Category Archives: DEVOTIONALS

The unseen wind of the Spirit

Image result for royalty free picture of morning in the city“As you do not know the path of the wind”  I stepped from the bus onto the sidewalk and into that strange light of predawn, just before orange enflames the edge of gray sky. I hitched the straps to my purse and lunch bag higher on my left shoulder and glanced at the index card in my right hand.

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit] gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8, NIV)

The cold wind blew open the flap of my coat, partly exposing a bright pink dress, one of three from my Mom. The pink clashed with the burgundy walking shoes, also a gift from Mom, but I was grateful the dress was not frayed and that the shoes were not tennis shoes, which they would have been but for her generosity.

As I walked, the biting wind whipped across the empty lots here at the edge of downtown, chilling my fingers holding the index card. I found myself wishing for gloves. As a single mom, money was spent with care, as was time. Each hour from pickup to bedtime I focused on my daughter. Bible study and prayer came after she was asleep or before she woke. Travel to and from the office was for memory work.

As I burrowed into my coat, I focused on verse 8. “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

“Yes!” I thought, “you cannot see the wind, but you know it is there by the effect it has, like moving tree branches. And the same with God’s Spirit. We know He is there by the effect He has!”

I pondered that nugget all that long day at the office. More often than I can count through the ensuing 30 plus years God has brought that truth to mind, just when I needed it. I am grateful for every bit of Bible truth I have hidden in my heart, but I do wish I had been more consistent with memory work. Why is memorizing the Bible so difficult?

Image result for royalty free clip art of hard workWhy does Bible memory seem so hard? Three obvious reasons come to mind.

[1] The enemy of our souls understands and fears the Word of God, so he attacks with all his might to keep us from getting the Word safely inside our heart, where he cannot steal it and where we have it ready to use at a moment’s notice. God’s Word is a blessed shield and sword in battles where the enemy shoots arrows of thoughts that can lead to negative emotions, such as anxiety and depression.

[2] An “I can’t” mind set. It may take countless repetition (especially if you are older, like me!) but we can do it. You did memory work at one time in your life or else you would not be reading these words. Our minds are not as quick as when we were children, but God will help us as we try.

[3] Making new habits takes persistent effort. Again, God will help if we try.

How to memorize. Hiding the Word in our heart is God’s will so we can ask for help, with confidence. “And we are confident that He hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases Him. And since we know He hears us when we make our requests, we also know that He will give us what we ask for.” (I John 4:15-16, NLT)

[1] Be strategic. Use a concordance to pick a verse or passage in your area of greatest personal need.

[2] Focus on one phrase at a time. Repeat that over and over until you know it. Do the same with another phrase. Then link the two phrases, repeating them until you know them both. Continue.

Image result for Royalty Free Clipart Of Index Cards[3] Keep the Word you are memorizing before your eyes. Carry your index cards with you and look at them during the day. Post another copy of your verse on your bathroom mirror, over the coffee maker, or the sun visor of your car. This is one modern-day version of Deuteronomy 6:7-9, of talking about the Word all day long and of keeping it visible before your eyes, as a reminder. If you have children, follow God’s command in Deuteronomy 6:7-9 and talk about the Word with them throughout the day.

[4] Be systematic and keep a record. Begin with your area of greatest need and ask God to lead you from there. Maintain a list of the verses you have memorized and review them regularly.

Benefits of memory work. Again, there are multiple benefits of hiding God’s word in your heart.

[1] You can resist the enemy at the outset of temptation or weakness, immediately and in instances where you cannot access a Bible, like Jesus did in Luke 4.

[2] God will bring verses to your mind when you need them, for yourself or for others. (Matthew 10:19)

[3] You will experience greater understanding in your Bible study, because you will have a bigger foundation of Bible facts in your mind. (Isaiah 28:10)

[4] You are obeying God and He will bless you. (Jeremiah 7:23)

My recent experience with memorizing. God has been so very gracious this past year to help me overcome life-long depression and fear. Diligent studying of the Word in my areas of need has made the biggest difference. I had to dig into the Bible for myself, me and Holy Spirit alone, rather than rely on what someone else had dug out of the Word. Memorizing scriptures has been a key factor as well. During my routine at the gym, while watching my grandkids play in a park, while standing in line at the grocery store, throughout the day I repeatedly repeated phrases from notes I carried with me everywhere.

