Category Archives: God’s Grace
As we near Good Friday and Easter, Christians’ thoughts often go to the incredible sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. We are filled with HOPE in spite of all the tragedies and trials of the world around us. We know WHO is in control of ALL things.
God showers us with His UNFAILING LOVE when He gave us His Son …
For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life. Here’s the point. God didn’t send His Son into the world to judge it; instead, He is here to rescue a world headed toward certain destruction.
John 3:16-17 The Voice
Praying you experience God’s unfailing love through the grace and blood of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. ~ Faye
Once again, I hear God telling me to be quiet and enjoy time with Him from so many sources. Our pastor begins his Lent series on Come and Rest Sunday, February 18 (a worship service I co-planned this week). I created banners for church for this series – Be Still and Know that I am God, from Psalm 46:10. My First15 devotional has been focusing this week on hearing God. Continuing reading from Brennan Manning’s The Furious Longing of God had me reviewing John 15:4 – Abide in Me, and I in You.
So you’d THINK I’d get it that God was encouraging me to spend time with Him, just being in His presence. BUT NO! I enjoyed binge-watching Downton Abbey, read a murder mystery, worked on several good and creative outlets, played games and crafted with my granddaughter …
… However, I didn’t just spend time being WITH God. I didn’t stop and rest in His presence. I kept busy with so many other things, that I kept ignoring His promptings. Yet God is patient. He continues to love me. He won’t leave me. He desires time with me, but He won’t pressure or walk away from me. He gently and lovingly reminds me to spend time with Him. I don’t mean just in devotions, reading a snip-it from God’s word and then someone else’s take on what He is saying (like this blog), but intentionally spending time WITH God.
Recently my husband and I enjoyed time with friends and new acquaintances for an evening. We talked and ate, and ate and talked for 4-5 hours. We got to know each other a little more during that time. If we had spent 15 minutes together, we’d have barely touched the surface. How much more important is God’s time with us?
The world can KEEP us busy. There are always plenty of things to do, many are very good things. But what is better? Spending quality time WITH God. I will be working this week. I will be watching the Olympics. I will spend time with my granddaughter. I will be busy with worship planning, work, and “maybe helping” Rich shovel snow. However, I know God has been encouraging me to find time this week to turn off all the distracts and just enjoy BEING WITH HIM!
Praying you are able to find time to BE WITH GOD this week as well ~ Faye
I LOVE the word COVENANT. Basically, the human covenant is an “oath-bound relationship” between two or more parties (i.e., marriage). The divine covenant is established between God and His people.
There are about 280 references to covenant in the Old Testament and 33 times in the New Testament.
The covenant made between husband and wife before God is meant to be forever. The covenants made between God and His people are to be forever. God keeps His covenant promises with His people ALWAYS!
He is so sincere in His promises that His covenant was given to save each and every one of us.
The old covenant played a vital role in the history of redemption as it showed Israel three things: (1) how they ought to live and worship; (2) their need for a Savior because of their sins; and (3) the grace of God in revealing Himself to them and calling them His “treasured possession.”
The big picture of the covenant of grace, which structures the history of redemption, always maintains the focus on God’s desire to relate to His people, and ultimately to dwell among them and in them. He does this preeminently by His Spirit through His Son, Jesus Christ (Eph. 3:17). ~ Mark Jones
Praying you can keep God’s covenant and enjoy the blessings of a close relationship with Him ~ Faye
I wonder how it felt …
… Mary, a young teen, in her room and suddenly the angel Gabriel appears to her and says, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!” What would your response be? Aside from the fear and shock of seeing the angel, disbelief at his message? The Bible says Mary was confused, disturbed and wondered what the angel meant. Gabriel repeats, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God!
I like how one author says, “She’s so ‘greatly troubled here that the angel asks her to sit down and catch her breath. ‘Fear not,’ he says in an attempt to comfort her. ‘You really are favored by God!'”
Favored (preferred/chosen) – Would you think you were preferred, precious, or chosen? Your whole life would change in a minute. You would be a social outcast as an unwed mother. All of your hopes, plans and dreams would be looking doubtful.
