God is Faithful, Always

“O Lord God of hosts, Who is mighty like You, O Lord?   Your faithfulness also surrounds You.”     Psalm 89:8

 

            To say I feel a little overwhelmed would be a major understatement. But not necessarily for the reasons you may think, considering the events of the past week.

First, I’m overwhelmed at the Greatness and Goodness of our God. In the words of King David, who am I Lord that you would be so gracious to me? God took what could have been a tragic event and showed us His love and His protection over Larry’s life. When he fell and shattered the T9 vertebra, it shattered on three sides but the fourth side stayed intact, protecting his spine.

Second thing, the peace. Throughout Larry’s hospital stay, during the surgery and recovery, we both had a sense of peace and we know it was from all the prayers being offered on our behalf. Overwhelming peace.

And third thing, the love.  Not only the love of God covering us, the love of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Phone calls, text messages, hospital visits and gifts, each one reminds us that it is the overwhelming love of Christ through believers that bind us together so we never walk through difficult times alone.

Larry and I still face some uncertainties, decisions that we’ll have to make that will affect our future. When the doctor tells a contractor that he can no longer climb ladders or lift heavy objects, that’s not what he wants to hear. But we know our God is faithful and He has our future in His hands. As our pastor said this morning, it’s not about how big our faith is, but it is about how big our God is.

“I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread.” Psalm 37:25

 

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Dee

 

Disappointment 101

“My soul is deeply grieved, even to the point of death. Remain here and stay alert.” Mark 14:34

How do you handle disappointments? People don’t always behave the way we expect or need them to behave. Even our closest friends or family members let us down. Things happen that we have no control over cause us pain and disappointment. What are we supposed to do with those feelings? Who can we turn to in those times?

Jesus suffered disappointment in the Garden of Gethsemane. He took Peter, James and John, the inner circle of the twelve men He’d called to follow Him, His closest friends, into the Garden to watch and pray with Him. One of the twelve had already deserted Him and was going to betray Him.

“Then they went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ He took Peter, James, and John with him, and became very troubled and distressed. He said to them, ‘My soul is deeply grieved, even to the point of death. Remain here and stay alert.’” Mark 14:32-35

“Remain here and stay alert” Jesus asked them, but when He returned they had fallen asleep, not once, but three times. When He needed them the most, they were sleeping. (See Mark 14:32-42)

David wrote in Psalm 31:7 “I will be happy and rejoice in Your faithfulness because You are aware of how distressed I am.”

God notices our pain, emotional as well as physical. He is aware of our disappointments. But He does more than just notice and be aware. David goes on to say, “But I trust in you, O Lord! I declare, ‘You are my God!’ You determine my destiny!” (31:14, 15a)

Keep trusting God. He knows what happens in your life, and He has a plan for you. Other people do not have final say in your life – God does!

Verse 19 says, “How great is your favor, which you store up for your loyal followers! In plain sight of everyone you bestow it on those who take shelter in you.”

When your friend lets you down, when your spouse disappoints you, when you get passed over at work, pull into Jesus. He knows your hurts and He understands them as no one else can.

“Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help.” Hebrews 4:14-16

Jesus suffered disappointment without letting it cause Him to sin. He forgave and continued to love those who had let Him down. He held to the plan that after His resurrection, those eleven men would be the leaders and take the gospel to the world. Forgive without being asked, keep loving those who hurt you and hold fast to Jesus.

David closes Psalm 31 saying, “Be strong and confident, all you who wait on the Lord!”
Be strong. Be confident. Wait on the Lord.

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

References: New English Translation (NET)
Mark 14:32-42
Psalm 31
Hebrews 4:14-16

Learning to Read the Bible

“Your Word have I hid in my heart that I may not sin against You.”  (Psalm 119:11)

     Last Saturday I decided I had to clean my kitchen. I mean really clean it. Not the daily wash the dishes, wipe off the counter type cleaning but a through floor to ceiling cleaning. I felt a little overwhelmed – like where to start? I think that’s how many people feel about reading their Bible. They want to do it, know they need to do it, but where do they start?

     When I first began to desire to know God more and to know His Word, I thought well, I’ll start at the beginning. I’d never read much of the Bible except for excerpts I’d read in church and Sunday School. I’d certainly never read it through.  So the next morning after I’d taken my son to kindergarten, I sat down with my King James Bible and started reading. Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning God . . . .” Yep, this was where I needed to start. I decided I could read a couple of chapters every day and then I’d know the Bible. It started off interesting enough, but I didn’t really get any goosebumps or spiritual high from it. But I felt good because I felt like I was doing what I needed to be doing.

