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!


 

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!


 

 

 

 

Peaceful Rest

In my last few posts, I have alluded to the fact that our family has been through a major change. It’s been life-altering for all of us.  To be honest, it has been just.plain.hard!

We found ourselves in a situation where my husband would be seeking a new ministry position.  Sometimes you choose to change jobs and sometimes, especially in ministry, God moves you.  That was the case for us.  There are many details that are just too much to go into.  Lots of lessons learned.  Lots of asking “why?” and “what’s next?”

During this time, the Lord was very gracious in many ways.  He gave many provisions that we never asked for or expected.

He’s just good that way!!

One such provision was time spent at a little cabin…on a pond…in the country.

My hubby’s new job began before our homeschool co-op ended.  The kids and I needed a place to stay for a few weeks and our precious friends offered for us to stay at this cabin that belongs to their family.  It’s such a neat place that I jumped at the offer.  Others offered to have us at their house but this gave us a place of our own.

Confession: I’m a wimp so being separated from my husband for weeks was hard.  I just don’t like being in my own.  I find strength in walking alongside of him.  Not that I can’t do it on my own, I just really value the way we do life, and parent, together – as a team.  Plus, it’s just harder to make decisions that effect the whole family when you’re not together…in the same room.  Or in our case, the same state!

About 3 weeks into staying at the cabin, I was just having a bad day.  Honestly, I felt like I was going a little crazy.  We homeschool so I’m used to being with our kids 24/7.   I love being with my kids all day, I really do.  But, as lovely as this cabin was, there was some added stress due to being in a small space…realizing daily that I forgot to pack this or that for the weeks we would be there…being apart from my hubby…you get the idea.  By the way, I should mention that those missing items from my packing weren’t accessible since the moving truck had already taken our furniture and everything else 509 miles away.   The kids missed their dad. I missed their dad.  Daily phone calls just weren’t the same.

I remember telling a friend whose husband travels a lot that I just don’t know how she does it.  This experience gave me a new appreciation for single parents.  But, I digress….

One night both kids were out with friends and I found myself alone.  I decided that I would go out to the porch and just enjoy the quiet of nature around the cabin. This was my view, as the sun set, (through the porch screen):

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Beautiful, isn’t it?

I sat on the porch with my Bible.  At the time, I was in the process of looking up verses that included the words JOY, HOPE, & PEACE.  I was concentrating on PEACE that day and found myself in Isaiah.  I read several verses and then I found the one that I am sure the Lord wanted me to see that night.

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That was exactly what I needed to hear.  He was providing EXACTLY what I needed ~ “peaceful habitation.”  I made a note in my Bible and then texted a photo of the verse to my friend.  I had to let her know that our staying in their cabin was a gift to us.  Yes, a gift from her family but ultimately it was a gift from the Lord.  He put us there so that we could rest.  He put us in a “secure dwelling” where the very loud sounds of nature created a “quiet resting place.”

Now that our family is together in one state, under one roof, there are days that I long for time on that porch.  I long for the sound of the bullfrog under my bedroom window, the crickets, the geese as they flew in and out of the pond.  I long for the sound of “quiet.”

I’m looking for my “quiet resting place” in our new place.  I’ve not exactly found it yet, but that’s okay.  I know that I will.  Like all things in a new place, it takes time.  I have wonderful memories, and photos, of the place that He provided.  The property around the cabin was just gorgeous.

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The scenery over the pond was a sight to behold daily!

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But the sunsets!  Well, they were the epitome of Psalm 19:1 ~ “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.”

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The song “Near to The Heart of God” has been on my mind a lot lately.  If you’re not familiar with it,  it was written in 1903 by Cleland B. McAfee.  It’s a beautiful song, however, I like the third and fourth verses the best:

There is a place of comfort sweet,
Near to the heart of God.
A place where we our Savior meet,
Near to the heart of God.
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There is a place of full release,
Near to the heart of God.
A place where all is joy and peace,
Near to the heart of God.

These verses remind me that wherever my quiet place is, it’s a place that I can fully release my burdens and my joys to the Lord.  It’s a place I can find peace.  It’s my prayer that you also have a place like that.

Thanks for letting me share my heart.  

Joy to You!


 

 

By the way:  Beginning October 1st, I’m joining with many other writers as we blog our way through the 31 days of October.  I’ve participated in this challenge the past few years and really enjoyed it.  This year, I am sharing some of the lessons I learned in our time of transition.  I’d be honored if you joined me. 

