The Blessings of Being Held in God’s Firm Grip
What started out as a day filled with sunshine, quickly became filled with clouds in my soul. I’m in the middle of a major R.A. flare – my joints don’t want to work, fatigue is my companion, and brain fog comes and goes. Along with that comes the emotional ups and downs of what I can and can’t do, no matter how much I want to do it.
The sunshine of this morning filled me with hope that I would be able to stay focused and get a lot of things. After breakfast I could feel things starting to close in making my heart grow heavy. I needed time with God.
While getting ready, I knew I needed to put on my compression gloves for my swelling hands. I couldn’t get them on. Rich had to help me pull on gloves! That’s how stiff and painful my hands were. As he was pulling them on, we were trying to encourage each other by laughing, but then my tears suddenly came pouring out at the frustration of where my life is right now. In that moment, God spoke to me through Rich’s reminder, “the gloves are like God’s hands holding you fast, tight, sure. God’s love will not let you go.” We cried, prayed, and encouraged each other.
I was reminded of the opening words to, “O love that will not let me go – I rest my weary soul on Thee.” So, for the next hour, I just let my soul rest in God. Turned on some music and read. Guess what – it really shouldn’t be a surprise – God has been right there ministering to me:
1) I looked for encouragement on being held in God’s grip and was led to an Our Daily Bread devotional on Psalm 131. It is a Psalm of Ascents (what the Israelites sang when they went to worship in the house of God). Look at the title of it from the English Standard Version:
I Have Calmed and Quieted My Soul
O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore.The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles
David found the peaceful contentment like a baby whose is belly filled and fell asleep in its mother’s arms – calmed, quieted, peaceful, at rest. It’s like God saying, “Be still My child. My ways aren’t your ways, your thoughts aren’t my thoughts. Just trust Me! Rest in Me! I have you firmly held in My love.”
2) The worship channel I picked played: It Is Well with My Soul, Be Still My Soul, and I Need Thee Every Hour as the first few songs.
Seeing God minister to me through my pain, as I spend intentional time with Him helped my wounded soul to fill. While I typed up my thoughts with my compression gloves on, I am reminded that with each keystroke God’s hand is holding my hands, my heart, AND my soul firmly in His grip.
Compression gloves aren’t fun getting on, but once they are on, they can almost become invisible, just there giving support and easing the ache of swollen, painful joints. So, I wonder once again,
• Why do I try to do things in this world on my own?
• Why did it have to come to a heavy heart/soul this morning to take the intentional time to be with God?
• Why am I so like that desperately hungry infant craving the nourishment of spiritual milk before I am filled and left with a calm, quiet spirit?
I’m not certain why, but I know I am not alone. If King David felt this way, wrote about it, the Israelites used it as a song before they worshiped in the tabernacle, how do I think I can get by life without those longings?
Hoping you find time to just Be Still with God today and realize you are held firmly in His grip always! Faye
The Voice of the LORD
The voice of the Lord SPLITS the might cedars …
… all across Iowa there is incredible devastation following Monday, August 11, 2020 Hurricane/Derecho. Trees are down everywhere – on houses, cars, in streets, on electrical wires, blocking driveways. The derecho was more than 700 miles wide and by us probably 60 miles north/south. There was not an area in Linn County that escaped some damage. At least 1,000 have their homes condemned, power has been out across the area since Monday about noon and is slowly being restored, food by the tons had to be thrown away due to no power, people waited in line for hours for gasoline to power generators and chainsaws, businesses that were shutdown for COVID are now out of power and can’t operate and so much more.
Yet – the Lord is in total control.
Back in 2008 seven square miles of Linn County, Iowa were under water in the history-making flood. Then God blessed me with His words from Psalm 29:10-11:
The Lord rules over the floodwaters.
The Lord reigns as King forever.
The Lord gives His people strength.
The Lord blesses them with peace.
What a Difference 10 Years Makes
10 years ago I was evacuated from my home due to flooding. I sat on the bed at a friend’s home and opened my Bible needing to hear from God that He cared about the desperate situation in my area. My Bible opened to Psalm 29.
