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Hidden with Christ

 

HIDDEN WITH CHRIST

Col3-1-3--set your mind on things above

Since, then, you have been raised in Christ, set
your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at
the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above,
not on earthly things. For you died, and your life
is now hidden with Christ in God.
—Colossians 3:1-3

 

What does it really mean to be hidden with Christ? 

The word “hidden” means covered, concealed … in other words, safe. It means that this very day, I am safe in Christ’s arms as one of His very own children.

This is a tremendous comfort, especially when life throws us curve balls. So often we plan something only to find we don’t have the energy to accomplish that plan. Or perhaps our pain is so bad that we can only lie in bed and brood about how our illness interferes with the stuff of life. That’s how we start believing we’re not much good to our loved ones or anyone else.

Well, I’m here to tell you that God uses everything and everyone to His advantage, even those of us feeling yucky and unproductive.

My Mom was a good example. For 11 long years, she suffered with congestive heart failure with its associated complications. One time in the midst of another terrible bout of pneumonia, we were told she only had about two months to live. But God apparently had more for her to do here on earth because she lived quite a few years after that!

My mother raised up a family of five girls. She was always cooking, cleaning, doing the laundry or a host of other household tasks. After she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, she had to learn to learn to pace herself to get through each day.

A great deal of her time was spent in her recliner and what did she do to keep busy? She prayed! Mom was in constant communication with her Savior, and found such complete comfort and strength in Him. She learned what it means to “set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” She focused on the eternal rather than the temporary, and God continued to use her in spite of her limited physical abilities.

So take heart, Beloved. You are much more important to God than your particular set of circumstances. God can use you in your present situation to show His love to those around you!

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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.

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4 Principles for Overcoming Fear [Precept Ministries Repost]

The other day on their Established BlogPrecept Ministries posted this great article about overcoming fear.

4 Principles for overcoming fear,worry,doubt,inductive bible study,precept ministries

4 Principles for Overcoming Fear

Fear unleashes a host of doubts. It chips away at our confidence in God’s goodness. If Jesus can sleep in the storms of the Sea of Galilee, is he asleep in our storms? Does He care? Our minds continue, “If God doesn’t care, then we must take control.” We become control freaks because we perceive a loss of control and somebody has to do something!

The disciples had every reason to trust Jesus. They had heard Him teach the Word and had even seen Him perform miracles, and yet they still had little faith in a crisis, when their lives were at risk.

Read the rest here.

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Living by Faith

 

Heb11-13--faith-cross

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.
And they admitted that they were
aliens and strangers on earth.
—Hebrews 11:13

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A writer colleague of mine once wrote me about her mother’s recent death. She said she missed her mother a great deal but didn’t wish her back because the last months of her illness were terrible. At the same time, my own mother was struggling with various life-threatening illnesses and we didn’t know how much longer she would be with us.

As I read my friend’s words, I knew I would feel the same way when it came time for the Lord to take Mom home. Although I love my mother dearly, she struggled so much in the last few years of her life. She shared with me more than once that she was ready to be with Jesus. She knew—by faith—that there was a much better life for her in heaven with Jesus.

Can I get a huge AMEN on that?

Faith.

Paul describes faith as “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). So many of our ancestors lived by faith: Abraham, Enoch, Noah and David, to name just a few. They lived with the hope promised to all of us by God our Father—the hope of living an eternal life free of cares or worries.

Have you ever wondered if this was easy for them?

Beloved, faith and trust go hand in hand. Our Biblical ancestors understood that. They trusted in a God they could not see and had faith in the His promises. We can follow their example by faithfully leaning on the only One who truly cares and understands our pain and frustration.

Faith isn’t the ability to believe
long and far into the misty future.

It’s simply taking God at His Word
and taking the next step. 

—Joni Eareckson Tada

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Faith is taking the first step
even when you don’t see the whole staircase. 
—Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Fight the good fight of the faith.
Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called
when you made your good confession
in the presence of many witnesses.
—1 Timothy 6:12

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He is Faithful [repost]

Lately I’ve been thinking about how the Lord is leading me in my writing life, and how thankful I am to Him for that. I am going to be starting a new phase soon and will share more about that when the time comes. For now, rather than cut back on my blog posting, I thought I’d share an older post with you once a week or so. 

This particular post from 2012 about God’s faithfulness concerns a very big turning point in my writing career. I discovered that sometimes we need to just stop everything in order to allow our Lord to give us a fresh insight into His plans for us. When I stopped writing a few years back, I had no idea that the hiatus would involve a huge amount of trust in Jesus.

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!

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Day by Day Renewal

Saturday

On this Sweet Saturday, please remember that although we may lose heart during very trying circumstances, God does not lose heart with us. He is always ready to enfold us in His everlasting arms and remind us that through the pain we are being renewed day by day.

Day by Day Renewal

2Cor4-16-18


“Coffee Break: Recharge Your Brain”
read an Internet headline and could I ever relate to that! I am definitely a coffee drinker and very thankful that its pick-me-up properties help ease me into my day. I awaken foggy brained most days, but after an hour or two of java sipping, I feel better able to face whatever the day holds.

