Faith and Our God Most High

As I read through scripture, I choose to focus on the amazing names of God. With the craziness happening in our world—how encouraging it is to read “God Most High”. The Hebrew word for most high is Elyon. Combing it with El Elyon, it becomes the divine title our God deserves. He is the ruler of not only the universe but of everything that touches us. There is no other God that reigns over Him. He is the MOST HIGH God! Yesterday, amid some stormy situations, I called on my Most High God. It brought such peace and trust. My mind calmed as I rehearsed many of the things that are under His feet.

Often in the Psalms we find the phrase the Lord of Heaven’s Armies (Jehovah Sabaoth). When Hannah prays for a son in 1 Samuel 1: 10, she uses this name to cry out to Him. It expresses the infinite power and resources which God acts for His people. Her situation had gone on too long and she needed to make her God bigger. He answered. When I read and meditate on this title, God becomes bigger and more firmly established as the Most High God. Psalm 80:19 Turn us again to yourself, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies. Make your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved. He is in charge, my friends, no matter what things may look like. When you are feeling small, call out to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. It will stir your soul. No demon in hell can stand against Him. He is Lord.

Need healing? Cry out to Jehovah Rapha, the Lord who heals. Jehovah Jireh is the God who provides. All these titles describe an aspect of our amazing Lord and Savior. The most precious name of all to me is Abba Father. Adopted into His family, by the shedding of His blood, opened the door to a relationship with this Most High God! Add these titles to your prayer communication and you will grow in faith and maturity. There is nothing better than curling up in the Father’s Presence during struggles and disappointments. His Comfort is there. However, I can’t stay there and see things change. I must join with Him, using His powerful Word to bring the needed change. During these darker and difficult times, we must grow in our understanding of God’s power and the authority we have as His children. Through prayer we can watch things change, but only if we release our faith and cry out to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies!

Let us join to pray for our world. Do not let discouragement take over your life. Stand strong as a member of His Army. No victims here, but victors. Pulling down strongholds. Watching doors open, and lives changed and healed, in His Name.

Faith and Pressure

Lately it seems like many people I know are struggling with many different pressures of life. Financial challenges, relationship issues, physical struggles seem to be attacking so many of God’s people. Life seems to be harder for so many people right now. The winds of adversity have been blowing hard. The temptation is to want to find a way of escape from their relentless blowing–at least that is my initial response!

What is your reaction when adverse things begin to take place? Why is this happening to ME or my family? Does fear raise its ugly head and try to take root in your heart? Life here on this earth, comes with adversity. It just does. If we keep being surprised by them, then maybe we need to grow in our understanding of life on this earth versus life that will be in heaven. Scripture tells us that in this world we will have tribulation, but be of good cheer because He has overcome them.

But how do we handle the pressures of adversity? First we must understand we do not face them alone. Our God is with us, working all things together for our good. When natural winds occur, they clean the air, help distribute seeds for new plantings, and they help birds complete their migration. Strong winds test the roots of trees, causing weak rooted trees to be blown over so younger trees can take their place.

Winds of adversity in our lives often reveal our stamina or lack thereof. When things get hard and we want to quit, we have to “dig deep” as they say, and choose to stay the course. Choosing to continue on God’s path when these winds are blowing contrary takes perseverance, trust and tenacity. There are some things in life that there is no choice but to push through. I remember in the middle of laboring my son, I just wanted to quit. Since my body reacts differently than most women, I did not have the “urge to push”, so I just quit. I was tired and I didn’t want to “do it anymore”. In the midst of the pain, I lost sight of the goal. The wonderful nurse whispered in my ear, “in just a few more pushes you will be able to hold your baby, and we will all go away!” I don’t remember which was more motivating, the idea of seeing my child or the fact I could get rid of the annoying people telling me what to do, but soon our dear son was born. In reality, I had no choice but to finish that race. Other times, we must choose to renew our commitment and walk on.

When the pressures of life begin to assail, we need people around us to remind us of our purpose and plans. I am so grateful for the Holy Spirit and God’s Word that brings us hope and encouraging stability, but sometimes I need people who have been there and done that, to come along side and remind me that I, too, will make it! Storms do not last forever. As I walked the difficult journey after Darryl’s stroke, trying to come to grips with my new normal, I would have to stop and remind myself not to worry about the tomorrows. Matthew 6:34 so don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. For you young parents, remember the current season your infant, baby, toddler, pre-schooler, elementary child, high schooler–is in will pass. The night feedings, the toddler tantrums and the angst of growing up, though difficult, are best done in the present–with an eye on the future. His grace is sufficient for our today issues. If you are facing storms in your marriage remember your vows and the reason you married in the first place. Take a deep breath and remind yourself of God’s love and that He is with you in every day circumstances. Seek His wisdom and His ways. Do not let your thoughts run rampant. Capture them quickly.

