Category Archives: God’s Love
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
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
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
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
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
I don’t know about you, but 2016 has been a year of lots of concerns, pain as well as emotional and spiritual growth. We began 2016 with my husband and I saying goodbye to both of our mothers just four weeks apart. Both had lived good lives and loved the Lord so it was bittersweet to say goodbye. There were illnesses, surgical procedures, relationship issues, absences from loved ones and job changes. We also walked alongside some dear friends who were going through cancer, rejection, marriage issues and divorce.
Let’s face it – this world is in a world of hurt. There is pain wherever you look. It might be simply a child’s tantrum once again or a flat tire. It might be as serious as hearing the words “inoperable cancer” or loved one saying, “I don’t love you anymore.”
I have struggled at times to see God’s hand in these trials. I don’t understand the pain a friend has endured as we tried to understand why God is allowing his parents to deal with years of suffering. Or the pain of parents who have had to let a loved one go off on their own and deal with the painful choices their loved one has made. Then there are those who are spending their first Christmas without a loved one. There are those who struggle with depression, anxiety, rejection, abandonment, insecurity and so much more.
Aren’t the holidays supposed to be filled with pictures from Norman Rockwell/Hallmark family and friend memories?
And yet, there is still hope. Hope? Really? Yes. God created each one of us to be aware of His presence, to seek Him and to want to worship and glorify Him. This IS DEFINITELY NOT easy in the midst of pain, but it is EVEN MORE ESSENTIAL at that time. Whether you sing, write, color, read, whatever – you NEED to worship and praise God during your pain. This is so counterintuitive to what we want to do – stay in bed, curl up in a ball, pull up the covers, forget the world, and just wallow in our self-pity.
But if we seek God, even a glimpse of Him at work around us, He usually shows us something to give us hope. Yesterday I saw it in a quick Christmas greeting text from our son, whom we’ve not heard from since deploying overseas in April. God answered this mother’s prayer to know where her son was. Then in my devotions this morning (once again, I am behind) when I opened Sarah Young’s Jesus Always, to December 11 and read these words:
“I am your Rock in whom you can take refuge-any time, any place. COME to Me, beloved; REST in the Peace of My Presence. Take a BREAK from trying to figure everything out. ADMIT that many, many things are beyond your understanding-and your control.” (These were words I needed. I DON’T have or need all the answers – that’s God’s job.)
Isaiah 55:8-9 became special verses to my parents when they were both diagnosed with cancer within a month of each other.
We can’t explain God. Many times, we can’t understand why God allows bad things to happen to good people. When the world is confusing and overwhelming or when it seems evil is taking control of this world, we need to remember God’s conversation with Job recorded in Job 38-42. God challenges Job to remember “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations? Who kept the sea inside its boundaries? Where does light come from and where does darkness go? Can you direct the constellations through the seasons? Do you know the laws of the universe? Who takes care of all the needs of the animals?” The Lord asks these serious questions in Job 40:2:
“Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?”
Job replies to the Lord and says, “I am nothing, how could I ever find the answers?” The Lord challenges him once again by asking if he can control the Leviathan? Job then realizes the depth of his ignorance. I absolutely love Job’s response recorded in Job 42:2-3:
“I know that You can do anything, and no one can stop You. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions My wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me.
This is where I find myself – I can wallow in my self-pity and question God about all that is happening to and around me OR I can trust that He knows and sees the entire picture, and I need to TRUST HIM for His Wisdom is far greater than mine.
Praying that as you face difficulties and struggles for yourself and your loved ones, that you can COME, REST, and ADMIT that you know nothing about God’s complete and unconditional love for you nor His entire plan for your life. You need to just TRUST in Him.
~ Praying you will grow in your confident trust in God. ~ Faye
God works in amazing ways and He never ceases to amaze me.
Our 7-year-old granddaughter, Claire, asked me the other night how can we hear God talking to us. I tried to explain in a way a second grader would understand, that God speaks to our heart. We don’t necessarily hear God’s voice like people talking to each other, but God uses the Holy Spirit to encourage us in our hearts.
