Category Archives: struggles

He Knows Every Tear

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S – “You have kept count of my tossing; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” Psalm 56:8

O – David wrote this when he had been captured by the Philistines and had to pretend to be insane to save his life. (1 Samuel 21:10-15) He was constantly on the run during this period. His life was always in danger. Saul was a madman and determined to kill David. David was called a man after God’s own heart. (Acts 13:22) This verse shows his deep feeling and how close he was to his Father. He knew God was aware of all his wanderings and even knew about each tear he shed.

A – God knows every step I take, every thought I think, every tear in my heart. He knows every weakness, every sin, even when I am clueless, He knows all about me. And He loves me with an everlasting love! It’s easy for me to appear to others as better than I am. It’s easy for me to make excuses for myself. But God sees me exactly as I am and loves me. He loved me enough for Jesus to die for me and give me everlasting life. He knew when He created me how often I would fail, how weak I would be and He still died for me. He still loves me. He still knows every tear I shed.

P – Father, thank you for loving me with a perfect love. Thank you for sending Jesus to die for me even though I did not deserve it. Thank you that you love me so much you are aware of every tear I cry. Help me to walk in awareness of your love. Help me to walk in step with your Spirit. Help me to live like I’m loved because I am loved completely.

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What’s Required of Me?

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“Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required.”

Luke 12:48b (ESV)

I’ve often heard that whisper from God.

While worshipping and praising God at a concert recently, my heart was focused on Him. Once again that whisper came, “To whom much is given, much is required.”

“What’s required Lord?” I asked. “What does this mean?”

He spoke to my heart, “What have you been given?”

Lord, You’ve given me grace beyond measure, forgiveness for my sins, knowledge of your truth, and your everlasting love. You’ve given me physical well-being, health and always meet my daily needs. You’ve given me opportunities to learn and grow, people who love me, and freedom to worship you. I’ve received love, joy, peace, forgiveness, grace, and truth and I’ve learned to trust you.

If you’ve been given grace, give equal grace to others.

If you’ve received forgiveness, forgive others more.

If you’ve been encouraged, be quick to encourage.

If your physical needs are met, meet the needs of those around you.

If you know the truth, share the truth.

If you are loved, then love freely.

If you are strong, help those who are weak.

I believe what’s required of me is to let all these blessings flow through me to others. To those around me who need grace, forgiveness, encouragement, a meal or daily needs.

This isn’t something I can do on Sunday morning or Tuesday evening and then I’ve met my requirement. This is a way of living.

This is an attitude, an outlook, a way of being.

It’s a change of focus.

A change from focusing on me to focusing on the Lord Jesus Christ. It is abiding in His love.

I wish I could say I’m living this way everyday. I hesitate to even write this because I’m so far from living this every day. I want to live focusing on Jesus and serving Him but I can’t do it in my strength. Awareness is the beginning. Change comes one day at a time. One step at a time. It requires abiding in Jesus. Living continually in His presence. I feel like I fail at this kind of loving. I know God loves me unconditionally and always will. I want to finish this life strong. I don’t want to have regrets. Please pray for me that I, who have been given so much, will respond in kind.

Help me take the next step Lord.

“We must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35b (ESV)

“Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!” Psalm 105:4 (ESV)

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” John 15:4

“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” 1 John 4:16 (ESV)

 Originally published at Internet Cafe Devotions

 

 

 

 

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Is there any hope?

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Life is hard.

Marriages broken.

Marriages full of pain.

Children in rebellion.

Children hurting themselves.

Senseless murders.

Fear in the streets.

Jobs lost.

Finances in ruin.

Loved ones lost to death.

Parents aging.

We are aging.

Chronic illness.

Chronic pain.

Terminal disease.

Dreams die.

Addictions abound.

Perversity reigns.

War threatens.

Is there no end?

Where is the safety?

Where is the “happily ever after”?

Will it ever come?

Not on this earth.

Here we groan in labor.

Here we are under the curse of sin.

Only in heaven will we know the happy ever after we long for.

God will make all things right.

In heaven, there will be no more pain for all eternity.

Jesus came to show us the way to that paradise.

We must believe in Him.

There is no other way.

We cannot make our own way to heaven.

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6 (NIV)

Jesus offers…

Grace for today.

Eternal security.

Treasure in heaven.

Forgiveness for sin.

Hope for tomorrow.

Comfort in sorrow.

