Category Archives: God’s Love

Time with God is VITAL

I love it when God puts the same thought in front of me from many different venues.

Come and RestMy devotions this morning on First15 app talk about the importance of Having Time Alone with God.  Then, I’ve been working with my pastor on his sermon series for lent, which will be Come and Rest. He will be looking at how we can live today with a sense of rest, Sabbath rest, rest from sin, rest from shame, rest from worry and fear, just as Jesus needed rest while He was on earth. He needed time to be refreshed from His ministries by spending time with God.  I am also reading A Year with God: Living Out the Spiritual Disciplines, by Richard J. Foster. He looks at several ways to grow in one’s relationship with God – worship, confession, meditation, solitude, and more. I am also looking at, The Furious Longing of God, by Brennan Manning, who asks: “Is your own personal prayer life characterized by the simplicity, childlike candor, boundless trust, and easy familiarly of a little one crawling up in daddy’s lap? An assured knowing that the daddy doesn’t care if the child falls asleep, starts playing with toys or even starts chatting with little friends, because the daddy knows the child has essentially chosen to be with him for that moment? Is that the spirit of your interior prayer life?”  So, in a period of a week, God has been reminding me of the importance of spending TIME WITH HIM ALONE.

Some of the thoughts I’ve gleaned from these things:

  • God wants me to slow down and enjoy His presence. He wants me to delight in Him. Relish being close. Even in the stillness to just sit and enjoy each other’s company. Like two friends sitting watching a sunset together.  Slide2
  • If Jesus needed time alone with His Heavenly Father, we can all be sure we need it even more.

Mark 1:35 – Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.

Luke 5:16 – Jesus spent time alone with His Heavenly Father.

  • Time with God allows us to carry out God’s purpose in our life. Luke 4 tells of the time when Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, was led by the Spirit into the wilderness where He was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus had been fasting and spending time with God. He taught in the synagogues and began His ministry of healing, casting out demons, and performing other miracles.
  • When we spend time with God, we clearly and tangibly encounter God’s amazing love for us. We learn what His voice sounds like. We discover His will. In Matthew 6:6, we are told that our Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. One of the best gifts we receive from God is one-on-one communion with our heavenly Father.
  • And time with God, fills us with His peace.
  • Matthew 11:28-30 Then Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Slide4God’s desire to spend time alone with us is not meant to add stress to our life but to relieve us from it. He doesn’t want our time with Him to be just the routine of checking off a to-do list item.

Praying you will take time to focus on God’s nearness, on how it changes your outlook and emotions. And spend time just being overwhelmed by the depth of God’s love for you ~ Faye

 

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God’s Blessings this Christmas!

 

Psalm 126v3

May you be filled with God’s wondrous JOY

as you ponder the miracle of Christmas! 

Abide, Remain, Dwell then Glorify

Don’t you love it when God uses a variety of ways in a short amount of time to get you to focus on a specific thing?

Here’s how God’s been getting my attention, encouraging and challenging me just this week:

  • Women’s Bible study we were looking at John 15 – ABIDE, DWELL, REMAIN, STAY in Jesus.
  • A devotional spoke of spending intentional time with God through prayer and in His Word; just listening. It had the following quote from Mother Teresa: “God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer.”
  • Our pastor has been preaching on being WITH God, based on the book by Skye Jepthani, With. During the Advent season, he is looking at Immanuel, God With Us. (Check out his messages here).
  • In working on some other Internet research, I came across this quote by Bill Hybels:

“If  you lower the ambient noise of  your life and listen expectantly for those whispers of God, your ears will hear them. And when you follow their lead, your world will be rocked.”

John 15v4aExpanding on John 15:1-17: Abiding, remaining, or dwelling is our response to Jesus’ words:

4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. 5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

I appreciate the perspective/reminder of John 15:8:

“When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.”

