Category Archives: Providence
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
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.
Lately I’ve been thinking often of the old song Count Your Many Blessings.
I think some of this comes from looking at the beauty in the Autumn colors. What incredible blessings abound everywhere you look.
Some of you know that I have been dealing with a lung infection since mid-August. Yesterday I heard the good news that it is improving with medication. YEAH!
So I thought I’d share some of my abundant blessings lately:
|Lung Infection||Meds to help it improve it|
|Rheumatoid Arthritis IV drug has to stop||No major R.A. symptoms without IV|
|Wearing a mask in public||Most people very friendly and most are understanding|
|Can’t work at garden center||Most of my work can be done from home|
|Fatigue from lung infection||Family & friends who have given prayers, food, support & encouragement|
|Rich is retiring||God has provided in incredible ways after 38 years at Rockwell|
|Rich is retiring||He will be busy in his shop catching up on blacksmith projects|
|Rich is retiring||He will work on my “honey-do” list|
|Rich is retiring||Road trips, vacations, time at the lake, Bumpa & Ama time|
|Rich is retiring||He will be around to process all the butternut squash, spaghetti squash, Delicata and acorn squash from the garden|
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, ev’ry doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by. [Refrain]
When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings, money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high. [Refrain]
So, amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end. [Refrain] ~ Johnson Oatman, Public Domain
May you enjoy God’s abundant blessings in your life as well ~ Faye
I woke up this morning singing a song I’ve learned a long time ago:
I was very blessed to wake this morning with that song on my lips. Then God decided to continue the theme with my devotional:
“Though I bring grief, I will show compassion. So do not despair when hard times come your way, and do not try to escape them prematurely. Timing is My prerogative! There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. Unlike the four seasons of the year, the seasons of your life are not orderly or predictable. When you are grieving, you may feel as if sorrow will accompany you the rest of your days. But remember that I have promised to show compassion. So great is My unfailing Love for you! When you are suffering, search for signs of My merciful Presence. Even during your darkest days, streaks of Light break through the storm clouds – providing hope and comfort. My unfailing Love shines upon you always. Look up to Me and see My Face shining upon you. I never run out of compassion. They are new every morning.” (Jesus Today, Sarah Young)
The funny thing is I usually think about things like this when I’m worried about something. I knew I wrote about this song back in 2012 In His Time. Rereading God’s providential care has filled me with incredible reminders of His abundant blessings through the years. I shared these thoughts with a friend who has been going through some great trials (possibly spiritual warfare) and she replied back – “It was in God’s time for her to hear these words.” Maybe these words aren’t meant for me today as much as they are for someone else.
One thing I have discovered is that God doesn’t change. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. His plans are always for our best. His timing is always perfect. So if you find yourself in a waiting period, facing questions and struggles remember – In God’s time – He makes all things beautiful! Pour out your hearts to Him, surrender to Him and trust Him. He will fill you with hope and peace.
May God bless you abundantly as you wait for God’s timing ~ Faye
Do you ever wonder what else can happen all around you? It’s been a lot like that in my life circle the past month or so with more family and friends health issues than I ever thought possible in such a short period. One aunt died while two others are in hospice care, all within a week’s time. A loved one faces Parkinson’s Disease, another almost three years of chemotherapy to keep cancer in check. Others deal with cataract surgery, hepatitis, ostomy surgery, knee surgery, prostate cancer, prodigal children, financial pressures, breast cancer; the list seems to grow with each new day.
I went to bed early in hopes of catching up on some sleep but my mind just wouldn’t turn off. Different people and their cares kept running through my thoughts. I would pray for them and usually I can relax and fall asleep, but God had other plans – spend time with Him. Tonight, amidst all the concerns and cares that wouldn’t let my brain rest, I kept singing different songs, such as Jesus, Draw Me Close and I Stand in Awe of You. But it wasn’t until the words of this song came to mind, thank you God, that I felt the calm come over me as I prayed and rested in Him with all the cares and trials all around me:
I don’t know about tomorrow;
I just live from day to day.
I don’t borrow from its sunshine
For its skies may turn to grey.
I don’t worry o’er the future,
For I know what Jesus said.
And today I’ll walk beside Him,
For He knows what lies ahead.
Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.
Every step is getting brighter
As the golden stairs I climb;
Every burden’s getting lighter,
Every cloud is silver-lined.
There the sun is always shining,
There no tear will dim the eye;
At the ending of the rainbow
Where the mountains touch the sky.
Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.
I don’t know about tomorrow;
It may bring me poverty.
But the one who feeds the sparrow,
Is the one who stands by me.
And the path that is my portion
May be through the flame or flood;
But His presence goes before me
And I’m covered with His blood.
Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.
As Rich and I were reading devotions before bed, we read these verses from Romans 5:3-5a and James 1:2-4
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment.
