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Shout for Joy

 

ShoutForJoy

Shout for Joy

Shout for joy, O heavens;
rejoice, O earth;
burst into song, mountains!
For the LORD comforts His people
and will have compassion on His afflicted ones
—Isaiah 49:13

 

Here comes the bus!

The entire camp staff had assembled to greet our campers. We gathered in a circle, each in turn offering prayers for these precious children who had been placed in our charge for the week.

Years ago, I was one of the counselors at this camp for abused and abandoned children. Because of all the hurt, pain and anger they experienced every day, we were determined to show them the joy, love and grace of their Heavenly Father.

We heard the rumble of the diesel engine before we saw the bus and smiled nervously before turning to greet the unknown faces in the windows. We waved, wondering if they were as nervous as us—probably more so.

The bus stopped in front of us and the door opened. When Peter, our ‘fearless leader,’ appeared at the top of the steps, we began waving again and welcomed our little visitors with shouts and whoops. Peter smiled his approval at our enthusiasm, then yelled, “Are you ready to meet your kids?” We clapped as hard as we could and were rewarded with smiles and waves from many of the children.

Peter stepped out of the bus and consulted his clipboard. Every time he yelled a camper’s name, we jumped, clapped and shouted a spirited welcome. The children seemed to enjoy the noise and attention so we continued to act like crazy fools, hopping and jumping in accompaniment to our shouts of welcome.

These children, who usually had no hope or joy in their lives, were like sponges in our care. They soaked in the wonderful news about a Father Who truly loves and cares for them and during that short week, learned how to turn to Him for comfort and peace.

Unlike those little children, we’re old enough to understand that life isn’t always easy. Instead of lamenting what we can no longer do, let’s try shouting and singing joyfully for what we do have. No matter what is going on in our lives, God is always there with us and shouldn’t that make us want to shout for joy?

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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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I Will Not Be Shaken

FindRest-Ps62-5
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress,
I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Selah. 
—Psalm 62:5-8

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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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Our Shelter in the Storm

WonderfulWednesdays
Sometimes I write about things that have happened in my life and then put them aside for a future time. The other day I was thinking about my Mom and remembered that I had written something about one of the times I was with her. This incident happened a couple of years before the Lord took her home.

Our Shelter from the Storm

Is25-4--ShelterFromTheStorm


You have been a refuge for the poor,
a refuge for the needy in his distress,

a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.
—Isaiah 25:4 

My mother and I watched as high winds hurled the driving rain against the living room windows. We were supposed to leave in a little while to visit Dad in the rehab hospital where he was undergoing physical therapy after knee replacement surgery.

Mom started to get ready but I talked her out of going. Her long battle with congestive heart failure and angina has left her very weak, and it doesn’t take much to stress her. I thought it better for her to stay snug and cozy at home this time, so I went alone.

As I walked out to the car, the high winds almost carried my umbrella away and I was glad Mom had agreed to stay home. She would have gotten soaked in her wheelchair and again while transferring to the car. The stress of that could have caused her to have another episode in which she had trouble breathing.

I felt the assault of the rain and wind on the car as I drove to the hospital, but was comforted knowing that I was protected and dry inside. It struck me how much this resembled living with chronic illness. Even though we are battered by our health problems, God protects us in much the same way. He is our refuge in the midst of the physical and emotional storms we experience every day.

Chronic illness is not easy to cope with but what a privilege it is to be able to lean on Jesus to get through the storms in our lives. Just when we feel we’re going to drown in our pain, God surrounds us with His arms—our refuge and source of joy—especially in the midst of the pain.

Jesus-snuggling-a-lamb

Beloved, when it all gets to be too much, just turn to Jesus and snuggle within His comforting arms.

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Beneath His Wings

Thankful_Thursdays

On this Thankful Thursday, I once again have the delightful privilege of showing you more of Pat Knight’s writing. Thank you, Pat, for sharing your heart with us!

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Beneath His Wings

By Patricia Knight

Ps57-1

The common loon commands a constant and interesting presence on our lake waters in Maine for three seasons during the year. The loon is a large, pre-historic bird whose back sports a stunning polka dotted and striped white pattern superimposed on black feathers.  In the summertime as soon as the chick’s eggs hatch, they leave the comfort of the land nest for a life-long existence on water. The brown, fluffy young are initially the size of a ping-pong ball and equally as buoyant. In the early stages of life the loon chick spends quality time riding on its mother’s back. As the baby loon nestles into the feathers, the mother enfolds it beneath her wings, providing rest from constant swimming, warmth from her body heat, and protection from prey.

The concept of a mother bird providing comfort beneath her wings is used as a metaphor to describe our heavenly Father’s power and protection.  “I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed” (Psalm 57:1) .What a beautiful, comforting picture of God’s great strength, where we hide for protection, unencumbered by the cares of this world.  God provides us with strength during a trial, not immunity that spares it from happening, so that His glory and provisions are exalted.

