He’s In Our Midst

My 31 Days of Encouragement from the Lord series is over.  And I’ve had a little break.  I’m ready to see what the Lord would have me share here in my little corner of the internet.  A few years back, I did what I affectionately called “Monday Meditations”.  These were lessons I learned during the sermon on Sunday, verses the Lord had brought me to during my quiet time, or simply things I had on my heart.  I’m giving them a go again.  I’d love to hear what the Lord has taught you on Sunday or the previous week.

Mon_meditations_revdI’ve been working my way through Psalms for some time now.  My process is to read the passage, list attributes of God that are mentioned, write down verses that stand out, and then I pray those verses back to the Lord.  One morning last week, I was in Psalm 74.  The Psalmist is asking the Lord to remember His people and then he describes destruction of God’s sanctuary.  He speaks of the people of God being treated badly.  He pleads for God to destroy the enemy that is reeking havoc on the temple.  Then in verse 12, he says:

Yet God my King is from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.

I had to read that one again.  I’m burdened by so much that goes on in our world today.  I don’t want to list events or details but the bottom line is that there is much to be concerned about.  And I certainly don’t want to go down the political road, but our nation needs prayer right now for the election tomorrow.  Psalm 74:12 gave me comfort.  A reminder that He is still on His throne…in control.  He calls us to Him.  We just have to answer.  He compels us to pray.  We just have to obey.

A few weeks ago, one of the high schools in our town held a “Fields of Faith” event.  It was sponsored by the school’s FCA group.  They held it on a Wednesday night and invited all churches to bring their youth there for service that night.  There were over 250 kids, and a handful of adults, on the field that night.  I listened to high school students lead worship and share their testimony about who God is in their life.  It was very encouraging.  I felt the presence of the Lord on the field that night.  I left there wondering what would happen if these kids really stood up for their faith.  What difference would it make in our city, county, state?

Later that day, I saw a video come across Facebook.  I love the song “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redman.  This video is Matt and his band playing in Times Square.  I was brought to tears watching thousands of people worship the Lord.  I can only imagine that the presence of the Lord was felt right there, in the middle of Times Square.

As I’ve thought about both scenes for a few days, I’ve considered that I don’t give enough consideration to Him being in my midst all the time.  Not just in the walls of the church.  Not just at a concert.  Not just on a football field when teenagers are praising the Lord.  And not even in Times Square.  He’s with me all the time.  I want everything in my life to be based on being in the presence of the Lord.

How about you?  I’d love to hear how you have experienced the presence of the Lord in your life?

In the mean time…

Joy to You!


 

Upside Down Hearts ~ A 31 Day Post (days 30 & 31)

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For 31 days – okay, really only 22 because I missed a few – I’ve shared my heart and I’ve learned more about myself.  I’ve also learned more about my Heavenly Father.  I have more to share but don’t we all.  As we walk and with the Lord, we grow and we are commanded to share His love, grace, and mercy with others.  In this, my final post, I wanted to share a few more verses and quotes that have been key to me when I needed encouragement.

I have a wise and dear friend who always says just the right thing at just the right time.  Over the past year, as we were seeking the Lord for what He had next for us, I naturally felt a bit unsettled.  I’ve shared that I felt a mix of emotions about leaving a place and a people that were dear to our hearts.  At a point when I felt at my lowest, my friend said these words to me:

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This resonated with me.  It’s how I felt.  Like my heart was “upside down.”  Once again God had provided a word of encouragement for me that would make a difference in my life.  Of course, that’s not surprising!  He’s in the business of making a difference in the lives of His children.

I think of what the Lord said to the Israelites through Isaiah when they needed reminding that He was still in control.

Fear not, for I am with you.  Be not dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.      ~ Isaiah 41:10 ~ 

Psalm 94:19 says, “When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.”  Isn’t that comforting?  My paraphrase of this is that “when our hearts are upside down, His joy (and peace) heals me soul.”  Thinking back over losing dear loved ones to illness, times of uncertainty with finances or job or school, I can confidently say that God had my heart in His hands.  I can also confidently admit that I didn’t always respond well to the pressure that came with those hard times.  I’m so thankful for grace!!!