… when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
My response as Rich read these words was – “Enough with the endurance God. I don’t know what You have planned for us, but my character is stretched as far as it can go. I’ve got to be ‘perfect and complete’ after this past month.” I was kiddingly, but I am having trouble some days “counting it all joy.” There are times I don’t know how others get through each trial without knowing the hope that God holds us tightly in His grasp. Praying that you know the truth of God through the following blessing:
So abundantly blessed because God holds my hand – always! ~ Faye
Thanksgiving Day in America is filled with holiday traditions – time with family and friends, an abundance of good food, football, games, walks. It is often time together with loved ones. For some the day begins by going to church to thank God for all He has blessed us with. It was established by our founding fathers as a day that was set aside for us to give thanks to our Creator and God for the abundant blessings He has lavished on us from the material things to His providential care.
Dr. Charles Stanley was talking about our needs recently and said,
“Don’t be mistaken: there’s nothing wrong with having an awareness of our present needs. But too often we allow them to become the focus of our lives. The result is that our hearts become blind to the bounty all around us – a blessing far greater than blue skies, the beauty of creation, or the food it provides; something more essential than clothing, income, or a roof over our heads. It’s the provision of God Himself, and His constant presence among us.”
After reading these words I saw some of the news stories about Black Friday now becoming Black Thursday. I understand that some people really enjoy getting together with family and friends and hitting the early morning shopping sales experience after Thanksgiving. But it seems to me that we are focusing more and more on the THINGS of Thanksgiving and Christmas instead of the WHO and WHY of these two holidays. Thanksgiving is becoming more about time to spend money shopping for the perfect gifts and Christmas has become more about giving the right gift and making people happy. Those things in and of themselves aren’t wrong, but somehow we’ve lost the WONDER AND AWE of Christmas. We are focused too much on THINGS and not enough of God’s precious gift to us of His Son to save us from our sins and give us eternal life. Thanksgiving becomes more about strategies for what stores to hit and when in order to get the most bang for our buck instead of taking time to Thank God for all He has done for us.
Whether it is God’s providential hand keeping a truck from rolling completely over and drastically injuring the driver, or having a surgical procedure available to help an irregular heart become regular. Whether it is groceries dropped at the door of someone in need, or taking someone to a doctor’s appointment who feels like a burden only to tell them you’ve been in their shoes. You understand how they feel and are so grateful to be able to pay it forward. Maybe it is just the eagles soaring above you as you go for a walk under beautifully blue skies. Or it may be the hug you receive from your 9 year old grandson whom you never thought would make it when he was born at 2 1/2 pounds. It may be the peace of God in your heart as you meet with someone you’ve had conflicts with in the past and realize God’s grace has provided incredible healing.
A while back I wrote how worshiping God changes us to being more like Him. With the renewed advertising campaigns to buy and spend more and more this holiday season, it seems to me that Pastor Jack Hayford’s statement – “Worship changes the worshiper into the image of the one being worshiped,” is very true. Instead of worshiping God and being changed into His image. Too often we are worshiping the almighty dollar and the
happiness it might bring. If that is the case and we are worshiping material things, does Hayford’s quote mean – When we worship material things we are changed into the image of those things we are worshiping? Given the amount of advertising and news coverage over changing the shopping day and getting prepared for the holiday sales, it really makes me wonder. I heard of people who will have been camped out in line in front of a store in Wisconsin for a week by the time the store opens for the sale. Do we, do I, come close to having that type of anticipation and time for God?
I have been challenged to intentionally give God some serious time to thank Him for ALL HE has done for me. He has blessed me, my family and my friends abundantly more than we could ask or imagine. So much more than money can buy. I pray you are able to take time to reflect on and thank God for His love and grace He lavishes on us during this Holy Season.
It’s that time of year where we walk around the property and clean up the shrubs and gardens that are done producing. It means pulling up the frost-bit tomatoes and the browned sweet potatoes. It means reshaping my evergreen before winter so the Christmas lights will look nice on it.
I love God’s incredible timing because I’m just reading through a daily devotional a page or two at a time and I started midyear, so I’m not on the correct date in my reading. However, that seems to let God bless me more in very intentional words needed at just the right time. In Abundant Life Day Book by Nancy Guthrie, she looks at the Bible verses in the photo. Then she shares how God knows how to specifically nurture me into a faithful branch in God’s vineyard. Working in the garden center, I’ve watched how some of the staff has learned over the years to read the individual plants. They know which ones need more water or less, who needs to be repotted because it has become pot-bound and is no longer taking in the nourishment needed. And they know when and what plants need fertilizer and which ones don’t. When I compare that to Guthrie’s comments, I am stunned at how closely God pays attention to the details that surround me. If I need time with Him, He may cause a slow-me-down (often one that I’m not willing to take the time to deal with, but so necessary in hindsight). He may have to prune me to shape me into what He wants me to be now and in my heavenly home. He knows what activities are sapping my energy and He will trim it away.