Image result for royalty free picture of grass blowing in the windHis Word bears fruit in the garden of the heart over and over.   I got the idea for this blog post late one afternoon, while returning home after playing with my grandsons all afternoon. Leaving the warmth of family and facing the empty-feeling condo can be hard. But, I noticed the wind gently bending the lush grass bordering the sidewalk. Suddenly, I remembered that morning, more than 30 years ago and how often that piece of the living Word in John 3 had helped. And I found myself repeating the chain of scriptures I had memorized about God’s love and tender care. With my mind turned back to God–and out of the self-pity snare — the Lord, my Barny cat and I had a wonderful evening together.

I urge you: Persist! Perhaps you are like me, with years of sporadic memory work. Friend, you and I must in this, like Paul, forget what lies behind and press on in our journey with God. Ask God for His forgiveness, avoid that deadly snare of regret, and move forward, knowing that God delights in your efforts to draw closer to Him! He will help you. It may be in ways you do not understand and could never imagine. . .

“As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in the womb, so you do not understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.” Ecclesiastes 11:5-6

 

No way? No way!

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Nature does the impossible. The sound of the chain saw ripped the air as savagely as it ripped into the root of the grandfather oak. I thanked God for my friend who was leaning over, holding the chain saw over the exposed root of the tree. That root had travelled ten feet from the base of the tree, under the patio slab and on under the building, finally entwining itself around the water pipe, which had caused my kitchen wall in the kitchen to leak water.

“No doubt” I mused, “The folks who drew up blueprints for this townhome complex thought that they had positioned the buildings far enough away from the oak trees.

But they had not reckoned with the power of nature.

It only takes a little reaching out.  While in a group therapy session for depression, I heard a powerful metaphor about making even tiny efforts.  The illustration was that plant roots have tiny hairs reaching toward sources of water. Growth requires only an almost microscopic root hair reaching out. What a deep spiritual parallel for me!

Image result for Royalty Free Clipart of A Mustard SeedFaith like a mustard seed.  Psalm 103 says God remembers that we are frail humans and that He always keeps that mind. He knows we are weak and that believing things we cannot see is hard. That is why He does not require perfection – just a whole-hearted commitment. (Deuteronomy 6:5; Ecclesiastes 12:13; Micah 6:8). Surely that is one reason why Jesus comforts us in Matthew 17:10 with the promise that, with a tiny bit of faith, no bigger than a mustard seed, nothing will be impossible for us. Sometimes my faith feels about one sixteenth of an inch, but God keeps it alive and reaching out.

No way is there no way with God! The Bible is filled with stories of how God did the impossible for His children. Consider the Red Sea, the fiery furnace, Jericho, and Goliath. God made dry land appear in the middle of the sea, prevented three Hebrews from being burned while in the middle of a raging fire, made the walls of a fortified city fall down, and enabled a young shepherd boy to kill a giant with one small stone in a slingshot.

However—and here is the hard part—the Israelites had to step into the sea before it parted. The three Hebrews had to stand up for God and face the consequences. The Israelites had to march around Jericho a total of 13 times, and David had to step toward what appeared certain death. Likewise, you and I must take steps of faith, though we may feel afraid and though it may look impossible.

God will help us. Beloved, no matter how weak our faith, or how seemingly impossible our situation, God will help. He cares for every detail in the life of His children (Psalm 34:23). That means the same omnipotent God who created and sustains the universe, the same loving One who did all those miracles in the Bible,  is working in our lives. Our victory in Him requires only a tiny bit of faith, and stepping out (James 2:14-26).

And how do we get more faith and strength for that step?  Romans 10:17 in the NKJ says: “So, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Friend, let us study our Bible and so increase our faith that we may reach out to take hold of God’s promises with whatever measure of faith we have.

God is our “Way Maker, Miracle Worker, Promise Keeper, Light in the darkness” as the song by Sinach says. Click on the link below to see the comforting, faith-building words of this worship song and let your faith arise!

https://sifalyrics.com/sinach-way-maker-lyrics

 

 

 

God will always give us a hug

God knows when we need extra hugs.  “Meeow!” I ignored the sad sound and kept typing.

