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Victory [REPOST]

Another great one from Pat Knight, reposted from January 2013.

Treasure Tuesday

--treasure tuesday 001

It’s been awhile but today I’d like to share with you another special devotional written by my friend and mentor, Patricia Knight. This is another of the devotionals in her book, REJOICE!

Victory Over Circumstances

Elijah was God’s prophet. The Old Testament tells us that Elijah alone challenged 450 prophets of the false god Baal. God’s people refused to help so Elijah faced the formidable adversaries with only his God on his side. Each opposing team of believers was to offer a sacrifice on an altar but not set fire to it. Baal’s prophets were to call on their god and Elijah called on the Lord. The one who answered by fire would be declared the true God. Baal, of course, was unresponsive in spite of shouting and pleading by his prophets. Elijah then prayed that God would let it be known that He was the only living and true God. “Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench” (1 Kings 18:38).

elijah-and-prophets-of-baal

Elijah had just been triumphant against 450 prophets of a false god. He had believed in God and God was triumphant. One would think Elijah would be praising God and rejoicing after the victory. But, he had just received a message from wicked Queen Jezebel, saying she would kill him. God’s Word tells us Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. Other than being overtaken by fear Elijah was tired—just plain worn out. Imagine the energy he expended in the intense fighting against the vastly out-numbered prophets of Baal.

Elijah-angelWe cannot forget the all-powerful Jezebel, who was at that time threatening to do to Elijah what he had just done to the prophets of the false gods. 1 Kings 19:4 tells us, “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.” With God’s help he had just defeated all those men against all odds. Now we hear him pleading with God to take his life. “Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep” (1 Kings 19:5). Observe how God ministered to him. It appears that the cause of Elijah’s depression was lack of proper rest (vs. 5), improper eating habits (vs. 6), physical exhaustion (vs. 6), and loneliness (vs. 16). In the scene that is created for us of Elijah, God has sent an angel to minister to his needs. God healed Elijah by allowing him to rest, gave him food, and sent a friend for earthly companionship.

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.

All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.

The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night. 1 Kings 19:4-9

Interestingly, God didn’t condemn Elijah and tell him to stop his foolishness and get on with life. God, in His wisdom knew that Elijah needed comfort and understanding. God knew that what He had asked Elijah had not been easy for him to do. With his multiple needs in mind, God ministered to Elijah to refresh him mentally and physically. God still had more work for Elijah to do; He needed a rested and nourished man for the days ahead. God even demonstrated to Elijah His presence in a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:12).

There is nothing that we experience
that God has not been through.

That is why He so readily understands our needs.

There was a time when God allowed Satan to test Jesus in the wilderness for forty days. Though Jesus did not sin, He knew the energy it took to resist constant temptation. That is why He can minister to us and completely meet our needs when we are worn out, over-worked, or have a long list of demands facing us.

Like Elijah, our typical response
may be a desire to crawl into a corner
and tell God and the world to go on without us.

“And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

God does not expect us to be super heroes.

Nowhere does He even hint at that. He only tells us to obey. A concise way to remember the importance of obedience when we can see neither the purpose nor the outcome is to recall this quote:

God takes full responsibility
for the consequences of our obedience. —Anon

There will be a day, soon, when you will feel like smiling inwardly and outwardly. For now you need to rest and restore and renew. Only God can accomplish healing and in His precise time. It is not comfortable to be in a dry area. Look at all the great men of the Bible. They had their wilderness wanderings when God took them away from the crowd to teach and refine them. Moses was out in the fields where he escaped to Midian after murdering a man. He lived there for forty years until God called him to do his life’s work. Or, visualize Joseph in prison, wondering why God took him so far, to then have him forgotten by family and those to whom he was devoted. Job teaches us about physical and emotional suffering; he learned that he had no right to question God. In His time, God restored Job’s health and showered him with many more possessions than he had before. Even God’s own Son spent those forty days resisting Satan in the wilderness.

Cracked desert dry tree

I have been in dry spiritual times and I have resisted greatly. It is neither fun nor a comfortable place to be. “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed and broken. We are perplexed because we don’t know why things happen as they do, but we don’t give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going… These troubles and sufferings of ours are, after all, quite small and won’t last very long. Yet this short time of distress will result in God’s richest blessing upon us forever and ever. So we do not look at what we can see right now, the troubles all around us, but we look forward to the joys in heaven which we have not yet seen. The troubles will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever” (2 Corinthians, 4:8, 9, 17, 18, TLB).

