Category Archives: Belonging
My mom suffered from Parkinson’s dementia and paranoia the last couple of years of her life. One night she was suffering from paranoia and extremely agitated. My brother and dad tried to calm her on and off throughout the night. Somewhere in her memory suddenly the precious words from Revelation 21:1-4 came to her and an immediate calm came over her. How much of a blessing it was for mom and my family to know that during the deepest hours of despair and torment, God’s word became such a comfort and peace.
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (Revelation 21:1-4 KJV)
I like how it is paraphrased in The Voice:
Everything above me was new. Everything below me was new. Everything around me was new because the heaven and earth that had been passed away, and the sea was gone, completely. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride on her wedding day, adorned for her husband and for His eyes only. 3 And I heard a great voice, coming from the throne.
A Voice: See, the home of God is with His people.
He will live among them;
They will be His people,
And God Himself will be with them.
4 The prophecies are fulfilled:
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
Mourning no more, crying no more, pain no more,
For the first things have gone away.
Praying you will fill your heart with God’s precious promises ~ Faye
It’s that time of year when Christians observe Lent, a period leading up to Holy Week, where Christ’s death is observed. It culminates in the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection Easter Sunday.
Christians look at the blessings of Christ’s sacrificial death to cleans us, purify us from our sins and give us the assurance of eternal life with Him.
Praying you will know the blessing of being washed whiter than snow ~ Faye
A time for everything – praise, rejoicing, celebrating, loving, crying, sorrow, concern, care, thinking, acting … and so much more. People are dealing with financial struggles, health issues, facing news of terminal illness, marriage or family relationships, job insecurity and so many other trials. But they are also celebrating babies births, marriages, new puppies, spring around the corner with all the new life, blessings of friendships, family, good jobs. Remember for every season of life – God is there and has gone before you preparing the way for you. Just (a very simple word) – JUST TRUST HIM!
Praying you may rest in God’s promises ~ Faye
How amazing is our God? He holds the entire universe in the span of His hands. One of my favorite videos comes from Pastor Louie Giglio – Indescribable. How incredibly INDESCRIBABLE is God’s Amazing care for each one of us. He knows the number of hairs on our head, and yet the earth (our home) is such a tiny blue dot that can’t be seen when compared to the universe we currently know.
I don’t know about you, but 2016 has been a year of lots of concerns, pain as well as emotional and spiritual growth. We began 2016 with my husband and I saying goodbye to both of our mothers just four weeks apart. Both had lived good lives and loved the Lord so it was bittersweet to say goodbye. There were illnesses, surgical procedures, relationship issues, absences from loved ones and job changes. We also walked alongside some dear friends who were going through cancer, rejection, marriage issues and divorce.
Let’s face it – this world is in a world of hurt. There is pain wherever you look. It might be simply a child’s tantrum once again or a flat tire. It might be as serious as hearing the words “inoperable cancer” or loved one saying, “I don’t love you anymore.”
I have struggled at times to see God’s hand in these trials. I don’t understand the pain a friend has endured as we tried to understand why God is allowing his parents to deal with years of suffering. Or the pain of parents who have had to let a loved one go off on their own and deal with the painful choices their loved one has made. Then there are those who are spending their first Christmas without a loved one. There are those who struggle with depression, anxiety, rejection, abandonment, insecurity and so much more.
Aren’t the holidays supposed to be filled with pictures from Norman Rockwell/Hallmark family and friend memories?
And yet, there is still hope. Hope? Really? Yes. God created each one of us to be aware of His presence, to seek Him and to want to worship and glorify Him. This IS DEFINITELY NOT easy in the midst of pain, but it is EVEN MORE ESSENTIAL at that time. Whether you sing, write, color, read, whatever – you NEED to worship and praise God during your pain. This is so counterintuitive to what we want to do – stay in bed, curl up in a ball, pull up the covers, forget the world, and just wallow in our self-pity.
But if we seek God, even a glimpse of Him at work around us, He usually shows us something to give us hope. Yesterday I saw it in a quick Christmas greeting text from our son, whom we’ve not heard from since deploying overseas in April. God answered this mother’s prayer to know where her son was. Then in my devotions this morning (once again, I am behind) when I opened Sarah Young’s Jesus Always, to December 11 and read these words:
“I am your Rock in whom you can take refuge-any time, any place. COME to Me, beloved; REST in the Peace of My Presence. Take a BREAK from trying to figure everything out. ADMIT that many, many things are beyond your understanding-and your control.” (These were words I needed. I DON’T have or need all the answers – that’s God’s job.)
Isaiah 55:8-9 became special verses to my parents when they were both diagnosed with cancer within a month of each other.
We can’t explain God. Many times, we can’t understand why God allows bad things to happen to good people. When the world is confusing and overwhelming or when it seems evil is taking control of this world, we need to remember God’s conversation with Job recorded in Job 38-42. God challenges Job to remember “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations? Who kept the sea inside its boundaries? Where does light come from and where does darkness go? Can you direct the constellations through the seasons? Do you know the laws of the universe? Who takes care of all the needs of the animals?” The Lord asks these serious questions in Job 40:2:
“Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?”
Job replies to the Lord and says, “I am nothing, how could I ever find the answers?” The Lord challenges him once again by asking if he can control the Leviathan? Job then realizes the depth of his ignorance. I absolutely love Job’s response recorded in Job 42:2-3:
“I know that You can do anything, and no one can stop You. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions My wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me.
This is where I find myself – I can wallow in my self-pity and question God about all that is happening to and around me OR I can trust that He knows and sees the entire picture, and I need to TRUST HIM for His Wisdom is far greater than mine.
Praying that as you face difficulties and struggles for yourself and your loved ones, that you can COME, REST, and ADMIT that you know nothing about God’s complete and unconditional love for you nor His entire plan for your life. You need to just TRUST in Him.
~ Praying you will grow in your confident trust in God. ~ Faye
God works in amazing ways and He never ceases to amaze me.
Our 7-year-old granddaughter, Claire, asked me the other night how can we hear God talking to us. I tried to explain in a way a second grader would understand, that God speaks to our heart. We don’t necessarily hear God’s voice like people talking to each other, but God uses the Holy Spirit to encourage us in our hearts.
