Hope or HOPE!

For the past three months it seems like the word hope has shown up over and over in my life.  It has come from different places in the Bible where I just happened to be reading. It has also appeared in secular books I’ve read. And then Sunday the worship leader read Romans 12:12 “Rejoice in hope.” I thought it rather strange that he read that scripture since it wasn’t the passage the preacher would be focusing on in his sermon. It was a word for me. I’ve think lately I have tried to run away from leaning into the word hope because of the grief in my life and possibly because it’s a word I overuse. We use this word for all types of wishes and desires. We want something to happen. Recently these are some things I said or thought:

  • I hope I get enough sleep.
  • I hope I can find that receipt.
  • I hope I can find my fit-bit.
  • I hope the new recipe I tried turns out.
  • I hope there’s time to get everything done that needs to get done.

When I look at this list I can’t help but ask myself the question, “Do I feel anxiety every time I use the word hope in these situations?” The truth is, probably so. Yes, I pray in many of these instances, but there’s a lack of peace when I don’t get a positive yes to what I’m hoping for. These types of hopes are wishful thinking. These are not earth-shattering things, but I do allow these things which are really minor to bring disruption to my soul. These aren’t bad desires. These things can seem small, but are still worthy of praying about. Then, there are majorly serious things in my life that I have hoped for. Many of these hopes have been fulfilled. I’ve been happy because of them. I give God thanks for them.

But, one of my hopes wasn’t fulfilled. The disease of cancer invaded my sister’s body 5 ½ years ago. Cancer took her life on the morning of May 26. My hope, her hope, hundreds of others’ hopes – prayers prayed in faith didn’t receive what we hoped for. It didn’t turn out like “we” wanted. God in His goodness has been blasting out this word HOPE for a reason. God in His goodness wants me to take a good look at what this Biblical HOPE really means.

“Rejoice and exult in hope…” (Romans 12:12) What kind of hope is it that I can rejoice in? Can this kind of hope help me to not get bent out of shape over the “little things” that might not go my way? Can this kind of hope carry me through grief when my heart is broken? Absolutely and emphatically, YES! Hope is tied to something that I hope will happen in the future. Most things I hope for have some uncertainty in them. Biblical HOPE is a hope of certainty. It is based upon the Word and Character of God. There are some things I KNOW are true for today and therefore are true for tomorrow. What are they?

  • I am never alone. Jesus is always with me. “And lo I am with you always.” Matthew 28: 20
  • I don’t have to stay in a place of discouragement. God says, “I will strengthen you, I will help you.” Isaiah 4:11
  • God will lift me out of the pit, Psalm 40:2
  • God will turn my mourning into dancing, Psalm 30:11
  • God will use my pain to bring Him glory and to develop maturity of character in me, Romans 5:2-5
  • I have the gift of eternal life in Heaven awaiting me. I will see Jesus face to face and experience living with Him forever! I will see my sister again! 1 John 5:13
  • I am perfectly loved by God and will always be perfectly loved by Him. Nothing will ever separate me from this perfect unconditional love. Romans 8:31

God is my HOPE and He never fails. I can rejoice even in my pain, even through my tears, even in my waiting because I have attached myself to the God of sure, secure hope. This rejoicing is not based on how I feel; it is based on knowing who God is and what He freely and lovingly gives me. These gifts are never given because of my performance, but because of my faith and trust in Christ and His love for me.

I had a text from Kimberly the day before I flew out to see her, three days before her death. She wrote these words, “It’s been another PERFECT DAY WITH JESUS, and Annalena (her grandbaby)! I’m doing fine! In recliner resting.” She understood what Biblical, Christian hope is and she was doing FINE! She knew she was secure in Jesus and she was satisfied.

Joy and satisfaction and peace can be found only through anchoring our whole self to Jesus, who is our Hope for today, tomorrow, and always. As a friend said to me just this morning, “How can we live without hope!” Because of Jesus and what His death, burial, and resurrection means, we don’t have to! He’s our hope of Glory!

