February 26, 2017

Renew Our Strength

There was a time that I endured a season in my life when several uncertain and difficult circumstances were bearing down on me, and I remember feeling the weight of more than I could handle pressing hard on me. 

I could physically sense a weight pushing down on both my shoulders and my neck grew stiff from the stress.

There was a serious illness in the family. A messy situation in the extended family. Trouble brewing at a job.

My attempts to change things were futile. My efforts to fix things met with disaster, not improvement. I had trouble going to sleep at night because it was hard to relax with so many worries running through my mind. The more I worried, the worse things became.

One night while tossing and turning in my bed, I remembered the verse Isaiah 40:31 about God renewing our strength when we trust and wait on Him. I asked God to please renew my strength for the next day. I pleaded with Him to help me make it through tomorrow without the weight of the world pressing down on me.

I recalled the exact words of the entire verse and received its message into the depths of my heart.

But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.  ~ Isaiah 40:31 

I repeated this beautiful verse to myself several times and found my strength being renewed as I continued to meditate on the meaning of its words. God was faithful to renew my strength! I fell asleep that night and slept a more peaceful sleep than I had experienced in weeks.

I woke up the next morning and the weight of the world was not pressing down on me. I believed I could run and not be weary, walk and not faint. I felt so much lighter it was as if I could fly! God taught me that He never intended our burdens to crush us under their weight. His promise to those who wait on Him is to renew our strength.  

February 23, 2017

Forever and Always

Last April my husband and I gathered with his family to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of an aunt and uncle that are dear to our hearts, his mother’s sister and husband, Aunt Linda and Uncle Doug. This stone trivet was given to the attendees to commemorate this special anniversary. I have kept the tied rope around mine and never used it as its intended purpose. I use it to remind me of the message of a forever and always love. Not the kind Aunt Linda and Uncle Doug have been blessed with for 50 years, but the forever and always love all of us are blessed with because God loves us.

But sometimes, we find ourselves doubting God’s love. Sometimes we call out to Him, “Lord, are You still here? Do You really love me?”

Do you ever have those days when you can’t seem to feel anything at all or maybe you would even describe feelings of unworthiness when it comes to God’s love for you?

I think we all have days like that and we must remind ourselves these thoughts are not based on God’s truth. These are the kind of days when we find ourselves needing reassurance that He is here for us, still loving us, and we find ourselves asking Him… 

Lord, please…
Wrap me tighter in Your love
Stop the world from pressing in
Stop the world from dimming my eyes
To see Your truth

Let my eyes see only You
Then my heart will always know
There is a love that holds me
In Your loving, warm embrace 

The truth that I acknowledge in my own heart is this. I am loved with an everlasting love. I am loved with the greatest love there is in this whole world. The Bible tells me so.

How grateful I am that on those days when I have doubts - I can still know I am worthy, and I am loved by a steadfast immeasurable everlasting love. He is still here. Loving me. Forever and always. 

Jeremiah 31:3
Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.

February 22, 2017

Hold Fast to Him

Deuteronomy 11:22-23
22 “For if you carefully keep all these commandments which I command you to do—to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, and to hold fast to Him—23 then the Lord will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess greater and mightier nations than yourselves.
I recently read these two verses above and could not miss the obvious lesson in verse 22–a beautiful outline for how we can build our relationship with God. This is how we can go deeper in our walk with Him. When we go deeper we will find that we will hold fast to Him. This is where we experience victory in our Christian life. For the Israelites that was driving out the other wicked nations, for us it is overcoming difficult circumstances in our lives.

How We Can Go Deeper

There are three progressions: Three Steps

It starts with Love.

Step 1: To love the Lord your God - Cherish this invitation from a High and Holy God who wants us to love Him.

Step 2: To walk in all His ways - This is what scripture teaches us in our Bible, how to live the Christian life. We must be reading His Word to learn how to walk in His ways.

Step 3: And to hold fast to Him This is what makes the difference in a close relationship and in difficult times. This is the vital key to going deeper. Hold on and hold on tight!