Let me share what happened this past week to show how God has been “talking” to me. Today my husband is going in for his 3rd heart procedure this year, and even though we are trusting in God’s care there are still thoughts of “what if” … Well my devotions this morning started with reading the following:
First I read Sarah Young’s Facebook post:
“Learn to be joyful when things don’t go as you would like. Do not begin your day determined to make everything go your way. Each day you will bump up against at least one thing that doesn’t yield to your will. It could be as trivial as the reflection you see in the mirror or as massive as a loved one’s serious illness or injury. My purpose for you is not to grant your every wish or to make your life easy. My desire is that you learn to trust Me in all circumstances.” —Jesus Always by Sarah Young
I immediately felt God’s presence because of the encouragement I have received from Psalm 62 many times in the past. It was as if He were reminding me, “I’ve got this – Trust me!”
A little later I read from Jesus Always, for October 22 (I’m a few days behind – which God used for my benefit). The very first paragraph said:
“Don’t be afraid to tell Me how weak and weary – even overwhelmed – you feel at times. I am fully aware of the depth and breadth of your difficulties; nothing is hidden from Me. Although I know everything, I wait to hear from you. Pour out your heart to Me, for I am your Refuge. (Again from Psalm 62:8 – God reminding me of His providential care over my concerns.)
Young goes on to say, “Then you rest in the safety of My Presence, trusting that I understand you perfectly and love you with an everlasting Love. Be still, letting My Presence refresh and renew you. Remember that I never leave your side; I am holding you by your right hand.
I knew these words were to continue to encourage me. I’ve been reading Tracie Peterson’s, House of Secrets, which had Isaiah 41:10 & 13 woven through the story –
For I hold you by your right hand—I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.” ~ Isaiah 41:13
In this devotional God was once again reminding me through the words of others and His Word that He is in control of all the details of my life.
The other “funny/amazing” thing is that I’ve had a few people ask me in the past two months when I was going to write for the blog again. I’ve been praying about it, asking God what to write about and God seemed to be leading me to use Psalm 62:8 and Isaiah 41:10,13 but then when I read the last of Young’s devotion for today –
“This gives you courage and confidence to continue your journey. As you go along your path, hear Me saying, ‘Do not fear; I will help you.’” Ps. 46:10
it seemed like God was saying once again – I’ve Got You in the Palm of My Hand! Don’t Fear – Trust Me! I attributed it to trusting God for His Words to guide me in the blog and what to write (and He has once again.)
I didn’t hear God’s words audibly, but I definitely felt the promptings of the Holy Spirit comforting, guiding, and assuring me that He knows everything we are and have been facing. Once again celebrating the abundant blessings of God – Rich’s procedure went well.
Praying you can “hear” God’s promptings and caring in your lives ~ Faye
Sources: © 2016 Sarah Young, Jesus Always: Embracing Joy in His Presence. Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation.
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
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!
Ever wonder WHERE God is in your life? Does He CARE? Does He KNOW what is going on? Prayers go unanswered. People betray and hurt you. Sickness affects loved ones. People die. Does it seem like God is totally absent? I’ve been there recently.
Since I’ve been in such a funk, I’ve begun taking a day away from work and daily responsibilities; a day where I spend several hours just in quiet with God. Peace. Serenity. Calm. I head to a local park. Look out at the lake. I take along my Bible, a journal and pen, and my camera. But most importantly I take an open heart ready to not only talk to God but to just sit still and listen to Him. Where is He prompting me? Guiding Me? Challenging Me? Reminding Me?
A week ago this exercise prompted the following thoughts about being a reflection of God to others through my life. I definitely had NOT been a clear reflection of God since I had been very much wrapped up in my hurts, my worries, my fears, my misery. (Misery does not love company, it just likes to fester and grow all on its own.) As I just sat and talked with God, I felt Him telling me to look closely at the reflection of the lake. A wind had just picked up and the crisp, clear reflection was lightly disturbed by the gentle breeze.
Is this what sin, misery, despair, grief, avoiding God, busyness in my life had done? Do these things disturb my reflection of God in my life? When the storms of life blow into us, where is that peaceful, clear reflection of God? As I watched, a motor boat crossed the reflection and really disturbed the serenity of the mirror image on the shore. The wake fanned out and spread, much like self-pity does. After a while, it took over most of the reflection and it took a long time before the lake returned to the mirror-like image of the shore.
I wondered – where am I in my reflection of God? I realized I had lost the shoreline. I had let every big and little disturbance create choppy waves in my life and God wasn’t being reflected through me. I was letting my worldly cares and concerns disturb God’s peace.
