Faith and Loss

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. Psalm 116:15 ESV

My friend passed into the arms of Jesus this week. We had a wonderful conversation a few weeks ago…she wanted me to reserve a copy of my book for her. We talked about Jesus, as usual. She loved him in a very quiet, but fierce, way. I am happy for her. She is no longer in pain and dealing with the health struggles of older age. I don’t know if she really understood how much value she added to those around her.

Losing a friend, family member, or spouse leaves a hole. It just does. I think that is a testimony of loving and caring for someone. It is God’s way of reminding us to love those who are present in our lives. I listened to someone explain why Jewish people put stones on the headstones of their loved ones instead of flowers. They said it is to remind them they are eternal beings. There is a permanence about them and rocks symbolize that. Flowers fade too quickly for them. There is joy knowing that Anne is with the Lord, rejoicing in His love, and she understands all that we don’t.

The word translated “precious” means of high worth, value, or cost. In the Hebrew, the word translated “saints” means those who are the faithful followers of the Lord. God cares about how and when His people pass from death unto life. The New Living Translation declares that the Lord cares deeply when his loved one’s die. He who watches over us, watches over that transition as well. We are precious to him in life. It is only understandable that we would be precious to him in death. Unfortunately, sometimes we don’t really comprehend how precious people are in our lives until after they are gone. After we have lost the ability to interact and learn from them. Then it is too late. I know we hear this a lot—but we often need reminding, love while you can. When it is over, it is over.

Sometimes the way people die is confusing to our perspective. Anne fell, hit her head and a few days later passed. She, as far as I understand, never regained consciousness. For her family and friends, our last conversation would be the last time we heard her voice. I am grateful that my last conversation with her was positive and uplifting. We had made plans to connect—I guess that will have to wait.

I can’t get away from the word “precious”. God knows how costly it is for our loss as well. As we walk through this loss, he knows how to comfort us and care for us. He knows how to teach us through it. He knows how to use it for our good, if we let Him. This week as I read the books of Ezra and Nehemiah I noticed there were several lists given of individuals. Scripture memorialized them forever. They listed some because they married foreigners (negative), others because they helped with rebuilding the temple and the wall (positive). While we, who are alive, have choices to make concerning our contribution to God’s Kingdom. Will we choose to add value to it, or choose our own ways? I know Anne had some regrets about her life. We talked about them. The good news is she was working on changing and correcting them, and trusting Jesus with those things she couldn’t change. I regret not taking the time to be with her more.

My friends, any loss is painful. Let us learn from it. Let us love stronger and longer. Let us forgive quickly and encourage those around us to do the same. In Revelation 18, we find a phrase repeated twice: in a single moment (vs 17, 19). It is true about opportunities; they come and go in a single moment. Let’s make use of them, ok?

Father, I am so grateful you see us as precious, both in life and in death. I ask that you help us honor and respect those around us as precious as well. Please comfort Anne’s family and all who have lost loved ones this past year. Grief continues long after the memorial service is over, so we ask that you teach us how to comfort with words and actions.Once again,we ask you to help us number our days. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Faith and My Prayer

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13

Merry Christmas, dear Ones;

As we are so close to celebrating Christmas, I just wanted to take from the Apostle Paul’s example, and pray a prayer for you and your family.

Father, I pray for everyone reading this prayer. I am so grateful you are a God who hears and answers. I John 5:14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: That if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

I ask that as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we will take the time to ponder what an amazing gift you gave us. I am still humbled by the overwhelming love that took. May we all take time to appreciate what it took for you to leave heaven and come to earth. And not only come, but complete the entire sacrifice simply because you love us. Thank you, Father.

I am grateful you are a God who helps us in our time of need. Father, I ask you strengthen everyone who is feeling weak and overwhelmed right now. That you will show them the path they need to take through the wilderness, out of the darkness or even in the valley of the shadow of death. You don’t just leave us to find our way through, out or in, you want to help us in our time of trouble, and for that I praise you.