One of Guthrie’s comments rang very true, “God may cut out some of the activities you enjoy so that in the stillness you can hear My voice.” I cannot tell you how true this is, but many who face chronic illnesses definitely know the truth of these words. For me, that was the enjoyment I had in working with teens in youth group – teaching, encouraging, worshiping, fooling around with, attending activities … it was what seemed to be the one way God allowed me to worship and serve Him. God changed that and told me it was time to step down after about a year of dealing with RA. It was hard. I argued with God and struggled with the let down. But God in His infinite wisdom allowed me to grow during the period after working with teens. He had a lot to teach me about BEING with Him. And the more I am with Him, the more I realize I want to be with Him even more. But I struggle with “finding” – no really with “making” time for Him. I know that if I don’t He’ll have another slow-me-down to help prune me and shape me into what He wants me to be.
Pruning and cutting hurt. Sometimes pruning is a simple snip from a clippers, other times it is a hard snap from a loppers or sometime it takes a hacksaw to cut away the dead growth. Whatever it takes, I need to remember that God’s pruning is with purpose, it is never careless or just because. He has learned to read me like a book and knows whether I need water, fertilizer or pruning.
By the way, again in God’s infinite wisdom and timing, I’m working with young people in a totally different perspective by helping them as they learn how to lead others in worship. I get to spend good time with them, hearing how life is going and encouraging them in their relationship with God.
Incredibly blessed by God’s incredible timing and careful pruning ~ Faye
Recently, I “happened” to run into a dear friend, who lights up the room when she walks into it. The circumstances were such that it could only have been choreographed by God. Our time together was spent encouraging each other and telling how God has been working in our lives since we last saw each other.
She sent me an email the next day telling how she had left work late again, after another challenging day at work but felt drawn to stop by and found myself and someone else talking. She shared “It seriously made my day to see you, talk and laugh with you both!! It changed my whole mood and really brightened the day for me. Faith, Family & Friends – makes the ordeal of life worth living!”
When God providentially arranges our lives and we obey His leadings, it’s incredible to see how He works. It gave us renewed focus on how God intervenes in our lives – especially when we let Him.
How often do we experience delays, changes of plans, and redirections and treat them as intrusions? It could be that God is detouring us so we can do something different or new for Him. Consider Paul’s trip to Philippi in Acts 16. He had gone to Macedonia because of a God-directed vision (vv.9-10). How could he know that he would end up in prison there? But even that trip to jail was God-led, because He used Paul to bring salvation to a jailer and his family (vv.25-34).
God can use inconveniences in our lives if we look at them as divine appointments.
I’ve been working hard at having this be the first thought when I get out of bed in the morning, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12 NIV) I vaguely remember growing up and learning – teach us to order our days aright … So my prayer is help me to put my day in order of Your priorities. Help me to honor You in the way I go through the day. Posture me to see where You want me to be, say what You want me to say, and do what You want me to do. I like the New Living Translation – “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.”
So grateful for the blessing of God’s Divine Appointments. Praying you see His incredible hand at work as well ~ Faye
I was reading through our Maundy Thursday worship service and was just humbled by what Jesus has done for us. The service is first person readings of accounts from Gethsemane to the crucifixion. One portion is Jesus telling how He was praying alone in the garden after leaving Peter, James and John a little farther away to pray. After praying an hour, he returned to find his closest friends asleep instead of praying for Him. Jesus say, “Why now, Father, I need comfort and support from my disciples and Satan lures them into sleep.” After it happens the second time, Jesus is portrayed as thinking, “My Father knew I needed support as I prepared for what was coming. Yet Satan was determined that I should walk this path alone.”
I’ve learned from a lot of people who suffer with chronic illnesses that there are so many times they feel alone. It gets old when someone asks, “How are you doing?” and you have to decide how much to tell them. The meds have changed again. The weather is affecting how your body responds today. You overdid yesterday and you are paying for it today. Dealing with insurance claims and payments are more burdensome. People who used to be close friends have distanced themselves because they don’t know how to help. … The list goes on. These types of thoughts and feelings lead those who are suffering with an incredible feeling of facing life alone. I know, I’ve been there. Fortunately, it’s only been for short periods of time.
I have learned that no one can give me the support and understanding that I need 100% of the time. My husband has job stresses. My daughter is busy with her family. Friends are dealing with their lives. I have learned there is only ONE CONSTANT, and that is God, my Heavenly Father. I’ve shared about the job loss two years ago, and sensing every time I prayed for new clients, a new job, what to do, God kept leading with – WAIT! Two years can go by quickly, but when you are waiting for something and you don’t know what it is, it can be forever. However, when we wait relying on God, we are filled with a calm (that Satan will definitely try to steal) that goes beyond understanding and human logic. Reading this perspective of what Jesus went through and the cry of, “Why now God, when I need You so much, do You seem so distant and my friends can’t support me either?”
