Blog Archives

Sea of Distress

Zech10-11-12--StormySea-sm--AMP

Sea of Distress

And they will pass through the sea of distress 
and He will strike the waves in the sea, 
so that all the depths of the Nile will dry up; 
and the pride of Assyria will be brought down 
and the scepter of Egypt will depart.
“And I will strengthen them in the Lord
and in His name they will walk,” declares the Lord
—Zechariah 10:11-12

Almost daily we are inundated with devastating news of earthquakes, wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes, tropical storms and severe flooding. Many lives are lost or affected in some way by these tragedies. Even heavy rains can cause everything from roof leaks and power outages to high winds and massive mud slides. Many times these rain storms come one upon another with no time in between to allow the over-saturated earth to dry out. And just when we think we have survived a storm, a mudslide occurs days and sometimes weeks later.

In these dire situations, we are learning a tough fact of life: there is only so much we can do to protect ourselves and our property from the raging storm. Oftentimes we find our property completely gone. How do we start all over again?

In verse 11 above, God parted the Red Sea—the sea of distress—to deliver the Israelites safely from the Egyptians. This miracle was a perfect example of how the Israelites could not save themselves, but had to rely on God for protection.

In the same way, God is here to walk each of us through our own sea of distress, whether that be devastating weather, illness, job loss, or the death of a loved one. Doesn’t it sometimes seem as if we’ll never be able to cross that sea?

We find ourselves feeling as if we’re floundering and treading water for all we’re worth, until we finally sink into our own personal and familiar sea of distress. Each day is a continuation of the pain and anxiety of the previous day, until we finally can’t feel one day ending before the next begins. The frustration and trouble are ever with us.

It doesn’t have to be that way if we have God on our side. He is the only one Who cares for us enough to strengthen us on our earthly journey. We only need to trust Him to do so. The more we lean on Him each day, the closer our walk with Him will be. And the closer that walk, the more we’ll be able to put off the cloak of despair and instead put on a garment of joy in our circumstances.

Yes, we will still be surrounded by the pain of our individual situation, but when we trust and rely on God during those times, we can rest in the assurance that He will enable us to cross our own sea of distress each day, confident in His love and care. That’s the kind of relationship that will bring glory to God.

And in the end, that’s all that matters anyway.

…..

Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
Look upon my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.
—Psalm 25:16-18

 …..

“I love men who can smile in trouble,
who can gather strength from distress,
and grow brave by reflection.”
—Thomas Paine

 

VectorPageDivider

SmileyBlackCoffeeAnna

WHITE SPACE


The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.

Jesus is the Rock

Ps31-3-MorroRock--AMP

For You are my rock and my fortress; therefore,
for Your name’s sake, lead me and guide me.
—Psalm 31:3

I’m glad I keep notes on things that greatly impact me because I recently found one about this song. The first time I ever heard or sang “Rock of Ages (Jesus is the Rock)” was when we lived in California years ago. The first time we sang this at church, I was greatly moved. The lyrics are simple yet very powerful:

There is no rock
There is no god like our God
No other name worthy of all our praise
The Rock of Salvation that cannot be moved
He’s moving Himself to be faithful and true
There is no rock
There is no God like ours.

It wasn’t the first time (nor the last) that we have worshiped the Lord with this song. Each time I sing it, the words never fail to make my eyes leak. Imagine being someone who is “faithful and true” and who “cannot be moved”! Of course my eyes leak! Although it is hard to keep singing through the tears, I continued to sing in my heart and mind.

I suspect there are many of us who are very susceptible to our emotions. Some days, in the midst of the storms in our lives, we feel confident that God is holding our hand to guide us through it. On other days, we may despair that He’s even there. Maybe He’s forgotten about us because, after all, He has so many of us to look after.

Beloved, God is always with us, no matter what! His love for us is so vast and constant, completely unchanging—unlike our own inconsistent emotions. We have the confidence of knowing this to be true because He tells us over and over again in His Word how much He loves and cares for us. It’s the one thing in this ever-changing world we can always count on!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I can’t number how many times I’ve almost given up on You and instead tried to do things in my own strength. But You have this way of reminding me of Your immense love for me, and sometimes a little nudge is from You is all I need to get me back on the right track. Thank you for being my Rock, the One Who will always be there for me, no matter what.

If for any reason you cannot view this video, please go here for the lyrics.

P.S. Some of you native Californians or those who have lived at or visited California’s central coast will recognize that the top photo is of Morro Rock. Rick and I spent many special times camping in Morro Bay and along that section of the coast. 

