Monthly Archives: January 2012
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. ~ Hebrews 11:1 [NLT]
This morning during my devotional time, I found myself praying something like this – Father, forgive me when I let the frustrations with what my body cannot do take over my attitudes and actions. It wasn’t moment’s later He led me to the following “It takes a radical reliance on God’s Word – specifically God’s promises about the day when the healing and wholeness He’s secured for us/me will become the reality we will see and know and enjoy.” [Nancy Guthrie-Abundant Life]
I can’t describe how I felt – awed, humbled, embarrassed, thankful, grateful. God heard my prayer and answered almost immediately – not with physical healing, but with words of encouragement. He may not heal our diseases or solve issues here on earth, but He always hears our prayers. And better yet, He promises that He will abundantly bless us in the life to come. God blesses us with glimpses of His glory and goodness.
While walking today, I was blessed by the sunshine, white wispy clouds, and the eagle soaring above me. Later I watched a Downy Woodpecker working at the trunk of a tree. How can a bird get food from frozen trees is beyond me, but God provides for all. God’s goodness for all His creatures is a glimpse of how much more He cares for us.
Guthrie states, “To live by faith is not to have confidence that God will make everything okay for us in this life, but that He will more than make up for the pain and difficulty of this life in the next.” What incredible assurance we have! What a precious gift from God – FAITH!
So many people today seem to be burdened with trials. When we become so focused on the things of this world – good or bad –we miss the promise from God for our future.
Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart ~ Psalm 37:4
Praying that you will enjoy seeing the blessing of God’s goodness to you today ~ Faye
This blog is linked with Good Morning Girls Link-Up Wednesday.
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
What a blessing we have to pour out our hearts to God. We can go to Him with our praises for answered prayers and how He provides. We are often quick to go to Him with our requests, particularly in times of trouble. In a group setting, we listen to prayer requests and praises, and then we lift them up to God. Sometimes those prayer requests are easy to do and remember even outside of the group setting.
When we get together in a group or are on our own with the LORD, it’s relatively easy to ask for prayer for our physical needs – a job, health issues, raising children, traveling safety, marriages, etc. Sometimes, when we know the people well and there is a healthy measure of trust, we can ask for emotional support as well. But rarely do we reach out and ask someone to pray for our spiritual health. I know in my life, I’ve not even prayed this on a personal level often.
Paul is so grateful (sitting in prison) for his fellow brothers and sisters. He brings them before God in thanksgiving and in prayer for their spiritual welfare. He prays for their understanding of the immeasurable richness of God’s love. Every time he thinks of them he prays that they will be filled with a confidence in what they hope for and an assurance of what they cannot see (Hebrews 11:1).
Ever since I heard of your STRONG FAITH in the LORD Jesus and your LOVE for God’s people everywhere, I have NOT STOPPED THANKING GOD FOR YOU. I PRAY FOR YOU CONSTANTLY, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, TO GIVE YOU SPIRITUAL WISDOM AND INSIGHT so that you MIGHT GROW IN YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF GOD. I pray that your HEARTS WILL BE FLOODED WITH LIGHT so that you can UNDERSTAND THE CONFIDENT HOPE He has given to those He called – HIS HOLY PEOPLE WHO ARE HIS RICH AND GLORIOUS INHERITANCE. I also pray that you will UNDERSTAND THE INCREDIBLE GREATNESS OF GOD’S POWER for us who believe Him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now He is FAR ABOVE any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else – not only in this world but also in the world to come. Ephesians 1:15-21
I finished my reading on these verses challenged to 1) give God continual thanks for the abundance of friendships He has placed in my life through friends and family; and 2) lift up in prayer those God has placed in my life that they may be filled to overflowing with the knowledge, wisdom and understanding of how awesome our God is, and that they may grow in their understanding of His love and grace.