If things seem overwhelming and you need help, ask for it. Somethings are too heavy to bear alone. Humble yourself, if need be. Many times just talking about how you feel will bring perspective and understanding. This is why God has placed pastors, teachers and leaders in His body–if they can’t help, they can lead you to someone who can. Too many suffer in silence in their own island because they are embarrassed to reach out. Do not be one of those people, listening to the lies of the enemy telling you no one cares. It is not true. I am available! Reach out to me, if you need a listening ear. Many times I have shouted out my prayers to the Lord, or taken time to write my thoughts and prayers in a journal.. Simply taking the time to name your feelings (cares) and then cast them back to Him brings the relief and hope needed.

In the midst of so many facing adverse circumstances I have also been amazed at how many prayers God is answering as well. He is not far off, but a very present help in time of trouble. Do not be jealous, or disappointed if you see others getting their prayers answered, but be encouraged He is not a respecter of persons! Your time is coming.

Faith and Good Works

Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. I Timothy 6:18-19.

Good works — easy for some, more difficult for others. This scripture was written to Timothy while he was pastoring in Ephesus. Ephesus was a very affluent city, so it only stands to reason that Timothy’s congregation comprised some rich believers. Paul instructed Timothy to teach them how to use their riches for God’s kingdom. Have you ever dreamed of receiving an unexpected inheritance? Have you daydreamed about how you would spend it? If that should happen, Paul left us some good and wonderful advice in these scriptures.

So does that leave us those of us off the hook, if we do not have a hefty bank account? I think not. For wealth is always a comparison, isn’t it? That phrase “be rich in good works” set in motion a lot of thoughts this week. So how do we do that? We start where we are, following the Holy Spirit’s prompts to do good. He loves to work through us to help others. I have often been on the receiving end of good works towards me and my family. It was humbling and so helpful. It makes me want to pay it forward. Looking back, sometimes, I wish I could have expressed my appreciation more thoroughly! Everyone who helped me during Darryl’s stroke recovery and eventual passing, I thank you, once again. Your loving actions helped get us through a hard time.

This week, I followed those prompts and what a blessing it was! A young couple in our church just had their fourth baby. Before he was born, I promised to bring a meal. I’ve been waiting because I knew there were others who had planned on helping as well, but this was the week. As I just followed the Spirit’s prompts, I watched how expertly He brought so much joy to us both. (I am sharing this not to boast, because the ideas weren’t mine!) He picked the type of soup Chicken Psoloe Verde); small gifts for the siblings (homemade play dough) and a candle for the mom. What a joy to discover that the three different colored play dough I made were their favorite colors! And the mom had been wanting to purchase a candle that very day, but chose not to! When she was eating the meal, she said, “I think green chili flavor is my comfort food!”. I marvel at how specifically the Spirit led me. When we take the time to ask Him, He shows us what to do. I admit, I don’t know who was more blessed—them or me! Again, I am not sharing this for a pat on the back, I am just sharing it to encourage us all to increase our good works.

One benefit of seeking the Lord in this area is that it gets our eyes off ourselves. No matter what your income or lack thereof, we can still offer a prayer or a word of encouragement. It costs us nothing, but can reap much fruit. We must be willing to share what we have, much or little. I read in a story about Richard Wurmbrand, a Romanian Christian who imprisoned for his faith (during the Communism take over), still found a way to be generous. Every tenth week, he and other believers gave their one slice of bread a week to the weaker brethren as a “tithe” to the Master. How I might have justified eating it myself! He wrote a book Tortured for Christ and founded the ministry “Voice for the Martyrs”. If you see yourself as the “needy” one, then it will be a struggle to look past what you feel you don’t have and rejoice in what you do have.

Often it is the small promptings that, when followed, bring God’s blessing. It means surrendering our time, treasure and talent to Him and His purposes. If you don’t have money, then give your time. We find in II Timothy, Paul writing about a man named Onesiphorus. May the Lord show special kindness to Onesiphorus and all his family because he often visited and encouraged me. He was never ashamed of me because I was in chains. When he came to Rome, he searched everywhere until he found me. May the Lord show him special kindness of the day of Christ’s return. And you know very well how helpful he was in Ephesus. He and his family were kind to Paul. Rome was a little over 800 miles from Ephesus, but he made the journey. Maybe Onesiphorus was one of the wealthy men Paul talked about, so he could afford to make the journey. We don’t know, but we do know his actions encouraged Paul.