I love the idea of bringing glory to God for all He has done for me. During our time with God (abiding, remaining, dwelling) we may need to submit to God’s pruning knife where He cuts away things that draw us away from Him, so we may remain in Christ even more. When we do this we are able to produce more fruit so we can bring Him even more glory.

It’s December, generally a very busy season. There are school programs, Christmas parties, gatherings with family and friends, Christmas cards and shopping for presents, baking, volunteering and serving others and so many other good things along with our regular daily activities. So, spending extra time just being with God generally is not our primary focus when there are so many other good things that are demanding our attention. I am praying that you can find some time to just BE WITH God. Remain in His presence. Dwell in His love. Abide in His peace. As you do this, you will be blessed with God’s presence in you and you will bring glory to Him. What a perfect gift for you this Christmas.

Praying you are filled with time to abide, remain and dwell with God ~ Faye

 

Can You Imagine?

I wonder how it felt …

… Mary, a young teen, in her room and suddenly the angel Gabriel appears to her and says, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!” What would your response be? Aside from the fear and shock of seeing the angel, disbelief at his message?  The Bible says Mary was confused, disturbed and wondered what the angel meant. Gabriel repeats, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God!

I like how one author says, “She’s so ‘greatly troubled here that the angel asks her to sit down and catch her breath. ‘Fear not,’ he says in an attempt to comfort her. ‘You really are favored by God!'”

Favored (preferred/chosen) – Would you think you were preferred, precious, or chosen? Your whole life would change in a minute. You would be a social outcast as an unwed mother. All of your hopes, plans and dreams would be looking doubtful.

Each and every one of us is a precious and chosen child of God. Psalm 139:13-18 says,

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious (amazing are your thoughts concerning me) to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

What does Mary do after Christ is born? After the reality of all the upside-down life-changing events? She sings, praises and worships her LORD. She realizes Immanuel, God is With Us,  has come to earth to be our Savior, Messiah. He actually was WITH her, inside her, a sinner. Mary wasn’t perfect. She wasn’t holy. She was a virgin and she was chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus. Once everything starts to sink in and she holds her baby, Jesus, in her arms, her heart sings. She can only sit in wonder, praising her Lord from the depth of her soul.Luke 1 46-47 my soul magnifiesGod 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

A Joyful Heart …

 

Mother T - Sunshine of Gods love

I’ve been doing some health research after working with a few new doctors, and everything I’ve been reading says to fill your life with JOY. Count your blessings. List things you are grateful for each and every day.  See JOY in the world around you – despite the weight and trials of the world. If you don’t focus on the joys in life, it will affect your personal health especially over the long term.

James 1:2-3 says – Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 

“The other night I attended His Hands Free Medical Clinic’s Laughter is the Best Medicine fundraiser.  We laughed for 30 minutes straight.  I can tell you I seem to have had more energy and a more positive focus the next few days than I had before the precious time of laughing with others.

God made us to enjoy Him, His creation and our lives. We weren’t made to worry or fear. That’s why “do not fear” or “fear not” is a command that is mentioned frequently in the Bible. (See the following websites for some of these verses.  CrossWalk and BibleStudyTools.)

“A cheerful [joyful, merry] heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” Proverbs 17:22 New Living Translation

God knows how important it is to be joyful, cheerful, merry, happy, abundantly blessed filled with gratitude because it HELPS us, fills us with HOPE and HEALS us. An interesting article on the benefits of laughter can be found at Help Guide.

Let’s try to brighten everyone’s day by being joyful, cheerful and filled with God’s amazing love and laughter ~ Faye

 

Dwell Together in Unity

How Good and Pleasant.jpg

God knew when He made us that we would all be different. We are all made uniquely in His image. That means we have hair that is brown, black, blond or red; we have eyes that are blue, brown, green or grey; we are tall or short; big feet or little; and have a round or stick shape.

We also have differing opinions! Just look at all the difficulties around the world and throughout history. We are proud, shy, angry, hurt, quiet, friendly, loving, caring, jealous.  These are things that cause some of our differences.  How we grieve God when we fight over flags, broken relationships, money, things, power and so much more.