Let me share what happened this past week to show how God has been “talking” to me. Today my husband is going in for his 3rd heart procedure this year, and even though we are trusting in God’s care there are still thoughts of “what if” … Well my devotions this morning started with reading the following:
First I read Sarah Young’s Facebook post:
“Learn to be joyful when things don’t go as you would like. Do not begin your day determined to make everything go your way. Each day you will bump up against at least one thing that doesn’t yield to your will. It could be as trivial as the reflection you see in the mirror or as massive as a loved one’s serious illness or injury. My purpose for you is not to grant your every wish or to make your life easy. My desire is that you learn to trust Me in all circumstances.” —Jesus Always by Sarah Young
I immediately felt God’s presence because of the encouragement I have received from Psalm 62 many times in the past. It was as if He were reminding me, “I’ve got this – Trust me!”
A little later I read from Jesus Always, for October 22 (I’m a few days behind – which God used for my benefit). The very first paragraph said:
“Don’t be afraid to tell Me how weak and weary – even overwhelmed – you feel at times. I am fully aware of the depth and breadth of your difficulties; nothing is hidden from Me. Although I know everything, I wait to hear from you. Pour out your heart to Me, for I am your Refuge. (Again from Psalm 62:8 – God reminding me of His providential care over my concerns.)
Young goes on to say, “Then you rest in the safety of My Presence, trusting that I understand you perfectly and love you with an everlasting Love. Be still, letting My Presence refresh and renew you. Remember that I never leave your side; I am holding you by your right hand.
I knew these words were to continue to encourage me. I’ve been reading Tracie Peterson’s, House of Secrets, which had Isaiah 41:10 & 13 woven through the story –
For I hold you by your right hand—I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.” ~ Isaiah 41:13
In this devotional God was once again reminding me through the words of others and His Word that He is in control of all the details of my life.
The other “funny/amazing” thing is that I’ve had a few people ask me in the past two months when I was going to write for the blog again. I’ve been praying about it, asking God what to write about and God seemed to be leading me to use Psalm 62:8 and Isaiah 41:10,13 but then when I read the last of Young’s devotion for today –
“This gives you courage and confidence to continue your journey. As you go along your path, hear Me saying, ‘Do not fear; I will help you.’” Ps. 46:10
it seemed like God was saying once again – I’ve Got You in the Palm of My Hand! Don’t Fear – Trust Me! I attributed it to trusting God for His Words to guide me in the blog and what to write (and He has once again.)
I didn’t hear God’s words audibly, but I definitely felt the promptings of the Holy Spirit comforting, guiding, and assuring me that He knows everything we are and have been facing. Once again celebrating the abundant blessings of God – Rich’s procedure went well.
Praying you can “hear” God’s promptings and caring in your lives ~ Faye
Sources: © 2016 Sarah Young, Jesus Always: Embracing Joy in His Presence. Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation.
Some days we just need to constantly remind ourselves that God is FAITHFUL – all the time! It is easy on the good days when things are going along smoothly. But what about the days when the kids are more moody than you can handle, the car breaks down, or a friend or family member causes incredible pain?
Speaking from many experiences, I KNOW God is faithful, but I don’t always FEEL it. However, resting and meditating on God’s Word can FILL ME ABUNDANTLY with the assurance of His LOVE and FAITHFULNESS. I may not FEEL it, but deep down I KNOW it.
Having a prodigal child can bring heavy emotions some times. I REST fully in the promise of God’s Covenantal LOVE and GRACE to get me through these difficult times.
Praising God through both the good and difficult times for His LAVISH LOVE and FAITHFULNESS and hope you can as well ~ Faye
I recently spent a few minutes with a precious friend who was nearing the end of her earthly journey and preparing for her heavenly life. It was my pleasure to see her smile when we talked about her running through God’s incredible forests in heaven as she was an avid runner here on earth. Then, as I leaned in closer to her, I said, “God is so good!” She struggled to talk through the pain and medications, but she took every ounce of her energy and repeated back to me, “God — Is — So — Good!” How precious those last words from Sher were to me.
This morning while reading my devotions I was reading from Psalm 104 and came to verse 33 – I was so blessed to know that some of Sher’s last breaths included her praising God. I pray that I will have the same relationship with my Lord and Savior to have praise to Him be on my lips ALL of my days!
Praying you enjoy God’s incredible blessings here on earth as you prepare for eternity with Him ~ 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
Ever wonder WHERE God is in your life? Does He CARE? Does He KNOW what is going on? Prayers go unanswered. People betray and hurt you. Sickness affects loved ones. People die. Does it seem like God is totally absent? I’ve been there recently.
Since I’ve been in such a funk, I’ve begun taking a day away from work and daily responsibilities; a day where I spend several hours just in quiet with God. Peace. Serenity. Calm. I head to a local park. Look out at the lake. I take along my Bible, a journal and pen, and my camera. But most importantly I take an open heart ready to not only talk to God but to just sit still and listen to Him. Where is He prompting me? Guiding Me? Challenging Me? Reminding Me?
A week ago this exercise prompted the following thoughts about being a reflection of God to others through my life. I definitely had NOT been a clear reflection of God since I had been very much wrapped up in my hurts, my worries, my fears, my misery. (Misery does not love company, it just likes to fester and grow all on its own.) As I just sat and talked with God, I felt Him telling me to look closely at the reflection of the lake. A wind had just picked up and the crisp, clear reflection was lightly disturbed by the gentle breeze.
Is this what sin, misery, despair, grief, avoiding God, busyness in my life had done? Do these things disturb my reflection of God in my life? When the storms of life blow into us, where is that peaceful, clear reflection of God? As I watched, a motor boat crossed the reflection and really disturbed the serenity of the mirror image on the shore. The wake fanned out and spread, much like self-pity does. After a while, it took over most of the reflection and it took a long time before the lake returned to the mirror-like image of the shore.
I wondered – where am I in my reflection of God? I realized I had lost the shoreline. I had let every big and little disturbance create choppy waves in my life and God wasn’t being reflected through me. I was letting my worldly cares and concerns disturb God’s peace.
I was letting my feelings and self-centered pity create a disturbance in my reflection of God. I was listening to one of Joyce Meyer’s talks and heard God’s reminder, … don’t care how I FEEL. Remember – I am rooted in God’s love. His love makes me more than a conqueror. He loves me unconditionally. While I was still an enemy of the cross, He died for me and loved me anyway. God will never love me any more than He does right now at this moment.
I am not saying feelings are wrong, but I sure wasn’t remembering the core of my faith from John 3:16-17:
For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him.
God loved me so much – He let His Son die for me to have eternal life. Why am I stuck in self-pity and blaming God for ignoring my life?
My faith had been in a deep battle with the devil, and I had begun to believe his lies instead of resting in God’s truth –
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. ~Hebrews 11;1
I need to continue to be fully in God’s word and presence. I need to be still and listen for His leading and guiding in my life so that I can be a true reflection of His love in my life and to those around me. I need to put on the armor of God so I can stand against Satan’s lies.