Still I Will Say – A Monday Meditation

Mon_meditations_revdI am often keenly aware of the fact that this life is full of trials…sorrow…disappointments.  I listen to the prayer requests at church where people I care about tell of aging parents, friends and loved ones that have been diagnosed with cancer – or some other disease.  Folks share of relationship strains, difficulties in their jobs, financial difficulty, and how they feel distant from God.

As I read God’s Word, I am reminded that none of this is really new.  The Old Testament – as well as the New Testament – had it’s share of all of the above.  And more.  So I have to ask, why am I surprised when trials come? Why do I think that my family, or friends, should be immune to them?

Last night at church, our music minister lead us through a beautiful song that really sums all of this up.

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This song has special meaning.  It reminds me of friends who lost their precious baby when he was almost full term.  Her due date was very close and he went to be with his Heavenly Father.  Their strength, their testimony lived out during the days following his passing was simply amazing.  The mom, my sweet friend, reminded countless people that even though she had lost her child, she was blessed.  I stood in amazement of her.  I still do.  To this day, I get tears in my eyes when I hear this song.  Hearing it humbles me.  It reminds me that in ALL, I am to be thankful.  In ALL, I am to praise Him.

I have no idea what you may be facing but I do know that He is with us “in the desert place”…He is with us “in the land that is plentiful”…He is with us when “the sun’s shining down” and “on the road marked with suffering.”

And so….Still I will say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord!”

Joy to You!

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Have This Attitude….(A Meditation)

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Beginning very soon our church will begin renovations on our sanctuary.   It will be a challenge because services will be held in the gym…parking lots will be closed off…..there will be chair set up and take down — OFTEN.
As the church is preparing for the construction, difference in service location, etc. we have been presented with bracelets to wear. They are blue and green that say:
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Why this scripture?  Because this passage is about the humility that Christ exemplified.  Our Pastor focused on verses 1-5 as he presented this to the church yesterday. 

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy,  complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.  Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,…..

I’ve always loved Philippians — what it has to say, how it encourages me.  As I have looked over these verses several times in the past few weeks, I have thought a lot about how this passage goes along with my desire to “impact” those around me this year.  Living out this passage daily is my calling as a follower of Christ.
It’s a great reminder as the new year begins.  As school (that is our homeschool co-op), church activities, sports and other extra curricular activities start back up.  If you have a chance, read through Philippians.  Especially chapter 2.  Meditate on it and make it your prayer. 
Blessings and Joy To You!

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A New Year’s Prayer

I realize that we still have a few days until 2014,
however, as I contemplate the end of this year
and think about going into the next,
one verse keeps coming to mind.  
It one of my favorite.  
It can be a prayer.  
It can be a blessing.  
So now, my prayer is that you are blessed in the coming year.  
Meditating on this verse when in plenty and in want is something I want to do more of this coming year.
rainbow2Happy New Year
and 
Joy To You!
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What about Joseph? ~ A Meditation

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I’ve thought a lot about Joseph in the past few days.  You know, the earthly father of Jesus.  Can you imagine being him? 
Here he was, betrothed to the girl who was to be his wife.  
How well did he know her?…..How long had they be engaged?……Did he love her?
I love the account in Matthew’s gospel.  It says in verses 19-25:
And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife,  but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
He thought about quietly divorcing her.  This is because he is human.  He must have loved her because he did not seek to publicly shame her.  But then, the angel appeared.
He listened.
He obeyed.
Here is what struck me.  The angel points out that Joseph is is the son of Daivd.  That’s King David.  You know, the one promised to be part of the lineage of the Messiah.
Joseph had no real claim to the baby Jesus.  Or so it appears.
But the reality is that the prophecy was all about Joseph too.  He was chosen.  Just like Mary was.
I think this is such a wonderful gift to Joseph from the Lord.
He gave Joseph a connection to Jesus that only God could give.  He could have chosen a girl from the line of David.  But he chose Joseph.
I think that is beautiful.  And it’s just like God to tie the pieces of our life together in unexpected ways.  Those ways always bring glory and honor to Him, when we listen and obey.
Joseph listened.
Joseph obeyed.
In the busyness of the next few days, leading up to and in the aftermath of Christmas, might I be a little more like Joseph.
I  pray that your family has a beautiful and very Merry Christmas!
 
Joy to You!

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