Here’s a little background: For those not from Eastern Iowa, Cedar Rapids, Palo in 2008, we had the worst flooding ever seen on record.
On Wednesday, June 11, the city completely evacuated all of its 980 citizens. All road access was later cut off, and the city went completely underwater. Around 90% of the structures in the community had damage from water. People were supposed to return to their homes on June 15, but were delayed by hazards such as contamination due to the flood and floating propane tanks. By Tuesday, June 17, it was reported that residents had for the most part returned home to deal with damage. Some buildings were more damaged than others; some had only a flooded basement to deal with, but for others, the water reached up to the first floor level.
On June 13, 2008, the Cedar River crested to its highest level in Cedar Rapids history, 31.12 feet. The previous record reached only 20 feet. The flood waters penetrated 10 square miles or 14 percent of the city. This monumental flood impacted 7,198 parcels, including 5,390 houses, dislocated more than 18,000 residents and damaged 310 City facilities. Just two weeks prior a small town an hour north of where I live was ripped apart by an EF5 tornado. ~ Cedar Rapids Gazette articles
Well those verses from Psalm 29 have not left me. They talk about “the voice of the Lord splitting cedars” – that was evident in the destruction in Parkersburg. As I read further, I was surrounded by incredible peace when I read, “the Lord is enthroned above the floods.” Ps 29:10a NIV
Things definitely were uncertain and recovery looked impossible. Especially to some of the Palo residents whom I got to know after the flood. They lost their homes, homes of their parents and siblings and children, they lost their income when their businesses were destroyed and they lost their church due to the record flooding. Yet through all the “impossibility” of what was surrounding our small town, God made impossible things happen. Neighbors who didn’t know each other, worked together first to sandbag and then to clean up. Strangers from literally around the world came month after month to help with the rebuilding. Cities and staff worked tirelessly to make reentry into our homes for the clean-up to begin as soon as possible. Friendships were made. The church rebuilt and added on. Businesses were supported by people from around Iowa who knew they would need additional help to recover. Palo has grown and, despite many losses, has made many improvements as well.
I hope you know and believe in the God of impossibilities, the God who rules over the floods and difficulties in your life. ~ Faye
What is Faith?
This is the season Christians call Lent. We remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to save us from eternal death. But we need to believe these facts through FAITH. Some days FAITH isn’t easy. Sometimes FAITH in something is the hardest thing to do.
As gardeners, we plant tulip bulbs in the fall hoping they will germinate and in the spring give us beautiful tulips. We have FAITH in the bulbs, water, sunshine and God’s working in creation.
As a Christian, having FAITH in the saving grace of Jesus Christ fills us with HOPE!
As we near Good Friday and Easter, Christians’ thoughts often go to the incredible sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. We are filled with HOPE in spite of all the tragedies and trials of the world around us. We know WHO is in control of ALL things.
God showers us with His UNFAILING LOVE when He gave us His Son …
For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life. Here’s the point. God didn’t send His Son into the world to judge it; instead, He is here to rescue a world headed toward certain destruction.
John 3:16-17 The Voice
Praying you experience God’s unfailing love through the grace and blood of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. ~ Faye
Distressed, Depressed or At Rest
Praying you continue to be filled with REST in God! ~ Faye
No Words Required
Continuing the theme of spending intentional time WITH God – listening, communing, just being.
Just like friends watching a sunset or fishing buddies spending time together, solitude and silence are part of the joy of being together. We might share some thoughts, we might respond, but watching a sunset for an hour, usually doesn’t include talking every minute. It is the pleasure of JUST BEING together, enjoying each other’s company.
May you enjoy the sweet communion and fellowship with God – NO WORDS REQUIRED! ~ Faye
Be Filled with God
Once again, I hear God telling me to be quiet and enjoy time with Him from so many sources. Our pastor begins his Lent series on Come and Rest Sunday, February 18 (a worship service I co-planned this week). I created banners for church for this series – Be Still and Know that I am God, from Psalm 46:10. My First15 devotional has been focusing this week on hearing God. Continuing reading from Brennan Manning’s The Furious Longing of God had me reviewing John 15:4 – Abide in Me, and I in You.
