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I Will Stand My Watch

 In conjunction with Part 2 of my Habakkuk series,
please enjoy this devotional by Charles Spurgeon.

Hab2-1--watchtower

I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower,
and will watch to see what he will say unto me (Hab. 2: 1).

There is no waiting on God for help, and there is no help from God, without watchful expectation on our part. If we ever fail to receive strength and defense from Him, it is because we are not on the outlook for it. Many a proffered succour from heaven goes past us, because we are not standing on our watch-tower to catch the far-off indications of its approach, and to fling open the gates of our heart for its entrance. He whose expectation does not lead him to be on the alert for its coming will get but little. Watch for God in the events of your life.
 
The old homely proverb says: “They that watch for Providence will never want a providence to watch for,” and you may turn it the other way and say, “They that do not watch for providences will never have a providence to watch for.” Unless you put out your water-jars when it rains you will catch no water.
 
We want to be more business-like and use common sense with God in pleading promises. If you were to go to one of the banks, and see a man go in and out and lay a piece of paper on the table, and take it up again and nothing more–if he did that several times a day, I think there would soon be orders to keep the man out.
Those men who come to the bank in earnest present their checks, they wait until they receive their gold, and then they go; but not without having transacted real business.
 
They do not put the paper down, speak about the excellent signature, and discuss the excellent document; but they want their money for it, and they are not content without it. These are the people who are always welcome at the bank, and not triflers. Alas, a great many people play at praying. They do not expect God to give them an answer, and thus they are mere triflers. Our Heavenly Father would have us do real business with Him in our praying.
–C. H. Spurgeon
 

“Thine expectation shall not be cut off.”

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Taken from Streams in the Desert Devotional by L. B. Cowman. Copyright © 1997 by Zondervan.

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Cast Your Cares [REPOST]

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

Cast Your Cares

Guest Post by Patricia Knight

1Pet5-7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

psalm-139-vs-23-24

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

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

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

AnnaSmile

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Finishing Well [Repost]

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

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

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FINISHING WELL

By Patricia Knight

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

 2Cor12-9-Grace

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

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

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

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

2Tim-4-7-The Race

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

James2-26

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

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

.AnnaSmile….

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Our Selfless Savior (Part 4) [REPOST]

~This is the fourth part of the series on John 13 by Donna Baker~

Last Thursday Donna left us with this:

Each time we fall short of God’s standard for us, all we need to do is confess those sins to Him and we are immediately washed clean.

Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” — John 13:7

The disciples seemed obtuse to us, but they didn’t have the Holy Spirit yet. We do, and we still fall so short of understanding. It is sad how little I know of His Word.

Jesus told them not all of them were clean. This is true for us as well. Not all in our midst are saved. It is like the parable of the wheat and tares.

Tares Among Wheat

24 Jesus presented another parable to them, saying,

“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. 26 But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also.

27 The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’

28 And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’

29 But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

36 Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.”

37 And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, 38 and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels.

40 So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age.

41 The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

 Tares are a weed resembling wheat.

We are not called on to pull up the tares because we don’t know who they are…just like the apostles didn’t know that Judas was a devil in their midst.

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God?

Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

And that is what some of you were.

But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. —1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Here again we are told there are those among us who are not clean. The unlined verses say some of us were, but we are now washed clean.

How?

“…in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

We are to serve others, we are to preach the Word, because it is the power of God unto salvation.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. —Romans 1:16

Dr.J. Vernon McGee defines salvation as the all-inclusive term of the gospel, and it simply means “deliverance.”

It embraces everything from justification [the act of God whereby humankind is made or accounted just, or free from guilt or penalty of sin] to glorification [the future and final work of God upon Christians, where he transforms our mortal physical bodies to the eternal physical bodies in which we will dwell forever].

Dr. McGee describes salvation as both an act and a process, and goes on to say that it is equally true that “I have been saved, I am being saved, and I shall be saved.

I ask myself:

  • Am I teaching others His Word?
  • Am I modeling His Word as He did to His disciples?
  • Can my children and grandchildren look at my life and see the reflection of His Word at work in my life?
  • Or am I hiding in a corner shrinking back in fear or disappointment at how my life has unraveled?

Beloved, how about you?

 

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Draw Near to God

James4-8

Submit therefore to God.
Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
 
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
Cleanse your hands, you sinners;
and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Be miserable and mourn and weep;
let your laughter be turned into mourning
and your joy to gloom.
 
Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord,
and He will exalt you.
—James 4:7-10

God comes to the door of your heart; He will not come any further. He knocks, and you have to let Him in. That is the only way He is going to get in, my friend.

It is said that one time Martin Luther threw an inkwell at the Devil. Somebody might say that was a crazy thing to do, but it is not if you are resisting the Devil. James tell us that the way to resist the Devil is to draw near to God. The Devil will flee from you, because he doesn’t like God as company. The Devil will not get to you unless you get too far away from God. A wolf never attacks a sheep as long as it is with the rest of the sheep and with the shepherd. And the closer the sheep is to the shepherd, the safer it is. Our problem is that we get too far from God.

From Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee. Copyright © 1983 by J. Vernon McGee.

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I Choose to Believe [Repost from Teshuva]

I love it when I have the chance to share special posts from other blogs. Today’s offering is by my bloggy friend, Ugochi Jolomi. Her site, Teshuva … Inspirations for a Better Life, is wonderful.  

The other day I read a fantastic post at her site: I Choose to Believe. Ugochi, you must have been in my head when you wrote this! Thank you for allowing me to share it here.

I Choose to Believe

I Choose To BelieveI choose  to refuse fear and doubt as I journey through this world. Too many things are happening to suggest fear and doubt, too really scary incidents. The vicissitudes of life and some peregrine entries are causing the ugly spirit of fear and doubt may be hovering over my head, but by God, I will not let them perch.

Read the rest of this wonderful post here.

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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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Come to Jesus

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Come to Jesus

Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest. —Matthew 11:28

Resting is not something that comes naturally to me. Back in the days filled with activities, rest came as an afterthought. How things have changed! In this season of my life I need to rest between tasks in order to not become overly fatigued. Gone are the days when I could clean my entire house in one morning.

Awhile back a song kept playing itself over and over in my mind and made a great impact on me. I can relate to these words in particular:

“Sometimes the way is lonely
And steep and filled with pain
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain, then
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus and live!”*

These lines remind me of the immense comfort I can find in Jesus when I let myself completely rest in Him. He hears my cries and knows my pain, and I am calmed when I remember that He holds my life in His hands.

When we live with daily pain, so many hours are filled not only with pain, but toss in extreme fatigue, canceled plans and stress and you have the perfect formula for frustration.

Are you like me, thinking you can’t possibly make it through the day or maybe even just the next hour? Do you wonder if you will ever be able to lead some kind of normal life again?

Beloved, God reassures us that He is always available and waiting for us to lean on Him. He encourages us to turn to Him and let Him bear the brunt of our burdens. In return we will find rest and that peace that surpasses all understanding.

The ending of this song is a great encouragement for me to keep on trusting that God wants the best for me because in the end we will never feel pain again as we revel in the glorious presence of Jesus Christ, our LORD and Savior.

“And with your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory’s side, and
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live!”*

*Copyright © Chris Rice, “Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus)”

 

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

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Memory Markers [Repost]

SWEET SATURDAY

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

I know what I’m talking about here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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