Just Hold On…..

Clouds

If there is anything I learned when my Dad went through his battle with cancer, it was that nothing ever stays the same.  Things can change in a second.  Or less.  The Bible phrases it as, “in the twinkling of an eye.”

We take so much for granted.  Things may be going smooth, life is good and we are complacent.  We tend to think that things will remain the same, at least for our foreseeable future.  But that’s just the problem.  We cannot see the future.  We don’t know what next year, next month, tomorrow or even the next moment holds.

All during the time my Dad was sick, I kept having this feeling that things will never be the same.  I trusted and held on to my faith for Dad’s healing and God graciously answered the prayers of the hundreds of people who were praying for him.  But even as that healing came, he will never be the same.  I will never be the same for watching him go through his battle.

I keep thinking about the fact that so many of us just take for granted that our lives will remain just as they are.  It’s almost like in some part of our mind we know that things can change at any moment, yet we live as if they won’t.  We really don’t expect a change.  We have a head knowledge that nothing lasts forever but until we truly experience a change, the fact that things can change remains an aloof possibility.

And so it is spiritually.  So many people have that head knowledge that yes, there is a God.  Yes, He sent His Son to die for us.  Yes, Jesus resurrected from the grave.

Satan believes all that, too.

But it is not until we let those facts become a heart changing experience that we can really know what it’s like to truly believe.  That head knowledge changes into a life altering intimacy with a personal Savior.

I’ve always heard that as Christians, we are either in a storm, coming out of a storm or going into a storm.  If I’m really honest, I’ve never liked hearing that.  It’s no less true, but it’s always been scary to me.  No one likes the storms of life.  It would seem that the best place to be is out of the storm, free from all of the emotional turmoil that being in a storm or headed toward one can bring.

But then I got to thinking – which is sometimes dangerous for me.  When life is going good, it can be compared to the absence of storms.  Blue skies are above.  The sun is shining bright.  It’s great to be able to get outdoors and just enjoy it all.  We start taking the nice weather for granted and no longer appreciate it as much as when we just got through some rainy, stormy days.  But when our world goes for too long without the rain, drought comes.  Everything starts drying up.  The blue sky becomes hazy.  The sun bears down unrelentingly.

We start wishing for the evening storms to bring refreshing rain.

When we start becoming complacent in our lives, expecting all to continue to go well, we can start experiencing a spiritual drought.  We can take God for granted.  Reading the Bible becomes a routine instead of the soul longing for a fresh word from our Lord.

But when that storm comes, when we can experience the Word of God pouring out like rain to sooth our broken, worried, confused minds and hearts, it’s then we appreciate that storm.

I still have the sense in my spirit that things are going to change.  But I’m learning to think that all change is good.  Losing a few pounds would definitely be good!  But even the changes that in the beginning start with what we consider a storm, in the end are for our good and for the glory of God.

The biggest change I am looking forward to, the change I find my soul longing for more and more with each passing day?  It is when my UNCHANGING Lord changes me from mortal to immortal, where my soul can forever spend eternity praising the One who is charge of all the changes in life.

So dear friend, whatever situation you may find yourself in today, good or bad, just hold on.  Amazing changes are a comin’!

I Just Want To Go Home

If you stopped by because you read my devotion June 22, 2017, over at Encouragement Cafe, WELCOME!   So glad you are here!

 

HomeSweetHome

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.  John 14:1-3 (KJV)

My home is ten minutes from my work.  Once I get to work, I change vehicles and drive 35 minutes to my current work location.  That doesn’t really sound like a lot.  And it is better than the hour I had to drive on my last work assignment.

The morning drive I don’t mind.  In fact, I enjoy it.  I listen to music and preaching on the radio.  I love looking at the morning sky.  Most days I like my job.  But the drive in the evening bothers me.  It seems to take longer getting back home than it took to get to work.

There are days when I get back to my main office that I have to run errands or go to appointments that prevent me from going straight home.  By 7:30 or 8:00, though, I feel like I have hit a wall.  I just want to go home.  I not only feel physically tired, but mentally tired as well.

There’s just something about being home where I can totally relax.  Even if I have household chores to do once I get home, I just want to be home.  I want to shut out the noise.  I want to shut out all of the talking and people.  And if I’m totally honest, I just want to be able to stop putting a smile on my face, pretending all is well.

I often feel the same way spiritually.  Sometimes I get so tired of living in this sinful world that I just want to go to my heavenly home.  I want to worship at the feet of my Savior.  I want to be able to feel the complete peace and freedom from the trials of life.