I thank you for being a God who is “with” us, Immanuel. I trust you are revealing yourself to your people right now, wherever they are. That you are opening our eyes to see you in your fullness, your power and your mercy. Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. Ephesians 1:18

I am grateful that you are a God who doesn’t leave us as we are, but, as we allow, you are causing us to grow up and mature in our thoughts and our actions. These character traits aren’t always easy to learn, but we trust our Good Teacher is instructing us and we can learn to do things your way. Your word declares that your way is best. Psalm 86:11 Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. O dear Lord, we know if our hearts are surrendered to you, united to serve you we will be able to accomplish your will for our lives.

I ask that you fill my friends with your joy today. A joy that holds expectation and hope. A joy that will bring strength and anticipation into their lives. A joy that will overflow into others and make a difference. Joy that comes from their asking big prayers, and them seeing the answers. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. John 16:24 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory. 1 Peter 1:8

Father, I ask that you fill us with your love, for perfect love casts away all fear. 1 John 4:18. I thank you that you conquered death, fear and the grave. I ask that you equip us for the journey ahead, no matter what or where it leads us. We need not fear the future, because you are already there. I choose to trust you today with my family, my friends and those who will read these words. May they be drawn closer and closer to you and your ways. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Merry Christmas to each of you. Thank you for taking time to read my words.

Faith and Jesus: Savior? Lord?

He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves. Revelation 1:13-15 NLT

One of the blessings of deciding to read the bible through in a year is your find yourself reading in places that your natural mind wouldn’t take you. I have always been a bit hesitant to believe that I could actually read the book of Revelation with any kind of understanding. But, once again I am trying as I release my faith, to ask the Holy Spirit to help me receive what He wants me to receive from it. It has been different. Each day, I gain some new insights, some are comforting, some are challenging.

Christmas is a time of celebrating Jesus’ amazing birth story. It is filled with awe and wonder and of course the miracle conception and fulfillment of God’s promise, but (I know these are not “new” thoughts) if we leave him in the manger we lose sight of who he is now. Parents often have trouble allowing their children to grow up. But, one day, it happens they are grown men and women and we begin to see who they really are! Reading through the gospel story, we understand this babe grew to a man so despised he was cruelly crucified on a cross, dying to become our Savior. We celebrate his resurrection over the power of sin and death in our lives.

John, isolated on the isle of Patmos had an encounter with Jesus that changed his life, and through his writings, desires to change ours. Jesus reigning with his father, demands our honor, respect and obedience. Not because he is a cruel taskmaster, but because of who he really is. He is Lord. He is Sovereign and he reigns. So many of us, as his children are so flippant to his words, we take them as optional. I think if we, like John saw this Son of Man, complete with eyes like flames of fire, feet like polished bronze and a voice thundering like ocean waves our response to him, might be different.

In 1968 I was a student at the University of Washington I had an encounter with the Lord. It was a cold, rainy day in Seattle. I spent several hours walking the streets praying and allowing the Holy Spirit to touch my heart. My final revelation that day: Jesus is my Savior, now would I allow him to be Lord? I can still remember that encounter. It was so real. I bowed my heart to him that day. I simply said, yes. It began a journey that continues, with many more opportunities to test my decision that day.

As I have grown and matured I have a different picture of my parents, than I did as a child. I believe as we grow and mature as believers, we also see our Heavenly Father, Jesus, his son and the Holy Spirit with more maturity. One day when Jesus returns, it will be the Son of Man, John saw. There will be no question of who we bow to, then. I believe we will see so clearly who he really is. I know I don’t always see him or relate to him as the Lord of Heaven’s armies, but I want to. In Revelation chapter 5, John sees him as Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. (Interesting picture, right?) I think we need to pray for a clearer revelation of who he really is. He is both the Lion of Judah and the Lamb of God. He embodies them both. When we choose to accept him as Savior, we also need to understand his lordship. It’s part of growing in our relationship with him.

Father, we need your help in understanding who you really are. Our natural minds conjure up meek, mild mannered man which nothing seems to bother. But you do get bothered. Reading about your attitudes toward the seven churches, shows us your concerns. Help us Lord, to really see you, at least in a way we can handle. Forgive us for taking your gifts (like salvation, forgiveness, mercy and hope) but not being willing to take your orders. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Faith and Darkness

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:5 NLT

A few weeks ago, our area experienced a large windstorm and our power went out. It was a cold, dreary, now dark experience. I am fortunate and live in the center of our town–so we seem to a priority for the power company. Many people’s power went off in the evening, while mine didn’t go out until 7:00 in the morning, but it was still difficult to see.

