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Listen to My Voice and Lift Your Voice in Praise

Sometimes it is the simple things in life that bring about incredible blessings.

I enjoyed watching God at work the other day after a light shower. To see the intricacy of water droplets on the flowers was a study of God’s creation and attention to minute details.  If God can so beautifully decorate these flowers with drops of rain, how much more can He pay attention to our needs and desires?

Psalm 34_5 par web

I have recently been enjoying a simple book, The 30-Day Praise Challenge by Becky Harling.  The author was diagnosed with cancer and begged God for healing. A friend challenged her to spend 20 minutes a day in praise. Becky wasn’t feeling all that thankful, but as she intentionally praised God, she began to experience new joy – and her relationship with God has never been the same.

Recently I have found myself struggling with seeing the negative more than the positive. That’s not usually me, so when I found myself falling deeper into the “poor me” thinking, I decided it was time to put Becky’s 30-Day Praise Challenge to a test.  The first ten days were okay, good thoughts to consider, but nothing earth-shattering, or majorly life changing. I found I was struggling even more with negative self-talk.  But by days 11 through 15 I realized God was meeting me and speaking to me right where I was wallowing in the pit of my own despair.  And I knew I didn’t want to stay there.

So I began to earnestly dig deeper into myself. When thoughts of being excluded, rejected, abandoned, burdened crept in, instead of dwelling on them – I thanked and praised God for the fact that He loved me for who I am. I focused on God’s qualities and characteristics. God loved me enough to send His only Son to die so that I might have eternal life. Even though I didn’t always feel like it, I sang songs of joy and praise to God. I look forward to my time of praise to start off the day with God. I usually take away one or two words that help me refocus throughout the day.  These words have been:  Chosen, Beloved, Cherished, Valued, Prized, Saved, Forgiven, Provider, Precious and the one I go to most – simply “Jesus”.

Once I say, think, and/or dwell on the word “Jesus”, or any of these other words, they intentionally redirect me back to all that I have been blessed with through God the Father/Creator, God the Son/Jesus/Savior, and God the Holy Spirit/Counselor/Comforter/Guide.

God desires and encourages us to praise Him because He knows that our word declarations can be powerful in the spiritual realm. Declaring God’s praise is more than positive thinking. As we choose to rejoice in who God is and thankfully place our circumstances in His care, something happens.

  • His amazing peace comes in and shields our hearts and minds (Philippians 4:4-7).
    •  Comfort comes as we recall His promise to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5b).
    •  He strengthens and helps us right where we are (Isaiah 41:10).

God’s Word has the power to change broken hearts and lives when we take the time to listen to what God is telling us and to spend time praising Him.  In the past week I have seen God blow away black clouds of negative thinking and fill me with praise and joy in Him.

I pray you will be filled with hearts full of praise today ~ Faye

Waiting with Hope

Another year begins with all its uncertainties, expectations and anticipations. It is another year we will need to decide how we react to life’s challenges and blessings. Blessings are obviously much easier to accept than challenges.

Living in the Midwest, it looks like we will face incredibly cold temperatures this weekend (-24° with windchills predicted -40 to -50°). This is the time of year we start hoping for Spring and the January thaw. We look at the ice on the river and realize that we don’t know what type of spring we will face this. Last year we had some flooding and with memories solidly in our minds from 2008 devastating floods we can easily let our minds dwell on worrying what will happen. We can become totally overwhelmed with the negatives even to the point of missing the beauty God breathes into the ice formations around us.ice crystals web

An interesting story occurred over Christmas. A Russian ship filled with 22 crew and 52 passengers (scientists and tourists) became stranded in the thick ice of Antarctica.  Three icebreakers were initially dispatched to try and crack their way through the thick ice surrounding the ship, but all failed. After more than a week, the passengers were finally airlifted to a Chinese icebreaker by helicopter. The trapped passengers and crew had to stamp out a landing pad in the snow/ice for the helicopter to land. The helicopter had to make several trips to ferry the passengers to freedom.