But it’s the getting there that’s tiring.  I know I’m headed for heaven, but the drive seems awfully long sometimes.  We have to live in this world, working and handling all of our responsibilities.  And the longer I travel through this life, things seem to be getting worse.

Do you know, though, that God has given us errands to run?  Appointments to keep?

“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.   Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen”.  Matthew 28:18-20  (KJV)

As Christ ascended into heaven, He gave us the Great Commission.  We are to use our time in this world sharing the message of salvation.  We are to teach people, disciple people.  We are to love as Christ loved.  We are to be busy going about doing our Father’s business.  And we can have joy in our heart as we do those things, fulfilling God’s purpose in our lives on this earth.

But then one day, we will get to our limit.  The number of days ordained for us to live in this world will come to an end.  And then, as believers in Christ, we will have the joy of going home.  Once we get there, we can totally relax, being free from all worries.  And we won’t have to pretend we’re happy because for the first time, all will be well for all of eternity.

Are you ready to go home?  Christ came and died for us so that we can have a personal relationship with Him.  He will bless us in this life, even in the midst of problems.  He gives us peace and comfort even in the busyness of life.  He gives us joy when we are in His will.  And ultimately, some day, He will call us home.  I long for that day when I can just go home.

Heavenly Father, sometimes I get so tired of this life.  Yes, there are times of joy, and I thank You for that.  There are times when I know You are using me, and I humbly praise You for that.  Then there are times when I just want to go home.  I long for the day when I can spend eternity with You.  But in the meantime, help me to be faithful to You.  Help me carry out the tasks that You have given me to do.  And help me live a life so that others can see You, and along with me, want to come home to the place You have prepared for Your children. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

It Hurts Me More

If you stopped by because you read my devotion June 6th over at Encouragement Cafe, WELCOME!   So glad you are here!

“Blessed is the one you discipline, LORD, the one you teach from your law.”Psalm 94-12 (NIV) (2)

Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.  Hebrews 12: 9-10 (NIV)

“This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.”

Have you ever heard that?  I can’t really say that my parents said that to me, (I was the good kid), but I have heard others speak of their parents saying that to them.

I didn’t understand that saying until I had children of my own.  When our babies are born, they are perfect.  Every little smile, every “coo” is deeply embedded in our hearts.  But then they start growing.  Even very young toddlers have to be disciplined.  Some children learn quickly to listen to what they are told, but others seem to push the limits.  Even after being told not to do something, they will look at the one disciplining them in the eye while reaching their hand out toward the forbidden object.

When I had to discipline my children by spanking them or setting them in time out, it did hurt my heart.  I knew they needed to be corrected but the deep sadness they experienced made me want to cry along with them.

When I was very young, I would sometimes fail to be still and quiet in church.  Once home, my dad would talk to me first.  He would point his finger at me as he talked.  I remember thinking that his finger had to be 3 feet long as it was pointed right at my face.  Then I got spanked.  I always thought the “talking to” was a lot worse than the spanking.  I don’t remember that happening too often.  (Like I said, I was the good kid.)

As Christians we learn that it takes discipline to keep a regular time of Bible study and prayer.  It takes discipline to walk a consistent life of obedience.  But discipline can also be God correcting us.  He talks to us first.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”  2 Timothy 3:16 (NIV)

Sometimes that discipline is painful.  We can experience pain and guilt when we are disobedient and commit sin.  We can suffer consequences that may be temporary or that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.  We can feel abandoned by God.  But God doesn’t want us to stay that way.

“Because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.”  Proverbs 3:12 (NIV)

That discipline may include striping us of things that caused us to fall away from God.  It often involves us losing the peace and joy we can feel when we are in a right relationship with our Savior.

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11 (NIV) 

The discipline we receive should cause us to turn back to the loving, forgiving arms of Christ.  I’ve noticed that about disciplining children.  When the time of discipline is over, they want to be held.  They want to be loved.  When I had to correct my girls or grandchildren, I couldn’t wait to hold them in my arms.  Our Heavenly Father is the same.  He corrects us because He loves us.  But He also can’t wait to have a close fellowship with us once more.  If we could ask Him how it makes Him feel to discipline us, I think He would say:

“It hurt Me a lot more than it hurts you.”

And Jesus has the scars to prove it.