God tells us it is better for us when we live together in unity! So brothers and sisters, make it your focus to dwell in unity together, work to love each other deeply, and make getting along together a priority.

May God bless you abundantly as you live for Him ~ Faye

What Happened to the Golden Rule?

How did we get to be a world so divided?  Anger and hatred seem to fill people’s hearts – racial prejudice, political unrest, anti-authority, vengeance, religious persecution, status, poverty all come into play. Look at the mass shooting in Las Vegas, looting and price gouging after the natural disasters, suicide bombers, refugees fleeing for their lives, and so much more.

I wonder if some of the reason we are so angry is because we’ve forgotten Jesus teaching about treating others decently when He gave His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Remember the Golden Rule – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  Matthew 7:12. I know I have messed up (okay, let’s call it what it is – SIN) many times.  In my devotions lately, I’ve spent time in 1 Peter. Recently 1 Peter 3:8-9 touched my heart –Don't pay back.jpg

Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters.  Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.  Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and He will grant you His blessing. ~ 1 Peter 3:8-9 NLT

Literally, I felt God pointing a finger at my heart, reminding me of the times I have retaliated with insults and actions when someone has said things or done things that hurt me. At those times, I’ve forgotten that I am a witness of what it means to have Jesus Christ in my heart. I haven’t allowed His love to fill me and treat others with His love. I have since spent time confessing those actions and been assured as a believer of Christ as my Savior, that I am washed clean by His blood – I am forgiven! But I am also challenged by His word to live for Him, as His example.

I remember growing up hearing, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all;” and my parents and teachers reminding us of the T.H.I.N.K. acronym:

THINK.jpg

When I read 1 Peter 3:8-9 from the Amplified Version,

Finally, all of you be like-minded [united in spirit], sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted [courteous and compassionate toward each other as members of one household], and humble in spirit;  and never return evil for evil or insult for insult [avoid scolding, berating, and any kind of abuse], but on the contrary give a blessing [pray for one another’s well-being, contentment, and protection]; for you have been called for this very purpose, that you might inherit a blessing [from God that brings well-being, happiness, and protection].

I was challenged and encouraged by the words – “but on the contrary, give a blessing [pray for one another’s well-being, contentment, and protection];”.  When others hurt me, I need to pray for them, for their well-being, contentment and protection.  I need to have the perspective of Christ, caring for them. Let’s be the change – God’s Love wins over hate.

Praying you are filled with God’s love so you can bless others ~ Faye

 

Serve One Another

 

In the days, weeks, and months ahead there will be many needs following the catastrophic disasters.  Realize that God has given you at least one precious gift you can share with others as they rebuild their lives. Anyone who believes in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, admits they have sinned and believes in God is filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gifts us with a variety of spiritual gifts such as:  hospitality, creative abilities, teaching, knowledge, faith, prophecy and many more. We are to use these spiritual gifts to build up others, help others, and care for each other. However, as 1 Corinthians 13 says, if we do anything for others and we don’t have love, we are nothing. We need to be filled with Christ’s love to help others. Otherwise it is just empty words and actions.  Check out 1 Corinthians 12-14.

1 Peter 4 10

Praying you will be able to offer something from yourselves to those in need in the next days and weeks ahead.  ~ Faye

Be Truly Glad!

Really! Did you know the Bible tells us to be truly glad even though we may  have to endure many trials?

How in the world can we be “truly glad” when we look at the devastation of Hurricane Harvey and Irma, wildfires in 11 states and Canada, concerns heating up with North Korea, Rohingya refugees trying to escape from Myanmar to Bangladesh, persecution of Christians around the world, a loved one diagnosed with inoperable cancer, another bill that is coming due and the finances are so tight, job insecurity, car accidents, betrayal, hatred, bigotry and so much more. Slide1 4x6

I’ve been reading through 1 Peter recently. I was struck by verses 6 and 7 when we are told to:

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is GENUINE. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:6-7

All of the trials and struggles of this life are for a purpose. They are for strengthening our faith, the opportunity to see God’s sovereignty and provisions, and to truly know Jesus Christ is the ONLY Savior to all!