VectorPageDivider

SmileyBlackCoffeeAnna

WHITE SPACE


The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.

Cast Your Cares [REPOST]

Here is another great one from Pat Knight, reposted from June 2013.

Cast Your Cares

Guest Post by Patricia Knight

1Pet5-7

“Cast all your cares on Him for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

 Some days we feel like gathering up remnants of worries and sins, all frayed from receiving such a vigorous workout, and seek a disposal means for them. Search no more–God commands us to turn all of our cares over to Him. There is a key word that indicates exactly how to conduct the transfer of our anxieties to Jesus. Very specifically, we are told to “cast” our cares on Him.

Cast is an active verb. God wants us to deliberately throw our troubles and cares at Him.  God is always ready and waiting to receive our miserable care package. Our Lord is constantly alert to our needs; it is not His wish that we be overburdened.

Have you ever observed the expertise of a fly fisherman? There is no hesitancy or reluctance to the art. Casting a fishing line is a powerful and decisive action accomplished with a quick flick of the wrist. Once the line connects with the surface of the water, it is energized and ready to accomplish its goal.

Fly-Fishing_CastingJust as the fly fisherman’s line is thrown with great purpose, we are commanded to give our worries, cares, and weights a resolute fling in the direction of Jesus. Then we are able to walk away with no intention of retrieving anything from our bundle of burdens.  It now belongs to Jesus to swoop up for disposal, patching, or complete replacement.  There is no better way to deal with troublesome occurrences in our lives.

The action of casting heavenward in prayer is in itself remedial. Knowing we have a Person who desires to accept our brokenness provides great encouragement as we forcefully throw our burdens to the Lord.

Casting our cares on God is not a singular event. Life is full of ongoing hardships and tribulations. Our goal is either total elimination or a solution for our troubles.  God stands ready to catch our continual flow of anxiety. If we hone our skills at casting directly at the heavenly Father, He then knows we are serious about giving up the burdens to which we so desperately cling.

Just as we admire the grace with which a fly fisherman plies the art of fly-casting, be reminded that God is imbued with grace; the author of mercy and compassion. He waits patiently to reclaim us from the petty or the monstrous cares that plague our daily lives.  If God wants to relieve us of our cares and we desire to dispose of them, why drag through life over-burdened any longer?  Let go and let God transform your life to His purpose.

psalm-139-vs-23-24

“Search me, O God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me to the way everlasting”
(Psalm 139:23-24).

Pat, thank you again for sharing your heart with us!

Beloved, life is indeed hard. We live in such a stressful time that I am very thankful for Pat’s timely reminder to cast all our cares on God.

AnnaSmile

…..

…..

The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.

Finishing Well [Repost]

Once again, here is another great one from Pat Knight, reposted from May 2013.

Here’s another devotional written by my wonderful friend, Patricia Knight. I know you’ll appreciate this one as much as I do!

finish-line-1

FINISHING WELL

By Patricia Knight

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”
—2 Corinthians 12:9, NAS

 2Cor12-9-Grace

At the end of his life and his remarkable career, the apostle Paul turned his responsibilities over to Timothy, his friend and co-worker for Christ. Paul expressed self-satisfaction with serving God and promoting His Gospel; he had totally depended on his Lord’s leadership and power. He carried God’s love throughout most parts of the known world, on four missionary journeys. Paul’s ministry work for His Lord was impeccable.

After being stripped and beaten, then thrown in a dark, dank jail where his feet were secured in stocks as an added measure of security, Paul gave thanks and sang hymns.  From inside another jail he wrote letters to encourage fellow Christians, the same Gospel letters that minister to us today in God’s Word.

Paul asked God repeatedly to remove his “thorn in the flesh,” a particularly burdensome physical problem. Instead of curing Paul, God answered that He would convert Paul’s weakness to His sovereign strength.  We do not know to what extent Paul’s physical problem interfered with his endurance, but we are aware that Paul remained steadfast in his faith and service to His Lord, daily buoyed and empowered by God’s strength.  Paul was determined to boast about his own weaknesses so that Christ’s power could be glorified in his life. Today, God is faithful to convert our weakness into His strength, just as He did for Paul centuries ago.

Humble obedience is God’s intent for us.  Whatever our plight in this life, we are   commanded to enthusiastically accomplish God’s work.  Using our unique abilities, God delights in custom designing a personal service plan for everyone who loves Him.