As we allow the love of God to be enlarged in our heart, it is not hard to reach out to others. We love, because we were first loved. Make good note of those who have encouraged you in your life. Don’t take it for granted, but receive their love with grace. But it is not about us, it is about others. Let’s follow the Holy Spirit’s promptings to help others and thereby being an example of God’s love. Open your eyes and see where you can serve in your local church, in your community or neighborhood. The needs are great, but not too great if we follow His promptings.

Father, I thank you for this admonition. I ask that you help us follow the Holy Spirit’s promptings to help others and sow seeds of kindness that we know will reap in your good season. No matter the response of the receiver, we will still strive to listen to your promptings and be obedient. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Faith and “Sophron”

A question popped in my head this week. That question was “what does really mean to be sober?”I knew it must mean more than “not drunk”. I had been reading through the books of Thessalonians and Paul urged them to be sober or clear-headed. I remembered scriptures where Peter encouraged the same thing in his letters. I Peter 1:13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. I Peter 4:7 The end of all things i near; therefore, be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary, the devil, walks about like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. I Peter 5:8

Did I catch your attention with “sophron”? Any Greek scholars responding? Sophron as found in the New Testament Greek lexicon means “of a sound mind, sane, in one’s senses’; curbing one’s desires and impulses, self-controlled, temperate. They also translated it as prudent or sensible, chaste and sober. I think both Paul and Peter were encouraging their readers to look at life realist ically, aware of their circumstances but not controlled by them.

I get the privilege of teaching two of my grandchildren health this semester. We are using the same textbook as other public middle/high school students are required to use. This is a required course for their graduation. It hasn’t been easy. Some of the topics are difficult. Having to talk about drugs, violence, date rape, domestic abuse, child abuse and the other areas of darkness which sin has polluted God’s purpose brought me to my knees as well as hurt my heart. I don’t want to focus on this reality. But it is real. Neither I nor their parents can keep them in a naïve bubble. So let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. (I Thessalonians 5:6 ESV) or as the NLT version states: So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded.

So the question is how do we stay sober without getting overwhelmed with the reality of our culture’s departure from God’s best? We must release our faith. We must ground them and us in His goodness. We must balance it with teaching how they can be the light in the darkness, how they can learn to be part of the solution, not escalate the problem. I believe we can also teach tolerance, conflict resolution, and give them other relationship building tools. What we don’t need to do is wring our hands and feel sad and downhearted for them. God knew they were going to be born in this season, and He has a plan for them. Let us concentrate on equipping them and ourselves with hope and faith. Let’s teach them to put on the whole armour of God and strengthen their ability to stand against the wiles of the evil one. But, first we must model it in our own lives, we can do this!

Father, I thank you for your grace for this season. I thank you for helping us learn what it means to have sober thinking in the midst of our culture. Not to try to escape the troubles through drunkenness. To be like those who do not stay awake, but choose to sleep in excess. We need your help and courage today to equip the next generation. Raise up teachers. Raise up leaders who will model how to be sober-minded, but also full of your joy and strength. We choose to trust you today, In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Faith and Harder vs Easier

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. James 1:2

I find it interesting that the NKJV uses when you “fall” into various trials phrasing. As a child, I used to think it meant walking along a path and then you literally stumble into a pit! Other translations say “when you meet trials of various kinds” (ESV); “when troubles of any kind come your way” (NLT); or as the Message says: Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. I don’t think it matters how the various trials and tests come our way, it is how we handle them that matter.

One struggle or “test” that comes our way is walking with the aftermath of loss. Nine years ago, this week, my husband died. Even though I don’t write it on the calendar for a remembrance, my heart remembers, just like I remember the day of his stroke etc. People told me that the first year would be the “hardest”. It was very hard in some ways. We made it through the firsts (thanksgiving, Christmas, his birthday). I still remember the surprise Valentine’s Day flower the funeral home sent me. It helped take the sting off the loss. Comparing “harder” or “easier” really isn’t helpful. It is what it is. Grief days still occur, I’ve learned to manage them, so I guess it’s become easier?