The Psalmist David was named “a man after God’s own heart.” What a distinction and honor! Yet this is what he admitted, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1, 2). It is wonderful that God chose to write examples of very real and flawed people in His Word so that we can relate to those about whom we read and apply the lessons to our own lives.

When God sees us in the “pits,” He reaches down and lovingly rescues us, lifting us up to higher ground. Through Him, we are triumphant, like Elijah of centuries ago. Trust Him because He has already won the victory!

REJOICEPat, once again I thank you for allowing me to share your writing with my readers. You’re the best and once again, your writing has blessed us all!

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If  anyone is interested in purchasing a copy of REJOICE! please let me know by commenting in the section below this post.

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Filled with Joy

 

Psalm126_3

 

Psalm 126

A song of ascents.

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
    we were like those who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
    our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
    “The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
    and we are filled with joy.

Restore our fortunes, Lord,
    like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow with tears
    will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
    carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
    carrying sheaves with them.

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From my Bible study notes:

God’s ability to restore life is beyond our understanding. Forests burn down and are able to grow back. Broken bones heal. Even grief is not a permanent condition. Our tears can be seeds that will grow into a harvest of joy because God is able to bring good out of tragedy.

When burdened by sorrow, know that your times of grief will end and that you will again find joy. We must be patient as we wait. God’s great harvest of joy is coming!

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In Memory…

In memory of the brave Granite Mountain Hotshots who perished on June 30, 2013

 

GMHSInMemory

I am blessed and privileged to know several firefighters. All of them—and I know this holds true for all firefighters—put their lives on the line every time they suit up in their turnouts. Whether on the job or in their personal lives, they are selfless and giving people who always seem to think of others before themselves. They are the embodiment of 1 John 3:16:

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 

The collage below shows the long funeral procession from last year, 19 white hearses accompanied by fire and police vehicles. The lines of people on both sides of the highway spanned miles.

The memorial service took place in Prescott, close to where we live, and Rick and I were privileged to open our home to my son, Alan, along with Justin and Zane, two firefighter buddies from Dallas Fire Department who are also members of the Dallas Pipes & Drums. Each of them attended and were involved in the memorial service, along with many, many others.

HotshotCollage

 

Let’s not forget the sole survivor of that Granite Mountain Hotshots crew, Brendan McDonough, who read “The Hot Shot’s Prayer” during the memorial service:

When I am called to duty, Lord …

To fight the roaring blaze …

Please keep me safe and strong …

I may be here for days.

Be with my fellow crew members …

As we hike up to the top.

Help us cut enough line …

For this blaze to stop.

Let my skills and hands …

Be firm and quick.

Let me find those safety zones …

As we hit and lick.

For if this day on the line …

I should answer death’s call …

Lord, bless my hot shot Crew …

My family, one and all.

 

Ps34-18--brokenhearted

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I want to thank all firefighters for their unselfish and giving service, even though that never sounds adequate to express what’s in my heart. God bless you and your families with His everlasting love and peace…

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Independence Day … and an update [Repost]

Independence Day

I am very thankful that we can still celebrate Independence Day here in the United States. Many of us typically celebrate with fireworks, picnics, barbecues and family get-togethers which commemorate probably the most important day in our country’s history. As a nation, the United States of America is very blessed because of the sacrifice of all those who fought to procure our freedoms.

--PatrioticSoldier

The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
    the plans of his heart to all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
    the people whom he has chosen as his heritage! —Psalm 33:11-12

Let us never forget how blessed we are as a nation … under God … whose freedom was bought at a great price.

Update on Monday’s post about the

19 Granite Mountain Hotshot Firefighters

I do not want to minimize the importance of this July 4th commemoration, the reason we celebrate it, or the enormous sacrifices made by the men and women who serve in the various branches of the military to protect our country and our freedoms. But I also need to share further information about some other heroes who sacrificed their lives to protect us earlier this week.

Please forgive me if it seems that I am dishonoring or disrespecting our military in any way by talking about these other brave souls. It is absolutely not my intention to do so.

This is just a simple tribute to the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshot Firefighters, and the family and friends they left behind. A wonderful Facebook group established to honor the memories of these fallen heroes and to support their families created the great banner image below.

