Rain Clouds

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If clouds are full of water, they pour rain upon the earth. —Ecclesiastes 11:3

If we believe the message of this verse, then why do we dread the clouds that darken our sky? It is true that for a while the dark clouds hide the sun, but it is not extinguished and it will soon shine again. Meanwhile those clouds are filled with rain, and the darker they are, the more likely they are to bring plentiful showers.

How can we have rain without clouds? Our troubles have always brought us blessings, and they always will, for they are the dark chariots of God’s bright and glorious grace. Before long the clouds will be emptied, and every tender plant will be happier due to the showers. Our God may drench us with grief, but He will refresh us with His mercy. Our Lord’s love letters often come to us in dark envelopes. His wagons may rumble noisily across the sky, but they are loaded with benefits. And His rod blossoms with sweet flowers and nourishing fruits. So let us not worry about the clouds. Instead, let us sing because May flowers are brought to us through April clouds and showers.

O Lord, “clouds are the dust of [your] feet”! (Nah. 1:3). Help us remember how near You are during the dark and cloudy days! Love beholds You and is glad. Faith sees the clouds emptying themselves and thereby making the hills on every side rejoice. —Charles H. Spurgeon

What seems so dark to thy dim sight
May be a shadow, seen aright
Making some brightness doubly bright.
The flash that struck thy tree–no more
To shelter thee–lets heaven’s blue floor
Shine where it never shone before.
The cry wrung from thy spirit’s pain
May echo on some far-off plain,
And guide a wanderer home again.

“The blue of heaven is larger than the clouds.”


© Copyright 1997. Streams in the Desert, by L. B. CowmanZondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530

Sunday #Praise and #Worship: Lord, I Need You

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Life is admittedly tough. Just when you think things are going smoothly, something suddenly happens that threatens to shake our faith. But those of us who have placed our trust in our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ have the power of His Word to hang onto. In the pages of the Bible are many words of power, comfort, peace, faith and truth.

No matter what’s happening in our lives, let’s not forget that our ultimate hope and JOY is in our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ and no one or nothing else. The song “Lord, I Need You” sung by Matt Maher has been running through my mind lately, especially when I’m struggling with life in my little corner of the world.

As you listen to this song, ponder the words of comfort and peace Jesus speaks to His disciples:

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you;
not as the world gives do I give to you.
Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

—John 14:27

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

Sorrowful Yet Always #REJOICING

As you know, my theme this year is all about JOY. When I read the following in my daily Streams in the Desert devotional recently, I knew I must share it with you. It is wonderful!

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…sorrowful, yet always REJOICING.
—2 Corinthians 6:10

SORROW was beautiful, but his beauty was the beauty of the moonlight shining through the leafy branches of the trees in the woods. His gentle light made little pools of silver here and there on the soft green moss of the forest floor. And when he sang, his song was like the low, sweet calls of the nightingale, and in his eyes was the unexpectant gaze of someone who has ceased to look for coming GLADNESS. He could weep in tender sympathy with those who weep, but to REJOICE with those who REJOICE was unknown to him.

JOY was beautiful, too, but hers was the radiant beauty of a summer morning. Her eyes still held the HAPPY laughter of childhood, and her hair glistened with the sunshine’s kiss. When she sang, her voice soared upward like a skylark’s, and her steps were the march of a conqueror who has never known defeat. She could REJOICE with anyone who REJOICES, but to weep with those who weep was unknown to her.

SORROW longingly said, “We can never be united as one.”

“No, never,” responded JOY, with eyes misting as she spoke, “for my path lies through the sunlit meadows, the sweetest roses bloom when I arrive, and songbirds await my coming to sing their most JOYOUS melodies.”

“Yes, and my path,” said SORROW, turning slowly away, “leads through the dark forest, and moonflowers, which open only at night, will fill my hands. Yet the sweetest of all earthly songs—the love song of the night—will be mine. So farewell, dear JOY,  farewell.”

Yet even as SORROW spoke, he and JOY became aware of someone standing beside them. In spite of the dim light, they sensed a kingly Presence, and suddenly a great and holy awe overwhelmed them. They then sank to their knees before Him.

“I see Him as the King of JOY,” whispered SORROW, “for on His head are many crowns, and the nailprints in His hands and feet are the scars of a great victory. And before Him all my SORROW is melting away into deathless love and GLADNESS. I now give myself to Him forever.”

