Category Archives: Faith
FIX YOUR EYES ON THE UNSEEN
Therefore do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.
For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
—2 Corinthians 4:16-18
All of us are surrounded by something we cannot see or feel. Without this particular combination of gases, we would not be alive. I’m referring, of course, to our atmosphere. We can’t see the air or feel it but we know it’s there because we’re here to talk about it.
Many of us have allergy-related asthma problems that necessitate the use of inhalers and/or nebulizers to open up our airways so we can breathe better. Some people have problems breathing on their own for various other reasons and rely on respirators to help them breathe. Either way, the result is the same: we cannot see the air we breathe but we know it is there.
So it is with God. He is our unseen champion, the one who is always there to comfort and guide us through the rough spots in life. It is so easy to give in to the urge to grumble about our circumstances, but that never changes the situation. It just makes us feel worse about things.
In my own life, I am thankful for the blessing of Jesus Christ in my life. As my health has dramatically declined, my faith and reliance in Him has grown exponentially so that I have learned to trust Him for everything, even getting through each day: hour by hour, sometimes one minute at a time.
Even more than our parents love us and enjoy our company, God loves us and longs for close fellowship with each of us. That’s why He made us. When we fix our eyes on Him—even though we can’t see Him—we can trust Him to know what is best for us.
As we respond to His desire for a closer relationship with us, He will walk closer and closer with us, enabling us to fix our eyes on Him in joyful anticipation of seeing Him in heaven forever.
The wonder of it is this: the closer you walk with Jesus, the more you’ll start thinking like Him. And the more you start thinking like Him, the more fully you’ll experience that peace, hope and joy that can come only from Him.
Yep, it’s Wednesday again. What’s so wonderful about that? It’s just another day to struggle with all that’s wrong in our lives, right?
Unemployment, sickness, finances. How to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. Why is it that we seem to be going through so many bad weather situations? And what about all the evil deeds going on in our world? Exactly where is God in all of this and why doesn’t He seem to care?
The other day I caught myself grumbling and complaining several times [can "several" mean less than 10? I sure hope so!] about how horrible I was feeling. I was having another reaction to mistakenly eating something with gluten in it, and this affects my entire body: migraine, nausea, mind-numbing fatigue… my body even itches horribly in a lot of places. When I get “glutenized,” it takes me days to recover. And all of this is on top of my normal migraines and fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms.
As I was praying that night, the Lord brought the day into sharp focus and all I could see was me complaining—sometimes to myself, sometimes to my hubby, sometimes to no one. And I was horrified at how much of a grumbler I had become. The Lord then brought to mind Philippians 2:14: “Do everything without grumbling or arguing…” I couldn’t believe how far my complaining heart had gone.
So what does this have to do with Wonderful Wednesday?
The first thing I did was ask the Lord to forgive my bad attitude and then I asked Him to help me overcome this tendency I have to moan and complain. I also talked to my sweet hubby about it and asked him to lovingly let me know when I fall back into that grumbling pattern.
And then I decided to do some Bible reading about grumbling and complaining, and that led me to search out passages about faith and trust. Not the usual verses about faith like Abraham’s that I’ve somewhat memorized. No, these are more about digging in and having faith that God is with me and at work:
and all around me…
even though I may not feel that He is. It is an unconditional trust that in spite of how I might feel about what’s going on with me, God is allowing certain things in my life to hone more of those rough edges. And that enables me to walk closer with Him.
That is the wonderful part. In spite of how much I’ve let my pain overshadow my joy—the joy of knowing Jesus and basking in the knowledge of His saving grace—He still loves me and has been patiently waiting for me to finally get it. And I do!
Here are a few passages that bring me a wonderful combination of comfort, peace and hope. The first one from Psalms is something the Lord pointed out to me in my daily Bible reading:
We wait in hope for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
even as we put our hope in you.
This next one from Habakkuk is the last few verses of that small book, what I call Habakkuk’s Statement of Faith. In the margin next to this passage is my handwritten note: “Habakkuk was scared, but waiting. Faith waits on God to take care of things.”
I heard and my heart pounded,
my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
and my legs trembled.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
to come on the nation invading us.
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.
And one more:
Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming.
See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.
