Category Archives: HOPE

Jesus laughs, ho ho all the way!

Image result for Free Clip Art Of Jingle Bells

(To the tune of “Jingle Bells”)

Living daily life, in this crazy world,

sometimes is so hard, that my heart grows weak!

but Jesus lives in me, and in His joy I’m strong,

so I say to you, my friend, come laugh and sing alo-ong!

Chorus: Jesus laughs, Jesus laughs, ho ho all the way!

Jesus loves to laugh and play, every single day!

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 When the day starts out dark (A little pun there!) When I woke up this morning, the last thing I felt like doing was laughing. As I thought of the day ahead, and my life ahead, everything felt dim and discouraging. But, as I lay in bed, I repeated several basic passages about trusting God that I have memorized, by virtue of desperately reading them to my anxious heart over and over and over again.  Once out of bed, I sat in the rocker, stroked my cat, and read Psalm 71.

 

“I am feeling a little better,” I thought grudgingly. “Thank You, Lord. Please help me get my attitude right!”

I began texting a dear friend. I stated briefly that I felt discouraged and I intended to indulge my feelings by texting her about my troubles. But, lo and behold!!! I found myself texting that I was going to trust in God and thank Him for this day, keep my mind on Him rather than my problems, and look for ways to bless everyone He put into my path this day. I then texted another friend, who is walking a hard path right now, and that time I managed to only be encouraging and uplifting.

I listened to the bird perched in the tree by the window as the deep blue-black of night began fading to a softer blue. And I just sat and waited on Him, looking out the window at the miracle of a new day.

The Word changes our minds. “Wow, Lord! Thank You!”, I prayed. “All this time of pondering the comforting truths of Your Word really have renewed my mind. It really worked! You have done a deep work inside my heart, I know, because even though I feel discouraged on the surface, You are keeping my thoughts focused on the truth of Your Word and I am not sinking down into despair, like I used to do. You are guarding my heart and keeping me in constant peace as I keep my mind fixed on You! (Isaiah 26:3)

You have lifted me out of the pit, I have your reassurances that You are always with me and will never fail me, and somehow, You are teaching me to truly enjoy each day and to laugh with You, even when things are difficult.

Ho ho all the way! Then I was out and about, taking care of the business of my day, with my mind set to enjoy this day that the Lord had made and prepared especially for me. As I drove through morning traffic, I heard a good teaching on Psalm 71, the same psalm I had been reading earlier. Coincidence? No way! I know Jesus loves to reassure us that He is with us every moment, no matter what we feel like and no matter if we feel we have failed Him, I know He has a sense of humor, and I know He laughs with us –ho ho all the way!

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Fresh hope and cheer for daily life

Need comfort? 6:40 a.m. So tired, like always it seems. With the overcast sky, the light coming through the window is soft and muted. I prop up sideways and stretch my legs out full length, on my big brown corduroy couch. Although I really want to lie down, I need to stay vertical for two hours after eating because that tummy problem has returned. I tuck the cell phone partly under my right hip so it will not fall off the couch. I have already texted parts of Psalm 91 to two friends who are walking through crisis situations and, as I do every weekday morning, I texted with my son-in-law to see how he and my daughter and two grandsons are today.

I clutch my well-worn copy of the New Living Translation Bible to my chest, repeating verses 19 and 22 of Psalm 94 over and over. By God’s loving grace, I just happened to see those two verses after I texted my friends. This moment, I need God’s living comfort in verses 19 and 22 for my own soul. I need to hear: “When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer. . . But the LORD is my fortress; my God is the mighty rock where I hide.” I pause as I sit on the couch in the soft morning light, and I pray, earnestly, because I need His help.

Dear Father, I need You so much! Help me make this day what You want it to be. Oh, Father! Help me work on the writing today. Help me keep my mind on You and helping others so I can stay positive.”

When doubts fill our mind. I want so much for you, dear friend, and me too, to know, to be convinced of, and cling to the following truth about this day of our daily lives, yours and mine:

The same awesome God who helped miraculously over and over again in the stories you and I read in the Bible and in the testimonies we hear, that very same God Is helping you and me, today, this very moment and He has a wonderful, victorious day planned for us both.

