I recently ran across a really great quote on Pinterest. Here it is:
Until God opens the next door, praise Him in the hallway.
Isn't that a good one?
We often talk about how God is the way- maker and the door-opener. And of course, He is. But sometimes, life puts us in the hallway, in a period of waiting for the next door to open. So what do we do then?
According to this quote, we should praise God in our times of waiting. But, really, isn't that hard?
Usually, when we're waiting on God, it is for something we really feel we need or want. Sometimes what we're waiting on would bring excitement; other times, it would bring peace or healing in a desperate situation. No matter what we're waiting on, waiting is hard. The hallway is a hard place to be.
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But according to God's word, we are to praise Him at all times, not just when He opens doors. Ephesians 5:19-20 says, "Be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (NLT).
So what can we praise God for if we are waiting on Him to answer our prayers? I agree, sometimes it's hard to feel like praising God when our prayers are so heavy on our hearts. But the Bible gives us some ideas.
1. God is the same. Always. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Heb. 13:8, NIV). If God is the same, then He constantly maintains His character at all times. What I mean is, if He is good when the door opens, He is also good while we're in the hallway, waiting. If God is loving when He answers our prayers, He is loving when we're on our knees, praying.
There are so many praiseworthy attributes to God's character. Here's a short, but definitely not exhaustive list. God is: holy, love, righteous, merciful, forgiving, generous, gracious, powerful, creative, mighty, awe-inspiring, wise, all-knowing. He is our peace, our savior, our redeemer, our friend and our Father. I love the new Christ Tomlin song that asks the question: "Is He worthy?" It then answers the question with a resounding, "He is!"
2. Focus on our Blessings, not our list of needs. We have a great example in Jesus. Jesus knew that His ultimate mission on earth was to die a horrible death on a cross. He knew He would be shut out of God's presence for a time. He knew His closest friends would desert Him. So why did He do it? Hebrews 12:2b tells us, "For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (NIV).
This same chunk of scripture tells us we should "fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith" (v.2a) Jesus suffered so much, but He kept His eyes on the joy before Him. When we fix our eyes on Jesus, we can see Him and the joy He brings.
Even when we find ourselves in the hallways of life, we still have much to praise God for. With our eyes on Jesus, we can see His goodness and praise Him. We can experience His presence and rejoice. We can look around and see His hand, even in the waiting, and we can be at peace.
When we do those things, our eyes are open to see the blessings around us. Because our God is good, all the time, there is always something to praise Him for. Even while we're waiting for our next door to open.
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Do you ever feel like this? Like there is continuous push and pull, give and take, between getting housework done and spending time actually being with your children? I feel it every day.
I think it is one of the great struggles of women. Women feel a need to be successful in their own right, whether that means working outside the home or inside the home. If you're a stay-at-home mom like me, we feel success by accomplishing our to-do list. You know, organizing that hall closet finally, or mopping the floors. (Both things I need to do right now, btw.)
But also, moms want to feel success as a mom. We want to see our children thriving, not just surviving. We want them to feel loved and appreciated for who they are. And that means they need attention.
So, moms, how do we do it all? Even though I'm no expert, I think I found a way to work it out:
1. Prioritize your to-do list.
2. Let everything else go.
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Prioritze You To-Do List
Some things just have to get done. We all need supper and clean clothes. But during busy times, like harvest for my family, I have to move some of the "extra" stuff off of my list. For example, when I'm busy, I don't really need to organize my kids' clothes and rotate too small stuff out and put the right size stuff in. I should save that for the summer. Another area I've learned to scale back is cooking. I love cooking and trying new recipes. I enjoy lots of steps and exciting ingredients if I think it will make a yummy meal. Well, harvest time is not a good time to try new, complicated recipes. I just don't have the time.
If you want to spend more time with your kids, move it to the top of your list. I heard a family therapist recommend scheduling play time with your kids. She said to devote 15 minutes for playing and only playing. After 15 minutes, your kid's love tank is full and then you can go back to being productive. Sometimes, that kind of one-on-one attention is just what our kids need to keep them happy. And if they're happy, they are less likely to bug you while you're trying to accomplish more on your to-do list.
