Category Archives: GRATITUDE

God busies Himself with your details

Little details are BIG. I signed in at the office and walked down the hall, gazing fondly at pages taped to walls, grouped by classroom, thickly-penciled letters sprawling above and below that distinctive blue-lined paper, with red dots splitting each line. The mashed-potatoes-and-baking-bread smell led me to the cafeteria, filled with mostly empty metal folding chairs.

“Whew!” I took a seat on the front row. Waiting for fifteen minutes was a small price to ensure Haskell saw me. I touched the gold-plated spiral pin clipped to the neck of my tank top and tugged my long skort forward to cover more of two pudgy knees. Haskell would think I was gorgeous, that was all that mattered.

I talked with the mom who joined me on the front row, musing that she was about the age of my daughter, who had to work this morning. Then, students filed in, class by class, the principal welcomed everyone to the award ceremony, and called the two kindergarten classes to the stage.

Haskell was the twelfth kindergartner in line. When he turned around, wide eyes searching the audience, I stuck my hand up high and waved. He smiled a tight, close-lipped smile and waved back, lifting his hand just above his waist.

“Had the teacher told them not to wave?” I wondered.

Then Haskell touched his neck, at the spot where I wore the pin and smiled the wide, full-hearted smile I loved. Tears sprang to my eyes as I touched my hand to the clip at my neck, nodded, and gave him two thumbs-up. After he had spotted that clip in Nana’s joo-ree box a few months ago, I had worn it, whenever he asked, which was often, and wherever he wanted, which included the gym and the grocery, and while vacuuming, delighted that he wanted to decorate his Nana.

“Thank You, Lord, that I remembered this little detail. It is huge to him!”

Image result for royalty free clip art of footstepsTeach me gratitude, Lord, for Your daily attention to details of my life. As I drove back home, I reflected on what I remembered of Psalm 37:23, that God busies himself with the steps of the righteous. When I got home, I looked it up:

“The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step]. (Psalm 37:23, AMPC)

“Oh, Father” I said. “I was overjoyed when Haskell noticed I had worn our special pin. His smiling face said ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you, Nana!’ Father, help me remember to thank You, with my whole heart and a big smile, for the countless details of everyday life You prepare just for me, like songs on the radio, a text from a friend and smiles from strangers, just when I need them. You truly do arrange every detail of the life we share, don’t You, Lord?”

Teach me gratitude, Lord, for Your new mercies that come every day. “And make me more mindful for the big things You give day after day, like the breath of life, food, a home, a loving family, and most of all the privilege of knowing You. Truly, Father, Your faithfulness is great, just like You show us in Lamentations 3:22-23, “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

I paused, seeing the dining table of my childhood, Daddy at the head of the table, orange knotty pine wall behind him, lengthening late afternoon shadows visible through the window, the view partly obscured by drapes embossed with turquoise flowers. Daddy taught us to thank Mother for supper, and my two brothers and I did, in our own words, and, as I recall, using the same words each time – “Thanks Mother. It was good.” “Thank you, Mother. ‘ppreciate it.” and “Thank you, Mother, for a good supper.” She had always smiled and given each of us a sincere “You’re welcome!”

“But how much more would she have appreciated our thanks,” I pondered, “If we had said, ‘The meatloaf was great tonight!’ or ‘Your biscuits and gravy are the best!’ or ‘That fried chicken was sooo good!”

She never got tired of hearing us thank her, and You never get tired of hearing us thank You either, do you Lord? So thank You, Father, again, for my family, thank You that I have a car to drive to Haskell’s school, thank You . . . “

Royalty Free Pic of Open Bible

Teach me gratitude that You are the loving Father who teaches us. I sat at my desk and opened the three Bibles I use most often when I write. I wanted to check my memory. As I read verse 22, I saw it was connected to verse 23. Psalm 37:22-23 said:

  • (New Living) “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.”
  • (New International) “If the LORD delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD holds him with his hand.”
  • (Amplified Classic) “The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step]. Though he falls, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord grasps his hand in support and upholds him.” (Psalm 37:23-24, AMPC)

As I compared translations, I marveled again at how Holy Spirit deepens our understanding when we focus and try earnestly to understand God’s Words. As I read and reread the verses, cause and effect linkages emerged:

[1] When we live a godly life, God delights in our way, or our manner of life.

