Something Is Happening on the Inside

A movie just recently came out, that has given me a new perspective! It has literally breathed new life into my sails! The movie I am referring to is: I Can Only Imagine. I love a good back story to a song or movie. I love a good biography for that matter! Those are the things I can really connect with, if you know what I mean. Knowing the back story also makes a song, book or movie so much more meaningful! The song, I Can Only Imagine, has brought comfort to millions of people, myself included. So the fact that a movie came out about how the song was written, totally had my interest piqued!

As I saw previews, I knew it was going to be good- I just didn’t know how GOOD! The movie is based on a true story by Bart Millard: I Can Only Imagine; A Memoir. It starts out with a young boy, Bart Millard who has a troubled upbringing. I don’t want to give it away, in case anyone reading hasn’t seen it yet, so I will try to only share the bare basics to get my point across. He is sent off to church camp as a kid. – So? Well, how many of you have ever worked at a kids camp? If you have, you know, it is challenging, noisy, messy, and exhausting. BUT, it is also fun, rewarding, fulfilling as well as amusing, all at the same time!

Young Bart goes home from camp and his life gets more difficult. He is faced with things that we read about in the newspaper and shake our heads and feel so badly for. We whisper prayers and we hope that God is listening as we pray for the Bart Millards that we may know! Some of them are the kids that come to church from the neighborhood. Some are friends from our kids schools that we have in our homes. Some we know, and some we don’t. But the point is, when these kids come into our lives, we have no idea, that as we plant seeds, as we pray, as we teach, as we referee fights, and as we laugh and cry over these kids, that something, is happening on the inside!

Years go by and Bart graduates from High School and sets out to make it on his own in the music business. He really has no plan, he just goes, more or less to get away from a bad situation. He doesn’t know how it will all work out, but there’s a sovereign God, who does! He finds a a small start up band in need of a singer. They can’t eek out enough money to live on. Yet they are committed to making a go of it. Bart especially is passionate about getting exposure and the right kind of management to take them to the next level!

Somehow going to the next level means going back home to face what he’d run away from. When Bart returns home, he finds his Dad is a different man. He’s actually nice. He actually takes notice of his son and shows signs of kindness that he’d never shown before! He’s a changed man! While Bart went off to chase his dream and to escape his rough home life, his Dad somehow found himself listening to a preacher on the radio. He prayed and asked for God to forgive him of the horrible wrong that he’d done. He begins reading the Bible and tries to learn and grow. So imagine- ironically Bart’s surprise when he goes home and sees his Dad is a changed man!

This story is ALL about redemption! I think maybe that’s one of the reasons this movie spoke volumes to me! I am in love with the fact that God is a God of redemption! Bart’s Dad was miraculously changed when he said Yes to God!

How many life situations feel like, nothing good can come from this? And yet, that’s what the people of Jesus’ day said about Jesus. Can anything good come from Nazareth? Oh, friends, how often have I overlooked situations, people and events as though, nothing good could come for them. But we serve a God Who is in the business of taking the mess-ups and mishaps and turning them into something beautiful that we never could have envisioned! He is orchestrating events, people and things for His purposes. No, we can’t understand His ways, why some things don’t turn out like we think they should, but He is STILL God and He is STILL in charge. He is still in the redemption business! Because of that, there is HOPE for each and everyone of us! We only have to respond to His outstretched arms that are already reaching out to us! GOD is So good! He makes all things new! Addicts, drunks, lonely and rejected, God is in the transforming business!

When I look at the unseen things done through ministry and volunteer work, I need no validation other than to know that God is using this! Looking at Bart’s life, it seemed like he was just going through the motions. Some exposure to church, sometimes he read his Bible and journaled, sometimes the truth was sinking in and no one ever knew it!

Going back to that eternal perspective, when we are obedient to serve God- in whatever avenue He’s asked us to serve in, it IS being used for an eternal purpose! Don’t listen to the lies of the enemy that it’s worthless and there’s no validation! (I’m preaching to myself here!)

Simply and honestly, the unseen is what it’s all about! There’s nothing MORE than the unseen, because these are the things that will last for eternity! This is my offering, it isn’t about validation through a pay check, it is about God’s goodness in my life and my offering of love in a response to His love for me!

It’s all about God, the Great Restorer, turning what we give in ministry, our feeble efforts, our thought out plans even the flying by the seat of our pants on occasion, that He can take them and use them! I am amazed that God can use me, but He does! And I am sure He uses you too! It’s not about us- it’s ALL about HIM. So my friend, keep on planting those seeds! We may never know this side of Heaven what God is doing with those seeds, but keep planting! God is restoring!

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The Night That Jesus Came

With Christmas being just one week away, I’d like to share a few thoughts from God’s Word and from a familiar or maybe not so familiar Christmas song that still rings out the truth, even though the song is at least a century old!

The song O Holy Night –
O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining, 
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth. 
Long lay the world in sin and error pining. 
Till He appeared and the Soul felt its worth. 
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, 
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. 
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices! 
Oh night divine, Oh, night when Christ was born; 
Oh night, divine , Oh night when Christ was born 
Oh night, divine, Oh night, Oh night divine!

Truly He taught us to love one another, 
His law is love and His gospel is peace. 
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother. 
And in his name all oppression shall cease. 
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, 
With all our hearts we praise His holy name. 
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we, 
His power and glory ever more proclaim! 
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

There is so much truth in this beautiful Christmas hymn written in 1847, and yet it is still sung today. Recently I learned that in 1907, O Holy Night was the very first song, that was ever played on the radio. I love the message of hope that the words to this song convey and the music is equally as hopeful and a thing of beauty! Allow me to share some thoughts that jump out at me every time I sing or hear the words to this beautiful song.

This year, for whatever reason, I’ve really given it some thought about an angel choir singing and announcing the news of Jesus’ birth. So, the words, Oh, hear the angels voices has me thinking. There must have been come kind of celebration that night! We’ve never heard a choir of angels singing! I can’t imagine what angles singing to a group of shepherds must have looked and sounded like? Was it loud or soft? Was the sky lit up? Was it full of harmony or all in unison? Did they really have harps of gold? (As referenced in another Christmas carol. However the music came out, it must have been gorgeous!