Joy Out of Despair

A while back I had the joy of leading my Bible study group since our leader was out of town. The lesson was from 1 Samuel 1. Many of us who were brought up in church are quite familiar with the story of Hannah. She was barren, prayed for a son, and God answered. Many times in our study we spend most of the time focusing on the main character of the story. Usually this would be Hannah. In reality, however, the primary character is God. In my study, I focused on the character of God and how he responds to someone in great distress and need.

This story takes place in a time when polygamy was the norm. This was not God’s perfect plan, but the culture embraced it. And, it always made life messy for everyone. Hannah’s husband had two wives. The other wife, Peninnah, had children, Hannah had none. It appears that Peninnah’s main goal in life was to make life miserable, even unbearable for Hannah. She wanted to crush her.

The Message, I Samuel 1:6, reveals the true environment for Hannah, “But her rival wife taunted her cruelly, rubbing it in and never letting her forget that God had not given her children. This went on year after year.” All of this finally took its toll on Hannah. She stopped eating. She was despondent. She wept. She was crushed. At least she felt crushed. But, she wasn’t.

She went to the sanctuary of the Lord and she cried out to God in prayer. “In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord.” (v 10, NIV) I read this verse in 13 translations and this is what I found about her emotional and physical condition:

  • She was in deep anguish
  • She was in bitterness of soul
  • She was deeply hurt
  • She was crushed in soul
  • She was in great distress
  • She was resentful
  • She was sad
  • She cried bitterly
  • She was brokenhearted
  • She was bold enough to ask for something big.

This was severe hurting and she did severe crying! She was in excruciating emotional pain. She came as she was. She was even vulnerable enough for Eli, the priest to see her in this condition. She was desperate. She was broken. What did God do? He heard, He comforted, He restored, He understood, He answered. He blessed. He restored her physically and emotionally. Verse 18, 19 says, “She went on her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast. Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the Lord.”

Four weeks ago I found myself in the midst of all the emotions that Hannah experienced. My despair was different from hers, but every bit as intense. My sister died. She lost her battle with cancer. Kimberly was 6 years younger than me and what joy came to my life when she was born! We loved each other deeply. We valued this special relationship and honored each other in ways that allowed us to nurture one another in the good times of life and in the bad times of life. We mothered each other, we were best friends, we were blood sisters, but more than that, we were soul sisters. We understood each other. We could be real with each other. We accepted each other even though we were very different.

SO many gifts received through this amazing woman! My loss is deep. My hurt is deep. My grief is deep.

I am greatly blessed to have family and friends who understand this deep agony. None of them have the attitude of, “Get over it.” They let me talk. They let me feel. They let me cry. They check on me. They pray for me. Oh, how this helps! God is using so many to help me walk this journey.

Even though these precious ones are helping me walk this journey, I know that no one can comfort me in those deepest places where the deepest pain resides in my soul like Jesus. He knows every little thing about me. He knows what each pain is connected to. He has perfect understanding of all the inward workings of my heart and soul. He knows how to give me the comfort, restoration and healing that needs to ultimately come. He is present. I must be aware of that Holy Presence and spend lots of time resting in that place.

What are the results of going to God in our brokenness, pain, and desperation? What happens when we come to him with sobs of grief and hurt and pure honesty? It takes us to a deeper place of knowing God. It takes us to a deeper place of trusting God. It takes us to a place of humility. It takes us to a deeper place of surrender. It takes us to a deeper place of worship. It takes us to a place of hope and healing.

We are always welcomed into God’s presence just as we are. These words penned by David Crowder in the song “Come As You Are” express this place so well.

Come out of sadness from wherever you’ve been
Come broken-hearted, let rescue begin
Come find your mercy, oh sinner come kneel
Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal.

There’s joy for the morning
Oh sinner be still Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal.

My sister found Heaven’s perfect joy and healing when she took her final breath here on Earth and went safely Home to live forever with her Beloved Jesus. For us still here, we can be assured that mourning doesn’t last forever. It is for a season. There is an ebb and flow to this time of suffering. The time of tears will be further and further apart. I have faith and hope because of the Words of Life that I find in the promises of scripture and because of the One I’ve put my trust in.