[2] When God delights in how we are living, He busies Himself with every detail of our lives,

[3] Because of [1] and [2], even though we stumble and fall, we will not stay down because the LORD holds our hand and supports, sustains, and strengthens us.

At first glance, the NIV and NLT, which said we would never fall, seemed to disagree with the AMPC, which indicated we would fall.

Image result for Royalty Free Picture of Father And CHILD Walking“Hmmm, Lord? What is the key to understanding this? Well, if I think of a father holding the hand of a little child as they walk together, that child could stumble and fall, but a loving, attentive father, like You are, Lord, would grasp that little hand even more tightly the moment the child began falling so that the child would fall only to his knees and not all the way to the ground, as he would have if the father were not holding his hand and pulling him back up.

Oh, Father! Teach me to always, always, always hold on to Your mighty hand! Let me be grateful You hold my hand. Let me not resist but agree willingly when Your hand tugs me in a specific direction. Keep teaching me to have the same mind as You, to agree with You, so that we can walk together (Amos 3:3). Keep my feet on the paths of righteousness that lead to eternal life. (Proverbs 12:28) What comforting reassurance these verses bring! Thank You, Lord!

Image result for royalty free PICTURE OF SCROLLTeach me to rightly divide Your Word. I closed my eyes and searched for words to express my gratitude. “Thank You, Father, for teaching me to look at more than just one verse. Otherwise, today, I would have missed the connection between verse 22 and verse 23.”

Recently, God had impressed on me the importance of studying out the context of verses I memorized and ones that reappeared in teachings and sermons I heard.

At minimum, I had learned to scan several verses before and after any one verse, checking for connecting words and phrases that indicated cause and effect, words like for, because, therefore, and so that. Ideally, I wanted to know the main message of the book of the Bible the verse was in, the historical, Biblical, and cultural context, a broad outline of the book and a detailed outline of the chapter.

“Well, no, I pondered. “Not just one chapter. I have learned that the original writings were not divided into chapter and verse. I see both missed blessings and danger in letting the thoughts of men, no matter how learned and holy they were, rather than Holy Spirit, determine for me where to “divide” the Truth.

Father, I will study out 2 Timothy 2:15 more but I do believe part of the meaning of “rightly dividing the Word of Truth” is to keep the passages that are all of one piece, as one piece in our thinking, rather than picking one or two verses here or there.

However, I do know that just one or two verses or brief passages can accurately be taught if the pastor or Bible teacher has followed 2 Timothy 2:15 and done the diligent, time-consuming study necessary for proper understanding. That is the spoon-feeding I had lapsed into for so long. Thank You, Father, for using fear and depression to make me desperate enough to study Your Word, diligently, for my personal needs.

Thank You, Father, for busying Yourself with the details of my life today by teaching me how to better study Your Word. It feels like You put truths there just for me, just like I wore that pin so that Haskell would know I was thinking about him, and so he could see that what was important to him was important to me. What a loving Father You are, Lord!

Thank You for Your great grace and Your mercies, which are new every morning, as You say in Lamentations 3:23. . . and I see that verse 22 says, “It is because of the LORD’s great love that we are not consumed because Your compassions never fail. And actually, that whole Chapter Three of Lamentations is so instructive, let’s see . . . let’s start at verse one and recall that the author is probably Jeremiah and that he was writing about. . .

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God’s Elixir of Gratitude

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Memories of gratitude. 62 degrees. No humidity. Sun beginning to set. A band of soft gray and beige and pink puffs stretches low above the horizon. I pause and stop to say “Thank You, Lord. Those are such beautiful colors and such pretty patterns.”

As I come around the corner of the building, loaded down with grocery bags, headed to my unit, suddenly I remember another early evening, rounding the corner of a building, loaded down with grocery bags, heading toward home. That evening was thirty plus years ago, when my daughter was 12.

Sharon had, as usual, phoned me when she got home from school. I had said I would pick up some videos after I got groceries and be home by six. A three-day weekend was coming up, for both of us. To help offset the fallout of my single parent finances, I made a celebration out of anything I possibly could. Our VCR player got lots of use as we curled up together under a blanket on the couch and ate popcorn. The hormonal storms of adolescence still a ways away, we had many sweet and tender times just being together that year.