I was letting my feelings and self-centered pity create a disturbance in my reflection of God. I was listening to one of Joyce Meyer’s talks and heard God’s reminder, … don’t care how I FEEL. Remember – I am rooted in God’s love. His love makes me more than a conqueror. He loves me unconditionally. While I was still an enemy of the cross, He died for me and loved me anyway. God will never love me any more than He does right now at this moment.
I am not saying feelings are wrong, but I sure wasn’t remembering the core of my faith from John 3:16-17:
For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him.
God loved me so much – He let His Son die for me to have eternal life. Why am I stuck in self-pity and blaming God for ignoring my life?
My faith had been in a deep battle with the devil, and I had begun to believe his lies instead of resting in God’s truth –
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. ~Hebrews 11;1
I need to continue to be fully in God’s word and presence. I need to be still and listen for His leading and guiding in my life so that I can be a true reflection of His love in my life and to those around me. I need to put on the armor of God so I can stand against Satan’s lies.
I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 15:12 where it says one day we will see everything clearly. In this world, “with devils filled that threatens to undo us,” we can’t fear if we are filled with God’s love, grace and truths. We won’t always understand or “FEEL” that God cares. That’ won’t happen until I am perfectly remade with God. But I do KNOW God knows and loves me always and unconditionally. Praise God!
Stay in God’s Word. Spend time not only talking to God, but taking the time to listen to what He has to say to you. Look for ways God is showing Himself to you – a call from a granddaughter, a monarch or hummingbird being provided for by God’s creation, a sunset, a song …
Praying God will fill your hearts so deeply that all you can do is be a mirror-image of His likeness ~ Faye
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!
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.
As 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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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.
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.
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
These are all words that fit the definition of the word “onomatopoeia.” An “onomatopoeia” is defined as a the state or condition of a word formed to imitate the sound of its intended meaning, such as hiss, buzz, murmur, rustle. Over the years when I’ve looked at “Peace,” “Tranquility,” or “Serenity”, I imagine them coming to life as I write them on a page in my sermon notes. P-e-a-c-e just languishes on the tongue and makes one desire quiet calm. Se-ren-i-ty is a flowing, long, drawn-out word that when pronounced that way just brings a harmony to one’s world. Tr-a–n-qui-l-i-ty, likewise, lends itself to a feeling of restfulness and stillness. I visualize these words as scripty, flowing from a pen and off the tongue.
Our lives are so busy and we are bombarded every moment of the day it seems by the things that need to be done. Words like serenity and tranquility rarely fit in our vocabulary. Yet God wants us to be filled with His peace. Philippians 4:6-7 says,
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
We can’t be filled with the peace – serenity – tranquility that comes from God unless we hand over our worries and fears to Him. Do you have a loved one who isn’t saved? Surrender them over to God in prayer. It’s not your battle to save them. It is God’s. God requires you to love them with the unconditional love of God. You are radiate Christ’s life to everyone. When you find yourself really loving someone through God’s eyes, you are filled with a serenity that comes from knowing God is in control and you have surrendered your will to His.
Are you frustrated with a body that isn’t working as well as it used to? Remember that you are uniquely made. Jesus knows what you are going through and more. Pour out your heart to Him and be filled with a tranquility that only comes from the Holy Spirit bringing you peace.
G.H. Morling says, “It is much that God the Father is above me; it is more that God the Son is for me; it is still more that God the Holy Spirit is within me.” When we live with this focus, we will be filled with the blessings of peace ~ serenity ~ tranquility from God.
May the blessings of grace and peace be yours from God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit ~ Faye
I have talked with several people this week who are concerned over loved one’s behavior and choices, or facing serious health issues, or decisions about their future employment or move. I’ve spoke with a parent who is beating themselves up about their child’s lifestyle and how they could have changed things somehow, maybe … I’ve been in conversations about the mistakes – no, let’s call it what it really is – sin – we as Christians make daily and how that is observed from an unbeliever. Over the span of a few days I’ve found myself wanting to fix problems that were out of my control. I’ve found myself wanting to be bolder in my faith to have answered when someone challenged about someone calling themselves a Christian and yet spent time gossiping. And I’ve struggled with God trying to find the wisdom to know what I should do in certain situations.
We all want do-overs in life. There’s a part of us that wants to live a perfect life, but sin is ever-present in this earthly world. I’ve enjoyed reading The Quest for Serenity by G.H. Morling and Ruth Graham Bell several times over the past decade. Morling wrote the chapter, Leaving It All Quietly to God, based on portions of Psalm 62. Bell included a poem that reminded me not to live life with regrets but to give them over to God so that I may live a life filled with serenity that comes from God alone.