If these shepherds had been discouraged at all, hearing a group of angels sing must have taken their minds off of their problems! They really must have felt a little bit of Heaven here on this earth! Shepherds were the nobodies of the time. They were one of the lowest in job ranking, but yet that’s who God chose to send a choir of angels to! That just gives me hope! You don’t have to be a person who holds a prestigious position in life. God chose to come to us, no matter who you are or what your rank is in life, God sent Jesus to you and to I!

I’d also like to consider the words, “Long lay the world in sin and error pining”. What on earth does that mean? Up till that time, Jews were the only people who were in, on being forgiven for their sins. It required going to a priest, having an animal killed and it’s blood spilled to pay the price for their sins. It was a picture to the people of the time of what Jesus’ coming would do. It was imperfect and messy, it was incomplete. When Jesus came He completed it. He made a way for ALL of mankind, not just the Jews, to be forgiven of their sin, guilt and shame. He paid the price, by shedding His own blood, as a sinless offering in order to right the wrongs of our own sins and pave the way for us to have a relationship with God. BEFORE Jesus came, only a High Priest could enter God’s presence. After Jesus came, ANYONE who genuinely asks for forgiveness of their sins and repents of them, can come into God’s presence and have a relationship with Him! I can’t think of any earthly comparison that even comes close to this! Here’s my best attempt: If there is some famous person whom you admire and you’d like to meet, what would it be like if you weren’t good enough to meet them? What if someone you knew, could pay millions of dollars to allow you to meet them and actually get to know them on a personal level? That’s what Jesus did for us! He paid the price for us, a people who have sinned, to enable us, to get to know Him on a personal level. We could NEVER be good enough to come to God on our own. We needed a Savior- Jesus! That’s why it’s so important that He came!

The words Truly He taught us to love one another, comes from God’s Word: Jesus spoke these words to His disciples, just before He knew He’d be crucified to pay for our sins. ‘So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”’ John 13:34-35
When Jesus was asked about the most important Jewish law He shared with them how all the law with it’s many details, and many of them were made up by the Jewish leaders, not by God Himself, Jesus shed led on what God desired for them and for us today. ‘Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”’ Matthew 22:37-40

The last phrase I want to point out is the phrase, “Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother. And in His name all Oppression shall cease.” I’m told that when people join AA they are told they need to seek a higher power. Some, I’m told, trust the universe, some look into new age things. An interesting point I will make here, the people who choose these so called higher powers do not have the battle like those, who seek God. Why? Because again the enemy wants to steal, kill and destroy anyone trying to live right! But I’d also like to point out that God’s power is greater than the enemy and God does indeed have the power as we yield ourselves up to Him to break the chains of oppression and addiction! Here is just one example taken from the book of Psalms:’Only by your power can we push back our enemies; only in your name can we trample our foes. I do not trust in my bow; I do not count on my sword to save me. You are the one who gives us victory over our enemies; you disgrace those who hate us.’ Psalms 44:5-7

Simply and honestly when faced with a problem that is bigger than you or I, where do we go? Jesus came to give life and to give it more abundantly. We’d be wrong if we put our trust in anything BUT in the God Who created the universe, and definitely not in the universe itself! We must put our trust in the God Who knows us more than we know ourselves. See Psalm 139. When people were leaving Jesus because the things He taught were so hard, they started dropping like flies. ‘Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?” Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God. ”’John 6:67-69

I close with this thought, keep seeking God in the Big and small things. As far as we know the shepherds kept on being shepherds, even after the angels appeared to them, but they went to find baby Jesus for themselves! God moved Heaven and Earth to make a way for us to come to Him. Certainly a God who loves us like that is worth putting all of our trust in! Allow Him to break the chains in your life! Seek Him like you’ve just heard a group of angels announce the great news that Jesus is born! They went looking for Baby Jesus after that encounter! Keep that search going for the rest of your life!

Thankfulness Challenge

 

Psalms 103:1-5
‘Bless the Lord , O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord , O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s. ‘

 
There’s this saying that I’ve come across on Facebook that challenges me to pursue a greater depth of gratitude every time I read it! It goes like this: “What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?”. Clearly, my blog today is about having a thankful heart! It is November after all and we have MUCH to be thankful for!

I challenge you and I to a greater thankful heart for the remainder of November! Here’s how: Each day thank God for at least 5 things. Make it a different set of 5 things each day, in other words, no repeats! It’s easy to get in a thankfulness rut, but lets go big on this!

As I have been making a thankful list and taking time in my own thoughts and writing them down, I’m finding that being thankful is more than the THINGS that I am thankful for. I’m discovering that it’s deeper than a roof over my head and food on the table. Those things are necessary for living in the physical sense and I don’t want to discount them at all! I’m sure if I were to ask a homeless person how important a roof over their head and food on the table or even a table to eat the food at, they would very openly and passionately explain how BIG those things are!

Yet as great as those blessing are, the fact that God loved each of us enough to send Jesus, to make a way for us to be forgiven and to be able to approach a holy God, is enormous in comparison! Our sins had kept us at a distance from God. God knew we’d never be good enough on our own to pay the penalty of our sins. He knew we couldn’t do it! So in exchange for us dying in our sin and being eternally separated in Hell, God made a way for us to come to Him. God reached out to us! I don’t know about you, but remembering this, gives me a sense of God’s love for me personally! He really, really does love us! I hope that you too are filled with awe at the thought that God loved you enough to give His only son so that you and I could be free from sin and the guilt and shame that sin causes!