Phil-4-19

There is no time limit for God’s protection, but simply stated, “Until the disaster has passed.”  Some tragedies consume a relatively short span of time while others require that we depend upon God’s strength and power as He fights our foes for years. God is gracious; His love and comfort are limitless. He will never leave His children to their own resources.  If an animal instinctively cares for her young, surely our Creator will keep His promise to provide His children’s needs. “And, God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

There are many instances when we crave a comforting hug or a reassuring promise.  We may be emotionally needy as we navigate adversity, perhaps when dealing with attack or loss issues. Equipped with our own energies, we are unable to kindle hope.  It may be our reaction to either withdraw from human contact or to act out our emotions with unusual aggression. God is willing to meet our needs with His marvelous grace and love, allowing us to relax in His exceptional, shielding care.

“Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings” (Psalm 63:7). It is difficult to sing when consumed with fear. Only when our needs are met and threats diminished are we able to relax and express our joy in song. Because God assumes our anxieties, we can sing with confidence that He will supply our inner peace, as He hides us from all danger.

After curing a slave girl possessed of an evil spirit, the Apostle Paul and Silas felt the full fury of her owners who could no longer profit from her fortune-telling abilities.  A crowd was incited, marketplace justice was served, and the men were stripped and beaten, then thrown in jail. The jailor fastened the men’s feet in stocks for extra security. Bloodied and in pain, sitting in a dark, damp dungeon, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God at midnight, naturally attracting the attention of the other prisoners.  “Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken.  At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose” (Acts 16:25-26).

Acts16-25-26

Traditionally, if a prisoner escaped, the life of the jailor or a guard was demanded in his place. For the jailer to take his own life would shorten his personal humiliation for the act occurring on his watch. Paul stopped the jailor just before he fell on his sword, assuring him that all the prisoners were still accounted for.

As a result, the jailor remembered hearing that Paul and Silas were preachers. With the earthquake and his own impending death so close, he wanted to know about the way of salvation. Paul and Silas were given the opportunity to explain the good news of the Gospel to the jailor and his family. Immediately, they were all baptized. In turn, the jailor washed the men’s wounds and fed them a meal in his house.

In order to sing under such strained and pained circumstances, Paul and Silas had to be confident that God was in control of their lives. They had vision and trust beyond their current situation. This wasn’t Paul’s first encounter with harrowing injustice.  He had been thrown in jail before and then miraculously released. At another time he was beaten and left for dead.  It was Paul who admitted, “For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances”(Philippians 4:11). He had personally experienced the comfort of God’s protective wings.

philippians-4-11

How do we react in stressful situations? Do we immediately call on God, who promises to shield us beneath the protection of His massive wings? The birds of the world and their offspring instinctively provide the object lesson for our protective relationship with our Lord. Call on Him in your time of need and you will find His wings open wide, waiting for you to claim a sheltering refuge there for as long as necessary.

What reassurance, to be hugged by God!

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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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The Lord Bless You

Beloved, on this Thankful Thursday, I hope this Scripture passage encourages and comforts you as much as it does me.

Numbers6-24-26--TheLordBless-KeepYou

I love what J. Vernon McGee had to say about it. Here is an excerpt from his Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee commentaries:

Here we find the Trinity in the Old Testament. God the Father is the source of all blessing. The Lord Jesus is the One who makes His face to shine upon us. The Holy Spirit lifts up His countenance upon us and gives us peace. This is the only way we can come to God and experience the peace of God. He is the One who makes these things real to our hearts.

The triune God gives them this blessing. The census has been taken, and they all know their pedigree. The standards have been raised; so they all know where they belong. They are to follow their standard, and they are to camp in their assigned place in the camp with their own tribe and their own family. The camp has been cleansed. Now the Lord blesses them. It is the only way God  can bless.

What a wonderful blessing there is here. God the Father keeps us; the Son makes His face to shine upon us—He is the light of the world; God the Holy Spirit gives us peace. What a glorious chapter this is! (1)

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The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:

“‘The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.’”

“So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
—Numbers 6:22-27

AnnaSmile…..

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(1) McGee, J. Vernon. Through the Bible with J. Vernon McGee. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc. 1981.

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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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11 Ways to Love

11WaysToLove

1) He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him. —Proverbs 18:13

2) This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. –James 1:19-20

3) The craving of a sluggard will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work. All day long he craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing.Proverbs 21:25-26

4) For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.
—Colossians 1:9-12

5) Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it than a house full of feasting with strife. —Proverbs 17:1

6) Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. —Ephesians 4:14-16

7) Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.  But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me. —Philippians 2:14-18

8)  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. —1 Corinthians 13:4-8

9)  Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. —Colossians 3:12-14

10) Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. —Proverbs 13:12

11) Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. —Hebrews 13:4

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AnnaSmile

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