Divine Discouragement

Ever feel like you are on a roller coaster? …up, down, all around. Sometimes the cares of life are enough to make you want to give up! Check out! Quit!  I recently plummeted unexpectedly into one of those lows. Discouragement!

discouraged

…and strangely enough, it came on while I was reading my Bible.  The Book of Daniel.  It may be very plain to you, but I just wasn’t “getting” it!  Let’s face it, it is kinda scary stuff! Oh, I don’t mean the wonderful accounts of the Hebrew children’s faithfulness, the fiery furnace and the Fourth Man, Daniel’s deliverance in the lion’s den; even Nebuchadnezzor becoming like a beast, or the handwriting on the wall.  I love every bit of that. I understand it pretty well. Then you come to Daniel’s visions of the times to come.  Disturbing!  I just wasn’t getting the lion, the leopard, the bear, the beasts, the ram, the goat, the horns big and small, the kings, the kingdoms….even after I prayed for understanding, my head swam.   I closed my Bible with a huge sigh, and proceeded to spiral into a depressed funk. I just felt “icky.”  Then the accuser started in …”You sure aren’t very smart.”  “Who do you think you are, writing an inspirational blog, when you can’t understand your Bible?” An the always popular:  “Maybe you should just give it up.”

I moped around for a while. My “blues” (and my blogger’s block) continued for another day or so until I decided to go back to Daniel and read through it, even if I didn’t understand it or enjoy it.  That is when I came across a couple of verses that showed me that Daniel himself was having a few qualms about  his visions.  He said that he was grieved in his spirit in the midst of his body, and that the visions of his head troubled him:  Daniel 7: 15.  Pretty much described my reaction!  Then, in the next chapter:

Daniel 8:27: And I, Daniel, fainted, and was sick certain days; afterwards I rose up and did the king’s business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it.

So! I wasn’t the only one who felt “icky” after those visions.  I got to thinking that maybe I was feeling a tiny bit of what Daniel felt all these centuries later.  I began to realize that maybe that was the point!  We are to respond to the Word of God. That is why He gave it to us.  Maybe my  discouragement and disquiet was something I was supposed to feel.

Discouragement seems to have happened frequently to the people of God in the Bible! In fact, it seems to be a recurring theme.  There was Moses, who was burdened by the care of the children of Israel; Joshua, who was beside himself over the defeat at Ai; David, grieved over the death of Absolom; Nehemiah, when he heard of the condition of the city of God; Job, in the troubles he endured; Elijah, when he said. “It is enough! Just let me die!”; Jonah, when he said pretty much the same thing; Peter, after he had denied the Lord. Even the mighty Apostle Paul spoke of being troubled.    Discouragement is not new. It is part of the human condition, and is necessary to turn our hearts to God that we may cry out for relief and restoration.

Hope thou in God

Every one of those men of God found the remedy for their discouragement in the voice of God.  None of them stayed in the doldrums of their emotional depression.  I am not talking about making lemonade when you are handed lemons. This is stepping up and out of your wilderness on the arm of your Beloved.  Their discouragement and grief was significant because they found God in it.  It led them to the glorious presence ( and dare I say, favor?) of God.  If you are discouraged, you are ripe for the Word of the Lord!  He will lead you to your next level.

It is why we hear; “Think it not strange…;”  “Count it all joy….;”  “Blessed are you when….;”   and,  “Fear not!”       Jesus said that in this world we would have tribulation. (trouble, difficulties, sadness, grief, unsettledness.)  But      “Be of good cheer….I have overcome the world!”    Come to Jesus and cast your burdens on Him. Let your discouragment lead you to the cross.  In that way, it becomes the divine tool that He uses to draw you to Himself, not the wedge that drives you from Him.

Jesus told us that in the last days there were going to be troubles. Read Luke 21.  He also said, “…when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28)

Well, I still haven’t figured out Daniel’s visions, but they don’t depress me anymore. I have found that I am in pretty good company when I am discouraged…almost everyone in the Bible!  The next time discouragement comes my way I am going to recognize it for what it is!  A divine pathway to the presence of the Lord!