You may, like my two friends, be facing dire health or financial trials today. Or maybe it is the seemingly little things that are troubling you today. My own challenges today, the little things I face that are hard, are to do the work of establishing this writing ministry and to do the work of staying free from depression and anxiety.

As I think about these personal challenges, I remind myself, and you, that God loves us just as much as He does the people in the Bible and the people in the testimonies we hear, and that He is working for us this very moment, to give us what we need today as we follow Him, no matter how imperfect we are.

Regarding my personal challenge of establishing this writing ministry, since school started and my job ended a month ago, my days have felt empty. I miss my grandsons and I miss my part-time job. I do not like being alone but solitude is necessary to write. It is a daily struggle to discipline myself to sit down and write rather than run away from my little home and flee the loneliness. This in spite of the fact that God so very graciously touches my mind when I write. I am so very weak and human and so grateful that God “does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. . . Psalm 103:10, NLT)

Is my not writing “sin”? Yes! It is certainly missing the mark of God’s best. That is the point! On the days when I cannot discipline myself to write and on days when I let other things distract me, I ask God for forgiveness and I ask Him to help me change and do better. And then I trust Him and try my best to do the “good” He has shown me. (Psalm 37:3) As I do that, I “feed on His faithfulness” and He faithfully calms my heart.

“Just to know” (as my grandsons say), here is a picture of my darling Barny. As I was faithfully sitting down, writing this, my furry writing buddy jumped to the desk and curled up in a cubby. Ah, so comforting to have him close enough to touch, saying he loves me in his own sweet way. Beyond all doubt, the loving eye of God is on each of us each moment and He sends us little reminders like this of His love all day if we look for them with expectancy. As He says in Genesis 28:15, “And behold, I am with you and will keep [careful watch over you and guard] you wherever you may go and will bring you back to this land. (AMPC)”

Rejoicing in trials. Regarding my other pressing personal challenge this day–maintaining freedom from depression and anxiety–I am choosing to rejoice that this trial continues. I choose to rejoice that it still requires much daily effort on my part. Why? Because, as He says in John 15:1-8, God uses trials to cleanse our hearts and make us more fruitful. God and I have demolished many strongholds of wrong thoughts and beliefs and I have far more joy and peace, but much remains to be done.

Some days are still really hard and I still often forget, or fail, to do the things I know keep my heart peaceful. But I am getting better and I want my loving Father to continue making me more whole and more healed. Psalm 94:12-15 in the Amplified Classic Bible reassures me that I am blessed because God is still working in my heart, to train me so I can keep myself calm in hard times.

I reassure myself with the message of verses 12-13 “Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whom You discipline and instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law, that You may give him power to keep himself calm in the days of adversity, until the [inevitable] pit of corruption is dug for the wicked.”

So, I sit down and deliberately ponder the whole of Psalm 94. God clearly says He is working with me, for my good, so that I can learn to keep myself calm in the storms of life. He promises He will fight for me and that His comforts will “cheer and delight” my soul, even when my mind is filled with a multitude of anxious thoughts.

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Facing the challenges of your daily life today. I urge you, dear friend, whatever your personal challenge is today—toughing out another hard day at work, caring for a loved one in the hospital, or believing God for rent, groceries, or your next breath—let God comfort you with renewed hope and cheer as you ponder Psalm 94, verse 22. Say out loud, “The LORD is my fortress; my God is the mighty rock where I hide.”

God’s promises in Psalm 94 are working for the challenges of my own daily life this day, as I try to do “the good” I know God has shown me for today. And God’s promises will work for this day of your daily life. As the great hymn “Trust and Obey” says, “Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus. . . “ Just trust God and do good. You will live in His promises and, as you sustain yourself with His faithfulness, you will be fed abundantly! (Psalm 37:3)

God’s promises never, no never, no never fail! When I was on the couch, eight hours ago, clutching my Bible to my chest like the security blanket it is, I doubted I could get up, start writing and keep myself in peace. However, by His great grace, I have finished this blog post, gone to physical therapy for my feet, run some errands, and tidied up a bit. I will soon be off to Bible study tonight.