I had not told her I would also get a box of fried chicken, a rare indulgence for our little family of two. As I rounded the corner that evening, toting the groceries, video and chicken, I felt an almost palpable reword sense of good will toward the whole world. I was simply grateful down to my bones that I could provide food, and even special treats like the fried chicken, and a few hours of entertainment that would delight my daughter. And I was beginning to finally feel secure in the job I had begun a few weeks earlier. The job had better benefits and we had health insurance now.

I rounded the corner, stood on the tiny stoop and, since I did not have a free knuckle, banged the bags against the door. Almost instantly, the door opened, and she reached to relieve me of some of the bags.

“Oh, Mama! You got three videos! And you got chicken, too!”

Happy tears blurred my vision as I looked into her bright eyes.

Grateful for feeling “Not bad”. Now, the bags looped around my fingers were cotton mesh, not the environmentally-unfriendly plastic of 30 years ago, and rather than anticipating a deeply delightful evening with my daughter, I was heading to my beloved rescued Tonkinese and my beloved Heavenly Father.

“Thank You, Lord, that I feel so much better today. Thank You that my eyes are not so swollen and I can breathe easily.”

Last night, at nine, I had had an anaphylactic reaction, the first in many years, so many that I no longer carried an epi pen. It had been a wild night, walking to the car with eyes swelling, tears gushing, throat swelling, driving to an urgent care clinic, only to find it closed then driving across town, then answering questions and signing papers at the front desk while thinking I might pass out, finally being given two shots and a breathing treatment, waiting three hours at the facility, then driving home, getting into bed at 5 a.m.

So, I was very grateful when I woke at one, feeling almost normal. It felt like a holiday to just get out and see the sun as I drove to the grocery and library. One blessing of trials is it feels so good when they are done!

“But, Lord,” I reflected as I put bananas on the countertop and stacked cat food in the cabinet, “help me be genuinely thankful all the time, not just when You have delivered me from a problem.”

Image result for Free Clip Art of TambourineI believe God loves it when we rejoice with Him when trials have ended and He has given a great victory, like when Miriam led the Israelites in singing on the other side of the Red Sea. Miriam took a timbrel and sang, “Sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously and is highly exalted; the horse and rider He has throw into the sea,” (Exodus 15:21, AMPC).

However, the Bible makes it plain we are to be thankful ALL the time. Why?

An attitude of gratitude is good medicine!  The dictionary defines elixir as a “magical or medicinal potion.” Another definition is “a particular type of medicinal solution.” (https://tinyurl.com/wfnrjh9). Like everything God tells His followers to do, being thankful is good for us. (“All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful to those who keep the demands of His covenant. Psalm 25:10, NIV). Being thankful is so powerful it does seem magical. No wonder God says to “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (I Thessalonians 5:18 NIV).

Why are we to do that? Two, of many reasons, are:

[1] God “. . . is good; for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever.” (Psalm 136). Thanking God, all the time, is simply the right thing to do.

[2] It brings us into His presence. “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise” (Psalm 100:4, NIV)

Image result for royalty free picture of neglected gardenCultivating the garden of your heart. I have learned, the hard way, that a constant attitude of gratitude is essential for me. Unless I am actively thankful for God’s blessings, the enemy soon steals my peace. I tried, for years, to be consistently thankful but it was like the parable of the sower in Matthew 13. Some seeds of gratitude I was trying to plant never got down deep into my heart, some landed in areas of my heart that were filled with the rocks of envy, jealousy and resentment, and some seeds of gratitude grew for a while but then worry about things of this world choked out the gratitude.

I finally saw that only God could remove the rocks, weeds and thorns. I had to ask Him to show me where the ugly things were, and then do my part. I saw that only God could provide good seed, and that I had to sow then water it by keeping His Word in my mind. I saw only God could make it grow, and that my part was to wait patiently, with hope, and to “Above all else, guard [my] heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23, NIV). After much work, for a long time, God did change my attitude, but it was a process of cultivation, like developing a garden.