So you’d THINK I’d get it that God was encouraging me to spend time with Him, just being in His presence. BUT NO! I enjoyed binge-watching Downton Abbey, read a murder mystery, worked on several good and creative outlets, played games and crafted with my granddaughter …
… However, I didn’t just spend time being WITH God. I didn’t stop and rest in His presence. I kept busy with so many other things, that I kept ignoring His promptings. Yet God is patient. He continues to love me. He won’t leave me. He desires time with me, but He won’t pressure or walk away from me. He gently and lovingly reminds me to spend time with Him. I don’t mean just in devotions, reading a snip-it from God’s word and then someone else’s take on what He is saying (like this blog), but intentionally spending time WITH God.
Recently my husband and I enjoyed time with friends and new acquaintances for an evening. We talked and ate, and ate and talked for 4-5 hours. We got to know each other a little more during that time. If we had spent 15 minutes together, we’d have barely touched the surface. How much more important is God’s time with us?
The world can KEEP us busy. There are always plenty of things to do, many are very good things. But what is better? Spending quality time WITH God. I will be working this week. I will be watching the Olympics. I will spend time with my granddaughter. I will be busy with worship planning, work, and “maybe helping” Rich shovel snow. However, I know God has been encouraging me to find time this week to turn off all the distracts and just enjoy BEING WITH HIM!
Praying you are able to find time to BE WITH GOD this week as well ~ Faye
Carried on Eagle’s Wings
I LOVE the word COVENANT. Basically, the human covenant is an “oath-bound relationship” between two or more parties (i.e., marriage). The divine covenant is established between God and His people.
There are about 280 references to covenant in the Old Testament and 33 times in the New Testament.
The covenant made between husband and wife before God is meant to be forever. The covenants made between God and His people are to be forever. God keeps His covenant promises with His people ALWAYS!
He is so sincere in His promises that His covenant was given to save each and every one of us.
The old covenant played a vital role in the history of redemption as it showed Israel three things: (1) how they ought to live and worship; (2) their need for a Savior because of their sins; and (3) the grace of God in revealing Himself to them and calling them His “treasured possession.”
The big picture of the covenant of grace, which structures the history of redemption, always maintains the focus on God’s desire to relate to His people, and ultimately to dwell among them and in them. He does this preeminently by His Spirit through His Son, Jesus Christ (Eph. 3:17). ~ Mark Jones
Praying you can keep God’s covenant and enjoy the blessings of a close relationship with Him ~ Faye
The Veil is Removed
In the Old Testament, we are told God’s presence was in The Holy of Holies, also known as the Most Holy Place, the inner room of the Tabernacle, where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. God’s Shekinah-glory was actually seen shining above the Ark of the Covenant between the figures of the cherubim. The purpose of the veil was to keep everyone from entering the symbolic presence of God except the High Priest on the Day of Atonement (only once a year). There is only one way sinful man can enter into God’s holy presence – it is through the blood sacrifice (before Christ came, the blood sacrifice given by the High Priest; after Christ, by believing in the death (blood sacrifice) and resurrection of Jesus Christ as our Savior).
How do Christians KNOW that the veil is no longer keeping God’s Shekinah-glory away from us? When Jesus died on the cross, the veil of the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom, signifying God’s presence was no longer contained, but made available to everyone. It meant the true sacrifice had been offered up to Yahweh, the LORD God, and accepted by Him as the perfect offering for our sin.
[Some Bible references: Exodus 26, Leviticus 16:2, 2 Chronicles 3:8-10 Mark 15:37-38, Hebrews 9:3, Hebrews 10:19-24]
Scripture is clear that God is everywhere and that the Holy Spirit dwells within Christ’s believers. His presence is already with you. Encountering Him is as simple as taking some time to become aware of His nearness.
The apostle Paul wrote, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20).