      That was wonderful until I got to chapters 10 and 11. I started reading the genealogies, who begat whom,  who was the father of whom and fell asleep trying to get through it. Had not a clue who most of those people were or why it was important all their names be listed.  But I continued. Not really understanding what I was reading, and finding my self frequently skipping ahead, trying to find some point for all this. Thankfully before I just gave up and quit, a dear friend helped me out. What she suggested to me is what I suggest to you now.

     First find a modern translation like the New International or the New Living Bible. The Message is great for anyone who is new to reading the Bible. Before you start reading, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to be your Teacher and to help you receive something from God from His written word.  Jesus said the Holy Spirit would be our teacher and He would teach us all things. (See John 14:26). Start with the Gospel of John and there you will met Jesus, the Son of Man. If  you want to also read something from the Old Testament, start with the Psalms or Proverbs. There you will find comfort and practical thoughts for living. Then read one of the other gospels, Matthew, Mark or Luke.  The book of Ephesians is good to help learn about who we are in Christ.

     Don’t feel like you have to read any set amount. It’s better to spend time reading and meditating on one verse and learn something for your life than to read long passages and not really absorb anything.  When you find  something that starts to speak to you, stop and read it again, several times even. God reveals Himself to us in small steps and He knows what we need to receive and learn from Him.  And He knows our heart. If we desire to know more of Him and His Word, God’s desire is even greater for our fellowship with Him through His Word.

      It’s been over 30 years since I first started on my journey studying God’s Word.  Little did I know then the wonderful treasures God had in store for me or the life-long love relationship I was beginning with Jesus and His written word. Even today, every time I read  a passage and take the time to meditate over it, I learn something new. His Word is as fresh as the most recent on-line news feed. It’s as relevant today as it was the day it was written. There is so much, we will never know it all in this life. 

“How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word and following its rules. 
I have tried my best to find you– don’t let me wander from your commands. 
I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. 
Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your principles. 
I have recited aloud all the laws you have given us. 
I have rejoiced in your decrees as much as in riches. 
I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways. 
I will delight in your principles and not forget your word. “

(Psalm 119: 9-16)

Peace and blessing in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

DEBRIDEMENT OF THE SOUL

Have you ever been in a bad place emotionally or spiritually and thought it would be that way the rest of your life? The days so dark you believed you’d never feel right again? I have. I’ve been in that place. I understand exactly what the Psalmist was talking about in the 102nd Psalm:

“By reason of my loud groaning [from suffering and trouble] my flesh cleaves to my bones.

I am like a melancholy pelican or vulture of the wilderness; I am like a [desolate] owl of the waste places.

I am sleepless and lie awake [mourning], like a bereaved sparrow alone on the housetop.”

(Psalm 102:5-7, The Amplified Bible)

When my mother died in June 2000, it was unexpected. Even though her health had not been good, none of us, except perhaps my dad, had a hint it was as bad as it was. As Christians, we all rejoiced that she was no longer in pain and that she was with her Lord, but that did not mean our pain or our lost was not real.

Over time, my grief turned to anger and I turned inward. Outwardly, I said and did all the things expected of me. I told my children not to be angry at God because Mamma was gone, but inside I was questioning God. How could He let this happen without preparing me?

I became angry because I didn’t feel my husband was as supportive as he should have been, but I was too inward to tell him what I needed. Issues arose in our marriage and we became more and more distant. When we did reconcile, it was still not as it should have been because I began substituting my relationship with my husband for the relationship I’d once had with God. I expected more of my husband than God ever intended.

Except for a couple of friends, most of the people at my church were clueless about what I was going through. Even those who knew I’d lost my mother had no idea that I was struggling. I kept my feeling inside, not letting anyone close enough to see my pain. We stopped going to church for a while because I felt the church had let me down.

I stopped reading my Bible or praying. I questioned God’s love for me or if I had really ever heard from Him. But even when I was deep in unbelief, there was still a small spark of hope. God’s call to us is “without repentance” – He promised to never leave or forsake us, even when we turn our backs to Him.

Sometimes God uses things from unexpected sources to reach us. The Creator of the universe creates a way to reach us even at our lowest. For me, it was a song. Not a “Christian” song, but God used it to scratch the scab on my heart.  The same year my mother died, Kathie Lee Gifford put out a CD “Born For You”. I’d listened to it many times, but one night while I was up late writing, one special song touched that small spark in me and something began to break.

“I’d like to lose all time again

And look for trees to climb again

Recite a little rhyme again

And dream a reckless dream.