Our Bible study group just looked at the life of (Genesis 37-50). Why in the world would Joseph continue to be truly glad during his trials? He had  dreams where he saw his brothers and father bowing down to him. He was hated by his brothers. His brothers stripped him of his colorful robe, was thrown into a dry well, sold to a caravan who sold him as a slave to Potiphar. Then when things were starting to look up and he found favor with Potiphar, Potiphar’s wife falsely accuses him of molesting her. Joseph is sent to jail. He is there for a few years when he interprets the dreams of the cup-bearer and baker, which Joseph interprets and the events come true. Again, several years later, Pharoah has a vision and no one can interpret it.  The cup-bearer remembers Joseph. He is called from jail to interpret the dream and tells of 7 years of plentiful food in Egypt before 7 years of extreme famine. He is elevated to a position just under Pharoah. His brothers go to Egypt for food during the famine and eventually learn that their brother, Joseph, is very much alive – AFTER they had bowed down to an Egyptian ruler (Joseph) whom they didn’t know (fulfilling his dreams). Joseph forgives his brothers for their actions and tells them:

“I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping.But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.  Genesis 45:4b-7

Then many years later when Jacob, Joseph’s father dies, the brothers figure now Joseph will get even with us. Genesis 50:19-20 says,

But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God?20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

That’s it!  Joseph could remain “truly glad” when throw in a pit, falsely accused, jailed, forgotten, or when he was unwanted or unloved because he knew God had a plan through all of his trials. 

We all have burdens, worries, concerns, fears, and trials of some degree and magnitude. Yet when we surrender our lives to Jesus, we can be truly glad because we have the promise of eternal life and the knowledge of God’s having a plan for our lives from before we were born. (Psalm 139:16)

storms

Resources:
Wildfires:  http://www.nfpa.org/public-education/by-topic/wildfire/where-are-the-wildfires-burning and WeatherWizKids
Hurricanes: Harvey – Business Insider
Irma – NOAA and ABC News
New International Version (NIV)  Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/

 

Did You Know Marriage Takes Work?

 

Rich and I have been married 41 years this May. There have been great times filled with joy, growth and love. And there have been times of struggle and pain. There have been times when we’ve hurt each other deeply.  There have been times when we’ve blessed each other immensely.

Mom and Dad cancerIt helps to know that we have had strong mentor roles in both of our parents who cared for each other and stayed by each other through very difficult times. For example, in 2002 both of my parents were diagnosed with cancer in the salivary gland within 4 weeks of each other. I watched them devote themselves to care and love each other through the difficult times of chemo, radiation, meds and health changes.

I saw my mother-in-law struggle with cancerearl and betty laughing of the stomach, liver, lungs and bone for five years while my father-in-law encouraged, supported and cared for her. Then my mom struggled with the debilitating effects of Parkinsons disease and dementia, and my dad showed a level of care and patience for her I never had seen before. When my mother-in-law was diagnosed with multiple system atrophy where the muscles in her body progressively shut down, I saw the love and commitment to God shine through my father-in-law as he devotedly cared for her. There were days I’m sure both dads wanted to just cry out “Why?” or “How Long, O Lord?”.

Sometimes difficulties in marriages can be just petty things – squeezing the toothpaste differently, putting the toilet paper on the “wrong” direction, leaving dishes laying around. But other times it can be serious difficulties. Sometimes it can be withdrawal or detachment from the relationship. Illnesses, such as depression, cancer, addictions, autoimmune disorders, all can alter the way “marriage is supposed to be”.