2Tim-4-7-The Race

“Few Christians finish well” is a haunting prediction.  Let us not allow that warning to come to fruition in our lives. By maintaining tenacity of faith and service to God throughout our lives, in the end, like Paul, we can claim, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).  Though Paul readily identified God as his Source of strength, he also persevered during hardship, allowing God’s power to burst through his circumstances.

James2-26

Our gift of eternal life is secured by grace, not by works. As a result, our good deeds for God and our fellow men spill over as a natural outpouring of our faith “Faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26). Paul knew that truth and so do we.  Why not practice with discipline that which we know to be true, and finish our life well, with a remarkable career for Christ?

Thank you again, Pat! What a blessing you are in my life!

.AnnaSmile….

…..

The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.

The God of our Salvation!

psalms-68-19

 

Blessed be the Lord,
Who daily loads us with benefits,
The God of our salvation!
—Psalm 68:19

 

VectorPageDivider

SmileyBlackCoffeeAnna

WHITE SPACE


The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.

Memory Markers [Repost]

SWEET SATURDAY

On this Sweet Saturday, I want to encourage you if you’re going through a tough time. It is so easy to be thankful when things are going well and understandably much harder to think thankful thoughts when everything seems to be falling apart.

I know what I’m talking about here.

Earlier this week I was stuck in a very long CFIDS flare that involved daily unrelenting migraines. How and where could I find any … any … reason to be thankful? And how is that even possible?

I recently read a devotional that confirms what I have long suspected. We were encouraged to store up the memories of precious times when we felt God blessing us with something special, and slide those memories out during the tough times.

In other words, remember the good during the not-so-good.

In Old Testament times, God encouraged His people to pile up some stones in the places of special blessing as a remembrance for them to recall during difficult times. I use what I call “memory markers”—special times in my life when God has shown His faithfulness to me. I cling to these memory markers during the frustrating days of chronic illness when it often seems I will never climb out of the pit.

What this has done has been remarkable in my life. Where before I would mentally cry “I don’t understand,” now, even though I still don’t understand (because I’m not God), I find myself telling God, “I don’t get it, but I trust that You know what You’re doing and that’s good enough for me.”

You see, God has shown me over and over again that I can count on Him. And each of those times, I have made a new memory marker to be able to recall the event and the outcome when I need encouragement. A few examples from my own life:

  • Some years ago, I very reluctantly agreed to be a counselor at a camp for abused and abandoned children. Oh, I certainly felt God’s leading but I also felt totally unqualified for the task. God, however, had other ideas and provided the exact amount of strength and spiritual uplifting I needed to complete the week at camp—so much so that I went back the next year!
  • The small, family-owned business I worked for downsized and I was the only one let go. As my sole source of support, that should have really worried me but I trusted God to provide me with just the right job for me in a short time… and He did, in less than one week!
  • For years I struggled with a particular spiritual problem that finally left me once I completely—and I mean completely— gave it to the Lord to take care of.  [This is an example of my "palms down" visual method of handing problems to the Lord... more about this in a future blog post.]
  • Rick and I trusted God to show us the right time to sell our home in California and make the move to Arizona. We were delighted but not surprised when He provided just the right buyer for our California home while at the same time providing us the exact home we need here in Arizona.

Here is the crucial part of trusting God: each time I choose to trust God during a particularly puzzling and/or frustrating situation, He demonstrates His faithfulness to me. Sometimes that means He answers a particular prayer in a particular way; other times He simply wants me to trust Him while He works behind the scenes, even if it doesn’t feel like He is hearing me.

During one of those examples I listed above, God gave me Isaiah 26:3 to remember:

“You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”

 I’m very happy to report that this particular memory marker soothes and comforts me while it also reinforces my trust and faith in my Lord, Jesus Christ.

VectorPageDivider

SmileyBlackCoffeeAnna

WHITE SPACE


The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.

El Shaddai: God All-Sufficient

El Shaddai: God All-Sufficient

Gen17-1-2-ElShaddai

 

When Abram was ninety-nine years old,
the Lord appeared to him and said,
“I am God Almighty;
walk before me faithfully and be blameless.
 
Then I will make my covenant between me and you
and will greatly increase your numbers.”
—Genesis 17:1-2

If you cannot view this video for any reason, click here to read the lyrics.

…..

VectorPageDivider

SmileyBlackCoffeeAnna

WHITE SPACE


The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.

Mercy, Peace and Love

Jude1-2

Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,

To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ: 

May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you.

—Jude 1:1-2

 …..

VectorPageDivider

SmileyBlackCoffeeAnna

WHITE SPACE


The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.