I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 15:12 where it says one day we will see everything clearly. In this world, “with devils filled that threatens to undo us,” we can’t fear if we are filled with God’s love, grace and truths. We won’t always understand or “FEEL” that God cares. That’ won’t happen until I am perfectly remade with God. But I do KNOW God knows and loves me always and unconditionally. Praise God!
Stay in God’s Word. Spend time not only talking to God, but taking the time to listen to what He has to say to you. Look for ways God is showing Himself to you – a call from a granddaughter, a monarch or hummingbird being provided for by God’s creation, a sunset, a song …
Praying God will fill your hearts so deeply that all you can do is be a mirror-image of His likeness ~ Faye
I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at My word. ~ Isaiah 66:2
I love the bark of these trees. They are shaggy and quiver in the gentlest breeze. They looked beautiful covered with snow the other day. Today as I was considering this verse from Isaiah, I was drawn to this photo. A simple tree seems to worship its Creator by the beauty of trembling and shedding its bark. Looking at comparisons, I realized the following: First, I too often approach God’s word without the humility of being before my Creator, trembling at being in the presence of His majesty. Second, when I am coated with God’s Word my own trembling, worrying heart is stilled by His love and grace.
This is a very simple, short verse in the Bible, but as I thought about it I wondered, Do I tremble at God’s Word? Do I read it with utmost respect and humility, ready to be changed by even the simplest words or phrases? We have all heard the simple phrase, “Be still and know that I am God.” That phrase alone can change the hearts of the busiest or most hardened person. It reminds the believer to slow down and intentionally BE in the presence of God.
I have been finding it harder to intentionally spend quality time with God. I rush through my five-minute devotional these days because of the busy schedule. I’ve been feeling these nudgings from the Holy Spirit to come back and visit God’s Word. It will give me strength, wisdom, perspective for the day if I don’t rush through the reading, but ponder and meditate on His Word. I’ve been rereading the devotional every day this week that includes this verse from Isaiah 66. I have been both encouraged and challenged in how I have taken God’s precious Word for granted.
I am too often flippantly reading the words and marking of my time with God on my mental checklist. Instead I need to remember, especially at this time of year, the abundant love God has for me that 1) He knew me before I was born and has numbered my days, 2) He has incredible plans for each and every day of my life, and most important 3) He loved me so much that He GAVE His only Son to DIE for me! He allowed His Son to suffer the depths of hell so I could receive His incredible gift of grace and be assured of eternal life.
Forgive me Lord for casually reading Your Word. Remind me of my inadequacy before You. Prick my consciousness so I am drawn back to spending time meditating and digesting Your Word for me each day. Fill me to overflowing with these precious gifts from Your hand.
May you be blessed to Tremble at His Word today.
A few days ago we had a beautifully, heavy, wet winter snow. It coated the trees and was inspirational. I headed out with the camera and was thrilled to once again enjoy such beauty. One of the pictures I’ve always wanted to catch was snow-coated trees with the contrast of the brilliant red cardinal. I was doubly blessed. It was breakfast time for the birds and there were a multitude of them at my friend’s feeder. There were many male and female cardinals that day – and I have multiple pictures to sort through from my adventure.
This morning I was reading my devotional from 1 Peter 1:2
God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and His Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed Him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.
My mind immediately remembered one particular photo of a cardinal set against the snowy tree. The stark contrast was almost like the cardinal was superimposed on the tree. It definitely is set apart and stands out as a striking difference from the serenity of the peaceful tree. This being the season of Lent, Christians focus more often on the sacrifice God gave of His Son to die on the cross to save each one of us from our sins. Peter reminds us that we were chosen by God from before we were born to follow Him. When we believe in the resurrected Jesus Christ, we are filled with God’s Holy Spirit who guides us – our thoughts, actions and desires are set apart to honor God. As Christians our lives are to be set apart to honor Him.
There is an old song by Brian Doerksen – Purify My Heart:
Purify my heart
Let me be as gold and precious silver
Purify my heart
Let me be as gold, pure gold
My heart’s one desire
Is to be holy
Set apart for You, Lord
I choose to be holy
Set apart for You, my Master
Ready to do Your will
Purify my heart
Cleanse me from within
And make me holy
Purify my heart
Cleanse me from my sin
I pray today that each one of God’s beloved followers may be filled with the Spirit to be intentionally set apart from the world to reflect the beauty of God in each one of us ~ Faye
The angel reassured them, “Don’t be afraid!” he said, “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior – yes, the Messiah, the Lord – has been born today.” Luke 2:10-11
I LOVE reading the words – Don’t be afraid! They are written all through the Bible. But they are not easy words to understand and obey.
Can you imagine the setting? A peaceful, quiet night where the shepherds are quietly watching over their sheep. The fire is crackling. Sheep are probably pretty quiet with stomachs filled and resting for the evening. The shepherds main concern were wild animals and weather. When suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. And the first words out of the angel’s mouth – Don’t be afraid! Yeah, right!
We simply read Luke 2 as if it all took place during the period it takes to read the words. However, I’m guessing there was a little response from the shepherds when the glory of the Lord surrounded them. I would think it would take a few moments to let the shock of the angel’s appearing register before the message sunk in. But scripture tells us right after the angel’s message, he was suddenly joined by a host of others – the armies of heaven – praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
Can you imagine? God’s armies opened the heavens to celebrate the Messiah’s birth – God’s predestined plan that He would send His Son as our Savior – EVEN BEFORE He created any one of us!! God sent His Son as His gift of saving grace for each one of us. That grace fills us with God’s peace.
These days it seems like there is very little peace on earth good will to men. With the devastating shootings in Connecticut, to international uprisings, fiscal cliffs, divorce, chronic illness, pain, death, loss everywhere you turn – how can God’s Words be – Don’t be afraid – I bring you peace on earth?
I discovered a burglary at work recently. It was very unsettling to know someone is desparate enough to violate someone else’s space and take things that didn’t belong to them. God’s Word is the calm I found after that. Man can’t reassure me that it won’t happen again, but God fills me with His peace and reminds me – Don’t be afraid. One of the visible assurances that I fell to sleep with the first night was hugging a stuffed bear I received from my husband many years ago while I drifted off for a restful night of peace. Hugging the bear reminded me that God holds me tightly in His grip. He doesn’t let go.
John 10:28-29 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and He is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.