Isn’t that AWESOME! God, His Shekinah-glory, DWELLS in each believer because of Christ’s complete sacrifice for us.
Praying you will be FILLED with God’s incredible glory and presence ~ Faye
Time with God is VITAL
I love it when God puts the same thought in front of me from many different venues.
My devotions this morning on First15 app talk about the importance of Having Time Alone with God. Then, I’ve been working with my pastor on his sermon series for lent, which will be Come and Rest. He will be looking at how we can live today with a sense of rest, Sabbath rest, rest from sin, rest from shame, rest from worry and fear, just as Jesus needed rest while He was on earth. He needed time to be refreshed from His ministries by spending time with God. I am also reading A Year with God: Living Out the Spiritual Disciplines, by Richard J. Foster. He looks at several ways to grow in one’s relationship with God – worship, confession, meditation, solitude, and more. I am also looking at, The Furious Longing of God, by Brennan Manning, who asks: “Is your own personal prayer life characterized by the simplicity, childlike candor, boundless trust, and easy familiarly of a little one crawling up in daddy’s lap? An assured knowing that the daddy doesn’t care if the child falls asleep, starts playing with toys or even starts chatting with little friends, because the daddy knows the child has essentially chosen to be with him for that moment? Is that the spirit of your interior prayer life?” So, in a period of a week, God has been reminding me of the importance of spending TIME WITH HIM ALONE.
Some of the thoughts I’ve gleaned from these things:
- God wants me to slow down and enjoy His presence. He wants me to delight in Him. Relish being close. Even in the stillness to just sit and enjoy each other’s company. Like two friends sitting watching a sunset together.
- If Jesus needed time alone with His Heavenly Father, we can all be sure we need it even more.
Mark 1:35 – Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.
Luke 5:16 – Jesus spent time alone with His Heavenly Father.
- Time with God allows us to carry out God’s purpose in our life. Luke 4 tells of the time when Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, was led by the Spirit into the wilderness where He was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus had been fasting and spending time with God. He taught in the synagogues and began His ministry of healing, casting out demons, and performing other miracles.
- When we spend time with God, we clearly and tangibly encounter God’s amazing love for us. We learn what His voice sounds like. We discover His will. In Matthew 6:6, we are told that our Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. One of the best gifts we receive from God is one-on-one communion with our heavenly Father.
- And time with God, fills us with His peace.
Matthew 11:28-30 Then Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
God’s desire to spend time alone with us is not meant to add stress to our life but to relieve us from it. He doesn’t want our time with Him to be just the routine of checking off a to-do list item.
Praying you will take time to focus on God’s nearness, on how it changes your outlook and emotions. And spend time just being overwhelmed by the depth of God’s love for you ~ Faye
A New Year Blessing
The blessing of starting 2018 with the promise of God’s peace filling your hearts is so precious. Trust Him! Believe in Him as the Savior of the world.
Praying God fills your life with His abundant gift of Peace ~ Faye
God’s Blessings this Christmas!
May you be filled with God’s wondrous JOY
as you ponder the miracle of Christmas!
It’s the season of Advent – anticipation, expectation, and hope of Christ’s coming to earth. First as a baby over 2000 years ago and next as triumphant King and Lord over all. We prepare for Christmas with anticipation and generally with lots of excitement. But what about those who struggle this time of year. Those who feel like they have no hope, no family or friends, nothing to celebrate, feeling all alone …
The word Lament has been on my mind a lot this past month. I’ve watched loved ones and acquaintances struggle with heavy burdens. Physical issues of cancer, miscarriages and chronic pain. Spiritual issues of questioning God, grace, struggling with addictions. Mental issues of loneliness, abandonment, anger, rage and so many other overwhelming feelings. Life is filled with many challenges.
Right now, I am facing a loved one in crisis. Without sharing details, we aren’t sure if this person is getting the help they need or if they have literally disappeared from our lives. Lament. Deep despair. Hopelessness. The definition of lament is: “a passionate expression of grief or sorrow.” Some synonyms are: wailing, moaning, weeping, crying, sobbing. Lament is the ultimate act of surrender to God by opening one’s self with raw emotion and letting God bind the wounds, wrap you in His arms of love and cherish you, His beloved one.