Let Stuff Go
I keep talking about this because I keep needing to hear it. It really is okay if your house is not perfectly cleaned and organized. It really is okay to have cereal for supper. It really is okay to skip bath night (every once in a while).
Moms are really good at holding themselves to impossibly high standards. We think we should be doing it all and doing it well. Maybe we think that everyone else is, that they have it all together. Well, let me just assure you that that is a lie.
I think this form of mom guilt is an attack from our enemy. He wants to keep us from pouring into our children. If he can keep us busy, even if it is busy in doing the "right" things, he wins.
There's this word that moms need to adopt and apply. The word is grace. When Jesus came to this earth and died for us, He ushered in an era of grace. John 1:16 says, "For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace" (ESV).
Jesus saved us from our sins by His grace, or by giving us His "undeserved favor." But He continually pours out His grace on us. That verse said "grace upon grace."
I seriously doubt that Jesus cares how clean our houses are. But I'll bet He loves it when we laugh with our children.
And moms, aren't we gracious to our children? We still love them even when they don't deserve it. Why don't we pour that kind of grace out on ourselves?
Roman 5:21 (NLT) "So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God's wonderful grace rules instead."
Romans 6:14 (NLT) "Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God's grace."
We are free from rules, even the rules we set for ourselves. Let's make our homes places where grace rules instead.
My three year old has just recently started riding a bike with no training wheels. He's not a child-phenom or anything. No, I attribute his early bike riding ability to his balance bike. He got one for his birthday, and he rode it all the time, eventually mastering the balance part of riding a bike. So, I put him on a pedal bike and gave him a push. That was all it took! I highly recommend one for your kids!
Anyway, as he works on his control of the bike, I find myself yelling two things: Look ahead! and Keep on Going!
And what to you know, such good lessons for life have come out of my 3 year old's bike riding experience!
When Max rides his bike, he is so easily distracted. He looks at the fields around him, his brother and sister riding by him and also at me, running behind him. When he starts looking around, his steering becomes erratic. He wobbles back and forth as his handle bars swing side to side. Sometimes, he jack knifes and falls over. If he would just look ahead, he could keep himself steady.
On our Christian walk, we can be so easily distracted. We are tempted to look at our circumstances and let them dictate our behaviors and emotions. We look at others on their journeys, and we compare ourselves. Sometimes, we let them pull us onto a path not meant for us. We look back, either wishing for what could have been or lamenting and getting hung up in the past.
And just like my son on his bike focusing on all the wrong things, focusing on our less than perfect circumstances, on others and on our pasts can cause us to stumble and fall.
Thankfully, God provided us with Someone we can look to. Someone that will never cause us to stumble. Someone that will help, guide and give wisdom on our journey. It's Jesus, of course!
"Therefore...let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith" (Hebrews 12:1-2, NLT).
Fixing our eyes on Jesus keep us from focusing on sin. Focusing on Jesus keeps us from getting tripped up by the past or from focusing on others in comparison. After all, our help comes from the Lord (Psalm 121:2).
The past few times I have taken the kids out on a bike ride, it has been very windy. Plus, we have to go up a hill to make it to our driveway. I found myself cheering Max on. "Keep going, Max! You can do it! Just keep moving!"
The thing about our Christian journey is that we are not called to stand still. God is constantly working in us to make us more like Jesus (Phil. 1:6). If God is constantly at work, how can we assume we are to keep doing the same old, same old?
Faith, according to Hebrews 11:6, is needed to please God. But more than that, "Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him."
Have you ever tried to find something without actually moving around and looking for it? Just ask my kids, the worst finders ever. You can't find anything unless you actively look for it.
Faith requires actively seeking God and then doing what He calls you to do. That is the Christian journey. It is a cycle of seeking then obeying.
So, we must keep on going, even when life gets hard, which of course, it will. We can look again to Jesus as our example. Hebrews 12 goes on to say, "Think of all the hostility Jesus endured from sinful people; then you won't become weary and give up." (v.3, NIV).