Almost every time I’ve had a “waiting from God period” it has turned out to be a blessing that I couldn’t see. God was using that time to prepare me for what was to come. Recently, He showed me that even my obedience in writing this blog has been a learning experience for what is to come on the job He provided 2 years later. I’m bowled over by His planning, providing, leading, preparing. He is the master life-coordinator. If I just surrender to, listen and obey what He is telling me to do, it would happen without so much doubt, pain, frustration, impatience, etc.
I remembered the part of the Holy Week story where Jesus is “abandoned” by God on the cross. Where Christ suffers hell for us. But I guess I hadn’t really thought about His understanding that He knows the pain we feel when answers aren’t coming easily, when friends don’t support us, when family members aren’t there for us, or even when God is silent. He knows our pain and hurt. So He holds us closely when we cry to Him, “How long?” “Why?” “Where are You?” He knows the pain in our heart and empathizes in ways we can never show. When you’re struggling with feelings of being abandoned, alone, unloved, unsupported – run into His loving, open, understanding arms.
Praying you may be filled with God’s peace as you listen and wait for His leading ~ Faye
Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. — Matthew 7:7-8 NLT
I recently felt God prompting me to spend a day in prayer and fasting. I thought and prayed about it for a few days and the feeling didn’t leave. So on a Monday morning before getting out of bed, I dedicated the day to God and what He had planned for me to learn. I had recently been reviewing my business’s yearend documentation and saw how God had provided, despite a significant loss in business for the past two years. I was longing to be more productive, but the business wasn’t coming in. I had been asking God – “What next? When? How long? Guide me.” As I was preparing for the day, my fax machine started spewing page after page of work from a client I hadn’t had anything from for a few months. There was definitely a time of praise and thanksgiving to God! But I didn’t let it interrupt my commitment to God. And boy am I glad I didn’t because God continued to answer.
After reading God’s word for a while and praying, I decided to go for a walk. I went down by the river and enjoyed seeing some eagles, a hawk and some other birds. But mostly, I just enjoyed walking and talking with God. I asked Him, with a boldness and confidence I don’t always come to Him with, about my future – Do I go out looking for a job? Do I wait? Would He please make it very clear to me that He had plans for me. And I shared some specific things I desired if I were to work outside of the home. While I was walking past some friends’ business, the owner came out and asked me to talk. He talked about the possibility of a part-time job. Now I really wanted to fall on my knees before God in prayer. This is the perfect answer to my prayers. God knew the variety of my needs and concerns about working and He provided with THE best answer – it included many of the specific things I had requested.
I have to tell you it was so refreshing to spend such a concentrated and purposeful day with God. I didn’t just fast from food, but turned off most of the worldly distractions. I didn’t start the day with the morning news. I didn’t read my emails. I didn’t check Facebook, aside from my morning devotion with my Ephesians Bible study group. I didn’t even have the radio on! Those who know me know that I usually surround myself with some form of noise. But this day just seemed like a day I should devote to God.
But to see God work so immediately – when I LISTENED to HIS LEADINGS! Too often I pray quickly something like, “LORD, You know my needs. Help me see what You have for me.” But God tells us in Matthew 7 that whatever we ask for we will receive, seek and we will find, knock and the door will be opened. Jesus teaches us persistence in our prayer. God will provide for our daily needs and pour out His spiritual blessings.
Ephesians 3:12 says, Because of Christ and our faith in Him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.
We are blessed to be able to come BOLDLY AND CONFIDENTLY into the presence of the KING of Kings! We can ask Him anything, talk to Him about everything because He cares. Instead of being afraid for our life, like Queen Esther was when she appeared before King Xerxes without being summoned; God invites us to come to Him ANYTIME with the assurance that He will welcome us and hear us.
Even though we can come BOLDLY and CONFIDENTLY into His presence, we must also surrender to Him and LISTEN for His prompting us to be in agreement with His Will for our lives.
I have spent the past two weeks almost pinching myself for God’s answers. Then I find that I’m chiding myself because I believe firmly that God is able to immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine. Have I been limiting God by not BOLDLY ASKING WITH THE CONFIDENCE THAT HE GIVES ABUNDANTLY? Have I been too busy and distracted not to LISTEN?
I encourage you to find that special time with God. Whether it’s 10 minutes in the car while you’re waiting for kids to get out of volleyball or waiting at the doctor’s office, tune out all the distractions and focus on what He is saying to you.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to Him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21
Celebrating the immeasurable blessings of God ~ Faye
Time. For some a week, month or year are but a blink of the eye, particularly from hindsight. But for others time trudges on – waiting for test results, living with chronic or terminal illnesses, serving a prison sentence, or trying to understand what the future holds can all make time seem to stand still.