Heavenly Father, Thank you for loving us so much that You will discipline us when we are disobedient to Your will.  When the time of reproof and correction is hurtful, let me remember that Your heart hurts too.  Help me to be quick to repent so that I can be in sweet fellowship with You once more.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Crying Out In Brokenness

Sand dunes

Have you ever been brokenhearted?  It’s not something we like to feel.  It’s not something we like taking about.  But unfortunately, we do experience brokenness in this fallen world.

I love reading the Psalms of David.  So many of them are filled with nothing but praise and worship of God, for who He is and for what He has done.  But there are many of the Psalms where David is crying out, brokenhearted before his Lord.  He cried out when his enemies were pursuing him. He cried out when he was betrayed by his son.  He cried out because of sin he committed.  He cried out to God when he felt all alone.

There were times when David felt God was far away and didn’t hear his pleas.  He cried out in Psalm 13:1-2 (NIV):

“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?”

But he was saying by Psalm 13:5-6 (NIV),

“But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.”

David cried out in Psalm 6:6,

“I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.”

But by verses 8-9, David said,

“Away from me, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping. The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer.”

There are also times when we can’t even put our pain into words to cry out to God.  However, we are assured that the Holy Spirit that lives in us will pray for us.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Romans 8:26

I once experienced that verse.  My heart was hurting so bad that the only words I could say were, “Oh, God!  Oh, God!”  But those words, coming from my broken heart reached the ears of my Father.  I felt God’s Spirit wrapping His arms around me, picking me up, and just holding me.

David was faithful to praise God even in the midst of his pain.  That’s not an easy thing to do.  The Apostle Paul knew pain.  Imprisoned, beaten, ship wrecked – in every situation, Paul said to give thanks.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)

Give thanks?  What is there to be thankful for when the pain is so unbearable that it’s hard to take the next breath?

Giving praise and thanks to God doesn’t always mean that He takes us out of the situation causing the pain.  We still may have to endure the circumstances we are going through.  But praising God even in the midst of that pain somehow eases the burden.  In some unexplainable way, we find the strength to keep going, to keep breathing.  We keep trusting that God’s plan is being fulfilled.  We have faith that we will get through whatever we are enduring.

Are you experiencing pain right now?  No matter the reason, whether it is attacks from our enemies, betrayal of someone we trusted, sin we have committed, or depression pulling us down – we can cry out to God.  He knows our pain.  He knows every aspect of our circumstances.  He’s just waiting for us to call on Him.  Like David and his Psalms, we will have songs of praise in our heart mixed with the songs of pain.  But the songs of pain can end in rejoicing as we cry out to our Lord.

 

 

 

 

 

Lean In A Little Closer

If you stopped by because you read my devotion today over at Encouragement Cafe, WELCOME!   So glad you are here!

God's Whispers Shouts Of His Love.Joan Walker Hahn

“And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”    1 Kings 19:12b (NIV)

Have you ever been on a spiritual high?  A place where you were seeing and feeling God really move?  But then, there’s a sudden crash.  The wonderment of God’s presence suddenly turns to a feeling of overwhelming fear and oppression.

Elijah experienced such a situation.  God had been using him in mighty ways.  Following the direction of God, Elijah confronted King Ahab and the people who were following the Baals.  The false prophets and all the people assembled to watch the showdown between the false god and the one true God.  The prophets of Baal built an altar and cried out to their god to answer from heaven with fire to consume their sacrifice.  All day long they cried out, but their god did not answer.  Then Elijah built an altar before God and prayed.  Fire from heaven consumed the sacrifice and altar.  All the people cried out, “The Lord – he is God!  The Lord – he is God!”  1 Kings 18:39 (NIV).

However, after that awesome display of God’s power, Elijah fled.  He went to the wilderness and cried out for God to let him die.  But God didn’t let Elijah stay in that state.  The angel of the Lord brought nourishment to Elijah, twice.  Then Elijah was told to go up to the mountain to see the Lord.

Once Elijah got to the mountain, the Lord spoke to him, telling him where to stand to see the Lord pass by.  Then there was a powerful wind, but the Lord was not in the wind.  There was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  There was a raging fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.  But then … then came a gentle whisper, and the Lord spoke to Elijah.

Have you ever noticed that when someone is speaking quietly, we lean in a little closer, concentrate a little more deeply and hang on their every word?  I think that is why God whispers.  He wants us to lean in a little closer, concentrate on Him a little more deeply and hang onto His every word.  When we do that He can then reveal to us how He’s been there with us all along.

The Lord listened to Elijah tell Him what was bothering him.  But then He told Elijah to go back the way he came.  God gave him another assignment and the strength to carry out that assignment just as He had equipped him in the past.

