A friend of mine uses the phrase, “It doesn’t matter.” At first I thought it some sort of cop out. But, the more I thought it through, the more it began to resonate within me, and, I realized, she actually had a very good point.
Keeping a healthy perspective in life is important. When we have an issue, challenge, or concern, and we take it to the Lord in prayer, we are essentially laying it down on the alter. As a result, we can walk in faith, peace, and surrender. Trusting the Lord for His will and way, we are confident, no matter what the outcome may be, it will ultimately be okay. He wants the very best for us. It becomes a faith walk, knowing that our Abba Father is looking out for our interests. He knows our hearts, and hears our prayers. He considers all aspects and orchestrates all things to work for our good and to bless us, all the while growing and stretching us to teach us the exact lesson we need to learn through each and every trial.
When we don’t understand the Lord’s ways and they aren’t what we think we want or need, it is a choice to rest in Him. Psalm 62:1 tells us, “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” As you endure the trials of life, and surrender the outcomes to the Lord, remember that He does indeed have your best interest in mind. No matter what, He has you. I have heard it said, that every believer in Christ is either getting ready to enter into a trial, is in the midst of one, or is wrapping one up! And so the cycle will continue, until we are received into glory with our Lord and Savior.
As we trust in Him, He fills us with His love and peace. Whether it be with hands raised high in victory, in moments of sadness, or even feelings of defeat, praise the Lord in all circumstances. “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.” Psalm 145:3
When we fully commit our concerns to the Lord, praying for His will, He is always faithful to answer our prayers in His perfect way and timing. So, no matter what, it will be well with our soul. Our Father knows best!🙌🏻❤️🙌🏻❤️
“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” -Psalm 62:1
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. -Philippians 4:4
“Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.” -Psalm 145:3
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Every spring I look forward to the blossom of the gorgeous orange tiger lily! When I see the buds hanging down among the fresh greenery, I get excited about what is to come. It takes weeks from the time I first see the buds, until there are blossoms. During that time, with each trail run, I anticipate the day that I round that turn, and see that burst of brilliance. For what a sight it is to behold. Such beauty! When I see the beauty of the blossom I have been waiting for, it reminds me of how we wait upon the Lord for breakthroughs in our lives.
Have you endured a hardship in life? If you have suffered a loss, had health challenges, an addiction, been in an abusive relationship, or what have you that jolted or broke you, be encouraged in the hope of healing found in and through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the Bridge to a relationship with God. In John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”He is our Savior. The One who heals. He is Rescuer, Redeemer, Restorer, and Renewer of our souls. He is our Advocate, Counselor, and Great Physician. He is Rest for the weary. He gives us strength when we think we have none. He heals all the broken places in our hearts, minds, and bodies. He makes us whole.
Whatever your hurt, disappointment, or challenge may be, I encourage you to bring it to the feet of Jesus and lay it down. Give yourself and your problems fully to Him. Let go of the burden and walk in the freedom Jesus Christ offers. He is always available, always near to the brokenhearted. Be of a contrite spirit and forgiving of others, and He will forgive your sins. Ask of Him, as He is always ready to ease your pain, release you of what binds you, and set you free. So may we be steadfast in prayer and, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23
As you walk closely with Jesus, fresh growth and buds of new life will begin to form within you. And as you prayerfully seek the Lord and wait upon Him, you will begin to anticipate that blossom, waiting for that move of God. Then, one day, to your surprise, it will happen. You will round that corner and you will see that burst of brilliance in your life! That BREAKTHROUGH you have been waiting for! It will be a beautiful sight and moment to behold, and your life will never be the same. Praise the Lord!
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”-Psalm 34:18
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” -Psalm 147:3
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.” -Matthew 6:14
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Our tree stood tall, magnificent, and beautiful in the living room. Only the day before, the kids and grand baby had been ripping open Christmas gifts with childish giddy and excitement, in my cute cozy forest home. To my surprise, the following night a storm set in with an unusual amount of snowfall for our area. It was about 12:30am when the house shook and I awoke to a loud mysterious SWOOSH outside.