Praying that you may be filled with blessing of confident hope in God ~ Faye
Our pastor preached a challenging and encouraging message this Sunday on a topic I struggle with way too frequently – Worrying. He looked at Matthew 6:25-34, where Jesus talks about God’s taking care of the birds’ needs and clothing the lilies in splendor. Jesus reminds us that if He cares for such tiny creatures and flowers that others don’t even see, how much more will He care for His creation that He gave souls to, sent His Son to die for, and filled us with His Holy Spirit. Jesus also reminds us that each day has enough worry for itself, so don’t leap ahead and worry about the future.
Jesus knows that each day has concerns and pressures. He wants us to live in trust that He has everything in control. We need to trust Him and be filled with His peace. His peace isn’t like anything the world has — It is so much deeper. He fills us to overflowing with the inner beauty and calm of peace that only comes from the Holy Spirit.
As our pastor preached, my mind kept going back to the things I worry about –
- life with chronic progressive illnesses
- what does God have planned for my future as far as work and my business
- finances, especially being underemployed
- using my time wisely
- coming up with things to write for God’s Abundant Blessings blog (ironic, I know).
But then I started to reflect on the past few weeks. I did a 180-spin in the snow a few days earlier, and as I cried out, “God, help me!” I felt His presence and a calm assurance that He was with me. When I sat in the waiting room while my husband had a heart procedure, and the nurse came out and said, “We’ve run into a little problem …” I was filled with incredible peace and serenity that only comes from God’s presence. (Things turned out well after the procedure.)
Trusting and letting go isn’t easy for this Type A person. I sometimes think that’s why God allowed me to have the chronic illnesses. They have given me a huge slow-me-down, and I’ve needed to continually trust in Him for my strength so many days and in so many ways.
I was reminded during the pastor’s message of a testimony I heard many years ago by Roger Bennett as he was facing a life with leukemia. (You can Google Roger Bennett testimony and hear several of his stories on YouTube.) Here are the words to Roger and Debbie Bennett’s song: Don’t Be AfraidThe disciples were tossed on a cold, raging sea But Jesus was sleeping so peacefully They cried, “Master, don’t you care that we die?” But He spoke three small words, “Peace be still,” It was the storm that had to die So don’t be afraid when the darkness is closing The Master is near, His voice calms every storm So when the world says it’s over, the Master says, “No, I’ve just begun” In your darkest of times, whether rain or in sunshine, don’t be afraid I know how it feels to be tossed by the storms And I know how it feels to be battered and worn But then I know how it feels to be carried on through Called by the strength of the One who is faithful and true So don’t be afraid when the darkness is closing The Master is near, His voice calms every storm So when the world says it’s over, the Master says, “No, I’ve just begun” In your darkest of times, whether rain or in sunshine, don’t be afraid
©Onward Bound Music (ASCAP) / Homeward Bound Music (BMI). Album: Raise the Roof (1994)
Roger lost his battle with cancer here on earth, but I’m sure He’s celebrating greatly in heaven. And he’d likely be the first one to tell us – Don’t Be Afraid of the dark valleys, where Satan comes and tempts us to despair and worry. Trust God, and boldly face your future. Dwell in God’s providential love and grace.
Praying you are as abundantly blessed by God’s perspective, presence and peace as I am today ~ Faye
Many years ago I went on a service trip with our church youth group to Neon, Kentucky. My RA had been diagnosed the previous year and meds were keeping things relatively under control. However, if I did anything strenuous my body paid for it the next day. One of our side activities was a 3/4 mile hike to Bad Branch Waterfall. I wanted to go because I love waterfalls. I enjoy being with the teens so much. So, even though I knew I would pay for it, I went.
Several of the group were encouraged to go ahead of me since I couldn’t keep up their pace. But about five, if I remember correctly, said they’d walk with me. One young, sturdy-built young man even said if I couldn’t make it, he’d be willing to carry me. So our little group hiked for over tree roots, down gulleys, and up inclines. There were times I was leaning on my cane to step down or pushing with my cane to get me up the hill. Never once did “my team” let me down or complain at the pace. They were the ones encouraging me to press on, even when I’d stop for a breather. We made it to the waterfall after one last steep incline. The rest of our group was climbing the rocks and messing around in the water. When they saw I had made it, there was an enthusiastic shout, “Faye!”