I have two choices right now: stay filled with sorrow and the weight of despair over the situation or I can focus on Advent and Christmas and the HOPE of Jesus’s coming. There are times that I want to just curl up in a ball, sobbing and crying to God – “Why?” And I do. There’s nothing wrong with going to Him with my pain.
In an article by Autumn Kern on Psalm 22, she shares the meaning of Lament.
“Lamenting reveals the core of our humanity; it shows us that we are not God and that we need God.”
Throughout the Psalms, David very openly shares his soul-wrenching grief. Psalm 43 says:
Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise Him again—
my Savior and my God!
Psalm 13:1-2, 5-6
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
But I have trusted in Your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.
Can you tell the relationship between the Psalmist David and his God? Pure, raw honesty. God doesn’t chastise him for crying out “Why?” or “How Long?” David pours out his heart from the pit of his stomach, groaning his anguish. And yet, do you see what he does next? He remembers God’s faithfulness. He praises God. God desires to have the intimate relationship with us He had with Adam and Eve in the Garden. He already knows the heaviness in our hearts and minds. He wants us to openly come to Him and share our deepest needs, burdens, concerns and desires.
In looking for resources to encourage me during this difficult time, I came across two encouraging quotes from Ann Voskamp:
God is so moved by our being entangled in suffering — that He moved Himself into our world and entangled Himself in the suffering with us. God with us.
His glory in the highest always runs down to meet us who are at our lowest.
If you have a loved one who struggles with mental illness, which often seems to be compounded at the holidays, I pray you will pour out your hearts to God. Let Him take your burdens and cares and carry them for you. The God who was the baby in the manger is also the God who died on the cross and rose again to save all who believe in Him. That same God is coming again to make a new heaven and new earth. God is in control of all things. Pour out your hearts to Him and remember with praise the incredible things He has done for you.
Praying for those who are heavy-hearted this season ~ Faye
Here’s some other quotes that I appreciated:
“Lamentation is a powerful, and meaningful, form of worship because it places our love for God above even the worst of circumstances in our life… God does not ask us to deny the existence of our suffering. He does want us to collect it, stand in those things and make Him an offering. The Holy Spirit, our Comforter, helps us to do this: He aligns Himself with our will and says, ‘I will help you to will to worship God.’ The glory of the majesty of God is that He helps us will and do.” – Graham Cooke
“If you are in mourning, you have the opportunity to worship in the most powerful way possible: lamentation. This worship isn’t done in order to have God remove the pain. It simply recognizes that God stands in the moment with us. Lamentation elevates God in the presence of our enemies. It brings out a side of God that other forms of worship simply cannot touch.” – Graham Cooke
“Praising God in the midst of difficulty is so powerful because God stands in the moment with us. The thing that I can testify during those moments of difficulty—when I brought my pain directly to God and walked with Him through it—was the reality that God was really there, and He gave me a deeper revelation of Himself.” – Michael Card
And this passage from Lamentations 2 and 3 has filled my heart as I’ve cried out to God in my pain and rejoiced with Him in His faithfulness.
I have cried until the tears no longer come;
my heart is broken.
My spirit is poured out in agony
as I see the desperate plight of my people.
Little children and tiny babies
are fainting and dying in the streets.
What can I say about you?
Who has ever seen such sorrow?
O daughter of Jerusalem,
to what can I compare your anguish?
O virgin daughter of Zion,
how can I comfort you?
For your wound is as deep as the sea.
Who can heal you?
The thought of my suffering and homelessness
is bitter beyond words.
I will never forget this awful time,
as I grieve over my loss.
Yet I still dare to hope
when I remember this:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends![b]
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!”
Abide, Remain, Dwell then Glorify
Don’t you love it when God uses a variety of ways in a short amount of time to get you to focus on a specific thing?
Here’s how God’s been getting my attention, encouraging and challenging me just this week:
- Women’s Bible study we were looking at John 15 – ABIDE, DWELL, REMAIN, STAY in Jesus.