Do you get weary doing the Lord’s work?  Are you weary because you are not doing what He’s asked you to do?  Either way, what do we do when we feel oppressed or tired or useless?  We listen.

Am I saying that I always hear Him speak?  No.  Sometimes all I hear is the wind blowing, the fires roaring and feel my world shaking.  But even then, God is there.  During those times when we can’t hear His whispers, maybe He is waiting for us to call out to Him.  Then when the storm is over and He sees we have leaned in a little closer, are listening a little more intently, He can speak.

So when you are going through things and find yourself tired, physically, mentally and spiritually, go to the Lord’s mountain.  Allow Him to nourish and feed your soul.  Tell Him how you are feeling.  Allow time for the noise to cease as you just wait before Him.  And then lean in a little more closely and listen for His whispers.

Heavenly Father, thank you, Lord, for Your love.  Thank you that even during the storms, even when I can’t hear or feel You, I know You are there.  Thank You for patiently caring for me when I feel alone.  And in those precious moments when I do hear Your gentle whispers, I praise You, Lord, for speaking.  May I always keep an attentive ear so that I may always hear what You want to say.  I love You, Father.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

 

 

Leaving A Trail

Leaving a Trail

I have a thirty minute drive to work and I often find myself enjoying the morning sky.  The changing colors in the sky as the sun rises always amazes me at the beauty of God’s creation.  My husband can assure anyone that I really am not a morning person but when I get out the door and see how God is telling me good morning, my attitude changes.

I was driving to work one morning when the air was crisp and I saw several contrails crisscrossing the sky.  Contrails, short for “condensation trail,” are the white streaks planes leave behind when the hot exhaust from the plane escapes into the cold air.

Seeing the contrails allowed me to know that the planes were headed in all different directions.  I only saw the evidence of a few of the thousands of flights that take place each day.  People are traveling in opposing directions all the time.  I then began to think of how it is the same spiritually.

People are headed in all different directions spiritually just as they are physically.  So many various teachings and religious ideas are rampant in our world.  People are told that there are many ways to heaven.  People are told that God loves everyone and that everyone is going to heaven when they die.  People are told they are their own little god and they can live life however they want.  People are told God will accept them if their good deeds outweigh the bad.  People are told there is no God and that this life we live is all there is.  I could go on and on about the different things people believe.

But, my friend, there is only one truth and one God.  There are not many ways to heaven.  The airplanes that are going in different directions do not and cannot all land in the same place.  A plane headed east does not land in California.  A plane headed north does not land in Florida.  A soul headed away from Christ does not end up in heaven.

In this day of divisiveness, it’s not always easy to speak with people about spiritual things.  Everyone believes their thoughts and opinions are superior to others.  I admit that in my stubbornness I also have at times thought that if everyone would just see things the way I see them then everything would be better.

God’s Word reveals to us how much He loves us.  But God’s Word is also divisive.  So many people focus and preach about the love of God, (and He is a loving God), and they fail to teach about the judgement of God.  He will one day divide those who have trusted and accepted Christ as Savior from those who have rejected Christ.  Those who have accepted Christ are headed to an eternity in heaven with God.  Those who have rejected Christ are headed to hell.

Which direction are we heading in?  Have we heeded that truth for ourselves?  Are we helping people to know that truth?

Or maybe another way to put it, which airplane are you riding on and are you leaving a trail that will point the way to Christ for others who are watching your life?

Beloved, do not believe every spirit [speaking through a self-proclaimed prophet]; instead test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets and teachers have gone out into the world. By this you know and recognize the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges and confesses [the fact] that Jesus Christ has [actually] come in the flesh [as a man] is from God [God is its source];and every spirit that does not confess Jesus [acknowledging that He has come in the flesh, but would deny any of the Son’s true nature] is not of God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming, and is now already in the world. Little children (believers, dear ones), you are of God and you belong to Him and have [already] overcome them [the agents of the antichrist]; because He who is in you is greater than he (Satan) who is in the world [of sinful mankind]. They [who teach twisted doctrine] are of the world and belong to it; therefore they speak from the [viewpoint of the] world [with its immoral freedom and baseless theories—demanding compliance with their opinions and ridiculing the values of the upright], and the [gullible one of the] world listens closely and pays attention to them. We [who teach God’s word] are from God [energized by the Holy Spirit], and whoever knows God [through personal experience] listens to us [and has a deeper understanding of Him]. Whoever is not of God does not listen to us. By this we know [without any doubt] the spirit of truth [motivated by God] and the spirit of error [motivated by Satan].  Beloved, let us [unselfishly] love and seek the best for one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves [others] is born of God and knows God [through personal experience]. The one who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love. [He is the originator of love, and it is an enduring attribute of His nature.] By this the love of God was displayed in us, in that God has sent His [One and] only begotten Son [the One who is truly unique, the only One of His kind] into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation [that is, the atoning sacrifice, and the satisfying offering] for our sins [fulfilling God’s requirement for justice against sin and placating His wrath]. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us [in this incredible way], we also ought to love one another.             1 John 4:1-11 Amplified Bible (AMP)