In this world of all its worries and cares, there’s a simple little song that I find can calm my heart and bring me back to the perspective that God has all things in His control — In His Time.
We are hardwired to “do something”, especially in this fast-paced culture. So resting and waiting doesn’t come naturally. We want action. Waiting for God seems counterintuitive to what we believe we want and should do. An In Touch devotional reminded me that “waiting for the Lord means to pause for further instruction while remaining in the present circumstance. It is a purposeful, expectant focus on God — a choice to be actively still and quiet in our hearts, listening for His voice and watching for His intervention. The wait is not for events to work out as we want, but rather for God’s will to be done.”
We must surrender and submit to God. The photo of the ice on the berries reminds me clearly of that. This photo was taken December 2007 following an ice storm in the Midwest. Little did we know the beauty of that ice would be the beginning of massive flooding in June 2008. The devastation of the flood was overwhelming for many. But now, three and a half years later, many of us have been able to see the “beauty” God has brought through those difficult times. My husband and I personally saw God’s hand in the provisions of friends opening their home to us for 12 1/2 weeks!, saving most of the “things” in our basement, getting involved in flood recovery, and precious new friendships with people whom we likely would not have met without God’s intervening.
I can find myself so frustrated at waiting. How will I use my time and gifts that God has blessed me with? Sitting around seems like such a waste. But I’m finding more and more that in those waiting periods, if I am actively waiting and listening for God to lead and provide, He blows me away. What seems like delayed timing from my view is perfect timing from God’s viewpoint. The all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present God, Creator of all things and Lord of the universe can never be late.
The more I pour out my heart to Him, spend time with Him in prayer and His word and the more I intentionally bring my worries and concerns to Him, the more He shows me very clearly He IS there. He’s always paying attention. He knows intimately what we need. And if we keep looking for Him, He shows us clearly that He is there.
Twice this week I had times of, “Ok God! I get it. You are paying attention to my needs and You do care.” Running my home business, I need to pay for the more expensive TurboTax software. Well, being more frugal these days, I’ve been watching the sales and Internet, but realized the local club store had the best deal. However, I thought I’d keep watching for something better. Thursday morning I woke with the clear impression to head over to the store for the software. I walked in, and they handed me a flyer. The store had an unadvertised $10 discount on that item for the next four days. I could have just accepted it as coincidence, but I’ve learned those are God moments. Friday I had an auto maintenance scheduled. As I pulled into the garage Thursday, the car made an awful noise. So Friday I spoke to the mechanic about it. The fan belt was cracked and showing signs of pieces coming off. Praise God I wasn’t out driving in country roads and stranded, or it broke and caused more damage, and that I had the appointment already. God even provided for the majority of the cost of the repair with a dental reimbursement check.
Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. — Ecclesiastes 3:11
Praying you will sense God’s abundant blessing of peace and calm as you actively wait for His plans and timing ~ Faye
Our pastor preached a challenging and encouraging message this Sunday on a topic I struggle with way too frequently – Worrying. He looked at Matthew 6:25-34, where Jesus talks about God’s taking care of the birds’ needs and clothing the lilies in splendor. Jesus reminds us that if He cares for such tiny creatures and flowers that others don’t even see, how much more will He care for His creation that He gave souls to, sent His Son to die for, and filled us with His Holy Spirit. Jesus also reminds us that each day has enough worry for itself, so don’t leap ahead and worry about the future.
Jesus knows that each day has concerns and pressures. He wants us to live in trust that He has everything in control. We need to trust Him and be filled with His peace. His peace isn’t like anything the world has — It is so much deeper. He fills us to overflowing with the inner beauty and calm of peace that only comes from the Holy Spirit.
As our pastor preached, my mind kept going back to the things I worry about –
- life with chronic progressive illnesses
- what does God have planned for my future as far as work and my business
- finances, especially being underemployed
- using my time wisely
- coming up with things to write for God’s Abundant Blessings blog (ironic, I know).
But then I started to reflect on the past few weeks. I did a 180-spin in the snow a few days earlier, and as I cried out, “God, help me!” I felt His presence and a calm assurance that He was with me. When I sat in the waiting room while my husband had a heart procedure, and the nurse came out and said, “We’ve run into a little problem …” I was filled with incredible peace and serenity that only comes from God’s presence. (Things turned out well after the procedure.)
Trusting and letting go isn’t easy for this Type A person. I sometimes think that’s why God allowed me to have the chronic illnesses. They have given me a huge slow-me-down, and I’ve needed to continually trust in Him for my strength so many days and in so many ways.