A gigantic oak tree had fallen and swallowed up our entire backyard, smashing everything in its path, and stopping just short of the house. The next morning revealed snapped power poles, downed lines, and fallen trees across the snowy roads. Seeing we had no power and no heat, I packed the things that were truly important to me, loaded the car, and drove away. In the back of my head was the idea of possibly never even returning.
When life gets us down, sometimes it seems the easy thing to do is just walk away from a difficult situation. You know, to just throw up our hands. To leave. To start fresh somewhere. To start over. To seek those greener pastures on the other side of the fence somewhere.
BUT GOD. His Word teaches us not to quit, but to persevere. In spite of life’s curveballs, we are to push forward with the strength we find in a relationship in Christ. Philippians 3:13-14 tells us, “…But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” It is He that gives us the ability to keep going when we just want to walk away from a challenging life situation.
Sometimes it takes time to work through or recover from a difficult situation. It can be anything in our life that is upsetting. Whatever the challenge may be, God is what will carry us through and be our strength. All things are passing by. Our life is made up of seasons that are always shifting and changing. Nothing ever stays the same. And when we are struggling and life is hard, if we can just remember that things won’t always be that way, and hold on to the promises of Christ, eventually life lets up and things change up! Phillipians 4:13 tells us, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
When times get tough there is always something in that season that the Lord is wanting to teach us. The key is being able to embrace that by asking the Lord to reveal what that lesson is. Trust issues, faith, perseverance, overcoming fear or worry, whatever the case may be, I believe there is always a lesson there, within, from the Lord. James 1:2-3 “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Anything the Lord allows to happen in our life has a purpose for our growth and the Lord’s eternal plans and purposes for us. James 1:12 tells us, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
We were out of our house for nine days due to no power or heat. I prayed, searched my heart, and considered other living situation possibilities. Nothing turned up, and I felt the Lord prompting me to return to our home. We did, and it took another two months for a return to normalcy. During that time we were still in the midst of property restoration and clean up. And, no internet!
My lesson was that of perseverance and some things the Lord wanted to change up for me. With no internet, life was different! He taught me new habits and gave me new hobbies that are actually much better and healthier. Although it was uncomfortable and a challenge, I am so thankful for all the Lord has changed in my life.
It is spring now and I once again am enjoying our cozy little cottage in the forest. The sun is shining, the birds are visiting, the flowers are blossoming, the trees are budding leaves, and I am living life differently and am much more thankful for all we have here. The Lord is so Faithful and He knows just what we need and when we need it. He also knows just how to reach us so we can learn those lessons He has for us. He is our Father, indeed, and I am thankful we have a Heavenly Father that is looking after us, teaching us, making a way for us, and loving us for who we are and who are not. 1 John 4:16 tells us, “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”
When life gets you down and you just want to run in the other direction, trust in the Lord and just how much He loves you. Press into Him. Psalm 18:2 says, “The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.” And, remember, He wants the very best for you!
For a little extra encouragement and to get stuck in your head, LOL, I have included the link for Toby Mac’s song, Hold On. https://youtu.be/CBVQEt04gxg
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“Think good thoughts,” she exclaimed, when I asked what her secret was to living a long and happy life. This was coming from a woman wise in her years. She knew from her 89 years of life experience that it was key to a peaceful and victorious life. She had come to the point in life where she understood the harm that can result when we dwell upon worrisome, fearful, or disturbing thoughts. Our mind is the control center for our body. When our mind is upset so is our body.