Watching video clips posted by some of the passengers showed them making the most of their trial. They weren’t despondent; crying “where is help coming from?”. They made the most of their time performing more science experiments and having fun with their circumstances. WHY? They were stranded in subfreezing temperatures, away from family at the holidays and initial rescue attempts definitely were NOT encouraging when the first ice-breaker became stuck as well. They chose to enjoy the days filled with HOPE and JOY.

Psalm 62:5

We all have trials we will face in the year ahead whether they are health, finances, relationships or whatever. I recently knew I would likely face the holidays without hearing from a loved one. In the past this has been a difficult challenge for me. During one of my devotional times, God placed the following verse on my heart from Psalm 62:5:

Let ALL that I am WAIT before God, for my HOPE is in HIM!

I have this verse written on my mirror where I see it every morning and several times throughout the day. I have taken it apart word by word, emphasizing different words and phrases. God has blessed me incredibly through these words. No, I didn’t hear from the loved one, but because of God’s assurance, I continue to WAIT in HOPE. I have chosen to HOPE as I WAIT before GOD.  God is working in this person’s life and in mine. I will WAIT with HOPE that the work God is performing in each of us will be in accordance with God’s will and for His purposes.

I pray that God will fill you with His HOPE as you WAIT before God in the year ahead ~ Faye

Circumstances

I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish He didn't trust me so much!Sometimes life throws us some difficult curve balls. One wonders if God is really in control or even cares about what’s happening. Those are time times I am reminded of the verses from Jeremiah 29:11-13

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me.”

In the past few weeks friends and family members have faced the loss of loved ones through aging and suicide. I’ve spoke with someone who grew up in a cult and has just recently seen her 30-year-old sibling come out of the cult. I’ve watched more and more people deal with health issues, job losses, financial difficulties, facing consequences for breaking the law, and marital problems. I want to ask God, “If He really cares, why doesn’t He do something to stop the pain?”

A while back I studied Carol Kent’s book Between a Rock and a Grace Place and tonight I found myself reflecting on a portion from her book:

If you too feel caught in one of those tight spots that seem unusually difficult, if not unbearable, I pray that you will come to realize that the pain of being in this place need not cause you to lose hope. If you press into the Rock instead of trying to get around it, you will discover a surprise far better than a birthday or a Christmas gift. On the road that is your life right now, you can find a new way of thinking about your circumstances, as well as an astonishing experience of grace, tailor-made just for you. As you encounter God on  the way, not in the way, you may come to know Him as you never have before. Remember what Olympian Eric Liddle said, ‘Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God’s plans, but God is not helpless among the ruins.’

I’m so grateful God is in control of the universe from before time began. I’m glad we have the assurance that He cares so much for each of us that He blessed us with life-saving grace of His Son, Jesus Christ, our LORD.

Kent goes on to say, “God works best through broken people who know they do not have all the answers. He can use people who have exhausted their own resources and finally realize that negotiating the tight spots of life is not something they do by themselves.”  I’m so grateful God uses ordinary people, people who have walked through pain and found the joy and hope only God can give.

Philip Yancey says, “The kind of faith God values seems to develop best when everything fuzzes over, when God stays silent, when the fog rolls in.” God gives more grace for each trial and burden that comes our way. The more we rely on Him, the more He answers and provides for us in ways that could only come from His hand.

Abundantly grateful for God’s presence through the difficult circumstances of our lives.

I am linked with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory.

God’s Plans

For I Know the PlansI really appreciate Jeremiah 29:11 and even verses 12 & 13. These are GREAT words of assurance – knowing God has plans for us. But if these verses are read in context, this is from a letter from Jeremiah the prophet, to the people who were going to live in exile for 70 years! I’m sure there were days they wondered if God had forgotten His chosen people. I’m sure there were days they wondered if God really knew what plans He had in store for His people.

To know that God intentionally exiled His people and told them to multiply, plan to live there and be productive and after 70 years He would come and do all the good that He had promised. God warned the people to stay away from the evils of the land.

I’m “only” 55. I can’t imagine knowingly living 70 years in a land of exile that was planned by God. Going forward only with the promise that He would come after 70 years and “do for the Israelites all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again.”

I’m grateful God is in control of my life. I’m grateful He has a plan for my life. As you read verses 12 and 13 it becomes clear that God wants His people to draw continually closer to Him.