You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! —James 5:7-9
Thank you for allowing me to share this with you. In an attempt to keep things real, I wanted to make sure you understand that limping with joy through a difficult valley does not mean that I am satisfied and happy with this struggle. I am definitely not! But what it does mean is that I have found the only way to live with any of it and still have that peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).
It’s a fine line I walk with this complaining issue. Sometimes I need to let Rick and others close to me know exactly what’s going on with me because I usually don’t look like I’m feeling horrible. As Rick is fond of telling me, “But you look so good!” So I’ve asked Rick to specifically let me know when sharing the facts of how I feel turn into complaining.
Beloved, what are you struggling with today? Have you found your hope in the one true God? The One who is your Strength and Salvation? Please contact me with any questions about any of this: annap at annapopescu dot com.
As a former member of the extreme worriers club, I am thankful that I finally get that there is a better way. If every single aspect of my life is under God’s control, why should I worry? And what about fear?
Does worrying add or change anything? A resounding NO!!! And if I am confident that God is watching over me and has my best interests at heart, why should I be afraid?
Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?
When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh, My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.
Though a host encamp against me, My heart will not fear; Though war arise against me,
In spite of this I shall be confident.
From my distress I called upon the Lord; The Lord answered me and set me in a large place.
The Lord is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me?
When you lie down, you will not be afraid; When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
Do not be afraid of sudden fear Nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes;
For the Lord will be your confidence And will keep your foot from being caught.
Can we really believe what we do not see?
Yes we can, even though as curious humans we always want proof. And what better proof of God’s faithfulness than the Bible accounts of so many Old Testament saints?
To me, true blind faith means not being able to see God or feel Him at work in my life but believing that He is alive and loves me enough to lead me in all things.
Beloved, how about you?
Corrie ten Boom and her family helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust by making their home a refuge (a hiding place) for Jews and members of the Dutch underground. Her family was arrested in 1944 due to an informant and her Corrie’s father died 10 days later while in prison. One of Corrie’s sisters, a brother and a nephew were released but Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsie were sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp. Of her family members who were imprisoned, Corrie was the only survivor.
“Dear Jesus…how foolish of me to have called for human help when You are here.”
“There are no ‘if’s’ in God’s world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety – let us pray that we may always know it!”
“In darkness God’s truth shines most clear.”
“Today I know that such memories are the key not to the past, but to the future. I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do.”
“How often it is a small, almost unconscious event that makes a turning point.”
“Even as the angry vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him….Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me your forgiveness….And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives along with the command, the love itself.”
How I long and pray for this kind of faith!
The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. —1 Thessalonians 5:24
I’ve been talking and blogging a lot lately about leaning on the Lord with faith and trust. Today I’d like to focus on how faith plays such a huge part in trusting and believing in the Lord’s timing.
By the way, “faith” (a noun) and “believe” (a verb) are both translated from the same Greek word. If you claim to have faith in God, then believing in Him is to put that faith into action. In other words, our faith leads to believing that what God says is true and more important than what we see or feel with our frail and easily persuaded human minds.
Are you still with me? If so, I’d like to share one of the times God reinforced a believing faith in my life.
I don’t know about you but just when I feel comfortable with the way my life is going, that’s when I know God will start to shake things up a bit. I like to say He is moving me from one comfort zone to the next!
One of the examples of this in my own life happened about seven years ago. After several years of writing, my well of imagination seemed to have run dry. I had unexpectedly lost my desire to write.
Those who know me best suggested that I was probably experiencing writer’s block, but God simply had other plans for me. In the midst of my quiet times with Him, I felt Him telling me to stop everything writing-related for a time and focus on Him as I rested my exhausted body and mind.
As difficult as it was to understand this, I knew God was asking me to put into action what I believe to be true: God is more than worthy of my faith and trust.
My writing hiatus came to an abrupt end about a year later when a writing assignment dropped into my inbox that I knew had to be from the Lord. I had sent my resume to a publisher the previous year and then forgotten about it. Now this same publisher offered me an assignment that was tailor-made for my style of writing.
But there was a problem: not only was the deadline a mere three weeks away, but I needed to research and write while battling severe daily migraines.
The migraine issue was not a new thing, but I just cannot think clearly when in the midst of one of these nausea creating, light and sound bothering, hair hurting migraines hits me. And it was happening on a daily basis.