Image result for Royalty Free Clip Art Of Gardening Tools And Seeds'The process of cultivation. To cultivate the good fruit of thankfulness in my heart, I had to:

[1] Clear my heart of rocks, weeds, and thorns and break up the soil. In ancient times, through the prophet Jeremiah, God pleaded with His people to return to Him, put away their idols and “break up your ground left uncultivated for a season, so that you may not sow among thorns.” (Jeremiah 4:3b, AMPC).

Father, help me root out the thorns of ungratefulness, bitterness, envy, jealousy, and resentment. Use Your Word to reveal the hidden thoughts and intents of my heart that I cannot perceive so I may confess, repent and be forgiven. (Hebrews 4:12)

[2] Plant good seeds. Galations 6:7 (NIV) tells us “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows”.

Father, You have provided all the seeds of truth that we need for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3). Help me sow bountifully so that I may reap bountifully from Your Word. (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)

[3] Water, watch and wait. Growing anything takes time but God helps us as we seek to grow, and He finishes what He starts. As Paul said “And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up until the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.” (Philippians 1:4, AMPC)

Father, help me be patient as You do what only You can do. (Revelations 4:11)

[4] Maintain the garden. Maintaining a garden requires regular watering, weeding, and removal of pests.

Father, help me always water the garden of my heart with the Living Water of Your Word (John 4:13-15). Show me the weeds and thorns (Matthew 13:7) and help me to take “. . . the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards [of our love], for our vineyards are in blossom (Solomon 2:14, AMPC)

Dear friend, as we both strive to become more grateful, I can only remind us both of God’s promise in 2 Corinthians 9:10-11:

“And [God] Who provides seed for the sower and bread for eating will also provide and multiply your [resources for] sowing and increase the fruits of your righteousness [which manifests itself in active goodness, kindness, and charity]. (AMPC)

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Unveiled blessings

 I do have a sunrise! 5 a.m. Still pitch black dark. Earthy smell of coffee in the chill aImage result for royalty free picture of hands holding coffee cupir. I pushed the covers off, went to the bathroom, then downstairs. The dim glow from the streetlight outlined the dark rectangle of the couch and coffee table. I turned on the stove light, poured a cup of coffee and went back upstairs, to the old recliner in the corner, by the open window. Here, in the back bedroom of my small townhome, a grandfather oak spread wide branches across the window, shielding the view from anyone standing below. I seldom closed it.

I kicked back in the recliner, cuddling the hot mug in my hands as I took that first blissful sip. Aaah. . . “Thank You, Father, for a good sleep. And for that automatic coffee maker! Hmmm, I can barely see a bit of blue-black at the horizon. Thank You so much, Father, for the gap in the branches there, to the east. It is in just the right spot so I can watch You change the sky. You know, it never gets old, Lord. How do You make it different every single day? You know, Father, I . . . “

That was twenty years ago, when I lived in Florida. I am very grateful for the two rooms that constitute my current home although two of its three windows face walls ten feet away. For the two years I have lived here, I have tried not to complain about the view. This morning, in the quiet half dark, I opened the blinds on the east-facing window and saw wide bands of blue and wisps of salmon-colored clouds. The blinds on that window usually stay closed until midday when the sun has relocated. I smiled, opened the blinds and had my morning cup of coffee with the Lord and His beautiful sunrise.

Why had I not seen that sunrise before? A profusion of coral crepe myrtle flowers covers that window most of the year. However, the lacey filigree of winter-bare branches now provides a view, like that open spot in those oak branches twenty years ago. I just have to look closely. Winter has removed what once blocked what was always there.

God’s pruning process. Sometimes God removes the good so we can see another or better good. In the first two verses of John 15, Jesus tells us:
1.  I AM the true Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser.
2. Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit – that stops bearing – He cuts away (trims off, takes away). And He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit.”

Image result for royalty free clipart of pruningThe second sentence of verse 2 tells me that I may be doing something good (bearing fruit) but that something good or another something good may be taken away, or pruned. God removes good things for the purpose of making me bear “more and richer and more excellent fruit.” Joyce Meyer shares her experience with God pruning her out of a fruitful job at a church and into the ministry He had prepared for her. She was producing good fruit in her work for God at that church, but God had in mind for her to “bear more and richer and more excellent fruit.” Think what you and I would have missed if she had not submitted to God’s pruning process!