JustPourTheCoffeeAfter reading that headline, it occurred to me that if coffee can boost our energy levels, how much more could we be recharged by diving into the Word of God?

In this particular Scripture passage Paul is urging us to not dwell on our present circumstances and trials, but rather to focus on God’s grace in our lives.

I am always impressed by how often Paul—who continually praised God in the midst of the many trials, persecutions and imprisonments he endured—encourages us to look outwardly to God rather than inwardly focusing on our daily concerns.

What an example Paul is! He never lost heart over his dire circumstances and in fact urged his followers to use these situations to draw closer to God in order to be spiritually and emotionally renewed. Paul’s close relationship with the Lord gave him the confidence to rely on the Holy Spirit’s strength when things were toughest for him.

Beloved, we can do the same thing! During those times when we feel we positively cannot go on, let’s not let fatigue or pain keep us from drawing closer to God and renewing ourselves with His refreshing spiritual nourishment.
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Suffering Well [repost]

I published this around the same time last year and thought it would be a good idea to share it again.

--SweetSat

It may be strange to have a post about suffering on a Sweet Saturday, but if you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ this special message will be sweet to you in its truest sense.

I follow the Desiring God blog, and last week this particular post by Jonathan Parnell greatly spoke to me. This is the Philippians 3:7-8 passage to which Mr. Parnell refers:

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ… —Philippians 3:7-8

Beloved, I pray you are edified by Mr. Parnell’s words too.

How Christians Prepare for Suffering

By Jonathan Parnell | Mar 07, 2013 12:00 am

Original

The apostle Paul suffered. Did he ever.

He was imprisoned. He was beaten, often near death. He took 195 total lashes from his Jewish kinsmen on five occasions. He took three pummels with rods. He was once stoned — and then also shipwrecked three times. Then there are the endless dangers of travel in the first century, plus countless other experiences mentioned and unmentioned in the New Testament (2 Corinthians 11:21–33).

It doesn’t take long until we wonder how in the world he did it. How did he take so much pain? So much loss? How did he prepare for suffering?

The answer is in Philippians 3:7–8.

Counting Everything As Loss

In the 1992 sermon “Called to Suffer and Rejoice: That We Might Gain Christ,” John Piper unfolds the significance of Paul counting his gain as loss. Basically, the apostle took a long look at his life apart from Christ. All the things that he valued — his Jewish pedigree, his place in the upper echelon of religious society, his law-keeping — he took a long look at this list and wrote “LOSS” over it with a giant Sharpie.

And then we went a step further.

It wasn’t just the past values of his personal life. It wasn’t just “whatever gain he had.” Paul looks out into the future and declares everything as loss. Everything out there that could pass as positive. Everything good that he has yet to experience and everything which he will never experience. Compared to Jesus, everything is loss.

This Is Normal Christianity

And lest we think this puts Paul on a pious pedestal, that he is at a spiritual level we’d never reach, Piper reminds us that this sort of reckoning is normal Christianity (Matthew 13:44; Luke 14:33). To consider Jesus better than everything else in the world is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian.

It may be worth reading that last sentence a couple more times, until it feels uncomfortable. Many of us are so quick to console our hearts when the least bit of unsettling winds blow through. But what about conviction? It’s a good thing not to be comfortable with a watered-down Christianity foreign to the Bible. It’s not works-righteousness to say that saving faith in Jesus means we have to really love him. It’s works-righteousness to think that our really loving him is the reason we’re saved. Paul said that everything is loss compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus. Paul said that and so should we.

Jesus Is Better

And that’s how Paul prepared for suffering. He saw Jesus as superior to everything else. Piper lays it out this way:

Suffering is nothing more than the taking away of bad things or good things that the world offers for our enjoyment — reputation, esteem among peers, job, money, spouse, sexual life, children, friends, health, strength, sight, hearing, success, etc. When these things are taken away (by force or by circumstance or by choice), we suffer. But if we have followed Paul and the teaching of Jesus and have already counted them as loss for the surpassing value of gaining Christ, then we are prepared to suffer.

This means that if we treasure Jesus, then every aspect of suffering in our lives is losing something we have already declared as loss.

If when you become a Christian you write a big red “LOSS” across all the things in the world except Christ, then when Christ calls you to forfeit some of those things, it is not strange or unexpected. The pain and the sorrow may be great. The tears may be many, as they were for Jesus in Gethsemane. But we will be prepared. We will know that the value of Christ surpasses all the things the world can offer and that in losing them we gain more of Christ.

Loving Him Today

None of us knows the sorrows that may meet us tomorrow and are sure to meet us if Jesus tarries. We don’t know what hardships God will call us to walk through. But even though we don’t know them, we can prepare for them. And the way we prepare for afflictions then is by gaining Jesus now.

It will not minimize the pain. Not at all. But we will know, even in the darkest night, that Jesus is our God and all, that he is our Rock and treasure, that he is enough.