If we can commit our situations to the Lord, trusting Him for His very best purpose in our life, even when things are hard or scary, it will free us to think good and hopeful thoughts in the midst of the storm. If we can walk in peace we will live longer, happier lives. Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
According to researchers at Penn State University, only about 8% of the things people worry about come true. This statement by Winston Churchill rings true. “When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.” It is easy to fall into the worry of the what ifs in life. But, when we turn to God’s Word we are told to do the opposite. In faith, we are to think, trust, and expect God’s very best. “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8
We are actually not in control of our life circumstances, even though we struggle with wanting to be in complete control. We all want a certain outcome in life and we may even have a plan we formulated in our mind to reach that hope or dream. Perhaps we have even played out just what that dream looks like and how it should go! But when things don’t go as planned and life gets uncomfortable, scary, or stormy, we need to remember that the Lord has us.
If we are walking in surrender, embracing all that He is doing, it comes down to a matter of trust. He has His reasons for allowing hard or challenging times, which we just cannot fully grasp or understand while we are in the midst of them or looking at them in someone else’s life. But, Psalm 62:1-2 tells us, “I am at rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will never be shaken.” He is always working things out for good.
In Matthew 11:28-30 we are told, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” We are to keep our focus on God, being confident of who we are as we walk in truth.
If our minds are bent on thinking negative, unhealthy, worrisome thoughts, there is still hope in the transforming of our minds. This can be done through the redeeming power of our Lord as we believe and receive our true identity in Christ. When the mind goes down a rabbit trail of negativity, one thing we can do is STOP and do what I call a TRUTH check. Ask yourself, are these thoughts based on truth or are they based on fear and the what ifs of life? Anything not factual needs to be thrown out and our mind needs to refocus on the truth of God’s promises. I have found the following quote by Andrew Murray to be both powerful and life changing:
In time of trouble, say, First, He brought me here. It is by His will I am in this strait place; in that I will rest. Next, He will keep me here in his love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as his child. Then say, He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons he intends me to learn, and working in me the grace he means to bestow. And last, say, In his good time he can bring me out again, how and when, he knows. Therefore, say, I am here by:
1. God’s appointment
2. In His keeping
3. Under His training
4. For His time
It is our hope in Christ that sustains us through the storms of life; Those things that don’t set right with us, cause us stress and unwanted drama, things we can’t change, things causing us pain or confusion, or whatever our worse fears may be. We belong to Christ and He is our peace. In Joshua 1:9 it says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
When we belong to the Lord, we can rest assured that He is keeping us for His purposes. 2 Thessalonians 3:3 tells us, “The Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” Through Christ we can overcome. Those lies from the enemy that are meant to break and destroy us, are just that, for 1 John 4:4 speaks of the victory we have in Christ! “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” The Lord is with us and He will fight the real enemy through us. We are victorious in Christ, always.
Ephesians 4:1 tells us we are to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which we have been called. If you are a child of God, saved by the blood of Christ and walking in surrender to Him then you are not your own, and, neither are you alone. You belong to the Holy Spirit who dwells in you. And, regardless of difficult situations, God is always there, taking care of you. You will never face a mountain on your own. The Creator of all things is helping you and He is faithful, forever, to the end. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
We are empowered by God’s Spirit. We are to walk in faith and freedom, not being bound by fear of the unknown. We are to live life fully unto the Lord, following the leading of the Holy Spirit and being confident in His care and chosen purposes for each of us. And, we are to be thinking good thoughts of hope in Christ. We can transform our minds when we focus on the promises of God and stand on the truth, not the what ifs or lies of the enemy.
Jesus Christ told us in John 14:27, “Peace I leave you; my peace I give you, not as the world gives do I give to you; do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” Rest and trust in the Lord and He will give you the peace you need right here and now. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
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Jumping and pulling and playfully barking, the pup pulled on the leash. She was excited and wanted to go play with the dog who was running freely across the green ball field. As I reigned her in, I thought about how we, too, often want to just run off, in pursuit of our own plans and ideas in spite of what is actually best for us.