He is Risen Indeed! [Repost]

Happy Resurrection Sunday!

This is what I posted last year on Easter.

psalm16_8

Keep me safe, my God,
for in you I take refuge.

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing.”
I say of the holy people who are in the land,
“They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
or take up their names on my lips.

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

—Psalm 16

This might seem like a strange way to say Halleluiah! on this Easter Sunday. I could have written about how Jesus’ resurrection from the grave paved the way for us to join Him in heaven when we die. Or maybe I should have spoken of the fact that Jesus completely obeyed his Father by taking on the penalty for our sins—not His sins, because He was born sinless and lived a sinless life. Perhaps I should concentrate on how trusting in Jesus for our salvation is the only way to heaven.

Hmm… I guess I just did all of the above!

Do you ever, like I often do, wonder what life will be like in heaven? I doubt that we’ll be forever lounging on clouds and eating bagels with cream cheese [like that old TV commercial], but my mind does conjure images of a place where there are no worries or anxieties, no sickness nor pain…and no death.

Everything and everyone will be focused on worshiping Jesus Christ, our Savior and LORD. We will not want for anything because we will have all we want and need in the LORD.

Wow!

Thoughts of the pleasures we’ll experience in our eternal home should help us see our difficulties in a different way. God completely understands our frustrations and sadness about things in our lives that seem beyond comprehension. The list is long and getting longer every day we live on this earth.

But… rest assured that our God understands all of it and simply asks us to trust Him enough [there's my word again!] to get us through it. In fact, it is only through Him that we can bear up under any of it.

Psalm 16 above is one of those defined as a Messianic psalm because it is quoted in the New Testament as predicting the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Just as God promised through David’s words that Jesus would be resurrected and not “see decay,” so we can be assured that He is by our side, guiding us in our “path of life.”

Beloved, as we struggle with our everyday burdens, let’s not forget that Jesus Christ suffered so much for so many. He shed His own blood to give us the opportunity to live with Him forever, free from the burdensome realities of life here on earth. When we seem to be at the end of our rope, let’s choose to rejoice with Him, that He has made a way for us to live with Him forever.

HeHasRisen

The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon! —Luke 24:34, ESV

…..

VectorPageDivider

SmileyBlackCoffeeAnna

WHITE SPACE


The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.

Great is His Faithfulness

Great is His Faithfulness

Lam3-21-23VictoriaHarborSunset

 

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;

great is Your faithfulness.
—Lamentations 3:21-23

How often do we do things that disappoint the people in our lives?

Maybe we’ve made a promise that later we found we can’t keep. Perhaps we raise our voice in anger again even though we don’t mean to. And how about the times when a friend or family member tries to sympathize with our pain? They mean well, but you’re certain they just don’t understand. I’m sure you’ve wanted to tell them, “You have no idea what it’s like to be in this kind of pain every day.”

At this point, we have two choices:
to dwell on our misery
or get on with the business of life.

We can moan and groan about our circumstances so everyone is aware of how much we are hurting, or we can demonstrate God’s presence in our lives by rejoicing in the knowledge that He is faithful to be with us through our tough times.

I have a very close friend (you know who you are!) who is a good example of one who lets God shine through her in spite of her constant pain. She once shared her feelings about pain with me this way:

“It is just pain. It could be worse. I could be suffering with pain and dying. It is only pain. I can still live and make the most of my life, to extend myself as far as I can go, to reach for the stars, to do the unimaginable. The pain will still be there. So, why not celebrate?”

This dear friend is such an encourager. Her positive attitude is a beacon of light in the darkness of pain. Quite simply, she makes me smile no matter how awful I’m feeling.

Beloved, the Lord is our only hope! He knows exactly what our pain is like and He will help us through it “every morning; great is [His] faithfulness.” He understands how constant pain can undermine a positive attitude and make us feel hopeless. But He’s always with us, ready to offer His love and comfort: “therefore I have hope.”

Won’t you please pray with me?

Heavenly Father, sometimes it’s so hard to be cheerful and hopeful when I’m feeling so rotten. It’s easier for me to just give up and let the pain take over. But, Lord, I know that You love me too much to let me feel this way. Thank You for what You are teaching me through these trials and for being with me always. Help me to let Your joy flow through me to touch the lives of others who may also be suffering. You are great and greatly to be praised! Amen.

…..

VectorPageDivider

SmileyBlackCoffeeAnna

WHITE SPACE


The advertising which may appear below is not placed by the author and is not to be considered as a part of this post or an expression of my views.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 570 other followers

%d bloggers like this: