Tag Archives: strength

Never Alone

13 Dec

Spending the evening with a community of givers, showering 24 foster boys with love and gifts for Christmas, filled my heart to overflowing.

The night turned my thoughts to the evident, loving hand of God. These boys have struggled and some have gone through things none of us can imagine, some of us can.  If you could have been in that room full of the body that cares, witnessing the gifts they gave the boys, in presents and presence; You would feel humbled and moved, cup overflowing too.

Some of these boys stand out in a great way, they have a strength, a light about them. Some are just doing the very best they can, finding their way.
I have been reflecting on the people I am surrounded with, each has suffered deep hurts or loss. Some from rejection and abandonment, some the loss of someone they loved way before they were ready to say goodbye. God has surrounded me with these beautiful, raw souls. They have taught me so much. He opened my eyes, when I stopped seeing my own pain and started seeing theirs.

What stands out to me is that this world ebbs and flows with goodness and evil, but the God of the bible, never, ever changes. His promises stay the same. His Love stays the same.

When He sent the sweetest Christ child to be born for us, our lives were transformed forever. We can just get too lost in this messed up, broken world when we think it’s supposed to be so easy. When we try to do this alone.

Truth is; When we accept our Savior, we are never alone again. When that sweet baby grew,  taught us, and finally died on the cross for us; He promised to leave us with the Holy Spirit.  He didn’t abandon us. This is the gift that allows us to endure all things. This helper, this guide, this friend that dwells within us, never leaves us. Holds us, whispers Peace into our crazy lives.

There are no completely rejected people on this earth. When Christ died for us, we became co-heirs.  We are all welcomed, we are all wanted, we are pursued relentlessly! He longs to have a relationship with each of us. Being a Christian is about who He is, it isn’t about who we are. It isn’t about what we do, but rather what He does in us.

Like Job, our testing of faith will never be easy, our journey will never be without trial, hurt and sorrow. Nothing in that bible says it will, but our faith will grow stronger within us when we stay close to Him.

Most know Psalm 23. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death”.
We have to walk through the valley to get to the other side. We can’t go around it, we can’t avoid it. We must go through that valley but it also says “the shadow”. Shadowing only happens when there is light present. He is that bright and shining light at all times, proof again that we never walk alone.

May you find your peace, your hope, your joy in Him. He is all we need. He refreshes us, builds us up, strengthens us, and gives us hope for the future. Amen.

This is from my devotional today. It says it way better than I can. Be blessed.

 

Worse than not having anyone close is to be rejected by the one person you thought you could count on. 

 

When memories of rejection dominate our thoughts, it’s because we are putting human relationships in first place. The way out of that gloom is to let God take his throne back in our lives. Sometimes God allows us to be rejected and burned by other people so that his steadfast love will shine all the brighter. “Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me” (Psalm 27:10).

 

When you read the stories of the books of Joshua and Judges, you get the sense that God will do absolutely anything–even breaking the very laws of the universe he created–to make the lives of his people better. If God’s faithful love and promises are the first thing we trust in and depend on, everything else will fall into place in its time. When you know that you can absolutely depend on the Lord’s affection for you, you can face anything. “In the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock” (Psalm 27:5).

– time of grace

 

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Other Gods

2 Dec

“If God isn’t enough, more than enough, no one and nothing ever will be”  

I have repeated this thought, that came from prayer time, several times lately; To myself and to the way too many discarded or left behind people I have come to know.

When we are faced with being alone (it can feel pretty awful, right?) it shows our faith by who or what we fill that space with.

Do you fill it with God, or do you fill with something else? Another person/relationship, or do you drink more, or maybe you fill it with busyness.

Maybe you have been brave or like me, simply kept apart. In that time of loneliness, of being set apart; did you rekindle the love you first had with the one Who loved you first? Did you seek to fill that empty space with your perfect Creator, Father, and with his Son, the Bridegroom?  Did you allow Him to minister to your heart, He whose promises never break, He who’s greatest desire is to know you intimately.

As you sought the distraction of anything, of others, instead of Him, who is enough, did you pray about something? As you ignored His request of you, did you petition your own requests of Him?

If you keep trying to fill the place He is trying to fill – you’re missing out on so much. He is enough. He loves us beyond measure.