God loves YOU and He promises in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that His grace is all we need because His power “. . works best in weakness.” (NLT). Just trust Him and try!

Hope from a horse race

Image result for Free Picture OF Secretariat“Do you give the horse its strength or clothe its neck with a flowing mane? Do you make it leap like a locust, striking terror with its proud snorting? It paws fiercely, rejoicing in its strength, and charges into the fray.” (Job 39:19-21, NIV)

Beauty inspires us. Is anything more beautiful than a running horse? Its muscular chest thrust its powerful legs forward while its mighty hindquarters propel the rear legs in perfect symmetry. Power and poetry. Beauty beyond the telling.

Beauty inspires us. God designed us that way, and He filled the earth with beauty so that wherever we look in His creation, we see His touch and feel pleasure in what He has created for us. Horses, in particular, inspire me, and one famous horse race in particular never fails to stir the embers of my hope, no matter how discouraged I may feel.

A most famous race. On June 9, 1973, a race horse named Secretariat (or “Big Red” as his multitude of fans called him) won the Belmont Stakes in a world record time of 2 minutes 24 seconds. His record stands today. Secretariat’s speed averaged 37.5 miles an hour. And he finished 31 lengths, or 82.6 yards, ahead of the closest horse.

To see this famous race, search the internet with the words “Secretariat at Belmont”. As you watch the race, you will notice that the other horses stayed fairly close to Secretariat at the start. Then, however, that legendary horse pulled ahead. Then he kept stretching his lead until he was way, way out ahead. Then, as the announcer said, he was “. . . alone. . . moving like a tremendous machine!”

How can I not have hope? I liken Secretariat’s race to the way the enemy of our souls tries to outrun and defeat us in this race of daily life we are each running. He may keep up with us for a little while, just as Sham kept abreast of Secretariat for a bit, but when God’s power surges up in our hearts, we pull ahead further and further and further. The enemy is totally defeated. No contest whatsoever. He is not even in the running. And God longs to do this for us every day!

So, when the bills add up, when the body complains, when the everydayness of life gets me down, or when a trial goes on a looooong time, I sometimes watch Secretariat run his unbelievable race. And I ponder the omnipotence of my loving heavenly Father. And I find fresh hope. The One who created and sustains the universe loves me dearly. With Him on my side, the enemy does not have a chance to win. I am confidently expecting to win because I know the powerful One who lives on the inside of me.

What does hope do for us? To hope means to expect or to trust that something will happen. My confidence, or expectation, that I will be victorious is based on God, not on circumstances or on my own or someone else’s ability. The Bible does not use the word hope in the flimsy, half-hearted way we often do in our culture. You may hear someone say, “Well, I hope I can get a better job”, or “I hope my child does not get the flu.”

Bible teacher Joyce Meyer defines hope as “a positive expectation that something good is going to happen.” That is the kind of hope God is talking about! That is the hope I feel surge up as I watch Secretariat pull away from the other horses and finish nearly a football field length ahead of them.Image result for free clip art of hope

God’s truth about hope. There is a beautiful chain of truth about hope in Romans 5:1-5. The verses in this chain of truth reassure us that we can and will have hope. Here is that hope-giving chain of truth.

In the NIV, Romans 5:1-5. Romans 5:1 to 4a, tells us “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our LORD Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character, hope.” Switching to the AMPC for verse 4a and continuing through verse 5, we read “. . . And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation. Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us.”

The process that leads to hope. In looking at Romans 5, verse 1, we notice the word “Therefore”. The “Therefore” in verse 1 tells us that what came before that verse is linked with and sets the background for what follows. So the lessons in Romans 4 are the foundation for the lessons in Romans 5. And what does Romans 4 teach us? That we are made right with God through our faith, not through “observing the commands of the Law” (Romans 4:13, AMPC). That means we do not earn our right-standing with God. It is a gift, so we do not have to be perfect!