- A devotional spoke of spending intentional time with God through prayer and in His Word; just listening. It had the following quote from Mother Teresa: “God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer.”
- Our pastor has been preaching on being WITH God, based on the book by Skye Jepthani, With. During the Advent season, he is looking at Immanuel, God With Us. (Check out his messages here).
- In working on some other Internet research, I came across this quote by Bill Hybels:
“If you lower the ambient noise of your life and listen expectantly for those whispers of God, your ears will hear them. And when you follow their lead, your world will be rocked.”
Expanding on John 15:1-17: Abiding, remaining, or dwelling is our response to Jesus’ words:
4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. 5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.
I appreciate the perspective/reminder of John 15:8:
“When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.”
I love the idea of bringing glory to God for all He has done for me. During our time with God (abiding, remaining, dwelling) we may need to submit to God’s pruning knife where He cuts away things that draw us away from Him, so we may remain in Christ even more. When we do this we are able to produce more fruit so we can bring Him even more glory.
It’s December, generally a very busy season. There are school programs, Christmas parties, gatherings with family and friends, Christmas cards and shopping for presents, baking, volunteering and serving others and so many other good things along with our regular daily activities. So, spending extra time just being with God generally is not our primary focus when there are so many other good things that are demanding our attention. I am praying that you can find some time to just BE WITH God. Remain in His presence. Dwell in His love. Abide in His peace. As you do this, you will be blessed with God’s presence in you and you will bring glory to Him. What a perfect gift for you this Christmas.
Praying you are filled with time to abide, remain and dwell with God ~ Faye
Can You Imagine?
I wonder how it felt …
… Mary, a young teen, in her room and suddenly the angel Gabriel appears to her and says, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!” What would your response be? Aside from the fear and shock of seeing the angel, disbelief at his message? The Bible says Mary was confused, disturbed and wondered what the angel meant. Gabriel repeats, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God!
I like how one author says, “She’s so ‘greatly troubled here that the angel asks her to sit down and catch her breath. ‘Fear not,’ he says in an attempt to comfort her. ‘You really are favored by God!'”
Favored (preferred/chosen) – Would you think you were preferred, precious, or chosen? Your whole life would change in a minute. You would be a social outcast as an unwed mother. All of your hopes, plans and dreams would be looking doubtful.
Each and every one of us is a precious and chosen child of God. Psalm 139:13-18 says,
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious (amazing are your thoughts concerning me) to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.
What does Mary do after Christ is born? After the reality of all the upside-down life-changing events? She sings, praises and worships her LORD. She realizes Immanuel, God is With Us, has come to earth to be our Savior, Messiah. He actually was WITH her, inside her, a sinner. Mary wasn’t perfect. She wasn’t holy. She was a virgin and she was chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus. Once everything starts to sink in and she holds her baby, Jesus, in her arms, her heart sings. She can only sit in wonder, praising her Lord from the depth of her soul.God talks to you through His word, other people and His creation. Do you hear Him? In this busy season before Christmas, will you be still enough to listen to God? Will your soul and spirit MAGNIFY (praise, glorify) God for all the incredible wonders He has done in your life?
Praying you will find the favor of God in your heart so your soul sings with Joy to your Savior ~ Faye
Is It a Door or a Gate? Does It Matter?
In writing this blog post, I was going to just put up a picture of a door and put up the verse from John 10:9 where Jesus says,
When I went to Biblegateway.com to make sure I had the quote correct, I looked at several versions of the Bible and was surprised to see: “I am the GATE.” Doing some research, I found that the word in the Greek – Thura – means DOOR or GATE. The definition and usage can be:
- a door or gate where sheep go in and out of the sheepfold
- the open door is also used as – the opportunity of doing something
It doesn’t really matter whether it is door or gate, however, looking at the passage in John and coming from a farming area, I guess I like to think of the gate outside the farmer’s pasture where the sheep are kept safe. I visited sheep on a friend’s farm once and kept thinking about how they follow the leader. They listened to the shepherd/farmer. As soon as he opened the gate and called, they came running. They knew it was time for food (which my granddaughter, Micayla helped to feed to them).