I had actually prepared this summer for expected power outages by replacing the used batteries in my best flashlight. It is a fancy type with flashers, a radio, a broad light and a typical flashlight type headlamp. I admit I felt a little smug—I knew where my flashlight was and I was prepared! I had an emergency light that extinguished the darkness.

My Bible, New Spirit Filled Life Bible, has a feature called “word wealth”. It is a help that gives a bit more insight into different Hebrew or Greek words. It defines the word “extinguish” in John 1:5. “Extinguish, katalambano Strongs#2638. The word is capable of three interpretations: 1. to seize, lay hold of, overcome. As such, v.5 could read ‘the darkness does not gain control of it.’ 2. To perceive, attain, lay hold of with the mind, to apprehend with mental or moral effort. With this meaning the verse could be translated, “the darkness is unreceptive and does not understand it’. 3. To quench, extinguish, snuff out the light by stifling it. ‘The darkness will never be able to eliminate it.’ Light and darkness essentially are antagonistic. The Christian’s joy is in knowing that light is not only greater than darkness but will also outlast the darkness.

Darkness can be disorienting, fearful and a thief. It can rob of us of joy, hope and expectation, because it robs us of our seeing. It gives opportunity for our imaginations to run wild. However, when we understand that our God is light. He has given us that light and with that light we are able to walk in confidence–because His word is a lamp to guide my feet and is a light for my path. Psalm 119:105 NLT When we find ourselves in “darkness” in any situation or difficulty we must run to God’s Word. That requires submission and humility, and maybe some time to actually seek out what it has to say.

There are a couple of things implied in this scripture. One is movement. We are looking to navigate through a dark or at least low lit area as safely as possible. The promise of this verse is that God’s Word will give us exactly that–enough light to move ahead. We may not be able to see clearly all around us, but we will have enough wisdom, insight or direction to safely take the next step. This involves trust and submission. Both things which aren’t natural in dark places. As we follow him and his ways we know that his path leads to life, truth and freedom. He will not lead us to wickedness or evil. Romans 12;2 instructs us: Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. We must be honest and admit when we walk our own selves into darkness through disobedience, sin. Before we can walk farther, we must repent, turn from our wicked ways and back to the light. Of course, this implies that we are willing to let go of our own selfish, fearful ways, and follow him. This lamp, God’s Word, that guides our feet will only lead us to knowing him and his ways in a deeper, fuller measure.

Sometimes, our paths do lead us into suffering and trials. It can feel very dark. I want remind you that this darkness does not have the power to extinguish your faith, love or future. When we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we do not need to fear any evil lurking there. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff they comfort me. Psalm 23:4 ESV When we take the time to remember we are never alone in the dark places because our Sovereign God is with us. peace comes. When our walk with him, becomes more about our relationship with him, than what we think we want, we will choose to follow no matter when he leads.

My friends, the darkness of this world (Satan and his minions) do not control this world. Please understand, that God has not abdicated. He is ruling and reigning, right now, whether we see it or not (dark places). He wants us to understand and live our lives in such a manner. That is why it is important for us to follow him, because he not only has the light, but is the light of the world. The smallest candle has power over the darkness. He has commissioned us to be part of that light. Let us let our light (which was lit by him) shine bright in this dark world, it needs us.

Father, we need you to really help us understand how strong and powerful your light is. Every fear, torment and lie that rises up against your truth we turn back now in Jesus’ Name. We choose to walk in the light, we choose to follow the lamp you have given us (your word) and I ask that you continue to instruct us how to shine brighter in this dark world, In Jesus’ Name. Amen

Faith and Advent

Advent: the arrival of a notable person, thing or event. It’s here. The beginning of the celebration of Christ’s birth–definitely the most notable person we know! For the past three years, my dear daughter Elizabeth Haslet has created an interactive Advent coloring book. Each year focus’s on a different aspect of Christmas. It is an amazing opportunity for families to interact together with scripture, Christmas carols, recipes and places to journal your thoughts and make new memories. There are two pages for each day leading up to Christmas morning. Adding it to my December devotional time has helped me really focus on the season, instead of simply reading through the book of Revelation!

