Seek The Lord and Be Glad

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A Psalm of Praise and Thanksgiving
By Julia Melatis 

Look unto the Lord, all you people;
Seek Him with all your heart and be glad!
For the Lord is the Everlasting God
He gave His Son’s life for yours.
He loves you with an unfailing love.
He wants to be your Father, to adopt you as His child.
Turn to the Lord and repent of your sins and He will wash away the stain.
He will clothe you in robes of righteousness washed in Jesus’ blood.

Selah (pause and think about that.)

Love Him with all your heart!
Seek His wisdom and guidance.
His Word stand true forever.
Of His Kingdom there is no end.
He loved YOU and chose YOU before creation.
His wisdom and power are beyond our comprehension.

He set the sun, moon and stars into motion and aligned the planets. 
He created every living thing. 

He governs the universe and yet He knows each of us by name. 

Holy and just in our God. 

There is no one else like Him.

Selah

He offers peace and joy to the faint of heart.
He gives comfort and healing to the broken and abused.
He satisfies our hunger with The Bread of Life and quenches our thirst with His Living Water.
Come to Him all you who are weary and worn and you will find rest for your souls.
Those who trust in Him with all things, will sleep sweet without worry or fear.
The Everlasting God is always with those who trust in His name. He never grows tired nor does He slumber.
He fights on our behalf and gives us HIS strength in our weakness, to defeat our enemy the devil, the father of lies.

Selah

Praise the Lord, all you His people!
Shout aloud and clap your hands! 
Rejoice and be glad for He has rescued us from the fires of hell and blessed us with His indwelling Holy Spirit, to teach us, guide us, comfort and correct us.

He has adopted us as His children and made us co-heirs with Christ Jesus to His Kingdom and eternal life.

Praise be to the Lord our God!
His love endures forever and of His Kingdom there is no end!

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Navigating Life’s Storms

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This canvas spoke to me when I first saw it in of all places, the “Icing” jewelry and accessories store in the mall. I just had to buy it. It reminds me of so any Bible verses, including the story of Jesus walking on the water in Matthew 14:22-33 (ESV).

22Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but the boat by this time was a long wayb from the land,c beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” 28And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind,d he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Jesus did not calm the sea before telling Peter to come to him. He called Peter to walk to Him on the stormy sea. Peter stepped out in faith, but he faltered when he saw the wind. Why? He took his eyes off of Jesus and focused on the problem. How often do we do that? We start out strong with our eyes on Jesus, but when troubles arise our gaze goes to the troubles and we begin to worry, fear, and doubt. We become so fixated on the problem we forget to turn to the problem solver. Jesus promises us that though we have troubles we can take heart,  because he has overcome the world (John 16:33).

The thing I love about Peter is his heart.
Peter was the only disciple to step out of the boat. He wanted to be a man of great faith. He did have faith enough to get out of the boat and take some steps before sinking, and he was the only disciple that made it out of the boat.

I also identify with Peter. I think many people do. He had a habit of acting and speaking without thinking, aka “foot-in-mouth disease.” He sometimes had a problem with pride. Though these things are negatives, they do show he had a heart that wanted to do right. His biggest failure was the night Jesus was betrayed.

27And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”29Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” 30And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” 31But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same. Mark 14:27-31 ESV

Pride. Short lived pride. Peter wanted to be everything he said to Jesus, but fear overtook him. On the water. In the Garden of Gethsemane. When he denied Jesus not once, or twice, but three times outside of Jesus’ trial. When Peter heard the rooster crow twice after his third denial he wept bitterly (Mark 14:72), because he knew he failed, again. Can you imagine how Peter must have felt, denying His Lord that way?

I have beaten myself up emotionally over past failures. There was a point in my life I was sure that God could never love me or forgive me for the things I had done. And when that point came, God spoke life and hope to me through my Father. He said, quite loudly, “How dare you?! How dare you not forgive yourself when God already has?! Are you better than God?!” That was a turning point for me, my faith, and my whole life, and my children’s lives and their children’s lives (Psalm 103:17).

I am sure that Peter must have felt so ashamed of himself.  It must have been a hard three days while Jesus was buried. And what must have been going through Peter’s mind when he first saw the resurrected Jesus? How could he possibly look Him in the eye? How could Jesus forgive him for denying Him?

Jesus knew Peter’s heart and his weaknesses. It didn’t stop Him from calling Peter as His disciple. Some of the disciples had a not so savory past. But Jesus called them, too. Jesus is not so much concerned with where we’ve been as He is where we’re going. Before Jesus ascended to heaven He reinstated Peter.
15When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17The third time he said to him,“Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”19Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” John 21:15-19 NIV

Jesus wanted Peter and us to know that He knows we will mess up from time to time, but He does not define us by those things and we should not either. By nature we have weaknesses, but God spoke these words to Paul, and they echo down through the centuries to speak to us as well…

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

If we repent of our failures and submit to God’s leading, His grace will make us stronger and better able to serve Him and those He brings into our lives. He makes us overcomers by His power at work within us. The only way we truly fail is if we don’t learn from our mistakes and allow them by God’s grace to help us overcome future temptations and to speak life and hope to others in need of Jesus’ love, grace, and forgiveness.

So, don’t beat yourself up and define yourself by the times you stumble and fall.  Take the mess to the Creator and let Him turn it into a beautiful message of hope for others.

If a sailor never face a stormy sea, he would never truly know what kind of sailor he is, because his skills are not tested. It is the same for us as believers. It’s easy to profess a deep faith when life is calm and trouble free, but when trouble comes and we feel tossed about, does our faith carry us through or do we lose control and sink our boats? If we turn over the helm of our boats to Jesus the wind may toss us about and some water may lap over into the boat, but we will not lose control and sink. He will help us bail-out the boat and sail us into a safe port.