Years ago I studied a book by Chuck Swindoll where he talked about the sheep and the shepherd.
- Sheep are totally dependent upon their shepherd. We are like the sheep – we need a leader: The Good Shepherd (Jesus Christ).
- The flock was kept in a sheep pen in the country. This was a rock circle with a small opening. The shepherd slept across the opening, acting as the gate to keep the sheep in and the predators out.
- When the flock was kept in the city, they would be mixed with several other flocks in a large sheepfold. The doorkeeper would guard the door during the night. The shepherd would return in the morning and call their sheep; each sheep knew their shepherd’s voice. The shepherd would lead them out to pasture.
Jesus is telling us that He is The Shepherd of His sheep (us), and The Door/Gate for the sheep. Salvation is possible only when we go through The Door/Gate believing in Jesus Christ as our Savior through believing in The Shepherd. In John 10:10, Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
What a glorious promise – we have abundant life with Christ when we enter The Gate. There is safety, grace, spiritual nourishment and life everlasting on the other side.
Praying you go in and out and find abundant nourishment, safety, peace and everlasting life in Christ’s pasture ~ Faye
How do you give thanks in all things? Look at all the disasters the past couple of months, how do we give thanks in them? We can only do this through Jesus Christ changing our perspective – allowing us to see things through His eyes.
There is an old song from Back at the Creekbank – Humbly Grateful. It reminds us what our perspective of life should be. The chorus goes:
Are you humbly grateful or grumbly hateful – what’s your attitude? Do you humbly groan or let it be known you’re grateful for all God’s done for you?
It’s a catchy tune, and when my children’s attitude needed some correction, I found myself singing it to them as a reminder to change their perspective. How often do I need that perspective change?
- When I think it’s too cold outside, I remember I have coats, gloves, hats, and boots I can wear.
- When the sink is overflowing with dishes, I need to change my perspective and remember I have plenty of food to eat, a working stove/oven and refrigerator, running water that is pure enough to drink.
- When I am struggling with joint pain, I remind myself I have excellent medical care available to me.
- If I have to vacuum and dust feeling overwhelmed, I remind myself I have the blessing of a warm house.
I pray that this Thanksgiving season you take the time to give thanks in ALL circumstances. When we were flooded in 2008 with 4 feet of water in our basement, nothing seemed like a blessing. But through God we were able to look back on all He provided for us during that time:
- Safety and shelter while our town was evacuated
- Insurance, monetary funds and things to help us rebuild
- Friends and family who worked tirelessly to help with the clean-up and reconstruction
- New friendships made, the ability to help others as they recovered and rebuilt the town.
With God’s perspective working in our hearts, we can GIVE THANKS in EVERYTHING!
Giving thanks for you ~ Faye
There Is Hope In the Middle of Great Pain
In the face of such great loss in Sutherland Springs, Texas people wonder how Christians (believers in Jesus Christ) can find hope for the future. These verse from 1 Thessalonians say it all.
If you don’t know Jesus Christ or have the hope given through Him, ask Jesus into your heart. Ask Him to be Lord over your life. Feel free to message me or check out information from Peace Church’s website
Rejoice in God Newness Each Day!
Maybe this is why we are drawn to brilliant sunrises – the reminder that God brings newness every morning. When life is heavy with troubles and trials, pain and grief, we are filled with Joy in the morning.
A Joyful Heart …
I’ve been doing some health research after working with a few new doctors, and everything I’ve been reading says to fill your life with JOY. Count your blessings. List things you are grateful for each and every day. See JOY in the world around you – despite the weight and trials of the world. If you don’t focus on the joys in life, it will affect your personal health especially over the long term.
James 1:2-3 says – Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
“The other night I attended His Hands Free Medical Clinic’s Laughter is the Best Medicine fundraiser. We laughed for 30 minutes straight. I can tell you I seem to have had more energy and a more positive focus the next few days than I had before the precious time of laughing with others.