I was reminded during the pastor’s message of a testimony I heard many years ago by Roger Bennett as he was facing a life with leukemia. (You can Google Roger Bennett testimony and hear several of his stories on YouTube.) Here are the words to Roger and Debbie Bennett’s song: Don’t Be AfraidThe disciples were tossed on a cold, raging sea But Jesus was sleeping so peacefully They cried, “Master, don’t you care that we die?” But He spoke three small words, “Peace be still,” It was the storm that had to die So don’t be afraid when the darkness is closing The Master is near, His voice calms every storm So when the world says it’s over, the Master says, “No, I’ve just begun” In your darkest of times, whether rain or in sunshine, don’t be afraid I know how it feels to be tossed by the storms And I know how it feels to be battered and worn But then I know how it feels to be carried on through Called by the strength of the One who is faithful and true So don’t be afraid when the darkness is closing The Master is near, His voice calms every storm So when the world says it’s over, the Master says, “No, I’ve just begun” In your darkest of times, whether rain or in sunshine, don’t be afraid
©Onward Bound Music (ASCAP) / Homeward Bound Music (BMI). Album: Raise the Roof (1994)
Roger lost his battle with cancer here on earth, but I’m sure He’s celebrating greatly in heaven. And he’d likely be the first one to tell us – Don’t Be Afraid of the dark valleys, where Satan comes and tempts us to despair and worry. Trust God, and boldly face your future. Dwell in God’s providential love and grace.
Praying you are as abundantly blessed by God’s perspective, presence and peace as I am today ~ Faye
Just praising God for His blessings this morning. Went for a 3-mile walk before breakfast with hubby and family. We were blessed to see eagles along the river – God’s magnificent creatures! It was 19 degrees and sunny with just a little breeze. We enjoyed blue jays, cardinals, woodpeckers and a variety of other birds and cats.
God so lovingly provides such incredible diversity in His creation. It’s really fun to take the walk with people who study plants for a living. They were looking at mosses, tree-varieties and thinking of the vast variety growth that will be prevalent in the spring.
I am so totally rejoicing and praising God, because just a few years ago I would never had made a 3-mile walk in 80 degrees and definitely not below freezing. God has blessed me with meds that help my body move, and I’m celebrating His blessings.
Isaiah 40:28-31 came to mind after seeing the eagles
Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Praying you are seeing God’s blessings in the ways He provides strength physically, emotionally and definitely spiritually. Praying He lifts you high on His wings so your heart may soar closer and closer to Him. Praying that the hope of His coming again and the assurance that Emmanuel, God with Us! blesses you today.
Soaring on the abundant blessings God provides ~ Faye
I am abundantly blessed! I know this because I’ve just spent some time reviewing my journal. It’s the time of year to prepare the annual Christmas letter. So reviewing some of the blessings and ways I’ve seen God’s hand has been such a wonderful reminder of His providential love and care.
For several years I’ve kept a journal in a planning calendar that gives me just enough space to fill in thoughts for each day. Usually I don’t miss a day unless there are some health issues that keep me from it. There are days where the praise of seeing God’s hand at work just flow on the page. And there are days where I haven’t “seen” God, but I know He is providing for my needs. Thankful for a “warm furnace on a cold day, a bowl of hot soup, energy to exercise, or medicine to help improve lifestyle through chronic illness.”
However there was a period this year where I went from mid-May to July of not journaling. Some of this was because we were abundantly blessed to spend 5 weeks with our active 7 year old granddaughter who took up a lot of time. But most of it was a time of introspection, frustration and anger at God for “not being there,” at least not in the way I wanted Him to answer my prayers and show Himself to me. There were several big changes and losses that had happened from January on. I just wanted God to “give us a break” when it came to health, finances, relationships, etc. It seemed like we were living on a perpetual rollercoaster.
In retrospect I realize I didn’t want to write things down on paper that I was grateful for or ways I’d seen God because I was mad at Him. I was angry that God, Who is in control of all things in my life, was allowing these things to happen. During a time of vacation and rest with friends’ who live on a lake, I did a lot of thinking and praying about why I was so angry at God. I realized that wasn’t how I wanted to continue living. One of the first ways to change that was to pick up my journal and start noticing the blessings again.
Thoughts began with the simple things like “air conditioning, a bed to sleep in, and granddaughter cleaning up”. But quickly came the “see Your hand guiding me toward words of encouragement.” Things didn’t automatically get better because 3 days after starting the journaling, I had news that the meds to help the RA symptoms were potentially damaging my liver, and so had to change meds once again. But this time I stayed focus on the blessings. The first week back to journaling ends with “For the blessings of seeing people worship you – How Great Thou Art!”
We have a great and awesome God. We are abundantly blessed to have God’s Word to fill us, refresh us, encourage us, and draw us back to Him.