“Meeow!”

“You’re okay Barny. I’m working. In a minute. . . “

On the third meow, I put my laptop on the table, picked up the cat brush, and sat on the floor, pulling my beloved Tonkinese close, resting my forehead on his. His quiet purr revved up to a louder pitch as I rubbed his ears and crooned to him. When I pulled back and began brushing his coat, he pressed his head into my leg, a posture I had learned meant he wanted more face time, forehead to forehead. I put the brush down, leaned over and crooned “Good boy, Barny. Love you baby. You are my sweet friend.” Then he went back to sit quietly on his corner of my desk. My faithful and loving companion had craved just a few moments of my time and my affection, nothing else.

God’s love is available to us.  Because it has been a topic of recent study and writing, Image result for royalty free picture of child hand reaching to parent handsmany scriptures come to mind about seeking God’s presence. Two stand out: “God is with you while you are with Him.” (2 Chronicles 15:2) and “He earnestly imprints on His heart that we are just dust.” (Psalm 103:14, AMP.)  

God really is with us while we are with Him. 2 Chronicles 15:2 in the Amplified is “God is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him [inquiring for and of Him, craving Him as your soul’s first necessity], He will be found by you.” God is clearly saying that if we seek Him whole-heartedly, we will find Him. Unfortunately, I sometimes ignore my beloved Barny’s  whole-hearted plea for the comfort of my love and affection. How blessed we frail human beings are that our God is perfect and knows our thoughts (Psalm 139)! As our perfect Father, He knows when we need that extra reassurance, and the comfort of being especially aware of His presence.

God has imprinted our human frailties on His heart (Psalm 103:14). Psalm 103 is one of my go-to passages when I have stepped into the snares of fear and worry. Verse 13Image result for royalty free picture of parent carrying child reassures me that just like a father has compassion on his children, or loves and pities them, God “. . . loves and pities those who fear Him – with reverence, worship and awe.” Why is that? Verse 14 says because “He [earnestly] remembers and [imprints on His heart] that we are dust.” Human parents will instinctively pick up a tired child, soothe a crying  child, and feed a hungry child. When a nursing mother hears her infant’s cry, her milk is released or “lets down” – by instinct, automatically, with no effort on her part because that response is imprinted on her heart. 

Friend, our needs provoke a far more powerful response from our loving Father. All we have to do is ask and we will receive His mercy and loving-kindess, which endure forever. (Psalm 136:23) 

God hears our every cry. If I can be mindful of the tender nature and needs of my little pet, how much more is my almighty, merciful and kind heavenly Father aware of when I need some extra love from Him? No matter how low some moments of daily life may seem, I can remind myself that God has promised to deliver me out of all my troubles. “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their distress and troubles” (Psalm 34:19, AMP.)

The heart of that little drummer boy

 Piano lessons. As a girl, I took piano lessons, which meant practice! I began in fourth grade, when practice consisted of a few minutes a day after homework was finished, before I could go play baseball in the empty lot next door with my brothers and other neighborhood kids. As I grew older, practice sessions grew as did my pleasure in playing. I began getting up early to practice before school. Image result for royalty free picture of upright piano

Like many families in those times, we had a living room we seldom used. It could be, and usually was, closed off by a sliding pocket door that disappeared into the wall. On those early mornings, with darkness still at the windows, Daddy already at work, Mom having morning devotions in the family room and my two brothers still sleeping, I slowly slid that door open, relishing the cooler air of that isolated room, the lemony scent of furniture polish wafting from the piano, and that not quite dusty but distinctive smell of infrequently used rooms.

Youthful dreams of a youthful heart. Some mornings, before I crossed the room to the light switch, I stood in front of the picture window, another popular feature of mid-century homes, and gazed at the few lighted windows in the houses of our neighborhood, the sparse street lights, and the brightly lit convenience store at the foot of the rolling hill atop which our house sat, imagining I was gazing at the night-time streets of New York, where I dreamed of living as a writer. Then I turned to the piano and opened the sheet music, edged with purple, with the profile of a little boy and a drum.Image result for royalty free picture of neighborhood at night

That winter of seventh grade, Mrs. Rich was teaching me how to play with more expression, which was proving to be a much-needed outlet for my overly sensitive, adolescent soul. I leaned over the piano, intent on gently playing, four times, the chord that repeats throughout the tender song. Then I sang quietly while I played, “Come, they told me, pa rum pa pum. A newborn king to see, pa rum pa pum. . . “

The anointing God has placed upon that song calmed my heart, even though I did not know Jesus at that time. I played it so often that the entire family could join in. The love and comfort of that tender melody soothed the simmering emotional storms. Fifteen years later, I finally opened my heart to that awesome King I had been singing about and found His gifts of real love and real peace.