Was it easy? Was it hard? That is all relative, isn’t it? As the years have gone by, I have developed a new rhythm of life that is good. I am very blessed by my family and other people in my life, but does that mean I don’t long to have him in my life again? Of course not. When we suffer loss, no matter what kind of loss–financial, emotional, relational, job, grief, I have learned to turn the “harder” into “easier” is inviting the Holy Spirit to teach me how to walk through the hard times. With Him, those “hard” times become at least a little easier. James 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect complete, lacking nothing.

The way we view trials and testings definitely affects our perspective of “hard” or “easy”. James urges his brethren to view adversities through the lens of joy! Not a natural human response, is it? When we view the various testings, understanding that God has a purpose and a plan for those tests, it makes it “easier”. I have often heard it said, “don’t pray for patience”, but my friends, we need it. The Holy Spirit produces it in our lives as a fruit of the Spirit. This fruit needs difficulties and trials for it to be perfectly formed. Patience is a form of trust. Learning to embrace the trials and testings that are a part of life is a measure of maturity. Children are impatient, adults are supposed to be patient! Oops,we may need to grow up.

I hear my grandchildren saying about many things: “that’s too hard. I can’t do it”. We encourage them to try. Tackling the tests of life alone can be overwhelming. That is why we do it together. Strengthening each other with the words of the Lord is an opportunity to make life’s struggles easier for everyone. Loss anniversaries are still challenging, but when I determine to use them to count the blessings, it becomes easier. To say something is easier, does not mean it isn’t hard!

Father, I ask you to help us with the hard things of life. Teach us how to count it all joy when we face the testings of life. You were the perfect example for us. Strengthen those who are facing hard and uncertain days. We thank you for walking with us during our immature and growing situations. We choose to let patience be formed in us. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Faith and God’s Action Words

Listen to me, all who hope for deliverance. Isaiah 51:1

This past month I read the book of Isaiah. Once again, the Holy Spirit caught my attention. Do you know how many special action words Isaiah uses in talking to the Israelites and to us? Well, I confess I don’t either! I know God’s action words are throughout the Bible, but they caught my attention in Isaiah.

Actions words like “listen”. Listen to me, all who hope for deliverance—all who seek the Lord! Consider the rock from which you were cut, the quarry from which you were mined. Isaiah 51:1. Isaiah 51:7 Listen to me, you who know right from wrong, you who cherish my law in your hearts. Do not be afraid of people’s scorn, nor fear their insults. I felt like a child, where a parent was trying their best to get their attention. Homeschooling my grandchildren, I often tell them “listen up”. This is important. I feel God is trying not only to get my attention, but the attention of His church. We need to listen much more attentively than ever before. We must remember who it is that is speaking to us. It is the Lord of Heaven and Earth. My Lord, who has my best interest at heart. It is your Savior, who loves you more than anything.

I am trying to practice listening. Sunday morning I knew it was going to be a long morning, so I went to make coffee in my travel cup. It is something I often do, especially if I serve both services. Quietly I heard the Lord say, “not today”. Instead of arguing and pondering His reasons, I just walked away from the coffeemaker empty handed. I trusted He had His reason. I congratulated myself on listening!! I think listening begs the question, are we using the ears He has given us to hear? I watch my children teach their children the importance of listening during dangerous times. Little ones don’t always know why they need to stop when mom says stop, but they learn to trust her voice. I hope to learn to trust His voice even more. I need to become a better listener.

Another “action word” that caught my attention is wake up. Wake up or awake! Isaiah 51:17-19 is very sobering. Wake up, wake up, O Jerusalem! You have drunk the cup of the Lord’s fury. You have drunk the cup of terror, tipping out its last drops. Not one of your children is left alive to take your hand and guide you. These two calamities have fallen on you: desolation and destruction, famine and war. And who is left to sympathize with you? Who is left to comfort you? Terrible things had happened to them and, in a way, they really didn’t even understand or realize it. Is that what is happening in our culture? Are we so asleep that we are losing the next generation to destructive and desolate thoughts and actions that are definitely against the Word of God? We need to wake up with courage and faith. We need to arise with hope and be about our Father’s business.

Wake up, wake up, O Zion! Clothe yourself with strength. Put on your beautiful clothes, O holy city of Jerusalem, for unclean and godless people will enter your gates no longer. Rise from the dust, O Jerusalem. Sit in a place of honor. Remove the chains of slavery from your neck. Let us wake up and listen to His Words. Let us put on His strength, learning to lean on Him and His wisdom. These two action words “listen and wake” are for each of us, as His children.

