Time with God

Originally posted on Strength Renewed:

photo credit: dryiconsIt is 7:00am on a typical Saturday morning and I haven’t seen my husband since we went to bed on Monday night. He isn’t missing thankfully, but instead this is the current season of our life. He leaves going to work before I get home from work, and I’m usually sleeping when he finally gets home in the middle of the night. Our communication often consists of messages left on the refrigerator and brief phone calls. The time we have together is limited, so Steve suggested that we schedule Saturday morning breakfast dates to give us a chance to reconnect each week. That time is what keeps our relationship strong and keeps us close. Quality time is important for any relationship.

In Mark 6, Jesus sent the disciples out in pairs to preach the kingdom of God and heal the sick. They had been very busy doing as they were…

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Mighty Warrior

Tresa Walker:

Posting this as I pray for a friend fighting a huge battle. God knows his name as well as yours if you are needing courage through your own battle today.

Originally posted on Strength Renewed:

he will never leave youThe Lord is with you, mighty warrior. Judges 6:12

Battles are raging all around. I see many friends struggling with the distress of situations that seem too much to bear.  These disheartening battles include cancer, heart disease, mental illness, financial difficulties, addictions, lawsuits, false accusations, broken families, and fighting an actual war. Our children aren’t even immune. Their struggles include peer pressure, eating disorders, bullies, anxiety, and even terminal illness. The list goes on and on.

The Israelites experienced many difficulties. In Judges chapter six, they faced oppression from the Midianites who, during a seven year period, often destroyed the crops, livestock, and homes of the Israelites. God appointed Gideon to deliver Israel from the hand of Midian, but Gideon was afraid and confused about how that was possible when his people were the weakest in the land. God assured him in verse 16: “I will be with you, and…

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Open RoadWhere do you go when Trouble comes knocking at your door?  Do you open the door and meet it head on?  Or do you run and hide, peeking through the curtain hoping Trouble will just go away?

Psalms 46:1-3 says, “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.  So we will not fear, when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.  Let the oceans roar and foam.   Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!”  You can trust God to be your protector and face Trouble head on.  He will provide the strength you need to face anything Trouble throws your direction.  God always has your back and He’s there ready to help regardless what Trouble brings.

So when your world seems to be crumbling down around you, and you just don’t know how you are going to survive, call on the name of your Heavenly Father.  He will provide a place of refuge.  You may be uncertain of the future, but there is no need for fear because God is in control.  So let the oceans roar, let the mountains fall, let whatever Trouble may bring happen with full assurance that God has got this!  Things may not be easy, but He is still in control and will provide the refuge and strength in just the right amounts and in the best time.  No matter what happens, He is with you whispering to you in the chaos.  All you have to do is trust and follow His lead.

Open Road

Photo credit:  http://freerangestock.com/details.php?gid=&sgid=&pid=7652

Get Charged Up

Cross

Our society has grown accustomed to plugging in, charging up, and moving on.  IPhone, IPad, IPod, I-this, I-that…all these gadgets must be charged.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just plug in and recharge our batteries like a cell phone?  Simply go to church each Sunday and get a spiritual recharge that would last until the following Sunday or even longer.

Unfortunately though that’s exactly what we often find ourselves doing.  Church becomes our weekly charge.  We go, listen to the music, possibly even join in, hear a few words from the preacher, and go on our way. Then before the week is over our charge begins to run low, our faith begins to fade, and our walk begins to stagger.   We often forget that that’s not how we were created.  We need more if we are to get charged up and stay strong.

How often do you charge your cell phone?  For most of us the answer is daily or maybe even several times a day.  Church meetings just aren’t enough whether you go monthly, every Sunday, or every time the doors are open.  Getting a full charge requires more than this.  Fellowship with other Christians is important, but we also need to be plugging in to God’s word and seeking His will through prayer each day if we truly want to get spiritually recharged.  He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  Psalms 91:1 NIV   There is no better way to get charged up than the sweet presence of God!

On especially long days, I carry a phone charger with me just to get an extra boost if necessary.  I don’t want to lose power before making it safely back home.  During those long trials of life that drag down our faith, we may also need an extra boost.  We may need a little extra something to remind us of the power and presence of God.   A special bible study or spending more time in prayer may give us that extra boost needed to stay charged. It may be just the thing to get us out of the valley and back on the mountain top.   As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.  Psalms 42:1 NIV

My last cell phone was worn out and had seen better days, so I literally carried a charger everywhere and kept it plugged in most of the day.  When life has knocked us down and we are physically, emotionally, and spiritually worn out, it may be time for a constant charge.  This kind of charge comes from the power of praying friends and family.  Sometimes the power of constant prayer is literally what keeps us going.  For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them.  Matthew 18:20 NIV   Don’t hesitate to ask others to plug in on your behalf.