I did not personally know any of these brave men but my son did and so did several of my friends. We are all grieving their deaths, most of whom were so young.

IndependenceDayHonoringOurHeroes

The Yarnell 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots:

yarnell19-2Credit: Prescott Granite Mountain Hotshots Facebook page

Andrew Ashcraft, 29
Robert Caldwell, 23
Travis Carter, 31
Dustin Deford, 24
Christopher MacKenzie, 30
Eric Marsh, 43
Grant McKee, 21
Sean Misner, 26
Scott Norris, 28
Wade Parker, 22
John Percin, 24
Anthony Rose, 23
Jesse Steed, 36
Joe Thurston, 32
Travis Turbyfill, 27
William Warneke, 25
Clayton Whitted, 28
Kevin Woyjeck, 21
Garret Zuppiger, 27

You can read the “Families, Friends of The Yarnell 19 Speak Out” story here.

Several members of our church are retired firefighters who come out of retirement every year to help fight these wildfires. I am very thankful to each and every one of them for their service over the years.

Our church has been for praying for the families of the 19 men who perished in the Yarnell Hill fire and for firefighters who are still fighting the Yarnell fire as well as other wildfires in Arizona and other western states.

Please keep in mind—and in prayer—that there was a survivor of that horrible wildfire incident last Sunday. Of the 20-man Granite Mountain Hotshot team, one of the men survived. This was most likely because he was assigned to be the lookout that day and happened to be away from the rest of his team. He was up on a ridge checking weather conditions and radioing the information back to the rest of his team when they perished.

I’d rather not share his name here because he is more than likely struggling with why he was the only survivor. Maybe someday he will be ready to talk about this; maybe not. At any rate, he should be allowed the time and space to get through his many conflicting emotions about that fateful day without media or anyone else crowding him.

Our church held a prayer meeting on Monday night which I was sadly not able to attend, but I’m thankful that one of the ladies had the foresight to take some photos to share with us.

This is the result of how they decorated one of the parking lot fences:

Pray4FireCrewsLook closely and you’ll see it reads “Pray 4 Fire Crews”

The next photos show the alternating messages on the digital sign outside the church:

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. —John 15:13

Thank and Pray for Your Courageous Firefighters! [Repost]

Last year at this time, we heard the devastating news that 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots perished in the Yarnell wildfire. In the next few days I will be sharing several posts from that time last year, starting with this one today.

PrescottFFLastAlarm

I was going to post an update this morning about the Doce fire which I told you about a couple of weeks ago and has since been contained. But I woke up today to some devastating news that I feel the need to share with you.

Yesterday another wildfire burned about 50 miles from where I live, in a little town called Yarnell. According to those on the scene, the fire turned deadly from lightning strikes during a monsoon storm.

As is common during these storms, the wind activity became wild—thus the terwildfire. I witness these kinds of monsoon winds many times during the summer and it never fails to fill me with foreboding. Often during these monsoon storms, we don’t get the rain itself, only the high winds and menacingly dark, cloudy skies.

That is what happened in Yarnell yesterday. Tons of wild wind mixed in with lightning strikes but with no rain to help temper the effects of those strikes made for a wildfire that spread too rapidly.

As a result, 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots—part of the Prescott Fire Department—lost their lives while battling that blaze. Prescott is certainly in deep mourning over this tragedy, and many of us are praying for the families left behind.

As the mother of a firefighter, I have always worked to keep a certain mental and emotional distance from thinking too much about how dangerous fire fighting is. However, the deaths of those 19 at the Yarnell fire has really impacted me and brought me to tears. I am very thankful that Alan has never been severely injured or lost his life while fighting a fire but I also know that there have been some very close calls.

I choose daily not to think about or dwell on that.

In honor of my son, Alan (pictured above), and all the firefighters I know—or have never even met—if I don’t say it enough, here it is again:

THANK YOU for all you do in the line of duty to keep us safe. You are all examples of the most courageous people I can imagine, people who willingly put themselves in harm’s way to keep the rest of us safe from the devastating effects of fires.

