Do You Feel Lonely?

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Do you ever feel lonely?

Women love friendships. We love making connections, and these days, many of those connections have moved online as people have moved away or grown older. It’s easier to stay connected through social media. Recently, I was commenting on a facebook post. Everyone was debating and someone had commented something to me that hurt my feelings and knocked me off-kilter. That night I crawled into bed and I asked Jesus, “Why am I letting some thoughtless comment made by someone affect me like this? ”There was no deep explanation. No Bible verse popped into my head. Only the gentle reminder that Jesus loves me – insecurities and all. Friends can’t make us feel accepted all the time. And having lots of people around us does not mean we won’t ever feel lonely. So, I turn to Jesus. I draw close to Him so He can help me separate solid truth from shifting emotion. Will you turn to Jesus today?

Most Loving, Gracious Father, we come before you to humbly ask that you comfort us in our moments of loneliness, that you be our shelter in the midst of the storm, that you walk beside us every step of the way.
Lord, at times we feel so alone, crying out for attention, in desperation, looking for some sort of acknowledgement from a single soul. Remind us that you are always there, right at our side, whenever we call.

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

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I Would Have Despaired

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I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord.  Psalm 27 13-14

This scripture was very special to my heart, especially during two of the hardest times of my life and the closest I came to despair.  First and most desperate time, was when I lost my son Casey to a congenital heart defect and second, when I went thru my separation and ultimate divorce.  These were both particularly dark times in my life.  Times when I felt deep despair.  The divorce was hard because I knew that it did not have to happen. I believe that with a lot of hard work and an open heart marriages can and should be saved.  But it takes two not one.

I think despair is probably one of the darkest and saddest place you could find yourself. The scary part is, that people who go there often don’t come back. The dictionary defines despair as “destitute of positive expectations.” If you’re in despair, you can’t see anything good in your life or future. You may find yourself being tempted to give up.

That is exactly, why I love the book of Psalms.  We can glean so much from David, he is such as a good example of avoiding despair.  Instead of surrendering to the darkness of despair, David’s confidence was in an unchanging God. You and I need to do the same, no matter what we are facing.

People will often say, I don’t know how she can be so strong through this . . . and How can he just keep going with everything that’s happening?

But, praise the lord we know the answer to those questions, as we look to David—we need to fix our hope on our promise-keeping God. Psalm 46:10 reminds us to “be still, and know that I am God.”   When you come to that place where you can’t do anything else, you must stand still and just believe. You may think that’s the worst possible place to be, but it’s not.  God loves it when you are there. When you can’t do anything else, we must let God do it all we need to do is fully surrender.  Otherwise we will just throw in the towel.

“We must never despair, because God is always good.” With this promise, you get to see God’s heart. Not only is He with you; not only is He sovereign and ordering the circumstances of your life, but God is also good. God’s goodness is the ultimate rescue net for all of life’s experiences.  No matter what you maybe facing, He is sufficient to rescue us, Because He is Good.

Although, we don’t know what circumstances David was facing when he wrote this psalm, but just look at his concluding statement which is full of faith. David was able to avoid despair by believing he would once again see God’s goodness. David had seen it, and he believed he would see it again. But at that very moment, he had to trust the time would come when he would again see God’s goodness. Why? Because God is good even when we can’t see it.

The reason we often lose hope is because are eyes are not on the Lord.  When our eyes are fully fixed on Him, not on the circumstances, you WILL see His goodness.  It may not be today, but we can join David in believing that we will “see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”  And that is Good Ver News!

Lord, I want to be just as transparent as David was in voicing all my fears and my anxieties to You and be as bold as he was in trusting You. I know You want to grow in me a faith that will not fail. Help me to remember that when I do falter, You won’t give up on me. Give me eyes to see Your goodness every day of my life. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

 

Renew Our Strength

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When our hope is in the Lord our strength is renewed. Whatever you are facing today you have a choice. Where will you put your hope?

