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Encourage One Another

1-thess-5v11-gabVery simply – spend some time this week to encourage someone, show God’s love to them, thank them for who they are, what they have done for you or someone else.

May God bless you and encourage you as you reach out to someone else ~ Faye

Blessings of Encouragement and Grace

Enjoying God's Overflowing Blessings

Many years ago I went on a service trip with our church youth group to Neon, Kentucky. My RA had been diagnosed the previous year and meds were keeping things relatively under control. However, if I did anything strenuous my body paid for it the next day.  One of our side activities was a 3/4 mile hike to Bad Branch Waterfall.  I wanted to go because I love waterfalls.  I enjoy being with the teens so much. So, even though I knew I would pay for it, I went. 

Several of the group were encouraged to go ahead of me since I couldn’t keep up their pace. But about five, if I remember correctly, said they’d walk with me. One young, sturdy-built young man even said if I couldn’t make it, he’d be willing to carry me. So our little group hiked for over tree roots, down gulleys, and up inclines. There were times I was leaning on my cane to step down or pushing with my cane to get me up the hill. Never once did “my team” let me down or complain at the pace. They were the ones encouraging me to press on, even when I’d stop for a breather. We made it to the waterfall after one last steep incline. The rest of our group was climbing the rocks and messing around in the water.  When they saw I had made it, there was an enthusiastic shout, “Faye!”

My heart melted in gratitude. I can’t tell you how much encouragement can motivate someone, but I can tell you, that day the love, support, and kindness I felt from these precious young people encouraged me to go forward, keep trying to get to the destination, and not give up.

At that moment nothing felt better than standing under the cold waterfall. The water cascading to cool my sweaty body. But even more was my gratitude to God for the ability to make it to the waterfall and the loving kindness He blessed me with in “my team” of encouragers.

We all are blessed with encouragers in life.  Some are obvious, often parents, spouses, and friends. Some we have to look at little more closely to see.  Paul tells us we have the best encourager of all – God.

How abundant is His love for us! Ephesians 1:6-8

So we praise God for the glorious grace He has poured out on us who belong to His dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins. He has showered His kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

God showers us with His grace and kindness. He fills us with all wisdom and understanding. Through His love He encourages to press on in life and through the difficulties. Through the gift of His Son, He showers us with His abundant mercy and grace.

Enjoy the overflowing blessing of God’s grace in your lives ~ Faye

God of the Impossible – Part 2

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

God of the Impossible

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,

The God of Hope

“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

Showers of God’s Blessing

Showers of Blessings

God’s blessings are so wonderful. I am so grateful I was able to enjoy so many of them in the past 24 hours.

Friend 1 – cancer is “only” Stage 1. So much better than spread throughout the body. Now the planning and preparation for the treatments begins.

Friend 2 – treatments have helped in treating the cancer. Spreading out the follow up tests and treatments.

Friend 3 – heads for surgery to remove a portion of the cancer. They, too, are rejoicing it’s not more extensive.

My heart breaks for them all as they have to face more treatment, but God has answered a multitude of prayers to make these cancers be on the treatable side. Now prayers will continue for them all in the days and months ahead.

Thought I’d be a blessing to the church secretary by filling in for her a couple of days so she could enjoy some vacation time.  God is SO Awesome! While cleaning old files, I went down memory lane of the church’s 39 year history. I saw how far God has brought the church and scattered so many people who have worshiped with us throughout the United States and even the world.

I ended up being richly blessed by conversations with several people who came through the door. What incredible gifts God blesses us with – smiles, eye contact, touch, hugs, tears and laughter. God has made us so incredibly wonderful.

Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.  Greet each other with Christian love.       2 Corinthians 13:11-12

How wonderful it is to stand and receive the multitude of blessings showed upon me from God today!

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.       2 Corinthians 13:14

Enjoying God’s Abundant Blessings ~ Faye

Love One Another

Love – what a simple and precious word. 

What a blessing to have been in the fellowship of believers yesterday. I say that mostly from hindsight. I started the day so tired, the cold weather affecting my body with fatigue. I was on the worship team and usually have an increased energy that only comes from the Holy Spirit, but yesterday I was drained. I was grateful we had planned another leader and the pastor to take the majority of the service, because I couldn’t get my mind out of the Fibro fog. Yet I ended leaving the church filled with the blessed love of God’s grace given to me by others.

When love happens in the framework of Christians, an amazing thing happens. God’s presence flows from one person to another. It may be with a look, a hug, laughter, or tears. Encouragement comes from people who are listening through God’s ears. Even people that we don’t always get along with, that we’ve had major disagreements with, can be seen through the eyes of love. Because as a Christian, we are looking at others through Christ’s eyes of compassion.

1 John 3:11 & 12 (NLT) says, “This is the message you  have heard from the beginning:  We should love one another.” My first thoughts were,  “I agree. Love One Another. Good words.” Then I read vs. 12 – “We must not be like Cain, who belonged, to the evil one and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing what was evil, and his brother had been doing what was righteous.” I found myself thinking, “I’ve never killed anyone. So this doesn’t apply to me.” WRONG! Ok, I’ve never physically taken someone’s life, but how often have I struggled with my temper, anger, or a desire to get revenge. I have caused pain to others by what I’ve said or done. I’ve torn hearts apart by not looking at someone with the eyes of God’s love.

I have a card I keep posted in my office. I wish I would remember these verses more often:

Perfect Harmony

“You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the LORD forgave you, so you must forgive others. And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are all called to live in peace. And always be thankful.”  Colossians 3:13-15 NLT

Living in Harmony

I was recently out taking photos of the changing leaves. I came across a park where the differences of colors blended and added a beauty that seemed to enhance the other trees in the area. As I reflected on yesterday morning’s blessed friendships with other believers, I realized that’s what I was seeing in my fellow Christians. When we are reflecting God’s love to someone, we help God’s love shine through them to us as well. We live in a harmony of colors.