My heart melted in gratitude. I can’t tell you how much encouragement can motivate someone, but I can tell you, that day the love, support, and kindness I felt from these precious young people encouraged me to go forward, keep trying to get to the destination, and not give up.
At that moment nothing felt better than standing under the cold waterfall. The water cascading to cool my sweaty body. But even more was my gratitude to God for the ability to make it to the waterfall and the loving kindness He blessed me with in “my team” of encouragers.
We all are blessed with encouragers in life. Some are obvious, often parents, spouses, and friends. Some we have to look at little more closely to see. Paul tells us we have the best encourager of all – God.
How abundant is His love for us! Ephesians 1:6-8
So we praise God for the glorious grace He has poured out on us who belong to His dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins. He has showered His kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.
God showers us with His grace and kindness. He fills us with all wisdom and understanding. Through His love He encourages to press on in life and through the difficulties. Through the gift of His Son, He showers us with His abundant mercy and grace.
Enjoy the overflowing blessing of God’s grace in your lives ~ Faye
I’m starting a 12-week Bible study on Ephesians today along with thousands of other women associated with Good Morning Girls so I’m thinking there will be a few posts about Ephesians in the coming days. Today we looked at Chapter 1:1-4.
What a precious letter from Paul. He knows he is chosen directly by God to do God’s work of telling others of the unconditional and amazing love of Jesus Christ. You likely remember the Saul/Paul life-changing transformation at Damascus when God struck Saul, the persecutor of Christians, and over time, changed his heart to Paul, the lover of God. Paul knew he was chosen by God.
His words in Ephesians 1:3 sing praises to God. First, because He is the Father of our LORD Jesus Christ. Second, because He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. We are chosen for salvation, adopted as His children, cleansed and forgiven, filled with the Holy Spirit who counsels and guides us in God’s will, and gives us the assurance of the fulfillment of the promise of eternal life with Christ.
There are days when we get down. Life hands us one difficulty after another. One person faces cancer, then medications cause difficult side effects and radiation needs to begin. Someone is unemployed and the temp job is calling others to work and not them. Another is dealing with her parent’s health, their own health issues, preparing for a wedding, while adjusting to financial stressors. Sometimes it’s just the bad cold that hits when you need all your physical and mental abilities to get through the day. It’s at those times that God can often seem very far away.
What really struck me from verse four was that God loved us and chose us before He made the world. In my systematical thinking, that just doesn’t seem possible. It seems He would have made the universe, stepping through the days of creation and on day six He would start thinking of man, and knowing him. But He had a beautiful masterpiece all planned from the beginning that He alone could see how it all interweaved together. I know Psalm 139 tells us He knew us before we were formed. But I was really blessed with the thought that even before He created anything else in this universe, He loved and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes.
There’s a song that tells how important we are to God – If I Could Look Through Your Eyes © 1989 Greg Gerguson
If I could look through Your eyes,
I’d see there’s no way to impress You, and I wouldn’t even try;
I’d stop tryin’ to prove I’m worthy, and I’d take off the disguise,
if I could look through Your eyes.
And I would see that I’m precious, I would know that I’m prized;
I’d know Your love never changes, if I could look through Your eyes.
If I saw my value to You,
I’d see Your love for me remains despite the foolish things I do;
and I’d see Your love for what it is: unshakeable and true,
if I saw my value to You.
And I would see that I’m precious, I would know that I’m prized;
I’d know Your love never changes, if I could look through Your eyes.
I want to see what You see – I want to recognize the treasured prize You say You see in me;
I want to give up tryin’ to earn the love You’re offering for free – I want to see what You see.
Lord, help me look through Your eyes.
Praise God for the abundant blessing of being loved and chosen by Him ~ Faye
I’ve been reading the book of Judges recently. I’ve been amazed at how gracious and compassionate our LORD is. The Israelites followed God, then turned away from Him and worship idols. This cycle repeats itself continually throughout Judges, and for that matter throughout the Bible. We look back and wonder why in the world would the Israelites continue to turn from God and the amazing things (miracles of protection and guidance) He has done for them. They turn to idols. They focus on material things. They seek their own pleasures. How fickle can they be? How ungrateful can they be?