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!” David’s words in Psalm 30:11-12. These are words for me . . . and perhaps for you today!

The Right Question

 

How did Jesus attract people? In my first class of training for becoming a professional Life Coach we discussed the ways Jesus encountered those he met and how he invited them into relationship with him. To develop relationships, many times Jesus asked questions. Asking questions was central to his life and teaching. A question he asked Peter grabbed me a few weeks ago as I was reading through the book of John.

I landed in the book of John during the month of March. In January I began reading through the Bible using the guide found in the book “A Woman’s Guide to Reading Through the Bible”. However, I found that I needed to park in John longer than the guide suggested.

One reason I wanted to park there was that my sister, Kimberly, was also studying the book of John in Bible Study Fellowship. I wanted to be experiencing some of what she must be experiencing as she is diving deeper into this glorious book of John. This is the first year she’s ever had the privilege of doing BSF. You see, she taught school 22 years, but last year she took disability retirement. It was time. The sixth year of living with cancer was taking its toll. Truly, it is not just happenstance that this is the year of studying John in BSF, and that Kimberly is getting on it.

I slowly and intently read these powerful, beautifully written words of the disciple John. And, I must admit there were times my reading moved me to tears. What a Savior who suffered, bled, died, and rose again for ME, for ALL. He is my inheritance now and forever. He is this for anyone who calls upon Him, trusts Him and begins to really live life in relationship with Him. I was reminded by a friend this week that life here is just the pre-show. Yes, there are ups AND downs, but it’s the pre-show. The real show begins when I see Him face to face. What a glorious day that will be!

The last chapter of John did wipe me out the day I read it. I’ve read it many times, but there was something different that stood out to me on that particular day. It was the question Jesus asked Peter. Peter had seen the resurrected Jesus two times before this particular meaningful encounter. I can only imagine how much Peter was missing waking up and experiencing immediate fellowship with his dearest of friends. They’d walked and talked with each other for over three years. His life was definitely going to be different now.

On this particular day, Peter and some of the other disciples went fishing. Peter was a fisherman. It was something he’d done most of his life. It was comfortable. It was familiar. It was a part of his identity. Going fishing could have been a way to deal with some of the sadness of knowing his dearest friend, in bodily form, wasn’t going to be around anymore in the way he’d known him. He and his friends had fished all night and caught nothing.

Then, morning came and someone on shore calls out, “Friends, haven’t you caught anything?” The answer is no. This person tells them where they need to cast their net. They do as he says and the catch is big: 153 fish. Suddenly, they know this is their friend, companion, and now Savior, Jesus. They gather together on shore and Jesus says, “Let’s have breakfast.” Mealtime is the perfect time for fellowship. A powerful conversation ensued that included some powerful questions for Peter.

Jesus asked Peter. “Do you love me more than these?” I’m sure most Bible scholars are quite certain Jesus was asking Peter if he loved Him more than the other disciples. But, as I read this I couldn’t help but wonder if  Jesus could also have been asking Peter if he loved Him more than he loved fishing (the thing that was bringing him comfort on that day). Jesus asked him this same question three times. Peter says yes each time.  Jesus then gives Peter instructions on how to live for the rest of his life. Peter was ready for God to use him in turning the world upside down with the message of the Gospel.

Jesus often asks me, “Kristi, do you love me more than _______________?” That question has ended in many different ways. Lately, I’ve realized it could include an old way of thinking.  It includes anything that needs pruning or  totally weeding out. My thoughts and beliefs can be very self- centered! They can be dark. I am amazed at how blinded I can get to that very thing. This place of soul work can be painful, but oh the joys. It’s taking me to a deeper place of knowing God and knowing myself. And, it is good! It is freeing! It is cleansing! It is challenging! It is transforming!

What would Jesus put in the blank of that question for you today? Do you love me more than______? Jesus rose again so we could really live, not for ourselves, but for Him. If we know Him, what an inheritance we have! We haven’t received our full inheritance, heaven, now. But, each of us, if we have a personal relationship with him, can have a taste of it now, in the pre-show. Let’s not get stuck, through our own selfish agendas, wrong worldview, and selfish motivations that we miss out on what we have offered now: Peace, contentment and joy that come when we live a life for His glory and honor alone.