Let’s Pray:  Father of Light, Thank You that YOU have overcome for us!  We ask you to shine your divine light into every circumstance in our lives.  Help us to see every trouble and difficulty as a pathway to You!  Make discouragement into “courage-ment” as we turn to You in all things.  In Jesus’ name,

Amen

Recommended Bible reading:  Numbers 11:10-15;   Jonah 4:3,8;   1Kings 19:2,4;   Psalm 42;   Luke 16:23-31

Psalm 34:19   Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.

 

Wait!

I live in the Sunshine State!  Tourist Haven…Disney World, Universal Studios, Busch Gardens, Sea World just to name a few.  So many places, so little time (and so little money! 🙁 ) We have, on occassion, indulged ourselves and our girls in trips to these wonderlands.  So.  Much. Fun!  Except for one thing…waiting in the long lines to experience those rides, displays, and yummy treats.

People waiting

Once we went to Disney World on a cloudy, rainy day. Guess what?  No lines! We bought ponchos and breezed onto each attraction with almost no waiting.  There was no thunder or lightning, so all of the rides were open and safe, and it wasn’t as hot as usual, either.  We had a great time!

Yeah, waiting is hard sometimes.  Recently, a lady in the doctor’s waiting room had a major meltdown because they took me before her…(she wasn’t even seeing the same person, but we arrived after her.) Oh, I get it! I’ve been in a tizzy a few times myself, especially if someone shoves in front of me in the grocery line.  Sometimes I am not so good at waiting…..(sigh)

There all kinds of waiting. Waiting for a bus, train, or plane.

waiting for the bus

Not quite so bad, because, after all there IS a bus schedule, or train schedule, right?  Have you noticed that waiting is not so much of a problem if you have a “device” with you such a smart phone, a tablet, or an e-reader?  It helps to be occupied, doesn’t it?  But what if it is going to be a long wait?   Like this one:

Waiting for baby

Nine long months before the joy of that little package from heaven! But, oh, so worth it.

The Bible mentions waiting 137 times!  maybe we had better take a look at what God says about waiting.

   But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.  Isaiah 40:31

….blessed are all they that wait for him.   Isaiah 30:18b

    Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.  Psalm 27:14

     For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.  Habakkuk 2: 3

     And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.  2Thessalonians 3:5

So here we are waiting…waiting ….waiting…   Some days I think I’d like to find a field and go out to watch the eastern sky to see if Jesus is coming today!   You know there is not really anything wrong with a heart that longs to see Him, but He had some parables for His followers about what they should be doing while He was away.  In Luke 19: 12-27 Jesus tells the story of the servants who were trusted with an amount of money, and told to “Occupy till I come.”  They were expected to do something with what they were entrusted…to make an increase for the owner.    They were expected to be about the master’s business.

There is a further meaning for the word “wait” that we haven’t discussed.  It is what a “waiter” does.  It means taking an order, filling it, and delivering it to the patron.  Waiting on someone, fulfilling their request.  Are we “waiting on the Lord” in this sense?  Are we asking what He wants and hurrying to do His bidding? Bringing Him what He has asked?

And don’t forget that He has said that when we have done good to the least of those around us we have ministered to HIM.  It gives a whole other dimension to the idea of waiting, doesn’t it?

Hands of Homeless Man Receiving Bowl of Soup --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

 

 

 There is a lot of buzz out there right now about the times in which we are living.  All kinds of conjectures, opinions, and prophetic words about what is going to happen and when.  One thing I know for sure: “Until the daybreak and shadows flee, and I see Jesus coming for me, Lord, I’ll be waiting, watching for thee…Until the daybreak and shadows flee. ”   Occupy, friends! There is work to be done and people to love in Jesus’ name! 

Let’s pray: Father,  help us to occupy until you come for us!  Fill us with Your Holy Spirit to do your work! May we run the race until we see Your face!  Then we will run to You…to live with You for all eternity. May we be found faithful when You come! In Jesus’ name,

Amen!

 

 

For Thine Is The Kingdom!

Pray!  Can you hear the call?  If you can’t, perhaps you should come out from under that rock!  There is a clarion call to the people of God,…”It is time to pray!”  Right now everyone is talking about the current box office hit, “The War Room.”  I haven’t seen it yet, but I think I have been getting the same message in my own prayer room.  I was recently moved to buy a magnetic white board to put up in my office for prayer reminders.  What a boon it has been to my prayer life!  Then I saw an ad for the movie in which the praying grandma posted her prayer requests on the wall in her “War Room.”  So I guess I am hearing what others have heard.  “It’s time to get serious about prayer!”

kneeling in prayer

People so often ask me to pray for them or for their loved ones, or for a desperate situation, and I always promise to lift them up or intercede with every intention of doing so, but sometimes…….well, I forget, or get sidetracked…ever happen to you?

