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!


 

 

 

 

A “Wall” of Remembrance ~ A 31 Day Post (day 11)

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Have you seen the movie War Room?  If not, I highly recommend it.  If you have, then you know that that premise of the movie is building a life of prayer.  I’ve watched the movie multiple times.  The message of it still grips me every time I watch it.  It never gets old.  My favorite scene is when Elizabeth is visiting with Clara and notices her “Wall of Remembrance”.  The dialogue goes something like this:

  • Elizabeth – “This is fascinating Ms. Clara.”
  • Clara – “That’s my Wall of Remembrance.  And when things aren’t going so well, I look back on it.  And I’m reminded that God is still in control.  It encourages me.”
  • Elizabeth – “I sure could use some of that.”

There have been times in my life, and I am sure you can relate, that I could “use some of that.”  That’s what this 31 Day series is all about.  Encouragement.  Knowing that God is in control.  I’ve always been fascinated when I read in the Bible where God tells someone to set up stones as a means of remembering an event, a covenant, etc.

I’ve done memory jars  a few times with my kids so that we can remember events of the year.  But at the beginning of 2016,  I wanted something different.  I wanted to remind my family, and myself, that we should always be thankful.  I wanted our own “wall of remembrance.”

So here is what I came up with… my way of remembering what I need to be thankful for.

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Our little “wall” lists people, places, and events that mean something to us.  They are the things in our life that have somehow shaped us…and we are thankful.  It hangs on the refrigerator so that we see it every day – multiple times.  We’ve all added to it.  There are even a few duplicates because more than one of us felt led to add that person, or family, to the page.    I love what Psalm 92:1-2  says,

It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night,..

That translates to all day!  And all night!  So, all the time.  We are to give thanks in EVERYTHING.  The good and the bad.  There are all kinds of challenges, for lack of a better word, to record things that we are thankful for.   It’s good stuff.  If you’ve never taken the time to write down what you are thankful for…the things that bring you joy, it’s a wonderful way to change your outlook on life ~ or maybe just your current circumstance.    Why not make your own “wall”?

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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Dwell ~ A 5 Minute Friday Post

There are a group of ladies that get together across the internet world and write about a word for 5 minutes each Friday.  Today, I decided to join the community.  So, for the next 5 minutes I’m contemplating what it means to DWELL.

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When I think of dwelling, my mind automatically goes to the word abide.  I think of Psalm 23:6 that says “…I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever”.  That’s comforting.  So to me, it means to stay.  To hang out.  To be at home.

Isn’t that a wonderful thought?  Dwelling with the God of the universe forever.

I am doing a 6 week study on the names of God.  The first name covered was Jehovah-Jireh which means “The Lord who Provides”.  I’ve been reminded all week that He provides all things for us.  Most of all, He provides an eternal dwelling place.  It’s almost more than I can comprehend yet I know that it’s the most precious gift I have ever received.

My dwelling place on earth may be made of brick and mortar but praise the Lord, that I have an eternal dwelling place.

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If you are interested in seeing what others have to say about the word DWELL, hop on over to katemotaung.com.  There are lots of great reads.  

Joy to You!

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A Walk Through Galatians ~ Days 14 & 15

galatians31_photoThis has been a bit of a crazy week.  Tuesday, I posted at 10:59 PM.  Yesterday I just couldn’t get it together to finish my post.  So today, late-afternoon, I am diving in — combining the passage from yesterday with todays.  Our passage is Galatians 3:15-22: 

15 To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified.  16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offspring’s,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.  17 This is what I mean: the law, which came years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void.  18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise. 19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary.  20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.  21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.  22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 

Paul is talking to the Galatians about the promises made to Abraham.  He helps them, and me, to understand by giving a “human example”.  Wanting to be sure that I understood his example, and the word nerd in me coming out, I looked up the following:

ANNUL ~ to make void; to nullify

RATIFY ~ to confirm; to establish; to settle

(Definitions are from the Webster’s 1828 Dictionary)

So Paul is saying that once something is settled (ratified) and cannot be made void.  If that is true in his human example, think how much more it is true with the things that God “settles”.   I just love when God “settles” things.  If I am being obedient to Him, His settling makes my life better!

He made a promise to Abraham.  The promise extended to Abraham’s descendant.  That descendant is Christ.

I love verses 19-22 — Paul makes clear that the only reason the law was put into place is because of sin.  Then he reminds his audience that the law was needed until Christ came but also that the law was not contrary to the promise.

This is kind of heavy stuff but necessary for us.  Tomorrow we look more at the law.

Until then…Joy to You!

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