A gift fit for our King. Throughout the Christmas season we often hear that much-loved song. What a stirring thought that the little drummer boy perceived the deity of the tiny baby in the manger and wanted to give Him a gift fit for a king! Sweetest of all is the bashful gratitude the little boy expresses as he perceives that playing his drum has pleased the tiny king. “Then, He smiled at me, pa rum pa pum. . . rum pa pum. . . me and my drum.” Image result for royalty free picture of little drummer boy

I, too, have no gift that’s fit to give the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.   However, like the little drummer boy playing his best, I can live my best for our risen Lord. I can fulfill Romans 12:2 which urges “. . . offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–which is your spiritual act of worship. (NIV)”

Listen friend! Do You hear His love, do you perceive His smile of pleasure as you offer yourself a living sacrifice, striving to please Him in all that you do? “Pa rum pa pum, rum pa pum, rum pa pum.”

Dear Father,

Thank You for sending Your Son to be our Savior. Thank You for showing us clearly in the Bible how to please You. Holy Spirit, teach us how to live our lives as a gift. We love You, Lord! Happy Birthday Jesus!

Hark! The herald angels sing . . .

 

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(To the tune of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, by Charles Wesley, music by Felix Mendelssohn)

Look! The Lord my God is near. He will keep me safe from fear.
Though the enemy roar, God is king forevermore.
I submit to God’s great hand. He will lift me up to stand.
Casting all my care on Him, on His love I can depend.
Look! The Lord my God is near. He will keep me safe from fear.

I can keep my self controlled. God Himself indwells my soul.
I’m alert, and I watch out for the devil prowls about.
I resist him, I stand strong though the trial might feel long,
In my weakness, He gives grace, so I rise and run my race!
I can keep my self controlled. God Himself indwells my soul!

My God covers me with peace, all my fears and worries cease!
He will keep me in His rest as I think on what is best.
In my weakness, He is strong. He will keep me from all wrong.
I will walk with Him in love. I will keep my mind above.
My God covers me with peace. All my fears and worries cease!

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God Himself has full control. He who rules earth rules my soul!
He will give me grace to fight. We will win o’er darkest night!
Nothing that attacks me stands, for He holds me in His hand
God is faithful. He will save! This the banner that I wave!
God Himself has full control. He who rules earth rules my soul!

Charles Wesley wrote more than 6,700 hymns. In his book “Amazing Grace, 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions”, Kenneth Osbeck comments that many of Charles Wesley’s hymns “clearly present biblical doctrine in poetic language.” (p. 374)

I have earnestly prayed that the words I have written to this beloved Christmas carol accurately reflect biblical doctrine. I also pray that the living Word of God will speak to you and have His way with your soul, for we know that His Word is “. . . alive and full of power—making it active, operative, energizing and effective” (Hebrews 4:12, AMPC) May God’s miracle of music help imprint these truths deeply in your heart.

Love and prayers,
Freda

Finding peace, in a park

Time to stop fretting myself. “Yes, darling, you can run ahead to the playground. I’m right behind you.”

My grandsons, six and a half and almost eight, ran at top speed toward the play equipment in the center of Garrison Park. I swung my big green bag to my left hip, holding the big thermos of cold water in my right hand. The bag—the same type of nondescript, reusable grocery bag I used for years as my “Nana” day bag when I spent weekday mornings with my preschool darlings—contained a snack for the boys, my cell phone and a lime green folder. The folder contained three different bunches of paper, paper clipped together, filled with margin notes, crossed out lines, and numbered points, the fruit of a two-month struggle to write the second in a series of blog posts about seeking the presence of God.