My prayer board has really helped me to remember all those I have promised to pray for, and those things I have felt directed to pray for by the Holy Spirit.  But, I would like to share the most revolutionary prayer help I have discovered recently….uh, what do you know…it is the model that Jesus Himself left for us….The Lord’s Prayer!

I have been using the Lord’s Prayer as a road map to pray for each one on my board, and I feel that my prayers are effective and according to Biblical standards.  Here is what I mean as I have been praying for a particular unsaved loved one:

Our Father, who art in Heaven (We are both your children & I love her, but never as much as You love her. You are her Abba Father Who rules & reigns in all things from your throne in heaven, so You are well able to rule in her life!) Hallowed be Thy name, (You are the Holy One, Whose name is Higher than any other, on whom I call for my dear one. May her heart awaken to Who You are for Your name’s sake!)   Thy Kingdom Come (Let Your Kingdom be established in her life, invade her world and her consciousness…draw her and save her!) Thy Will be done, in earth as it is in heaven. (May her heart come under your merciful rule.  May her name be written in heaven’s book of life.  I lift her up before your throne and ask that you remember her and draw her to Yourself. That her heart will be established in Your Kingdom as she walks upon this earth! I know it is Your will that she should not perish!) Give us this day our daily bread. (Father,  may she begin to have a supernatural hunger for the Bread of Life and not be satisfied with lesser, earthy sustenance. Provide all that she needs to be saved. And put it in her way!) And forgive us our debts, (lead her to repentance, Lord, and let her find Your abundant forgiveness. Forgive her, Father, by Your mercy and grace.) as we forgive our debtors (break the chains of unforgiveness and woundedness that keep her bound in bitterness and darkness)  Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil (Stay the hand of her most powerful enemy! Keep her in the evil day! Save her for Yourself and for Your Kingdom. Rebuke the evil one who stalks her, in Jesus’ name!) For THINE is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever!   (Save her for Your Kingdom, save her by Your mighty power, save her for Your glory! That she may dwell in the house of the Living God forevermore!)   AMEN!

praying hands

And now I feel I have prayed an effective prayer for my dear one.  I have prayed according to the Word and will of God, and I am looking for the answer!  Oh, I will keep praying, for I am desperate to see her become the child of God He wants her to be. Praying this way inspires my faith.

I haven’t found a need yet that I cannot apply the Lord’s model. Healing, revival, provision, wisdom, guidance.  It is all covered when you pray for the Kingdom to come upon this earth, as it is in heaven!  God wants heaven on earth! That is why He made a way to live in His people.  May our earthly lives be established in the heavenly power given by the Spirit of the Living God who dwells in our hearts.

Oh, for eyes to see and ears to hear!

Let’s pray: Father in Heaven, may we become the prayer warriors needed in this hour and this age. You gave us your model. Help us to use it well as we stand for Your Kingdom and against the enemy. May we see multitudes released from bondage and brought into Your Kingdom…yes, for Your Kingdom, and Your power and Your glory, forever, In Jesus’ name,

Amen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forgive and Forget?

Unforgiveness nearly destroyed me!

Here I was, “Woman of the Lord.” Teacher, Worship Leader, Choir Director, Jesus Lover, Walking in the Light, Christian! WHAM!  Someone hurt one of my babies! A deceiver; a wolf in sheep’s clothing;  a liar; a destroyer! Left her life in a shambles.  Honestly, my “mama bear” went into overdrive!   Words can’t express the anger, even rage, that consumed me. I could do nothing to fix it!  I sank into a very dark place. I walked the floor at night. I cried; I railed; I devised vengences in my mind. I couldn’t pray. How could God have let this happend to my sweet girl? She didn’t deserve this! Hadn’t I dedicated her to Him? Raised her in church and in “the Way?” She loved Jesus! How could someone treat her so horribly?