Notice also in verse 2 that He repeatedly prunes His branches. Perhaps God’s plan for you, over a long span of years, is to work at your local church as greeter, then elementary teacher, and finally to supervise all Christian education in your church. God will lead clearly each step of our way (James 1:5-6), but we must keep saying yes to Him and keep following where He leads us (Hebrews 12, especially 6-13; Proverbs 1:23-33).

Image result for royalty free clipart of hand in cookie jarWhere am I looking? Although beauty and good are everywhere, focusing on one thing can block our view. Like a child who cannot withdraw the fist holding the cookie from the cookie jar, we sometimes want one thing so desperately that we miss another, more obvious good. I may despair that my preteen son will not sit and talk. But, if I look for the good in the situation, then I can enjoy his presence at mealtimes and while driving him to school. And I can do what I can about the situation, though it may cost me something, like watching a baseball game with him, or driving him and his friends to the field for extra batting practice.

John has a great job and a happy family but complains that his wife has changed after having three children. Sandra is retired, in good health and surrounded by loved ones but she sees only her small, though adequate, fixed income. You get the point.
If we focus on what we do not have, that thing grows. As we thank God for good things He has already given, gratitude grows and the good in our lives look larger.

Image result for royalty free picture of looking for somethingFind God’s good in your life. Friend, I urge you: find the good God has put in your life and dwell on it, relish it, thank Him for it and talk about it with Him. It may not be the particular thing you long for, but He has blessed you abundantly. Thank Him and praise Him! “Bless – affectionately, gratefully – praise the Lord, O my soul and all that is [deepest] within me, bless His holy name! (Psalm 103:1, AMPC) Thank our merciful and gracious Father for what you have, and you will be given something beyond price: the peace of His presence. It will also strengthen your faith if God is doing some pruning in your life.

If I looked with the discouraged, negative eyes of depression I used to have, I would see a tiny two-room condo, bordered on one side by a street unsafe at night; a twelve-year-old computer sitting on an ancient card table; to my left, mismatched bookcases perched on a beaten up desk, serving as hutches; a one-wall kitchen behind me; and to my right a saggy, fraying couch from the thrift store, flanked by a file cabinet at one end and a toy box at the other, serving as end tables.

But what I, by grace, see is: a blessed home office where I meet God each day as I write for Him, a blessed kitchen where I bake canned biscuits, to the delight of my grandsons; a blessedly-big comfy couch on which we sit while I read and snuggle with them . . .

“Whatsoever things are true. . .” Friend, I urge you again: find the good God has put in your life! What you focus on grows. First, take delight, purposefully, in God Himself and then in all that God gives you each day. (Psalm 37:4) I used to focus on the negative. Now, by grace, I focus on and look for the good. God shows it to me everywhere.

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8, KJV)

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!

Joy in the secret place

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Christmas carols. What is your favorite Christmas carol? Is it “Silent Night”? How about “Away in a Manger”? One of my favorites is “Joy to the World” because the words, the message, and the melody are all uplifting. Just humming the melody revives my spirit.

Carols for Consecration. I recently finished a booklet entitled “Carols for Consecration: Beloved Truths for Singing to the Melodies of Beloved Carols”. It contains new verses, expressing biblical truths, that can easily be be sung to the melodies of well-known Christmas carols. The booklet is available on this website on the Resources page.

One of my favorites in the booklet is “I Dwell in God’s Own Secret Place”. The recast verses proclaim some of the blessed truths in Psalm 91–and they fit the cheering melody of “Joy to the World.” (See below.)

Personally, the last few months have led me to seek God’s presence more than ever before. You may have passed through a similar process. It is indeed a joyful thing when we (finally) learn to abide in the secret place, with our minds fixed on Him! During this busy season, I pray you and I both will remember to “lean, rely, and trust” our loving Father.

“I Dwell in God’s Own Secret Place” for singing to “Joy to the World”

[1] I dwell in God’s own secret place.
He overshadows me.
His mighty power no foe can withstand. Image result for Royalty Free Clip Art of a Fortress
In Him I am at rest,
In Him I am at rest,
In Him, in Him I am at rest!

[2] I say of God, He is my Lord,
my Rock, my refuge.
On Him I lean, most confidently!
I lean, rely and trust,
I lean, rely land trust,
I lean, I lean, rely and trust!