Looking at the next thing that David talked about in Psalm 103 that he wanted to be thankful for was the healing of all his diseases. A God Who heals all our diseases has puzzled me personally, due to the fact that in spite of praying for my mother’s healing, she did indeed die from the disease of cancer! Looking up the meaning of what David talked about regarding God healing all our diseases in my Matthew Henry commentary, it explained it in a way I had not realized David had been referring to. I always thought it was referencing physical disease. Basically the reference to God healing all of our diseases is referring to spiritual death that comes to our souls, not physical death that comes to our bodies. When we die, our physical body is broken, decayed and no longer is working. But as a Christian we are told that our body will rise to be with our LORD and that we will live forever with God, free from the DISEASE of sin that brought about death in the first place! Here are some scriptures that explain what I am trying to say:
Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. For Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet. And the last enemy to be destroyed is death. It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever.’ 1 Corinthians 15:22,25-26,42-43,50)

I know this has been deep, I’m trying to make this relatable and to focus on thankfulness in general, please allow my to include some of the personal things that have hit home with me lately on my thankfulness list.
Things like:
God’s protection as we travel from day to day.

God’s direction when I lean on Him for wisdom- especially in finishing strong in parenting. My son turns 18 this week and technically he will be an adult. I realize more and more, how much I need God’s help to guide him. And I DO know we never stop being a parent, it’s just a change in the parenting role.

God’s help to live out what I believe. It’s easy to say things in church or here on this blog and it’s a whole other thing to live it out! I also believe this has a HUGE impact on parenting. I can’t do it on my own. See Phil 4:13

God’s help in our marriage! Again, no issues, just in keeping the flame alive and in giving and receiving love. I. NEED. GOD’s. HELP!

Lifting my eyes from the negative things that are happening in the news and in the world, in general. The more I focus on this stuff the more my faith shrinks. I know we need to be informed, in order to pray etc. But it’s very tempting to let the politics and world events to obscure my view of how great GOD is and that He knows about these things. In His time He will right all the wrongs, but in the mean time He wants me to trust in Him and not to allow staying informed to get in the way of knowing that He is able to take care of His children, even in the midst of hard times. See Psalm 11

These are reasons my heart is thankful! Again, I challenge you to make a list. Even if only a mental list, do it! Be thankful for new things every day! Big or small, being thankful in all- it will change you!
It will do your heart and your mind good and it will strengthen your relationship with God as you take time to incorporate your thankfulness in your prayer life! How it must warm God’s heart as we express our gratitude – I know from the perspective of being a parent what gratitude expressed does for me and I’m sure many people can relate! Take the challenge, you’ll be glad you did!

Also, Please let me know how or if any of the things you’ve uncovered in being thankful has helped you! May God bless you as you take the time to be thankful!

Two Reports

Numbers 13:25-33
‘After exploring the land for forty days, the men returned to Moses, Aaron, and the whole community of Israel at Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran. They reported to the whole community what they had seen and showed them the fruit they had taken from the land. This was their report to Moses: “We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country—a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces. But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak! The Amalekites live in the Negev, and the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country. The Canaanites live along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and along the Jordan Valley.” But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!” But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites: “The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!”’

Daniel 2:20-22
‘He said, “Praise the name of God forever and ever, for he has all wisdom and power. He controls the course of world events; he removes kings and sets up other kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars. He reveals deep and mysterious things and knows what lies hidden in darkness, though he is surrounded by light.’
Hebrews 12:1-2
‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. ‘

This may be a redundant topic that I write about, but it’s honestly the battle I find myself facing more often than I’d choose. The recurring theme that runs through my blogs tends to be a fight against pessimism. If you are someone who has read one or even a few of my blogs you’ve probably sensed that this lady seems to be stuck writing about the same stuff! So, if this isn’t for you, I understand! Truly writing about this and sharing how God is helping me, is therapeutic! If you’re still reading, Thank You!

Quite often, I come across people who are fighting a battle of depression, I care and I pray for and with them, if they will let me. I am coming to realize that people in ministry that are working with hurting people, can carry the burden of others and can fall into a time of hurting maybe even a depression too, if we permit it to. Not the same in the sense that there are chemical imbalances, but the same in hurting because of the problems of living in a fallen world where real pain exists and there are no quick, easy fixes! I’ve come to realize, Jesus is the only hope for me, but I know He is the only Hope for anyone and everyone who will turn to Him in a fallen, broken world!

The battle I’ve been fighting is a battle of what I choose to focus on! Yet in all of this, God keeps redirecting me. He keeps reminding me to lift my eyes from the problem and look to Him! This morning I tell you I felt like a failure. I’d fallen off my gluten free bandwagon and was feeling the effects. I’d taken off my CPAP machine in the night and was feeling so tired this morning. And I was FEELING burdened by my own set of cares- the future- where will we live, where is our son going for college and what about our marriage (not having marital issues- just the whole being apart thing) and where will Mom live. So many cares, such a feeling of futility. BUT, I felt this pull towards coming away to the quiet place of prayer. Just God and I and eventually a cup of coffee, okay, it was 2 cups of coffee!

Feeling overwhelmed, I cried out to God, “I don’t even know where to start in my prayer. Again I felt the gentle nudge from the Lord to just pray for what was weighing me down. Before I began to unload my burden though, I did take time to reflect upon Who God is and why He is so worthy of my praises! And realized how far I’ve fallen short on recognizing His hand in my life and praising Him. So I began praising Him! This in turn helped get my eyes off the problem and refocus on God with Whom nothing is impossible!

As I began to share my concerns in prayer, God reminded me that He is sovereign- (He has supreme power and authority). He reminded me that He is the One who opens and closes doors. He puts people where they need to be, when they need to be. What door He opens, no one can close, and what doors He closes, no one can open. Not only that, He reminded me of events in my own life, where He has done just that! He brought Steve and I together in such a way that we knew He put us in each other’s life. There was no, manipulation on my part or Steve’s for that matter on how we came together. It was the whole, “being at the right place at the right time”‘ thing that brought us together. And don’t tell me that was just coincidence! No, THAT was God!