Blessings and peace,

Julia

#ChoosingJoy #LivingPraise #AnchoredInHope #FaithSeesWhatEyesCannot

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Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life

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I saw this meme on Pinterest and it got me thinking. Our thoughts and our words can keep us from living in the freedom Jesus died to give us.

Romans 12:2 tells us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Renewing our minds, changing our thinking, is so important! When we receive Jesus as our Savior He releases us from the past and we become a new creation. We receive the Holy Spirit who guides us, teaches us, and convicts us of new sins.  It takes longer for our thoughts to change. We have a history of thinking certain things about ourselves. We need to train our thoughts to think the things God says about us. We need to become intimate with Scripture, so it can work to transform the way we think. All to often we think negatively.  Certainly the majority of our entertainment contains negative, violent, and crude images and language. Commercials, magazines, and the like are full of ads and images telling us we don’t measure up. That we will be happy if we only buy this product, lose weight…whatever it is they are trying to sell. It’s no wonder we have trouble with our thoughts. Philippians 4:8 tells us, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” This is how we transform our minds, by changing what we think about. Just as our bodies are what we eat, so our thoughts are what we see and hear. The things we watch, listen to, and read influence our thoughts and therefore our actions. The best place to start is with Scripture. Reading studying, and memorizing (hiding it in your heart) the Word helps us to change our thoughts. 

When we allow the lies, fears, and doubts the enemy plants in our thoughts to stick around they can render us ineffective for God’s kingdom. Perhaps you’ve been told you’re worthless. Jesus says you are valuable. Maybe you feel lonely and unlovable. Jesus loves you and He is always near you! Whatever lies you’ve been told about who you are,  Jesus says, I gave My life for YOU! 

Stop owning things by calling them “mine.” My attitude, my anger (I’m Irish or ____, so I can’t help it), my illness, my______, whatever it is, and give it to Jesus. He is waiting to take it all away from you. He says give your burdens to me and rest in my presence. Let me be your Provider, your Healer, your Refuge, and most of all your King. He wants us to let His love, joy, peace, and hope rule in our hearts and minds.

Whether you have been a follower of Jesus for just a short time or many years I would venture to say that there are probably some thoughts,  habits, or other things in your life that you have not surrendered to God. Jesus wants every part of us. When we hold back parts of our lives from God we are essentially saying we don’t trust Him with it and making it an idol. Ouch! Maybe you’ve never considered it that way before. When we hold back on God we are only hurting ourselves and our relationship with Him.  Jesus is waiting with arms wide open for you to give those things to Him, so you can find rest for your soul. Reach out to him today with your arms outstretched and hands wide open, so He can take those burdens from you and fill you with Himself – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, and self-control (fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23). 

Blessings, grace, and peace,

Julia

The First Easter

A few friends and I started a journaling group last October. We only meet once a month, but it is very interesting. We start with one or more possible journaling prompts, or we can just write a prayer or about whatever is on our minds. Then we share what we write. Yesterday I wrote about what I think I would have felt if I were at the first Easter.

What would it have been like if I would have been one of Jesus’ closest followers – a woman who followed and helped provide and care for Him (Mark 15:41).

I am standing back with some of the other women who are followers of Jesus. The soldiers are nailing our Master to a rough, wooden cross. With each swing of the hammer He screams in agony. I can barely see anymore through all the tears as they lift the cross and in lands with a jolt in the hole in the ground. He screams again!

I don’t understand why this is happening. What did He do, except love people, heal them, feed them, and bless them. He taught about repentance. He taught us to call God, Daddy. He taught us a lot of things and promised that His kingdom was still to come. Now He is slowly dying on a cross like a criminal. That dream of His kingdom is all but gone.

I love Him so much! It is so hard to stand here and watch Him suffering so much. Each breath is so painful! He speaks, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34). I know Jesus loves people, but how can He forgive these soldiers for what they are doing to Him? I just don’t understand.

There are two thieves also being crucified. One of them is just mocking Jesus. Unbelievable, that even as he is dying he doesn’t repent of his sins, and instead he mocks the one who has done no wrong. The crowd joins in hurling insults at Jesus. But, the other thief rebukes the first one and then says, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” I can’t believe Jesus’ answer, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:42-43). Amazing! Jesus is still ministering to people as He Himself dies a slow, painful death.

It seems like such a long time He has been hanging there. It is only about noon, but the sky is so dark. The sunlight hides from this terrible thing that is happening!

It’s about three o’clock now, and He is getting so weak, He can hardly lift Himself to breath anymore. He cries out again, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). God, how can this be happening? Isn’t Jesus Your Son? Jesus says, “I’m thirsty.” (John 19:28). Those mean soldiers put some vinegar on a sponge and hold it up to His mouth. Then with a very labored breath He says, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up His spirit. (John 19:29-30).

I thought I was cried out, but the tears flow again. I can’t stop screaming. This man, this wonderful man who loved me when no one else cared. This man who said my many sins were forgiven and that I would have a new life with Him. Now what? How can I have any life with Him? He’s gone!  Why God?! Why?!

Some men come and take His body down. They take Him and place Him in a borrowed tomb. It’s almost the Sabbath. They must hurry.

The agony and hopelessness are unbearable as we go through the motions of our Sabbath prayers and meal. I can’t eat. My heart is broken. I am so confused. Is this the end? What is the point? Jesus had talked of His kingdom to come, but now He is dead? How can this be? I don’t understand.