[3] He rescues me, from every trap
because I dwell and trust.
He keeps me from all harm and deadly disease.
I live abundantly,
I live abundantly,
I live, I live, abundantly!Image result for royalty free picture of flying eagle

[4] He covers me with His great wings.
I trust and dwell in peace.
His promises my armor, His wings my steadfast shelter.
In Him I say “Rejoice!”,
In Him I say “Rejoice!”,
In Him, in Him, I say “Rejoice!”

I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, on Him I lean and rely and in Him I (confidently) trust! (Psalm 91:2 AMPC)

Love and prayers,
Freda

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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God loves you – earnestly!


Anxiety knocked. Don’t you love it when God speaks to you through events as clearly as if you could hear His voice with your physical ears? Anxiety kept knocking at my door today, but I resisted, cast my cares on God, and kept truths about God’s love and protection cycling through my brain whenever I was not actively engaged in other things.

Today, those other things included being at work, where the future existence of my job has been uncertain for months now. Once home, I made a long-dreaded call to a repair person and we fixed my problem over the phone. Although I had thought it would cost two hundred dollars minimum, God worked it out for free!

God showed up! And, the repair person was a believer! In the gaps while the computer was processing my information, I mentioned something about God and got a positive response. We chatted briefly about our favorite hymns and where we were in our daily devotions. I hung up the phone and whooped so loud I startled my cat! I had prayed late in the day for God to reassure me of His presence, just because I needed it. And He did!

As you will soon hear on this blog, I recently sensed God directing me to share my experiences with overcoming depression and anxiety now, rather than waiting until I feel I have it all together. This post is the first step of obedience about that.

Stay in the present moment, with your mind on God. I woke up this morning with the start of a poem: “Stay in this day; don’t fret His gifts away.” I see now that God was lovingly telling me how to have victory today. By His grace, I did focus on Him and I did do my work as if unto Him; therefore, when I came home I had a calm and grateful spirit, I was excited over the call about the repair and I wanted to write this post. God is soooooo good ALL the time!

Fight the good fight and earnestly believe the truth of these verses in Isaiah 30:15 and 18 (Amplified Classic version)

(v. 15) “For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: In returning [to Me}, you shall be saved; in quietness and in {trusting} confidence shall be your strength. . . (v. 18a) And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing} to be gracious to you and show loving-kindness to you. . . “

Did you catch that? God earnestly waits and longs to be good to us . . . if we will just trust Him! The One whose hand formed the mountains longs to abide with you and me. Ponder that!


God gave me love . . .

Thank You, dear Father in heaven, for my beautiful plants!  You know how each one delights me as I sit with You at sunrise and again at sunset. I see the fingers of Your dawn through a feathery fern, heart shaped ivy leaves, and the clustered leaves of my poinsettia. I see the last wistful glimmers of sun each evening through the scraggly arms of a plant I found by the dumpster but which has survived. 

And I am reminded of my own life.  You took what was a wrecked and painful heart and made it live and grow.  You gave me love, just like the song that led me to give my heart to You, Jesus.

And dear One, as I look up that song on the internet, tears flow at Your deep and tender stirring.  I remember that night, 35 years ago, as I cried out for help to I knew not who – and You answered with this song by B.J. Thomas on the car radio. 

Thank You, dearest Father, for healing all that pain and  bringing so much joy through all of these years.  Thank You for giving me a place of service, through writing, for others who need your love. Help them see that–though they may feel as undesirable and broken as a plant tossed in the trash–You long to heal them and make them whole and to fill them with Your peace and joy. 

Help them also learn to let Your love shine through them to reach other hurting souls. Show them that Your full love and Your full beauty reside in each heart given to Your service, no matter the outward appearance of the earthly tabernacle in which that heart dwells. 

Dear friend, listen to this song.  You will feel God’s love . . .

http://yhoo.it/29R9U4Z

Leaf in the Rain 3 1

Seven Reasons to Be Grateful. . . Every Day

Blue Sky

Everyone I know has problems, and sometimes they seem overwhelming. My personality type tends to fret and worry and see the negative – about everything!  But that is merely a tendency, and by the grace of God, I am getting better at replacing that negativity with a grateful attitude.