Leave quietly to God ~ My mistakes. The sins and shortcomings of others. The mistakes of others. That which is none of my business. Politics and world affairs. That which I cannot get done. And that which I cannot get undone. The un-understandable. That for which I am not remotely responsible.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.
The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of Your hands. Psalm 138:8
Praying you will be blessed with God’s serenity ~ Faye
When flowers develop on the plant, they often grow in a tight bud. They’re the most vulnerable at this point. God’s given them a source of protection/armor as the delicate petals develop. When a baby grows within its mother, the mother is the protection and nutrition for the baby. I am grateful for the reminder from Ephesians 6:10-16 which encourages us to get dressed each day, ready to face whatever faces us. How? By putting on the FULL armor of God. Satan is out trying to destroy God’s kingdom, one person at a time. He is relentless in his pursuit, but God gives us full body coverage.
Paul begins Eph 6:10 with such encouragement – Be strong in the LORD and in His mighty power. I immediately think of the song “Be strong in the LORD and NEVER GIVE UP HOPE. … God’s got His hand on you so don’t live life in fear … take your time to pray and thank God for each day. (The Words I Would Say by Sidewalk Prophets)
I know I can’t get through the day without His protection. I can’t just put on the belt of truth and expect to be fully protected against the evil in this world. In order to be protected, well armed and ready to fight, I need to PUT ON THE WHOLE, COMPLETE ARMOR OF GOD.
I’m just finishing book 3 of The Hunger Games. It’s an easy and fun read. When they get ready to head into the games, they aren’t fully protected or armed. Their “controller” wants to see them die. Satan wants us to die. He wants to conquer us and destroy God’s Kingdom. We live for our LORD who wants us to live FULLY for Him and so He prepares us for the battles ahead. Katniss (The Hunger Game’s main character) is excellent with bow and arrow. She can make them appear in places no one expects. They are aimed, focused, and deadly. She even finds the chink in the armor that takes down an empire. Can Satan do that? Oh yes he can – when God allows it. What? God allows it! Oh yes, He allows it so that we will run to Him, depend on Him, trust Him for each day. He wants us to get prepared for battle daily by putting on the full and complete armor of God that WILL protect us from the devil.
Most things that know the arrows are coming take flight, trying to outrun the arrow’s deadly point. God tells us that when we put on the full armor we will be able to resist our enemy. We will be bold and confident to stand our ground because we are covered with the armor of God. When those beautifully delicate fern peonies open their blossoms …
So grateful for the blessing of God’s full armor. Once again – getting dressed for the day! Faye
Somebody goes with you wherever you go,
Somebody really and truly cares
and lovingly listens to all your prayers …
Don’t doubt for a minute that this is not true,
FOR GOD LOVES HIS CHILDREN and takes care of them, too . . .
And all of his treasures are yours to share
If you love Him completely and show Him you care . . .
And if you “walk in His footsteps” and have the faith to believe,
There’s nothing you ask for that you will not receive!
~ Helen Steiner Rice
I have always appreciated this poem. I have come to realize that it isn’t a guarantee that I will get the exact thing I pray for. But it is a reminder that I BELONG TO MY HEAVENLY FATHER, that I have value and worth in His eyes, and that God will fill me with His presence through every storm and struggle as well as beautifully sunny days.
Enjoy basking in His presence ~ Faye
It’s Spring in Iowa. Actually one might even think it’s been Summer with temperatures in the 70s and 80s for over a week instead of 30s and 40s. All of the plants and trees have been budding and bursting forth their beauty. I’ve been working in a garden center and am blessed that the owners allow me pretty much free reign of the property to take photos. Every where I turn something else seems to herald its praises to God.
When I see how God has blessed me throughout my life, how can I keep from shouting His praise? Funny, as I’m writing this, Chris Tomlin’s How Can I Keep from Singing? is playing in the background. God’s timing is so incredible. I turned on Chris Tomlin’s CD this afternoon after I needed a spiritual remake and a lifting up of my spirits. I ran into some people who pretty much are able to only see the glass of life as half empty. They’ve had many difficulties in life, but after talking with them I just felt so sad and sorry for them. When I got home, I knew I could wallow in their self-pity or I could crank up the music and praise God for all He has given to me. These friends have been stuck in the past dreading the changes life offers. Now I don’t like change either, especially when it comes with trials – chronic illnesses, infertility, floods, tornadoes, broken water pipes, health concerns, etc.