It’s late. I am all cried out. It’s been a long couple of days. I am hiding in the upper room with the disciples and the other women. We are worried that the soldiers will come looking for us next. The sun is starting to come up. It’s been another sleepless night. Suddenly, Mary Magdalene comes bursting into the room! She’s shouting something about Jesus being gone! We know He’s gone, Mary. We watched Him die. But she says, NO! He’s alive! I saw Him! He is alive!! I think she must be so overcome with grief and with little sleep, she is hallucinating. She continues, He told me to tell you, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” (Matthew 28:10).

Peter and John ran to the tomb. When they came back they told us the tomb was empty as Mary had said. They found His grave clothes lying there and the cloth that was on His face was folded by itself. (John 20:3-10). We remembered that Jesus said He must die and rise again. I am excited, but scared to believe it is really true. We decide to go to Galilee as Mary told us and wait for Jesus there.

We traveled as fast as we could. Lack of sleep was overcome by our excitement at the thought that Jesus is really alive again!

We were still afraid of the authorities, so we gathered in a locked room. Jesus appeared to us there. He said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed us His hands and side. We were overjoyed when we saw the Lord! (John 20:19-20). Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on us and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:21-22). I’m not really sure what He meant by that, but my outlook as really changed. A warm feeling of peace fills my heart. All my fears are gone! Jesus is alive! This is a new day! Life for me will never be the same again!

I wish you a very blessed Resurrection Day this Sunday! Everyday is Resurrection day when you are a Jesus follower. Jesus has really changed my life forever! How about you?

 

 

Seek the Lord While He May Be Found

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We’re just a week past Christmas and most of the Christmas decorations are already put away. Out of sight out of mind. Many people do not realize that Christmas is not just a day, but a season. Today is the eighth day of Christmas. But even more than a day or a season, Christmas is God’s presence gifted to all people. Have you opened that gift? And if so, what have you done with it? is it a gift you treasure and use everyday or does it just sit on the shelf our your getting dusty.

Seek the LORD and His strength, Seek His face continually. 1 Chronicles 16:11 NASB

What does it mean to seek God’s face? Seeking God’s face is seeking His presence in our lives. He wants to walk with us through our lives as He walked in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. Too often we seek God for His hand of provision, healing, blessing, mercy…forgetting to seek His presence and ultimately the fullness of His power in our lives. His presence fills us up and makes His power available in the things we do. We should be aware of His presence in everything. We should not be so busy with life that we miss Emmanuel, “God with us.” This is why Jesus tells us in John 15:1-8 that He is the  Vine and we are the  branches. We must abide/remain in Him, which means stay continually connected to Him, because without Him we can do nothing.

Do you keep God like a genie in a bottle and pull Him out when you need something from Him?  God is not a genie. He is all about relationship, which is why He sent Jesus to earth as a humble babe on Christmas. He came as one of us to do what only the Son of God could do,  bridge the gap that sin created between us and God. God, in Jesus, made it possible to have an intimate relationship with Him again.

Some people believe in God as Creator, but that since then He stays at a distance from us. Some believe God is mad at them and hiding from them. But God is not far off. He is not mad at us. He loves us so much that He sent Jesus to pay the penalty for our sins as a gift freely given to us. God does not hide from us. It is us that hide from Him. Let’s start back at the beginning.

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Genesis 3:8

 In the Garden of Eden Adam & Eve had direct access to God. He gave them a perfect Garden to live in and everything they would need. The only thing He denied them was the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They chose to disobey God and ate the forbidden fruit.  This disobedience broke the relationship between people and God. But right away God put into motion His plan to redeem us from the power of sin and bridge the gap that sin put between us and God (Genesis 3:15). Because we have been given freewill, it is each individual’s choice to accept or refuse God’s invitation, through Jesus, to be reconciled to and brought back into a relationship with Him. And those of us who have received Jesus as our Savior may hide from God instead of seeking Him when we start  blaming God for troubles in our lives or stop taking time to pray and seek God in His Word.   Unfortunately, all that does is send us farther away from a Father who wants nothing more than to love us, bless us, and be a part of everything in our lives. We have God’s assurance that if we seek Him, with ALL our heart and soul (mind, will, emotions),  we WILL find Him we will finds Him. 

You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.” Psalm 27:8

Our hearts, our spirits do yearn for God’s presence. But often we are so busy with our lives we don’t recognize the source of that yearning and we develop feelings of frustration, dissatisfaction, and restlessness. If we don’t seek God’s face, those feelings can lead us to try to fill that yearning, that God-shaped hole as some call it, with things, wrong relationships, money, power, etc. None of those things will ever satisfy and fill that hole within us. Only God’s presence can do that.

Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; Isaiah 55:6

We all know that Jesus is coming back one day and we don’t know the day nor the hour. Jesus warns us to always be ready because we don’t know the day nor the hour (Matthew 24:42-44, 25:13). We never know when we will take our last breath. When we die or when Jesus returns it will be too late if we have not received Jesus as our Savior and Lord. Seek the Lord while He may be found.

God doesn’t hide from us, but He also does not intrude where He is not invited. Even as believers the Holy Spirit will convict our hearts when we disobey, but He does not force us to repent. God is never far away from us. He may use difficult circumstances, often the consequences of our choices or the choices of others around us, to try to get our attention, but it is always our choice to turn and seek Him, avoid Him or even blame Him for our troubles. Avoiding or blaming God only leads us to worry, fear, and resentment. There is no good to be found in that. We must be cautious, because if we don’t turn to God to repent of the things we’ve done, the things that have caused our hearts to wander from Him, they can harden our hearts toward God.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33

In the eight verses preceding Matthew 6:33 Jesus tells us not to worry about anything. Then here He tells us to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness first. First before worry, fear, and resentment take hold of us. First, before we discuss our issues to death with friends. First, before anything. God wants to be our:

  • First thought.
  • First contact.
  •  First love.