The boys raced over a field of grass lightly browned from lack of rain. Soon, it would be truly brown from the frost of fall mornings. I sighed as I trailed slowly behind them. I was not ready for change, for the boys to continue growing up, and not ready for autumn, my favorite season. I had planned to have so much more writing done by now!

I had been counting my blessings all morning, struggling to maintain a positive attitude as I had struggled at the computer for four hours.

“Thank You, Father, for the idea to take the boys to the park. How sad it would have been to miss this good time with them because I was cooped up, fretting about my work for You.”

I paused in my thoughts. Wow! In that moment, truth shifted my perspective and my feelings. I knew God did not want any of His children to stress about doing their work for Him, whatever that work is. Jesus says, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30. KJV) And God tells us to rejoice always, so that means each minute of our day, which includes work of all kinds.

After seeing that Ben was on the slide and Ansel was on the ramp, I sat on the fully shaded wrought-iron bench. Wind blew, gently, starting at the top of the old oaks bordering the playscape. Like an invisible curtain, the wind swirled around and downward, small brown leaves polka dotting its movement and making the unseen visible.

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Accepting change. Autumn was in process. Change was coming, no matter how much I wished for delay.

Cars whizzed by on Stassney, which bordered the park’s western edge. Swings creaked, back and forth. Creak, c-r-e-a-k. Cool air caressed my cheek. Children shouted and laughed and yelled, each of them all at once, a soothing, happy sound. The hamburgers for the birthday party folks at those three picnic tables smelled tasty. A father in a red shirt goo-gooed at a tiny toddler in a white-laced playsuit as he pushed her on the baby swings.

I ponder. In the last seven years how many memories have I stored up from this park, memories of collecting rocks and acorns, building fairy houses out of twigs, marking our path in the dirt with a stick as we took an adventure hike on the trails. How many? I recognize the distinctive sound of Ansel laughing and wonder how close humans come to the capacity of sheep and other animals to distinguish the cry of their own young from others.

The heart of a child about my work for God. I brought the boys here so they would have a fun outing. I also brought my request to God, a request as tangible as the green folder holding the paper-clipped pages.

“Father, keep speaking to me, as I look at the trees and children and listen to the birds. Speak to me about peace regarding my work for You. Lately I always feel I am not doing enough or doing it well enough.”

I watched Ben huddle with three other boys atop the monkey bars, pointing and, as usual I was sure, giving directions. My eyes roved over the whole playscape, gazing at kids running after each other, jostling to climb up ladder to the slide and sitting on the ground, splitting up a crinkled Hershey bar.

Do these children fret about their work, this task of growing up that they are eagerly doing this moment? No! Why? Because it is in their nature to trust their parents and to enjoy each moment as it comes.

“Okay, Lord, I get it. Thank You! I know our work for You will sometimes be difficult but You never want us to fret about it. You tell us to approach You like the little children we are and to trust You. I do know how often You warn against worry and fretting and I know Your Word is filled with reassurances against fear. Oh, Father! Give me the heart of a child about our work! Help me remember Your many reassurances – that You work everything out for our good, that You busy yourself with each detail of our lives, that You show us the way to go if we ask You, that You make our plans succeed if we commit them to You, and so many more life-giving promises, Lord!“

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Ansel walked slowly toward me,  flushed from running, sweat on the edges of his hairline, face filled with the frustration of being little brother. I patted the seat beside me, handed him the thermos of cool water, and he leaned against me. I took out some clean paper from the folder, drew a tic-tac-toe square, and handed him the pencil. Soon big brother walked towards our bench, sat on my other side, and took big gulps of water. I gave him a sideways hug, and kissed the top of his head, inhaling deeply.

His hair smelled of sunshine, fresh air, and a healthy little body, exactly like his Mother’s at that age. Impossibly sweet, touching memories. Ben took his turn with the pencil next, drawing stick figures and asking how I draw feet for stick figures.

A beautiful dance. I wish I could have a picture of us, an older woman in black shorts and stretched out turquoise tank top, support stocking on her left leg, a young boy with straight brown hair pressed against her right side, his small hand resting on her arm and another boy on her left side resting halfway in her lap, drawing.

