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Sea of Distress

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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

 

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Enduring Trials

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None of us can come to the highest maturity
without enduring the summer heat of trials. 
—Charles H. Spurgeon

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My Times Are in Your Hands

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But I trust in You, O LORD;
I say, “You are my God.” 

My times are in Your hands.
—Psalm 31:14-15

Once again, I struggled to unscrew the top from a jar but the stubborn cap refused to budge. Just as I was getting ready to call on Rick for help, it came loose.

I hated having to ask Rick for help so often, but the arthritis in my fingers and carpal tunnel problems with my wrists cause difficulties with the simplest tasks. Daily my frustration grows as I witness different parts of my body getting weaker and sometimes even breaking down. These days I can’t even get down onto the floor or up again without great pain and difficulty because of my bad knees.

Why do things have to be this way? I silently ask God, but I already know the answer: “Trust Me, child, I’m always here to take care of you.”

What would we do without the promises of such a loving God who faithfully guides us through the trials of life? He knows everything about us, which means He understands our limitations. He has intimate knowledge about how much we hurt and He is always with us to comfort our painful and grieving body and spirit. He holds us close to His heart in His ever-powerful hands.

I know my God takes care of me—I believe this without a shadow of doubt. I guess my real problems start when I focus on my problems instead of on God. He realizes my pain and frustration and provides the best comfort possible through His Word. How often I have been in despair and found in Scripture the very words I needed to calm my heart.

Imagine the strength in God’s hands. Now picture those same hands pulling you close in a calm and comforting embrace. His strength is our strength, and can get us through those frustrating times when nothing seems to go right.

Beloved, our times are in God’s hands because everything in our lives is under His control.

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My Lamp in the Darkness

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“You are my lamp, O LORD; the LORD turns my darkness into light. —2 Samuel 22:29

David had many names for God: Rock, Fortress, Deliverer, Refuge, Shield, Horn of Salvation, Stronghold, Savior … Lamp. What a strange way to refer to God, as a common household object. But the meaning is clear when we read on, “the LORD turns my darkness into light.”

I have always loved to read. When I was a young girl, I used to read late into the night. I tried to find ways to keep my bedside lamp from shining too brightly, thus attracting my mother’s attention to the late hour. Sometimes I was successful, but most often my efforts would be curtailed. Without that lamp, I wouldn’t have been able to read in bed at all.

What would we do at night without our lamps? We couldn’t read or write or do a host of other things in the darkness. Even the light of the moon is not strong enough to enable us to see certain things that are right in front of us.

Many of us have what is termed night vision. We can navigate our homes in the middle of the night without turning on a light. That’s because our eyes become accustomed to the dark after a few minutes of turning off the light. I can walk into the kitchen without a light on, but once there I need to turn on the light so I can see the details around me without knocking something off the counter. Without the light, I wouldn’t be able to navigate further without injuring myself.

Beloved, that’s the way God is with us. Without His light, we can only add to our own pain and misery, never seeing His goodness for all the darkness surrounding us. We need to focus on Him as our lamp in the midst of all our pain and frustration.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, sometimes we’re so blind when it comes to trusting You. How often we seem to be groping around on our own rather than relying on You as our Guide. Help us to always look to You as our lamp shining through the darkness of this life’s painful circumstances. Remind us to trust You to navigate us through the dark waters of our earthly existence. Amen.

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Suffering According to God’s Will [Joni ​Eareckson Tada repost]

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Suffering According to God’s Will

​by Joni Eareckson Tada

“So then, those who suffer according to God’s will
should commit themselves to their faithful Creator
and continue to do good.” 

—1 Peter 4:19

​All suffering is within God’s sovereign will. There is not a sparrow that falls without His knowledge or a soul lost for eternity without His tearful purpose being accomplished. In the midst of the expanse of the sovereign will of God is one kind of suffering initiated by us that God not only allows but rewards.​

There are many ways to suffer in this world, where things happen to us. But the kind of suffering referred to by Peter is suffering we experience by choice, through obedience. Such obedience may result in mockery, beatings, discrimination, trials, and temptations. It’s the price one pays for having our bodies in the world and our spirits in the kingdom. Like being on a rack, we can’t escape the torture.