He knows our physical and material needs, but our greatest need is for Him! Seeking God’s face and putting Him first in everything helps us to keep the right attitude throughout our day and keep our relationship with God healthy. And Jesus promised that when we seek Him first He will give us all those other things we need as well.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7

One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. Luke 18:1 NLT

When we pray, God does not always answer right away. It helps us develop patience, as well as to learn trust in God’s plan and His timing. Jesus teaches us to pray and never give up. Keep asking, keep seeking, and keep knocking until we get our answer.

Now set your mind and heart to seek the LORD your God. Arise and build the sanctuary of the LORD God, so that the ark of the covenant of the LORD and the holy vessels of God may be brought into a house built for the name of the LORD.” 1 Chronicles 12:19

This verse speaks loudly to me. “Building the sanctuary of the Lord God” can mean two things to us:

  1. building ourselves up in the Lord and in His Word,  as we are the  temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19).
  2. building up the kingdom of God by reaping a harvest of new believers, discipling them, and teaching them the Word of God.

The Ark of the Covenant housed, among other things, the tablets of the 10 Commandments. The Mercy Seat, was on the top of the Ark, which is where the blood of the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament was sprinkled. In the tabernacle and in the temple the Ark was kept in the Holy of Holies, which is where God’s presence resided among His people.

When we build the temple of the Holy Spirit we bring the ark/God’s Word and His presence into the sanctuary of our temple as we read, meditate upon, memorize, and live out God’s Word. When we teach the Word we equip others to bring the “ark” into the sanctuary of their temple.

I will end today’s post with this Psalm that is a beautiful picture of a relationship with God.  I pray that as you read it you will see the beauty of intimate, abiding relationship with the Lord. I pray your thirst for God will help you to continually seek Him, so He can refresh you with His Living Water. May you seek His face in your everyday life. May His presence satisfies your soul. May your heart overflow with His praise. May you be filled with His unshakeable joy, and find shelter under His wings, in Jesus’ name, amen.

 1O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 2So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. 3Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. 4So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. 5My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, 6when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; 7for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. 8My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.  Psalm 63:1-8

Blessings to you as you seek the Lord’s face continually,

Julia

All Scriptures are ESV unless otherwise stated.

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God’s Birthing Plan

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In the fullness of time God births His plan and purpose for each of His children’s lives. For Zechariah and Elizabeth as with their ancestors Abraham and Sarah it was literally a birth of a child to elderly people who had been unable to have children. You may ask, why would God make them wait so long to have a child? The answer is simple.
1. To make it clear to all that it was God’s timing and purpose.
2. To test the faith of the couple themselves.
3. And most importantly because God’s timing and His ways are perfect. He does not do anything in an ordinary way.
Imagine a woman well past childbearing age giving birth and surviving to raise the child. Meanwhile, her young, virgin cousin is also pregnant with the Son of God. Not that most people believed she was still a virgin. Many are those who foolishly do not believe what God does among us. What matters is do we believe what God speaks to us in His Word and through His Spirit?
I don’t want to be a fool. There are things God has shown me about His plan for my life that are a little scary, because they are bigger than my natural abilities. But God is bigger than my fear. If God says it, it WILL happen. He always keeps His promises! He makes a way where there seems to be no way. Like a dry path through the Red Sea (Exodus 14). People healed from just Peter’s shadow touching them (Acts 5:15). And babies born to women who are physically incapable of conceiving. God has shown me, too, as I trust Him to put His super on my natural that He will bring to pass all He has planned for me.
7Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. 8This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:7-9 ESV

What do I need to bring? A willing and submitted heart, faith, and courage! When I step out and take each step, with confidence and boldness, as He leads me, He shows up and puts into me what I cannot do without Him. Without a doubt He provides the wisdom, the words, and the results of my obedience.

What does God want to birth into your life? Has He shown you things that make you nervous, leaving you feeling inadequate to the task? Say “yes” to God and see the great things He will do through you! You are not alone. His timing is perfect. Maybe you feel like you have waited too long and that it is too late to begin. But God has known all about you since before the creation of the world. His plans are specific to you, the gifts and talents He has given you, and what makes you tick. I thought I had waited too long to finish my book. But I believe that even in the delay I have been learning and growing and preparing to finish it in God’s time. As long as we draw breath we still have things to do for God’s kingdom. Seek Him and He will show You.
Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:8 NLT
Maybe you are waiting for a miracle in your health, finances, or even in a broken relationship. Trust the Lord and His timing. He will not fail you. Pray that He will work in you, preparing you for your part in what He wants to do for you. Have faith. Hold fast to hope. Trust in His love.
 Blessings and peace,
Julia

A New Thing!

Isaiah 43-19

It’s been over a year since I have posted on this blog. During that time I suffered varying degrees of depression until finally, earlier this year, it began affecting my overall health. After some testing I was sent to a neurologist who attributed nearly every symptom to clinical depression and anxiety disorder. I felt God led me to this particular doctor. I have suffered from depression on and off most of my life and though other doctors tried medicating me, they didn’t do the digging into my symptoms and follow up like this doctor does. Over the past 8 months we have been trying different dosages of the medication and I think we are about there. I am getting my passion back for writing, teaching, and life. Yay God!