Day 1 is entitled an Invitation. She describes the joy of receiving an invitation to a birthday party, complete with anticipation, joy and maybe a bit of stress. But she includes a warning, if you will. But be careful. Please don’t miss out on the greatest invitation of all! To spend time with Jesus Himself. How awful to go to a birthday party and never get to spend any time with the birthday kid! We come because we care and want to be with our friend or family member. Jesus wants that too. He wants to spend time with you this Christmas. He wants to be in the middle of every decoration, event, food making, joyouse memories, and yes even in the messes and sorrows that can come at this time of year. He wants to be in the middle of all of it.

So open His invitation! Come and sit as his feet. Kneel if you want to, but let’s dedicate this precious season to Jesus. Let’s include Him in everything we do. As the bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray with out ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

My friends, let’s choose to celebrate this wonderful notable amazing Savior. Traditions are wonderful in building legacy and memories, but they can be even sweeter if we intertwine our faith in them. Ask Him for creative ideas, He loves to share. One year, on Christmas morning we spontaneously began giving “verbal” gifts and words of affirmation to each other. It has become a very meaningful part of our family sharing time since then. Christmas card writing is dwindling away–but when I send cards I like to take the time to write something personal to each recipient. If I am going to spend the time and stamps–let’s make it meaningful right? I know many take the time to find the right sentiment on the card they purchase and that is very special as well.

Sometimes, we might need to stop doing a tradition. I have made fudge for my neighbors for a few years. Last year one neighbor glared at me (he and his wife are now divorced) and another neighbor chose not to answer their door! It might have been a Covid thing. (A whole other story) I’m feeling a bit intimidated about this year…but we shall see. I think I was forcing a “good” thing, instead of a God thing.

We know He isn’t the newborn babe lying in a manger anymore. But that did happen and it is a good thing to celebrate his advent, but even more our relationship with him.

Faith and Faith Accomplished

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11: 1 NLT

There are times when our faith is no longer a “substance of things hoped for”, it becomes real. For several years, I wrote a newsletter entitled “Real Women” as part of Impart Ministry (the mobile ministry we led together). The purpose was to encourage all Christian women, but especially those called into leadership, to pursue God’s best for their lives. Then my world shattered. My husband suffered a massive stroke, and I put everything on hold for the two and half years as I cared for him.. God took him home in 2012. I was at a loss on how to regain some kind of normalcy without him. Should I even return to writing?

Not only had my world changed, but so had the world. People weren’t too interested in printed newsletters, anymore. My children encouraged me to switch to writing a “blog”. With the help of my son and his research we discovered Word Press. He filled in all the forms and named it “Faith Encounters”. I loved the name and it challenged the scope and focus of each blog. My friend, Jim Stephens, writes Grace Notes everyday! I knew that I couldn’t possibly be that diligent and productive, so I settled on a once a week schedule. Some weeks I couldn’t wait to write, others I admit, I dreaded. Most weeks, it was simple obedience to my Lord that kept me writing. But weeks turned into months, which turned into years. Once again my children and some persistent friends, said, “Martha, you need to turn this into a book”.

As I was praying, struggling and thinking through the idea of really turning it into a book, I face the wall of finances. How could I in reality fund this project? Then, as only our Heavenly Father could do, He provided funding through another ministry, when my leader friend died from Covid. So that mountain was removed.