“But What About Me?”

Well Done

If you stopped by because you read my devotion today (1/25/17) over at Encouragement Cafe, WELCOME!   So glad you are here!

I’ve always been a quiet person.  I’d rather stay in the background than to be the center of attention.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t like the occasional, “Atta girl,” or “Good job!”

I think maybe everyone on some level likes being recognized for their talent, abilities and strengths.  Being praised for something can give us a sense of worthiness, it can make us feel needed, or it lets us know people notice our accomplishments.

But when no one notices our hard work, or even pauses to thank us for what we do, it may sometimes be hard not to become disappointed or feel unappreciated.  Especially if we see someone else receiving attention for their efforts.

The prodigal son’s brother felt that way.  When the wayward son came home, the father threw a party.  The older son became angry.  When his father found him, the obedient son listed the things he had done right, as though to say, “But what about me?”  The father responded, “’My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.’”  Luke 15:31 NIV

A Mary Christmas

If you stopped by because you read my devotion today (December 28, 2016) over at Encouragement Cafe, WELCOME!   So glad you are here!

maryatchristsfeet

Sitting At His Feet

And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”   Luke 10:41-42 (NKJV)

Sometimes I wish that everyone would just decide not to give and receive gifts at Christmas.  Does that make me a Grinch?  I worry so much about what to buy for people.  Will they like it?  Is it too little or too much?  Can I afford it?  Or what if someone gives me something and I don’t have anything for them?  Oh dear!

I believe most would agree that we have made Christmas about everything but the birth of Christ.  I do like cooking, but I’m always rushed.  I like decorating, but I run out of time to make it perfect.  I’m more like Martha of the Bible instead of Mary.  I stay busy, rushing from one thing to another, doing what I feel people expect me to do.  When what I really need to do is make it a “Mary Christmas.”

Holiday Separation – For a Time

If you stopped by because you read my devotion on November 18, 2016 over at Encouragement Cafe, WELCOME!   So glad you are here!

 

“For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”  John 6:38-40 (NIV)

 

Holidays are exciting, joyful and greatly anticipated.  Sometimes.  But there are also times when the Holidays can be hard to handle.  There may be some who have lost a loved one and they face what is supposed to be a joyful time with dread.  Others may have no close family or friends at all to celebrate with.  Many struggle with disease or depression and seeing the happiness in other people’s faces amplifies the hurt in their own lives.

The first Christmas after my grandmother passed away was hard.  She was a petite woman and we used to love seeing her covered over with presents.  They would be stacked in her lap, around her feet and her sweet smile was barely seen over the pile.  And when she began opening her gifts, her face lit up like a child’s.

grandpa-grandma-wilhoit

The next year, my grandfather had also passed.  I had wonderful memories of Christmas’ past when he would leave the adults conversing in one room to come gather us grandkids together to sing songs with us as he played his little ukulele.

It was hard.  But as new babies were born into the family, the Christmas gatherings were filled with joy as new little voices filled the room even as we reminisced the past.

The first year after my father-in-law passed, someone gave a special gift to each of the 5 children.  It was a bear made out of shirts their father had worn.  A small piece of him was there with the family.

papa-j-bears

It’s hard facing the holidays with that pain in your heart.  But we can be assured that God sees and understands the separation from a loved one.

Good Times Or Bad?

If you stopped by because you read my devotion today over at Encouragement Cafe, WELCOME!   So glad you are here!

 

romans-8-28

Everything works for our good?  Really?

So many times when this verse is quoted, it is when something bad has happened to a believer.  Does all of the bad things that happen to believers really happen for good?

The times when we are enjoying the presence of our Abba, Father – those are good times.  When we are serving God and seeing results of truly trusting and following Him, that’s what I call good.

So why do we have to endure the bad things and then be told to trust that God will use it for our good?