“No, SORROW,” said JOY softly, “for I see Him as the King of SORROW, and the crown on His head is a crown of thorns, and the nailprints in His hands and feet are the scars of terrible agony. I also give myself to Him forever, for SORROW with Him must be sweeter than any JOY I have ever known.”

“Then we are one in Him,” they cried in GLADNESS, “for no one but He could unite JOY and SORROW.” Therefore they walked hand in hand into the world, to follow Him through storms and sunshine, through winter’s severe cold and the warmth of summer’s GLADNESS, and to be “SORROWFUL, yet always REJOICING.”

All emphasis mine

Copyright © 1997. Streams in the Desert, by L. B. CowmanZondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530

The Marriage Triangle: Living for Jesus in Your Home #LoveWins

Please visit TRC to read more of the great articles in this issue!

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The Marriage Triangle:
Living for Jesus in Your Home

by Anna Popescu

Marriage is a very strong yet fragile bond. It is both wonderful and difficult. That makes it somewhat of a paradox. We enter into marriage with the intent of staying true to our vows, but eventually real life breaks in and sometimes we end up treating our friends better than our spouses. Or we show our better side to our friends more often than to our spouses.

Why is that?

How do we get to the point where we’re on our best behavior for everyone but the person with whom we pledged to spend the rest of our life?

Living creatively for Christ in the home is the acid test for any Christian man or woman. It is far easier to live an excellent life among your friends, when you are putting your best foot forward and are conscious of public opinion, than it is to live for Christ in your home.1

Living under the same roof with anyone is difficult, whether that means spouses, children, extended family or friends. Dwelling in close quarters with others means we see can easily each other’s faults. Disagreements over the smallest things can easily escalate into huge arguments. We often forget to take into account individual preferences for food, TV shows, internet usage and noise levels. Often there are introverts who must figure out a way to get along with extroverts. One person may prefer neatness while another is a slob.

There is no easy way to live with other people unless you do your utmost to be respectful and polite to each other at all times. How realistic is that? It takes way too much work. So it’s no wonder that we eventually shut down or explode at home when nerves are frayed or someone rubs us the wrong way. It is so much easier is it to show your best self in public. After all, you’re not with them 24/7, so you can afford to be more laid-back. At home, you’re in one another’s face and bound to get overly caught up in the hyper emotion of the moment.

If you’re part of a married couple, it gets even more complicated. Satan is in the business of trying to demolish the bond that holds husbands and wives together, and he will do everything possible to see that happen.

In the six thousand years since the Garden of Eden, two of Satan’s most strategic assaults have been focused on destroying the sanctity of the marriage covenant and the unity of our homes. A detailed study of God’s Word will show us that the devil is focused on ripping our families apart. Satan will use any tactic he can; he will capitalize on every advantage imaginable to disrupt the harmony in our homes. 2

How do we combat this? By setting Jesus as the head of our home and marriage.

If you look closely at the Marriage Triangle image, you’ll read: The closer a husband and wife get to Jesus, the closer they get to each other! How is this done?

Pray-Together

  • It is imperative that we each make time everyday in the Word, learning more about Jesus and how He wants us to live. This will bring us closer to Him.
  • Pray daily for God to order your steps (Psalm 37:23-24), showing you how to love your spouse better. As you pray, mentally put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20) and keep Him in your mind as you go about your day.
  • Pray for your spouse, that God will fill him/her with the desire to want to know more about Him.
  • Pray with your spouse for each other.
  • Pray for yourself, that God will show you exactly how to be the spouse He wants you to be. Ask God to open your eyes to ways you can serve your spouse with much love.
  • Finally, look for ways each day to uplift and treat your spouse the way you would want them to treat you. God has specific guidelines for this (Ephesians 5:22-33).

Throughout our marriage my husband has noticed a trend in my behavior. Maybe you can relate? I smile, laugh and engage with friends and family, only to jump into the car or leave with my husband and exhale how I really feel. My face scrunches up, my attitude turns cold, I sometimes snap at my husband with stern words or slump down with defeat.