God has started a new thing with me recently. As I begin to wake up He sometimes starts speaking to me, it feels kind of like a computer download, and I just have to get up and start writing things down. He has done this in the past, but always while I was praying. But, I guess this is an answer to prayer as I have been trying to get up and spend time in the Word first thing in the morning. I have never been a morning person, even as a baby, so it has always been hard for me to function well in the morning. But, when God wakes you up like this, you are awake!

As I was beginning to wake this morning God spoke to me. He said, “When I speak things happen.” Then all these verses (including the one in the image) began flooding my mind:

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Genesis 1:3

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

11so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. 3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-5

I could hear Him speaking to my heart through all of this and my heart is swelling with anticipation, hope, and joy as I write this! God created the whole universe and everything in it by speaking a Word. He speaks, things happen. Every Word He speaks is truth, for God is holy and it is impossible for him to lie (1 John 2:21, Titus 1:2, Hebrews 6:18).

The verse in the image, Isaiah 43:19, has been popping up a lot this last week in a variety of places. I believe God is saying to me, “It is time! Get moving! I have prepared you to do this. I go before you and prepare the way. Walk in it!”

I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 1 John 2:21

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

Now as I write, having stopped to eat, I get a feeling of doubt come over me. But I take that thought captive in the name of Jesus and replace it with these verses He brought to my mind:

6″Therefore, I remind you to keep ablaze the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.” 2 Timothy 1:6-7 HCSB

He gave me a glimpse years ago of what He has prepared for me to do. When I look at my own abilities I know this is not possible. But I also know from the work God has already done in me and through me that He equips us for the work He calls us to do. I have already seen Him do things in and through me that I absolutely cannot do in the natural, so why should I have doubts and fears?

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6 NLT

Oooh, I just got chills as I read this verse. I have heard and read it so many times, yet reading it in this translation God revealed a wonderful thing to me. The work we do does not stop when we die. The lives we’ve touched are like ripples in a pond moving ever outward from their originating point. We touch someone’s life, then they touch someone and so on. Sometimes we get to see the fruit of that and some fruit we won’t get to see this side of heaven. But whether we get to see it or not, so long as we are following where God leads us, speaking what He tells us to say, and doing what He tells us to do we know without a doubt that fruit will come and there will be a harvest. There are steps to seeing that harvest come. Plowing, planting, watering, tending, and finally harvesting. Very rarely are we there for every step of it. We will harvest where others have sown and watered. We will plant where others will water or harvest.
God uses all the different talents and gifts He places in His children to sow, water, and reap. Our main job is to live our lives in love; faithful and obedient to God and His Word.

This is my prayer:
Lord, where You lead I will follow. Help me to replace any doubts and fears I have with faith and courage to follow You wherever You lead. I remember all the things You have done in my life since I was a youth; the way You have transformed my heart, mind, and life from a frightened, hopeless teen on the verge of suicide to a courageous woman of faith. You gave me Joshua 1:1-9 years ago and it scared me. But over the years You have prepared me to fulfill that purpose and each step has had its own purpose as well. This is a journey we are on together. Lord, help me to always follow You and not my own ways. When opposition comes, help me to discern if it is from You, making a course correction, or the enemy trying to shipwreck me.  Help me to stay in tune with Your voice and Yours alone. Teach me Your ways Lord and lead me every step, every word, every thing my hands do may it all be from You and to Your glory and praise. In Jesus’ powerful, blessed, and holy name I pray and thank You, amen.

I believe this message is not just for me. If you have been doubting God’s plan for you or your ability to be used by God, know that the only thing He requires of us is a willing heart made available for His use. God gives us the inspiration to use our talents, whatever He has placed in us, for His purposes. So, if you are in a similar place, why not pray a prayer like this of your own. Never forget the things has done for you in the past, because it is all preparation for what is yet to come.  David and other Psalmists often recalled God’s past works as a way of building faith, and the faith of others, along with the courage and confidence in each step we take as we keep our eyes on Jesus, on the eternal things, and not on the things of this world.

“Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” Psalm 86:11

“The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.” Psalm 138:8 ESV

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:2

20Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21

“God doesn’t call the equipped, son. God equips the called. And you have been called.” Rick Yancey, The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave, #1)

When we say Yes to Him He puts His super on our natural and great things will happen! God is on His throne yesterday, today and forever! Trust Him and He will do it! When we let fear and doubt keep us from doing what God tells us to do we quench the Spirit’s work.

16Rejoice always, 17pray continually,18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19Do not quench the Spirit. 20Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21but test them all; hold on to what is good,22reject every kind of evil. 23May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

May the grace, joy, and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ fill you as you seek to fulfill His purpose in your life. ~Julia

Unless otherwise stated all Scriptures are from the New International Version (NIV).

Prayer and Faith, Part 1 – Our Attitude in Prayer, Recognizing Our Need for God – A Bible Study

“When we pray, we invite the divine presence of the Almighty God to do life with us that day. Watch for Him. Look for Him. Make the connection of things that happen as direct evidence of His hand at work.” –Lysa TerKeurst (on Facebook 7/14/14)

Psalm 12 (all) NIV       A psalm of David.

1Help, Lord, for no one is faithful anymore; those who are loyal have vanished from the human race. 2Everyone lies to their neighbor; they flatter with their lips but harbor deception in their hearts. 3May the Lord silence all flattering lips and every boastful tongue— 4those who say, “By our tongues we will prevail; our own lips will defend us—who is lord over us?” 5“Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the Lord. “I will protect them from those who malign them.” 6And the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times.