God has a purpose and plan for your life, and His timing is perfect. Sometimes He answers our prayers with “yes” or “no.” But at other times, He says, “Wait.” When this is the case, we can avail ourselves of the rich rewards that come while we wait.

28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the LORDwill renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40 28-31

God promises to strengthen us as we lean on Him during delays. Isaiah 40:31 describes an eagle soaring—a beautiful metaphor for how the believer who abides in the Lord will be lifted and sustained by His Spirit.

When David faced his greatest battles, he waited upon the Lord. God delivered him from destruction and set his feet on solid ground (Psalms 40: 1-3). He will do the same for you. When you abide in Him, He gives us the energy to accomplish the things He requires of you—His Spirit does for you what you cannot do for yourself.

I waited patiently for the Lord;  And He inclined to me, And heard my cry.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth—Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear, And will trust in the Lord. Psalm 40 1-3

Please help me to learn to quietly wait upon You and to rest in Your love – knowing that you have scheduled every day of my life. Give me the courage and wisdom to be still and to wait quietly, patiently and expectantly knowing that Your timing is perfect and that You know the plans that You have purposed for my life, even though I do not!

Living In A Hurting World

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For the second night in a row the news showed the images of a video showing a young disabled man from Chicago being tortured and beaten.  I don’t know about you, but the state of our broken world has me lying awake at night. Heartbroken over the condition of our country where something like this can happen. Grieving over the loss of his innocence and the pain and fear he must have experienced.  Horrified by the attackers lack of remorse and saddened by the idea that hate and evil has won out.

It’s 2017, and injustice, oppression and racism is rampant, causing innocent people to fear for their lives just because of the color of their skin.  Sometimes, I feel powerless. I feel overwhelmed. I feel afraid. When I watch the news and social media I see such total disregard for human life, I am slapped in the face with the reality that the world we live in is a fallen, broken, hurting, and dangerous one.  We can see it in the innocent blood that is spilled. We see it everyday in the angry political  exchanges on television and in our own Facebook news feed.  We see it in the well meaning Christians who do not know what our God asks of us because they do not open up their Bible. We see it in those who do not know God and instead seek answers from other people they deem wise.

We live in a world that needs Jesus, We need not look any farther than the scriptures to know how God responded to pain while on this earth. Jesus spent much of His life among suffering people, hurting people and His response to them shows us how God feels about pain. He always responded to hurting people with sadness and grief. When Jesus’ friend died, He wept. I am confident that Jesus wept over that young man being tortured and hurt.

We need to diligently pray for that young man.  We need to Pray for hurting families and broken communities that have had their children ripped from them by senseless violence. Pray for those who protect us along with their families that have suffered loss. Pray for churches to minister to the hurting. Pray for people not to lose heart. And, yes, pray for Jesus to come back and set this broken world right.

In our day-to-day experiences of life, we have opportunities to learn to be like Jesus, to choose to be patient, to be considerate, to feed the poor, to help others, to pray. On the job and in our homes, Jesus has something to say about what we do.

We will experience problems in life whether or not we follow Jesus. Our choice is not whether to have problems, but whether we learn from those problems. Do we react to them the way Jesus would, or do we become bitter and seek revenge and hate? We learn more about love when we love people who are hard to love; we learn more about forgiveness when people sin against us. Our character is shaped more like Jesus not so much in good times, but in difficult times. We do not always understand why God allows people to suffer. We may not see any good in it, or any lesson to learn. But God assures us that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). We may not know how—we just have to trust him.

We can begin with teaching our children to love as Christ loves, we need to teach our children that every life is precious and valued. We don’t need to paint for them a picture of a country with a history of inequality, but talk to them about the progress that still needs to be made. We need to never stop teaching them not to be hateful or mean, but to stand up for those who fall victim to hate and bullying.  Allow them to be colorblind.  My kids use to love this little song O be careful little ears what you hear, be careful little ears what you hear, There’s a Father up above, And He’s looking down in love,So, be careful little ears what you hear.  Unfortunately, they become racist from the words they here at home and school.  We need to diligently protect them from the ways of the world.