It came down to a battle of wills, as this pup was not being obedient. Bottom line, she saw what she wanted and sought to be in control of her circumstance. How often do we pull and tug and press-in for what we want? The will of a dog can be broken. But, what about us? God does not want us to have a broken spirit. Instead, He gives us freedom to make choices in life, be they good or bad for us. He gives us free will, unlike a master and his dog.
Holding back from what we desire is a challenge! Our flesh is really good at demanding what it wants, right… NOW. The power of our flesh can so overcome us that we are incapable of determining the consequence of a choice we are making in the moment. This is why it is so important that we bring everything before the Lord before making a decision. There are many choices to be made in life that demand our attention. We are to walk in obedience with the Lord by first bringing everything before Him. Philippians 4:6 tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
I recently watched a survival reality TV show where the guy got so hungry he decided to kill the little critter that he had befriended. The squirrel had become his only source of companionship on the lonely and isolated tundra island. He had gained its trust, so it would hang out with him and keep him company. He would talk to it as if it were his friend. However, when his hunger overcame him one episode, he killed it and ate it to satisfy his ravenous appetite. The result was him falling to pieces, an emotional wreck. He was so overcome with guilt and misery for eating his only little buddy that he resigned. He quit the game in a puddle of remorse and tears, and went home utterly defeated.
Psalm 56:8 tells of Christ’s empathy, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Sometimes I have to chuckle, thinking about my tower of bottles in heaven! But, it also makes me realize how much Jesus cares about my troubles, sorrow, and pain. He never misses a single tear I shed. He is always aware and always there. Nothing is hidden from the Lord. Psalm 32:8 tells us, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” He has purpose in our hurts and disappointments. Nothing happens to us that is a surprise to the Lord. Anything that happens in a believers life is approved and done with the watchful eye of our Heavenly Father. He never gives us more than we can handle. He only permits what will ultimately be best for us and also bring Him glory.
So when we are hurting, frustrated, confused, or just don’t understand why we are going through something hard, it is important that we acknowledge who we are before God. We belong to Him. We are the clay that our Potter is molding into something much more beautiful than we can ever imagine. And, that can be a painful process. But, in spite of our discomfort, we are to embrace what He is doing in our life and rejoice in the Lord. We are to be giving God glory in our joyful moments along with times of sorrow, disappointment, and pain. The Scriptures tell us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
In spite of whatever hardship we are facing we still need to acknowledge the goodness of God in our lives by thanking Him for all the abundantly good things we have and are blessed with. Anything we have is a gift from the Lord. James 1:17 tells us, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” Many think that all they have is because of the hard work they have put in during their life to obtain it. Yes, but, ultimately, God is our Provider. He is the One who makes things happen for us and shines His face upon us, making a good way in life.
Ever feel like you have exhausted all your resources in a situation? It’s like we try this and that, using our knowledge and logic, hoping it will solve or end a certain problem. It can be difficult when we don’t understand what we are to do in a particular situation we are dealing with, even though we are obediently waiting upon Him. We have sought the Lord on it, yet, we don’t see anything happening or feel the Lord telling us what to do. Try as we may, there can seem to be no end or answer in sight! The battle actually belongs to Jesus. To allow for that, we need to get before Him and give Him our problems. We must surrender to what God is wanting to do in our lives, to the will of the Lord.
If we are bringing our issues to the Lord in prayer, seeking Him for wisdom, guidance, and answers, He will work on our behalf. We can receive His perfect peace in the midst of the trials and challenges we face. Isaiah 26:3 tells us, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” And when we can’t change things and nothing seems to be working, we must continue to press-in to the Lord and wait upon Him for how he is moving in our lives. God is Sovereign. God is Just. God never changes. GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME. We are not in control of the situations in our life. God is. There is a point where we need to understand and accept this fact in order to keep our peace. Then, we must walk in faith.