My husband kindly expressed how he felt about me giving my best to others, mentioning that he wants me to be real and honest with him, but he would also love to be around the version of me that is kind, compassionate, joyful, and all the other ways I engage with others.(emphasis mine) 3

Do you remember your courtship days? Weren’t you on your finest behavior most of the time? Didn’t you want your date to think the best of you? Why should that change just because you’re married?

Beloved, let’s try to remember to show kindness and respect to the one who God has blessed us with as a mate—no matter how busy we are. Our marriages will reap untold benefits and blessings.

Lysa TerKeurst of Proverbs 31 Ministry shared an excellent prayer for couples. This is the intro:

I would encourage you to take your spouse’s hand and either have someone read this prayer over you or read it together. Use it as a reminder and recommitment.

And if your marriage isn’t at a place where that’s possible, pray this in the quiet shrine of your heart. As our key verse, Psalm 34:15 tells us, God hears you. He knows. He loves you. He will show you the way.4

Please take the time to read the rest of this wonderful prayer here.Couples-Love-God-First

When couples love God first
they love each other better. 

–Brela Delahoussaye

Beloved, life is hard. There are too many ways our lives can get messed up and mixed up by what’s going on in the world today. Don’t dwell on the negatives. Instead, keep your eyes on Jesus and strive to put your spouse first, even though that idea goes against what we hear in the current society of “what’s in it for me?” attitudes. I have learned firsthand that not only does God bless a loving and giving attitude, but your marriage will thrive.


1 Live Creatively for Christ, by Billy Graham

2 The Reality of Spiritual Warfare in the Home

3 Do You Give Your Husband Your Best?

4 A Wedding Prayer, A Marriage Prayer

The #JOY of #Hope

In continuing my search for Biblical references about the JOY of the Lord, today’s post is about how JOY ties in closely with hope.

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Recently I’ve been contemplating the phrase Quality of Life. Here are some of the definitions of Quality of Life, also referred to as QOL:

  • Wikipedia: is the general well-being of individuals and societies. QOL has a wide range of contexts, including the fields of international development, healthcare, politics and employment. Quality of life should not be confused with the concept of standard of living, which is based primarily on income. Instead, standard indicators of the quality of life include not only wealth and employment but also the built environment, physical and mental health, education, recreation and leisure time, and social belonging.
  • The Free Dictionary: Noun, quality of life- your personal satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) with the cultural or intellectual conditions under which you live (as distinct from material comfort); “the new art museum is expected to improve the quality of life” gratification, satisfaction – state of being gratified or satisfied; “dull repetitious work gives no gratification”; “to my immense gratification he arrived on time” [Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.]
  • Medicinet.com: The patient’s ability to enjoy normal life activities. Quality of life is an important consideration in medical care. Some medical treatments can seriously impair quality of life without providing appreciable benefit, whereas others greatly enhance quality of life.
  • BusinessDictionary.com: Dailyliving enhanced by wholesome food and clean air and water, enjoyment of unfettered open spaces and bodies of water, conservation of wildlife and natural resources, security from crime, and protection from radiation and toxic substances. It may also be used as a measure of the energy and power a person is endowed with that enable him or her to enjoy life and prevail over life’s challenges irrespective of the handicaps he or she may have.

As you can see, there are differing opinions on what quality of life actually means. Some people use it as a measurement of how happy and fulfilled a person is. Others think of it as a way to gauge how someone can enjoy life in spite of physical handicaps or limitations. And many others consider it to be an indication of how much people have overcome in order to enjoy their life no matter what obstacles they face.

Where is God in all of this?

“The world is filled with people trying to adjust to the pain, trying to deal with life without total collapse, break down, burn out, hopelessness, fear, apathy or just giving up. And all of that really is a matter of learning how to endure. And that’s our key word this morning because the passage in front of us gives us the secrets to endurance…the secrets to endurance. How can we endure the pain of life? The profound difficulty of life? The great disappointments, broken dreams, broken bodies, broken homes, broken lives, broken relationships? How can we handle all of that? How can we face life like the Apostle Paul did who said back in verse 8 of this chapter, “We are afflicted in every way but not crushed, perplexed but not despairing, persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed”? How can we live like that? How can we be so triumphant?” —John MacArthur, GraceToYou.org

So, how can we think more like Paul? Is it possible to be afflicted and still be triumphant? I have shared with you before that I live with several chronic pain illnesses. Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and chronic migraine plague me every single day. Some days are worse than others, but I can honestly count on one hand the number of pain-free days I have had in the last 5 or 6 years and still have fingers left over. And yet I still have more JOY than I ever thought possible.

