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Through the valley

Psalm 23 – “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”

It has been a challenging last 4 days. I got a call Friday night that my grandpa had been in a really bad accident. So, the kids and I set out Sunday on a 12 hour tour up to visit him in the hospital. Now, we are on our 12 hour leg back home. I am so grateful that God prepared my path and provided a way for me to go and visit him. He prepared my car. He prepared my son to help drive some. He took care of it all.

But for the second time in his 87 years, my grandpa is walking through the valley. And it is hard to watch him go through it, again. I feel so helpless and confused when I walk into his room and see all the machines and hear all the noises. Suddenly, all the training and knowledge that I have received about medical conditions and prognosis and treatment become a distant memory that I have to work really hard to retrieve. 

It is a challenge to be positive. The devil is right there on my shoulder whispering in my ear all the negative thoughts he can muster up. He wants me to think about the very worst. He wants me to dwell on all the things I see wrong. He fights me when I try and remember that God is in control.

Yet, I know Jesus is in control of it all. 

Let me tell you about the day before I got the call – my tire pressure light came on. For land’s sake, I just got new tires within the last 3 months! So, my husband and I decided to go get it checked out and get the oil changed while we were at it. It was that time. This was Friday afternoon. I got the call Friday night. God knew on Thursday that grandpa would get hurt Friday afternoon and that I would get the call Friday night. He knew that I would want to go visit him and he knew that my husband needed the knowledge that the car was safe to carry his precious cargo 800 miles away without him. 

God knew. God prepared the way. 

So as my family and I walk through the valley, we covet your prayers. Pray for my grandma. She needs it. Pray for my aunt and my mom. They need it. 

But the great thing is that no matter what God chooses to do in this situation, the table before us will be prepared by Him. He will provide everything we need. He will be our rod. He will be our strength. He will anoint our thoughts with His grace and mercy. He will make our cup run over with His blessings. Of this, I have no doubt.

St. Augustine “grass”

Galatians 6:1 – “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”

Have I ever told you how much I detest St. Augustine grass? For me, it is no more than a glorified weed. We have it in our yard and I do believe it is on a mission to overtake the world. 

You see, this “grass” has tentacles that reach out and invade everything. It has sprung up in our bushes. It has overtaken our rose bushes. I believe it would attempt to destroy the house if given the chance. It is invasive and terrifying if you think on it long enough. When you go to pull out one “weed” you see in your bushes, that “weed” keeps going until you feel as though you are pulling out half the yard! It is maddening.

As I was facing this battle the other day, God reminded me of sin. Sin is a lot like this “grass” that I have in my yard. It may look nice and people may want you to take care of it, but in truth, you need to get it as far from you as possible. Sin invades. Sin takes over. Sin reaches out and deceives you into thinking it is just one tiny thing when in reality, it has taken over all parts of your life, if you let it. Sin is invasive and terrifying if you think on it long enough. 

However, we aren’t to be judges of people we see overtaken with sin. No, we are supposed to go alongside of them and show them a better way. We need to realize that we are none too high and mighty to escape the clutches of sin. It is only by the grace of God that we ourself have not been overtaken. Sometimes it is difficult to go up to that person you see ravaged by sin. We want to stay away lest we would be accused of such wrongdoings.

But Jesus wasn’t like that. He went to the overtaken. He reached out to them. He showed them a better way. And aren’t we supposed to be more and more like Him? Aren’t we supposed to be that light in a dark world? Aren’t we supposed to plant the seed and make disciples? We can’t do that if we are sitting back judging others.

So let me encourage you today to be that living testimony that people need to see. Don’t steer away from those who need Him the most. And don’t let the tentacles of sin overtake you. Be on your guard and listen to the Holy Spirit convicting your heart of unrighteousness. And for Heaven’s sake, pull some weeds! Happy Friday!

Bearing burdens

Lamentations 3:27-33 – “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him. He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope. He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him: he is filled full with reproach. For the Lord will not cast off for ever: But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.”

This was my son’s Scripture choice for the devotion he did for us last night. Deep content for a 15 year old boy, but he nailed it. 

When it comes to bearing burdens, we all are challenged by it. Sometimes we want to take the burden from our friend or loved one and carry it for them. Sometimes we want to give our burden away because we just don’t want to deal with it anymore. 

But neither one of those options is the way God wants us to handle things. He wants us to carry our own burden while allowing Him to lighten the load. Sometimes He does this by sending someone into our life to walk alongside us and help ease the load. Sometimes He wants us to give the burden completely to Him and let Him deal with it. 

Nowhere does it say to let another human take care of our burden. The Bible does tell us to “bear one another’s burdens” but that means by prayer and assistance. Not taking it on completely as our own. We have a tendency to want to take over when it comes to something like that. We want to own it and make it better. I think that’s the pride in our life wanting to do that. 

Yet, when we bear our own burden, it can sometimes get tough. We may feel overwhelmed and overtaken. We may feel buried under the weight of responsibility. Yet, God knows exactly where we are at in the situation. He knows what we need and when we need it. And waiting for Him can be hard. When it gets hard, I think that is when we go running and whining to someone else to take the difficulty away. What we need to do is buckle down and carry on. 

During my son’s devotion, he said that it was good for kids to learn to bear their own burdens while they are young and have parents there to help. He said that they needed to learn to take responsibility even when it is hard. And part of that responsibility is knowing when to turn it over and knowing when to ask for help. 

He’s a pretty wise young man. I can’t wait to see what God is going to do with him because I know it will be incredible.

