Will I dance or be still, stand or bow down, speak or be speechless, but definitely I don’t want to be among those who have to pull away from Christ in shame. The image that comes to me is of Peter as he denied Christ for the third time as the rooster crowed. When Peter realized Christ’s prophecy came true he went away and wept bitterly. (Matthew 26:75) I want to be among the ones eagerly awaiting Him, singing “Alleluia! Glory to God in the Highest! Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty!”
When we pull away from God, it becomes more difficult to be with our fellow believers. It also seems like when we do not spend time in the fellowship of believers, we seem to pull away from God more. It’s like God created us to be dependent upon each other. So what?
I said this blog was to focus on God’s Blessings. So it’s not just about how much I spend time ABIDING with God or even EAGERLY AWAITING His return. The blessing that I saw was when I was in the fellowship of believers yesterday. Because of health issues the evening is not the best time for me, so I haven’t been participating in an evening Bible study. However, I decided to try it since it was on a six-week basis. I was blessed by the discussion of the Bible study, but so much more by God’s plan of what happened afterwards. I was able to fellowship and talk to several people, catch up on their lives, and together we encouraged each other in our lives. I came away with a renewed desire to pray earnestly for each of these people and the challenges they are facing. So God’s blessings – I was able to spend time in the fellowship and closeness of fellow believers and in so doing I was able to praise and pray to God all the way home.
Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
May God abundantly bless you as you eagerly await Christ’s return,