Look, I was no baby Christian.  I knew what anger, hate, rage, and unforgiveness could do to you. I just felt helpless to change how I felt.  My husband began to fear that I had gone “around the bend.” The thoughts of my heart left me with blood on my hands. My inability to forgive became a prison cell for me. I felt cut off from God, and I couldn’t seem to break out of it! I began to believe the lies of my enemy…that I was too far gone to find my way back to Him.

bevere quote 1

But God…..(one of my pastor’s favorite sayings.) But God!  But God, in His everlasting mercy rescued me. No, I didn’t deserve to be rescued, because I couldn’t let go of my anger, even though I was terrified  of what it was doing to me.  One Sunday in church sweet Deanna, who has a ministry in Worship Sign Language, signed to a song that captured my heart and pulled me back from the brink and into the love of God again.  “You’re Not Alone” by Meridith Andrews.  A song for me, and a song for my girl, too. (I will post it below.) He knows.  He loves.

There is that old saying, “Forgive and forget.”  Forget?  Not actually possible, is it?  But, thank God! We don’t ever want to forget what unforgiveness will do to us! Look, if you walk upon this fallen earth, among a fallen race of people, you have been wounded. It’s what happens here.  And you most likely have wounded someone yourself.  It’s like my friend, Christin Ditchfield, says in her book, “What Women Should Know About Letting It Go:”

“Wounded people wound….somehow we have got to find a way to let it go. Let go of the pain, the hurt, the anger, the bitterness, and the resentment. The unforgiveness. And then learn to forgive.  …Forgive because Jesus said to. And if somehow that doesn’t seem reason enough, then because it is killing us not to.”

Yes, it will kill us not to!  It will cut us off from God’s forgiveness.  Matthew 6:14,15:  For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:  But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.  

 Our hearts will shrivel like the roses in the picture above.  We have a sacred responsibility to clear our hearts of the refuse of unforgiveness if we want to build a holy habitation for the Lord in it. He is coming soon for His Bride!  Will she be carrying a bouquet of dead and wilted flowers to His altar?  I don’t think so.  Time is very short! Don’t put it off!

bridal-393049_640 

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians about  repentance and “Clearing of yourselves.”   (2Cor.7:11)  For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

How diligently they worked to “clear themselves!”  May we do the same with any shred of unforgiveness we hold. The “revenge” he speaks about here is not revenge on a person. It is revenge against the sinfulness we hold in our hearts. With Jesus’ help we can clear ourselves of the unforgiveness that lurks there.   It will open the floodgates of heaven once again to receive mercy from His hand. I could not let go of my anger and unforgiveness until I saw it for what it was….sin, ugly sin.  His goodness overcame it.  He loved me where I was, and I was able to let His mercy flow over me and through me.

I am walking in the Light once again.  He saw me through my darkest night.  There is much more to my story, which I will save for another time, but I will say that I am not the only character in this story who is walking in the Light and Favor of the Lord once again. My daughter has a beautiful testimony of her own, and is serving Jesus with “a vehement desire and zeal”  she never knew before. God is able! He makes all things beautiful!

Let’s pray:  Wonderful, Merciful Savior,  Help us to walk in forgiveness. For without You we can not do it. Rescue us from our sinful pride, anger, and bitterness. Work in us to will and to do Your good pleasure as we seek to clear ourselves of anything that does not please You. In Jesus’ name,

Amen!

 

Near the Cross

This week  was Communion Sunday at my church.  There is just nothing like sharing the Lord’s Supper with the family of God at any time, but this week Sister Ann, our keyboard player,  played a special hymn that gripped my heart and squeezed it ’til the tears flowed out of my eyes.   Has that ever happened to you?  We didn’t sing it, but the words rang in my heart as the Bread and Cup were served.     Near The Cross…..by Fanny Crosby.

Jesus, keep me near the cross, There a precious fountain.    

Free to all a healing stream, Flows from Calv’ry’s mountain.

In the cross, in the cross Be my glory ever,

Till my raptured soul shall find rest beyond the river.

Near the Cross

Dear friends, if we are going to overcome; if we are going to last until He comes for us, we must wait for Him near His cross. There we find mercy; there we find help; there we find grace. There we find Him!  It is there that we are reminded of who we once were before our sins were washed away by the shedding of His blood and by the breaking of His body. It is there we find forgiveness! It is there that we declare Him to be Lord of our lives; and there we gain our testimony!  For in the end we  shall  overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of our testimony. (Revelation 12:11)

Near the cross, a trembling soul, Love and mercy found me;

There the Bright and Morning Star sheds His beams around me.