Just a couple of His love letters to us:

Jeremiah 31:3

 The Lord appeared to us in the past,[a] saying: 

“I have loved you with an everlasting love;

I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. 

Psalm 91:14-16 (MSG)

“If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God,
    “I’ll get you out of any trouble.
I’ll give you the best of care
    if you’ll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times;
    I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I’ll give you a long life,
    give you a long drink of salvation!”

When you spend time in the hurt and loneliness with Him, you gain the perfect comfort of Him, the lasting confidence in Him, you heal and grow in His unfailing, abiding love and from there – He brings you “THE people” the ones to walk beside you, and the ones to share His light with.

Beloved, you must guard your fears as much as your heart. Trust in Him with your fear. Tell Him you are lonely, tell Him it isn’t fair, tell Him you are afraid. He minister’s to your obedience with peace.  You are His and you were bought for a high price. All He wants in return is your whole heart.  From that intimate relationship, He can bless you to be the blessing you are called to be.

When you can’t be alone it simply means that God is not enough for you. It may not feel great at first, but it is the most obedient, healing, protected place you can be. If you fill that gap, You are worshiping another God, You have an idol and a faith issue with Him.

What you chase after is your God.

The beauty of this amazing, perfect, loving God? As soon as you put Him back on the throne of your desires and seek Him again, you are right back in His perfect path. Welcomed with loving arms.

Psalm 23 (TPT)  

The Good Shepherd

 David’s poetic praise to God[a]
The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd.[b]
    I always have more than enough.
 He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love.[c]
    His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss.
That’s where he restores and revives my life.[d]
    He opens before me pathways to God’s pleasure
    and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness[e]
    so that I can bring honor to his name.
 Lord, even when your path takes me through
    the valley of deepest darkness,
    fear will never conquer me, for you already have!
    You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way.
    Your authority is my strength and my peace.[f]
    The comfort of your love takes away my fear.
    I’ll never be lonely, for you are near.
 You become my delicious feast
    even when my enemies dare to fight.
    You anoint me with the fragrance of your Holy Spirit;[g]
    you give me all I can drink of you until my heart overflows.
So why would I fear the future?
    For your goodness and love pursue me all the days of my life.
    Then afterward, when my life is through,
    I’ll return to your glorious presence to be forever with you!

Grief Support

30 Oct

“Please listen to my heart’s cry for I am low and in desperate need of you!” Psalm 142:6a

I met with a grief counselor today. I finally realized I needed to sort some things out. I don’t know why I still get legalistic and hard on myself. I have this bar of excellence I hold myself to and when I don’t reach it, I feel like I have failed completely. He helped me see that my faith and grief were walking together, not against one another.

There is counseling, and there is faith, and then there is grief counseling. I found it to be such release. I am suffering. I am processing and also sure of the simple fact that this will pass but right now, it is pretty rough

Grief takes a toll on us. We can get so lost within the trauma of it all.  I feel this weight of expectation on me, to be so strong and joyful in trial… Isn’t that what James 1 says? People are watching us as Christian’s, right? To see if it’s all for real or not.

I thought that was the needed response, to be okay, frankly I am not;  To be strong and assured, I am not. People needed to see me to be strong in my faith walk, to remain upbeat. This is the truth, this is transparency; Though my faith remains solid and my hope is still with Him and I trust Him fully with this journey, this has just been a bit too much for me to keep smiling through. The cards came tumbling down this weekend.

I need my God, my savior so much. My most necessary grief support! This, this, is the precious, precious promise part. He hears me, he draws nearer to me.

When I finally dropped the weight from my shoulders, when it all came toppling down yesterday, He caught me. He said ‘rest’.  “He restores my soul” Psalm 23:3a.  And then He provided the unplanned opportunity to sit with a grief counselor. My blessing.

There is a release and a relief when we can finally set it all down and say, it’s too much for me. To tell another person that it is too much. For them to say “wow, that is just too much” , validating your turmoil. Reassuring you that you aren’t weak, you aren’t failing, you aren’t just complaining.

There is such powerful reason I share my journey including the reality of suffering. We need to know we aren’t alone here, that God is here and other people journey through trials too. He brought us people to share that burden with.