In the past few years Rich and I have been going through some challenging times. Through these difficulties, God has brought us closer and closer to Him. We have both found strength, comfort and encouragement from His word. We both work hard at spending time meditating on a small portion of God’s word so that it gives us hope, encouragement and guidance for our journey together. I guess that may be why when I was reading Romans 12:9-10 [New Living Translation] verse 10 really struck me:

Bleeding Heart

Delight in Honoring each other Rom 12 10b

Wow! Have I really loved Rich with GENUINE AFFECTION – God’s unfailing and unconditional love type of affection – especially when life has been difficult and Rich hasn’t lived up to my expectations? And then even more so – Do I really take delight in honoring him?

If something Rich did hurt me deeply, do I pretend to love him, or do I still really love him? And can I, through God’s leading, hate what is wrong and hold tightly to what is good about him?

This passage has really challenged me in the past few days to keep my focus on loving Rich with God’s unconditional love –

“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. ”       ~ Romans 12:9-10 NLT

You know, when we put our hope and trust in God, we are filled with His unfailing love. And He tells us to share His unconditional, unfailing love with others. Maybe doing that should begin at home!

Praying for you as you work through your relationships, that you trust in God’s unconditional and unfailing love to guide you.  ~ From a continual work in progress – Faye

1,000 Hills

Ps 50 v 10-11

My husband and I recently enjoyed a trip out East. We saw many beautiful things while we were driving through Ohio and Pennsylvania on our way to Washington DC.  We saw many rolling hills, drove past beautiful farm lands and even went through the Alleghenies.  It seemed like every time we saw a field with cows, I would remember a song I learned decades ago in Christian grade school …

He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, the wealth in every mine.

He owns the rivers and the rocks and rills, the sun and stars that shine.

Wonderful riches more than tongue can tell, He is my Father, so their mine as well.

He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, I know that He will care for me.

© John W. Peterson

How wonderful to know that all that we have comes from God, our Father, who cares for and shares exceedingly, abundantly with His children.

Praying you may enjoy the incredible inheritance of God’s unfailing love ~ Faye

Weep, Grieve, then Trust God

There are days where the pain of life, loss and trials is overwhelming and as John Piper has said –   Weep Deeply - John Piper

I’ve been blessed by John Piper’s messages from Desiring God. Take the time to watch his two-minute video clip on Embrace the Life God Has Given You where this quote is from.

Recently I shared in church why Psalm 62 is such an encouragement to me. Here are some of those thoughts:

God has blessed me with the words from Psalm 62 on many occasions. It started before I was officially diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. When I couldn’t sleep at night, when walking caused extreme pain, when I couldn’t pull up the sheet to cover me, or turn the key in the ignition without pain, God led me to the words – WAIT and HOPE. If I hadn’t surrendered to God and waited, I would have been totally overcome with fear of the future. (And the future is so much different than it was in 2006 – I now hardly know I have RA. God has been healing over the past ten-plus years in amazing ways.)

I learned the difficulty of waiting and surrendering to God as the 2008 flood waters were predicted on Monday, and the cresting predictions rose, sometimes hourly. The crest finally arrived in Palo on Thursday night. Details of housing needs during our evacuation and the rebuilding were provided for in amazing ways by God.

I’ve said this verse over several times during my husband’s heart procedures, job and financial changes, and through times of betrayal and strained relationships.

One of those relationships is our son. We have gone long periods of not hearing from him. The longest was over four years, broken only by the funerals of his grandmas. We have no explanations as to why the withdrawal from us or his daughter, but it brings with it a deep loss. We’ve cried out to God for answers, for a change of behavior, but so far, those prayers have not been answered in the way we have hoped. So I have learned to “weep deeply over the life I hoped to have”.

Since 2013, Psalm 62:5  “Let all that I am wait quietly before God for my hope is in Him,” has been written on my bathroom 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. It is a constant reminder for me that whatever my concerns, “Leave them quietly to God”.