So…why don’t we get charged up at church?  It’s because we aren’t plugged in long enough, but also because we need to charge more frequently.  Like our electronics, we function best with regular charging.  When you plug in your cell phone, take a moment to check your own charge.  Maybe it’s time to plug in!

photo credit:  http://freerangestock.com/details.php?gid=&sgid=&pid=33235

Wait for the Joy

Originally posted on Strength Renewed:

Weird School Bus Weird School Bus (Photo credit: KB35)

A three-year old child just starting school was expected to ride the bus across campus to the building where her mother worked. Many children ride buses every day, but this was something totally foreign to her and caused much anxiety. As students were loading the bus, she walked right up to the door and then ran away screaming.

Finally her teacher took her by the hand and stepped onto the bus with her. She rode the bus to her destination without fear because the teacher she trusted walked with her through the situation that caused so much anxiety. When she stepped off the bus to meet her mother, she ran screaming with joy and glowing with excitement about what had been accomplished all because her loving teacher led her through it.

We often face frightening circumstances which leave us wanting to run the other…

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Dark Paths

Fear of the unknown causes much distress in our lives. When things are out of our control, we often worry, feel stressed, and even become physically ill. Unfortunately life is not always as perfect as it appears on social media. People are hurting all around us. Those who are battered and bruised show visible signs of their pain. Others endure pain that we cannot perceive. Whether its physical or emotional pain, many are fighting battles of which we are unaware.

Isaiah 42:6 says, “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do. I will not forsake them.” The Israelites were blinded by their captivity, and they experienced the same fears and questions that we experience today. God did not forsake them. He delivered them and guided them to the Promised Land. Today, He continues to turn the darkness into light, makes the rough spots smooth, and never forsakes us, just as He did so many years ago.

The past two months have been difficult with much time spent in hospital waiting rooms. Our family has suffered grief during the passing of my grandmother and fear of the unknown after a fairly simple surgery for my uncle turned into something very complicated.

During this time, we met other families who were also suffering. Some we learned specifics of their situations. I remember one particular lady in the Critical Care waiting room. During a brief encounter, I simply reached out, patted her arm, and told her I was praying for her family. She began to cry, thanked me, and then continued on her way.

Those moments spent in a waiting room full of family members who were traveling down unfamiliar paths made me more mindful of the fact that we are all fighting a battle of which many are unaware. For each of those families, time seemed to stand still as they/we waited to pass through a rough place in our path. The joys of life were temporarily replaced by fear, darkness, questions, and doubt.
Dark Path

Often when the way grows dark and we can’t see what lies ahead, it is easy to wonder where is God and why isn’t He working. We forget that He is always there. Isaiah 42:6 reminds us that He will smooth the rough places and will never desert us. It doesn’t matter how dark or rough the road becomes, our Almighty God has the power to turn the darkness into light. Even in that darkest moment when things seem to be spiraling out of control and we possibly even doubt God’s presence we can trust that He is still there just as He promised! The secret is to turn our focus from the fear, worry, pain, anger, and stress and instead focus on seeking Him.

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am you God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

life isn't fair

Life isn’t fair. How many times have you heard that? Or said it? Sometimes it is very hard to understand why things happen. Why do some families have to endure so much heartache? Why does anyone have to experience cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and so many other situations that cause pain and fear?

I have asked these types of questions many times, and I’m sure you have too. Unfortunately, I still don’t have an answer. It is easy to grow bitter during these “life isn’t fair” moments. The book of Ruth is a beautiful story of a young woman’s journey of hope and her dedication to Naomi.

Instead of Ruth, I want to focus on Naomi who is known as the mother-in-law referred to in Ruth 1:16 which says, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” What a testimony of Naomi’s relationship with her daughter-in-law and her devotion to the Lord!

Prior to this incident, Naomi’s family left their home because of a famine. After relocating, her husband died and she was left with two sons who later married and then also died. Naomi was a woman of great faith, but the pain of losing those she loved left a hole in her heart which was eventually filled with bitterness. She said, “Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara, because the Almighty had made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.” (Ruth 1:20-21)

Naomi was definitely experiencing one of those “life isn’t fair” moments, but she tied up her skirt and trudged through the pain. The Book of Ruth tells of how Naomi trusted God through the horrible pain and overcame a period of bitterness. Her actions during these difficult times offer us some tips for avoiding or even overcoming bitterness in our own difficulties.

4 steps

1. Returned to homeland (Ruth 1:6) – Surround yourself with people who really know you and love you. Don’t try to get through it alone. God often provides what we need through those who love us.
2. Accepted help from Ruth (Ruth 2:2-3) –If others offer to do things that you just don’t have the energy or desire to do, let them. They will feel blessed in helping to relieve some of your burden.
3. Encouraged and advised Ruth (Ruth 3) – Reach out to someone else who needs encouragement or guidance. Often the best medicine for our own pain is to focus on the needs of others and lay ours down for a moment.
4. Returned to faith (Ruth 2:20) – Naomi recognized God’s provision. Ultimately she surrendered to God and expected good things. Expect a miracle and trust in God for deliverance.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:31-32).

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior (Habakkuk 3:17).

When life isn’t fair, bitterness can quickly rob us of faith and joy. Whether you are hurting physically or emotionally, you must stop holding on to the pain and instead hold on tight to God’s love and the joy only He can provide.

 

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