Be prepared 

1 Peter 3:15,16 – “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.”

Well, the packing is almost done. I have been thinking about as many scenarios as possible to prepare for. I have bandaids, moleskin for blisters, a first aid kit, sunscreen, muscle rub, medication for pain and headaches, aloe. I have extra clothes. I have water bottles to fill. My goodness, I can’t believe all the stuff I have packed!

I like to be prepared. I don’t like to be caught off guard. I have even written off the address and lock box info for the house we are staying at just in case I don’t have cell phone service. I try to be prepared. 

But how well do I prepare myself for spiritual journeys? 

Each and every day is a new challenge, a new focus, a new opportunity to share Christ with someone. But am I ready?

Getting into the Word is a great start. Reading and studying and thinking about God’s precepts and principles is a necessary step in growing and preparing. 

Prayer is also a necessity. How can we expect to be ready for any spiritual battle or situation if we don’t communicate with The Commander and Chief? 

There is also one more thing that helps get me ready for spiritual journeys – my brothers and sisters in Christ, aka – my church family. I need them. I need their love. I need their support. I need their encouragement. But you can’t have that church family if you don’t make the sacrifice to be a part of it. 

Be prepared. Be prepared for life. Be prepared for spiritual issues and battles. Be prepared to be in His Word. Be prepared to spend time with your Savior. Be prepared to find love in your church family. Happy Monday. 

Order

James 4:7 – “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

Let me first just say that I’m sorry. I haven’t been faithful to my blog in a really long time. God is the God of second chances and I’m claiming that one!

Now then, about this verse –

This verse was mentioned in our BTC lesson last night at church. (Side note – Man! Was the sermon given last night ever a blessing! We left church at 9 last night!  Not one time did I even want to look at my watch! God had me captivated! The message was thought provoking and heart wrenching. God is so good!)   I wanted to take a closer to look at it today. Think for a moment about the order of this verse. 

First, “Submit yourselves therefore to God.” The part about the devil comes second. You see, we think we need to flee from the devil to draw closer to God. We get it backwards. We are supposed to FIRST submit ourself to God. That means, we need to give Him control. We need to be willing to follow after Him and do what He says to do, without complaining. Submitting, to me, means giving over control in regards to decision making. I can get things done. There are days I feel like I get more done before I leave the house than most people do in an entire day. But I don’t like making decisions. I will defer that duty as much as possible. I think part of it is the responsibility aspect of it. Like most people, I want as little responsibility as possible. God is wanting me to turn that over to Him. The key is, however, that I have to be willing to follow when He leads. 

And then there is the second part of this verse – “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”  Does this mean that I have some sort of power over the devil? Only when I do the first part first. When I am submitted to God, the devil doesn’t seem so difficult to walk away from. His temptation and taunting doesn’t seem quite so overwhelming when I’m walking with and submitting to God. 

So I want to encourage you today to make the choice to submit to God first. Do it now. Ask Him to be in your day. Allow Him to show you in His word how to draw closer to Him. Listen to Him when you pray and hear Him as you go through your day. And then, when the devil rears his ugly head, it won’t seem so tough to turn away. With God, things are purer, brighter and more desirable, even when it seems tough. Happy Monday. 

A matter of trust

Psalm 34:7-9 – “The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.”

My son is learning to drive and I’m learning to teach him. When we first started, I wanted him to understand that this was as new to me as it was to him. I wanted him to understand that this was a learning curve for the both of us. He is doing really very well. I actually felt comfortable enough last night to unclasp my hands and take a drink of my hot tea. That, my friend, is progress!

You know, this whole thing is teaching me trust. I’m learning to trust my son to get us safely from point A to point B. 

As we go through life, we have many opportunities to learn to trust God. He allows situations and circumstances that require us to trust Him more and more. He wants to encamp around us and provide us with a level of comfort that cannot be surpassed. He wants to deliver us from those same situations and circumstances that bring us closer to Him. 

But we have to “taste” Him. We have to try Him. We have to prove Him. Not because He needs it, but because we need it. We need to know deep down in the very center of our soul that it is in Him alone that we need to trust. We need to know that He is faithful every single time. And the only way to have that confidence is by learning to trust Him. 

So pray for me as I learn to trust my son behind the wheel of my car. And pray for yourself that you will learn to trust Him more today than you did yesterday. 

Another temptation 

James 1:2-4 – “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

Usually when I think of temptation, I think of doing something I know I shouldn’t – like eating that donut as big as your head or watching a show that you know you wouldn’t watch if Jesus was physically sitting on the couch next to you.  But let me ask this question- what if self pity is a temptation? I mean, think about it, haven’t you ever just felt the tug to feel sorry for yourself about something? “Poor little me, I have so much to do and I am so under appreciated.” 

I know I feel that way from time to time. In fact, I was there last night. I had thought my week was set. I had a large function behind me, laundry was on its way to the finish line, lunch was ready for the next day – I was set. Then, I get an email about an unexpected practice this week. Boom! Monkey wrench! Suddenly, I’m rearranging and contemplating and becoming more and more anxious because this monkey wrench felt like the Empire State Building had been dropped into the middle of my week. Now, I’m over exaggerating, but that’s what it felt like. 

I could almost see the devil in the corner rubbing his greedy little hands together saying, “Ooh weee, we got her now!” And for a time he did. So sad. I stewed. I cleaned (that’s what I do when I get frustrated). I felt sorry for myself. I was tired of doing and being everything for everyone. 

And then it happened, God started whispering to my heart. He started reminding me that He had provided my husband to help me figure things out. He had provided friends to be there when one of the kids needed a ride. He had provided Grandpa to help on Tuesday nights. He had provided. 

God was trying to grow my faith and my patience. Patience for not only my situation but also for myself. I am constantly learning that I need to chill out and let God do His thing. He must get so tired of teaching me that lesson but praise His name, He never quits.