The truth is that we all suffer and we suffer whether we share the burden or keep it hidden. But… when we hide our pain away from others, it begins to seep out. Maybe it’s physical illness, depression or maybe it’s anger or bitterness, or we become less tolerant, less loving. Satan loves to see us isolate our pain so he can bring us lower. He wants nothing more than to separate us from other people, fellowship, and our relationship with God.

He heard my cry and rescued me. He brought me support.  I am God’s girl, the “apple of His eye”. He promised me in Isaiah 54 and Philippian 1:6.  Even when my heart is weary, He will never, ever stop loving me or rescuing me.

Humility is really difficult but so necessary for clarity , true peace and true relationship with Him.  One thing I know for certain, life is really painful at times.  The life in our head, never really is the life we live. It is a series of bumps and sorrows, but with God as our shelter, there is a hope for a future that is secured.

 

From Tenth Avenue North’s “I Have This Hope”

“As I walk this great unknown

Questions come and questions go

Was there purpose for the pain?

Did I cry these tears in vain.

I have this hope

In the depth of my soul

In the flood or the fire

You’re with me and you won’t let go. “

 

Amen. Thank you, Father.

Grace

19 Sep

Grace. What a powerful word.

There is a calling on each of our lives, plain and simple.

When we mature in our faith, and walk in Grace, we walk with The Lord and we are the light that shines hope. When we forgive, (because we are instructed to forgive), and offer grace to someone that by the worlds standards, we should despise and reject, we are heeding our call to  ‘lead like Jesus’.

In the process of grieving my short marriage, I often asked God why?  I have grown to understand, what He reminds me of; There is not one moment in our lives that has not come through God’s hands. Even betrayals (and hurricanes) have been allowed for reasons only He knows and understands.

Only because of His incredible mercy towards me, His healing in my heart, have I found peace.  Grace and Mercy through forgiveness that is not really possible without the fullness of God in our hearts.

There is something about seeing the full power of God coming straight for you that changes everything. What is good and righteous, surfaced within me.  It was purged through raw grief which poured from the deepest part of me. As quickly as it began, it healed, and it healed swiftly. My soul was raw and opened up to His final healing.

When you extend mercy and kindness to someone that caused anguish in your heart it is obviously God. Knowing Him, seeking Him, being surrounded by wise women that walked with me through the valley, all pointed me straight on the path He laid before me. I am so grateful for the peace found there.

Here is the important lesson: as with all trial, this wasn’t just meant for me.  As we grow in our faith, we realize that whatever we walk through, truly is meant to shine the light of Hope to one or many. My grappling attempts, my moments of humanness, are elementary, as common as the darkness in this world and they don’t heal.

But God! He placed his supernatural healing in my broken heart because He needed me to be the light for a soul that is lost.  Grace shown and shared with someone that harmed us is a powerful healer. For both.

In the end, nothing we endure is just meant for us. With God leading us, we will be shown beautiful mercy in our trials when we focus on shining His light. What we journey through is meant to bless the broken with hope, to be the beacon of possibility to a lost and broken world.

When we are well on our journey of faith, we know our lot is already secure and we know who has us, who holds our future. We may get tossed a bit, but we remain steady in the end. We know the outcome.

When we let that Grace fill us to overwhelming joy, it spills over and pours out on everyone. No matter the circumstances, no matter the trial; That just builds more joy.

Thank you, Jesus.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deedsand glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  Matthew 7:1

14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14

Light In The Dark

10 Aug

In the midst of all  the harsh realities of hard times,  we will sink, we will soar, we will say and do things out of hurt or anger and we will make mistakes. The truth is, the pain is not constant and it is only a portion of the journey. Light remains.

The beauty of having a relationship with God, in trusting Him, is knowing that this is not permanent. Having faith doesn’t stop the pain from overwhelming you at times, we are still flesh and bones and our hearts truly ache at times. This journey can be so painful. Faith is knowing, even in the depths, that you are not alone. He is suffering with you and you know this, even when you can’t find Him.   In this hurt, in this lack, you absolutely know He is there, you know this is an important time of your journey with Him, you know this won’t last.