Jesus endured the terrible punishment of all the sins of the world, but still he looked forward to the joy set before Him. Because we are His, we have the guarantee of that same joy. We also have His presence, which never leaves us or forsakes us.
So, if you're looking around at others or behind you at your past...Focus your gaze on Jesus instead.
If you're struggling to move forward...step out in faith and obedience, for this pleases God, and strengthens you.
Look ahead and keep going.
**Photo by Brett Patzke on Unsplash
‘Twas the moments before bedtime, when all through the house….
I had already tucked my little pookie into his crib with his favorite cuddly, gray blanket. His big brother was safely in bed as well, though probably reading by nightlight. But he was tucked in nonetheless.
I was on to the last one: my daughter. I had read to her, prayed with her, and sang her favorite song. I was home free. I crossed to the other side of her bed to turn off her lamp and was about to make my getaway. "Click," went the lamp. Yes!
"Mom!" she exclaimed. "Can you please get used to the light with me...while holding my hand!"
Now, getting used to the light with her is something I have done in the past. It takes a while for your eyes to adjust to the new darkness. But she knew I would just keep walking and casually wait by the door. No, this time, she wouldn't let me escape! I had to wait, while holding her hand, to insure that I would stay in her room as long as possible, thus delaying bedtime.
I sighed and said to my daughter, exasperated, "Sometimes you are just soooo much!"
That's just a nice way of saying, "You are getting on my very last nerve!" ...But I didn't want to hurt her feelings! Sometimes, the members of our families are just hard to take.
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How is it that God does not get tired of us? We are way less intelligent than Him. Science, universe, space, time: He gets it. I mean, I once used toy balls to explain a solar eclipse to my kids!
He also knows the future, so how is He able to always be with us without getting bored? It's like watching a movie you've seen 100 times. You don't ever need to watch the ending because you’ve seen it so much.
But He is always with us. He even likes us when we're annoying. He has no last nerve.
In Psalm 139, we get an intimate look at how much our Father knows us and loves us, quirks and all. Read it all if you need a reminder. In verse 1, “O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.” There is no hiding your bad habits from Him. And still, in verse 5, we see how He always stays with us. "You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head."
And this one, this one really gets to me because it is beyond my brain to understand it. "How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!" (verse 17).
When I stop and think about this kind of love and devotion, it refreshes my spirit. This God who loves me this much, who has shown me infinite love and grace, also daily empowers me to show love and grace. Even when my family is just soooo much!
Also check out the music tab for a great song about God's love for us!
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I noticed my first gray hair when I was 23 years old. It was one of those life-altering moments, when you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing. I was standing in the tiny bathroom of my cute, little rental cottage. The sunlight glinted just perfectly off the top of my head, and Bam! There was my little gray friend (insert sarcasm).
The wise words of King Solomon in the book of Proverbs paint gray hair as a wonderful thing. He penned, “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a Godly life” (Prov. 16:31, NLT).
At age 23 my gray hair did not feel like glory. And while I was trying to live a Godly life, I wouldn’t say that I had done well enough yet to earn a crown. And since I started turning gray at such a young age, you can imagine what I’m dealing with now as a 35 year old mom of three.
Recently, I found myself staring down the gray roots showing on the top of my head. I began lamenting my bad luck of going prematurely gray. I groaned about how I had inherited this trait from both of my parents. I glared into the mirror feeling sorry for myself and the beauty blunder that was taking over my hair.
After all, age 35 is not old! Isn’t that a change in perspective? When you’re young, you think, “Wow, 40 is like, practically dead!” And now, as that number is quickly approaching, I think, “40 is like the new 30! It’s not going to be so bad!”
But staring back at me in the mirror was that reminder that I was aging. Insecurities flooded my mind. I overanalyzed my entire reflection. Was that a new wrinkle? An age spot? Maybe I should see a dermatologist? Would I ever consider Botox?
My appearance became a source of pity, and I’m really good at throwing a self-pity party.
But luckily, thankfully, God is not one to leave you at your own pity party. Philippians 1:6 promises, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (NLT). God keeps working on our insecurities and our selfishness. And that’s what He was beginning to do with me.