In the cross, in the cross Be my glory ever,

Till my raptured soul shall find Rest beyond the river.

Near the cross! O Lamb of God, bring its scenes before me.

Help my walk from day to day with its shadow o’er me.

In the cross, in the cross Be my glory ever,

Till my raptured soul shall find Rest beyond the river.

 Shadow of the Cross

Never before in my Christian walk have I longed for heaven and my home with Jesus like I have in recent days.  And never before in my Christian life have I prayed so hard for the loved ones I want to see there, too.    Yes, sin abounds, in this vale of tears, this earth, but grace abounds so much more. I am crying out for that grace to be shed abroad upon all of my family and friends.  Come to the cross!  There is room for you here.  Jesus has stretched out His arms for you, and will enfold you in His resurrected life.

Near the cross I’ll watch and wait, Hoping, trusting ever.

Till I reach the golden strand Just beyond the river.

In the cross, in the cross Be my glory ever.

Till my raptured soul shall find rest beyond the river

Let’s pray:  Lamb of God, how we need you every moment!  Help us to keep the cross always before us.  Keep us near to You watching, waiting, hoping, trusting. Help us to be ready when you come to take us to that “rest beyond the river.”    In Jesus’ name,

Amen!

A sweet rendition of “Near the Cross” by  The Church Sisters. If you hang around when it is finished there is another beautiful song called “He Paid It All” from these lovely young women & and their guitarist.

I’m A Prepper! Are YOU A Prepper?

I must admit it!  Yes, I am somewhat of a prepper.  I have put a few things aside “just in case….” I’ve been told that isn’t faith. After all, we are supposed to “take no thought for tomorrow,”  but I have to say that Noah, Joseph, The Proverbs 31 woman, and the five wise virgins knew that there was wisdom in being prepared.  So, yes, living in storm riddled Florida, and after going through the ravages of Hurricane Andrew with my family…I think it is wise to be prepared.

Most prepper manuals suggest that you have some supplies in these five categories:  water; food; power/fire; communication; protection/First Aid.   (I think personal hygiene items are also a must have.)

Proverbs 31 Woman

While I was going about  gathering my supplies, the Lord nudged my heart….”What are you doing? Are you really  prepared? Are you ready for  ME?”    (gulp…)  Suddenly, I looked at my list with different eyes! With spiritual eyes!

So what am I preparing for?  I am preparing  for His coming!  Preparing to be a part of the Bride He will coming to take to the home He has prepared for her!  Just like every Hebrew wedding in the Bible. The groom goes to the maiden’s home to see if she will receive him…(check) if she does, she drinks the cup of wine presented to her,…(check),  there is a betrothal for a span of time while he goes to prepare a home for his wife…(check)  then he comes to get her and take her to the home he has prepared!  (Waiting to check that one! 🙂 )

So now  is the time of preparation while she waits for the bridegroom.  How should she prepare?   Let’s take a look at our prepper list….hmmmm  She needs to be sure she has everything on the list!

Water:     “ Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” (John 7:37)   “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.   The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.”   (John 4:14-15)

Food:  ” I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of the bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6:51)

Power/Fire:  “…and He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and fire.”  )Matthew 3:11)    “And behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high.”  (Luke 24:49)

Communication:  “The effectual fervant prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”  (James 5:16)

Protection: “I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, so shall I be saved from mine enemies.”  (Psalm 18:2)

Personal “Hygiene”:   But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;” (1Peter1:15)

We must make our preparations!  A daily gathering of our supplies: Living Water, The Bread of Life, the Power from on High, Daily Communication in Prayer, Protection by Calling on the Lord in Praise, Holy Living.  It’s time to stock up!!  Don’t let your supplies become depleted!  

He has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness. We must not sleep or neglect this great salvation. We must PREPARE! Jesus has gone to prepare a home for us!  We must be ready when He comes!

I am a prepper!  Are you?

 

Going Out to meet Him

 

Let’s pray:  Heavenly Bridegroom, Lover of our Souls, Help us to prepare for your coming each and every day. May we become more and more aware of your nearness; and that the time is soon upon us!  May we be a glorious and spotless church when you come. In Jesus’ name.

Amen!