As I was rounding the bend of going from being overwhelmed to leaving my burdens with God, the song I referenced last week (Confidence by Sanctus Real) came on, as it’s on my playlist that I was listening to. I felt the nudge that God was prompting me to pray for direction for me personally. To seek His will for what is next in this journey of life. I felt a strong impression that God has brought people into my life to prepare me for ministry and work that He has yet for me to do.  I have wanted to go back to school for such a long time, I’d honestly given up on it. But it seems that God is orchestrating things and people in my life to show me that He could possibly use me in the capacity as a counselor. Ugh the thoughts of going back to school are daunting and seem impossible, but looking at the above scripture from Numbers, I’m reminded of the 2 reports that the people of Israel had to listen to. They could listen to the one which said, “We can certainly conquer it!” or listen to the majority report that said, We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!”

My question to you and to myself is this:  Whose voice are we choosing to listen to? The one that says not a chance, or the one that says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13KJV) When we get our reports from the naysayers who seem to only see the problem, we fall prey to unbelief. *”Fear and failure cannot co-exist”, neither can worry and worship! God wants us to listen to the report that in Him we are more than conquerors! He wants us to get our eyes off the problem (Her 12:1-2) and realize how great our God is! Daniel said that God is the One who controls the course of human events! That just gives me hope, to know I can trust an unknown future to a known God and I would add He is able to orchestrate things that we could never have imagined! We can trust that His plans are for our good. That He is able to open and close doors still- in this day and age that we are living in!

Simply and honestly, there are many things I admit I am really low on, in the knowledge department. But one thing I DO know! I will not just listen to the negative reports. We do live in a broken world and we need compassion and understanding. But we must choose to fight against the temptation to think that satan is winning and God’s team is losing! God is GREATER, He is STRONGER, we must choose to look to Him not focus on the problems! It’s up to Him to fight the battle for us, whether it’s relationship oriented, financially based problems or health issues! God calls us to be faithful and to have faith! He is more than capable to handle any problem we may be facing! We just need to be His hands and feet in place, feet on the ground, for what He’s called us to do! And I know it’s a Christianesse cliche, but it is true, Where God calls, He provides! What is God calling you to do? Don’t listen to the negativity. Lift your eyes to the maker of Heaven and Earth!

 

*Louis Giglio

In the Daily Grind

This week has been crazy busy and had it’s own share of struggles! Someone whom I’d told them I was praying for, said that they really didn’t see prayer making any difference in their situation. (This is from a non- Christian friend, that I am trying to reach out to). It has been a week of sharing each other’s burdens if you know what I mean! Through it all though,God has allowed me to see His hand at work! The person who said that they didn’t see prayer making any difference, did in fact experience something that I know was truly an answer to prayer! Things that God has led me to pray for have been answered in this week! Again this is NOT anything about me! This is about God hearing and answering prayer! He really does hear us when we call out to Him! He really does care about us! And yes, He is BIG enough to handle our biggest, greatest needs!

Apart from that, here are some things I have been pondering in my own simple way of pondering!
There’s this fairly new song I’ve been hearing on The Message, the Christian XM station that I listen to. This song has set me to thinking about some things. Let me share the words of the song before I share my thoughts and finally let me share from Scripture, what God is teaching me in the process of life!

Here are the words to the song entitled:
Confidence

I’m not a warrior
I’m too afraid to lose
I feel unqualified for what you’re calling me to
But Lord with your strength
I’ve got no excuse
‘Cause broken people are exactly who you use
So give me faith like Daniel in the lion’s den
Give me hope like Moses in the wilderness
Give me a heart like David, Lord be my defense
So I can face my giants with confidence
You took a shepherd boy
And made him a King
So I’m gonna trust you and give you everything
I’ll be a conquerer
‘Cause you fight for me
I’ll be a champion claiming your victory
So give me faith like Daniel in the lion’s den
Give me hope like Moses in the wilderness
Give me a heart like David, Lord be my defense
So I can face my giants with confidence
I’m gonna sing and shout and shake the walls
I won’t stop until I see ’em fall
Gonna stand up, step out when you call
Jesus, Jesus
I’m gonna sing and shout and shake the walls
I won’t stop until I see ’em fall
Gonna stand up, step out when you call
Jesus
So give me faith like Daniel in the lion’s den
Give me hope like Moses in the wilderness
Give me a heart like David, Lord be my defense
So I can face my giants with confidence, yeah
Give me faith like Daniel in the lion’s den
Give me hope like Moses in the wilderness
Give me a heart like David, Lord be my defense
So I can face my giants with confidence
I’ll face my giants with confidence
Songwriters: Matthew Ross Armstrong / Jordan Michael Bailey / Tony W. Wood
Confidence lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group

Have you ever been told, “Don’t pray for patience because then you’ll get all kinds of problems.”? I’m of the mindset that when we ask God to help us be patient, have faith or hope etc that God doesn’t always flip a switch and POOF! you’ve got it! Don’t get me wrong, sometimes God DOES move like that in our lives and we are blown away, but quite often, it’s the day to day grind of walking with God that gets us to that point, where we have faith and we have patience or hope!

We are living in a time period in history where things are moving quickly and technology is changing our lives faster than we can keep up! So I think it’s easy for us to think that growth and progress will happen faster than what it seems to take. Unfortunately, it often takes the difficult times to lead us to growth! And nobody wants that! I know, I sure don’t! I mean the difficulty, not the growth! Yeah, I WANT to grow, as I’m sure you do too!

So regarding the message of the song, God can give us hope, He can and does give us faith etc. But again, it seems to be a process. At this stage in my life, I’m in my late 40’s and I can so look back and see where God has grown me! You’ve probably heard the quote from Mark Twain that says,
“Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from making bad decisions.”
So there you have it! Sometimes we learn from our own mistakes! I know now, what I didn’t know 20 years ago! I so wish, I could go back and relive that time period of my life knowing then, what I know now! But the point is, we learn from the things we’ve gone through! So it is in our relationship with the Lord. We learn from things we’ve gone through with God working through those situations . After going through those times, we can refer back to those times to give us faith for what we are currently going through!