At this particular time, my eyes were opened to real suffering. I had friends who were going through cancer. I have multiple friends battling chronic illnesses. They are my age! They are moms. They are just normal women like me.
I was totally convicted. Here I was whining over my hair, something that I can easily dye if I want to, while my friends suffer with real problems. Isn’t it so humbling when God points out your shallowness?
And that’s exactly what I was: humbled. I knew my nonsense about gray hair needed to stop. I needed a new perspective. And God provided me with just that.
While Jesus was on the earth, He instructed us about focus. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.” (Matt. 6:33, NLT). We are not to focus on our appearances or how we are aging. Why? Because that isn’t really what matters. When we seek God’s will, we will be given everything that we need.
No matter what we go through, whether gray hair or serious illness, God wants to guide our focus. We must focus on Him and His kingdom and live righteously. Focusing on God’s kingdom means we must fill our minds with things that are of God. We must think of what is true, noble, pure, lovely, excellent… (Phil. 4:8). But we also must work to align our will with His. For in God’s kingdom, His will prevails.
When we live righteously, we put ourselves in a better position to know the will of God. To know the will of God, we must “not copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Rom. 12:2, NLT, emphasis added).
And God certainly changed the way I was thinking. He took my “gray,” grumpy attitude and replaced it with one of gratitude. I began counting my blessings. I had so much for which to be thankful. When I shifted my eyes to the blessings of God, I was able to see His kingdom all around me, and I could seek it wholeheartedly.
And even though gray hair may be a sign of a righteous life according to scripture, I still don’t think I’m worthy of a crown. But I do know that God will guide me as I seek His kingdom, and He will bless me as I continue to walk in gratitude. And when I am given my crown in Heaven, I will thankfully throw it at His feet.
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Paradox. Such a fancy word for a Wednesday!
What it really means is "a seemingly absurd or contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true." (Thanks, Google.)
I do know one thing about this flashy word: motherhood is full of paradoxes. (Yes, that is the plural of paradox. Thanks again, Google.)
Here's my latest contradictory thought. Maybe you can relate, all big words aside.
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Our kids are an endless source of joy and frustration, of happiness and stress. The other night, I caught myself having this thought, "Sometimes I wish I was just done with parenting." But then, in the same breath, I almost made myself cry. "I can't believe my oldest only has 10 years left at home before he could move out of my house for good!" (Tears).
See the paradox? Motherhood is simultaneously wanting a break from your children, and then knowing you'll miss them terribly when you're gone. It's wishing your kids were old and on their own, but then wanting time to stop so you can savor them as little children.
I don't really have any deep, theological insight to offer you on this one. But I think God, who always knows my heart and my true feelings (1 John 3:20), uses these paradoxical thoughts that I have to remind me to slow down and live in the moment.
That's so hard, and yes, sometimes it seems contradictory. Mothers are to train their children for the next phase in their lives, whatever that may be. We are to prepare our kids to be successful in the future, and yet, we are to live in the moment.
Here are some practical ways that I have found that help me be in the moment:
-Laugh when your kids are funny or when you experience something funny together. Real laughter is such a gift. And you can only really find something funny in the moment. Enjoy those moments more with your kids.
-Let stuff go. I get so caught up in my to-do list sometimes. I have goals and things that I want to get done. But I shouldn't let my to-do list steal my moments with my children. Nothing is worth missing out on them.
-Do something you all enjoy. This is such a great fix for a grumpy or stressful day. Find a way to have fun together. Make memories. No one, looking back on their childhood, cares if their house was perfectly dusted. No, we look back and remember the funny times or the random adventures. Those are the makings of great childhood memories.
Live in the moment (preaching to myself). For yes, we only have a short time when our kids are home with us.
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“Life’s a journey, not a destination.”
These words, which just so happen to be lyrics in an Aerosmith song, dance around my mind. I know Aerosmith is not known for their Biblical perspective, but I find these words to be true.
Philippians 1:6 echoes the sentiment that Steven Tyler put to music. “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (NLT).
See? We are forever on a journey, being made more like Christ, until the day God calls us home. God uses the stops along the path of life to teach us and mold us into people who look and act more like His son.
The journey of motherhood is just one super-effective tool that God uses to shape us. Okay, let’s be real, sometimes it feels like that tool is a sledge hammer. Being a mom is not a job for the weak.
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I heard an amazing sound bite from author Jeannie Cunnion the other day. It went something like this: “God doesn’t just use us to shape the hearts of our children; He uses our children to shape our hearts.”
Our children are gifts from God, and those gifts take so many different forms. They are blessings, bringing us joy and moments of pure delight. But they are also battles, testing our faith, patience and our determination.
Yes, our kids are gifts—gifts that God uses to direct us to Him.
If you’re like me, you can see your need for God on a daily basis, sometimes in humiliating ways. Like when your four year old daughter eats a muffin off of the floor in a restaurant even after you tell her not to. And everyone sees her do it. Or when your five year old son drops his pants in the middle of the soccer field to go to the bathroom.
If you’re like me, you cry out in your need for God, like when you can’t get your daughter to stop talking back, or your son seems perpetually negative, and you don’t know what to do.
I think we need to change Aerosmith’s words. “Motherhood is a journey, not a destination.”
Motherhood is not meant to make us lose hope, exhaust or defeat us, or to make us question ourselves and our abilities. Motherhood is meant to lead us to Jesus and make us cling to Him moment-by-moment.
The apostle Paul understood this idea of the journey and the shaping process it brings. Paul had a daily battle, a “thorn in the flesh,” he explained. It bothered him. It was a struggle for him. He asked God to take it away, but God said no. Paul wrote, “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong,” (2 Cor. 12:9-10, NIV).
Even the apostle Paul, writer of half of the New Testament, struggled on his journey. He didn’t have children, but he did have something that caused him pain, worry, stress, and anxiety. Sounds kind of like being a mom, right?
God gave Paul a special message, and I’m so glad Paul wrote it down because it is a message for us moms too. In the New Living Translation verse nine reads, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”
God’s grace is for us, mamas, and so is the power of God. But there is a little catch.
To access the grace and the power of God, we first must acknowledge our weakness.
Accessing God's Grace
Just as God told Paul, His power works best in weakness. One of the amazing things about our God is that He is not pushy. He does not force anything upon us, even the stuff that would be for our own good. He waits for us to come to Him, to express our need for Him, and then He works and moves in our hearts.
Yes, friends, we have to admit to God that we are weak, that we are lacking, and that we desperately need His help on the journey of motherhood.
It’s hard to humble ourselves and say this, even to our God who already knows. No one likes to admit weakness; we are trained to never let anyone see it. But God, who knows what’s best, knows that our weaknesses are really a key to unlocking His grace and power. And what mom does not want and need the power and the grace of God while she parents the little gifts God gave her?
Instead of hiding our weaknesses, let’s be open about them. I don’t know that we need to go as far as Paul does and boast about them. Can you imagine? “I’m so good at letting the laundry pile up!” or “I haven’t cleaned the toilet in a month!” No, we don’t need to go there. (Please clean your toilet.)
But being honest and humble before God about our weaknesses, our worries, and our concerns only leads us to His power. When we do this, we have God’s grace, and we allow Christ’s power to work through us.
On this journey of motherhood, let us boast in this: that God helped us through and never once left us. That He gave us grace and power every step of the way.
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When it comes to relationship advice, we are advised to always say, "I love you." Whether in our marriages or in our relationships with our children, saying those words often communicate the unconditional love we are all looking for.
I told my 8 year old son the other day, "I love you." He said, "I know, Mom."
I explained that if I were to stop telling him, wouldn't he begin to wonder after a while? Wouldn't he question my love for him, especially after he did something wrong?
It's true in our earthly relationships. And because we live in these fragile, emotional earthly bodies, we find ourselves wondering about and questioning God's love.
I'm not alone in that, am I?
Sometimes I wonder why God sticks with me, how He keeps on loving me and working on me when I mess up.
I know He does, but sometimes, I just need a reminder.