This is a hard season to be in. BUT GOD. I like to look at it as if we have put in our request and know that the Lord is working on it, even though we cannot see any changes. It gives me hope knowing that He is taking care of things and I am not the one that needs to figure things out all on my own. Instead, my focus is to be on Him each day, not the problem, and be faithful in that day for what He asks of me, all the while waiting for His leading and prompting. There is peace in knowing and trusting that the Lord is in fact working all things out for our best good. Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Our life is not a game of chess where we strategically plan our moves until one day we are in check and BAM, life is perfect and it is all that we ever wanted. We have a winner! It just doesn’t work that way. Life is completely unpredictable. Ecclesiastes 10:14 reminds us, “No man knows what is to be.”
Having a humble heart before the Lord is key if you want to walk in obedience with the Lord. Not our will, but His. We must trust Him with our life and that of those we love, knowing He loves us and wants the very best for us. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” We are here for a purpose. We need to be open to living out the plans the Lord has intended for us. If we are seeking the Lord and walking in obedience then we can be confident in Proverbs 16:9, which tells us, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”
So no matter how hard life seems or how overwhelming a situation may be, we are to remember that God is in control and we just are not. No matter how much we so want an answer or understanding, or something to change, it truly is not our call, but the decision of our Maker who knows what we need and when we need it. His timing is always perfect.
Bottom line is, God’s got this. YES, HE HAS ALL OF IT. Whatever you are facing, just know if you are a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, then you are not dealing with IT alone. We are to lay it all down at the foot of the cross in an act of surrender. Not our will, but the will of God in our life. It is a daily surrender. We have to be able to walk in peace even when we are uncomfortable in our present situation. The apostle Paul said it well in Philippians 4:11-13, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”
Even though that green ball field looks inviting, and we can be head strong, let’s not run off and try to take care of things in our own make-sense, selfish, I’m tired of waiting, disobedient kind of way! 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17 tells us to, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” God has a plan and a purpose for each of us, despite the challenges and difficulties we are facing. We are to join Him by embracing all that He is doing, even when we don’t understand and feel uncomfortable. Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” And so, we must be patient in faith and trust the Lord for what He is doing. “… What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived, the things God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 The Lord is Faithful, always. Trust in Him. His ways are BEST.
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It has been said, cats have nine lives. Upon adopting our little cat, who had outlived his previous owner, we came to find out he had barely survived being hit by a car. He had sustained much injury, and, as a result, he had poor vision, and head bob, was underweight, and very timid. However, as the months went by and we prayed for his healing and loved on him, our little Buddy got stronger, healthier, and became quite assertive, all the while maintaining his gentle sweet spirit.
Buddy was not a hunter, as he had no aggressive behavior within him. While our other two cats were out hunting it up, little Buddy could usually be found quietly sleeping in the safety of our home. However, as the months past, he began venturing outdoors during the day. He enjoyed our front porch and we had begun to grow accustomed to his company as we would come and go. At nightfall though, he always made his way indoors. He liked keeping us company, and seeing that his name was Buddy he got nicknamed all kinds of cute pet names depending where he was. When he was on our desk he was Study Buddy, while in the restroom it was Bathroom Buddy, on the couch with us… Snuggle Buddy.
One particular evening this little guy was out late with us. My son and I were hanging out in the bed of his new truck, chatting it up and enjoying the cool of the evening and admiring the beauty of the twinkle in the night sky. Tailgate Buddy was with us. His motor was running as he purred and rubbed and happily hung-out with us. Our conversation turned to Buddy and how he would make a great Truck Buddy.
Buddy was not a cat who stayed out at night. We were especially careful with him due to his poor eyesight. He typically was not even outdoors in the evening. However, on this particular one things went differently. Since he was ALWAYS indoors at bedtime, it did not even occur to us to double check that he was in. Apparently, he had wondered off while we were talking that night. We came in, and didn’t realize Bedtime Buddy was missing. The next morning, I immediately realized that Bathroom Buddy was not around.