If our God who:
- Predestined (knew before hand) that He would send His Son, Jesus to be the Savior for all mankind – whom He had not created yet,
- Created the universe and mankind with a free will to choose to love and obey Him,
- Promises in Romans 8:38-39 that nothing can separate us from His love, and
- Holds us so securely that no one can take us from His hand,
then His words should resound fully in our hearts – Don’t Be Afraid!!!
In John 16, Jesus assures His disciples that there will be peace – in Christ. Just before Jesus was arrested, crucified and resurrected, He shared these words with the disciples:
Then His disciples said, “At last You are speaking plainly and not figuratively. Now we understand that You know everything, and there’s no need to question You. From this we believe that You came from God.” Jesus asked, “Do you finally believe? But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving Me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with Me. I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
The peace from God is eternal. There will still be wars, death, pain, destruction, trials here on earth, but our peace comes from the assurance that Jesus Christ broke the chains of death and is reigning with God in glory. Therefore, Don’t Be Afraid!
I’ve been so blessed by the words of Laura Story’s, Blessings. She was newly married and her husband dealt with a brain tumor. She talks about blessings coming from the trials of life – What if trials of this life – the rain, the storms, the hardest nights are Your mercies in disguise. As the world struggles to cope with the destruction in this world, when we turn to God we will find our hope, joy and peace through His grace and love.
“When Jesus takes your hand, He keeps you tight. When Jesus keeps you tight, He leads you through your whole life. When Jesus leads you through your life, He brings you safely home.” ~ Corrie ten Boom
Praying that you may be filled to overflowing the the Peace of God that comes from the true meaning of Christmas ~ Faye
It is the season of anticipation, expectation, eagerness and HOPE. As Christians we call the four Sundays prior to Christmas as Advent. We are eagerly awaiting Christ’s birth. I started a small Advent Bible study with Good Morning Girls today and was reading through several Bible passages that they provided.
Jeremiah 33:14 says,
Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and He shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.
God tell us in Isaiah 60:19b, “… the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.” We won’t need the sun and the moon for our light. When we have God’s Son, Jesus Christ, in the depths of our heart, we will be filled with a light that will never go out. We anticipate that promised light first through the birth of Jesus, which we celebrate at Christmas, and second for His promised return.
I love the verse in Romans 15:13 that says,
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
But it wasn’t until I started reading about the HOPE we have during the season of Advent that I realized, or at least remembered, that this verse of hope-filled blessing comes after Paul is telling the Romans that Christ came for Jews and Gentiles. Paul reminds them of the promise from Isaiah, “The root of Jesse will come (King David’s father), even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.” Then Paul reminds those of us not born of Jewish ancestry, that God is the God of hope because He has promised to send The Way of salvation to all people.
As I read all these verses on God’s plan of salvation from the first sin recorded in Genesis throughout the His Word, I was reminded of an article by Patrick Wood, Beyond His Hand. Wood talks about Sacred Remembrances as gifts from God’s Word that help us in our daily walk. The Israelites had countless opportunities to remember the way God provided for them — parting the water, manna and quail from heaven, water from the rock, sandals that never wore out in 40 years, and so much more. These reminders could help shape the Israelites’ faith when they faced the giants in Canaan, but sadly the Israelites didn’t remember how God cared for their needs and answered their prayers.
During Advent we are encouraged to look back on the promises in God’s Word of the promised Savior. We often look at four key words – Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy in the countdown to celebrating Christ’s birth. This week is traditionally the week that focuses on Hope. Hope is defined as: “to cherish a desire with anticipation; or to expect with confidence.” As Christians we have the HOPE of a life forever with God where there is no more weeping, pain, destruction, chronic illnesses, loss of life, and so much more. We expect with confidence the hope of life everlasting through the birth, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Wood encouraged his readers to focus on the Sacred Remembrances from God’s providence in our lives to help us in the tough times, the times when despair and hopelessness take over. We need to remember the time we took off half an hour late only to find ourselves sitting in an hour traffic jam as an accident that happened a little earlier was being cleared off the road. We need to remember God’s provision of medications that help deal with an illness. We need to rejoice in the friends and family that come along side of us to encourage us when we are struggling with loss. Wood even encourages his readers to create a timeline of your life where you definitely saw God’s hand over the years and let those “landmarks” help convince you of the confidence you have deep within from God. These Sacred Remembrances help us see not only what God has done, but who God is – faithful, caring, giving, loving, gentle, gracious, merciful, the Great Physician …
In order for you to have that HOPE that is truly an expectation filled with confidence that Jesus Christ has come and will come again, take time to read God’s Word. Put His truths in your heart. Dwell on the Sacred Remembrances of ALL that God has done for you in your life and in the lives of those you love.
I encourage you to take the challenge I will take for myself this week. Go to your Bible or http://www.biblegateway.com and search the many passages that have the word HOPE in them.
Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.
It’s that time of year where we walk around the property and clean up the shrubs and gardens that are done producing. It means pulling up the frost-bit tomatoes and the browned sweet potatoes. It means reshaping my evergreen before winter so the Christmas lights will look nice on it.
I love God’s incredible timing because I’m just reading through a daily devotional a page or two at a time and I started midyear, so I’m not on the correct date in my reading. However, that seems to let God bless me more in very intentional words needed at just the right time. In Abundant Life Day Book by Nancy Guthrie, she looks at the Bible verses in the photo. Then she shares how God knows how to specifically nurture me into a faithful branch in God’s vineyard. Working in the garden center, I’ve watched how some of the staff has learned over the years to read the individual plants. They know which ones need more water or less, who needs to be repotted because it has become pot-bound and is no longer taking in the nourishment needed. And they know when and what plants need fertilizer and which ones don’t. When I compare that to Guthrie’s comments, I am stunned at how closely God pays attention to the details that surround me. If I need time with Him, He may cause a slow-me-down (often one that I’m not willing to take the time to deal with, but so necessary in hindsight). He may have to prune me to shape me into what He wants me to be now and in my heavenly home. He knows what activities are sapping my energy and He will trim it away.
One of Guthrie’s comments rang very true, “God may cut out some of the activities you enjoy so that in the stillness you can hear My voice.” I cannot tell you how true this is, but many who face chronic illnesses definitely know the truth of these words. For me, that was the enjoyment I had in working with teens in youth group – teaching, encouraging, worshiping, fooling around with, attending activities … it was what seemed to be the one way God allowed me to worship and serve Him. God changed that and told me it was time to step down after about a year of dealing with RA. It was hard. I argued with God and struggled with the let down. But God in His infinite wisdom allowed me to grow during the period after working with teens. He had a lot to teach me about BEING with Him. And the more I am with Him, the more I realize I want to be with Him even more. But I struggle with “finding” – no really with “making” time for Him. I know that if I don’t He’ll have another slow-me-down to help prune me and shape me into what He wants me to be.
Pruning and cutting hurt. Sometimes pruning is a simple snip from a clippers, other times it is a hard snap from a loppers or sometime it takes a hacksaw to cut away the dead growth. Whatever it takes, I need to remember that God’s pruning is with purpose, it is never careless or just because. He has learned to read me like a book and knows whether I need water, fertilizer or pruning.
By the way, again in God’s infinite wisdom and timing, I’m working with young people in a totally different perspective by helping them as they learn how to lead others in worship. I get to spend good time with them, hearing how life is going and encouraging them in their relationship with God.
Incredibly blessed by God’s incredible timing and careful pruning ~ Faye
“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
I read this after having watched Louie Giglio’s Indescribable video where I was reminded how incredibly great God is that He holds the entire universe between the span of His thumb and fingers. Then preparing for a Bible Study on Samuel, I was reminded how God called Samuel specifically in the middle of the night to begin his ministry as judge, prophet and high priest.
My devotional for that day went on to talk about our bodies being the temple of God. God didn’t buy us to make us His slave, but to make us HIS DWELLING PLACE, to FILL US WITH HIS VERY PRESENCE! Just as the High Priests had to be pure to come into God’s dwelling place in the Temple, so we must keep our dwelling place pure. We must get rid of all the sins that hinder us from being a pure and beautiful dwelling place for God. God wants us to know the joy of honoring Him with our bodies.
How incredible – the God of the universe CHOSE to send HIS SON to save us and DWELLS IN us through the power of His Holy Spirit. I’m humbled, honored and awestruck at our AMAZING GOD!
Praying we all appreciate the blessing of being challenged to live in the knowledge that we are the DWELLING PLACE OF GOD ~ Faye
Recently our church celebrated 40 years of God’s faithfulness. Our church is a close-family church. It has been very transitional over the years as 2/3rds of the members have moved on to other places. Yet it has always held a core family, care-giving feel for all who enter her doors. Many people who have attended, especially in the early years were far away from their families, so Peace Christian Reformed Church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa became their family and close friendships were formed. This was evident when many members returned for the anniversary, and people struck up conversations as if they had seen each other yesterday. As I reflect on and reviewed some of the pictures, ones that I find truly striking in God’s faithfulness are the following:
The first one is very personal as it is my husband’s parents, aunt and uncle, cousins and our children and granddaughter. I am blessed to see four generations spanning eight decades worshiping together. We have grown from each others’ faith. Everyone in this group has personally seen God’s hand of caring, leading and unconditional love placed on them over the years. It is truly a blessing when a parent looks at the next generation and sees that they too are singing these words with meaning –
“One generation will call to the next, ‘Our God is good and His hand is strong!’ All of the world sings His marvelous acts, and we too, will add our voice to the song.” (Greg Scheer ©2006 Faith Alive Christian Resources).
The theme verses for the weekend were from Psalm 119:89-90 ~
Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations; You established the earth, and it endures.
The next five pictures show what seeds planted and sharing God’s love and grace to others can do. When God is at work and the people trust God’s leading, nothing can stop Him. You see, Peace Church tried to start seven years earlier and after a time the Board decided it was not time to proceed with a church in Cedar Rapids. But with God continuing to give His vision and drive to a few people – Vacation Bible schools were held, and worship services met in a funeral home, library and Bowman Woods school until seven years later the Board approved and Peace Church was officially started.
When I look at the growth in numbers alone, I’m amazed. But when I think of ALL the people who have been impacted by just one small church, many who didn’t make it back for the weekend, and all the thousands of lives touched through Vacation Bible school, Calvinettes/GEMS, Cadets, Sunday School, youth groups, worship services, preschool, DivorceCare, AA meetings and so many more – how unfathomable are His ways! We don’t have to have the 4-step gospel presentation memorized to share God’s love and grace. We just need to show God’s love and grace to others ~ God does the rest. The numerical growth in these pictures didn’t happen from a few people doing everything, it happened because God was and is at work.
Each one of these people have faced challenges in their lives, some losing children others spouses or parents; some job loss others face continual health issues. The list goes on. Life has happened to each of these people. There are times I know several of them (and likely most of them) have said – “Why God!” But they have not given up their faith. Because they know that all things work together for God according to God’s purpose. He has a plan for each and every one of our lives. Through trusting in God’s leading and through the love, support and encouragement of our Christian family we face each new day with the ability to say Our God is Good, and His hand is strong!
Praying you will let God use you to touch a life today in incredible testimony to Him ~ Faye
I’ve so enjoyed my walks lately – especially in the early dawn before the birds begin to sing. I’ve seen muskrats and raccoons, owls, blue herons and even an early eagle. (They usually don’t show up until November in our area.) But I’ve been very intrigued by the Indigo Bunting. The female and young buntings are brown, but the Indigo Blue of the male is striking. So I did some more research on it. I found out that the beautifully deep blue of the bunting isn’t really a blue bird – “actually it is a black bird. The bunting lacks blue pigment in its feathers (just like the Blue Jay). The sunlight is refracted within the structure of the male bunting’s feathers, making them appear blue. ” (allaboutbirds.com)
I began to remember the verse in 2 Corinthians 3:18 that talks about Christians reflecting the glory of God. As sinful man we are like the black bird. We don’t have any stunning color. But as the glory of God grows within us through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us, the more we reflect God’s beauty within us, changing us, transforming us into stunning “blue birds”.
All of us who are Christians have no veils on our faces, but reflect like mirrors the glory of the Lord. We are transfigured by the Spirit of the Lord in ever-increasing splendor into his own image. New Living Translation
So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. J. B. Phillips
Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him. The Message
The depth of beauty in the Indigo Bunting is incredibly stunning. He stands out and is seen much easier than the browns of the female. I pray that the blessing of God’s glory shines through you as you go out and share His love with others.
Abundantly blessed this week by a tiny little blue bird ~ Faye
Years ago I took piano lessons. I hated doing scales and wanted to just sit down and play the songs I enjoyed. Of course, those who play piano realize that practicing those arpeggios is what helps to make the fingers move with greater dexterity over the keyboard. My mom would set the timer, set it on the piano and I would begin practicing. I know there were many times I moved the timer a minute, and the next day two minutes faster, and so on. I HATED to practice, I just wanted to PLAY.
I was reading the July/August Worship Leader magazine, and a few things caught my attention.