And then ‒
I look at myself. I’ll start the morning, even before getting out of bed: praising God for a new day, thanking Him that I belong to Him, asking Him to guide my footsteps, devoting my time to Him. Just a little while later, I’ll get impatient, upset, or frustrated when someone offends me or doesn’t do what I think they should. I’ll take control of my life, and do what I want to do. I’ll waste God’s precious time looking at whatever on the Internet or watching TV. I forget the promptings from God and do what I want. I’ll forget all the blessings He has bestowed on me and become self-centered once again. I am just like the Israelites. It is a daily pattern! I know better ‒ just like the Israelites did.
Psalm 103:8-10 says, “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor His anger forever; He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.”
I’m so grateful God is abundantly generous and patient with me. There’s an old song based on Psalm 51:7 that has been in my head since we’ve had our first measurable snowfall:Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole; I want Thee forever to live in my soul; Break down every idol, cast out every foe— Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Lord Jesus, look down from Your throne in the skies And help me to make a complete sacrifice. I give up myself and whatever I know Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. Lord Jesus, for this I most humbly entreat; I wait, blessed Lord, at Thy crucified feet. By faith, for my cleansing I see Your blood flow Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. Lord Jesus, before You I patiently wait; Come now and within me a new heart create. To those who have sought You, You never said “No” Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow, Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
©James L. Nicholson, Public Domain
I’m so grateful and blessed that He is so willing to pour out His love and grace. “Come, now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” Isaiah 1:18
Enjoy the blessings of God’s abundant grace ~ Faye
I love God’s sense of humor in His leading in my life. I woke this morning fully intent on writing about 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 – “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” But by the time I sat down for my devotions on that passage, God had other plans for me today. My mind messed up, and instead I read 2 Corinthians 2:3-4, and ended up reading 2:1-11. I don’t remember this story of Paul’s life.
A little background from my study notes: Paul was grieved by a previous visit to the Corinthians. Paul severely rebuked the church. It sounds like there was a specific person who caused both Paul and the church considerable pain. Paul didn’t want to cause more pain by another visit, so he wrote a strong letter to them. After reading several translations, it appears the person who caused the difficulties had repented and had been punished sufficiently. Paul was encouraging the believers to now come along beside him, forgive him and comfort him. First, because otherwise the person could be overwhelmed by sorrow. Second, by forgiving the person, it takes Satan out of the situation. It doesn’t give him any victory or an opportunity to continue to tear apart God’s kingdom. Third, forgiveness heals not only the offender, but also the offended.
Boy do I need that perspective some days!
God has blessed me recently to see the beginning of a relationship rebuilding following a deep hurt by a close friend. It took time and prayer. It took intentionally focusing on the love God’s has for him. I had to once again see the person as loved, cherished, and cared for by God in order to begin to forgive. I had to remember the many good things my friend had done. After a time, God began melting the hardness in my heart and mending the hurt. My friend did something that hurt many people and is spending some time in prison because of it. God began to weigh heavily on my heart that I needed to show him the love God has shown me. I began journaling and praying my hurts to God. Then I began with a card of prayers for him as he faced an uncertain future. I was blessed to receive a heartfelt and sincere letter of apology. Healing continues. I recently wrote him as we would have talked in the past. God again blessed me with a letter back from him, talking of his life right now and some of the ways God was working in him and his love for his family.
God’s grace is freely given for us all. We need to reach out to others with that cleansing grace. God has blessed me greatly through the process of forgiveness with my friend. I’ve read several books by Louis B. Smedes on forgiveness in the past. One thing I remember from Smedes is – “Forgiveness isn’t for the other person, it’s for you.” Smedes says, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” That seems all the more important to me these days as I think what life in prison must be like for my friend, and I pray for him and his family.