Father, I ask you to help us wake up and listen. I ask that as we read your Word, we put into action your requests. I thank you for opening our ears that we may hear your direction and assignment. We are called to be your lights in this dark world, help make it so. Forgive us for sleeping on the job. Help us to pray for our leaders, both spiritual and governmental, during these difficult days. In Jesus’ Name. Amen

Faith and Dealing with Disappointment

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world. John 16:33.

Disappointments happen in life. They just do. They are part of “and in this world you shall have tribulation, trouble, suffering, distress, oppression, affliction, experience difficulties, trials and sorrows, persecution, dis-ease. I read John 16:33 in 36 different translations and they translated the word tribulation into all those various words. One of those troubles is disappointment.

Disappointment affects our emotions. It is sadness or displeasure caused by nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations. So if we are going to learn to deal with our disappointment, we must understand how it effects that part of our soul. Mentally, in our brain, we can understand why a person had to cancel a meeting, or break their promise, but it can still bring pain to our heart. If we ignore or hide from the fact we are disappointed, we bury that pain and it can cause further damage to the relationship later on. Anger and mistrust can fester, not good things. When dealing with disappointment, let’s remember Hebrews 14:15. Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great HIgh Priest with ready access to God–let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a high priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help. This includes dealing with disappointment.

Often,disappointments occur through people. Disappointment often happens when something we anticipated–maybe looked forward to didn’t happen. Do you think Jesus might have experienced some disappointment when he was working with his disciples? In Matthew 17, we read where a distraught father came to Jesus, concerned for his son, after he had asked some of Jesus’ disciples to pray for his son, who had a demon. His response was telling. Jesus replied: Where is your faith? Can’t you see how wayward and wrong this generation is? How much longer do I stay with you and pur up with your doubts? Bring your son to me.” Do you think he might have been disappointed on the night of his betrayal when the disciples were found sleeping? The difference between Jesus facing disappointment and our disappointments is Jesus knew they were going to happen. Often we are caught off guard and our emotions surprise us.

I admit I have experienced many disappointments in my life. Some of it took me a long time to admit. I would pass it off as no big deal, when in actuality my heart was hurt, but I did not want the other person to “feel” bad or to know just how disappointed I was. It built up walls of distrust and affected my meeting new people. I have now learned to talk it over with the Lord. Admit it to Him. He is a great listener! Often, as I share my disappointments with Him, perspective comes and I learn from the situation. Other times, I need a safe person to share the pain with. The Word reminds us to confess our sins to one another. (James 5:16) This safe person can hear but won’t won’t judge the person who disappointed us, but will listen and share their perspective. Ask the Lord for guidance in this area.

Sometimes we are disappointed because we had unrealistic expectations.Taking time to look at the bigger picture of all involved can help bring things into a better perspective. A vacation will not solve all your problems! A new job won’t necessarily bring all the changes you want or need. Adjusting our expectations can help us monitor our disappointments.

I Corinthians 11:28 urges us to examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. This is often a great time to do a soul check up. Are you ok with yourself or others? Is there some unacknowledged pain that you have been carrying around that you need to deal with? Remembering all that Jesus went through, and accepting His forgiveness, is a good way to clear the slate.

Why do we need to deal with disappointment? Because it robs us from the fullness of joy that Jesus wants us to have. It can cause us to isolate from the ones we care about. Left undealt with it can lead to depression and anger. Especially if you find yourself disappointed in you. When we are disappointed with ourselves, it brings sadness and guilt that can linger long after the event. Admit you are human. Seek forgiveness if necessary and then leave it under the blood of Jesus. Learn from your actions. Don’t become ensnared by them. Develop realistic expectations for yourself! This is often a tricky one, for we are often our worst critic. Remember the good news! Jesus Christ came to save sinners, you and I fall in that category! Do not let pride interfere with receiving His forgiveness for yourself. It is not worth it.

Father, I thank you for help us learn to deal with disappointments. I thank you for understanding the pain that happens when we are disappointed, and helping us move past that pain. Please show us where we have let unacknowledged disappointment cause distrust and walls between us and others. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Faith and God’s Good Grace

My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT

Wow, I am still struggling to understand and embrace my weaknesses. It takes courage to look at them. It takes courage and humility to admit the weaknesses are there. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12: 9 three times, I pleaded with the Lord to relieve me of this. But He answered me, “My grace is always enough for you,” and my power finds full expression through your weakness”. Even though we don’t clearly know or understand Paul’s thorn or weakness, we know he did, and so did the Lord. He took the time to ask the Lord three times for it to be removed, and he finally came to a place of peace concerning it. The Passion Translation goes on to say, So I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I am weak, I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me. Learning to lean on the Lord, acknowledging our weakness, gives us the opportunity to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit, not our own power and ability. Every weakness is a opportunity to release this power to work in and through us.