Nevertheless, I struggled through this assignment day after day, sometimes praying through my tears. And—day after day—God provided me with the ideas I needed plus the necessary strength to get this enormous amount of writing done in such a short period of time.
The finished book was a compilation of prayers written by me and several other authors. By the grace of God and by believing that He would faithfully help me complete this assignment on time, I met my deadline of composing 31 prayer devotionals.
You read that right: 31 devotionals in 3 weeks!
In great pain I toiled through the writing of every single one of those devotionals but God was faithful in giving me exactly the strength I needed exactly when I needed it most.
Beloved, are you facing something in your life that seems too much for you to handle? Maybe—like I did—you think there is nothing you can contribute because of your circumstances or illness or limited energy.
If you take away anything from what I went through, it should be this: when God wants us to do something for Him, He does not expect us to do it on our own. He just wants us to have faith and believe that He will walk with us through it.
He is the Great Enabler and will always grant us exactly the amount of strength and stamina we need to finish whatever He calls us to do!
Hebrews Chapter 11
Faith in Action
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.
“By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
“By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.
“By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
“By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.
“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
“By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.
“By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.
“By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.
“By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.
“By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.
“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.
“By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.
“By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.
“By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.
“And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
“These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”
Years ago Hebrews 11:1 was given to me at Royal Family KIDS Camp, a camp for abused and abandoned children. I first served as a counselor there in 1996. God called me to this ministry even though I felt totally unprepared for the task. I tried to ignore God’s call on my heart but He kept showing me that HE wanted me to go there, until one night at a prayer meeting I heard Him say to my anguished heart, “I want you to do this for Me.”
How could I ignore that?
My week at camp was a mixture of faith and fear, trust and anxiety, exhilaration and fatigue. I remember that my days were filled with prayers of “Please, Lord…” as I faced a new challenge, and “Thank You, Lord!” as He helped me through the task.
I didn’t know it at the time but the camp administration team was watching all of us counselors as we interacted with each of the children in our charge. They met each night to search the Scriptures and find just the right verse to describe each of us. I can’t tell you how surprised I was to hear that they thought Hebrews 11:1 was mine.
Faith. It’s such a small word but so full of blessed meaning. So much happened that week that made me feel like I was barely keeping my head above water, when in fact God was holding me up and enabling me to accomplish the work He had for me there.
Beloved, I don’t know where you are in your faith walk right now. But I do know this: allow God to lead you without reservation and believe without a shadow of doubt that He knows best. He loves all of us too much to want any less for us!
Faith as [Jesus] characterized it is nothing less than a complete exchange of all that we are for all that He is. —John MacArthur
Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading. —Oswald Chambers
All who call on God in true faith, earnestly from the heart, will certainly be heard, and will receive what they have asked and desired. —Martin Luther
Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies. —Mother Teresa
Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith. —Henry Ward Beecher
Cleave to Jesus
Last week I shared with you the need to cut back on my computer time. You can read about it here.
I’m so thankful for a certain dear bloggy friend (you know who you are…) who is fasting from her computer on the weekends. God used her innocent comment about that—plus my hubby’s concern for all my computer time—to speak to me about HIS management of my time.
So I’ve been praying and contemplating what God’s plans are for my writing and online time, which includes devotional writing, emails, this blog, and my Facebook and Twitter pages. I don’t know about you, but I tend to follow what I call rabbit trails as I go through my emails, and that often translates into hours!
I’m still not positive as to how God has this all worked out, but I’m consciously keeping tuned in to Him to lead me. For now, I’m thinking I’ll write full posts twice per week and post an illustrated Scripture image or the like on Saturdays. Like I’ve said before, it’s easy to make up a quick image post ahead of time and schedule it to be posted on a future date. That means I’ll spend less time on this computer on the weekends.
I used to be the ultimate list maker because I got a lot of satisfaction out of checking off the items on my list as I finished each one. In the past, I’ve tried making daily schedules but never could stick to them.
So let me ask you: how do you work out your online and computer time? Do you keep to a certain schedule? If so, do you schedule not only your computer time but also quiet time with the Lord as well as housework and other chores and errands?
Continuing to lean on the Lord with faith and trust…