Most important we need to pray with them for those that are hurting and be intentional about how we can actively make a difference in the lives of others.

Dear God,

Some days feel too hard. We’re hurting. Struggling. Fighting fear and worry at every turn. Thank you in the midst of it all, you haven’t left us to fend for ourselves. Forgive us for doubting you are there. Forgive us for thinking you’ve forgotten. Forgive us for believing we somehow know the better way.

You are fully trustworthy. You are All Powerful. You are Able. You are Lord over every situation no matter how difficult it may seem. You are Healer and will never waste the grief we carry today. You will use all things for good in some way. Anything is possible with you. Nothing is too difficult for you.

We pray for those who grieve today. We ask for your comfort to surround those who weep. We pray for the peace of your presence to cover our minds and thoughts, as you remind us, the enemy can never steal us out of your hands. He never has the final say over our lives. We are kept safe in your presence forever, whether in life or in death.

We thank you that your ways are higher than our ways and your thoughts are bigger than our thoughts.

We lay it all down at your feet, every burden, every care. Believing that is the safest place for it to be.

We love you Lord, we need your fresh grace.

In the Powerful Name of Jesus,

Amen.

Overcoming Discouragement

 

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Today, I am struggling with discouragement, wondering what my role is and what the Lord desires of me.  Something I have been fervently praying for has ended with a closed door and left me with a wounded heart.  In seasons of struggle, heart ache, and discouragement, we can be tempted to look back and remember the feelings we used to have when we felt closer to God or when life seemed promising.

Can you relate to this part of Psalm 42: “My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration! Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad?”

If you work in any kind of ministry, you may have had like me, some dark nights when you were tempted to quit. I’ve been there, I am there!,  but I have also, learned along the way that some of the greatest growth opportunities can come when you face discouragement, heartache and failure head-on. These things usually make me want to throw up my hands and walk away in defeat, but I am also learning that this is exactly what Satan wants. Instead of throwing in the towel, I’m learning to recognize these challenges for what they are: great opportunities to grow and for the lord to mold me into the person He desires me to be.

I have learned that every area of ministry is going to have its discouraging moments. Chances are you took the opportunity because you wanted to make a difference to encourage, and you felt called to do so. It is in these times that Satan will try at every turn to make you feel like what you are doing doesn’t matter, but just because it’s hard doesn’t mean you should quit.

It is important to remember that you are not alone! In the midst of every emotion, there is one thing you can count on. God cares and is with you! God cares deeply about every emotion swirling around in our hearts.  If you are on the mountaintop and feeling like things couldn’t be better, God cares for you and is with you! If you are currently experiencing hurt, struggling with disappointment in ministry, remember this, God cares and is always with you!  He’s close to you when you cry, when you feel all alone. He’s close to you when you wonder how you’ll move forward. Pour out your pain to God, and move towards Him. The best news is, especially for me! emotions are fleeting. We can choose how we direct our thoughts and energy. Instead of nursing our pain, we can find freedom in choosing to cling to our hope in God.

Choose worship, In these difficult times I love to listen to worship music and experience a fresh encounter with Christ. Music always ministers to me and in a way humbles me. Even when it feels like miles of wasteland stretch between us and God, we must remember Him. Remember His goodness. Remember His mercy. Remember His forgiveness. Remember you are His child. Remember His incredible love for us.  Amen!

Father help us to recognize Your love in EVERYTHING that goes on. Father you know our situation? You know the prayers that go up? You know the way Satan has been attacking. Father might you come into our  life in a powerful way, and show that all this going on is the refining of pure gold. I ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Hebrews 12:1-3

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. 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. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Matthew 25:1

21 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’