The way we suit up for our sufferings tomorrow is by cultivating our love for Jesus today.

http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/how-christians-prepare-for-suffering

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Handling the Impossible Moments in Life

Gen17-1-ElShaddai

Life is hard. That’s an undeniable fact. We struggle in so many ways daily, wondering if life will ever get any easier. I firmly believe that if life was easy here on earth, we would probably not yearn for our heavenly home!

This wonderful article about El Shaddai is from Precept Ministries, one of my favorite sites. I have enjoyed many Precept Bible studies and always learn a lot from them. In fact, my New American Standard (NAS) Bible is an International Inductive Study Bible (IISB) written by Precept Ministries and published by Harvest House. This is the Bible my dear friend Donna gave me for my birthday way back in 1997, and is marked up with all kinds of notes and highlighting. It has been my go-to Bible ever since. Here’s a peek:

AnnaBible1

See what I mean about all my notes, markings and highlighting? I’ve started using a couple of different Bible apps on my iPad, but my NAS Bible is still the one I consult most often.

The blog post I’m sharing here today was published last year on the Precept Ministries’ Established blog. I printed it out and kept it for future use because the subject is very near to my heart. 

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God’s Name for the Impossible Moments in Life

The names of God reveal the character of God. And, knowing the character of God brings comfort to the hurting, healing to the broken, peace to the anxious, and confidence to the fearful. Perhaps no name brings more confidence to God’s people than the name God Almighty, or El Shaddai.

Read the rest here.

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Beloved, our Lord God Almighty—our El Shaddai—is always with us. All we have to do is cry out to Him for help and comfort when we need it. 

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AnnaSmile

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Thankful for God’s Blessings

Thankful_Thursdays

Every so often I like to share some of my devotionals with you that were published in an anthology titled Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. My assignment was to write 30 devotionals for this book, and I had only 3 weeks to get them done. That tight deadline was stressful enough, but having migraines 24/7 only added more stress. When I wasn’t writing, I was sleeping!

Thankfully, God’s continuous grace and mercy got me through this difficult assignment. Looking back now, I can say that He carried me through all my painful circumstances to write what He had in mind for me. I hope you are as blessed when you read this as I was while I was writing it. To God be the glory for walking with me through it!

Please enjoy this devotional. It was the first in the section titled Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving.

When I want to thank God for His blessings . . .

Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. —Psalm 103:1-2

From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. —John 1:16

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.. —Ephesians 1:3

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. —James 1:17

. . . I will pray.

Holy Lord,

Lately I’ve been reflecting on how much You have blessed me, and it brings tears to my eyes as I realize You supply all these things because You love me so much.

I look around my home and see how You have amply provided for all my needs. Comfortable furniture fills my rooms. There is food in the pantry and refrigerator to nourish my body. The clothes in my closet keep me warm in winter and allow me to be cool in summer.

I am surrounded by family and friends who love and care about me. Did You place them in my life to help me through the rough patches? It seems that way to me.

I know there are times I don’t appreciate You as much as I should. Instead, I grumble and complain about the most insignificant things. That’s when You remind me that You are always with me—and that is the biggest and best blessing of all. When I’m happy and joyful, You cheer me up even more. And when I’m feeling low, it helps me to remember that the most precious part of my life is knowing You.

Thank You for being the Giver of bountiful blessings.

Amen.

Reflect upon your present blessings of which every man has many; not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some. —Charles Dickens

[From Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. Copyright © 2006 Bordon-Winters LLC]

AnytimePrayersForEverydayPeople

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AnnaSmile…..

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The Peace of God

Phil4-6

The Peace of God

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. —Philippians 4:6

“Are we there yet?”

I’m sure many of us have heard these words from our children more times than we care to remember. It’s always exciting to travel to new places and see new sights. But once there, the newness quickly subsides and the children—and probably us if we’re being truthful—long to be back home with their friends. They want to return to the familiar surroundings of their own neighborhood.

That’s just the way we are. While we might want to do something different and out of the norm, we still long to be back in our own homes and familiar surroundings.

Chronic illness in particular takes us out of our comfort zone and places us in an unknown situation. Where before we could rely on our bodies to perform in a certain predictable way, now we don’t know from one day to the next (sometimes hour by hour) what to expect. Will I be able to shake the fibrofog that stalks me most days? And how about simple tasks like the laundry and dusting? Will I need help with those jobs?

God tells us to “be anxious for nothing.” I don’t know about you, but at times that’s difficult for me. I long to be certain that I’ll feel well enough to accompany Rick when we make a date to join friends for dinner. And what about this blog? Will I have enough energy to keep up with it?

But God also tells us to be thankful “in everything.”  To me that means no matter what is happening with me on any given day, I must trust that God knows what needs to be done and will enable me to do the important things.

Phil-4-7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:7

Beloved, doesn’t it comfort your hearts to read that? What this means to me is that as long as I cling to God and His promises—no matter how I feel—He will grant me that special peace that can only come from completely trusting in Him.

The peace of God. I don’t know about you, but I sure am glad I have His peace to keep me calm in my circumstances. What a wonderful promise!

AnnaSmile

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