Each and every one of us is a precious and chosen child of God. Psalm 139:13-18 says,
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious (amazing are your thoughts concerning me) to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.
What does Mary do after Christ is born? After the reality of all the upside-down life-changing events? She sings, praises and worships her LORD. She realizes Immanuel, God is With Us, has come to earth to be our Savior, Messiah. He actually was WITH her, inside her, a sinner. Mary wasn’t perfect. She wasn’t holy. She was a virgin and she was chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus. Once everything starts to sink in and she holds her baby, Jesus, in her arms, her heart sings. She can only sit in wonder, praising her Lord from the depth of her soul.God talks to you through His word, other people and His creation. Do you hear Him? In this busy season before Christmas, will you be still enough to listen to God? Will your soul and spirit MAGNIFY (praise, glorify) God for all the incredible wonders He has done in your life?
Praying you will find the favor of God in your heart so your soul sings with Joy to your Savior ~ Faye
In the face of such great loss in Sutherland Springs, Texas people wonder how Christians (believers in Jesus Christ) can find hope for the future. These verse from 1 Thessalonians say it all.
If you don’t know Jesus Christ or have the hope given through Him, ask Jesus into your heart. Ask Him to be Lord over your life. Feel free to message me or check out information from Peace Church’s website
God knew when He made us that we would all be different. We are all made uniquely in His image. That means we have hair that is brown, black, blond or red; we have eyes that are blue, brown, green or grey; we are tall or short; big feet or little; and have a round or stick shape.
We also have differing opinions! Just look at all the difficulties around the world and throughout history. We are proud, shy, angry, hurt, quiet, friendly, loving, caring, jealous. These are things that cause some of our differences. How we grieve God when we fight over flags, broken relationships, money, things, power and so much more.
God tells us it is better for us when we live together in unity! So brothers and sisters, make it your focus to dwell in unity together, work to love each other deeply, and make getting along together a priority.
May God bless you abundantly as you live for Him ~ Faye
I like the saying – “If you can explain God, He wouldn’t be God.” People try to explain the Holy Spirit and His work. Believers in Christ Jesus are given the gift of the Holy Spirit in their lives to help them in their growing relationship with God so they may encourage others in their walk with God. The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 12-14, that the Holy Spirit gives believers spiritual gifts of encouragement, hospitality, faith, healing, and many more gifts. And in Galatians 5:22-23,
“… the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
In John 3, Jesus is talking to Nicodemus, a Jewish Religious Leader. Jesus explained to Nicodemus how a person can enter the Kingdom of God. He said, . . .
“without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” John 3:5b-8 [New Living Translation]
The Holy Spirit isn’t easy to explain, and neither is how He works to change people’s hearts to believe. That’s where FAITH comes in. We need to surrender our hearts and believe that Jesus Christ is the one and only Son of God. He died to forgive us of ALL of our sins. All we need to do is BELIEVE. When we do that the Holy Spirit lives in us and begins to change us to be more and more like Jesus every day.
Everyone lives in the darkness of sin, but because of God’s gift of Jesus Christ to save us from our sins, we are filled with God’s light and given eternal life.
Praying you enjoy this wonderful promise ~ Faye
These are precious words to many in our world today. As many addicts know, we need God’s grace to grant us the serenity to accept what we can’t change, courage to change what we can and wisdom to know the difference between the two.
I have had several people in my life who have struggled with addictions from alcohol and drugs to pornography and abuse. It can be easy for the outsider to point fingers and judge those who struggle with these types of addiction. However, what about the addiction to food, gossip, or the need for acceptance?
I like the rest of the prayer as it focuses on realizing life will not always be easy. It encourages us to realize hardships are part of the path to peace. It means surrendering to God and His Will that life is not always easy; but it wasn’t easy for Jesus either. He even asked God to take away His death on the cross that He was going to have to face. Yet He surrendered to God’s Will. He knew He must die on the cross, be buried and then rise from the dead. He needed to do this to save each and every one of us who believe in Him as their Savior.
Usually someone gets into an addiction as a bandaid, a way to find comfort from some pain or trauma in their life. Why do you think they call mac and cheese or roast beef with potatoes and gravy – “comfort food”? Sometimes we want to medicate the pain away. Sometimes we want to forget. Looking at the rest of the prayer, if we realize everyone’s journey will have difficulties and trials, but also remembering God will walk with us through the trials, trusting Him we can overcome our addictions when we surrender our lives to Him. I’m not saying it will be easy. I’m not saying it can be done without professional help. I have seen someone who prayed out to God and he has been free from his alcoholism for over a year. I have seen someone who has gone through many counseling session to work through an addiction to pornography that started from an early childhood trauma. If you are struggling with something, seek help. There are many good Christian counselors. There are support groups. Talk to your pastor, church leaders, people who are safe to you (ones that won’t gossip about your situation) and most of all surrender to God your struggle.
Praying you are surrounded by God’s abundant love and grace. ~ Faye
There’s really not much more to say. Do you hurt? Are you scared? Do you have a need, a concern that is more than you can handle?
Rest in the knowledge that God already knows all about your needs and He cares completely for you. Surrender your hearts to Him. Trust in Him. Wait on Him.
Praying for peace for you ~ Faye
Ever have one of those days when you feel like life is hopeless and overwhelming? When you feel like you are all alone? I’m sure you have; most of us struggle with those thoughts once in a while.
I remember feeling that way following the flood of 2008 in the Midwest. Everywhere you looked in our small town, someone was struggling with the results of flooding. Some, like us, was relatively minor with only 4 feet in the basement; others lost their only home and had their businesses impacted. I remember reading this passage with new eyes -“when you pass through the waters, I will be with you; when you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you.”
I like how the New Living Translations states it:
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are Mine.
2 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.
3 For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
The water from the Cedar River was roaring past and deeper than anyone could imagine. We had a 500 year flood. Flood stage is 12 feet and we hit 31.12 feet. Water was several square miles in Cedar Rapids and Palo and areas all along the Cedar. To think of “rivers of difficulty” in the reality of the flood and to be reminded that we will not drown (or be overwhelmed by our trials) were incredibly comforting words.
Even more precious were the words “I have called you by name, you are MINE!” I belong! No matter what happened during the flood, the stuff we lost, the reconstruction we had to do, nothing mattered in the reality that I BELONG! God knows me intimately by name. I’ve probably used the Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 1 Question & Answer 1 before, but it is one of my favorites. My parents have it on their headstone. It has been a key reminder of who I am and whose I am.
What is your only comfort in life and in death?
That I am not my own but belong, body and soul, in life and in death, to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to Him, Christ, by His Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for Him.
Praying you understand how precious it is to belong to God. Just ask Him to be your Lord and Savior. Understand that He died on the cross and rose again to save you from your sins. Believing allows you to know how precious you are to God – You belong to Him! ~ 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
There are two times in the worship service that I eagerly anticipate – one is God’s greeting at the beginning and the other is God’s blessing at the end of the service. To know that God is with us all the time is unfathomable. To know that God calls us to spend time with Him, that He made us to worship and glorify Him, and to hear from Him in His word that He is excited to be with us are incredible times. To know that God wants to bless us from His word each week and fill us with His abundant peace is just overwhelming to me.
I pray you are so blessed when you get to spend time with God ~ Faye
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
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
There are so many hardships, trials, pain and difficulty in life.
- Typhoon in Philippines creates horrible damage …
- Murder, abuse, assault, theft …
- A friend is waiting a week of unknown as test after test is performed …
- Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetes, Heart Disease …
- Depression, anxiety, fear, worry …
- Separation, divorce, children in the middle …
- Abandoned children and families …
- Confusion over health care, politics, finances …
The list goes on and on. It’s hard not to spiral downward in hopelessness, worry and defeat. But Jesus reminds us of His continual love and care in Matthew 11:28:
“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
It’s given with open arms ready to receive you. It is filled with unconditional love and abundant grace – Come.
The invitation is for those who are weary, tired, worn down, burned out, sad, depressed, brokenhearted, those who carry heavy burdens, great trials, overwhelming circumstances – Come.
The invitation is given by Jesus, our Lord and Savior – Come.
The promise – Rest, Calm, Peace, Serenity, Tranquility – Rest for your souls.
Take a moment to stop and breathe in that Rest.
Be filled with God’s PEACE.
Let the burden be lifted off of you as you Come and Rest with Jesus.
Praying you are filled with God’s abundant grace and rest, rest for your soul, as you Come to Him and give Him your burdens ~ Faye
Quench not the Spirit
It’s the 5 year anniversary of a life-altering event in our lives. In 2008 the small town I live in had 423 homes, all of which were flooded but ten, by the worst flood our area has ever seen. We recovered from the devastation over time. And through it all saw the hand of God providing through the love, generosity and kindness of His people and resources. Looking back I realize the many difficulties we had to deal with and the emotional trauma caused by the devastation. Two weeks ago brought everything back as we prepared for potential flooding that could invade the homes and businesses of people we have come to know and love following the flood. The memories of mud and muck, the sickeningly sweet smell left behind by the flood waters, the mountains of wet, moldy trash on the streets, dinner from the Red Cross and Salvation Army, homes torn down because the damage was so great … I found myself exhausted from the energy of preparation and emotional trauma.
Exhaustion is a difficult thing for some to give in to. In the busyness of the urgent one often keeps pushing ahead to get whatever needs to be done done. This is where I found myself two weeks ago. Already tired from several weeks of the Spring rush at work and then faced with the reality of potential flooding and having to give more of myself when I was already tired. We were spared any damaging flooding, but then there was the energy to put things back together after we had pulled it all apart. While I was so tired, I let Satan enter into my thoughts and he wore me down with many destructive thoughts. Soon I found myself wallowing in self-pity, feeling all alone. As many of you know, this is NOT a good thing to do. I oddly found it easier to stay in this depressed state than pick up God’s word and spend time with Him. This went on for about a week and each day I found myself getting more and more depressed and surly. I was not fun to be around. I was moody, tired and complaining. I could have written a Psalm entitled “Woe is me” very easily.
Fortunately I listened to God’s promptings (and a very-wise daughter) saying get back into spending time in God’s word. Every time I sat down I picked up the Bible or a devotional book on Hope, Joy, dealing with difficulties – anything that gave me glimpses of God’s joys and encouragement. I turned off the television and absorbed Christian music. After several days of this I was reminded of the joy I have through Christ’s death and resurrection. I was reminded of the many blessings God has showered my life with. I was encouraged to remember and be filled with JOY all the time, in all circumstances. I saw God’s hand working incredibly around me in how different people crossed my path at just the time I needed them. I intentionally got out of my car before work on Monday and made a decision to be filled with JOY despite any circumstances going on in my life. When asked how I was doing, I responded, “Great, it’s a beautiful day.” I allowed the Holy Spirit to flow to every part of my thinking. And the more I did, the more I felt changed from the inside.
1 Thessalonians 5:19 says “Quench not the Spirit.” The New Century Version says, “Don’t hold back the work of the Spirit.” The New International Reader’s Version says, “Don’t put out the Holy Spirit’s fire.” The New Living Translation says, “Do not stifle the Holy Spirit.” When I allowed my anxious and depressed thinking to take hold, I didn’t allow the Holy Spirit to be my encourager, guide, comforter, or wisdom. John 14:26 says, …the Comforter which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” Allow the Holy Spirit to work in your lives, kindle the flame of the Spirit to fill you with all the fullness and joy each day so you may reflect God’s love to others.
My circumstances have not all improved, in fact, some things have gotten worse, but my perspective has thanks to an attitude adjustment from the Holy Spirit helping me refocus on God’s unconditional love, grace and abundant blessings. Praying you see God’s hand at work today in your lives and are incredibly blessed ~ Faye
I’d love to hear you share some ways God has been blessing you.
There are days where I get so distracted with the details of life I forget to really think about the abundant blessings I have been showered with. I have a warm home and it is DRY this year despite some heavy rain days. I am able to work full time because of medications that keep my R.A. in check. I have a wonderful family and two blessings that come in the form of granddaughters with their giggles, smiles and hugs. I have the assurance that I belong body and soul, in life and in death, to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. I have a husband who loves me through the good and bad of life. I have financial resources that help me live a comfortable life where all my needs and many of my wants are met. I have the ability to sit quietly with God and just enjoying BEING in His presence. I have wonderful friends and co-workers.
With all the pain from the past week of the bombings in Boston, fire in Texas, earthquake, flooding, people finding out the cancer they thought they had is more invasive, people struggling with relationships and so much more. I look at the story of Job once again – everything was taken from him but his wife and his life. His cattle, oxen, and donkeys were stolen, his servants were killed or died, sheep burned, camels were taken, and all 10 sons and daughters were killed in a storm. Yet He remained faithful to God and God abundantly blessed Him with so much more than Job had before. Take the story of Joseph who was thrown in a pit by his brothers, sold into slavery, ended up in jail and then ends up as the Pharoah’s advisor in charge of helping with the famine. He ends up being a blessing to all of Israel in this position.
Where we often see trials, God often uses it as incredible provisions of His grace, mercy and blessings. In James, God’s Word reminds us to, “Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” I have to say that in most of the trials of my life I have NOT seen them as blessings or faced them with JOY. But God tells us in many places that He is working through our trials to help us grow deeper in our relationship with Him.
One of my favorite songs these days has been Blessings by Laura Story. It serves as a very real reminder that the trials of life are God’s abundant mercies shaping us for what lies ahead.
Praying you may be filled with God’s abundant grace, mercy and blessings in whatever trials you face ~ 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.
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.
Our son has served in the United States Air Force since 1997. I have 3 nephews in the military. Our son-in-law was in the Marines. My father served in the Army. We have many young people who have crossed our lives who are currently serving and countless people who have served over the years. We have seen first hand the sacrifices family and friends have had to make while their loved ones serve here in the United States and abroad. However, we count our blessings very much as those dear to us have not had to deal with major injury or loss.
Watching testimonials and tributes to those who have served particularly in recent years – young lives who have been dealt devastating injuries – physical and mental – I find myself in tears. As actors tell the stories of Veterans who have lost limbs, suffered traumatic brain injury, or deal with PTSD, my heart grieves for the altered lives each one of those men and women have to deal with. Their families and friends. Dreams shattered. Expectations unmet. Loss after loss. A “new normal.” The emotional scars. Surgeries. The residual loss of family and friends who can’t take the loss or the changes in the individual and walk out of their lives. And those who never come home.
What an incredible honor to live in a country where people are willing to sacrifice so greatly for their country and the freedom of others.
It is truly a blessing to know that God knows the number of hairs on our head and knows who each one of us are. He knows who the veterans are. He knows where our loved ones are. He knows what they need. He knows because He loves us so much He sacrificed His Son for our eternal life and freedom. He loves and cares for those who are wounded, lost and dying.
Praising God for the dedication and service of the men and women of this country. And REJOICING in His sacrificial gift so we may have complete forgiveness and freedom from our sins ~ 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
WEATHER: I don’t have to tell most of you that this country is in an extreme heat and drought situation. Living in farm country, every day the news tells us how much damage the crops are suffering because of the lack of rain. It’s easy for the untrained eye to see it as the corn stalks wither and brown in the heat. Farmers struggle to keep their hogs cooled. Gardeners usually fight Japanese Beetles this time of year are also struggling to keep their gardens watered sufficiently. It’s not “fun” to be outside, especially in the sun. And at night we can’t even enjoy a fire either because of the heat or the burn ban restrictions. When a cloud appears in the sky or there is the slightest breeze or drop in temperature our hopes soar that rain and cooler weather are coming.
NEWS: It’s very discouraging to listen to the news these days from two innocent girls missing in Iowa to the inexplicable shootings in Colorado, suicide bombers, robberies, life-altering illnesses – the list continues. We look for any glimmer of hope in the tragedies.
David was in a similar situation when he as in the wilderness of Judah. He was feeling totally drained and L-O-N-G-E-D for God’s presence. David lived a life being hunted by the king, hiding in the desert and not being able to go to the Temple to worship God. Psalm 63 describes some of that longing. David remembers that he has seen God in the sanctuary and gazed upon God’s power and glory. He praises God for His unfailing love and care.
Have you ever been in a spiritual wasteland where you are struggling for nourishment? I have. Following my husband’s heart procedure and other issues, I felt drained. I KNEW God was there caring for me and even carrying me through the tough times, but I couldn’t FEEL Him. Somehow the inner assurance seemed to have evaporated in the heat of trials. After I wrote Practice! Practice! Practice! a dear friend reminded me of a simple book that I hadn’t looked at for a while – Invitation to Solitude and Silence, by Ruth Haley Barton. I picked it up again and have been enjoying my morning time with God just BEING in His presence.
There is such a blessing that occurs from spending time with God – not on the fly as our guest pastor said Sunday; praying on the go, listening to Christian music, quickly reading a 2 minute devotional – all of which are good. But there is an importance of being thoroughly drenched and refreshed by BEING in God’s presence. Whether it is simply picking up His word and reading a verse or a portion of scripture and then just sitting there, thinking about it, thanking God for His word, listening to what He might have to say.
As much as we are physically craving rain to water the earth these days, how much more should we be thirsting, longing, craving for God to fill us spiritually?
I want to encourage you – and myself – to spend that much needed time IN God’s word, WITH Him – just BEING in His presence and letting Him minister to your needs. It’s not easy and it’s not just sitting there. It is actively waiting and listening for what God will place on your heart. Watch, pray. It’s incredible how God blesses, not only in those moments, but continues to shower you with His love, grace and care in the hours and days following your time with Him.
I thought I’d share a song from one of my favorite musicians is Fernando Ortega. He has captured Psalm 63 beautifully in O God, You are My God. I pray that you will be blessed with some time this week just BEING in God’s presence and letting the Holy Spirit fill you to overflowing so that you are spiritually refreshed and nourished ~ Faye
Sometimes life throws us some difficult curve balls. One wonders if God is really in control or even cares about what’s happening. Those are time times I am reminded of the verses from Jeremiah 29:11-13
“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. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me.”
In the past few weeks friends and family members have faced the loss of loved ones through aging and suicide. I’ve spoke with someone who grew up in a cult and has just recently seen her 30-year-old sibling come out of the cult. I’ve watched more and more people deal with health issues, job losses, financial difficulties, facing consequences for breaking the law, and marital problems. I want to ask God, “If He really cares, why doesn’t He do something to stop the pain?”
A while back I studied Carol Kent’s book Between a Rock and a Grace Place and tonight I found myself reflecting on a portion from her book:
If you too feel caught in one of those tight spots that seem unusually difficult, if not unbearable, I pray that you will come to realize that the pain of being in this place need not cause you to lose hope. If you press into the Rock instead of trying to get around it, you will discover a surprise far better than a birthday or a Christmas gift. On the road that is your life right now, you can find a new way of thinking about your circumstances, as well as an astonishing experience of grace, tailor-made just for you. As you encounter God on the way, not in the way, you may come to know Him as you never have before. Remember what Olympian Eric Liddle said, ‘Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God’s plans, but God is not helpless among the ruins.’
I’m so grateful God is in control of the universe from before time began. I’m glad we have the assurance that He cares so much for each of us that He blessed us with life-saving grace of His Son, Jesus Christ, our LORD.
Kent goes on to say, “God works best through broken people who know they do not have all the answers. He can use people who have exhausted their own resources and finally realize that negotiating the tight spots of life is not something they do by themselves.” I’m so grateful God uses ordinary people, people who have walked through pain and found the joy and hope only God can give.