One of the best things that happened yesterday was seeing how God has been at work in a relationship where there was hurt in the past. Once we opened our hearts to forgiving each other, God poured out His love and grace on us. We have been able to encourage each other and laugh with each other.

Love One Another – three simple words with such important meaning.

Praising God for His blessings from my sisters and brothers in Christ ~ Faye

Eagerly Awaiting

I’ve been in a study through www.goodmorninggirls.org looking at 1 John. It’s been a good verse-by-verse study. Today we looked at 1 John 2:28-29:

“And now, dear children, remain in fellowship with Christ so that when He returns, you will be full of courage and not shrink back from Him in shame. Since we know that Christ is righteous, we also know that all who do what is right are God’s children.” – The New International Version

What blessed words from John – Beloved, my precious people, God’s Kids – REMAIN, ABIDE, STAND FIRM/STEADFAST in CHRIST and in so doing enjoy the fellowship of believers in ALL areas of your life.  The Message says, “Stay with Christ. Live Deeply in Christ.” J.B. Phillips says, “Live continually in Him.” How often do I let other things pull me away from my time with God?  How often do I ABIDE; live deeply/continually IN Christ?

When we pull away from God, our relationships with others suffer. However, when we ABIDE in  a close relationship with Christ, we will eagerly await His return and long to share that relationship with others. Imagine the child standing on her tiptoes waiting for daddy to come down the airport runway. She’s bouncing all over the place with anticipation to see her daddy return home from an extended time away. There is such eagerness and anticipation. Do I eagerly ANTICIPATE time with God? John asks, if our Savior would suddenly return or show His presence to us, would we hide our heads in shame and shirk away from Him because we had not REMAINED with Him?  I want to live with the focus of the song that just played on the radio – I Can Only Imagine, by MercyMe.  How will I respond to Christ’s return? Will I dance or be still, stand or bow down, speak or be speechless, but definitely I don’t want to be among those who have to pull away from Christ in shame. The image that comes to me is of Peter as he denied Christ for the third time as the rooster crowed. When Peter realized Christ’s prophecy came true he went away and wept bitterly. (Matthew 26:75) I want to be among the ones eagerly awaiting Him, singing “Alleluia! Glory to God in the Highest!  Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty!”

When we pull away from God, it becomes more difficult to be with our fellow believers. It also seems like when we do not spend time in the fellowship of believers, we seem to pull away from God more. It’s like God created us to be dependent upon each other. So what?

I said this blog was to focus on God’s Blessings.  So it’s not just about how much I spend time ABIDING with God or even EAGERLY AWAITING His return. The blessing that I saw was when I was in the fellowship of believers yesterday.  Because of health issues the evening is not the best time for me, so I haven’t been participating in an evening Bible study. However, I decided to try it since it was on a six-week basis.  I was blessed by the discussion of the Bible study, but so much more by God’s plan of what happened afterwards. I was able to fellowship and talk to several people, catch up on their lives, and together we encouraged each other in our lives. I came away with a renewed desire to pray earnestly for each of these people and the challenges they are facing. So God’s blessings – I was able to spend time in the fellowship and closeness of fellow believers and in so doing I was able to praise and pray to God all the way home.

Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

May God abundantly bless you as you eagerly await Christ’s return,

Faye

Why Be Persistent in Prayer?

I love it when God answers prayers. I really love it when God answers prayers in ways I never expected or imagined!

I saw a glimpse of His working in someone’s life today and was so blessed.  This person has struggled with being hurt and angry and unable to forgive the callous acts of some people. From my perspective, I’d say the person was definitely justified by their reactions after being falsely accused of misdeeds. But I saw first hand God’s grace and peace working through that person as they were kind, compassionate and caring to some of the individuals who had  spread lies and rumors about them. The incredible thing is this person is not a professing Christian. God was answering my prayers for this person’s life, and they were seemingly oblivious to them. Fortunately, God wasn’t.

How often have I prayed for this person? Almost every day for the past several years. Have I seen God answering those prayers for opportunities to share my faith, witness that person be changed and transformed by the saving grace of Christ – not yet. Some days it seems so strange to continue to pray for them when God doesn’t seem to allow them to hear His call. But God is so good. When I least expected it, basically while the person was in the very presence of his enemies, God blew me away by the transformation I saw in this person. The person volunteered to be of assistance in the future if needed, answered questions to help the individuals proceed, and best of all, left the meeting calm and filled with a peace that they would not normally have had given the circumstances. Even more surprising, I was there as a friend and hadn’t spent time specifically praying for the meeting today, yet God answered previous prayers for healing and blessed several people.

Psalm 77:11-14 says, “I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember Your wonders of old. I will ponder all Your work, and meditate on Your might deeds. Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; You have made known Your might among the peoples.”

I’m praying and hoping I remember this day of the LORD’s deeds for I saw His transforming power. It has given me renewed courage and strength to continually pray for this person’s faith and relationship with God.  It has encouraged me to continue to pray for a wayward loved one. Everything is in God’s timing, not mine. Even though I don’t see an answer to my prayers right away, God hears them, and in His perfect time, He will answer the prayers of a persistent heart. I encourage you to think about God’s deeds in your life from today and in the past. Write down a few of them. Share them with others to encourage them in their walk of faith. Tell your children of the ways God has blessed you. Help others remember the mighty deeds of the LORD.

God’s richest blessings ~ Faye

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