So where in scripture do we see that it’s in the day to day grind, that we grow into this faith and hope?
Daniel 6:10
‘But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God. ‘

Daniel spent time daily in quality, set aside time in prayer. Not just one session a day! The Bible tells us he prayed three times a day! And not only that, it was a spiritual muscle that had been developed in the day to day grind. It says he prayed … just as he had always done. OUCH! God’s been speaking to me just in the past week about setting aside dedicated time in prayer. Flexing those spiritual muscles, needs to be something that is just the regular thing we do! That’s how Daniel grew in his relationship with God to the point that he knew God would come through for him. That’s how Daniel had faith!

Regarding Moses having hope, take a look at this experience that Moses had, where God is giving him directions and what he did to follow through on those directions:
Exodus 6:6-9
‘“Therefore, say to the people of Israel: ‘I am the Lord . I will free you from your oppression and will rescue you from your slavery in Egypt. I will redeem you with a powerful arm and great acts of judgment. I will claim you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God who has freed you from your oppression in Egypt. I will bring you into the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I will give it to you as your very own possession. I am the Lord !’” So Moses told the people of Israel what the Lord had said, but they refused to listen anymore. They had become too discouraged by the brutality of their slavery.’

Moses had, had encounters with God that enabled him to stay the course, to have hope, even when the people of Israel just saw their circumstances and couldn’t summon up the courage to believe that God had sent Moses to help deliver them. Look back on Moses’ life. God rescued him when the other baby boys were being brutally murdered, God helped Moses escape to Midian and fight off the bad guys at a well( Exodus 2) God spoke to Moses in a burning bush that did not burn up (Exodus 3) God gave Moses clear instructions about how He would use Moses to lead the Israelites out of the Egyptian slavery and even foretold things that were going to happen! (Exodus 3:19)

These events in Moses’ life shaped him to become the leader God chose him to be! It was a day to day walk with God, learning, growing, watching God move in his life! God still moves and works in our lives today. Maybe we need eyes to see and remember what God HAS done and what He IS doing! Seeing God at work in our lives takes intentional looking for God to show up and it takes us recalling what He has done in the past as well as in the present! Life gets so rushed and we move from one thing to the next thing so quickly, that we are hard pressed to really focus on the prayers that have been answered and the things that God HAS done! Why is it so EASY to recall the bad stuff that happens, but hard for us to look beyond that and see the good things that God has done? Lord help us!

Lastly, David’s heart! David was a man who passionately loved God. How did David move beyond the sins that wrecked his life to be a man so in love with the creator of the universe?
Psalms 51:7-12
‘Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me— now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.’

David had seen God at work in his daily grind of being a shepherd as a young man. God enabled David to rescue his sheep from a lion and a bear so that
when it came time to face Goliath, David had already experienced God’s power to deliver! He had no problem putting his faith in God. because of these things he’d experienced. The downside of David, he fell into deep sin, by committing adultery and murder to cover it up! How could he go from being this warrior who fought and slayed a giant to a man who committed adultery and murder? Perhaps letting up in the day to day relationship with God? BUT his heart knew he’d done wrong! He cried out to God in true repentance. That means he said, “No!” to the sins that had marred his life and utterly ruined what he’d been before. He was painfully aware that he’d sinned against God and he desired to make it right with God. He mourned his sin, begged God to forgive him, and then walked forward in the freedom of knowing that God had cleared his record. God no longer held David’s sin up in his face! So a heart like David is one that has walked with God, seen God move and experienced God’s forgiveness of sins. A heart like David, admitted his sin, repented of if meaning he stopped sinning and moved forward in his relationship with God. For a full picture of this read all of Psalm 51 as well as II Sam 11-12:25)

Please don’t think that I am bashing the song that I shared. I am thinking about it and just sharing my simple thoughts on the matter. There are certainly people that have been healed, and delivered and given spiritual power, immediately upon request from God! I’m not discounting that! Some of these things God does give instantly and some of these things just take time! God’s time! We have to remember that He is God and He knows what is best for us. Whether it’s instantaneously giving to us or in the daily grind of living, either way, God is using both to grow us!
The really great thing is that God knows where we are at in the growth process. He knows what will grow us the most and He will lead us in His time and in His way! I close with a few verses to encourage you and myself as well, that God is working in each of our lives. To remind us to not look around at the circumstances, but to look to God and His power, because Gods power is greater than the spirit at work in the world.

Ecclesiastes 3:11
‘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. ‘

Philippians 1:6
‘And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.’

1 John 4:4
‘But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. ‘

God Is For Us!

God is growing me. It may be little by little, one step at a time, but He is growing me! He’s got a strength for all of us, but it is up to us to make the choice that will grow us!

The other day, as I was doing yard work that just seems to be overlooked and under appreciated (And I might add- my feelings are not an accurate indication of reality) and doing it with less than the tools needed because I’d forgotten to bring them with me. I started to have thoughts that were negative. Negative thoughts towards the people I’m supposed to love the most! I caught myself in the thought process and did something that I recently heard or read about doing, I can’t remember where or what source I got the following steps from- well ultimately from God’s word, but I watch sermons on YouTube and read people’s blogs etc, so I can’t give the proper credit due to my poor memory. I am just going on the record that some of this is not original with me. Actually some of this has come about from conversations I’ve had with Steve. Some from my own experience and of course ultimately from studying God’s Word!

But the steps go something like this:
When you are bombarded with negative thoughts
1. Recognize where those thoughts are coming from. God is not the Author of the negative thoughts that run through our minds. The enemy of our souls, can’t read our minds, but he can certainly plant thoughts into our minds to tempt us to do wrong.

2. Ask God for help to fight the temptation. We aren’t enough on our own to fight the enemy. Ephesians 6:10-20 talks about the armor of God. We can’t fight the enemy on our own. We NEED GOD’s help to fight the battle and come out victorious!