As I said in my previous post, life has been a roller coaster ride the past couple of weeks. Some of the tension was due to the fact my husband gets about 10 days vacation over the holidays, and I’m used to being home alone all day ;-). There was a day this week I was at odds with everybody, including my husband. I finally asked him to let me have some alone time / God time. I realized I needed my “exile time” from everyone else, except God. The busyness of the holidays, family get-togethers, travel, a medical procedure all created tension and didn’t allow for much individual quiet time with God. Oh I spent time talking with Him – on the run. I read His word – quickly. I just hadn’t spent time just relishing in God’s presence; being filled with God’s embracing of my heart.

I know God has plans for my life – but there are times when I would really like to know God’s plans.  Prior to my husband’s medical procedure, I’d like to have known the outcome (which was good). After losing a significant income source, I’d like to know God’s plan for our financial future. After dealing with relationship issues, I’d like to know how they will be resolved. But if I knew those plans ahead of time, I’d also know ahead of time that I would be living with chronic illnesses long before the symptoms appeared. Would it have helped? Maybe, but maybe it would have made me rely on what I could do instead of what God has done through me as I’ve learned my strength to handle the illnesses comes from Him.

God’s timing is always perfect. He knows fully the plans He has for us, even before we were created. We are blessed He is in control of all things.

Jeremiah 29:10-13 ‒

10 This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

Enjoy the blessings of God’s perfect plan for you, and precious times of exile with Him! ~ Faye

Filled with True Hope

Not everyone eagerly looks forward to the holidays because of the hurt that comes with family and friend gatherings. Sometimes behind a smile, there can be hidden a heart that is burdened for someone else, over a broken relationship, or grieving a loss.

I was reviewing my journal from December 2009. At the time, I had been reading Psalm 33 and was struck with the thought, “If God is in control of ALL things, how can I question my faith?” Or maybe it should say, “How can I question God?” We were dealing with a long lapse in communication with our son. I had been pouring my heart out to God over the situation when God seemed to break down His word almost verse by verse.

Here’s a portion of what I wrote back in 2009 along with some current thoughts:

vs. 1-3 – Praise the Lord, be filled with Joy! That’s really hard when one is full of worry. Worry is doubting in God being in control of ALL things.

vs. 4 – God is faithful in ALL He does. The New Living Translation (NLT) says, “we can trust everything He does.” He’s in control. He knows what’s going on – all the details. He loves our son so much more than we ever can.

God’s word IS true. We can trust everything He says. God’s word tells us “I can never escape from Your Spirit! I can never get away from Your presence!” (Psalm 139:7) These words give assurance to a mom and dad who worry over their child’s long absence. God is with us! God knew us when we were formed in the secret place, knew us before we were born, and will never leave us. He knows our pain and He knows what is happening in our son’s life.

vs. 5 – The Lord’s unfailing love FILLS the earth. Wherever our loved ones are, God’s love is there reaching out to them.

vs. 8 – Let all the people of the world revere/fear Him, for He is the God who created and ordered all of creation.

vs. 11 – But the plans of the Lord stand firm FOREVER – the purposes of His heart through ALL generations. It seemed like these words jumped off the page. God’s plans are for ALL generations, even an absent child. The NLT says, “His intentions can never be shaken.”

vs. 20-21 – Keep hoping in the Lord. He is your help.  Don’t stop lifting up your loved ones to God, but keep hoping with hearts overflowing with joy as we trust in Him.

vs. 22 – May Your unfailing love rest upon us (surround us), O Lord, for our hope is in You alone. “Put your hope in God for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 42:11)

My  hope isn’t supposed to be on the relationship or the issues surrounding it. My hope isn’t waiting for the phone to ring, or the email to come. My hope is to be founded firmly in the Lord. I’m supposed to surrender my worries and REST in Him; abiding JOYFULLY in God!

Don’t let Satan steal your joy in God. Be filled with His love. Abide fully in God’s word for the truth. Let your Hope be in the Lord, especially when it comes to the difficult relationships and losses you may endure, particularly during the holidays.

Praying you will be abundantly blessed with God’s unfailing love ~ Faye

 

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