The Two Most Important Colors of Christmas

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Two years ago we bought a new Christmas tree. Our new house needed a slim-line tree since our living area is smaller. We found the perfect one for the space we have. Since it was a new tree, I decided to get new ornaments. The colors I went with were white and red. For my decorating taste, there is something elegant about the white and red balls among the white lights. I am an early riser which means I get to sit in my comfy chair, turn on the gas logs, and enjoy the beauty of this lighted Christmas tree.

I decorated with white and red because it is what I like. It comes from a preference. I didn’t choose those colors because of anything spiritual. However, God can use all kinds of things to get our gaze closer upon Him. If there’s anytime our gaze needs to be more on Him, and less on ourselves, it’s Christmas. The colors white and red can’t help but draw me more into an emotional, joy-filled place of praise because of what these colors represent spiritually. These two colors symbolize what Christmas is all about. They remind me of who Jesus is and what He did for me and all peoples of the world.

The color white expresses the purity, perfection, and holiness of God. Jesus is the exact representation of His Father. The prophet John tells us in John 1 that Jesus is full of grace, truth, and light. This grace, truth, and light was born so we could experience life as we’ve never known it before.

But, red had to happen in order for us to have life as God intends. Red in the Bible symbolizes blood. Before Jesus’ birth, a perfect lamb without blemish had to be sacrificed in order to approach God. Now, that is no longer necessary because Jesus – the perfect Lamb of God – was born. He shed blood that led to death. It’s why He was born. Jesus was born to die. The good News is – that wasn’t the end of the story – Jesus rose from the dead. He conquered death so that man can really live here on earth and eternally in heaven.

Trusting Jesus as a Christ-follower doesn’t mean we don’t have problems, but it means He is with us guiding us, directing us, strengthening us, loving us, embracing us, providing for us, transforming us, preparing us to one day see Him face to face.

Let us not miss seeing Jesus during this special time of the year when we celebrate the most amazing and spectacular birth that ever took place. He shows up in all kinds of fascinating ways. May we take time today to ponder what He’s doing in our lives that draw our gaze more directly upon Him, the perfect lover of our souls.

How do you celebrate the birth of the Lamb of God? What will you give Him this Christmas?

 

What can I give Him, poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;

If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;

Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

(From In the Bleak Midwinter by Christina Rossetti)

A Good Good-bye

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This is my favorite time of the year. Fall! I loved saying good-bye to the unseasonably hot and longer than usual Tennessee summer. It’s always a nice good-bye for me. I love the crispness in the air that accompanies the beautiful face of autumn.

Fall now brings more to me than just the normal much awaited seasonal changes. It holds memories that are still very fresh. It brings back the memory of October 23, 2014, the day I said good-bye to my mother. It was a long good-bye. I flew to Texas to spend a week with my parents having no clue that that 7 day planned visit would turn into 20. Just two days before my arrival, she stopped eating. It’s what happens during the last stage of Alzheimer’s. Usually the good-bye comes quickly, but not this time . . .

The memories of those days are so very clear. They are beautiful. They are brutal. My Mother was trying to say her goodbye to this world. My sister was fighting to live – enduring the hardest season of her cancer journey.

I can’t help but be reminded of something we talked about in a Bible Study I’m leading called “A Woman Who Doesn’t Quit”. It’s a study taken from the book of Ruth. In that study the author mentions a phrase that’s really stuck in my mind – “Just so happened.” Ruth is a widow who made a choice to leave the land of Moab and make her home with her mother-in-law in the land of Israel. When they arrive Ruth knows she needs to find a way to provide food for the two of them. She goes to a field to pick up grain that is left from the harvesters, an acceptable practice of the culture at this time. “So Ruth went and gleaned in the field behind the reapers. She just so happened to be in the field of Boaz, who was from Elimelech’s family.” Ruth 2:3 Elimelech was her father-in-law who died in Moab. It just so happens that Boaz and Ruth marry and have a son. That son is the great-grandfather of King David of the tribe of Judah. That’s quite a “just so happened”! God orchestrated quite an event here. Jesus came from the tribe of Judah!