I love to take walks along the road that we live on. It is common for me to see deer, birds, and growing crops. Sometimes I'm surprised by what I find, and sometimes, God teaches me something from what I find.
This picture is one I took on a walk recently. You see, this is the ditch. The ditch had recently been mowed, and still, there are daisies poking up out of the stubble.
These daisies, beauty in the middle of nowhere, gave me a great reminder of how God views us. I want to remind you of that (while I remind myself too).
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First of all, if we are in Christ, we have the pure, white righteousness of Jesus. When we believed in His death and resurrection, God gave us His righteousness. So when God sees you and me, He sees a pure, beautiful child of His own. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (NIV).
I'm reminded of lyrics to a For King and Country song. It goes, "I see you dressed in white, every wrong made right. I see a rose in bloom at the sight of you" ("Priceless" is the song). That is what God sees. He sees white daisies amidst the rough.
Let me take this analogy a step further. That ditch had just been mowed, right? Grass needs to be cared for, to be tended, or it goes out of control.
Well, without God constantly shaping us, we get out of control. Without the refining work of His Holy Spirit, we would stay as He found us: lost in the rubble of our sins. For some of us, that might not be too bad. For others, we need some major clean up.
"But you have received the Holy Spirit, and He lives within you, so you don't need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what He teaches is true--it is not a lie" (1 John 2:27, NLT.
The Spirit of God teaches us and shapes us from the inside out. And He never quits. One of my favorite verses confirms this. "And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns" (Phil. 1:6, NLT).
We are God's masterpiece (Eph. 2:10) that He created, that He loves. Just the evidence of these daisies reminds me of that. He knew I would see those flowers on that night. He knew I would need a reminder as I contemplated a week's worth of mess ups.
How gracious He is to remind us of His love even though the evidence is all around us! Oh give me eyes to see!
So to summarize, because sometimes, you just need a quick reminder:
1. God sees you as righteous, not as messed up.
2. God keeps refining you; He never gives up on you.
3. And finally, God loves you and He will never stop. Take these verses as reminders:
"The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing" (Zeph. 3:17, NIV).
"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39, NIV).
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We're a little over half way for the year 2019. I can't believe it! I can't believe it's already July! Didn't summer just begin?
It seems like yesterday was my kids' last day of school. On the other hand, it seems like they've been around for-e-ver. Can you relate?
My word for 2019 is Faith, and God has really been teaching me a lot about faith while growing my faith.
That word, like so many other Christian words and phrases, can become cliche if we're not careful. For example, people just throw around the phrase #blessed without really taking the time to thank the one who blessed them in the first place.
People say, "Keep the faith," without really knowing why they're saying it. Bon Jovi even wrote a song called "Keep the Faith," where he kind of makes some good points, but then again, I think it was just a popular phrase that was made into a popular song.
The lead teacher at my Bible Study Fellowship group told a story to illustrate real faith.
Her husband really wanted to make a canoe out of a hollowed out tree. He worked and worked, shaping it, scraping it, and cleaning it out until just the bark of the tree remained. It was like the skin of the tree had been made into a canoe.
He was so proud of his work and wanted her to take a ride in it. She stood back to survey his handiwork. For one thing, she could see daylight through it. Not a good sign. Also, the man who had made the canoe, her husband, had very little experience in making sea worthy vessels.
In turn, she had no faith in the canoe. She ultimately decided to stay on dry ground. Needless to say, the canoe did not float.
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"7 Strategic Prayers for Your Child's future."
It's like faith. In order to have a strong faith, or as the Bible defines faith, "confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see," (Heb. 11:1, NIV) we must put it to the test, just like my BSF leader did.
First of all, do we have proof or confidence in what we believe? Let's see about that. We have the Bible, the written word of God, as our evidence. In the Old Testament, there are over 100 predictions about Jesus. (Payne's Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy). And guess what? Every single one of them actually happened, just as the OT predicted.
God keeps His word. He reached through history, coordinating prophecies written hundreds of years in advance, and kept every word He promised. For example, in Micah 5:2, it was written that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. This prophecy was written 700 years before Jesus was born. What attention to detail! What amazing planning and coordinating!