I cannot take a picture, but, as I have learned, I can deeply imprint this memory on my heart by being fully present and letting love engrave the sights and sounds, the feelings and thoughts.

I smile, listen to the wind rustling the leaves, and enjoy the treasure of feeling cuddled.

“Thank You, Father! Thank You so much for these precious moments today. Help me remember that You care far more about me than about any work I can do for You. Help me trust and rest in You more. And Father, help me accept change. I know that as I yield to Your plans for my life, like brown leaves in this autumn wind, we will make a beautiful dance. I love You, Lord, and I trust You!”

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I need You, my Lord!

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Thank You, my Father, my Beloved, my One
for all You have given, for all You have done.
You stopped all the fighting, my struggling within.
Your love set me free from deliberate sin.

No more do I struggle with wanting to stray,
for Your spirit within me shows me Your way,
the way I should walk to glorify You,
to show Christ to the world in each thing that I do.

Let that be one offering of thanksgiving and praise,
for I am so grateful my Comforter stays. . .

. . . that Your Spirit indwells and evermore stays,
and comforts my heart through each of my days!
Your presence to stay and never to leave
is almost too much for my soul to believe,
for Father, I need You, oh! so desperately!
I need You, My Lord, to abide with me!

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Out of the Wilderness

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Out of the wilderness. Out of the wilderness, place of deep pain, my spirit has risen, refreshed as with rain.

My cold barren places He’s touched and He’s healed, for only in pain was my darkness revealed.

Only when hurting, all helpless, undone, only through trial was victory won.

Feelings (and “failures” do not matter) I wrote that a week and a half ago but today?  Today I’m not feeling victorious. My struggle with depression and anxiety has been long. I have times of victory, like when I wrote that poem,  but I have had dark days and trials that seemed more than I can bear.

My last post, “Never Give Up” was dated September 9, 2017, more than a year ago. At that time, I shared that I had not written for more than 10 months, but I was going to start again. I did not do that, though I tried.

God is faithful. Yet, here I am now, writing mainly, I think, dear reader, to encourage myself. I need to declare that God is faithful, and that He is good. Our loving Heavenly Father has been true to His promises – He has rescued me and protected me all along this path, even though it has been and is still hard. And He is the One I am counting on now, to finish this good work of healing He has started.

So, as I said more than a year ago, dear friend:  Whatever you are going through, no matter how hard it is, know deep in your heart that God loves you and He is working on your behalf.

God will deliver us. God DOES have victory stored up for the upright, no matter what our feelings may say today. (He holds victory in store for the upright, He is a shield to those who walk is blameless. Proverbs 2:7, New International Version.)  And He promises that, although weeping may endure for a while, JOY WILL COME. ( … weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.  Psalm 30:5 NIV)

Joy is coming! Read the words below out loud, and may the living Word of God comfort your heart, as it comforts me.

“I fear not, for God is with me; I am not dismayed, for He is my God. He will strengthen me, yes, He will help me. He will uphold me with His righteous right hand.  (Isaiah 41:10 New King James Version)

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Never give up!

Image result for free picture of discouragementDo not give up when you (just) need to get up! You know, I began this post with a no-matter-how-tired-I-am-or-how-long-it-takes-I’m-going-to-start-blogging-again-today-attitude. But I had no idea what to write. That, alone, made me want to give up. So did confronting truth. For the last ten months, I had not written, which is my main work for God.

Fear and discouragement. What happened? Fear and discouragement. Two times in those months, I had to adjust daily habits because of new health issues. I made those adjustments but still did not resume writing. Why? I gave in to fear and discouragement — even though I know God is taking care of me, that it is He who works in me, and that if I try to serve Him with all my heart, He is responsible for the outcome, not me. Yet, the enemy of our souls, the devil, is crafty and, as John 10:10 says, ” … the thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy.” (NIV) His goal is the same for all of us.

Do not let the enemy steal what Christ died to give you. In John 10: 1-21, Jesus gives us the parable “The Good Shepherd and His Sheep.” A good shepherd risks his very life for his sheep, lying down at night across the entrance into the sheep pen, ready to fight off wolves and other predators. Not only was He willing, but Jesus did indeed give His life for us. And our beloved Jesus said “I came that they may have and enjoy life and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows.) (Amplified Version).