So, because of our gift of right-standing with God, or “therefore”, we have the promises of Romans 5, verses 1-5:

[1] Verse 1: We have peace with God, and we are right in His sight, through Jesus being our Lord.
[2] Verse 2a: Because we have believed in Jesus, we are already standing in God’s grace, which the Amplified Bibles defines as “the state of God’s favor”. Remember, we do not have to work to earn it!
[3] Verse 2b: We can rejoice and exult because we hope—we are expecting– to experience and enjoy the glory of God. The AMPC says “And let us rejoice and exult in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God”.

[4] Verses 3-4: Moreover, we can be full of joy now, while we are IN our sufferings, because God says that our suffering will produce—through a process–something wonderful for us. The process that leads to that something wonderful is given in verses 3-4: sufferings produce perseverance, which produces character (mental and moral qualities), which produces hope. The order of the steps in that process is: suffering, perseverance, character, and then hope. The AMPC tells us that character of “approved faith and tried integrity” is what “. . . produces [the habit of joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.” In other words, if we keep persevering in hardships, God will eventually develop our character so that we habitually are joyful and we will confidently hope in our eternal salvation, which begins for us as soon as we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

[5] Verse 5 promises that hope like that never disappoints us because “. . . God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:b, AMPC)

I strive to remember one special fact in verses 3 and 4, which is that we can be joyful now, smack in the middle of suffering, because we know that the hardships are creating in us the kind of character that makes us habitually joyful and confident as we anticipate our eternal salvation.

Hope of eternity helps us NOW. I wish it were not true but I must confess that for a long time when I heard teachers and preachers and friends talk about problems in this life and then say, “But one day, all the troubles of this life will be over and we will be with Jesus” I felt somewhat disappointed—because I always wanted to hear some solution to my troubles here on earth, now.

As I have become more mature, more healed, and more whole, I find that thinking of heaven does indeed make me happy now. Precisely because of the trials I have walked through with God during that long season of depression and anxiety, I now value unseen things like love and peace and joy, which are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18), more than anything that happens to me here on earth. But it was the suffering that made me desperate enough to seek God with my whole heart. And it was because the sufferings persisted that I had the opportunity to persevere. And it was because I persevered that Holy Spirit, my Strengthener (John 14:26, AMPC), had the chance to form in me the characteristic of seeking God whole-heartedly–until it became a habit. And as I have continued living life, with this habit as a daily part of life, I have begun experiencing great joy and great victory over the very trials that formerly stole my peace and joy. No, I have not arrived at perfection but I now press on toward more maturity with daily joy!

God wants you joyful! Dear friend, let me urge you to study the Word to gain deeper understanding into how God uses problems for our good. Three Bible passages provide comfort and guidance for us in this regard:

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[1] John 15:1-8 – our loving Father uses trials to cleanse our hearts and make us more fruitful,
[2] James 1:2-18 – trials and temptations are blessings from God, and
[3] Hebrews 12:1-33 – God trains or, “disciplines”, us for our good so that we can become more like Him.

Surpassing abundance. As I watched the movie “Secretariat”, I learned that the jockey never pushed Secretariat, that he never really asked the horse to give him more speed. Secretariat was just running his own race. The jockey gave Secretariat his head, which means the rider lightly holds the reins and lets the horse be in complete control. Secretariat just ran like he wanted to, for the joy of it.

And dear friend, that is another picture of what our beloved Heavenly Father is like for us as we live our daily lives, as we run our individual races here on earth. Without our even asking Him, He makes our lives far and away better than if we stayed back in the pack with most of the world. That is because God is “. . . able to do exceeding, abundantly beyond all we ask or think according to His power at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20, KJV). Now, that gives me hope!

A personal note from me to you—what I experienced as I wrote this

I initially wrote the first part of this blog post in 2016, when I first began blogging and when I first began dreaming of finally writing the books I had carried in my head for many years. However, three years of emotional healing and further maturing needed to happen first. I can look back now and see what God was doing, but dear friend, during much of the last three years, I felt like I had failed in many areas and that I would never be able to write. However, during that time, while I was struggling so long with depression and anxiety, the desperation drove me to seek the Lord and His Word as I never had before.