It's mind-blowing to think of all the details God lined up perfectly just to perfectly fulfill His words about Jesus.
In shorts friends, we can have perfect confidence in the words of our God. If He can keep such intricate promises over the span of hundreds of years, His words are trustworthy.
Our next test is to look at the person behind the promises. Can we have confidence in God? Most Christians have no problem admitting and believing that God is love, right? It's like the main slogan for the Christian team, right? (And it's a good one, I'm not trying to be sarcastic.) 1 John 4:16 says, "God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them."
That's wonderful! And there are so many verses about God's love, but a lot of them link God's love to another word. Can you guess it? It's faithful. Many Psalms describe God's love as faithful or never-failing.
God's love can only be never-failing because He is faithful. He will keep on loving us because He said so. He will love us unconditionally because He is faithful.
There is a verse I always come back to when I doubt God. I love it because it is so black and white. 2 Timothy 2:13: "If we are unfaithful, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny who He is" (NLT).
See why I love it? The faithfulness of God is part of His character, just like His love and His goodness. Even when we doubt, He never does. He is faithful because that is who He is. That's it. End of discussion.
With such compelling evidence for our faith in God, why is it something we struggle with?
For me, I think it is because for faith to work, it requires action. In our comfort zones, it's easy to have faith. Life just cruises along. It's like only driving 30 in town though. It's easy, but let's face it, it's not that exciting. And guess what else? Nothing grows in the comfort zone.
The same BSF leader always says, "Faith is a muscle. It must be exercised in order to grow." And isn't that so true? If we want our faith to grow stronger, we must give it a workout! We must put it to the test.
That's hard and uncomfortable, trust me, I know. But if we look at our God and His amazing track record, we can trust Him to help us grow our faith. We can have confidence in the unseen, because we can trust the one who sees it all.
Photo by Barrie Johnson on Unsplash
Have you heard your kids ever say these words?
"But you promised!"
Mine say it quite a bit. Lately, it's not that I actually promised something and then changed my mind. My kids have a way of twisting what I actually said would happen and turn it into what they really wanted to happen.
They confuse me and make me question my own memory and my own sanity, which honestly, I question too.
One important thing I've learned in motherhood is never to utter those words unless I am sure that the event will undoubtedly take place.
Can you relate?
Thankfully, we have a God that is really good at making promises.
We have a God that is really good at remembering the promises He makes.
And we have a God that is really good at keeping those promises.
I'm studying the book of Psalms this summer, so I am reading songs and prayers that King David wrote. I know I write a lot about David, but since God called him a man after His own heart, I think we can learn a lot from him.
David had been told he would be king of Israel when he was very young. But he had to wait many years for that promise to fruition. Not only that, even though he was God's anointed king, he feared for his life. He spent many years on the run, hiding from the current king Saul who wanted to kill him.
Still, he wrote these words. "I praise God for what He has promised; yes, I praise the Lord for what He has promised. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?" (Psalm 56:10-11, NLT).
David had such confidence in the Lord that he was already praising God for the promises that He would keep.
The fact is, if God promised it, it will happen. It's only a matter of time.
David had complete confidence in God and His ability to keep what He had promised. Remember earlier in David's life? David stood in front of a 9 foot giant with only a sling and some rocks. In the face of fear, David was confident that God would enable him to kill the giant Goliath. And God did.
We may not be faced with a literal giant, but we all face giant obstacles and trials. Right now, I am working to get a book published. That seems like a giant to me. But I am confident in the Lord. He will lead me and keep His promises to me.
"My heart is confident in you, O God; my heart is confident. No wonder I can sing your praises!" (Psalm 57:7)
What giant are you facing? A financial giant? Well God promised that He will provide for your needs. "So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs" (Matt. 6:32).
Maybe you don't know the next step with your job or with your children. God says, "If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you" (James 1:5).
The Bible is full of the promises of God for us. And more than that, the Bible is full of examples of how God kept His word many, many times.
What has God promised you? Be confident; it's only a matter of time before it actually happens.
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
Hi, I'm Kristen! Just a girl who loves all things Jesus, family, music and food!
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