As I wrap up this series, I just have to share something that my 17 year old said to me one day.  At this particular time, we had just been made aware of something very difficult that good friends were dealing with.  The wife of the family felt like there was no light at the end of the preverbal tunnel.

“Remember, even when the road seems darkest, when the tunnel we’re in never seems to end, and when hope and comfort are far from our hearts, God is still good.”  

He’s pretty wise, that boy of mine.

I pray that you have received encouragement through the words that God has laid on my heart to share this month.  Thanks again for joining me and I do hope that you will visit often.

Joy to You!


Bracelets and Flamingos ~ A 31 Day Post (days 28 & 29)

I’ve spent the last 27 days writing about the great encouragement that I received over the years from scripture, quotes, Facebook posts, texts, emails, etc., etc.  Back in April of this year, we packed our home and hugged our friends goodbye.  Before we left, I received 2 gifts that have continued to bring me encouragement on a daily basis.  My friend M gave me flamingos. Not the stick in the ground kind but rather the sun powered kind.  Their wings flap when they’ve been in the light for awhile.  She also bought herself a set.  And a few sets for me to share with others. {smile}

flamingos

Her reason?  As a prayer reminder.  She said that when she sees the flamingos, she will pray for the new ministry that we are in.  AND when I look at them, in turn, I will pray for their family.  Pretty good trade if you ask me.  I shared the wealth and gave flamingo sets to several sweet friends.

The other gift I received was from 4 ladies in our homeschool group.

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These bracelets are now among my favorite accessory for a few reasons.  One – I just love them.  Two – I adore the friends that gave them to me.   I use them as a prayer reminder too.  When I wear them, I think of my friends and say a prayer for them.  Now, I’ll admit that I don’t do this all the time but I do frequently.

I share these because I am acutely aware of how important friendship is.  Once you leave good friends behind, you really have an opportunity to see the blessing of those friends.    Charles Haddon Spurgeon had this to say about friendship:

Friendship is one of the sweetest joys of life.  Many might have failed beneath the bitterness of their trial had they not found a friend.

There is so much truth in Spurgeon’s words.  I know that the difficult times of my life have been more bearable with the friends that God has blessed me with.

One of the most beautiful accounts in the Bible is the friendship of David and Jonathan.  If you’re not familiar with it, take some time and read 1st and 2nd Samuel.  These two books tell us of the deep friendship between them and how it changed their lives.

The blessing of friendship is perhaps one of the greatest gifts that Lord can give.  I’m guilty of sometimes taking my friends for granted.  Or shutting them out when I think that they don’t need to be bothered with my junk.  But what I always discover is that they want to walk the easy and hard roads with me.

Because of our time in ministry and living in several different places, I am blessed to have friends all over the place.  My life is forever changed by the precious women that God has placed in my life.  I pray that you are experiencing that blessing too!

Until tomorrow…

Joy to You!


 

  

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Thanks for joining me on this 31 day journey.

Contentment ~ A 31 Day Post (day 27)

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Back on Day 16 of this series, I quoted missionary Jim Elliot.  It’s my favorite quote in relation to ministry because it reminds me that I need to be 100% present wherever God has me.  I ran across another quote by Mr. Elliot that hit me hard.   It reminded me of an exercise that a dear friend and his wife challenged my husband and I to do just after graduating from seminary.

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After my husband graduated, we were wondering what God would do with us next.  He was serving at a small church at the time.  We loved…and I do mean LOVED…the people there.  We really didn’t want to leave but wanted to be sure that we were in God’s will.  And, I can admit now that I wondered about full time ministry.  Surely God didn’t take us 7-1/2 hours from family for the previous 4 years to only serve part time.  I had to repent on that one.  And I did.  But I still had a longing to be closer to our immediate family.

Back to our friends.  He was and still is a pastor in a nearby city to where we were living.  He and his wife are precious friends that listened and counseled us on ministry, parenting, and more.  We were discussing our “what’s next?” with them and he challenged us to really search and study what God has to say about contentment.  I didn’t really want to do this because, well, I didn’t want to find out that my heart’s attitude was just flat out wrong.