Spontaneity often comes from practice being made perfect. Seems like an irony, but listen to this quote from Ben Patterson on the honing of our skills and spontaneity in our worship: “A good metaphor for the true freedom of disciplined Christian worship can be found in the dancer’s art. Nothing looks more free and spontaneous than a great dancer performing. But beneath all of that freedom and spontaneity are years of drills, repetition, sweat, strain and more drills. Sunday morning worship is to the rest of our lives what cultivation is to a garden. We weed, prune, water and feed to the end that the garden may be beautiful – spontaneous – gardens are not; disciplined – gardens are.” (go.wlmag.com/wlpatterson)
In an article by Rick Lee James, titled Billy Joel Taught Me How to Pray, James tells how Joel shared his routine for writing songs. He would sit at his piano for at least one hour a day. He’d play scales, familiar tunes, or anything that came to mind. Sometimes that period of time would drag on when no creativity surfaced, but other times one hour turned to many more as he showed up at the piano, got involved and waited for something to happen. Joel noted that “If I hadn’t been there, I would have missed it.” James likens this to spending time with God. How often does God want to shower us with His blessings, encourage us with His words, or enfold us in His love but we are too busy running. Some of the things we are so busy with are good things like taking kids to their next practice or leading worship a worship service. But we’ve allowed the busyness to encroach on our personal time with God. Just spending time with Him. Meditating on who God is. Being filled with Him.
Sometimes we are so busy doing things for God that we don’t take the time to just BE WITH GOD.
At times it is very frustrating to continue bringing the same requests for a loved one to God in prayer when it seems like the prayers are never answered. In reality, those requests are not unheard. They are shaping, preparing and posturing us in our relationship with God. So many times during the quiet periods from God where it seems like He isn’t listening we grow frustrated and want to quit spending time with Him. When in reality if we keep “showing up” for time with God He surprises us in ways very unexpected and often more meaningful.
Our church is encouraging each other to share the gospel message of God’s salvation plan through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. This can happen off the cuff in conversations, but more often than not, the conversation flows much easier when we’ve spent time with God. For me sometimes the hardest thing to do is sit still with NO distractions and just BE in God’s presence. However, when I “practice” it on a regular basis – it becomes more precious and incredibly spontaneous, personal worship occurs.
Due to some personal challenges recently, I’ve had to lean on God a lot, and yet I have felt so drained because I let the busyness of the circumstances steal my focus on just BEING before the face of God. I need to get back to my Billy Joel teaching – “If I hadn’t been there – I would have missed it.” I need to spend much needed time with God, for when I do – He blesses me in ways that are too wonderful for me to comprehend. One of those was standing at church yesterday talking with two precious friends and receiving their reminders of God’s love and grace through the difficult times and the blessing of just BEING with God.
Celebrating the abundant blessing of God’s encouragement to “Practice, practice, practice!” ~ Faye
What a blessing to know that the best is yet to come. God is saving the absolute best gift for us – when we will see Him as He is. God will be revealed to us in ALL His resplendent glory. Moses saw only a glimpse of the backside of God and was transformed by His radiance.
Exodus 33:17-23 – The Lord replied to Moses, “I will indeed do what you have asked, for I look favorably on you, and I know you by name.” Moses responded, “Then show me Your glorious presence.” The Lord replied, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will call out My name, Yahweh, before you. For I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose. But you may not look directly at My face, for no one may see Me and live.” The Lord continued, “Look, stand near Me on this rock. As My glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove My hand and let you see Me from behind. But My face will not be seen.”
Exodus 34: 29-30 – When Moses came down Mount Sinai carrying the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, he wasn’t aware that his face had become radiant because he had spoken to the Lord. So when Aaron and the people of Israel saw the radiance of Moses’ face, they were afraid to come near him.
The people all knew Moses had been in the presence of the Lord because God’s splendor shown on Moses. Can you imagine what happens the day we stand before God? We will be transformed – in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye.
God blesses our lives with so many good things – family, friends, His grace and mercy, wisdom, insight, joy and peace to name a few. But there will be a day when all the pains and difficulties of this life will be left behind. We will receive the ultimate healing in life – those who believe in Jesus Christ, as their Lord and Savior, will stand before Him and He will show us His face. The Lord’s face will shine on us and His countenance will shine upon us and we will be filled with His grace and peace.
We have incredibly abundant blessings today through God’s grace. However, we go through each day knowing that the best is yet to come – when we will see God face to face ~ Faye
What an incredible comfort and blessing! God watches over us. We need sleep. Many flowers close up at night for protection and rest. Many animals seek cover at night and rest, or if they are “night owls”, the rest during the day. But we have the wonderful knowledge that God NEVER SLEEPS. He is constantly watching over each one of us. Not just in the small town of Palo, or the larger metropolis of Cedar Rapids, or even just the United States. God watches the entire UNIVERSE. Nothing is out of His control!
I just finished The Quest for Serenity by G.H. Morling and he ends the book with these reminders:
- Begin the day remembering you are loved and chosen by God. He is your Creator and you belong to Him.
- In order to maintain tranquility throughout the day – RELAX. It is a skill that we must accomplish – learn to relax. It is necessary for a REST-FILLED day.
- Live with a heart filled with JOY and PRAISE. Look for the good things in life each day – sunshine, breath, birds singing …
- Don’t be anxious, filled with worry. Surrender your concerns to God remembering He is in control of all things. “Take definite action about your worry. Tell yourself that it is futile and wasteful and even sinful (when continually rehashing something) because it denies the care of your Heavenly Father.”
- End the day with sleep that is filled with rest from God. Can’t fall asleep – remember these words which bring perspective, “What helped me to pass wakeful hours was just remembering the Insomnia of God: Behold He that keepeth Israel – He slumbers not, nor sleeps.”
May your day be filled with the blessings of remembering our God is a 24/7/365 day God ~ Faye
The yield of our life does not depend so much on the number of things that we do, but more on the quality of self-giving that we put to each thing. In order to add this quality, we must depart from this atmosphere of the modern world which is completely obsessed with activism, even in the church: do, do, do always more. Let us rather, once again, become inspired and tranquil men.
A recent conversation with a friend reminded me of where I was in my 20s and 30s. I was busy raising a family, starting my own secretarial business and serving God. At least that’s what I was telling myself I was aspiring to. But in reality over the years, I’ve learned that too often I was “doing” church. My husband and I remember our very young son, at the time, in the back seat of the car once asking, “Are we going to church again tonight?” We had been there 3 times for meetings during the week and twice on Sunday. It made us rethink WHY we were involved. Were we looking for the accolades that come with being “committed” to serving God? Were we hoping to “earn a jewel for our crown” by doing one more thing? Were we hoping to appear more holy to God? Were we simply seeing a need and filling it, but quite possibly at the expense of our own spiritual lives? Were we actually enjoying serving God out of grateful hearts? Looking back, I think it was some of each of these. There were Sundays when we showed up to worship God, but were so busy with teaching, leading, or some other task that we missed the opportunity to truly worship and praise God, giving thanks for the blessing He gave us that week. We were too busy “doing” church and not taking the essential time of giving glory to God for ALL He has done for us.