For someone I’ve exiled in me

Awoke today and smiled in me.

I need to find the child in me again.”

(Child in Me Again, written by Annie Dinerman)

Yes, I needed to find the child in me again – the child who’d trusted God with her whole heart without question or reservation. The child who could laugh at life and who loved without reservation or expectation.  I sat face to face with who I’d become and desperately wanted to go back to the child I had been before. The last line of the chorus goes, “Oh I need to recapture the truths I’ve unlearned.” I needed to recapture The Truth I’d turned from.

I still was a long way from being spiritually or emotionally healed, or even wanting to do what I needed to do to get there. But it was beginning. Some of the hardness had been removed.

A few days later I “just happened” to read a verse of scripture from the Message Bible in a magazine.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matt.11:28-30, The Message Bible)

It was as though Jesus was speaking directly to me, inviting me to just walk with Him. “Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” I don’t have to try to please anyone. I don’t have to be a certain way. Religion had burned me out and let me down. He was offering me what I’d needed all along – a relationship with Him alone.

There is a medical procedure called Debridement which is the medical removal of infected tissue to improve healing of healthy tissue. It can be painful, but sometimes is necessary for the antibiotic treatment to work. Once the infected or dead tissue is removed the healing medicine can be applied.

Sometimes we need something to remove the dead part of our souls before the healing balm of God’s Word can heal what remains. It can be a painful process, but if we allow it, the Holy Spirit will do a work in us that will start the healing process that comes with the application of the Word.

He sends forth His word and heals them and rescues them from the pit and destruction.” (Psalm 107:20, The Amplified Bible)

Whatever is the cause or source of your pain, whatever the pit is you’ve fallen in, or whatever the sorrow is you’re carrying, you are not alone. Allow the Spirit of God to move in your life and He will heal you. The process may not be easy, it probably won’t be exactly what you expect, but true healing is yours through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Peace and blessings,
Dee

March 26, 2009

I’ve been cleaning house and clearing out some clutter. I cleaned out the pantry and threw out some stuff that was stale or expired and probably not that good for us when it was fresh. All this cleaning makes me wonder how many of us are walking around with emotional garbage, that’s expired and bad for us. But like the ignored pudding mixes and stale crackers in my pantry, we’ve hung on to it.

Many times we hang on to emotional hurts because of fear to let them out; we feel shame about them so instead of seeking help, we hide it and hang on to the hurt. It’s even sadder when those hurts were caused by someone else and we had no control over it. Like sexual assault.

How many women have been either molested or raped and are like I was for many years, walking around, wounded and fearful. Afraid of being hurt again, afraid of someone finding out.  I was very sure that if I told anyone about what happened, they would say it was my fault. After all I was with someone my parents trusted and was a friend. I only told my husband after we’d been married many years and I felt safe enough to tell him. He was angry, but not at me. Then it happened to someone close to me. She did not have to tell me what had happened; I recognized the signs in her eyes. I knew her pain and tried to talk to her about it, but she was afraid to tell me. Afraid I would judge her. It took her a long time to finally admit to me what had happened. It was not her fault, but she took the blame and the shame.

As women we do ourselves and other women a great disservice by continuing to carry the shame for something that’s not our fault. Let the men who did it feel the shame. Once we come out into the open and talk about what happened, we take back our power. If we are open about what happened to us, we will begin to heal. Once we’re healed, we will be in a position to help our sisters.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey there were 248,300 sexual assaults in 2007.  That means that every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted. Sexual assault is the most under reported crime against individuals. One study shows that only 16% of all assaults are reported to the police. Another university study reported that 1 in 5 college women said they’d been forced to have sexual intercourse.  It happens to someone every 2 minutes.

Bad things happen to us in this life, but God offers healing and help if we only cry out to Him.

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to [those who are] bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”
(Isa 61:1-3, NJKV)

He wants to heal your broken heart. He wants to free you from the prison of shame. He wants to comfort you from mourning. He will give you beauty in living a joyful life for the ashes of despair. He will take that spirit of heaviness and give you a garment of praise. It will be a beautiful thing and God  will be glorified in you.

Peace and blessings.

Dee

DO YOU GET IT?

Have you ever tried to share something you were excited about with a close friend or family member only to be disappointed or even hurt by their response? We all have at one time or another. There could be a number of reasons they reacted the way they did, mostly nothing to do with you. But however innocent they may be, it still hurts.


I experienced this recently with my husband. He didn’t intend to be insensitive, but it still stung. Until I thought about it and realized “He just didn’t get it.” He was clueless that what I was telling him was as important to me as it was.