But, then I faced another mountain. The mountain of insecurity.and it rose up strong and proud. Why should I think people would want to read what I write? The “who am I” question pounded my emotions. Finally I settled it, when I simply asked: Lord, is this what you want? I felt Him say yes. So I began re-reading past posts, culling the ones that received the most responses and slogging through the editing process. It was work. It took time and energy and focus. I hit the wall of resistance so many times, I just wanted to quit. My daughter and son helped with some of the editing when I hit that wall. We truly need others to help us accomplish God’s purpose and plan in our lives. Some days my resolve came from “it’s a kegacy I can leave for my grandchildren”, along with the simple obedience,

Faith started arising as I could see it coming together. I got more comfortable with the rhythm of the process. Then I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me to finish it. I had grown comfortable in the in-between place, but I couldn’t stay there. I had to keep moving. One day in church, our pastor, Michael Hurley, said something about faith and words—and I felt I was supposed to ask him if he would write the foreword. I am not even sure if he remembered I was working on this project! Anyway, I stepped out in faith and asked! He said yes! I had to overcome my insecurity to ask him…another step of faith.

There was still another mountain left to climb. Which publishing company should I use? So many to choose from, so many choices to make. It was overwhelming. My friend told me about a company called ” Book Baby” and it seemed to make sense to use them. I did not have enough courage and confidence to approach the major publishing companies that pay you, so I went with Book Baby! So another faith step with so many learning curves to climb began. I learned to ask for help and wait patiently for those who could help me. As I released my faith, our God showed up in so many ways. I encountered His mercy, His provision and His grace. I asked our worship director (who is also a photographer) to take my picture for the back cover, and he made me look good!

My friends, there were a lot of starts and stops along the way. As I went through the editing process, and re-read some posts I had written, I thought “this is good stuff”. This past Monday, two boxes were delivered and I got to hold in my hand what faith had accomplished. I don’t expect it to become a best seller, but I expect it to encourage, comfort and even challenge the reader to expect to have faith encounters with our Lord.

If nothing else, it was a step of obedience. Only our God knows how this accomplishment will be used. What fruit it will bear. It is the same with each of our lives. Friends, keep on walking in obedience. Do not let the walls of resistance stop you from accomplishing God’s purpose and plan in your life—no matter how big or small it may be.

Whenever your faith becomes substance—please take time to celebrate and share your story. The Bible refers to this as your testimony. My daughter bought balloons and their family took me out to dinner to rejoice in what faith has accomplished.

My book is now available through Book Baby ( or through Amazon. It is the fruit of not only my faith encounters—but those around me. I am humbled. I wonder, is it the book that faith accomplished? Or the lessons learned along the way? I think it is both.

Father, please help us trust you to obey your leading, no matter how big or how small. I thank you for your grace, mercy and faithfulness, that every step of faith we take leads us to the substance of our faith as we walk with you. Encourage us today to keep walking, and obeying you, in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Faith and Quitting Part 2

But he that endures to the end, shall be saved. Matthew 24:13

After I wrote “Faith and Quitting” last week, I pondered some more what that really meant. If you quit a job, then you quit the job. No more paychecks, no more following their rules and policies, you are done. You don’t show up for work, because you have quit. So I began to ask myself, is my “quitting” worrying, being anxious, walking in discontent and trying to control my world as simple as that? Is it really quitting? Reality hit–was my declaration to quit emotional statements, or was I really convinced these things needed to get out of my life. Or did I simply take a leave of absence? If I am sincere about “quitting” these things, I must understand there is a process to each “quit”.

The problem with making such declarations, is they come back to haunt you! I was quite serious in declaring I quit, but the question is can we sustain such “quits”? Not without our God’s mercy and grace. Our sin nature likes to rise up strong and tall, it doesn’t like to change. But, I am so grateful we have a Savior who helps us in our time of trouble. Psalm 46:1, God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in the time of trouble (NKJV). Starting and stopping unhealthy habits do seem to bring more trouble than it might seem to be worth! But, when the Holy Spirit nudges or convicts of a need to change, then we must release our faith and believe that it is for our best benefit. I need His help to change. It is helpful to meditate on Hebrews 4:16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

As I pray, seek Him and His ways, I find worry and anxiety falling away. During an especially trying moment last week, I called my sister Marie and asked her if she had any good encouragement. She said, “why, yes, I do!” She proceeded to share with me the blessing and insight that she had received the day before at her Bible study. Then she prayed for me, and as she did, the concerns and troubles that were bothering me, slipped away. I could physically feel peace return. It was so amazing, and I am grateful for her. I actually began to write “Faith and Quitting” after I talked with her. It’s humbling to admit we need others, but as Hebrews 10:24-25 declares: And let us consider how we may spur one other on toward love and good needs, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the day approaching. NIV We must admit we may be the one who needs spurring!