To read more about the Yarnell fire:

  http://prescottaz.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&SubSectionID=1&ArticleID=120764

ThankFirefighterssmiley-sad

My Peace, My Comfort, My Hope

Psalm27-13-14--wait

I would have despaired
unless I had believed
that I would see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and let your heart take courage;
yes, wait for the Lord.
—Psalm 27:13-14

 

My Hope

 

MyHopeIsInTheLord

 

 

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The Heart of Jesus [repost from Joni Eareckson Tada]

This wonderful devotional from Joni Eareckson Tada is from her Joni  and Friends web site.

Daily Devotional

Joni Eareckson Tada’s inspirational daily devotionals are biblical insights that will enrich,
enlighten, and encourage you in your walk with Christ Jesus.

“Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.
For he does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to the children of men.”
—Lamentations 3:32-33

What do you think was on the Lord’s heart when He healed those who were paralyzed? When He opened the eyes of the blind? What was the Lord feeling when He counseled the father of the little boy who was gripped by seizures?

There are those who point to such miracles as signs of Christ’s messiahship, saying, “Jesus healed those people as evidence of His authority as the Son of God. By such power, He was proving He was the Messiah.” And they are right. But praise God, there is more.

Christ did not use helpless people to advance His own agenda. He did not enlist hurting men and women only as audio-visual aids to teach an important lesson about Himself. Neither did He approach blind, deaf, or paralyzed people in an emotional vacuum. Scripture often tells us that He was moved with compassion when He saw the hurting masses.

When it comes to suffering, Lamentations 3:32-33 reveals the heart intent of Jesus. He does not willingly, or that is, from the heart bring affliction of grief. Suffering may be part of God’s larger and most mysterious plan, but God’s intention is always to demonstrate compassion and unfailing love which touches people at their deepest point of need.

“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 3:22-23).

Lord, may I never doubt what’s on your mind and heart when I suffer. You are full of love and compassion. Thank You for only permitting in my life what I am able to endure with Your grace.  Bless You for Your unfailing love.

Taken from Diamonds in the Dust. Copyright © 1993 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530

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Make Music in Your Heart

Eph5-19


Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 

always giving thanks to God the Father for everything,
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

—Ephesians 5:19b-20

Have you ever heard the phrase attitude of gratitude? Ask yourself why it should be an attitude, rather than just good old gratitude. It’s easy to be grateful when things are going well, but what about when they’re not? Is it possible to be thankful even then?

So many of us struggle with how to live joyfully with chronic illness or disability. The reality is that trying to find any kind of joy in such situations takes time. What can we do to live with pain and yet truly keep a positive outlook?

I’m sure you’ve met people who struggle with daily pain yet never fail to greet you with joy no matter how they feel. How do they maintain such a grateful attitude when they’re going through such tough times?

ChronicPainFor those of us who are chronically ill or disabled, it is natural to want things as they used to be. But not only is that a waste of precious time and emotions, allowing God to use us where we are now can help us focus on the good things in our lives. And that leads us to remember that God is working everything out for the best, even if it doesn’t seem that way to us.

Beloved, life is not easy for those of us struggling with daily pain issues. The simplest tasks can seem daunting when our bodies refuse to cooperate properly. However, we do have a choice: we can choose to be sad and angry about what is happening to us. Or we can nurture an attitude of gratitude, which usually results in a happy outlook and allows others to glimpse God’s love through us.

I often sing this song by Casting Crowns in my heart to God when I am at my lowest. It never fails to do two things:

  • I am filled with utter thankfulness that He is always, always, always holding me close to His side
  • my eyes start leaking

If you cannot view this video of Casting Crowns’ “Praise You in This Storm,” please click here to read the lyrics.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, sometimes it is so hard to sing through our pain, but we know You are always at our side to strengthen and hold us up when we are not able to on our own. Help us remember that giving thanks for everything means we can be thankful for what You are doing in our hearts through our pain. Thank You for always being our All in All. Blessed be Your holy Name!

 

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Time for a Rest

Taking-a-break

I am sad to say that I am in the middle of another FMS/CFIDS flare. When that happens, I need to cut back on all my activities while I ride this out, so for at least the next couple of weeks I will be taking a necessary break from blogging. Those of you who are also bloggers will understand how many hours are consumed in composing each blog post—even the most seemingly simple ones. 

I am so thankful for all of you and look forward to being back with you in June.

Beloved, as always, I praise God for carrying me through these tough times. I really have no clue how I could handle these flares without the perfect peace of His close presence in my life!

Isaiah-26-3

 

Amen!

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