Peace in pain.

Strength in weakness.

Perfect love.

Thanksgiving for worry.

Faith for fear.

Mansions above.

Victory below.

His presence always.

How?   

We believe in Him. 

Jesus is our hope.

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Excerpt from Amazing Hope: A 40-day Devotional by Susan Aken

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Singing in the Storm

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S – “I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me…My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody!” Psalm 57:2,7 (ESV)

O – David wrote these words while hiding in a cave as King Saul with 3,000 men looked for him to kill him. A powerful king hated him and wanted him to die. In this Psalm he trusts himself to God. He knew His Father would fulfill His purpose for him. In spite of the danger, the fear, and seemingly overwhelming odds, his heart was steadfast and immovable in trusting God. He was singing and making melody to God even as he ran for his life.

A – Can I have such faith that trusts God no matter what is happening? Is my heart steadfast, immovable in trusting God?

Shouts and name-calling zing from our government leaders like bullets. Earthquakes shake our world. Hunger threatens. Gloom fills the news. Friends report cancer. Young people turn from faith. Life moves at lightening speed. I can surrender to fear and live in anxiety or I can make the choices David made:

My soul takes refuge in the shadow of your wings. (v.1)

I cry out to God Most High. (v.2)

My heart is steadfast. (v.7)

I will sing and make melody! (v.7)

I will awake the dawn! (With music-v.8))

I will give thanks to you, O Lord. (v.9)

I will sing praises to you. (v.9)

All choices David made. Choices I can make.

We can choose during times of destruction and turmoil to take refuge in God until the storm passes. We can trust Him or we can surrender to fear.

P – Father, I will praise your holy name. I will give thanks to you. You and you alone keep me safe and guide my path. I will sing praises to you. You are my hiding place. My Rock. My Fortress. Praise your holy name!

Click on SOAP for more information on this Bible Study method.

 

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When My Ugly is Showing

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My selfish attitude slapped me in the face.

I was in a situation where I realized my attitude was ugly, stingy and self-focused. And this was concerning my eighty-six year old mother! Wow, way to go self.

As I thought back over the choices I’d made throughout the day I realized how self-focused I’d been. I felt helpless in the face of my own weak nature. My inability to be a good person. I’m not a good person by nature. When I operate in my own strength, I always default to selfishness.

It’s only as I yield to Jesus and trust Him by faith to work through me that I can live and love as He wants me to. Words aren’t enough to express what His grace means. Amazing, astounding, glorious. How can words express thanks for such a gift?

I had missed my prayer and Bible reading for 5 or 6 days before this instance and had been operating in my own strength. I was “doing” the right things but harboring a selfish attitude.

Then I remembered: run to Jesus!

He was right there loving me. He died so that I could come to Him aware of my own failure and sin. I cried out to Him and confessed my sin. I confessed my weakness and remembered how He loves me. How He has always been there to love and forgive, Running to Jesus is always the answer.

When sin grips my heart, I run to Jesus.

When problems rise like mountains, I run to Jesus.

When that voice in my head says I’m a failure, I run to Jesus.

When I realize I’m weak, incapable of loving my neighbor as myself, I run to Jesus.

When regret threatens to crush me, I run to Jesus.

When I do it right, I run to Jesus.

The LIE is that I’m not worthy and I should just give up.

The TRUTH is Jesus says, “My power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 So when I am weak, He is strong.

My flesh rebels at the idea that I have to have connection to Him everyday. That I need time in prayer and scripture every day. That I have no strength apart from Him. But it’s true, I don’t. When I am walking with Jesus and He’s working through me, loving through me, I can make the mistake of thinking “I” am good. “I” am doing something. I can’t take credit for anything. I breath because He lives. If I’m able to love sacrificially, it’s because He first loved me.

It’s all grace.

Praise His holy name!

Thank you Jesus that you can take all my weakness, all my mess, all my brokenness and use it to your glory. Thank you that nothing is wasted. Thank you that every good thing in my life is a gift from you. I thank you that you use even the hard things to draw my heart to you. I love you Lord!

Originally published at Internet Cafe Devotions

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Losing Sleep Over the Election?

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“In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8

There’s so much distress about the elections right now. People on both sides are frantic. Many feel there’s no candidate they can trust. Many of us are losing or will lose sleep over this. We’re afraid someone will be elected who will:

Ruin our nation

Start a war

Increase our taxes

Change our way of life

Increase wickedness

Make us a laughingstock of the world

Hurt people

Lie and deceive

Or cause our nation to fall.