The story of Ruth and Boaz is part of God’s narrative that is huge. But, my narrative is a big deal to God, too, and so is everyone else’s. It’s these “just so happened” moments that always continue to remind me of how much God loves me and cares about the way things unfold in my life. They are not haphazard. They have purpose and meaning, richness and depth.

For it just so happened:

  • Months earlier a friend had let me borrow her DVD’s of our late beloved pastor’s sermons on Heaven. I just happened to have put them in my suitcase. I had my computer and watched them just outside of Mother’s room.
  • I had the opportunity to ask for forgiveness from my mother for the times I know I let her down.
  • My sister and I had time to fill the house with music as we played the piano and sang songs that we all loved.
  • My daddy had the chance to say some needed words of endearment.
  • When in the middle of despair a text or a phone call came that gave me words I needed to hear.
  • God was putting together a plan for a date, a place, and perfectly skilled doctors for my sister to have one the most complicated surgeries a person could ever have that would happen in just a few weeks. This surgery meant life for her weakening body.
  • I woke up early that morning, October 23rd, and decided to sit beside Mother during my morning devotion. Not sure why, but I landed in Psalm 119.

I read each verse of that long chapter out loud to Mother. It just so happened that immediately after I read that last verse, verse 176, Mother took her last breath on this earth. The good-bye to Mother had been much longer than any of us could have anticipated. God’s ways are beyond our understanding. But, one thing I know: pure joy and adventure was just beginning for her. Someone has said: Every beginning has an end, and every end has a beginning. This is one beginning that has no end. C.S. Lewis says this eloquently in “The Voyage”

“All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and title page: now at last they were beginning chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”  

Are we living today with that great chapter One in mind? As my former pastor, Bro. Glenn Weekley, said in one of his sermons on Heaven: Our purpose on this earth includes preparing for life there. “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18

When at the End of Your Rope…

Rope

 

But David strengthened himself in the Lord. 1 Samuel 30:

I love this verse! It lets me know that when I find myself discouraged, depressed, sad, angry, lonely, betrayed, disappointed that there is a way to find encouragement and hope.

King David was a valiant warrior who found himself in dire straits the day he and his men returned from one of their battles. Their headquarters at Ziklag had been destroyed by fire. Their wives, sons, and daughters had been taken captive. David’s men turned against him and were ready to stone him. Great discouragement and distress overwhelmed him. Fear sought to overtake and control him. It’s evident David was at the end of his rope.

What did David do? He found what he needed in the presence and strength of the Lord His God. He inquired of God. He believed God had the answer. He did what God said.  It’s evident he had faith in the One who could deliver. He had this kind of faith because he knew his God. He acted on what he knew. He inquired, believed, obeyed.

What should we do when we’re at the end of our rope and ready to quit? Believers in Jesus go to the One who has the answers. We go to him first, not our family, friends, counselor, or pastor. God may choose to use others to help us in our struggles, but we must first go to Him. God delights to help the one who is desperate for help from the perfect Source of strength.

I love this quote from Oswald Chambers: To those who have had no agony Jesus says I have nothing for you; stand on your own feet, square your own shoulders. I have come for the man who knows he has a bigger handful than he can cope with; who knows there are forces he cannot touch. I will do everything for him if he will let me. Only let a man grant he needs it. I will do it for Him.

Never forget where to go first when there’s desperation at the end of your rope.

Wisdom from NCIS-Thanksgiving Edition

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Last night, thanks to our DVR, we were able to get caught up on one of our favorite programs, NCIS. This is one TV program in which I can honestly say I love all of the characters. Each character is incredibly distinct and on occasion we get new insights into what really makes them tick. It’s not just that I love the unique personalities of each, I love the way they demonstrate their care for one another, even in their mess ups.

Holiday episodes are filled with emotion and life lessons – lessons that are worth taking note of. This year’s Thanksgiving Episode was no exception.