My wheelchair is a suffering that came from the sovereign purpose of the glory of God. And since that time twenty-five years ago, I’ve also suffered things that have come upon my spirit as a result of being in the kingdom. I have chosen to flee temptation, to drag my body from church to hospital, to endure the scorn of those who don’t know God. And I have suffered as a result. Such is the will of God for my life.

​The common suffering He comforts. The godly suffering He rewards. Exchange neither for anything. We can “entrust our souls to a faithful Creator.”

​_____________________________________

Lord, grant me strength to endure the common sufferings of life and the willful sufferings of Your kingdom. In all these, may Your presence sustain me and Your glory be made known.

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

http://www.joniandfriends.org/

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Good Times and Bad Times

FollowTheLines--AMP

 Consider what God has done:

Who can straighten what he has made crooked?
When times are good, be happy;
but when times are bad, consider:
God has made the one as well as the other.
Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about his future.
—Ecclesiastes 7:13-14

I am blessed with naturally curly hair. The fact that I can call this a blessing shows how far I’ve come in my perception of what God has given me. Since I was about 12 years old, I have hated my curly hair and have spent tons of time, money, and energy on various methods to try to straighten these curly locks. But no matter what I do, my hair eventually ends up curly anyway. Often it even gets frizzy. I guess I’ve finally come to the realization that God made me this way because He likes me like this, so why fight it?

This is a photo of me taken probably four or five years ago. This is a good example of my curly-frizzy look. No matter what I do—or don’t do—my curls frizz up!

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“Who can straighten what he has made crooked?”

I don’t want to make light of God’s Word but the moment I read this verse it made me think of my curly hair. It reminds me how we humans often seem to think that what we don’t have is better than what we do have.

Take my curly hair for example. Recently a sales clerk commented: “I love your hair! Is it naturally curly?”

“Thanks, yes it is,” I replied, then laughed. “I was going to tell you how much I like your straight hair.”

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That sales clerk and I both shared a good chuckle over this, but I thought afterward how true this is in our lives. All those if only’s come into play:

  • If only I wasn’t burdened with these illnesses . . .
  • If only I was younger . . .
  • If only I had more time . . .
  • If only I had a better computer . . .
  • If only I had more money . . .
  • If only . . .

Wow, it is so easy to get caught up in the if only’s of life! Look at how the Israelites responded to how God answered their prayers for food as they wandered in the desert:

The rabble with them began to crave other food,
and again the Israelites started wailing and said,
“If only we had meat to eat!

We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—
also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic.

But now we have lost our appetite;
we never see anything but this manna!” 

—Numbers 11:4-6

Is this no different that how we usually react?

God has provided both good and bad for us for a basic reason: if we had only good things and good times, we would eventually become so used to it that the good would become mundane. How about taking some of those bad things and stacking them up against the good things in our lives? When I do that, I find that the good side of my list greatly outweighs the bad side because at the top of my good list is my relationship with my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.

That fact alone outshines anything bad that could be happening to me at any time in my life.

How about you, Beloved? Are you so blinded by the bad things in your life that you find your view of God jaded and possibly fading? Well, I’m here to remind you that He loves you with an everlasting love that will never dim or fade. He loves us enough to allow those bad times so that we can grow closer to Him through those circumstances.

That is the desire of His heart.

Please join me in prayer:

Abba Father, we love You. When we seem ungrateful at times, please help us remember that You always know what is best for us. If the situation seems bad to us it is not that way to You because You allow difficult times in our lives to draw us closer to You so that You can mold us into the people You want us to be. Help us to see that although these pruning times are not easy, You are ever with us to guide us in the way of Your Truth. Thank You for being our Abba Father. Amen.

…..

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Happy First Day of Autumn!

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Brothers and sisters,
be patient until the Lord comes again.
A farmer patiently waits for his valuable crop
to grow from the earth and for it to receive
the autumn and spring rains.

You, too, must be patient.
Do not give up hope,
because the Lord is coming soon.
—James 5:7-8

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The Ultimate Relationship [David Jeremiah repost]

Here is another excellent devotional in keeping with Part 2 of my Habakkuk series.
This one is by David Jeremiah.