What does God say?

HE ALONE makes us dwell in safety.

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There’s no leader or human being who is my safety or protection. God alone is my safety. No human leader guarantees our safety or way of life. He alone gives me peace so I can sleep. Yes, trouble could come from this election. Things are certain to change. We could lose the way of life we are used to. BUT God uses all these things to bring us closer to Him. Can anyone truly harm me? My soul is secure with my Lord. The worst someone can do is to send me to my perfect eternal home sooner. And if I have to suffer in this life, it will draw me closer to Jesus. He is all I need.

Does that mean I stick my head in the sand and wait for it all to go away? No. I am still responsible to pray, be informed and vote to the best of my knowledge as He leads me. Then I leave the results to God and praise Him no matter what. He will still be God no matter the outcome.

Thank you Father that I do not have to fret or worry. You are my God and my King and you will never leave office! Praise your Holy name!

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When Depression Knocks

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When the darkness comes, reach for the light.

“I will praise the LORD at all times. I will constantly speak his praises.” Psalm 34:1 (NLT)

I tend toward the melancholy.

Awhile back I was struggling more often than usual with the temptation to depression, a lack of joy, and an oppression of the spirit. I know there are many others who struggle with this and I want to share what helps me most.

(To clarify: I’m NOT talking about chemical imbalance and I’m not discussing clinical depression here).

I’m talking about a feeling of sadness that comes for no obvious reason. Feeling gloomy or unhappy sometimes in spite of having things go well in life. It might be unexplained or it might come because of sin and suffering in the world or because of my own failings and weaknesses.

When I fall into this kind of depression, these choices help me the most:

  • Singing praise to God out loud. Spending time alone with God and singing praise songs to Him is powerful. There’s more power in singing out loud but listening to praise music is also healing.
  • Prayer. Our greatest resource. We can tell God exactly how we feel. It’s important also to confess our sins. We can tell Him what we desire Him to do in our lives. If I feel powerless to pray, I pray the Psalms. Some that have helped me: Psalm 37, 34, 32, 23, 27, 40 and 42 but any of the Psalms are helpful.
  • Reading and meditating on Scripture. Reading God’s Word is essential. Quoting Scripture out loud helps to focus our minds on the truth. “For the word of God is alive and powerful…” Hebrews 4:12a (NLT) His Word is supernatural and meditating on its truth can bring peace and calm to our souls.
  • Resisting isolation. When I feel depression coming in my spirit, often my first temptation is to isolate myself and shut others out. This only makes things worse and amplifies the darkness. Reaching out to someone we trust and can share our hearts with will often drive the dark feeling away. I’ve found that the more I keep my negative thought patterns to myself, the stronger they get. But time and time again when I share those thoughts, just saying them out loud to someone exposes them as lies.
  • Keeping a balance between physical exertion (exercise/work) and rest. If we go for a period of time without doing anything that requires physical exertion, it can lead to a depressed feeling, but if we’re always on the go and never take time to rest, that also can leave us depressed. We need balance.
  • Remembering we are in a war. We’re all in a Spiritual battle but those who seek to get closer to Jesus will meet the enemy head on. Satan will attack anyone who follows Jesus. Peter warns us, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” 1 Peter 5:8 (NLT). However, we overcome him through the power of the blood of Jesus Christ, our testimony and prayer. (Revelation 12:11) “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 (NIV)

One particular morning I was feeling the darkness. I read my daily devotions and meditated on His truth. Later, I remembered about praising God. By choice, not by feeling I began to sing praises to Him. I put on praise music and exercised while praising Him. I poured out my heart to Him. He lifted me from the pit (Psalm 40)!

Some experience depression that goes beyond what they can deal with by themselves. It may even be caused by a chemical imbalance. At those times, it is important to seek help from a counselor or a doctor. There was a time when my depression became so persistent that I went to a counselor for some months. God used her to help me tremendously! There’s nothing wrong with needing help. God created us as beings that need each other.

May God give grace and peace to anyone reading this who is suffering from depression or persistent sadness. Please use it Lord. Use it to bring them closer to you. Please shine your light into their darkness.

Please comment below if you need prayer to get through a season of depression. He loves you with an everlasting love!

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Originally published at Internet Cafe Devotions

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