This past week has been busy. I started teaching astronomy and health to 4 of my grandchildren, plus our Life Group began a new study with new people! My son and his wife took a Covid delayed 10th anniversary get a way, so I helped with their children as well. Other projects popped up and let just say it’s been a full week. My “thorn” during this season seems to be tiredness. The things on my to do list were not budging. My solution: to begin the day talking to the Lord about it and thanking Him for the strength I needed to not only do the tasks, but to do it cheerfully and with strength. I was able to accomplish even more than I “felt” like I could do.

The scriptures continue with Paul writing, So I’m not defeated by my weakness, but delighted. (2 Corinthians 12:10). I admit after I acknowledged my need for Him, I was blessed and excited about how I had the energy I needed to love on my grandchildren as they needed. When was the last time you felt delighted by your weakness? I admit I came home and rested! But the patience, grace and focus I needed was there when I needed it. Paul continues: For when I feel my weakness and endure mistreatment—when I’m surrounded by troubles on every side and face persecution, because of my love for Christ—I am made yet stronger.For my weakness becomes a portal to God’s power.

I know my “weakness” is so small compared to all the troubles and trials Paul faced, but when I stopped being frustrated by it, admitted it and then asked for help, I could complete my godly assignment. What I love about God’s grace is that it is sufficient for both the bigs and the smalls of life. It doesn’t matter. It is accessible for all things. All we have to do is position ourselves to receive it. That positioning includes the admission of our weakness to Him. Releasing our faith that when we ask, we receive. Then we allow that gracious provision to show up as He deems. It may be through help from others or the courage to tackle the job ourselves, but it will show up in a way that will show forth His power and grace, giving Him the glory, and isn’t that what we want to do with our lives?

Maybe you need His grace to overcome resentment, bitterness, or other works of the flesh, as described in Galatians 5:19. His grace is available to you. Perhaps you struggle with addictions or feelings of unworthiness. His grace is available to you. Ephesians 2:8-8 declares For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. We began our journey by faith because of the grace of God, and it is the only way we can continue. Do not short change the grace of God and your need for it in your life. It is the only way to live, relying on Him and His ways. You stumble, rely on His grace to forgive and then get back up and rely on it to keep you walking straight. It is incredible, this gift of grace we have been given–don’t let it go to waste in your life. Access it every day in every way. Your life will improve!

Father, I thank you for your amazing grace. It’s so abundant. You never run out of it. Help us to rely on You and Your strength every day. You love it when we do. It brings you glory and joy. Teach us to rely on You even more. In Jesus Name, amen.

Faith and Reaping

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 2 Corinthians 9:6

A few weeks ago, while my grandchildren were visiting, they came in with a few apples. This tree is on the backside of my property, out of my normal eyesight—so it takes these wonderful children to remind me I have fruit! For the past few years, we may have gotten a dozen or so apples from this tree each year. It is at least fifty years old and produces the best combination of sweet/ tart apples you can eat. My expectation was the kids would pick and eat them, not much bother. What a surprise it was to walk back and find dozens of apples on the ground! The tree had outdone itself. I think it is the biggest harvest we have ever had.

Now what! My two choices were to just let them sit and rot and hope the deer enjoyed their feast, or be the responsible home owner and deal with them. I had not expected to have to deal with all of these apples. My granddaughter graciously helped me pick them up. Some of them had been on the ground a long time and were not fit to process. We sorted them into keepers and composters. It was a bit overwhelming to know what to do with them all. In all honesty, I was glad some of them were past using!

But here I am with all this fruit. Now what? The next day, my daughter surprised me with bringing her girls over with two fruit dehydrators and soon an excellent team got to work with an apple peeler, slicer corer gadget, turning the apples into delicious dried snacks. I filled my crock pot to start the apple butter process. It felt so good to not let this harvest go to waste.

This tree surprised me with its abundant crop this year. Have you ever been surprised by the harvest you’ve been sowing? Do you even expect to reap the godly seeds you’ve sown into others? Don’t be misled–you cannot mock the justice of God. you will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone–especially to those in the family of faith. Galatians 6:9-10 My apple tree simply did the good job it was created for—produce apples. As we keep on walking in the Spirit, let’s expect the fruit of the Spirit to be manifested in and through our lives. Even though we are the first partakers of that fruit, it is for others to benefit from. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are then available to those around us. My apple tree surprised me with its bountiful harvest this year. Maybe our spiritual fruit will surprise us also! No matter what, please do not get discouraged when sowing love, patience etc. some soils are hard to sow into. It is not our job to discern another’s soil condition. That is up to the Lord. Keep on sowing my friends, we will reap in His season.