That was a sorrowful day as a terrible discovery was made later, by my son. It was so devastating to see. In complete shock and dismay, we stood, crying together. Buddy had been attacked and eaten by a mountain lion. Never have I seen such a thing as that. We were devastated.
Everything happens for a reason. Why did such a gentle spirited animal succumb to such a death? I don’t have the answers, but do feel it was definitely a warning to us. Mountain lions had been sighted up and down our road in weeks prior to this attack. Was it the Lord’s way of getting our attention and alerting us to the danger lurking around in our very backyard? Perhaps. But, even more than that was a spiritual lesson.
The Bible tells us in 1 Peter 5:8-9, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” I can’t help but think of this. There we were, enjoying ourselves just the evening before in quiet conversation beneath the stars, making fun loving plans together. We did not realize there was a dangerous predator lurking in the shadows of the night. Our guard was down. We were naïve and unaware of the peril right there on our property.
How vigilant we must be in our lives and Christian walk! We must ALWAYS be seeking the Lord. How important it is for us to read His word, commune with Him, and ask Him the questions that bewilder us in this life. His leading and guiding is of utmost importance. If we become complacent in our walk with the Lord, we risk the enemy sneaking in and devouring us. May it not be! James 4:7 tells us, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
As Christ followers, we are to be of a gentle spirit. In God’s word, it mentions what is referred to as the Fruit of the Holy Spirit. There are nine attributes which are found in Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” It is important that we have such characteristics as these. May the Lord be our strength and help to attain such Christ-like qualities!
In addition to these qualities of gentleness and most noble character, we are also instructed in Joshua 1:9-11 to be bold and obedient. “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” I thank the Lord that He has given us an instruction manual for life!
Our cat Buddy had escaped previous death. However, he was naïve and ill-equipped for the dangerous enemy that stalked him as prey. May we learn from this, the spiritual responsibility we have. May we, ourselves, BE AWARE of the adversary that prowls around looking for someone to devour. May we submit ourselves to the Lord. May we stay strong by reading His word, communing, and seeking Him in all things. May we be gentle, yet ALERT, BOLD and COURAGEOUS. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7
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The scent of pine needles on a warm summer day brings me back to days of trout fishing with my family when I was a child. The smell of creosol reminds me of the newly built fence that housed my horse as a kid. The smell of a skunk triggers a memory of the time I drove through its spray as a teenager, in my 1965 VW Bug, only to arrive home and be ushered quickly out the back door and told to drop those stinky clothes! All these memories are attached to a certain scent. It is interesting how our sense of smell can trigger memories from our past and even influence our outlook on life. We each have a fragrance that permeates our lives.
One day, I came in from a run. Although I was very hot and sweaty, I ended up dinking around in the kitchen before showering. I was doing some dishes when I picked up a strong stench of what I thought was rotting meat. I figured it was coming from our trash can. Moments later, my son walked into the kitchen and asked, “What stinks mom?” I told him I couldn’t pinpoint it, but acknowledged it sure smelled terrible. As I drew closer to my son he shrieked back exclaiming, “It is you!” Mortified, I realized, he was right! I have since learned that eating large quantities of asparagus can result in stinky sweat smelling like sulfur.
Just as the food we eat oozes out from us, so also will other influences, experiences, and memories we hold in our heart. As a result, we can emit anger or joy, selfishness or sacrifice, cruelty or kindness, hate or love, judgment or compassion. What happens to us during our lifetime will certainly effect who we are. This is why it is so important we fill our minds with the truth of God’s word.
By filling our minds with the inerrant word of God, our hardened hearts can be softened and our minds can be healed. Hurt, pain, and sorrow can be released. The root of anger, hate, and bitterness can be plucked out and replaced by the seed of forgiveness and new life. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
For those who are dealing with some stinky situations in life, be encouraged. Isaiah 43:19 says, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” With Christ, we can work through the stench that comes from hurt, pain, disappointment, anger, hate, and bitterness. As we continue on our path of healing with the Lord, the odors that once permeated our life will begin to lessen. 2 Corinthians 2:15 tells us, “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” As we draw closer to Christ, we will begin to pick up the sweet fragrance that comes from walking closely with Him.