Notice that Jesus said He came so we could have life AND enjoy life AND have it in abundance. The devil is always fighting against what God is doing. He fights to stop people from believing in God, then he fights to keep them from following God, and then he fights to keep them from having an abundant life.  

Jesus gives an abundant life. Abundant life includes the joy of sharing God with others by using the gifts God has given us. This is what the enemy of our souls stole from me — for a little while– by making me feel afraid and making me feel discouraged. Notice the word feel.

Fear and discouragement are only feelings. Among his other traits, the devil is a liar. I may feel that I will not be able to write but First John 4:4 tells me that the One who lives in me, Jesus, is stronger than the devil, who is in the world. I may feel discouraged, but in Isaiah 41:10 my loving heavenly Father tells me, “… do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

I still feel some fear and doubt, but in Christ we can do all that we need to do! We can quench the flaming arrows of fear that come from the enemy by resisting him with the Word, just like Jesus did.

Try one more time! So I say, dear friend: whatever it is that you have been afraid to do for God, don’t give up! Ask God for His guidance about it and then rely on His strength. When God calls us to do something, He will supply all that we need to do it. All we need do is get up and stop sitting down where we fell down! We can trust God, ask Him to help us stand and then to walk and then to continue serving Him where we left off. He does not condemn or criticize us for falling down! He is close to the brokenhearted and He saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18, NIV)

God understands how we feel! Jesus is our great High Priest who has felt everything we will ever feel and so very much more. God has no favorites. If He can help me resume writing, after ten months of fear and failures, He can help you do whatever He has called you to do to help others Just stand up and lean on Him, not your own understanding and He will guide your path, as He promises in Proverbs 3:5-6.

When we stand up and step out, we may not hear trumpets but, believe me, they are sounding in heaven itself! When we seek to serve God by sharing His truth and His love, the God of angel armies is by our side!

Dear Father in heaven, thank You for once again giving clear guidance to Your child. Forgive me for procrastination, for yielding to fear and discouragement and laziness and whatever else was going on inside that I cannot even identify. I ask for Your help in faithfully ministering this gift of writing. I ask that You help anyone reading this to continue ministering their own gifts to others, whatever those gifts may be. Empower us as we live each day to bless those You put into our path. We love You Jesus! Amen.

Feelings come, but they don’t stay!

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To the tune of “Jesus loves me” —

Feelings come, but they don’t stay. Feelings always fly away. You might be mad, or even sad but very soon you will be glad. No, feelings don’t stay! No, feelings don’t stay! No, feelings don’t stay!  Feelings fly away!

I cradled my grandson closer to my chest, laid my cheek atop his fawn brown hair, crooned the words softly, and inhaled the clean scent of sunshine. He was, once again, having a hard time being four years old.

A few weeks ago, I had been praying for my grandsons and also studying how to help them handle feelings, a challenge for any preschooler. One morning during devotions, “Feelings come, but they don’t stay … “  floated into my mind, a simple and tender gift from God for them.

I have sung the little song about feelings often to both of my grandsons and have heard big brother sing them to little brother, too. I have sung them to myself while I’ve been studying fear, and getting at the root of the causes of fear in my life. The best thing I’ve learned so far is to meditate upon how much God loves me and to remind myself how powerful God is, that He is the absolute ruler of the universe. That makes the fearful feeling indeed fly away – like a butterfly!

God cherishes us! First John 4:16 says, “And we know (understand, recognize, are conscious of, by observation and by experience) and believe (adhere to and put faith in and rely on) the love God cherishes for us. God is love, and he who dwells and continues in love dwells and continues in God, and God dwells and continues in him.” (the Amplified Bible)

Notice the word cherishes. If the One who established north and south, the One who told the waves where to halt, the One who sees each bird of the air and each flower of the field, the One who sent His Son to die for me so that I might have intimate communion with Him – if that One is the One who cherishes me, dotes on me, keeps me in His mind, adores me and holds me dear, how can I not trust Him to take care of whatever has troubled my little heart? Oh, for the heart of a little child!

Jesus loves me! Jesus loves me, this I know! For the Bible tells me so. Little ones, to Him belong. They are weak, but He is strong!  Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me!  Yes, Jesus loves me – the Bible tells me so!

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