When I see that verse each day, I am reminded that my hope is not in the broken relationship, but in the Healer of the broken. I have chosen to HOPE as I WAIT before GOD.  God is working in our lives. I will WAIT and TRUST with HOPE that the work God is performing in each of us will be in accordance with God’s will and for His purposes.  Waiting is an action. When you wait in God, you wait trusting, resting, letting your soul be quiet before God.  WAITING is a form of surrender and in that surrender you learn to TRUST GOD deeply.

The first time I wrote the verse on my mirror I forgot “quietly”. (It may have been a Freudian slip.)  At times I found myself changing “wait quietly” to “wait intentionally,” “wait patiently,” “wait joyfully,” “wait hopefully,” “wait expectantly,” “wait humbly” … the list goes on.  It has been a good reminder for me to be completely focused on God being at work daily in my life.

Even though it says “leave quietly to God,” verse 8, “O my people, trust in Him at all times. Pour out your heart to Him, for God is our refuge”, was all the encouragement I needed from God to tell Him everything – every hurt, fear, worry, concern, my anger and bitterness, and my questions. God says POUR OUT your heart before Him. God is a safe place for us to do that. He is my shelter, strength, fortress, and He already knows my heart so WHY wouldn’t I want to openly POUR OUT my heart to God.

trust god

Praying you will feel free to POUR OUT YOUR HEART TO GOD, WEEP DEEPLY, WAIT PATIENTLY, AND HOPE & TRUST IN GOD.  ~ Faye

P.S. – I shared this yesterday in church, and God in His infinite timing and sense of humor had my son text me with a quick note where he will be stationed for the next year.

The Gift of Love

On this journey of life, we find that the road isn’t straight and that path isn’t even. Many times there are hills to climb, canyons to cross, roots to trip over, parched deserts to cross, and more. We can’t do it alone.

God has given each of us the wonderful gift of His love. We need to spend time in God’s Word to begin to grasp a portion of how wide, long, high and deep is God’s love for each and every one of us.

Eph 3 18

God, in His infinite love, has given each one of us the gift of salvation.  All we need to do is ask God into our heart, admit we are sinners, and surrender our lives to His leading. His unconditional, unfailing, amazing love fills us with His grace.

Praying you know God’s wonderful love ~ Faye

God’s Kids

What a simple blessing and promise to know God has chosen us to be His very own children. As my mother-in-law used to say, we are all “God’s Kids”.

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

God Grant Me the Serenity

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

God Knows Your Needs

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

The Blessing of Belonging!

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.
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.

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

God Cares

I love the beauty of garden flowers. The vibrant colors, the variety, the fragrance are all so inspiring and brighten my mood. I love it when my husband picks up a bouquet of flowers for me to enjoy in the house, especially during the grey winter/spring months. This happened in March, Rich brought me flowers and I enjoyed those beauties for over 2 weeks. I would take pictures every day. I would change the water and prune and care for them to make them last longer. They were a timely blessing because I ended up with a severe case of the flu 2 days later and they were an incredible bright spot and reminder of Rich’s love for me.

Simple flowers – can change lives.

God knows that we pay attention to the beauty of flowers. We also know that they don’t last forever, and when they die we compost them or throw them away. We learn early on that a seed planted in the ground yields a plant when it is watered and the sun shines on it, all orchestrated by God. Yet, as much as God tenderly and lovingly cares for the plants, He wants us to know for certain that He cares for each and every one of us much more than He cares for the plants that are here today and gone tomorrow.

Praying you realize how special you are to God ~ Faye

I Know the Plans I Have for You

Beginning in May we celebrate the many graduations from preschool, kindergarten, eighth grade, high school or college. Sometimes this is a very happy time; however, other times it is very scary. Uncertainty for the future often controls our thoughts. We are filled with anxiety:

  •  What happens next?
  • Will I like next year’s teacher?
  • What college should I go to?
  • How will I pay for college?
  • Should I get a job and skip college?
  • If I accept this job offer, will I be able to provide for my family? … The list goes on and on.