Ephesians 5:2 tells us we are to, “Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” Even though we may get hurt in this life, we have the hope of Christ to release us from negative thoughts and behavior, restore our relationship with the Lord and others, heal our minds and bodies, and make new again our very lives! Jeremiah 29:11 is a promise of that. It says, “For I know the plans for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” We are to fill our minds with the truth found in God’s word. When we are doing this, we will see changes in the very fragrance or our lives. “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
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Off in the distance, I could hear its roar. I encountered it often on my morning runs. I was breathing heavy as I had started up a hill that now led directly up to the tracks. There, I would meet it face to face, as it would stop me from continuing on my planned course. Being so close to the train always triggered a sense of fear, as years ago the train had actually derailed in this very area. As much as I wanted to, I could not dismiss the thoughts of it possibly derailing and crushing me under the weight of the massive box cars. How often we feel this way when it comes to real issues in our life.
As the train approached, it was clanking along loudly and rhythmically. It was moving at a rapid pace. The ground seemed to be shaking. Yet, there I stood watching it go by, car after car. I was not going to be afraid. It was a long train and as I stood staring at it, my mind moved onto the spiritual parallels of this train. I knew the Lord was with me and I did not need to be fearful, as a scripture came to my mind. Psalm 16:8 says, “I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.”
TRAINS CAN BE…
Trains can be likened to the trials we face in life.
There are the rapid moving Amtrak trains, the lengthier box car trains, and the train that comes to town and just stops and sits on the tracks with its engines running. It does not come and go quickly, but it stays and waits, until given the green light to pull out and move on. Sometimes, these are the most annoying because they are in the path blocking the way and continuing on cannot happened until they move on by. Just as these trains come down the tracks, so do life’s hardships.
Loss of a loved one
And, all the smaller miscellaneous things that just happen, like the family dog getting hit by a car, empty cupboards, behavior challenges with the children, paying that inflated energy bill, and the unending consequences of a lost marriage, that can add up to a heavy burden for one to carry alone. But, just as that train, they all have a beginning and an end. And the Lord never gives us more than we can handle.
What are we to do when these trains of life come barreling into our own lives? God’s Word says, “Surely he will never be shaken.” Psalm 112:6. We are to stand firm in our faith, trusting the Lord and resting in Him as the train either comes and goes quickly, lingers on car after car, or sits at a dead stop. We are not to fear nor be disturbed. Isaiah 41:10 says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” That is an AWESOME promise to us, from the Lord, the Creator of the Universe!
When hardships in life feel as though they may crush us by their weight, we are not to fear. We are not to be overcome. We are not to be shaken. The Lord our God is to be our Strength. We are to keep our eyes fixed on Him, trusting in Him, standing firm in our faith that He will get us through the hard times. When we stand firmly grounded in the Truth of God’s word, we will stand the duration, trusting in our Savior to work things out for our best good and holding onto the promise found in Romans 8:28,” And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
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This delicate little flower caught my eye. Such a joyful yellow with dark flecks and uniquely shaped petals. It’s stem a deep healthy green, holding its head up high. Its innocent beauty is alluring. But even more beautiful was seeing where this shining star of a flower was rooted.
Growing from beneath the side of an alley building, it had sprung up between the structure and the asphalt. Surrounded by rock and even covered in debris, it was growing strong in spite of its harsh conditions.
This little gem of a flower is a great visual of how we should live. We are to be rooted deeply in Christ and grow strong and beautiful even when enduring adverse conditions in life. “The joy of the Lord is our Strength.” Nehemiah 8:10
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord. He is like a tree planted beside waters, that stretches out its roots to the stream. It fears not the heat when it comes, its leaves stay green. In the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit” (Jer. 17:7-9).
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