But then I look at these beautiful plants and flowering trees. They’ve been hibernating over the Winter after dying off in the Fall just to be able to withstand the harsh winds, snow and ice. Then when the sun comes out, temperatures warm and the Spring rains come, they burst for their glorious color and intricate beauty. Look at this Magnolia blossom, it’s beautiful before it even opens. The white, pinks and purples all gracefully coming out of the base of the bud. There’s not even leaves of the tree when the bud is showing off it’s glory. It doesn’t care if the sky is cloudy and overcast, it’s ready to praise its Maker. It’s not worried about any possibility of weather changes and even the “danger” of frost. It just obeys God’s command to glorify Him.
My heart grieves for these friends who are struggling to see God’s beauty in their lives. I am so grateful to be deeply content in You alone, for You have been there for me through all of the trials and blessings of life. Help me to keep these words in my heart and mind:
How can I keep from singing Your praise? How can I ever say enough, how amazing is Your love? How can I keep from shouting Your name? I know I am loved by the King and it makes my heart want to sing! ~ Chris Tomlin
So abundantly grateful for the blessing of being able to give praise and glory to God! ~ Faye
I don’t have a lot to say today. I’d like to share how I experienced abundant blessings from God Friday after a beautiful snowfall during the night. I was up early and reflecting on Ephesians 3:20-21 “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than ALL we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.”
I dressed warm, grabbed my camera and headed outdoors right at sunrise. It was pristene white, peaceful, and quiet. God blessed me with His beautiful creation. I saw eagles closer than I’ve been to them before in the wild. I’ve been praising God all weekend for the way He blesses us over and over again with the beautiful from His creative hands.
I pray you will be blessed by these photos as well. I especially pray that you will be able to see the beauty of God’s love and grace all around you ~ Faye
“Then you will be MADE COMPLETE with all the FULLNESS OF LIFE AND POWER that comes from God.” ~ Ephesians 3:19b
Just think of what it is like to FULLY EXPERIENCE a sunrise. I’ve gone out to take photos at 5:30 in the morning. The anticipation is incredible as I stand there and watch the sky changes hues. It is amazing how I can be drawn into the beauty of the colors, thrill at the changing reflection on the water and in the clouds, and then I’m filled with peace, joy, calm, beauty, and a sense of God’s splendor. These 4 photos of the sunrise were taken over a period of 20 minutes. Amazing how the colors change. It is truly difficult to describe.
Paul tells us to FULLY EXPERIENCE the LOVE OF CHRIST. And then he tells us – imagine it, but you can’t fully understand it because IT IS TOO GREAT!
I’m reminded of a simple little song:God is so wonderful, I can’t explain, But I can say, Glory, Hallelujah! Praise His Holy Name. It’s wonderful because He saved me. It’s wonderful that He forgave me. It’s wonderful, wonderful, So very wonderful, wonderful that He is mine. I cast on Him my every burden, Lay at His feet my every care, It’s wonderful, wonderful, so very wonderful, Wonderful that He is mine.
Virginia Marshall © 1964 Word Music, Inc. CCLI song# 10525
I looked up the word “wonderful” –beyond what is ordinary or usual; highly unusual or exceptional or remarkable; extraordinary; excellent; outstanding; tremendous; magnificent; superb; sensational; awesome; stupendous; terrific; sovereign; remarkable; amazing; fantastic; incredible; astonishing; phenomenal; marvelous; staggering; astounding; miraculous; awe-inspiring; jaw-dropping; mind-blowing …”. God cannot be described simply with one word. Who He is. What He does. His resplendent glory. His unconditional love. His amazing grace. And yet, that indescribable God, loves each one of us and promises that we will be MADE COMPLETE in God. We will be filled to all the FULLNESS OF LIFE AND POWER that God gives us, and it will be enough, sufficient.
Chris Tomlin sings Enough. I won’t put the words here since they’re under the video on the YouTube link. We need to stop and think about the amazing, awesome, wonderful love God lavishes on us. We are so blessed with the knowledge that God’s love for us is not just when we’re good, or just to give us happiness. It is to transform us, to grow us into being like Him. During this season of Lent, when we particularly think of the sacrificial love of Christ and are filled with wonder and awe of His gift, we must realize God’s love is penetrating into the depth of our soul. He’s working to change us from the inside out.
May you experience the blessing of basking in the sunshine of God’s love ~ Faye