3. Pray for the person that you may be harboring bad feelings towards. I ask God to change my heart and help me to love them. This does not mean they are let off the hook if there is a moral injustice or something that needs to be rectified. In a case like that, the person causing harm needs to held accountable. If it’s a different type of temptation, pray for someone else you may know who may be battling that same kind of temptation. This kind of prayer gets our minds off of ourselves and into a serving mode. The enemy doesn’t want us to be productive Christians. This is a direct hit to the enemy when we fight back the powers of darkness by praying for the offender or someone in temptation!

4. Praise or thank God for something He has done or is doing in your life! This turns our eyes back to God and helps us to change our perspective from a negative mindset, to one of recognizing that God is BIGGER than the problems we lay at His feet! Plus the enemy will run away when we give God the praise He is so worthy of!

I want to include the passage regarding the armor of God, because I believe it ties all these things together:

Ephesians 6:10-18’A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.’

James the brother of Jesus gives very clear, easy to understand directions on how to handle temptation. Here’s what he had to say:

James 4:7-8
‘So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. ‘

As I recalled all of this, I called out to God to help me! Help me let go of the angry thoughts towards certain situations. To not hang onto that anger towards someone and to pray for them instead of being so hard on them. As I did this, the job became lighter but I kept feeling like it was a battle of good versus evil.I had to keep choosing to let go of those thought and feelings!

Around that time a friend texted me to ask how I was doing. I told her, “I feel like everything is against me!” (Those were my exact words.) I asked her to pray! She assured me she was!- How like God to send someone to check on us, when we are feeling beat down, defeated and like everything is against us!

Two days later I was in church and as the worship team led us into songs of praise and worship, I was truly getting into the music and loving the opportunity to praise God through singing and lifting my hands in praise. As the song we were singing was coming to an end, Brian, the worship leader, had us sing through the chorus an extra time, almost like it was unplanned. As we sang the chorus again, the words finally hit me! There was this sense of awe, because I immediately felt God’s love for me in a very real and personal way! The words that caught me were, You are for me, not against me, I am who You say I am….

I was blown away! God had someone check on me by sending a text, showing me His care for me, but He also had the worship team sing the chorus an extra time, so that I could catch the words and let them sink in! Or as my friend Ron Gay says, God has to hit us over the head with a spiritual 2 x 4! Sometimes – ok a lot of times, I am slow to get these spiritual lessons, but when I DO get them- they hit home hard and are really powerful!

If you ever find yourself in a place where you are fighting temptation, lean into God. When the temptations come flying in, from every direction, just look up! Don’t give in to that gut feeling to do something that you know is against what God says in His Word. Remember RESIST the devil! Cry out to God for HELP! He does love us, He does grow us in the difficult times. He IS FOR US! The enemy is against us, but you know what? There is more power with our LORD! Take hope from these words taken from God’s Word!

‘“Be strong and courageous! Don’t be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria or his mighty army, for there is a power far greater on our side! He may have a great army, but they are merely men. We have the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles for us!” Hezekiah’s words greatly encouraged the people.’
2 Chronicles 32:7-8

Romans 8:31,35-39
‘What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against 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.’

A Note of Encouragement

Psalms 16:1-11
‘Keep me safe, O God, for I have come to you for refuge. I said to the Lord , “You are my Master! Every good thing I have comes from you.” The godly people in the land are my true heroes! I take pleasure in them! Troubles multiply for those who chase after other gods. I will not take part in their sacrifices of blood or even speak the names of their gods. Lord , you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine. The land you have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance! I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety. For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave. You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.’

It’s a rainy early fall Monday morning. The sky is dreary and the weekend together with family is now over. But as I look into God’s Word this morning I find reason for HOPE! God is with me- even when my husband is over 2,000 miles away and my son is pushing me away as he enters manhood. It’s a lonely place sometimes! BUT God is ALWAYS with me! He gives hope and joy. Because the Lord is my inheritance I have everything I need! Because He is with me, yes even in those lonely times when I don’t feel Him there, He’s there! He is the ONE I run to when everything seems to be going against me! He gives my life purpose and direction!

Come take a walk with me through some of the highlights of this Psalm, which I call a note of encouragement on this dreary Monday morning! Ever feel vulnerable and just in a spot where safety eludes you? God promises to be our refuge, our place of safely. Because of Him, we need not fear for our safety. We still need to take caution, God wants us to use good judgement, but He promises that those who seek after Him, that He will send His angels to protect us!
Psalms 91:2,9-11
‘If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. This I declare about the Lord : He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.’

“Every good thing I have comes from you.” You have anything good in your life? I know I sure do- and knowing that God allows or gives those good things in my life is truly rich! Good things like the family He’s blessed me with, people who care, salvation, material blessings, the list goes on and on! They are all a gift from God!

“The godly people in the land are my true heroes! I take pleasure in them!” When we have people in our lives who choose to follow after God, it is such an encouragement and a blessing! There’s just something deeper about a relationship with a friend who also happens to be a follower of Christ! A common bond that connects us, refreshes us and inspires growth!
If you have someone in your life who is praying for you or sharing in life’s journey as a fellow brother or sister in Christ, it adds fuel to the fire! So yes! I’m thankful for the godly people that God has allowed into my life!

“I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me.” I’m a troubled sleeper on many nights! I can attest, when I pull out God’s Word during those wakeful times in the night, I can fall back to sleep much faster! He does guide- whether by day or by night- He is there to guide us with His Word, with things that happen and with the godly influences we have in our lives! Thank You God for being my Guide!

“ I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.” This is the verse! On this rainy Monday morning this is the verse that practically caused me to lift my eyes up from the circumstances and look to Him! God. Is. With. Me.! Thank you Jesus! When friends who care and family can’t be with us, GOD is with us! He never leaves us! Because of His presence in our lives we do not need to be shaken! I’m not going to let events or problems drown out the goodness of my Lord! He is GOOD all the time- even in the hard times~ He’s still GOOD!