Even now as I struggle and stumble on my way to resume the habit of regular blogging and writing, God is teaching me more about the importance of leaning on Him, not myself, and of the need to dig deeply into the Word. I was straining to get this blog post finished – so I could “get something on the website”. But, as usual, once I finally got the seat of the pants in the chair and began actually typing and then studying the Word for the topic I was writing about, God kept leading me deeper and deeper into the Word.

I began revising this blog post a few days ago, intending to add a little bit beyond the point where I ended it in 2016, which was just above the heading “What does hope do for us?. When I was writing in 2016, this blog post would have been finished at that point. But every time I write now, in 2019, God keeps putting Bible truths into my thoughts. So, the writings are far, far stronger and more helpful to you – and me, too!

As an example, the post as it was in 2016 had only the one Scripture from Job 39 about the beauty of horses. But when I started revising it, Scriptures about hope came to mind. As I studied versed three through 5 of Romans 5, the passage about hope that God put in my mind, I saw I had to explain the first two verses. Then I saw the “therefore” in verse 1 and knew I had to address Romans 4. So, when I write now, in 2019, it is Bible study for me and more of God’s beautiful life-giving truth for you.

I am so, so, so grateful to our loving Father for carrying me through three years of healing and pruning. I am equally grateful He taught me that He requires patient and careful study of His Word, giving it my best and thorough effort, before I dare try to share my thoughts with you.

He is also using my effort to serve Him, through writing, to mold me and give me a happier life. For instance, I began revising this post a few days ago in the morning. That same afternoon, I muddled around the house for 30 minutes, wondering whether to take time to stretch my sore back. I was fighting a headache and feeling frustrated the whole time. I began to fret (DANGER, DANGER!) about how I will ever make writing a regular habit. Then I realized it was just plain old fear knocking at the door.

Murmuring “I will not fear, God is near, I will not fear, God is near” I sat down, unscrambled some sentences, and resumed studying Rom ans 5. Then, the headache disappeared as I saw the promised joy in Romans for you, and for myself, too, the very thing I needed at that moment! How good God is when we just try our best to do our part!

So, friend, as you ponder the path ahead of your own life, as you run your own race, as the Apostle Paul puts it, be confident that you will win. Remember that you have The Champion in your heart and He is opening up the lead over every obstacle in your life moment by moment as you trust and obey Him (Proverbs 4:18). Run your race to win, and enjoy it!

Be blessed as you bless others in your own daily world today!

Love and prayers, Freda

P.S.: Please tell me whether this detailed look into my own life is useful to you. If it is, I will add personal notes like these sometimes to the blog posts.

Hope when you fall down

 

Encouragement from 12 words. The picture in the frame is actually a greeting card I found more than 15 years ago. I framed it then hung it in the graduate students’ office I shared with three other students. The picture next adorned the wall over the desk in my own office where I worked as an educational researcher.  Now it hangs next to baby pictures of my two grandsons.  The card reads “I get up. I walk. I fall down. Meanwhile, I keep dancing.”

For me, returning to school in mid life had included hard work, many bumps and many missteps. I needed daily, sometimes hourly, encouragement to persevere! Fortunately, by that stage in life I could find “joy in the journey” so I savored the process of learning, though those years were hard.

“Be strong and courageous”  Potholes and pitfalls also abound on my current path — becoming an established author. I think often of God’s words to Joshua, who faced the challenge of leading the nation of Israel into a land occupied by enemies. God told Joshua “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them [the enemies who occupied the land], for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6, New International Version.

” … hope and a future.”  How wonderful to be reassured that God is with us! How encouraging to remember that He has good plans for our lives, as He says in Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)  “ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  When I remember that God has promised to always be with me, and that He has specific, wonderful plans for my life, I find the strength to get up, brush myself off, and keep enjoying this wonderful life of obeying and trusting God.

In hard times, keep dancing! Though I’ve rarely danced, I adore movies of older times when men and women in elegant attire glided around gilded ballrooms, swaying in flawless synchrony to a lilting waltz. I like to think that, when I get to heaven, I’ll dance with Jesus. And our first dance? A waltz!Image result for free clip art of waltz

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!