How I wish I had overcome this habit of mind years earlier!  Recent clinical research is repeatedly showing strong linkages between heart disease and negative states of mind, such as depression and anxiety. But I choose to look ahead, not behind. I am striving to do as the apostle Paul said in Phillipians 3:12, to “press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Jesus came so that we may have abundant life – not one filled with sorrow, sadness, and worry!

So, this day, although it is blisteringly hot in Texas and the world in general seems a dark place at this point in history, I am grateful that:

  1. God sent His beloved and only Son Jesus to save me from my sins and give me eternal life. (John 3:16)
  2. God promises to never leave me or forsake me – never, no never!
  3. God always empowers us to do whatever He tells us to do. Jesus said, “Be of good cheer because I have overcome the world!” We CAN have an upbeat attitude!
  4. God has given clear guidance in the Bible on how to live a blessed joyous life – I only have to study and apply what I learn.
  5. When I have doubts about how my life is turning out, I can rely on the promise in Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him [act like you know Him—my words] and He will direct your path.”
  6. James 1:5 reassures us that “If any of you lack wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” Verses 6 through 8 tell us that we must believe and not doubt that God will give us wisdom. Remember: He empowers us to do what He tells us to.
  7. Finally, when doing the things listed above seems hard, I read Psalm 103 over and over and over. I especially focus on verses 11 through 14:  

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.  As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.

As I gaze at the clear blue sky, that vast expanse of moisture that cradles the earth, I marvel at God’s unavoidable reminder of His love and compassion for us. He has placed His blue heavens over every human being on our planet, just like a human father tenderly places a soft blanket over his sleeping child. How dare I doubt His love?

Blue Sky

 

Six No-Cost Ways to Encourage Yourself

We All Need Encouragement

Every human being  has some ho-hum days and some days when they just feel down.  It is part of the human condition.  Sometimes, such days are indicators that we need to take time to consider how we are living and whether we need to make some changes.  Other days are just those ho-hum days.

God Longs to Give You Comfort and Hope

Here  are five cures for those days when you just feel your life is blah, though you know it is not.

  1. Simply talk to God, out loud , just as if He were a human being and could not understand you unless you spoke in actual words. Putting words to our feelings always calms us down because it prevents wild thoughts from spinning around and around inside.  God wants us to bring each detail of our life to Him, the good and the bad.  He tells us that in I Peter, chapter 5, verse 7:  “Cast all your anxiety on Him [God] because He cares for you.” [emphasis added]    It often helps to write out your prayers to God.
  2. Count your blessings – literally. Start making a list.  Here is a link to several versions of the beautiful hymn that says to “Count your many blessings, name them one by one. . . and it will surprise you what the Lord has done. ” Listen, really listen, to the words.   http://yhoo.it/1SHAXP0
  3. Get the focus off yourself by calling a friend who is going through hard times and give them the encouragement you wish you could hear for yourself. Do this in a conscious effort to obey God by helping to carry each other’s burdens. (Galations 6:2) http://bit.ly/23vE1lk   You simply cannot “outgive” God.  He always rewards obedience.  Try it and see.
  4. Soak your heart in the Psalms, or your other favorite Bible passages. Here is a link to a list of six Psalms that will encourage you, along with comments by a pastor, Zac Poonen, of a church in Colorado. http://bit.ly/1NCSfoR
  5. Listen to uplifting music. Try some of the 30  uplifting  Christian songs listed at this link.  Whether you feel like it at this moment, you ARE  an overcomer by the power of the blood of the spotless Lamb of God! http://bit.ly/1PUWUEr
  6. Get outside and look at the beauty of God’s creation.  Nature has power to soothe  and to heal.

    Nature is everywhere - because God loves us!
    Nature is everywhere – because God loves us!

If You Feel Down Often

Dear reader, if you consistently feel down, you may be depressed and not realize it.   Go to this link  http://abt.cm/1CBrYso    There is a quiz at the top of the page you can take.  If you are consistently feeling down, you most likely are depressed and you need to talk with a counselor.   Please, please do so.  If you do not get help, you will keep feeling worse and worse.  I was in that position many times over my lifetime until I learned to reach out for professional help when I needed it.  Depression is dangerous and hurts you as well as  everyone around you.  If you do not get help, it gets worse each time it happens.  Please get help. Do not try to do it alone.