I don’t know about you, but these words have really given me something to hang onto! I close with this thought regarding our perspective and God’s perspective. I love to fly, especially on rainy dreary days. Simply because when the airplane makes the ascent above the clouds, there’s bright sunshine. That sunshine is there all along, but when the clouds get in the way, we can’t always see the sun! God is always there with us, but sometimes we can’t see Him because things get in the way. Our problems and struggles in this life are temporary. We need reminding that God is still with us! David closes out Psalm 16 with, “You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.’” One day, the clouds will be completely gone, we will see Jesus face to face, the problems and struggles of this life, though they are real, will be erased by the joy that we can’t begin to understand. The joy of being in the presence of God almighty! That my friend gives me such fulfillment! No clouds can change Who God is or can take Him away! He is WITH us!

In It To Win It!

Philippians 3:12-14
‘I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.’

2 Timothy 4:7-8
‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.’

James 1:12
‘God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. ‘

Isaiah 43:1-2
‘But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.’

Yesterday as I was shopping I saw a woman in Target that had a shirt with a bunch of writing on the back of it. I cautiously began reading- you never know if the shirts with expressions on them will say something good or bad, so I warily began reading. “Whoever said winning isn’t everything, never had to fight cancer.”

Wham! Like a punch to the gut, that really hit home! We are all fighting something in this life! For some it’s cancer, for others it’s a past marred by abuse it could be a financial burden or being rejected- the list seems endless! Lets face it, in this life there are problems! Pain is no respecter of persons! Jesus Himself said, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 Whether we claim the name of Christ or not, we all live in a world that is cursed by sin and we all face problems beyond us.

The question is, what do we do when those problems come our way? Do we seek God out or do we dig in our heels, blame God and nurse the hurt? God does allow hardship. We don’t understand why, but it always comes down to this question, “Do we trust Him?”. God wants to make something of our lives, we have to admit He is God and even when it doesn’t make any sense at all, we will HOPE in Him. We will put one step in front of the other, trusting that He is still God, and He is with us!

The difference we as Christians have is that we have a hope that transcends anything this life throws at us! We have God’s help, we just need to ask Him! No, it doesn’t mean He swoops in like a superhero and rescues us with a miracle. Sometimes He DOES do this and we are in awe! But so often, He says, I want you to grow in this my child. I will bring you through this not away from this. See Isaiah 43:1-2

Also as Christians we have a HOPE in the eternal reward of being free from the curse of sin, of being in the presence of God and no more cancer, no more abuse, no more financial struggles or rejection or the endless list! God will make all things new! He is with us now in the pain. He is for us and victory is ours for the taking! We are in this battle called life, and we are in it to win it!

I close with tremendous passage from God’s Word that just leaves me without words!

Romans 8:34-39
‘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.’

Carrying Each Others Burdens

Romans 12:15
“Rejoice with those who rejoiced; mourn with those who mourn.”

Philippians 2:4 Don’t look out only for your own interests but take an interest in others, too.” NLT

Philippians 2:1-11

I Corinthians 12:25-26
“This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored.all the parts are glad.”

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

Tonight I was just realizing the variety of things that we face in our lives. I received good news on my Dad’s prognoses of prostate cancer and sent a friend who was praying an update via text. In turn she has a friend who is suffering from the affects of having a miscarriage! The verse came to mind that we weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. Life is full of ups and downs. We have seasons of grief and seasons of celebrations, and sometimes even in those seasons there’s some overlap! Solomon said it so to the point when he said “Even in laughter the heart may ache, and rejoicing may end in grief.”

I am thankful for the body of Christ! We are a family who shares in each others joys and triumphs, but also we are able to be there when there are tears and there are questions that we don’t have answers for! Any friend could be that or do that I suppose, but what makes the bond in the family of believers all the more powerful is that we have a Heavenly Father who unites and binds us together! We have the awesome privilege of praying for each other! We carry each others burdens and God’s Word tells us this is how we actually fulfill the law of Christ!

Wait a minute, I thought fulfilling the law of Christ meant following a set of rules and regulations? Well Jesus said the MOST important commandment was to Love God with ALL our heart, soul mind and strength. But then He said that the 2nd (most important) commandment was that we love our neighbor like ourselves. He then went a step further to tell us that when we do these 2 things, I mean REALLY DO these two things that we are fulfilling all the law and the prophets! (Matthew 22:37-40)

So back to this carrying each others burdens thing, how does that flesh out into everyday life? It might mean having lunch with someone who needs a friend, it might mean praying for that other person who’s having a rough day, delivering a meal when they are sick or grieving or recovering from a surgery. It might just be sending a text saying I hope you’re having a good day and hey, I’m praying for you! Mailing a card! The skies the limit on the ways we can help carry one another burdens. If they are moving we can literally “Carry each others burdens”! 🙂

Something that helps me to extend a hand to my brother or sister in Christ is when I can recall a time when I …. fill in the blank, maybe lost a loved one, was in the hospital, was down and out… again the skies the limit, but think about what you needed most at that time of need. And in those times was there anyone who reached out to you? (II Corinthians 1:4)What did they do that spoke volumes about God’s love for you, because they lived out in the flesh what it means to carry each others burdens? That can be a stepping stone to help us fulfill this command in Scripture. On the flip side maybe there was a time in the past when you had a need and it seemed no one offered any help. What could someone have done that would have made a difference? Then go and do it for someone who has a similar need, because you know it can make a difference in this person’s life and because Jesus has done for us what we could not do for ourselves!

I realize certain personalities are more able to sympathize and put themselves in someone else’s shoes and others have to work harder at it. If you are truly not sure how to help a person in need, ask God to open your eyes and help you find a way to reach out to that person in need. We all have different skills and abilities. For example, I would not be of much help with setting a budget or administrative duties, I am not mechanical and don’t ask me to help you balance your checkbook! But I’m thinking of someone who shall remain nameless, who is my better half, that possesses these skill sets and that is a tangible way he could help someone!