But you see, as I studied, I learned that my longing even just to search for what might be next was definitely slaying my appetite to live life to the fullest.  I was missing out on things and people that God had right in front of me.

Paul has a little bit to say about being content in the New Testament.  In Philippians 4:11, he says:  “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”

We were not in need.  We lived in a perfectly lovely house, were serving a wonderful congregation of people, had awesome friends,…you get the idea.  Our situation was good.  And yet, I was not content.  Timothy says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain,  for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.”  ~ 1 Timothy 6:6 – 8 

I had food and clothing, and the things I listed above.  When studying this verse on contentment, I had to really look at my personal walk with the Lord.  I had to evaluate if my attitudes were in fact godly.  And I had to consider how my attitudes (and actions) were perceived by and/or effected others.

Y’all, it’s hard to take that look at yourself.  But I did it!  And you know what, the Lord allowed me to see all the reasons He had given me to be perfectly content exactly where I was.

Even though this didn’t apply to that time in my life, I would be amiss if I didn’t share Paul’s writing in Corinthians on contentment.  2 Corinthians 12:10 says, “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.”  Paul is such an amazing example of being content.  He understood that our life, changed by Christ, didn’t always mean we would walk an easy path.  I’m beginning to feel like a broken record during this series but then again, I feel like I can’t be reminded enough that God will never leave or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5 ~ another contentment verse.)

Life happens!  We can’t avoid it.  Not the bad.  And not the good ~ of course, we don’t want to avoid the good.  Times are tough.  I could run a tangent on the state of our country but I vowed to never walk the political road here so I won’t.  But there are issues that can cause any of us to loose sleep.  Here’s the thing:  God loves us and calls us to Himself.  He asks us to follow Him in obedience.  Sometimes He asks us to do hard things.  He always asks us to trust Him and to be content in Him and His plan.

Until tomorrow…

Joy to You!


“His Constant Support” ~ A 31 Day Post (day 26)

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I’ve spent the past 25 days talking a lot about God being present in tough times.  That He walks with us through sickness, financial strain, job issues, marriage issues,…the list is endless.  Today, I don’t want to focus on times of trouble.  I want to focus on the fact that He truly is always with us.  A favorite quote  says this:

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Think of it.  He doesn’t even leave us when we are in the midst of praise and worship time during Sunday service.  Or during our personal quiet time each day.  In fact, He is right with us.

I don’t want to live my life just “making do.”  I have a ways to go.  I’ve learned over the past 26 days that I am not as strong as I thought I was.  But I’ve also learned that I just simply need to rest in His open, loving arms.  That I need to be aware of His presence during worship and prayer as much as I seek His presence when times are tough.

I’m thankful for His “constant support.”

Until tomorrow…

Joy to You!


 

 

Measuring My Faith ~ A 31 Day Post (day 25)

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What is FAITH?

If you look in the dictionary to discover what it is, you will find things like:

confidence or trust in a person or thing…..belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion…..the obligation of loyalty or fidelity to a person, promise, engagement, etc.

The word FAITH appears in the English Standard Version of the Bible 475 times.  It’s important.  We learn that in Sunday School and Vacation Bible School when we are very young.  We know that God is FAITHful to us.  And we know that part of being a follower of Christ means that we are FAITHful to God.

But how do I measure up?  This 31 day series has been an outpouring of my heart sharing things I’ve learned in my walk with the Lord over the years.   Over the last year, I’ve learned that sometimes my FAITH is not as strong as I know it should be.  Oh, I can talk the talk.  But sometimes when it’s just me and God, I’m have to admit that my FAITH waivers.  I doubt and so I tell Him so.  I let Him know that I just don’t understand.

I love the devotions found in My Utmost for His Highest.  Over the past year, I wrote down a few excerpts from the book.  Take a look at what Oswald Chambers had to say about FAITH.