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The Ultimate Relationship

Woe to him who says to wood, “Awake!”
To silent stone, “Arise! It shall teach!”
Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver,
yet in it there is no breath at all.
Habakkuk 2:19

To the modern, Western mind, trained in logic and rational thinking, nothing seems as illogical or irrational as some of the practices of people in the ancient Near East: Create an image out of wood or stone, then treat the image as if it was a living, breathing being — a god with whom the worshipper can relate. 

Educated people don’t do that today because we know that inanimate objects can’t be animated just because we want them to be. We know that a true relationship requires two sentient beings, at the very least. Even our family pet has more life than a stone idol. Relating to a pet or person is better than trying to relate to wood or stone, but it still leaves us wanting more. It is only when we enter into the relationship for which God created us — a personal, intimate relationship with Himself — that our hunger for knowing and being known can be satisfied.

If you are seeking the ultimate relationship in life, don’t seek it in things that cannot respond and relate in the way you are meant to. Seek it in the One who said He is the life (John 14:6). 

Man, made in the image of God, has a purpose
— to be in relationship to God, who is there.
Francis Schaeffer

Read-Thru-the-Bible
2 Samuel 4-7

Please visit DavidJeremiah.org. for many great resources.

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Happy 3 Year Blogiversary!

 

 

Happy3YearBlogiversary

Yes, believe it or not, this is the third anniversary of my blog. Three years ago today I started out with the idea of sharing my faith, realizing that I was just one of the many bloggers out there doing so, yet I felt compelled to start this journey of trust.

Therefore I truthfully must give all the credit and glory to my mighty God for helping me do any of this because as I’ve shared before, I have too many days when I am not capable of doing much and need to carefully use my precious time. This is why I have to republish old posts every so often. 

THANK YOU, dear bloggy friends, for all your patience, understanding and support!

I am also thankful for many of you who have become such good friends with me through this blog. I believe that these are divine friendships that only God can orchestrate and I am thankful for each of you in my life..

I don’t know what God has in mind for the future of this blog but I do know that He is the owner and His Holy Spirit guides and leads me in what to write and how to write it.

Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel
and the preaching of Jesus Christ,
according to the revelation of the mystery
which has been kept secret for long ages past,
but now is manifested,
and by the Scriptures of the prophets,
according to the commandment of the eternal God,
has been made known to all the nations,
leading to obedience of faith;
to the only wise God,
through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.
—Romans 16:25-27

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In the Fiery Furnace

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Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king,
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to
defend ourselves before you in this matter.

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace,
the God we serve is able to save us from it,
and He will rescue us from your hand, O king.
But even if he does not, 
we want you to know, O king,
that we will not serve your gods
or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
—Daniel 3:16-18, NIV

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to worship a gold statue of Nebuchadnezzar’s likeness. They firmly believed God would rescue them from a “blazing furnace.” But their faith didn’t stop there. They refused to worship any other gods or images even if God did not rescue them.

In his fury, Nebuchadnezzar ordered them thrown into a fiery furnace seven times hotter than usual. The intense heat killed several soldiers who were standing near the oven. However, inside of the oven, Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego were not harmed at all. In fact, four men were seen walking around in that oven, the fourth described “like the Son of God” (Daniel 3:25, NKJV).

Do you feel the heat of your own fiery furnace today? Those of us who experience unrelenting pain oftentimes wonder why we are going through this. Will it ever end? Why isn’t God taking away our pain?

There is so much going on in our world today that seeks to divert our attention from God. It is much easier to complain and blame God for everything that is wrong in our lives than to pray for His help in coping with our pain. I admit that I struggle at times with this very thing, as well as the why of the path God is allowing in this season of my life. But when I do that, it turns my focus from God to myself, which keeps me from being able to embrace the joyful hope that is found only in Jesus Christ.

Beloved, God is always with us and fully understands what we’re going through better than any human being ever could. All He asks is that we trust Him to walk with us through our own personal fiery furnaces. He knows our fears and frustrations. He understands our pain. And He will always be there with us and for us.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, sometimes we hurt so much that we don’t have the words to pray what is in our hearts. But You know what we’re going through and what we need from You without our having to say a word. Help us to always reach for Your hand in our fiery furnaces. Amen.

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