God wants us to be united. He wants us to be a body of believers that when people looking on who are not a part of the body of believers they would say, I want to be like that!
They will know we are Christians by our love. Oh help us Church to share that love with our brothers and sisters in Christ! Here are some others scriptures that have come to my mind as I’ve been writing:

Galatians 6:10 (NLT)
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)
And I would add at the end, that just today, some have reached out to me in a tangible way when I expressed a need. God is so GOOD! THANK YOU body for living it out in the flesh what it means to be a part of the Body of Christ!

Do You Hear What You’re Saying?

For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].
Philippians 4:8 AMPC

May the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
Psalm 19:14 NLT

14Do everything without complaining and arguing, 15so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Philippians 2:14-15 NLT

11Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
I Thessalonians 5:11 NIV

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭18:21‬ ‭NIV‬‬

You are what you think about! Yes, the things you fill your mind with, the things you mull over and over affect the words you say and the actions that you do! It seems that living here in NE Ohio, the winters are long and so many people are vitamin D deprived. Yes this is a REAL struggle for people with these deficiencies and so we can say that biologically we have a reason to be down. Some people fight depression and also have true chemical imbalances. I’m not necessarily addressing that, however I would caution if you find that is your lot in life to seek medical attention but also that you ask God to give you the grace to renew your mind.

Anytime a person seeks recovery over an addiction, the first step is admitting that you have a problem. Recognizing that your words are negative and tend to bring people down is something you may not even realize you’re doing.
Maybe you’ve been thinking about your problems and you keep reliving the scenarios in your mind and those thoughts have spilled over into your words. This is where the scripture from Psalm 139:23-24 comes into play: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” I can guarantee if you sincerely pray that scripture that God will shine His spotlight on the window of your soul. He has a way of dealing with us that lets us know He’s not finished with us yet!

Our words are powerful! There are some people that we encounter and when we see them we want to turn in the other direction, rather than talk to them and hear every problem they’ve had for the past five years. But then there are other people who speak encouragement and are pleasant to be around and we don’t mind if we’d spend an entire day with these people who overflow with joy and hope!

I recently talked with an older lady from my church that shared hope with me regarding raising my teenage son! She shared a scripture that she prayed over her kids and encouraged me with her words! I left that encounter, ready to conquer the world! On the opposite extreme, there’ve been others who’ve been ready to tell of the problems they had raising their kids and the focus was entirely negative. As Christians we have a higher standard than that! Am I being too harsh here? Seriously, when I talk to people like this, my problems become bigger and the burden heavier. Proverbs 27:17 NLT shows us the standard that we as Christians should have in our conversations: “As iron sharpens iron so a friend sharpens a friend.”
I’m not talking about a drummed up positive thinking mindset thing here! I’m talking about sharing practical hope to those coming after us! If there’s an answer to prayer or some place you’ve seen God move, THAT’S encouraging, those are the kind of words we need to share!

As a Christian wife, Mom and any other hat that I may wear, I don’t want to be that negative drain that people want to walk in the other direction when they see me coming! Oh, I pray, God help me to speak words of hope and encouragement! But honestly that has to come from a deeper source than just the words I speak! That has to start with the thoughts in my heart! Am I going to God’s Word for help and Hope? Am I thinking about how God works in the impossible and how He STILL answers prayer, or am I thinking about the problems and letting them obscure the view of how great a God I serve?

Let’s choose to be the ones who give HOPE and encouragement! This requires going to God and asking Him to transform our thought lives. It requires admitting when we’ve fallen into the devils trap of focusing on the problem instead of WHO God is! It requires asking God to fill our mouths with good things and it requires thinking beyond ourselves. Looking to the needs of others, sharing in their burdens, weeping with them, but also praying for and with those who are broken. Searching the scriptures for WoRDS of HOPE to share with the broken! The book of Psalms has so many prayers of desperation and hope! I challenge you to dig deep into God’s Word and fill your mind with these words that point to God!
Then, when you speak, your words will overflow with encouragement and hope! I’ll get you started on a Psalm that shares the kind of words I’m talking about!

Psalm 17:6-7 NIV
“I call on You, my God, for you will answer me;
turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
Show me the wonders of your great love,
You who save by your right hand
those who take refuge in your from their foes.”

Like Trees

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Like Trees

Psalms 1:1-3

‘Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord , meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit
each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.’

I don’t know about you, but often I feel like a dried up leaf, with little or no life left in me. Maybe it’s a mid life, late 40’s woman kind of feeling. Regardless, feelings are not an accurate reflection of reality. Feelings are fleeting and not consistent!
A bedrock for me, is God’s work in my life! Thankfully He doesn’t give up on us, but little by little, day by day, one step in front of the other He is making you and I more like Jesus. There are some positive take aways and some negative take aways from the
above passage.

Looking at the “negatives’ first, we are instructed that the influences in our lives are REALLY important. If our main source of friends are people who are not Christians, then we run the risk of picking up on their characteristics. Wether it’s foul language
or impure thinking or a rebellious spirit that mocks authority, these influences somehow can easily be picked up. So we are to be careful of whom we allow into our inner circle of friendships.

The positive thing I take away from the above scripture is that there’s a desire for God’s law. There’s a meditating on it day and night OR it’s on your mind at any time of the day. If you are awake in the night, you’re thinking about God’s Word. If you’re
doing dishes or working at the office- it’s in your thoughts!

The thing is this- Jesus put the whole law into a nutshell. (I personally love taking complex things and putting into easy bite size pieces to understand and put into use) This is where Jesus pulls the Old Testament and New Testament together and puts it where
we live our daily lives! Here’s what Matthew recorded of Jesus’ teaching:

Matthew 22:36-40

‘“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’The entire law
and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” This is the first and greatest commandment. ‘

So, if you like me, feel like there’s not much left in you to give, and you sure don’t feel like the trees by the riverbank, remember that following after God is where it’s at! He fills us with His love so that we can overflow that love into the lives of those
around us! God isn’t finished working on us. It’s a day to day learning experience! Don’t get discouraged if you feel you haven’t “arrived” yet in your relationship with the Lord.

I close with this Scripture:

Philippians 1:6

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.