Hope For The Dry Soul

I love it when God begins to speak a message into your heart. A message of truth. A needed reminder. A message that begins to seep into the dried, cracked places of your soul and begins to awaken seeds that have been laying dormant ready to flourish.

 The interesting thing about this particular message, and possibly every message we hear, is that it's not anything profoundly new. It is simply a message of truth that comes together and awakens us to be reminded of what has been forgotten. (Because we are a forgetful people and need the constant reminders.)

So this message from God began as I sat in worship services this past weekend and scribbled this note, "we can read and pray all we want but, unless we believe, it will not help in those times of dryness, isolation, and feelings of hopelessness. We need to cry out, "Lord, help me believe!""

Then in my reading time I read John 6:44 which reminded me that no one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws him. In other words there is nothing I can do to make me want or believe Jesus. I just can't muster up anything to make myself  grow, change, pray, read my Bible etc. If it is dependent upon my will and want to it's just not going to happen and I am going to stay right where I am. I will forever wander in a dry, isolated, hopeless place. 

Even as I read Psalms 107 this week I was reminded that it is He that satisfies my soul. He will fill me with what is good. He leads and delivers me. He is the one that brings me our of darkness and it is His word that heals me. (verses 6,9,14,20)

My only hope is to cry out to the Father and pray, "Lord, draw me closer to You that I might know You! Fill my soul with a desire to follow You! Lead me! Heal me! Change me! Help me believe!" 

As I reflected on these truths this morning I was reminded that those times when reading and praying seem dry and unhelpful perhaps even hopeless I need to cry out to my Father and ask Him to draw me into His word so that I might know Him. Sometimes, okay maybe a lot of times, I come to God in my quite time expecting to "get" something instead of just coming in order that I might know Him.

 I don't always know what I am looking to get out of my time with God but maybe it's not about me anyway and it's simply about drawing closer to My Father. 

Father draw me closer to You. Help me in those areas of unbelief and allow the truth of who You are flow deep down into my heart in order that I might live it out. Satisfy my soul with all of who You are and fill it good so that I might know you in a greater way. Amen.

Psalm 99 - Holy is He

The Lord reigns
He is enthroned
The Lord is great
He is exalted 
His name is great and awesome
Holy is He

He loves justice
He is fair and impartial
Exalt the Lord and worship Him
Holy is He

The Lord answers prayers
He speaks to His people
He is forgiving
He punishes the sinner
Exalt the Lord and worship Him
Holy is the Lord our God!

Written from Psalms 99

Weary Yet Pursuing

This morning, while I was reading, I came across three words that sent my heart and mind on a much needed search of encouragement. Those words were from Judges 8:4 which said, "weary yet pursuing". The context of those words were written in the midst of battle. Gideon and his army of 300 men had been fighting against the Midianites. God had already delivered 3 leaders into their hands and they were still pursuing more. They needed food to be strengthen but those around them did not come to their rescue. Instead of giving up they pursued their enemy, even though they were weary. (There is a lot more to the story, and I encourage you to read it in Judges 8, but God used those three little words to encourage me this day.)

When I am tired and weary of the battle where do I go? Who do I turn to? How do I cope with the weariness that I feel? What should I pursue instead of giving into the weariness of my soul? 

Too often I want to go to people and while the body of Christ can and should be a good source of refreshment often they fail. They fail because we have gone to them first, we've put our hope in their strenght to encourage and lift us up instead of Christ. They fail because they have battles of their own to fight. 

So before going to others, even the body of Christ, we must go to God. We must go to His word. It's here, and here alone that I am refreshed and encouraged. I forget this so many times and run to people. But today it was God's words that refreshed this tired and weary heart. Perhaps they too will refresh your weary heart.
 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD , the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not becomewearyor tired. His understanding is inscrutable.  He gives strength to theweary, And to him who lacks might He  increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. (Isaiah 40:28-31)
"For I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes." (Jer 31:25)
Come to Me, all who arewearyand heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUE SOULS. For my yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not growweary. (Gal 6:9)
For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:3)
Jesus will be our strength, in Him we will find rest. Run to Him, pursue Him through His words to you.

So what should we do instead of giving into weariness, discouragement, depression, anxieties or any other ways we may try to deal with those times that life just gets hard?  What does God's word say I should pursue instead of giving into my weariness?
 O God, You are my God; I shallseekYou earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1)
So then we purse the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. (Rom 14:19) 
..pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. (1 Timothy 6:11) 
...seek peace and pursue it.  (Heb 12:14; 1 Peter 3:11)
 So today may we choose to seek God and the things of God. May we choose to pursue that which will build us up instead of tear us down. May we fall on our knees before the cross and pray to know God, and pursue Him, in a greater, deeper way.

I am joining these blog hops today. I hope you join us for some great encouragement! 
Three Word Wednesday

Women with Intentions

Battle Weary

As you sit quietly fighting the tears you realize you've been here before. You have fought this battle, or at least you think you have. But you wonder, "If it was fought why am I here again?"

Your heart is weary of the battles that seem to take forever to fight. The battles that seem to overcome you. The battles that cause you to feel like you want to give up.

You do the only thing you know to do. You reach for His word. You open up the only weapon you have and begin to read...and pray. As you read you realize you do not fight alone. You feel His strength and His power flow through you.

 It's then you understand that the battle you are fighting is one that must be fought often. It must be fought often, not because you are weak, but because God wants to make you stronger. He wants to take you deeper. Deeper into the battle, deeper into the heart, so that you can come face to face with that which keeps you in bondage. He takes you deeper in order to see your sin, your weaknesses, idols and those things that you hold on to. He takes you deeper for greater healing, and a greater victory.