God made us to enjoy Him, His creation and our lives. We weren’t made to worry or fear. That’s why “do not fear” or “fear not” is a command that is mentioned frequently in the Bible. (See the following websites for some of these verses. CrossWalk and BibleStudyTools.)
“A cheerful [joyful, merry] heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” Proverbs 17:22 New Living Translation
God knows how important it is to be joyful, cheerful, merry, happy, abundantly blessed filled with gratitude because it HELPS us, fills us with HOPE and HEALS us. An interesting article on the benefits of laughter can be found at Help Guide.
Let’s try to brighten everyone’s day by being joyful, cheerful and filled with God’s amazing love and laughter ~ Faye
Dwell Together in Unity
God knew when He made us that we would all be different. We are all made uniquely in His image. That means we have hair that is brown, black, blond or red; we have eyes that are blue, brown, green or grey; we are tall or short; big feet or little; and have a round or stick shape.
We also have differing opinions! Just look at all the difficulties around the world and throughout history. We are proud, shy, angry, hurt, quiet, friendly, loving, caring, jealous. These are things that cause some of our differences. How we grieve God when we fight over flags, broken relationships, money, things, power and so much more.
God tells us it is better for us when we live together in unity! So brothers and sisters, make it your focus to dwell in unity together, work to love each other deeply, and make getting along together a priority.
May God bless you abundantly as you live for Him ~ Faye
What Happened to the Golden Rule?
How did we get to be a world so divided? Anger and hatred seem to fill people’s hearts – racial prejudice, political unrest, anti-authority, vengeance, religious persecution, status, poverty all come into play. Look at the mass shooting in Las Vegas, looting and price gouging after the natural disasters, suicide bombers, refugees fleeing for their lives, and so much more.
I wonder if some of the reason we are so angry is because we’ve forgotten Jesus teaching about treating others decently when He gave His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Remember the Golden Rule – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Matthew 7:12. I know I have messed up (okay, let’s call it what it is – SIN) many times. In my devotions lately, I’ve spent time in 1 Peter. Recently 1 Peter 3:8-9 touched my heart –
Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and He will grant you His blessing. ~ 1 Peter 3:8-9 NLT
Literally, I felt God pointing a finger at my heart, reminding me of the times I have retaliated with insults and actions when someone has said things or done things that hurt me. At those times, I’ve forgotten that I am a witness of what it means to have Jesus Christ in my heart. I haven’t allowed His love to fill me and treat others with His love. I have since spent time confessing those actions and been assured as a believer of Christ as my Savior, that I am washed clean by His blood – I am forgiven! But I am also challenged by His word to live for Him, as His example.
I remember growing up hearing, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all;” and my parents and teachers reminding us of the T.H.I.N.K. acronym:
When I read 1 Peter 3:8-9 from the Amplified Version,
Finally, all of you be like-minded [united in spirit], sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted [courteous and compassionate toward each other as members of one household], and humble in spirit; and never return evil for evil or insult for insult [avoid scolding, berating, and any kind of abuse], but on the contrary give a blessing [pray for one another’s well-being, contentment, and protection]; for you have been called for this very purpose, that you might inherit a blessing [from God that brings well-being, happiness, and protection].
I was challenged and encouraged by the words – “but on the contrary, give a blessing [pray for one another’s well-being, contentment, and protection];”. When others hurt me, I need to pray for them, for their well-being, contentment and protection. I need to have the perspective of Christ, caring for them. Let’s be the change – God’s Love wins over hate.
Praying you are filled with God’s love so you can bless others ~ Faye
All God’s Creatures
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.
Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colors,
He made their tiny wings.
The purple headed mountain,
The river running by,
The sunset and the morning,
That brightens up the sky;−
The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,−
He made them every one:
The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows where we play,
The rushes by the water,
We gather every day;−
He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell,
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.
Celebrate and enjoy God’s wonderful creation all around you! ~ Faye
Prayer vs. Meditation
Just a word of encouragement to spend time with God in Prayer and Meditation ~ Faye