How do we handle these situations? Walk around with our hurt feelings hanging out, pouting like a child? Of course not. Pretend it didn’t happen? Not a good option either. Let the tears fall if need be, but be quick to forgive. Then you can let it go and your joy in the Lord and enthusiasm will stay with you.


In the Old Testament, when the Ark of the Covenant was brought up to the City of David, the Bible says David danced before the Lord because he was so overcome with joy. (Read 2 Samuel 6) In his enthusiasm he worshiped the Lord in total abandon, dancing and leaping. There were trumpets and music, singing and shouts of praise. But Michal, David’s wife, the daughter of King Saul, looked out her window at the spectacle and the Bible says “she despised him in her heart.” She just didn’t get it.


The last evening before Jesus was to be put on trial and crucified, after the last Passover meal with his disciples, He went to the Mount of Olives to pray as He frequently did. The disciples went with Him and He asked them to pray with Him, but as He was praying in agony, they fell asleep. He woke them, saying “Pray that you may not fall into temptation.” Again He withdrew a short distance from them, praying in deep agony until His sweat became like drops of blood. And again He turned to His disciples only to find them all asleep. They just didn’t get it. Only a few hours before Peter had sworn he’d never leave or betray his Teacher and then a few hours later he swore he’d never known the Man. Peter just didn’t get it.


The story doesn’t end there for Peter. After Jesus was resurrected, He asked him, “Peter, do you love me?” and Peter replied “Lord, You know I love you,” then  Jesus told him, “Feed My sheep.” Three times this happened, exactly the number of time Peter had denied Jesus.  At last, Peter got it.


What is God telling us today that we’re not getting? Is there something exciting He’s trying to show us and we’re too absorbed in our own thing to get? Is there someone He’s put in our life to minister to that we’re too busy to notice?


As we move into 2009, let us be open to people and things around us that may need our encouragement, a kind word or a helping hand. And let us always be listening for God’s voice as He speaks to our hearts.


Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me, though they had seen what I did”
. Psalms 95:6-9 (New International Version)


Peace and blessing,
Dee

Let Us Sing to the Lord

January 2. The holidays are over. Some of us have today off work for an extended holiday week-end, but on the whole life goes back to normal. We go back to work and we happily go back to our normal routine.

If you are one of the thousands who suffer from post-holiday blues then the normal routine may not be so happy at the moment. Part of the feeling may come from unrealistic expectations that were not realized. Or perhaps someone was missing from your Christmas celebration that had been a part of you in the past; I still miss my parents on holidays and Mother’s been with the Lord for 7 years now. Or it could be after such a busy and happy period that now we feel a let-down. It’s time to take down the beautiful Christmas decorations we worked so hard on and the house looks a little glum. Whatever the cause, the feelings are there and need to be dealt with.

I did a little research on the subject and found a few suggestions that seem to be universal. Some of them are not only sound psychologically, but have a spiritual foundation as well.

The most frequent suggestions I found all involved getting out of the house and doing something. Bundle up and take a walk. Go visit a friend you haven’t seen in a while or if that’s not possible send them a letter or email and tell them how much they’ve meant in your life. Plant a tree or volunteer at a shelter. Be active and get your mind off yourself.

Let each of you esteem and look upon and be concerned for not [merely] his own interests, but also each for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4 (Amp. Version)

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” I Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

When you’re active, you mind is on what you are doing. And when you’re involved in someone else, you can’t feel sorry for yourself.

Some other suggestions focused on looking forward. Update your resume and job search. Plan a vacation for next summer.  Come up with one big thing you want to do in the next year.

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

God tells us to look forward, not to always be looking back. Paul said “forgetting the past, I press forward” (my paraphrase).

And of course, count your blessings. Everyone has something to be thankful for but too often we just overlook the good in our life because we’re so focused on the negative. Sometimes the hardest thing to do when we’re depressed is to rejoice and give thanks, but as believers in Jesus Christ, we are commanded to give thanks even in the hard times.

‘Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will].” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (Amp. Version

Then Psalms 95 tells us:

O come, let us sing for joy to the LORD, Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation

Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.

For the LORD is a great God And a great King above all gods,

In whose hand are the depths of the earth, The peaks of the mountains are His also

The sea is His, for it was He who made it, And His hands formed the dry land.

Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.” Psalm 95:1-6 (NASB)

When we trust God in Whom there is no shadow of turning, we can face the New Year and overcome all our feelings of despair. He knows our days and He controls our future. Thanks be unto God.

Peace and blessing to one and all.

Dee