Hebrews 12: 1 urges us to strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. and let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. Every area that I listed that I need to quit, are these weights. They slow us down. Worry, anxiety, trying to control our circumstances slow us down from running the race He has called us to. Can you picture a marathon runner adding weights during their main race? Wouldn’t that be silly? God’s Word clearly instructs us on what kind of weights we need to get rid of,. Let’s examine our lives and be courageous to lay aside every sin and weight that would hinder our running. Do not fall for the lie that your race doesn’t matter. Each one of us are important to God’s Kingdom and others are following us. If it is important enough to run, it’s important enough to run well.

The “quits” I’ve listed are some of the weights that have slowed me down. I am working on “quitting” them because they aren’t healthy nor are they God’s best for me and the others around me. How about you? Do you have things you need to quit?

Father, please reveal these sin an weights that hinder our running the race you have set before us. I thank you for your grace and mercy as we make every change that is important to you. Please help us to make your priorities our priorities, In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Faith and Quitting

It’s been a busy full week–same for you? In the busyness of this week–mostly good stuff, important, stuff that needed to get done, I felt like quitting. Just curling up in my bed and forgetting about all of it. Have you ever been there?

So I decided to quit. I decided to quit trying to live more that one day or activity at a time. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring it’s own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. Matthew 6:34 NLT

I decided to quit being anxious about things that are out of my control. Cast all your anxiety on Him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 NLT

I decided to quit worrying about God’s will and purpose for my life. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV

I decided to quit walking in discontent. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound in any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13 ESV

I decided to quit letting subtle prideful ways direct my path. Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding, seek his will in all you do and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT

I decided to quit feeling that I am falling short, and choosing to walk in His acceptance, strength and grace. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2; 8-9. ESV

These are a few things I’ve decided to quit, but in the quitting of them, there is the taking up or putting on of God’s will and purpose. I choose to walk in greater thankfulness and gratitude. I choose to trust Him and His ways. I will not let fear enter my heart, but I will choose to walk in faith. I choose to surrender to Him and His ways, knowing they are higher, better and more perfect for me that any other choice.

Father, please help me and others to quit doing things that oppose your work in our life. Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit who leads and guides us in all truth. Please help us in each of these areas. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Faith and Strength

But the Lord is faithful, he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one. 2 Thessalonians 3:5

As I read Paul’s encouragement to the church at Thessalonica, two things crossed my mind. That Paul was writing to real people, just like us who were facing so many challenges. Then I wondered, “how do you strengthen us, Lord?” I know it happens, but exactly how does it happen? What can we do to receive this strength?

There are so many amazing scriptures that talk about God’s strength. Lately, I have met many weary people. Life’s circumstances overwhelm some, some are victims of the enemy’s lies, some are at a crossroads and need courage to pick a path. In Exodus 15:2, Moses declares: The Lord is my strength and my song and has become my salvation. In someway, Moses has learned that the Lord is his strength. When I think I am strong, I don’t look for God’s strengthening. I keep relying on my own until I can’t. Then I call out to the Lord—help! Then, like David, who encouraged the Levites and priests with a song of thanksgiving in 1 Chronicles 16:11 to seek the Lord and his strength, seek his presence continually. (ESV) It is a good thing to seek him and his strength. Don’t shy away from simply asking for it. It is our privilege as believers.

Really, we must accept and know that his strength is available to us. It is a matter of releasing our faith and trusting that these words are true. David wrote Psalm 23:3. He renews my strength. When does this happen? When we take the time to lie down in the green pastures, he provides! If we discover we are lacking strength, it’s important to spend time in his presence. Sometimes it is humbling to admit we are weak, but unless we admit it, we can’t do anything about it.

After we realize we are needy and weak, then we must ask for him to strengthen us. Then we need to listen. The wise God may suggest we go to bed earlier. He may suggest a particular passage in scripture to meditate on or to put on some worship music. He may show us an area where sin has encroached, and we need to repent. Sin sucks life from us. He may show us where our priorities need to be shifted. It is important that we implement any changes the Holy Spirit shows us.