If we don’t hold fast, we are much more vulnerable to grow cold and/or to stray.

Deuteronomy 11:22 clearly reminds us to start with love. Isn’t that a great place to start? This is why I want to repeat these steps spelled out in verse 22. This is so important to learn, so let’s go through it again.

1. Start with loving God.
2. Move forward with walking in His ways.
3. Go deeper when we hold fast to Him.

Holding fast keeps us close and will prevent us from straying and going after false gods or those things in our lives that take the place He should have, the preeminent place that is rightfully His.

Deuteronomy 13:4 is another verse that calls attention to holding fast and Joshua 22:5 brings this message home in the words of Joshua, chosen by God to be the Israelite leader and commander following the death of Moses.

Deuteronomy 13:4 You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. 

Joshua 22:5 “But take careful heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” 

Do you love the Lord? Are you walking in His ways? Are you holding fast to Him?

Hold on and hold on tight!

February 19, 2017

Do We Have God's Undivided Attention?

Have you ever tried to get someone’s undivided attention and wished you didn’t have to go to so much effort in order for them to stop what they are doing and focus their attention on you? I would guess that most of us have had this experience with family members. On the other hand, we have probably also been the guilty party who did not stop and give someone else the attention they were seeking.

It feels good to know we have someone’s attention. I thought about this lately in regard to my relationship with the Lord and if it is possible for me to have His undivided attention.

I will admit that I do feel that I have God’s attention.  As if He is in the room with me, or beside me in my car or when I take a walk.

That He hears me even though I am just one in millions, yet He knows me.
He hears my conversation, He hears my prayers. My thoughts and prayers and words aren’t just hitting the ceiling. I have His attention.

I love the way we can have an individualized one on one personal relationship with God.

This is a mystery. How His spirit inside us works this, His spirit that is placed in each of us at the point of salvation. His Holy Spirit works this mystery and so much more.

This mystery assures me that I have His attention.

He has wanted ours all along. That is the theme of the Bible, God reaching out to man, reaching out to you and me. It is His desire for us to know He is with us and that we have His undivided attention. 

Psalm 116:1-2 I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.

Jeremiah 23:23-24 “Am I a God near at hand,” says the Lord, “And not a God afar off? Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him?” says the Lord; “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the Lord.

Acts 17:27-28 So that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’

February 16, 2017

The Energizer

I am currently involved in a Women’s Bible Study at my church where we have begun a Kelly Minter Study on 2 Corinthians, All Things New. While doing my homework, I was reminded of an earlier Bible study I attended in a different church several years ago. That study was on the book of Ephesians and what I remembered about that today is a particular night when several ladies in our group came in exhausted to our evening session. But as we examined our lesson in Ephesians that night, God’s Word energized the room.

Ladies that had walked in saying they almost didn’t come because they were extremely tired or had a stressful day, perked up and became excited as we examined what was being taught in our study that night. God’s Word was alive among us that evening. Everyone left saying they were so glad they came.

Whether it is in a group at a church, or a gathering in someone’s home, or privately in your own home in your favorite armchair, sometimes just getting started with your Bible study is a difficult process. But it is a process God will bless and reward for the diligence we practice when we dig in and learn the truths and treasures in His Word. 

When reading through the Old Testament one time, I came to 1 Chronicles and saw those countless chapters of genealogies from Adam through Abraham and through all the tribes of Israel filled with many names I could not pronounce, I will admit - I complained.

But I kept reading and right there in chapter 4 I came across the well-known prayer of Jabez in verse 10. And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested.

I was reminded to more diligently pray for God to “enlarge my territory” in one area of my life. Reading the very chapters that I was dragging my feet through brought me a blessing that energized me to continue in the reading of the following chapters with a new and much improved attitude.

I want to do better than dragging my feet through portions of scripture and so I challenge myself and all of us to help each other dig in and learn more about God and what He has to teach us as we read this powerful book that He has written to us and for us.

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

February 14, 2017

The Love of God

Romans 8:38-39
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Jeremiah 31:3
Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.

1 John 3:1
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!

Deuteronomy 31:8 
And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.