This episode is packed with hurts and pain. A young lieutenant will die with leukemia unless a donor is found. Ellie is devastated when she finds out the reason her marriage is falling apart. She leaves her work in D. C. and goes home to Oklahoma. In essence, she tries running away from her problems. Gibbs continues trying to keep everything under control as he continues to recover emotionally from a near death experience from a gunshot. Tim accidentally reveals a silly little secret about Abby to Tony – Abby finds out. Tony has plans to spend Thanksgiving alone working.

Ellie, while running from her problems in Oklahoma, finds that the case of the young lieutenant follows her. What impacts me is that even in her pain, she’s the one that works hardest to find a donor for the dying lieutenant. The potential donor is in military prison serving a life sentence. She makes three emotional visits to this person. He finally says yes

Her boss, Gibbs, quite concerned for her, goes to Oklahoma to check on her. His advice is great. He tells her to stop trying to handle this alone and that she needs someone to share her feelings with. She comes back with: “You don’t talk to anyone about yours.” Gibbs replies,” I do now. I found a friend, my Doc, to talk to.”

Back in D. C. Abby forgives Tim and both celebrate Thanksgiving by serving in a community soup kitchen. FBI special agent, Tobias, who has a great dislike for Tony, suddenly invites Tony to share Thanksgiving dinner at his home. The dislike seems to be mutual. But, in that moment, the look on Tony’s face is priceless. He’s smiling from ear to ear.

What are the life lessons in all of this?

  • Share your burdens with a trusted someone.
  • Forgive ALL things, big and little.
  • Keep pursuing positive solutions to obstacles.
  • Keep serving others in need even when you’re hurting.
  • Be open to opportunities of spending time with someone you make not like very much. Blessings will be found.

As I watched this episode I couldn’t help but think of what our Faith Community, called the Church, is to look like. The characters in this fictitious program form a team who care deeply for one another. It is shown in how they treat one another. It’s true that they don’t always do it perfectly, but by their actions we know how much they care. God wants us to be a people who can help sustain family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers as they go through difficulties. We’re do it with Christ-like grace that is full of comfort, peace and encouragement.

 

Remembering the Last Morning with my Mother

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On my walk this morning I couldn’t help but reflect back on the morning of October 23, 2014, the last time I’d have with my mother. I’d been with my parents in Texas for 2 ½ weeks walking through the shadows of death that were accompanying the last days of Mother’s life.

I woke up that particular morning about 6:00 and thought, “Why not do my morning devotional with Mother?” So, I pulled my chair up beside her bed, a bit unsure of what I was going to read that morning. For some reason, I landed in Psalm 119. I’m not certain why I chose that particular Psalm, but as I began to read, it was evident God led me there.

I chose to read this Psalm aloud. Mother was in a semi-conscience state. In the physical realm it seemed there was no awareness, but I know in the spiritual realm, there was a deep awareness. God wanted us to pray together through this Psalm for all the Loves in our lives. At least twice, I thought, “Well, I’ve read enough, and prayed enough.” But, something or Someone urged me to keep reading. It’s 176 verses!

This probably was one of the sweetest and most powerful moments I’ve ever spent in the presence of the Lord. I read a few verses and then audibly prayed words from them for our mutual Loves, our spouses, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. We even prayed for those unborn babes that would come into the world through Mother’s grandchildren. And, isn’t it awesome that one of those babes was born just three days ago! Here are things we prayed taken from this powerful Psalm:

  • That our Loves would keep their way pure as they live according to God’s Word.
  • That they would seek God with all of their hearts.
  • That they would hide God’s Word in their hearts.
  • That they would be kept from deceitful ways.
  • That they would turn their eyes away from worthless things.
  • That they would know and understand the unfailing love of God.
  • That they would walk in obedience to God.
  • That God would give them knowledge and good judgment.
  • That they would meditate on God’s Word.
  • That they would have lips that overflow with praise.

Today I made the commitment to read and pray through this Psalm once again on the anniversary date of Mother’s sweet and gentle passing into the arms of the One who made her and loves her so.