What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since He did not spare even His own Son but gave Him up for us all, won’t He also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for His own? No one—for God Himself has given us right standing with Himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and He is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:31-39
Thank You God, I am abundantly blessed that You do not leave me nor forsake me even when I turn my back on You in anger. You continue to hold out Your arms for me to come back to You. Thank You!
Abundantly Blessed by God ~ Faye
Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. www.Biblegateway.com
I’ve been struggling lately with worrying about tomorrow. Recently some symptoms have been showing up that have me concerned that my rheumatoid arthritis is progressing and treatment isn’t working like it has in the past. Having been down this road a few times, I’m ready to let my mind race ahead, search the Internet for what the symptoms might mean. Many of us live with chronic progressive illnesses that mean continual drug and treatment changes. Often it seems like the professionals are only guessing what will happen. Our bodies change frequently in ways we don’t want them too. Life gets very frustrating.
Some of us live with financial stresses. The paycheck doesn’t go far enough to meet the bills these days. Unexpected car repairs. Job layoffs and cutbacks. How can we be thankful when it’s so hard to get through each day? How in the world are we ever going to have a fun Christmas if we can’t pay what we have already?
God’s word tells us in Matthew 6:25-34
25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
Matthew reminds us that God Provides for ALL our needs. He makes sure the birds and lilies are provided for. Imagine how much more God who loves those who believe Him will provide for us. Psalm 23:1 says “The Lord is my shepherd; I have ALL I need.” I have all of my NEEDS met. I will rest on that promise, assured that He has today and tomorrow in His hands. He’s bigger than anything that I face in the future.
I find I’m singing the old song – His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
Why do I feel discourged? Why do the shadows come? And why does my heart feel lonely, And long for heaven and home? When Jesus is my portion; A constant friend is He. His eye is on the sparrow, And I know He watches me. I sing because I’m happy. And I sing because I’m free. His eye is on the sparrow, And I know He watches me.
Enjoy the day remembering God provides for all your needs ~ Faye
Often life hands us difficult circumstances. There are times things seem impossible to deal with.
As a Christian we are blessed to have Someone to turn to in those difficult situations. God’s word tells us, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” (Romans 8:26) I can’t imagine my just thinking a prayer and the Holy Spirit taking those thoughts before the throne of God; pouring out my heart to Him. What a wonderful assurance and blessing.
A recent devotional asked How do we go to God in prayer? What do we ask Him? At first glance that seemed strange. I figured I open my heart out to God and He hears my grief, pain, worries, etc., But the author was saying, too often we come to God with an Oh God, what am I going to do? Basically focusing on us. Instead he suggests our focus should be God, what are You going to do in me, through me, in this situation?
Impossible situations are opportunities for God to teach us valuable lessons.
Ones that we would likely not learn any other way but yield ourselves completely to Him. Surrender hasn’t been easy for me. Those who know me have called me stubborn, strong-willed, focus, driven and independent. I’d like to say that the majority of those words describe who I was. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect—I’m still a work in progress. But through the years of learning to deal with health issues, medication changes, a body that works sometimes and not others, I have spent a lot of time with God. He’s been changing me. I’ve not always liked it, most often I’ve dug in my heels or argued with Him. But when I’ve surrendered and asked Him, Ok God. What are You going to do through me, in me, with me? He has bowled me over.
I’ll try to give a “short” example. I was involved in youth ministry of some type for around 30 years. I LOVE teenagers! God made it very clear (literally woke me three nights in a row at 2:00 AM with the message, “It’s time. Everything will be okay.”) I knew He meant it was time to step down from youth group. I was devastated. I argued. I prayed. I looked to others for guidance and advice. But God continued to say “Trust me and obey.”.
During the last year of youth group I had begun having progressive health issues which were later diagnosed as Rheumatoid Arthritis. I spent the next year getting used to a new medical regime as well as finding out what my body would and wouldn’t do. I also continued to pray, “Lord, You’ve gifted me, and I want to serve You. How? What do You want me to do? For almost two years God continually said, “Wait. Be patient. Trust Me.” There were days I succeeded in doing that, and too many other days where I argued frequently with Him.
Then came the Midwest Flood of 2008 that hit our community. God placed me in a position with the gifts and abilities needed to help with flood recovery. By that time, I had grown in my dependence on Him. The medications were definitely helping with the RA. And in a pattern of circumstances that can only be called God’s providence, I spent the next two years aiding in flood recovery. The amazing thing is that not once did I have an RA flare. My body never acted up with either unmanageable pain or fatigue that I had dealt with in the previous years.
God is the God of the Impossible! When I surrendered my heart and life to His will. He took it, ran with it, shaped it, formed it, and made it useable for others. He knew two years ahead of the flood that if I were still in youth group I would not have been available to help my community in such a specific way. I am continually working at surrendering my plans to His hands, trusting Him and being obedient to His leading. When I do this, He blesses “immeasurably more than I can ask or imagine.”