Out of the Wilderness

Image result for clip art of desert

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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Strength for your heart

My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.” (Psalm 73:26, NLT)

Image result for free clip art of the bibleA word in season. I listened to my Audio Bible CD as I stopped the car at the drive-in window of the drug store. “Thank You, Lord,’ I breathed. “I finally get it. That’s the second time I’ve heard that loud and clear this weekend. Thank You for Your reassurance and Your peace.”

Another episode of paroxysmal atrial tachycardia (PAT) had come Friday night. And it lasted three hours this time. During those hours I prayed but I also heard fear hum in my head like swarming bees. The nurse at the cardiologist’s office had said “PATs are not dangerous.” She had told me to take a pill and that I could go to the ER if it did not stop.

Yes, the PAT finally stopped, but the buzzing fear had not – all weekend long. I had prayed, proclaimed God’s Word about healing, asked friends to pray, and tried to keep my mind occupied. I burst into hot tears when I asked for prayer in Sunday School. I was a mess!

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God is working! But God was working it all out for my good. (Romans 8:28) Today, when I “coincidentally” heard that verse for the second time, something happened. God’s peace came in, slowly and gradually, as He gently reminded me:

  • He would never give me more than I could bear. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
  • He would either heal me or give me grace and wisdom to handle it. (Hebrews 4:16)
  • He does not give us a spirit of fear but of power, of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)

As I’ve prayed and pondered and sat with the Lord this afternoon, looking at the beautiful wind blowing through the trees, God gave me an idea for a book about overcoming fear. He also showed me how to resume writing this blog, something I had delayed for FIVE months – because of fear.

I have a lot to share in the coming weeks about fear. And this blog will change for the better. Stay tuned! I am going to enjoy seeing God work out this good thing that the enemy meant for evil! Woohoo! Go God!

He never leaves us, never forsakes us, is always for us, always thinks good thoughts about us, always has good plans for us – He is a good, loving, ALL powerful and faithful Father! Praise Him from whom all, all, ALL blessings flow over into our lives, “ … exceedingly, abundantly, beyond all we can ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20)!

He is the one who gives orders to the morning, the one who makes the clouds rise from the ends of the earth, the one who tells the eagle when to fly. How can we fear, oh we of little faith? Go God!!!Image result for free photo of eagle in clouds

 

My problem is NOT my problem!

Problems, problems. As I type, my knees bump into the four storage boxes residing under the smallish  table I use as a desk. I struggle to tune out neighbors’ voices seeping through thin walls as I try to concentrate. My back and eyes complain after 30 minutes of computer work although I worked at a desk for long hours throughout my life.

I could go on describing the obstacles to working on this blog and my other writing and editing. But, I recently re-learned, as Joyce Meyer so aptly phrased it “Your problem is not your problem!” I typed that, in calligraphy, size 18 font, and put it over my desk. “Help me, Lord! I must remember that attitude makes all the difference.) I look at that reminder now as I type this blog post. And I smile.

I must trust God, not my own strength or resources.  I listen to Joyce Meyer’s daily television show at 6:30 a.m. (See www.joycemeyer.org or the link below for powerful help for everyday life.)

http://bit.ly/2eBwNHC

The morning I heard “Your problem is not your problem!” I was exhausted because loud neighbors had kept me awake until 2:00 a.m.  However, the Word of God, which Joyce Meyer proclaims, is alive and has power to change us. That teaching from the Bible about keeping your focus right changed my attitude.  For too long excuses had delayed working on this blog – fatigue due to new health problems, cramped working space, etc. and etc. and etc. Yuk! I slowly began developing the habit of writing regularly again.

Keep the main thing the main thing. Since 1981, when I became a Christ follower, I have by God’s grace, endeavored to put God first in all things. When I’ve failed, things went badly until I refocused on seeking God hour by hour, day by day. God has faithfully provided all I’ve needed and so much more.  He promises this in Matthew 6:33 “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.” (New Living Translation)

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Seek Him first … you’ll have all you need! He promises! Click on the link below to hear a gentle but life-giving chorus I’ve loved for years.  The majestic scenes of God’s beloved earth that accompany this chorus remind me of Who He is, who I am, how much He loves me, and how able He is to take care of little, insignificant me. Oh, how He loves His precious human beings!

https://yhoo.it/2eBuNzl