God doesn’t cause suffering, hard things don’t happen to us because he’s an unruly, unrelenting, punishing God. Hard things happen to us because freewill exists, evil exists because sin lives in all of us, disease lives. The most amazing thing can be found in God’s living Word. The bible lays out experience after experience for what we walk through today. Not to control our response but to teach, empathize and encourage us; To guide us in hope from each trial.  Ecclesiastes says, nothing is new, and also, this too is just one of many seasons in life, this hardship.

God is faithful and He loves each life that roams this earth. He longs for all of us, knowing He will only know some of us. We are His creation and He adores us. When we embrace the life He laid out for us, we must trust that He knows where he needs us to get to,what we need to go through to get there, who is going to be touched by that. He also uses this time to minister His healing in our hearts.

There will be hard moments during these time where we don’t feel Him, where we feel lost in our sorrow or trial. Hre is still there, but there is purpose in that as well. We may be pulled deeper, we may be healed more, we may be called out on the water to trust a little more. It is in the looking back, that you see every blessing that came along just when you needed it to even if you couldn’t see it at the time.

He will slowly remove the barriers and strongholds from our past, He will show us the lies Satan tells us that attempt to deter us from healing and peace. As we suffer, we often cause ourselves to suffer more. Maybe we pick up some old legalism,that  we deserve it, that we can somehow fall outside of his grace and his mercy.  These are lies of Satan. God’s beloved Son,  promises us fully that His mercy and grace has been there every step of the way simply by believing that it’s truth.  He will not leave us,  He will not forsake us, He holds us, He guides us. He is and always has been our only true hope.

From my own journey through divorce and betrayal, my faith is assured, even in the hardest moments of all this life has brought my way. What shattered me two days ago has empowered me today. He is so gracious, so amazing like that. Peace comes for a moment and rests within me.

There comes a point as you journey through a painful time that you realize that this is your life’s path and it matters; not just for you but for others as well. We cannot be lost in the moment and lose sight that in the end, this will be a page, a chapter or even a section, but it isn’t the full story.

If you are walking with Him, I will bet that even the darkest parts had light. Praise God for that hope. The light may dim and flicker sometimes, but that light is shining bright within our soul and it is meant to be shared with the whole world.

What will your story tell?

“And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.”‭‭Psalms‬ ‭39:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“Remember your promise to me; it is my only hope.”Psalms‬ ‭119:49‬ ‭NLT

Complaining Not Allowed

5 Aug

 

Philippians 2:14(GW)

“Do everything without complaining or arguing”.

Well…this scripture literally made me stop in my tracks.

Everything.

Regardless of how difficult, painful, annoying or unfair something is, we are asked to do so without complaint.

What does your conversation sound like over the past week?

My week was full of complaint. I don’t think I even realized how much until I saw this scripture.In truth,  it was mostly a really great week. I had so many wonderful things to be grateful for. He is truly blessing me in many ways.

It was also a very difficult, painful week. So, I spent far more time talking to friends about this part of my week, highlighting how weary I become in the trial. I sought empathy, support and encouragement for my hardship (complaint).

As we go through life, our fellowship is really important. Talking to our close friends is essential to our walk. We need to share our journey! However, before we vent, before we cry out to our circle, we need to go to God first.

Philippians 4:6 (NLT)  Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

He wants our first of everything. He wants our gratitude, our woes, our heartache, weakness and our complaints, and… He wants it first.

He is always the willing listener. Sharing our entire journey with Him is relational. He draws nearer to us as we draw nearer to Him. There is loving circle of protection that happens in that communion.

There is nothing Satan would like more than to have you complain, to not see the good, to not be in relationship with God. He would rather you gossip or complain to your friends about all that isn’t working in your life, rather than being grateful for all He gives.

Learn to go to Him first. Share authentically what you feel with Him before you say any more words. He loves us so much. He cares about our heartache and trials.

We don’t want to become like the Israelites in the wilderness, prolonging our struggle.

1 Peter 5:7 (GW) Turn all your anxiety over to God because he cares for you.

James 4:7-8 (ESV) Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.

 

Time For Grace

3 Jul

The Beatitudes:

Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
 Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God. ~Jesus

The past year for me, like most, has been extremes of trials and blessings, but for me,  the lessons of grace and mercy have taken my heart captive.