          Heavenly Father, May this be the way I will celebrate You and my mother’s life on this

          Earth on all the future October 23rds You give me. Amen.

The Most Important Message

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“Stay here awhile, so that I may give you a message from God.” These were the words Samuel spoke to Saul when the time had arrived for Samuel to let Saul in on the news that he would become king of Israel. Messages in the Old Testament were delivered through prophets of God. What a blessing and privilege it is to live during the time when we have the written Word that speaks to us personally. We don’t have to depend on another person to deliver a concise message to us. It’s a message I can find. It is here. It is easy to find. God’s Word says, “This command that I give you today is certainly not too difficult or beyond your reach.” Deut. 30:11.

This message is in the most important book ever written: the Bible This book has the message we all need to hear over and over: God loves me. God loves you.

If we have gone to church all of our lives we have probably heard the message “God loves you” so much that it has lost its meaning. Familiarity can bring complacency. Familiarity can steal joy. Familiarity can cause us to take things or people or even God for granted. But, the message God loves you, God loves me is the most important message there is. It’s this message that is central to the Bible.

This is the message of truth that when believed, accepted, and lived out will bless me beyond measure and allow me to be a blessing to others. I will not understand God, the reason He sent Jesus, nor have joy in this life without drinking in the meaning of this perfect love. The truths in Ephesians 1 and Psalm 139 say it all:

  • I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus.
  • I am blessed because I am God’s child.
  • I am redeemed.
  • I am forgiven.
  • I am perfectly loved just as I am, flaws and all.
  • I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
  • I am precious to God.
  • I have purpose.
  • I am cared for by the One who created me.
  • I am important to the One who created me.
  • I am understood by the One who created me.

May we immerse ourselves in these truths over and over until they run through every vein, pumping life into the depths of our soul. There we will find joy, peace, and freedom that we’ve never known before.

Help! I’m Coming Undone

In the stillness-He is there

My emotions have been all over the map for many months, and with good reason. My mother died a few months ago, my sister is on a difficult cancer journey. I’m twelve hours away from her, and seventeen hours away from my grieving daddy. I also let go of some ministries I dearly loved. And, now we’re in the process of selling our house and buying another. So, there are many mornings I get up feeling crazy!

What’s kept me from totally unraveling is falling on my face and having a talk with my heavenly Father. That conversation goes like this:

  • I’m overwhelmed. God says. “I’m here.”
  • I’m sad. God says, “I’m here.”
  • I’m anxious over a big decision. God says, “I’m here.”
  • I’m scared. God says, “I’m here.”
  • I don’t understand. God says, “I’m here.”
  • I’m exhausted. God says, “I’m here.”

The Lord God, the great I AM – He meets me where I am.

My sister’s house is adorned with scripture plaques. Almost every wall is decorated with something spiritual. I love being surrounded by such beauty! My favorite plaque has these words:

In the stillness, He is there. 

These words are taken from I Kings 19 when Elijah is fleeing from Queen Jezebel who is ready to take him out. He is running scared. He is exhausted physically and emotionally. God miraculously fed him on the journey and gave him rest. With his replenished soul and body, he travelled 40 days and 40 nights to meet with his God on Mt Horeb, the same place God manifested his glory to Moses. After spending the night in a cave, God commanded him to present himself on the mountain for the Lord was going to pass by. God sent a powerful wind, an earthquake, and a fire, but He was not in those manifestations of nature. God came to him in quietness. “And the word of the Lord came to him…a gentle whisper.” F.B. Myer says of this encounter: There the forces of Nature spoke to Elijah’s varying moods. In the fire, the earthquake, and the tempest he heard the voices of his own soul. ….Then the accents of the “still small voice” fell upon his ear, calming quieting, soothing.

F.B. Myer also says that God does not judge us by our moods. I say, “Hallelujah! Thank you, Jesus!” I can pour out my soul to Him sharing every emotion imaginable and in His still, soothing voice He says, “I am here.” The great I AM is with me. That is enough. I am helped. I am calmed.