7You, Lord, will keep the needy safe and will protect us forever from the wicked, 8who freely strut about when what is vile is honored by the human race.

 What are your first impressions when you read this prayer?

This is a short Psalm containing a prayer of David. It is only 138 words. The main part of the prayer is two words, “Help, Lord.” This is the request. The next few verses are a list of reasons for his need for help. Verse 6 shows trust in God’s Word and then moves into a declaration of faith in verses 7-8: You, Lord, will keep the needy safe and will protect us forever.”

Help in the Hebrew is yasha (yaw-shah’)

Original Word: יָשַׁע Part of Speech: Verb Short Definition: save

To deliver, avenging, defend, deliverer, help, preserve, rescue, be safe, bring (having) salvation, save(-iour), get victory. Strong’s # 3467 (http://biblehub.com/hebrew/3467.htm)

One thing that needs to be pointed out is that the word help, implies that we need to be doing something in order to be helped. How can we be helped if we are not doing something? Not that God needs our help to do anything, but we are to be about God’s work in our everyday living. And we need to depend upon God’s help to do that in line with His will and timing, in righteousness and truth. As with most of God’s promises, we need to be active, even in waiting, in order to see the hand of God at work in our lives. David had no doubt the Lord would help them in their need. But he also knew that he needed to acknowledge his need for God’s intervention and humble himself to ask for it.

The answer to the prayer is certain, if it be sincerely offered through Jesus. The Lord’s character assures us that he will not leave his people; his relationship as Father and Husband guarantee us his aid; his gift of Jesus is a pledge of every good thing; and his sure promise stands, “Fear not, I will help thee.” –Morning and Evening by Spurgeon (for June 17, morning, found on http://biblehub.com/devotions/Morning_June_17.htm

One of my all time favorite verses is Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Too often people stop quoting the verse here, but that is only the beginning of the verse. The verse continues, “I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (NIV)

Two other translations use different words for “be still”:

Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (NASB)

“Stop your fighting–and know that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth.” (HCSB)

I used the three translations as a way of helping us see the scope of what God is telling us here. He IS telling us to stop and make time for Him in our lives and to recognize His power and authority over us. But, He is also showing us that stillness is more than just sitting still, it is an attitude of our hearts to stop struggling with and opposing Him in our lives. Our flesh is constantly in a battle against the work of the Holy Spirit within us. Our prayer lives have a direct impact upon how much we strive with or cooperate with the Holy Spirit.

I thought I had this all figured out until I looked at the original Hebrew and it’s meaning. Wow!

Still in the Hebrew is raphah (raw-faw’) Original Word: רָפָה Part of Speech: Verb Short ‘=

Definition: fail

A primitive root; to slacken, sink, relax, abate, cease, consume, draw (toward evening), fail, be faint, be (wax) feeble, forsake, idle, leave, let alone, (be) slack, stay, be still, be slothful, (be) weak(-en). See rapha’. Strong’s #7503 (http://biblehub.com/hebrew/7503.htm)

 What I really found interesting is the definition of rapha (referenced to see above)

Rapha (raw-faw’): to heal

Original Word: רָפָא Part of Speech: Verb Short Definition: heal

cure, cause to heal, physician, repair, thoroughly, make whole

Or raphah {raw-faw’}; a primitive root; properly, to mend (by stitching), i.e. (figuratively) to cure — cure, (cause to) heal, physician, repair, X thoroughly, make whole. See raphah. Strongs # 7495 (http://biblehub.com/hebrew/7495.htm)

 I find it curious and contradictory that these two words, by looking at their definitions are complementary and based on the same root word. Raphah appears to show weakness and failure, while Rapha indicates healing and wholeness. Yet the dictionary indicates that they are connected. If we use these definitions in looking at Psalm 46:10 again, how does that change your understanding of this verse?

He says, “Be still (cease, weak, relaxed – healed, made whole, thoroughly), and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (NIV)

 The dictionary at www.merriam-Webster.com defines strive as

1:  to devote serious effort or energy :  endeavor <strive to finish a project>

2:  to struggle in opposition :  contend

 How often do we expend a lot of energy on something trying to do it in our own power only to fail and realize we cannot do it without God’s help or worse, just quit altogether?

Every translation uses the phrase “and know that I am God.”

“Know” in the Hebrew is yada (yaw-dah’)

Original Word: יָדַע Part of Speech: Verb Short Definition: know

A primitive root; to know, acknowledge, acquainted with, advise, answer, appoint, assuredly, be aware Strong’s #3045 (http://biblehub.com/hebrew/3045.htm)

Looking at the definition of the Hebrew word, yada, for know, what does it mean to “Know that I am God”?

So, when we look at Psalm 46:10 hopefully we will see a greater meaning in it than we did before. God wants us to pause to acknowledge His presence and power in our lives, but also to be aware of His presence with us at all times. We need to acknowledge our weakness and stop fighting against Him, so He can come in and heal us and make us whole. He knows that when we do that He will be exalted among the nations and in the earth. When we live our lives for Him, Jesus should be shining in and through us – in the way we act and speak and just our presence. When we obey the Lord it brings Him glory and honor and that does not go unnoticed or become void. We may feel like our individual lives could not possibly exalt God among the nations or in the earth, and maybe an individual act will not, but like a pebble tossed into a pond, there is a ripple effect that goes way beyond that point in time to spread in ever increasing, larger circles. But it all starts with our prayer lives. For God’s power to be used most effectively through us we need to keep our cord plugged into the electrical socket that supplies God’s power to us (abide in the Vine-John 15). We may be able to keep a charge in our batteries for a short amount of time, but without being connected to the power source, we will lose our strength and ability to do the work for which God created us to do.