Can you imagine being told that you would leave the land you had lived in all your life and move to a place you didn’t want to go to? You would live in exile here? And you would live there for 70 years? That’s what happened to the Israelites.  They were exiled from Jerusalem (where their homes and God’s temple were) to Babylon because of their idol worship and rebellion against God. After 70 years they were allowed to return to Jerusalem.

God’s discipline of the Israelites during the Babylonian captivity had one very significant impact on the Israelites when they returned to Jerusalem – they weren’t corrupted by idolatry and false gods of the surrounding nations again. The Jews returned to Jerusalem and rebuilt the temple. God’s care of the Israelites through all this time shows His faithfulness and His righteous justice.

I don’t think you will be asked to leave the home you know and love; however I know whatever you will be facing in your life’s journey, God will be with you – fulfilling the plans He has for your future.

Praying you will know clearly God’s plans for you ~ Faye

Tears in a Bottle

I love how this is paraphrased in The Voice:

You have taken note of my journey through life,
 caught each of my tears in Your bottle.
 But God, are they not also blots on Your book?

Can you imagine God caring enough about your sadness or joy that He collects and treasures your tears of sorrow and joy? Can you comprehend that He cares so much for you that every one of the things that happens in your life is recorded in His book about just you? I know I struggle to fathom God’s unfailing, incomprehensible love for each and every one of His children.

Praying you understand a glimpse of God’s amazing love! ~ Faye

God’s Master Work of Art

Did you know that you are a beautiful, unique work of art?

Did you know that you are God’s masterpiece?

Just think of it, before we were born, God prepared the path we would walk. He knew whether I would be in Grand Rapids, Michigan or Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He knew I would be a wife to Rich, a mom of two children and Ama to two grandchildren. He knew I would love to sing and praise God. He knew I would love to lead others in worship and take pictures of His creation. He knew there would be bumps and trials, health scares, job changes and so much more.

Praying you let God use you and the gifts He has blessed you with to bless others and glorify Him. ~ Faye

My Ways are Not Your Ways

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.isaiah-55-8-9-4x6

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

Hearing God’s Voice

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

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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.)

slide2

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 –slide1

 

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.

 

 

 

 

God’s Radiance Shines On Us

Radiant Glory sm

These are words many of us need as we go through every day life.

God’s timing is always perfect, and sometimes it is very difficult to wait for Him to show that He is fully in control of a situation. However, as I was reading my devotions this morning, and came across the quote above by Sarah Young, I was reminded how many times God has blessed me to see glimpses of His Glory to give me encouragement and hope.

I have recently been facing another health issue and so have had lots of time to reflect and spend time with God.  During that time He has blessed me with His presence often. It may have been “just the right song” at “just the right time”, or a perfectly timed email, card, text or telephone call. It may have been His hands working through someone to bring a meal or a smile as I walk the halls to another doctors appointment wearing my mask.  Whatever it was I am so grateful that God shines His abundant glory on us at the perfect time to fill my heart with His hope and love.

Praying God abundantly blesses you ~ Faye

Be Still for the Glory of the Lord is moving in this place

Be still and know Ps 46 10 lake copy

What incredible beauty there is in God’s creation! In the past month, I’ve gone from enjoying His glory in a sunrise at the lake to walking through the plants at work and seeing the incredible detail on a crisp, frosty morning.

This summer due to a lot of circumstances, I have felt myself drawing away from God. After talking about it with a few precious friends, they each asked if I was getting out with my camera lately. I had to admit I haven’t. Not like I had in the past. I can come up with a list of reasons/excuses why, but really it comes down to enjoying the adrenalin of being busy helping others. When I reflect on that, I realize that I am missing so much of what I was created to do — The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. (Westminster Catechism) I have allowed myself to be so busy at work, in projects, in planning worship services, etc., that I have not had my primary focus be on giving God glory and enjoying/celebrating Him for ALL He has done.