Praying God abundantly blesses you, too ~ Faye
My heart has been heavy for my beloved son. You see it was his birthday recently, and we couldn’t even get in contact with him. He’s made some decisions to put other things in his life and family hasn’t been one. His parents grieve over a lost relationship. So do several others in the family, no one more so than his daughter who doesn’t understand his choices at all. So I continue to pour out my heart and soul to God who seems to remain quiet. I KNOW that’s not true, but from a mom’s heart, I want to SEE the answers right now and alleviate the pain for everyone.
With the holidays coming, I know many people dread the reminder of losses or the dramas of broken relationships that are likely to occur.
- There’s the issues regarding children with split custody and visitation dates.
- There’s the lost loved one and the absence amid the memories brings a deeper pain and reminder of the loss.
- There’s a prodigal son, daughter, brother, sister, parent, friend who have turned their back on God and all He has to give.
- You might be the one who will sit alone every day during the holiday. No one comes to visit. It seems no one remembers you anymore.
- You might be the one who longs for the time you could make handcrafted gifts, wrap presents, go out shopping and stand in long lines with dexterity, energy and without any pain.
- You might be the one who wishes she had the energy to bake holiday goodies with her grandchildren.
Many of us face these types of hurts and loss during the holidays and special occasions. I am learning it’s not about me changing my son during these struggles. Oh yes, I regularly pray that God will continue to work in his heart and bring him back to God and his family; but really my struggle is about me. Instead of worrying and dwelling on the loss, I need to pour out my heart to God. I need to praise Him and tell others what He has done for me. I need to remember God’s faithfulness throughout my life and especially in the difficult times of the past. This helps give me the assurance that God IS with me. That God cares about my son. That God hears those who grieve the loss of their physical abilities or relationships and carries them through the deepest pains.
Psalm 66:5 – “Come and see what our God has done, what awesome miracles He performs for people.” Sometimes the miracle isn’t healing the losses as much as it is dealing with us in our loss. You see we are creatures who too often tend to focus on the negative, worry about tomorrow, or dwell on our grief. Verses 9,10, 12b say, “Our lives are in His hands, and He keeps our feet from stumbling. You have tested us, O God; You have purified us like silver. … but You brought us to a place of great abundance.” Be filled with the precious knowledge that God knows intimately your suffering. That even though God is allowing you to be in the refining process, He will bring you out so that you may go forward and say to others,
“Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what He did for me. For I cried out to Him for help, praising Him as I spoke. If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the LORD would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw His unfailing love from me.” (vs. 16-20)
It may not be the answer I was looking for, but focusing on God’s abundant love for me has filled me with His peace. The knowledge of His great love for my son fills me with His hope. The knowledge of His sacrificial gift of His Son fills me with His love.
May God abundantly bless you as He answers your prayers ~ Faye
Esther. What a great reminder of God’s providential care!
Here’s some points of God’s Providence:
- Queen Vashti is deposed when she refuses to appear before King Xerxes.
- Esther, a worshiper of God, is chosen as Queen.
- Mordecai overhears a plot to kill the king and saves his life.
- Mordecai doesn’t bow to Haman and so Haman plots to kill the Jews.
- Xerxes can’t sleep and wants to read a story, out of all the history books, it’s the one which records Mordecai’s saving the king’s life. The king remembers Mordecai wasn’t rewarded and asks Haman how to reward such a wonderful man.
- Esther appears before the King and is welcomed instead of killed.
- There’s special timing of Queen Esther’s two banquets and Haman’s plans to kill Mordecai.
- Mordecai ends up being honored and first Haman is humbled, then killed on the gallows intended for Mordecai.
- The Jews survived and overthrew their enemies.
We’ve heard the passage from Esther 4:14, where Mordecai asks Esther “…And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” What about us? Are we willing to be used by God in whatever way He has planned? Do you ever wonder what God has planned for you – in the future? today? this hour?
Jeremiah 29:11 says:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Before Haman even had the idea to wipe out the Jews, God had placed Esther in position to be used to save His people. She didn’t know it. She had to go forward in trust to King Xerxes.
She prepared herself before she did that by fasting and prayer.
In the Bible study book Following God-Women of the Bible – Esther, the authors write, “God wants to accomplish His purposes through us, but if we do not cooperate, His plan will still be carried out. He will simply use someone else to do it. “ It takes listening to God, spending time in His word, talking with Him, and once again, listening to God’s leading.
To the unbeliever hearing the story of Esther, they would describe what happened as amazing coincidences, but the believer sees the hand of God’s providence through the timing, people, places, circumstances.
Coincidence … when God chooses to remain anonymous.
Have you seen God’s abundant blessings through His providential hand throughout your life? He’s always there. Make sure you take some time to look for Him today!
God’s abundant blessings ~ Faye