Back in Psalm 12, In addition to acknowledging his own insufficiency to face the troubles in his own power, David was acknowledging the fallen state of the world, the lack of faith and the rampant sin all around him (v.1-2). This applies to our lives and our society today as well. There is a battle raging all around us in this country and throughout the world, not with weapons of physical warfare, but with weapons of spiritual warfare. When we did the Being Salt study we discussed the Armor of God, so I won’t go into detail about each of the pieces of armor now. However, since we are discussing spiritual warfare, would like to look at parts of Ephesians 6 again.

 10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10-12 NASB

 So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty. Zechariah 4:6 NIV

 If we try to fight a spiritual battle without God’s Armor we are defeated before we start. We cannot fight in a spiritual battle without the Lord’s help. We are too weak when we are alone. God sends the Holy Spirit to come to live within us when we receive Jesus as our Savior, to give us the constant teaching, equipping and help that we need to live this life in Him. We were not created to do this life alone and in our own power. When we stay connected to the Lord He equips us with all we need to stand and face the enemy in the battle. But the battle is the Lord’s (1 Samuel 17:47, 2 Chronicles 20:15). He goes before us and behind us (Psalm 139:5) as we do battle with His help. We were created to be in continual relationship with our Creator/Father/God.

 David’s, “Help, Lord”, acknowledges his need for God in his circumstances.

 In Ephesians 6:18-20 (NIV) Paul instructs us,

 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

 What do these verses from Ephesians tell us about the importance of prayer and how we should pray?

 It’s important to note here that our prayers should not only be for ourselves, but for others as well, all God’s people and for the unsaved as well. I find in my own life that when I concentrate too much on my own needs and battles that the rest of the world gets pushed back and out of my view and thoughts. But if I try to put the needs of others ahead of my own in my thoughts and prayers, the Lord seems to tend to my needs without me having to stress over them. Funny how that works, isn’t it? Oh, wait, that’s what Jesus is telling us when He says,

 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 NIV

 Here is a portion of Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary for Ephesians 6:10-18 (quoted from http://biblehub.com/ephesians/6-18.htm):

 “To the Christian armed for defense in battle, the apostle recommends only one weapon of attack; but it is enough, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. It subdues and mortifies evil desires and blasphemous thoughts as they rise within; and answers unbelief and error as they assault from without. A single text, well understood, and rightly applied, at once destroys a temptation or an objection, and subdues the most formidable adversary. Prayer must fasten all the other parts of our Christian armour. There are other duties of religion, and of our stations in the world, but we must keep up times of prayer. Though set and solemn prayer may not be seasonable when other duties are to be done, yet short pious prayers darted out, always are so. We must use holy thoughts in our ordinary course. A vain heart will be vain in prayer. We must pray with all kinds of prayer, public, private, and secret; social and solitary; solemn and sudden: with all the parts of prayer; confession of sin, petition for mercy, and thanksgiving for favours received. And we must do it by the grace of God the Holy Spirit, in dependence on, and according to, his teaching. We must preserve in particular requests, notwithstanding discouragements. We must pray, not for ourselves only, but for all saints. Our enemies are mighty, and we are without strength, but our Redeemer is almighty, and in the power of his mighty we may overcome. Wherefore we must stir up ourselves. Have not we, when God has called, often neglected to answer? Let us think upon these things, and continue our prayers with patience.”

 How does this quote speak to you?

 God has shown us how important it is to know the Word and make it a part of us. Many places David tells of how having God’s Word in his heart keeps him from sinning against the Lord. Here is one example:

The law of their God is in their hearts; their feet do not slip. Psalm 37:31 NIV (of David)

 Memorizing key verses equips us to battle the lies of the enemy as Jesus did when He was tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). (Are you familiar with this passage? If not, take a moment to read it.) It can also help us when our own thoughts betray us, so we can, as the apostle Paul tells us:

 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV

The truth of God’s Word is what we need to know, so we can take captive the wrong thoughts that come into our minds and replace them with the truth from God’s Word. (These key verses can be different for each of us depending upon what wrong thoughts plague us). My area of struggle for much of my Christian walk has been with my identity in Christ. The enemy and my own thoughts continued to condemn me for my past, so I had to learn and rely upon God’s truth that I am His child (John 1:12), I am the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21), that God remembers my sin no more (Jeremiah 31:34), I have been redeemed (Galatians 3:13), and I am a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)….

If you have struggles with wrong thoughts and attacks on your mind, your homework is to look up verses that you can use to demolish arguments and take those thoughts captive and obedient to Christ. Write them down and read them often and in this way you will “write them upon your heart” (Psalms 40:8 & 119:11).

For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. 2 Chronicles 16:9a (NIV)

Some time ago the Lord revealed to me that strength, true strength, is only found in Him. I am weak, but He is strong, as the song says (Jesus Loves Me). I have learned to not ask for Him to give me strength, but instead for Him to be my strength, because strength without His presence will not do me any good. So, I realize that it’s not so much strength I need, but God Himself. He is all I need to do what needs to be done or get through the trials life brings my way. This revelation has given me a whole different outlook on my prayer life and what that means.

I don’t want to make this a habit, but there are times that I just cannot spend an extended time in prayer at the beginning of the day, but I can and do try to live in His presence and recognize His hand at work in whatever I am doing. In the book by Brother Lawrence, he calls this “The Practice of the Presence of God.” So I look for God at work throughout my day and I will send up a quick, “Thank You, Jesus”, a “Help me, Lord”, a “God bless and protect you” for the driver that cuts me off, or a prayer of intercession for whomever the Lord brings to my mind. This helps me to depend upon Him throughout my day. Whatever we do, we can do it with full awareness of God’s presence with us.