Yesterday our minister preached from Isaiah 52 & 53 on how much our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, did for us. How He endured incredible suffering-mocked, whipped, beaten. Jesus, our Lord, bled and died for our sins. When He paid such an incredibly selfless price for each one of us, why don’t we take time to glorify God in all things? As we all heard the message we realized the depth of God’s love. From the beginning of the worship service to the end there was an incredible transformation in the people’s worship from enjoying singing about God to hearts being lifted up glorifying God in praise for the Power of the Cross.

We have so much to glorify God for from the beauty of creation to His unconditional love and abundant grace.

I grabbed my camera the day after a hard frost. Oh the joy of being blown away, being still in God’s presence and enjoying His glorious creation. When I look at pictures of God’s creation such as these, I often sing the following words, especially the second verse:

Be still, for the presence of the LORD,
the Holy One, is here.
Come bow before Him now
with reverence and fear.
In Him no sin is found;
we stand on holy ground.
Be still, for the presence of the LORD,
the Holy One, is here.
 
Be still, for the glory of the LORD
is shining all around.
He burns with holy fire;
with splendor He is crowned.
How awesome is the sight,
our radiant King of light!
Be still, for the glory of the LORD
is shining all around.
 
Be still, for the power of the LORD
is moving in this place.
He comes to cleanse and heal,
to minister His grace.
No work too hard for Him;
in faith receive from Him.
Be still, for the power of the LORD
is moving in this place.
~David Evans © 1986, Kingsway’s Thankyou Music

The morning I took the photo of the sunrise, I was visiting friends. I was blessed to wake up before the sunrise and just wait in the peacefulness of the lake and wait for the sun to appear. There is such an incredible calm that comes during that time of waiting as the sky turns from navy blue/black to light hues of gold and the fog rolls in on the lake. It is incredible just to silently breathe in God’s presence and peace and even without words being said just glorify God for ALL He has done for us. God has blessed us abundantly with His creation, love, mercy and grace. We need to take the time to Be Still and Know that He is God!

Maple Green leaf Green leaves Flower Grass Maple Maple leaf close copy coralbells copy BarberryPraying you will Breathe in the Presence of God’s Abundant Blessings Today ~ Faye

Reflecting God’s Image

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?

Reflection PSP3A 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.Reflection PSP5

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!

1 Cor 15_12 copy

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

How Wide, Long, High, and Deep …

A couple years ago my husband and I took a trip out West to enjoy God’s beautiful creation in Colorado, Utah, Arizona and Nevada.  We were privileged one evening to spend time on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon watching the sunset. It is incredible to watch the colors change in intensity in the depths of the canyon as the sun reaches into its depths and then slowly hides behind the heights of the canyon.  It was totally indescribable, magnificent! Photos are great to remember the event, but they don’t do justice to actually being there.

It  reminds me of describing to a nonbeliever the incredible love of God.  How could the Creator of the universe, know each and every person ever conceived? How can He know the number of hairs on our head? How can He write our names on His heart? He is totally indescribable! His love is beyond all knowledge or understanding. He gave His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to die and rise again so that we may be saved and live with Him forever in eternity – inconceivable, amazing love!God's Abundant Love

Paul desires for us to have the power to understand God’s unconditional love for each one of us even though it is too great to fully understand.  In Ephesians 3:14-21 he says:

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit.  Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

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.

DSC_0202As much as it is almost impossible to SEE all of the Grand Canyon let alone hike, God’s love is so much greater. We will never fully understand it all on this earth. But oh the hope that fills this believer’s heart for the day when she will stand before God and FULLY UNDERSTAND the width and length and height and depth of my Creator, Lord and Savior.

May you have a taste of the incredible and unconditional love God has for you ~ Faye

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When Trembling Brings Blessings

I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at My word.   ~ Isaiah 66:2

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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.

Hope ~ A Season of Anticipation, Expectation & Remembering

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.

God’s abundant blessings to you ~ Faye

Celebrating God’s Faithfulness to ALL Generations!

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

Linked with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory

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