Father, please help us understand the importance of sowing to please your Spirit. I thank you that you are helping us in these areas. It is so easy to become self-centered and selfish, forgives us dear Father. Help us trust you to do the right thing and expect a great harvest. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Faith and Resilience

We have great endurance in hardships and in persecutions. We don’t lose courage in a time of stress and calamity. 2 Corinthians 6:4 TPT

Resilience is the ability to adapt and bounce back from difficult life challenges. It allows us to move forward from loss and suffering, even great suffering, and grow from it. Life brings challenges. It just does. In John 16:33, Jesus tells us: I have told you all this so you may have peace in me, here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. The word for trials and sorrows is the Greek word thlipsis. Pressure, oppression, stress, anguish, tribulation, adversity, affliction, crushing, squashing, squeezing, distress are some words the New Spirit Filled translates the word thlipsis.

Isn’t it encouraging to know Jesus already knows that we will go through these things? Two things Jesus wants us to clearly have when going through trials, tribulations and sorrows: peace in Him and an encouraged heart. It is easy to allow discouragement, disillusionment and darkness to close us off from His peace and His hope. We can choose to quit, or we can choose to press on to reach the end of the prize. (Philippians 3: 14) It is for our best benefit, and for those around us to keep on pressing on. I admit, there have been times in my life when I wondered “why bother”? Life seems too hard, the struggles too real and I don’t think I have it within me to continue on. But God. Then the Holy Spirit came in with His light and His truth. Life isn’t supposed to be easy. Nobody promised us fair. As I drew near to Him, again, I found Him. I knew I did not have to navigate these alone. I knew He was there and I could even find fellowship with Him in the sufferings. Did they miraculously go away? No. But as I adjusted my perspective to understand that these are part of my life here on earth, it became easier to seek Him for His solutions.

Life with Covid’s restrictions is difficult, nor fair. My children and grandchildren face decisions I did not have to ever make. I remember my parents taking us to our doctor’s office after hours, where we found it full of our classmates waiting to receive a polio vaccine. But I know my children and grandchildren will make it. Their stories are being written for future generations. It is our job to pray for them. Encourage them. And help fill their spiritual and emotional toolbox with tools that will help them gain resilience. We can sympathize with them, but let’s not make them victims. Show them what it means to be overcomers. Help them learn gratitude for what they have, instead of continual whining for what they don’t have. It starts with us modeling it.

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4: 8-9. Paul endured, and so can we, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Whatever is trying to knock you down or take you out of your assignment, don’t let it. Keep on pressing. Keep on standing. Keep on trusting. The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked. Proverbs 24: 16.

Father, I thank you for resilience. I thank you that you are helping us grow in this necessary character trait. Help us not to be thrown off course by the trials and tribulations of this world. Our hearts are full of sorrow at times, but You understand those sorrows. I thank you that as we remember you are near to the brokenhearted and you save the crushed in spirit, we will not quit. We are grateful that Your word promises us that all things will work together for our good as we keep on walking and trusting You. In Jesus Name, amen.

Faith in the Resurrection

I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection. Phil 3:11

Last week a phone call surprised me. Our dear Ghanian son, Justice Ekuban Jr. called to inform me he and a team are in the process of making a modern updated movie based on the story of Ruth. It seems a missionary family head to Africa (mom, dad and two sons) where tragedy happens and the men pass. Justice didn’t take the time to tell me the entire plot due to time constraints. Apparently, in some of the opening scenes, they need a picture of an older white gentleman, so he asked me if I could send him a picture of Darryl, pre-stroke.

With a bit of fear and trepidation, I searched my photo files–because they aren’t the most organized area of my computer. I prayed, Lord help me. Help me navigate all these pictures, help me find the right ones and also help me as I experience the emotions all these photos will touch upon. As the hunt went on and I began to re-live a very special season of my life with my dear husband.

He went to be with the Lord almost nine years ago. Looking at those pictures reminded me of how real my life was with him. That may sound odd to those of you who haven’t lost a loved one. I miss him every day, but being reminded through pictures reminded me how very real it actually was. As I focused on these pictures, it overwhelmed me with joy and the blessing of having him in my life for 38 years. I said “you were real. Our life together was real.” And then I thought, I bet you are even more real up in heaven. That made me even happier!