Sometimes, he may want you to head into the battle and trust him for the strength to be victorious. Have you read Hebrews 11: 32-34 lately? How much more do I need to say? It would talk too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. By faith, these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. These heroes of the faith became strengthened in the battle! So, he might tell you to stand up and fight the good fight of faith. Often, we may feel the only way to get stronger is to rest, but apparently, it is not so. Exercise your faith muscle and trust him.

We also gain strength through fellowshiping with others. Sharing our concerns with another helps lighten our load and infuses us with strength. Ask people to pray for you. Or reach out and help others. It can actually increase our own strength.We were not created to do life alone.

I want to remind us of Paul’s situation in 2 Corinthians 12:9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. So not I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. We need to remind ourselves, he may not remove our weaknesses, but he may choose to show forth his strength in them.

No matter what, he wants us to grow closer to him. He is delighted when we come to him, asking for help and strength. Lean on him, my friends. He is more than able to get us through any situations, if we simply trust him and follow his ways. Do not let discouragement overtake you. Run to him, don’t let condemnation, fear, or anxiety keep you away from your Heavenly Father.

Father, I know what it is like to feel weak and needy. I am so grateful that you are available in our weakness to show forth your strength. Help us to run to you, seek you and rest in your presence when we feel depleted. Show us any areas where we are allowing our strength to be wasted, In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Faith and Consistency

A person who promises a gift but doesn’t give it is like clouds and wind that bring no rain. Proverbs 25: 14 NLT

As I read this scripture this morning, I realized that one attribute that I appreciate in people is those that walk in and with consistency. This is the person who you can depend on to keep their word. These people bring a safe element into the relationship. After I started thinking about this verse, I studied for our School of Ministry class. I always preview the videos before we watch them—and Professor Malmin, just so happened to be discussing the attribute of God–holiness. After discussing many different definitions of holiness, he shared one word: consistency. Our God is consistent. He is always the same! No shadow of turning is to be found in him.

Because of this consistency, we can trust him to be who he says he is. To do what he says he will do, and that makes him reliable, stable and trustworthy. It is God’s purpose and desire that we become holy, as he is holy because it is consistent with his character. He wants us to become reliable, stable and trustworthy because it will bring glory to his kingdom.

But immediately when I read that verse two things happened. To be honest, I thought of those who had “broken” their promises to me for various reasons, and then I thought about my own broken promises to others. Neither brought joy. Some of my broken promises came about when I spoke rashly (maybe in pride?); others because of legitimate impedance. Frankly, it caused me to stop and ask forgiveness and also forgive those who I felt had broken their promise to me. Right or wrong, broken promises cause damage to our souls.

Each of us is bound to break our word. Life is like that here on earth. We aren’t always consistent in what we want to do, are we? If that happens to you, do not ignore it. Go to the person and explain the reason. Ask their forgiveness and move on. Our pride rarely wants us to confess to others when we mess up. Instead, we try to justify and rationalize our actions and pass it off as “it wasn’t a big deal”. Maybe not to you, but to the other person who was counting on you, it might have been. So, clear the deck, admit it—and hopefully learn from it and move on.

Communication is always a good idea in these situations. When trust gets broken, it’s hard to rebuild if we don’t admit our wrong. And if someone doesn’t keep their promise to you, forgive them. (Maybe they truly did not know what they were doing). The promise of a gift comes with a type of hope attached. It creates expectancy, and when it doesn’t happen, discouragement and distrust try to move in. Therefore, leaders need to be careful what they promise—whether you are leading your children, your wife, business, or ministry. It is very important to follow through if you can. And if you can’t, explain it and ask for forgiveness. Do not ignore it.

Do not be rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore, let your words be few. Ecclesiastes 5:2 ESV I think if we listen to the adage “think before you speak”, we will keep our word more easily. Words can be such a gift, or they can be a snare. Let us remind ourselves of Proverbs 25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. ESV

Father, help us guard our mouth and use it for good. Let us be careful what we promise, because promises bring hope and broken hope makes the heart sick. Help us grow in this area, In Jesus’ Name, Amen.