..the real trial of faith is not that we find it difficult to trust God, but that God’s character must be proven to us as trustworthy in our own minds…Faith, as the Bible teaches it, is faith in God coming against everything that contradicts Him – a faith that says, “I will remain true to God’s character whatever He may do.”  The highest and greatest expression of faith in the whole Bible is – “Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him.” (Job 13:15)

Let me clarify that I do not feel “slain” by any means.  But I do have things that have crossed the journey I am on that are just hard to swallow.  I’ve thought a good bit about Chambers’ statement, “…God’s character must be proven to us as trustworthy in our own minds…”  Why, when we know so much about God, would we need His character proven to us?  And more importantly, why do we need it proven over and over again?  It’s like we get it, and understand it, but once we are through one obstacle we need that proof all over again when the next thing comes.  Being reminded 100, or more, ways that God is FAITHful should be enough.   Kind of reminds me of the children of Israel!

I’ve mentioned the website Love God Greatly before in my writing.  In one of the studies that I did through their site, I came across the statement, “How we act reveals what we think about God…”  It’s true.  If the gospel has changed our hearts and minds…if we believe that God is who He says that He is…if we have confessed that we have FAITH in Him…then our actions should reveal that. 

I titled this post “Measuring My Faith”  because I’ve been really looking at and thinking about it a lot lately.  I have FAITH.  It’s part of the core of my being.  But is it seen in and through me by those around me?  I had a Sunday School teacher once that said, “you may be the only Jesus that others see.” (I’m not sure who originally coined the phrase.)  Though I didn’t fully understand that in the 4th or 5th grade, today, I do.  My faith, and how I live it out, reveals who God is to me.  That’s in good times and bad.

How about you?

Until tomorrow…

Joy to You!


 

 

Perspective ~ A 31 Day Post (days 22 – 24)

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How do you measure what’s going on around you?  Some compare whatever it is to law or rules.  Some compare to experience.  Some compare to feelings.  That’s all well and good but how do you know that it’s really good, right, and true?

Ann Voskamp is one of my favorite authors.  I always enjoy the wisdom and encouragement that comes from her writing.  Several years ago, a sweet friend gave me her book One Thousand Gifts.  I enjoyed reading this book when I first received it and recently decided to read it again.  As with the first time through the book, I am amazed at Mrs. Voskamp’s perspective.  She has learned to count “gifts of grace,” she calls them.  She has created a challenge on her website A Holy Experience called the “Joy Dare.”  You can read about it, and maybe even accept it, HERE.

As I have been writing this 31 Days of Encouragement from the Lord, I have realized just how important perspective is.  I thought that I knew this.  I mean I am an adult – and I’m not exactly a spring chicken…I have been married for more than 20 years…I have 2 kids…I worked in the business world for 20+ years…I’ve been homeschooling my kids for 5 years now…Our family is in ministry and we’ve moved more than I ever dreamed I would in my lifetime.   I’ve also had my share of difficult circumstances.  With all of that, you would think that I would have it drilled into the core of my being that perspective matters.

You see, the reality is that I even though I have learned and grown a lot over the years, the more I learn about God, the more my perspective changes.  In One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp says something has me reconsidering perspective.  She says:

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This must be a lesson that God wants me to learn right now.

Why do I say that?

Because I keep coming across verses, or hearing points in the sermon, that reinforce to me that I need to consider everything through God’s Word.  There are tons of other verses that remind us exactly how and what God’s Word does for us.  Here are a few:

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. ~ Psalm 119:105

It lights our path.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. ~ Colossians 3:16

It teaches us.  It admonishes (advises) us.  It helps us to encourage others.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. ~ 2 Timothy 3: 16-17

It equips us for every good work.

I don’t want a warped world.  I want one where I clearly see God in the little and big things.  I want to be aware of His presence in my life day by day…hour by hour…minute by minute.

I want to look at things in light of eternity.  Sometimes that means that I may have to make really hard decisions to step away from something.  Or maybe I choose to be a part of something.  Either decision would be based on eternal value.  Striving for the goal of spending eternity with my Heavenly Father.

Until tomorrow…

Joy to You!