I have such strong feelings when I feel my fellow believers are being religious, legalistic, unkind or in my opinion, standing in the way of true evangelism. Yet, as soon as I think that way, The Holy Spirit convicts me and shows me my own sin. My own pride. My own legalism in my judgement.

We are supposed to love God, love our fellow Christians and mostly, love our neighbor. This is the fulfillment of the law.

You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope.For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself. Galatians 5:4-14 

Loving your neighbor doesn’t just mean those that are in your inner circle but rather this includes those that are different from you- the atheist, homosexual, abortionist, muslim. This also includes the guy who disagrees with you, or the guy that just cut you off on the freeway, the girl that was rude to you, the boss that screams at you. It also includes your husband when he is unloving or your wife when she is disrespectful. This is agape love. This is grace. This is where I sin most.

Grace is essential in every single aspect of our journey to become Christ like. Without grace, you truly are not aligned with Christ and your faith is not evident.  If we seek it, we need to give it. Your walk should embrace grace and be evident.  Jesus warned us about Spiritual pride. 4″ Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:4, 10 So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” Luke 17:10 

So before we can walk in grace, we absolutely must humble ourselves. God teaches us in His own way, in His own time, and The Living Word breathes truth into us, over and over again, we grow, we soften, we learn, as that knowledge is shown to us, by the Father.

Humility is essential to growth, to love, to grace, to salvation. Without it, we can’t possibly understand how to love as Christ loves us; Our ego fights this, our free will fights this.

We are sinners. If we are judging the sin in other’s, we take a step away from humility,  from grace and from Christ. Before you hate the sin in other’s you must first hate your own sin and your own sin nature. Ask forgiveness for your own sins. Let Him walk you through your own refinement. This is faith. This is how God can begin to change the world, first within us. Then through us.

After all, He loved us first. All of us.

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17

I have recently had my own major lessons and convicted misteps in grace. Being hurt by family and/or family of believers,  I being shocked by the dishonor, blatent unkindness and later, the untruth and slander that was exposed. responded with protective anger. Especially at the cruelty that crushed the spirit of someone I care about.  There is a hurt that goes so deep when the hurt comes from family and/or our family of believers. It is more unexpected in some way. We walk more transparently with our fellow believers, or we should anyhow.

But Christ himself walked everything before us and he expects us to stay focused on him and on grace.

39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. Matthew 5:39

He teaches us how to stay focused on what truly matters in our journey to eternity. We can’t care about what others think of us. God has a different expectation. His approval is all we truly need.

26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26  

As with all scripture, you must read the whole in which the context is taken Jesus didn’t mean to “hate” your family but rather this is a warning that walking a Christian life is difficult. We must love God first and be willing to lose all the rest, in the end, for that love. Jesus loved the law, including to honor your mother and father. but He was very clear:

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40

In the end, humble, forgiving grace is essential to our journey. Grace doesn’t approve of, enable or minimize sin. Grace doesn’t decide forgiveness of sin, Jesus did that on the cross for us. It is not our job to convict, nor judge. That is the Holy Spirits job. Justice is not ours. Humility says, if justice were served, I would be unworthy to receive the mercy and grace of our Lord’s crucifixion.

When our fellow Christian sins, (not the unsaved), like we do ourselves…we must help them back to God’s truth, even if it is our spouse. We submit to God first. If our fellow believer, whether friend, child or spouse is hurtful or walking away from alignment in Christ  we lovingly speak truth, sometimes it is a must, but it also must include acknowledgement of forgiveness, and our own need for forgiveness and grace.  Ultimately, it can cost rejection, but if it is in line with Christ, it is worth it.

When the world walks in sin, like we do ourselves, we must step out of discipleship and into evangelism. Jesus was a revolutionary teacher of peace and of LOVE in a time of arrogant legalism and religious politics. Truth be told, times were very politically extreme like it is today. If we aren’t perfect, like He was, which we are not, we can’t have the same righteous anger. If we aren’t transparent and humble, walking in grace and love, then we are not following the words of Christ. Our words and actions at all times are our evangelism. If they aren’t in line with scripture, we have too much work to do on ourselves before we put ourselves in a role of leadership. Period.

In the end, Grace wins.  I think The Message version sums it up best.

43-47 “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

48 “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”