The next day I read I Corinthians 15 which is full of teaching about the resurrection. It was so comforting to know that it is real. Jesus experienced resurrection, and so will we. But the truth is, Christ is risen from the dead, as the firstfruit of a great resurrection harvest of those who have died. I Corinthians 15: 20 The resurrection is our hope. Through it we have the power over sin, death and the grave. Another friend went to be with Jesus this week. He touched many lives and will be missed by his family. Death here on earth still has a sting and pain to it, but when we get to heaven, all our tears will be wiped away. The good news is we have a Comforter who helps us navigate grief, understands it and still gives us hope, which is good news.

Darryl is living his best life yet! Justice liked the pictures I sent him. So hopefully we will get to see this movie after it is released–not sure how or when! But at least Darryl will play a small part because when he was alive, he chose to live his life fully for Jesus. Let’s do the same.

Father, I thank you for the reality of the resurrection. Please help us understand how real it is, and the power it has given us through it. Thank you, dear Lord, for reminding us that those we miss are with you and we will be reunited with them. Help us to be lights in this dark world to share this good news with others who don’t have this hope. In Jesus Name, amen.

Faith and Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all. 2 Thessalonians 3:16

I made a quick trip to the Dollar Tree yesterday. As I hunted for all the things on my list, I heard an amazing voice. A woman lifted her voice and sang, “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His Word” This is an old hymn from my childhood. She was loud and proud. I kept trying to find her, but with all the shoppers and the narrow aisles, I couldn’t see her. Have you ever been in the woods and heard a bird sing? You can’t see it, but you can sure hear it? It was like that. Her lilting voice cut through the chatter and people fell silent. For me, it was a glorious reminder to trust in my Jesus.

I don’t know if she deliberately was singing loud enough to be heard all over the store or not. I do know she used the gift of her amazing voice to remind others that we have a Savior named Jesus who we can put our trust in. I don’t know her church affiliation or her race. I do know she loves Jesus and is not afraid to share her trust in Him with others. Maybe she was struggling with some issues of life and needed to remind herself of His goodness. Maybe she just wanted to remind everyone of His love. Again, I don’t know. I do know everyone in the store was affected. The store was so busy yesterday. People were in every aisle. I wish I would have stopped and just looked at the people and their response, but I was so caught up in the uniqueness of it all, I just listened and shopped.

We find ourselves, once again, in an uncertain season. Not only are the Covid numbers rising again, but the division between mandatory vaccine requirements and mask wearing for job requirements is escalating. Our governor has issued mandatory vaccine requirements for all health workers, teachers and staff (both public and private schools) plus mask wearing indoors. Personal choice and decision making seems to be out of our control. If people choose not to get vaccinated and they lose their jobs, what will happen to them? Could our nation be on the verge of protest and rioting against these imposed mandates? Possibly. Do we need to fear? No. Never. Not an option. Tis time to trust in Jesus, take Him at His word, rest in His promise and seek Him like never before. Pray for our leadership. Pray for wisdom for those not vaccinated and for those who are.

Our hearts are burdened for our Christian brothers and sisters in Afghanistan as the Taliban re-establishes their authority. I read today where each family is supposed to mark an X on their house if they have daughters over the age of 12, so the Taliban can take them. If they don’t and discovered, their entire family could be executed on the spot. I can’t imagine the agony these parents are going through. Many are giving guns to their girls and letting them fight it out or choose to kill themselves. It’s horrendous. Is our God still in control? Yes. But so is the battle. Let us join in prayer for our brothers and sisters. I can only imagine the stories of His intervention that are happening right now as people all over the world intercede.

So it is such a good time to be reminded Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus. We must not grow weary in our well doing, but we must continue to seek Him and HIs will. If you differ in your opinions with others, do so with grace and mercy. Seek to understand even if you don’t agree. Seek to walk and live in His peace. Darryl Rodman once said: Peace is a gift from God that establishes our hearts and minds in a confident and assured expectation of His care for us no matter what else is going on. There is definitely a lot going on in our world right now.

Father, Help us. Help those we care about. Help our brothers and sisters in Afganistan and around the world who are suffering from persecution. Strengthen us. Teach us to trust in you, no matter what is going on. We choose to cling to our faith. I pray for those fighting Covid and for their families who are trusting in your power of healing. I pray for those who must choose to lose their jobs or get vaccinated against their will. I ask you to help our leaders find solutions that will not rob us of our freedoms. Father, we need you. Help us trust you and your ways during these tough times. In Jesus Name, amen.