Years of reading God’s Word, listening to messages, reading books like The Quest for Serenity and Celebration of Disciplines by Foster have encouraged me to really think why I am “doing” something for God. During a time when my R.A. was really interfering with my lifestyle, I couldn’t “do” much of anything physically. I found myself having a purposeful “slow-me-down” from God. During that time I grew in my relationship with God because I knew my “doing” had to be mostly emotional, mental and spiritual instead of physical.
Too often Christians love to be busy for God, but we miss the resting in God. Once we life restfully with God and in God, we will be filled with restful lives. The Westminster Catechism reminds us that “Man’s chief end is” – not personal happiness – “but to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Don’t let your lives become so busy DOING that you don’t take time BEING filled with God’s presence. The calm and serenity is really worth it.
May the blessings of God rest upon you.
May God’s peace abide in you.
May God’s presence illuminate your heart
Now and forever more.
Somebody goes with you wherever you go,
Somebody really and truly cares
and lovingly listens to all your prayers …
Don’t doubt for a minute that this is not true,
FOR GOD LOVES HIS CHILDREN and takes care of them, too . . .
And all of his treasures are yours to share
If you love Him completely and show Him you care . . .
And if you “walk in His footsteps” and have the faith to believe,
There’s nothing you ask for that you will not receive!
~ Helen Steiner Rice
I have always appreciated this poem. I have come to realize that it isn’t a guarantee that I will get the exact thing I pray for. But it is a reminder that I BELONG TO MY HEAVENLY FATHER, that I have value and worth in His eyes, and that God will fill me with His presence through every storm and struggle as well as beautifully sunny days.
Enjoy basking in His presence ~ Faye
This week we are studying Ephesians 3:14-21 with Good Morning Girls. (See the top right side panel of God’s Abundant Blessings.) I love this passage. I cannot comprehend the depths and vastness of God’s love. I can’t understand why He blesses us more than ALL we can ask or imagine, but He does. Now, I’m not saying if you pray for healing, God will answer with perfect health, just the way you or I want. But what I’m saying from my experience is that when I turn my life over to Him, He takes care of ALL the details and provides for my needs in ways I never could have asked for or imagined. He does this because of His immense, overpowering love for us. It’s indescribable!
Paul definitely gives us a glimpse of God’s love. He can’t describe it either, but he prays for us to have a full understanding of God’s glorious, unlimited resources; His riches. He tells the Ephesians and Gentiles that he wants them to understand/comprehend how wide, and long, and high, and deep is God’s amazing love. How incredibly blessed we are.
But now, O Jacob, listen to the LORD who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are MINE. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”
Some of us have been through house fires, flood waters, tornados, hurricanes and other devastating natural disasters. Many have felt the calm presence that can only come from God in those difficult times of loss, grief and shock. As you deal with insurance companies or FEMA and the tiring rebuilding process, you can so easily become weary and overwhelmed. Yet God, out of His INFINITE love, has promised to be with us. He is pulling us up out of the muddy waters. He’s the shield around us in the flames.
Some of you may not relate “literally” to the natural disasters in these verses, however, we’ve all been in the deep waters of financial difficulties and job loss or the difficult rivers of chronic or terminal illnesses. We’ve felt the flames from the fires of oppression in difficult relationships. But we don’t have to fear when these trials come. Why? Because we are blessed with being called by the LORD, the God who made each one of us.
If you don’t know this amazing God, just open your heart to Him, call out to Him. Ask Him to be your LORD and Savior. Realize that out of His overwhelming love for each one of us, He sent His Son to die on the cross to save us from our sinful selves when we believe on Him. When we tell God we want to belong to Him, we are filled with the fullness of life from the Holy Spirit. We are filled to overflowing with the incomprehensible, unfathomable love of Christ.
Praying you are blessed with being “filled through all your being with God Himself”! ~ Faye
Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. — Matthew 7:7-8 NLT
I recently felt God prompting me to spend a day in prayer and fasting. I thought and prayed about it for a few days and the feeling didn’t leave. So on a Monday morning before getting out of bed, I dedicated the day to God and what He had planned for me to learn. I had recently been reviewing my business’s yearend documentation and saw how God had provided, despite a significant loss in business for the past two years. I was longing to be more productive, but the business wasn’t coming in. I had been asking God – “What next? When? How long? Guide me.” As I was preparing for the day, my fax machine started spewing page after page of work from a client I hadn’t had anything from for a few months. There was definitely a time of praise and thanksgiving to God! But I didn’t let it interrupt my commitment to God. And boy am I glad I didn’t because God continued to answer.
After reading God’s word for a while and praying, I decided to go for a walk. I went down by the river and enjoyed seeing some eagles, a hawk and some other birds. But mostly, I just enjoyed walking and talking with God. I asked Him, with a boldness and confidence I don’t always come to Him with, about my future – Do I go out looking for a job? Do I wait? Would He please make it very clear to me that He had plans for me. And I shared some specific things I desired if I were to work outside of the home. While I was walking past some friends’ business, the owner came out and asked me to talk. He talked about the possibility of a part-time job. Now I really wanted to fall on my knees before God in prayer. This is the perfect answer to my prayers. God knew the variety of my needs and concerns about working and He provided with THE best answer – it included many of the specific things I had requested.
I have to tell you it was so refreshing to spend such a concentrated and purposeful day with God. I didn’t just fast from food, but turned off most of the worldly distractions. I didn’t start the day with the morning news. I didn’t read my emails. I didn’t check Facebook, aside from my morning devotion with my Ephesians Bible study group. I didn’t even have the radio on! Those who know me know that I usually surround myself with some form of noise. But this day just seemed like a day I should devote to God.
But to see God work so immediately – when I LISTENED to HIS LEADINGS! Too often I pray quickly something like, “LORD, You know my needs. Help me see what You have for me.” But God tells us in Matthew 7 that whatever we ask for we will receive, seek and we will find, knock and the door will be opened. Jesus teaches us persistence in our prayer. God will provide for our daily needs and pour out His spiritual blessings.
Ephesians 3:12 says, Because of Christ and our faith in Him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.