You will know that forgiveness has begun, when you recall those who hurt you and feel the power to wish them well. – Lewis B. Smedes. Praising God for His guiding, healing and wonderful grace poured out for each one of us.
Praying you may enjoy the abundant blessing of God’s amazing grace today ~ Faye
I really appreciate Jeremiah 29:11 and even verses 12 & 13. These are GREAT words of assurance – knowing God has plans for us. But if these verses are read in context, this is from a letter from Jeremiah the prophet, to the people who were going to live in exile for 70 years! I’m sure there were days they wondered if God had forgotten His chosen people. I’m sure there were days they wondered if God really knew what plans He had in store for His people.
To know that God intentionally exiled His people and told them to multiply, plan to live there and be productive and after 70 years He would come and do all the good that He had promised. God warned the people to stay away from the evils of the land.
I’m “only” 55. I can’t imagine knowingly living 70 years in a land of exile that was planned by God. Going forward only with the promise that He would come after 70 years and “do for the Israelites all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again.”
I’m grateful God is in control of my life. I’m grateful He has a plan for my life. As you read verses 12 and 13 it becomes clear that God wants His people to draw continually closer to Him.
As I said in my previous post, life has been a roller coaster ride the past couple of weeks. Some of the tension was due to the fact my husband gets about 10 days vacation over the holidays, and I’m used to being home alone all day ;-). There was a day this week I was at odds with everybody, including my husband. I finally asked him to let me have some alone time / God time. I realized I needed my “exile time” from everyone else, except God. The busyness of the holidays, family get-togethers, travel, a medical procedure all created tension and didn’t allow for much individual quiet time with God. Oh I spent time talking with Him – on the run. I read His word – quickly. I just hadn’t spent time just relishing in God’s presence; being filled with God’s embracing of my heart.
I know God has plans for my life – but there are times when I would really like to know God’s plans. Prior to my husband’s medical procedure, I’d like to have known the outcome (which was good). After losing a significant income source, I’d like to know God’s plan for our financial future. After dealing with relationship issues, I’d like to know how they will be resolved. But if I knew those plans ahead of time, I’d also know ahead of time that I would be living with chronic illnesses long before the symptoms appeared. Would it have helped? Maybe, but maybe it would have made me rely on what I could do instead of what God has done through me as I’ve learned my strength to handle the illnesses comes from Him.
God’s timing is always perfect. He knows fully the plans He has for us, even before we were created. We are blessed He is in control of all things.
Jeremiah 29:10-13 ‒
10 This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.
Enjoy the blessings of God’s perfect plan for you, and precious times of exile with Him! ~ Faye
I was struck by this quote of John Eldredge –
The only way to live in this adventure – with all its danger and unpredictability and immensely high stakes – is in an ongoing, intimate relationship with God.
The roller coaster adventure ride I have just finished over the past 12 days has been phenomenal. We celebrated incredible highs – the miracles of healing physically and relationally to precious time with family and friends – and then trudged through the lows – grief over a family member’s decisions and frustration with a body that just doesn’t do what I want it to do. Tomorrow we face the unknown as my husband goes in for a medical procedure. (But we do know God holds him in His grasp and goes ahead of us on this journey.)
God is so good. He led me to one of my journals where I looked at a devotional from In Touch based on 1 Samuel 17:45-47:
David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues His people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and He will give you to us!”
David declared victory over Goliath BEFORE the battle even started. He had faith that God would be with him because he was God’s servant. (Remember, at this time David was just a lowly shepherd boy and not King.) David wanted to serve God out of the deep love for God. David faced adventures of all kinds in his life, many were running for his life while others were because of his sinful ways. Yet God was with David all the time.
As you face the rollercoaster adventure of life, there will likely be giants along or even in the way. Remember to grab firmly to God, immerse yourself in His presence, fill your heart with His word and let Him minister to you. Be sure to have the right motive in facing your giant – a desire to follow, serve and honor God – no matter what lies ahead. Romans 8:37b … “overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.”
Praying you hang on tightly to the adventure God has planned for you and that you may see His blessings through them ~ Faye