12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:12-13 NASB

 But as these verses in 1 Corinthians state, we cannot see everything clearly in this life. We have to trust the Lord and His plan, purpose, and timing and wait for Him to reveal it to us, even if that is not this side of heaven. We have faith and hope which do not disappoint (Romans 5:5 NLT) and we can trust in His unfailing love (Deuteronomy 5:10, Psalm 17:7, 119:76).

 “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NLT

 Sometimes we find it hard to pray, because we don’t understand why God allows some circumstances to come into our lives – especially tragic events. Sometimes people fall away from God, because they keep their focus on the pain of their circumstances and cannot reconcile in their minds how God can allow such a tragedy to occur to a faithful believer. There are some preachers who teach that way, but it is not biblical. Jesus Himself taught us the truth:

 The verses in 1 Corinthians and John above, and the ones from Daniel, Matthew, and Romans below, can help us learn to rest in the Lord even when the world doesn’t make sense to us. We cannot see the bigger picture, but the Lord sees it all and He will use even the painful, tragic things that come into our lives for the greater good, the big picture of His Kingdom.

 17“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18“But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3:17-18 NASB

28“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29“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. 30“For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NASB

 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28 NLT

 Do these 5 passages give you any hope or a different perspective on the painful events in life?

 How can we use these verses to remind us of God’s goodness and grace in the midst of the trials and tribulations of life?

 What hope does Jesus offer us here in the midst of trials and pain?

For more on how to live your faith and be confident in prayer read about

 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3:16-29, Daniel in Daniel 6:16-23, and Joseph in Genesis 39:20-23.

 A faithful walk with the Lord does not guarantee a pain free life. But it does guarantee that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will be right there to walk through it with us just as He did with Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego in that fiery furnace (Daniel 3), Daniel in the Lion’s Den (Daniel 6), and Joseph through being sold into slavery, temptation and persecution by Potiphar’s wife, wrongful imprisonment, and being forgotten in prison (Genesis 37, 39-41). And even in those painful and tragic seasons of our lives we can find God’s peace, provision, and hope if we are looking for it. And the best and first places to seek God are in His Word and prayer. “Face time” with the Lord is the most precious gift He has given us and that gift is only possible through the saving grace of Jesus’ death and resurrection. That is our hope and the basis of our faith. That is the peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7) that He offers to each of us as we seek Him with all our hearts (Deuteronomy 4:29) in prayer and in the Word and in our everyday lives.

 A couple verses to ponder as you go today…

 Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Psalm 62:5 NIV

Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. Psalm 37:7 NLT

Celebrating the Special Women In Our Lives

If you are a mother, Happy Mother’s Day!

Whether or not you are a mother, you are definitely a daughter, maybe a sister, or an aunt, and surely a friend. Whoever you are you have a sphere of influence. You have opportunities everyday to have an impact on someone else’s life, and it doesn’t have to be someone you know. Even just a smile in a stranger’s direction can lighten their heart and turn a frown upside down. Who are the women in your life that have had an impact on who you are? Is it mom, grandma, auntie, a mentor, friend, co-worker, Sunday School teacher…? How have they made a difference in your life? Have you told them how much they mean to you?

Let’s take a look at Ruth and Naomi. These two women had an impact on each others lives. Naomi moved with her husband and sons to Moab to escape the famine in Israel. One son married Orpah and the other married Ruth, both Moabites. Moabites didn’t worship the God of Israel. They worshipped an idol name Chemosh. When Naomi’s husband died and then both of her sons, it left the 3 women widows without sons to take care of them. Naomi found out there was food back home and she decided to go home. The girls started to go with her, but Naomi knew there would be a better chance for them to get married again if the stayed in Moab, so she tried to get her daughters-in-law, to go back to their mothers’ homes. Orpah went home, but Ruth refused saying, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me” (Ruth 1:16-17). Naomi’s influence caused Ruth to embrace the God of Israel as her God and the people of Israel as her people.

When the two women arrived in Bethlehem Naomi told her friends, “Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me” (Ruth 1:20-21). Although Naomi felt bitter, she still had her faith in God. She used wisdom and sent Ruth to glean in the fields, to provide food for them. Ruth took care of her mother-in-law. She gleaned in the fields every day. When Naomi found out Boaz owned the fields where Ruth was gleaning, she knew it was God’s provision. Boaz was a kinsman-redeemer to them from her husband’s family. Ruth found favor in the eyes of Boaz and he blessed her with extra grain and food.

Eventually Boaz married Ruth redeeming the property of Naomi’s husband, and providing for both women for the rest of their lives. This could not have happened if Ruth had stayed in Moab. Ruth had an impact on Naomi’s life and Naomi had an impact on Ruth’s life. Ruth gave birth to Obed, who fathered Jesse, who fathered David, making Ruth an ancestor of our Savior, Jesus. Who would ever have imagined that a Moabite woman would become an ancestor of the Son of God? Yet God has a plan and purpose for both Naomi and Ruth, and He has a plan and purpose for your life, too! Don’t ever doubt it! As a woman you have a unique opportunity to speak love and life into the lives of the people around you – whether they are our own children or not. I thank God for all the wonderful women, who throughout my life, have been there in love to be a friend, mentor, teacher, nurturer, prayer warrior, challenger, discipliner, comforter, and encourager. Most especially, thank you to my mom! I love you!

Blessings and peace,

Julia