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What is true JOY? Charles Spurgeon describes it this way:

 “The JOY OF HOPE—who shall measure it? Those who are strangers to it are certainly strangers to the SWEETEST MATTER in spiritual life. With the exception of present communion with Christ, the JOY of a believer in this present state must be mainly the JOY OF HOPE. “It does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him just as He is (OUR HOPE).” (1 John 3:2) We thank God that we shall be satisfied when we wake up (from the sleep of death) in the likeness of Jesus! This ANTICIPATION (HOPE) of Heaven makes (the hurt of) earth become endurable! And the sorrows of time lose their weight when we think of the “far more exceeding and eternal weight of Glory (Our future HOPE). (2 Corinthians 4:17)”

To me,

the hope of JOY = the JOY of hope.

I do not think we can have one without the other because each produces the other. For example, I can have the hope of JOY because . . .

I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth and after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes— I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!
—Job 19:25-27

And I can also have the JOY of hope because . . .

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. May the God of hope fill you with all JOY and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
—Romans 15:5-6, 13

Beloved, don’t you see? It doesn’t matter what is happening in our lives as long as we continue to hang our hope on our Savior. That thought alone produces so much JOY that it is impossible to stay down or depressed about our circumstances for long.

Choose JOY!

Yes, JOY is a choice that we make every single day. If we have invited Jesus Christ into our hearts as our Savior and Lord, then we have the certain hope of everlasting life in heaven with Him. And if we have that certain hope, how can we be anything but JOYFUL no matter what our circumstances?

My Redeemer lives!

Please enjoy this video of Nicole C. Mullin singing one of my favorite and comforting songs, “My Redeemer Lives.” I know it will fill you with as much hope and JOY as it does me!

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


New International Version (NIV). Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Heads Roll

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Heads Roll

By Patricia Knight

“The Lord your God is with you,
He is mighty to save,
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing”
(Zephaniah 3:17).

When I was a little girl, playing with my dolls was a favorite pastime.  Imagine the trauma I suffered when my doll’s head fell off!  My Daddy always seemed to be able to pop that doll’s head right back onto her shoulders again. I would go running to greet him at the end of his workday, hanging onto the two doll parts. He instinctively knew what would make a little girl’s heart happy, performing repairable doll surgery right before my eyes.

One day the three of us siblings were causing a loud verbal commotion. Our mother announced in measured tones, “I have a headache and if you children don’t quiet down, my head is going to fall off.” Instantly, I envisioned a frightening mind picture of my mother’s head detached from her shoulders. So I was quick to assure her, “That’s all right, Mommy, Daddy will put your head back on when he gets home tonight.” I remember confusion reigned when she broke into peals of laughter. This was not funny at all to me, but if she found humor in my remarks, maybe her headache would go away and we wouldn’t have to witness her head helplessly rolling off her shoulders.

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Lessons the broken doll taught me prepared me for tragedies that would strike in my future lifetime, directing me where to turn for relief. Trusting God as the Source of all my help is the ultimate relationship the heavenly Father wants all of us to enjoy with Him. He is the one “who comforts us in all our troubles” (2 Corinthians 1:4). That is the knowledge we need to navigate this world and its trials. There is no problem too difficult for my Lord to solve.

Job was a broken man but not defeated. He was declared “blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil (Job 1:1b). One day, he suddenly lost all of his wealth, family, and possessions. He was struck with a rare skin disease of overwhelming proportions. However, he persisted in trusting God. Job knew, that “nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). He was not into the mode of blaming God for his calamities. Job rationalized his steadfast hope: “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”(Job 2:10). Job decided to choose victory, as God promised. He took the high road of deep faith that would not shatter during a personal crisis.

I didn’t understand how my Daddy fixed my doll, but I trusted that he would. More importantly, he took responsibility for his little girl’s happiness. Isn’t this the reaction God wants from us, that we trust Him for our happiness? God loves us and wants us to put our confidence in Him as the Source for all our help and protection.

Jesus taught His disciples in parables, using common objects to convey a lesson to them. He will also find the best way to teach us His principles, even if it involves a toy.  Nothing escapes God’s service.