We are blessed to be able to come BOLDLY AND CONFIDENTLY into the presence of the KING of Kings! We can ask Him anything, talk to Him about everything because He cares. Instead of being afraid for our life, like Queen Esther was when she appeared before King Xerxes without being summoned; God invites us to come to Him ANYTIME with the assurance that He will welcome us and hear us.
Even though we can come BOLDLY and CONFIDENTLY into His presence, we must also surrender to Him and LISTEN for His prompting us to be in agreement with His Will for our lives.
I have spent the past two weeks almost pinching myself for God’s answers. Then I find that I’m chiding myself because I believe firmly that God is able to immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine. Have I been limiting God by not BOLDLY ASKING WITH THE CONFIDENCE THAT HE GIVES ABUNDANTLY? Have I been too busy and distracted not to LISTEN?
I encourage you to find that special time with God. Whether it’s 10 minutes in the car while you’re waiting for kids to get out of volleyball or waiting at the doctor’s office, tune out all the distractions and focus on what He is saying to you.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to Him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21
Celebrating the immeasurable blessings of God ~ Faye
I have a young friend who has lived with painful health issues for many years. This person has taught and encouraged me by their reliance on God through the sufferings endured. Bible verses that provide encouragement and a goal for this person are James 1:2-4:
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. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
The testimony of this quiet, young person is very powerful because through the suffering endured / persevered the depth of maturity in their faith has been an inspiration to me. There is an inner joy and peace. There is a quiet, gentle spirit that flows from the heart of this person.
This morning God reminded me of a photo and verse I have by my bedside to encourage me. (Funny how something can be right next to you for a long time and pretty soon you don’t see it.)
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love. – Romans 5:3-8
How many times do we feel incredibly helpless, and worse hopeless? How often do we let life overwhelm us? As believers in Christ we are told life will be filled with trials of many kinds. Life won’t always go the way we want it to. We should anticipate them, but we often can’t plan for the events. However, as one study said, we can be prepared for them when they occur by being rooted and grounded in God’s word. We need to remember that God is in control and as Ephesians 2:8-10 says
God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.
When trials happen, we should look for ways to see God at work in our lives bringing a maturity to our faith. And in the blessing of our maturing faith, we will become filled with the confident hope we have through our Savior, Jesus Christ.
I’m not sure what God has in mind for me – thinking of this friend, being reminded of all these verses in 5 days, but focusing on the joy-filled life through Christ has been a blessing to my heart. And being rooted and established firmly in His word fills me with hope.
I pray that you are filled abundantly with the hope-filled joy given through God’s grace ~ 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 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
God pours out His blessings on us every day. However, it seems during the holiday season we notice the blessings even more. I noticed this Sunday how I was blessed with hugs and warm greetings from numerous people, even ones I didn’t expect. I have been filled with God’s love through others since early yesterday morning. Those simple acts of caring were a reflection of God’s love and care and have left me filled to overflowing
There are days when I can be in a room filled with fellow believers in Christ and leave so alone. Was it them, or was it me? A quote I read yesterday challenged me, “…our behavior and heart condition do determine whether we receive the fullness of God’s blessings.” Is my heart and my attitude ready to openly receive? Or do I stay to the fringe of the room, talk to the same people always or keep too busy so that I don’t allow anyone close?
Yesterday God worked through so many people to bless me. And it wasn’t just happening to me. I saw several small groups gathered listening, encouraging, crying with, hurting for, celebrating and sharing the love of God.
Isaiah 55:1-3 says,
Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink – even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk – it’s all free! Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen to me, and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the finest food. Come to Me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life. I will make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David.
I was blessed yesterday to be filled with life, abundant life in Christ; shown through others who believe in Him. I’m not sure if it’s the season, or the fact that we focused on the Lord’s Supper and our brokenness being restored through Christ’s blood. Whatever it was, the Holy Spirit was moving among His people and working at filling them. What a blessing to be filled to overflowing with the love of Christ, freely given to all who believe, and easily shared when we are focused on Him.
May you enjoy God’s overflowing love and presence ~ Faye
I am abundantly blessed! I know this because I’ve just spent some time reviewing my journal. It’s the time of year to prepare the annual Christmas letter. So reviewing some of the blessings and ways I’ve seen God’s hand has been such a wonderful reminder of His providential love and care.
For several years I’ve kept a journal in a planning calendar that gives me just enough space to fill in thoughts for each day. Usually I don’t miss a day unless there are some health issues that keep me from it. There are days where the praise of seeing God’s hand at work just flow on the page. And there are days where I haven’t “seen” God, but I know He is providing for my needs. Thankful for a “warm furnace on a cold day, a bowl of hot soup, energy to exercise, or medicine to help improve lifestyle through chronic illness.”
However there was a period this year where I went from mid-May to July of not journaling. Some of this was because we were abundantly blessed to spend 5 weeks with our active 7 year old granddaughter who took up a lot of time. But most of it was a time of introspection, frustration and anger at God for “not being there,” at least not in the way I wanted Him to answer my prayers and show Himself to me. There were several big changes and losses that had happened from January on. I just wanted God to “give us a break” when it came to health, finances, relationships, etc. It seemed like we were living on a perpetual rollercoaster.
In retrospect I realize I didn’t want to write things down on paper that I was grateful for or ways I’d seen God because I was mad at Him. I was angry that God, Who is in control of all things in my life, was allowing these things to happen. During a time of vacation and rest with friends’ who live on a lake, I did a lot of thinking and praying about why I was so angry at God. I realized that wasn’t how I wanted to continue living. One of the first ways to change that was to pick up my journal and start noticing the blessings again.
Thoughts began with the simple things like “air conditioning, a bed to sleep in, and granddaughter cleaning up”. But quickly came the “see Your hand guiding me toward words of encouragement.” Things didn’t automatically get better because 3 days after starting the journaling, I had news that the meds to help the RA symptoms were potentially damaging my liver, and so had to change meds once again. But this time I stayed focus on the blessings. The first week back to journaling ends with “For the blessings of seeing people worship you – How Great Thou Art!”
We have a great and awesome God. We are abundantly blessed to have God’s Word to fill us, refresh us, encourage us, and draw us back to Him.
What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since He did not spare even His own Son but gave Him up for us all, won’t He also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for His own? No one—for God Himself has given us right standing with Himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and He is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:31-39
Thank You God, I am abundantly blessed that You do not leave me nor forsake me even when I turn my back on You in anger. You continue to hold out Your arms for me to come back to You. Thank You!
Abundantly Blessed by God ~ Faye
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