Philip Yancey says, “The kind of faith God values seems to develop best when everything fuzzes over, when God stays silent, when the fog rolls in.” God gives more grace for each trial and burden that comes our way. The more we rely on Him, the more He answers and provides for us in ways that could only come from His hand.
Abundantly grateful for God’s presence through the difficult circumstances of our lives.
Why does guilt plague me? I feel guilty, not just bad, for not getting more things posted since I started working. At least I did struggle with the guilt feelings until God had another sit-down talk with me. God reminded me that this is His blog, I’m just His tool. He has always given me something to write about that has been a benefit to myself and/or others. So why do I let worry and guilt fester?
As I was sitting in the infusion chair yesterday, I was continuing to read from Quest for Serenity by G.H. Morling and Ruth Graham Bell. God’s timing being ALWAYS PERFECT, I found myself in a section that talked about overcoming the struggle with guilt. I thought I’d share a story from the book,
A minister in the north of England, who oppressed by guilt, had a breakdown, was advised by a wise doctor to concentrate on biblical passages expressing love, mercy, and forgiveness,temporarilyputting aside the ones on condemnation and judgment. The minister followed the doctor’s advice, and he was wonderfully restored.
I was waiting on a 20-something lady the other day who was struggling to make her hands work to get the money separated for payment. She was quickly apologizing for the time, and I was blessed to be able to say, “It’s okay. Take your time. I have R.A. and remember what it was like to struggle to pull up the bedsheet with my fingers.” Immediate relief seemd to pour over her face at not being judged or pressured. God’s grace is like that. God isn’t there ready to condemn – He’s ready to pour out His abundant grace on each one of us who believe in Him as Lord and Savior.
Paul says in Romans 5:20 – God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.
God gives us His grace – abundant, freely given, unconditional, and inexhaustible in supply. Psalm 23 tells of God preparing a table for us in the presence of our enemies. Too often, we are our own worst enemy heaping on guilt and not being filled with God’s grace which in turn brings spiritual rest, peace, serenity and joy.
I’m praying that you will be blessed with the joy and peace that comes from resting in God’s inexhaustible grace ~ Faye
P.S. The incident with the young lady, reminded me of how abundantly God has blessed me – a good rheumatologist, medicines that have given me the ability to work a full day, and the support of family and friends.
I’m linked with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory.
I recently spent a few hours touring a Holocaust Museum. Holocaust is from a Greek origin meaning “sacrifice by fire.” I’m awed, humbled, and grieved at the atrocities that occurred. We heard a female survivor speak. She was only 5 years old when she was taken to Dachau and later moved to Ravensbrück and Bergen-Belsen. She was 7 years old when Liberation Day came. When the troops came across her emaciated body, they thought she was a baby because of her size. She shared how she survived those difficult days by allowing her mind to be creative and imaginative. She remembers not having energy to move for anything and lying among the dead and dying. She was interned with Anne Frank who died a month before Liberation Day. Her main reason for sharing her story is so that people don’t forget the injustices. So people remember to treat each other with respect and dignity. She realizes that when we forget what has happened in the past, we will be prone to repeat the atrocities again.
I left with many questions – “Why does God allow such wrongs?” “Why don’t I stand up for the person ridiculed?” “Why can’t we stop bullying?” But I was blessed by the strength of the speaker when she told of how her father, who also survived, became a devout Atheist, while she gained her strength to go through life from her belief in God. She reminds me a lot of Corrie ten Boom, who shares the story of meeting one of her concentration camp guards years later and all the anger and hatred came back, but then God reminded her to love and forgive.
In Romans 12, God says,
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the Lord. Instead, ‘If your enemies are hungry, feed them.If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.’ Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.”
Seeing history like this is painful and part of me didn’t want to go, but I’m really glad I did. It is a good reminder to Love One Another with God’s Abundant Love and Grace. It’s a painful period of history, but one that teaches us a lot about how to treat others. If you want to learn more, check out these links: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Holocaust Museum St. Louis, or Corrie ten Boom’s story.
I am greatly blessed by God’s amazing gift – the gift of forgiveness and grace. Enjoying His love ~ Faye