So when you find yourself fighting a battle that you thought had been fought do not be discouraged. God is taking you deeper into the battle in order to grow you. So fight the good fight, keep a hold of your faith in Christ Jesus and know that He fights for you.

For Further encouragement when you are in the midst of the battle: Deut 20:1; 2 Chron 20:17; 1 Tim 6:12; 2 Thess 3:13 1 Pe 1:13; James 1:12; Eph 6:11; Gal 6:9; Rev 2:10

God Sees My Affliction

I love to read the Psalms. It’s here that I best understand the reality of suffering. Many of us walk through hard, difficult things in life. Some have seasons of sufferings while others seem to live a life of chronic suffering. Suffering comes in many forms. We suffer through losses of loved ones, pregnancies, jobs, relationships and more. We suffer physically through chronic pain, illnesses and just growing older and our body not working like it used to. We suffer mentally, even though many don’t admit it, we suffer through depression, anxieties, and many other forms of mental illnesses. And we also suffer because of sin. We suffer because of our own sin and it’s consequences. We suffer because of other’s sin and being sinned against. The reality is, we all suffer.

Life on this earth is not easy, at least for the majority of people. David is a good reminder of this reality. David was chosen by God to be King. He had a heart that followed God. And yet, he still sinned and paid deeply for those sins. He was hated and chased down by his enemies, betrayed by one he thought was his friend. He felt abandoned both by people and at times God. David struggled with deep sadness and some might even say depression. His heart was grieved and broken, not just over his sin but over his life’s circumstances. He grew tired and weary from the constant battles of this life.

The last couple of days I’ve been in Psalm 30 and 31 and here are just a few samples of what David was feeling. He was near the pit of hell. (30:3,9) He cried and was in deep grief and sorrow. (30:5; 31:9) He felt weak, and a reproach to those around him. He was an object of dread, and felt forgotten, broken, lied about, terror, and feared for his life. (31:10-13) David, at least in my reading of this, was not in a good place. As I read these words today they brought such sweet encouragement because I knew then that God really did understand my times of deep sadness. God understands the season that I walk through mild depression and being fearful.

God sees me, just like he saw David.  And just like David I can choose to rejoice in the fact that God does see me. He may not remove that which I am currently facing, he may not remove my affliction but I can still choose to focus on the fact of who God is. (31:7-8)

David chose to believe and trust in the God he knew God to be. Instead of looking at his life and the enemy of this world and his flesh David choose to walk in the truth of a God that would deliver him. David’s response to suffering was remembering who God is. Oh how I needed this reminder too! It doesn’t matter how I feel or what painful experiences I am currently walking through, what does matter is whether or not I believe in who God says He is!

The whole of God’s word tells of who He is but just in Psalms 31 I am reminded today that He will deliver me. He hears me. He is my stronghold, my rock and fortress. He will lead me, guide me and keep me safe. He is my strength. He gives me grace. He is trustworthy. He is good and His loving kindness is mine. Wow, what amazing truth in that one chapter! Truth that we can hold on to and believe. Truth that gives hope. Truth that gives courage to face today and all the tomorrows no matter what may come.

I am so grateful for His words. I am grateful that God chose to include David’s life for us to read. I get David, I understand the soul the that cries out in deep sadness and yet chooses to believe and trust in the God he knows. Of course I often forget, I fail and get lost but when I return to God’s word He is so gracious to remind me of who He is and when I remember who He is my soul, once again find hope in the Lord.

It's a Lie - I Really am a Mess

Can I  be honest and transparent for a moment? Lately I have been thinking a lot about how people see me and it hurts. It hurts because even though I think I am being honest evidently I am not. Here are some of the things I so often hear about myself. I have heard that I am a student of
God’s word, a woman of prayer, having wisdom, I even had someone say to me that my life seemed perfect. Perfect marriage, great family, lots of friends and this awesome relationship with God. I am strong in my faith and confident in God. Recently a woman said to me, I just can’t be a submissive wife like you!

Sigh. I don’t know the woman in the above description. I don't see what others see in me. Oh I might see moments of her, but more often than not I see a woman who struggles with way too many messes in life. I am so far from having life all figured out. But too often I am content with just letting people in general think what they want. Those who are closest to me know the truth. Just ask my husband how submissive I really am!

Here is what I want you to know, what I need you to know. I struggle just like you. I am just trying my best to be the woman God wants me to be. But most of the time I fail because my trying is in my own strength. And when I try in my own strength I walk in my flesh instead of  the Spirit and that creates all kinds of issues. Instead of being others focused I am often self focused. Instead meeting your need I will probably whine about no one meeting mine. When I walk in the flesh I am needy and life is all about me.

I don’t have the perfect life or perfect marriage. I am blessed, very blessed in my marriage, family and friendship but it’s not because of anything I have done or because of who I am. I am blessed because of God’s abundant grace. And to be honest I don’t get why He would give me grace at all, other than once again it has nothing to do with me.

He gives me grace because of who He is not because of who I am or what I have done. I sit here looking at the state of my heart and the pieces of my life that are a mess and I just don’t get it, but am grateful that still He pours His grace on me.

So could I ask a favor? Could we stop comparing ourselves to what we think we see in others? Could we stop assuming that anyone has it all together? Because trust me, after walking over 50 years on this earth, I have not found anyone who really has it all figured out. Did you hear that?  No one has it totally together. We all have parts of our lives that are a mess or in pieces. We all struggle to get through certain days or seasons of life.

And yet, what you might see in the more seasoned or mature (okay…older) woman (or man) is a contentment of knowing they don’t have it all together. They have lived long enough to realize that they will never have it all together, they will never understand it all, and they will never arrive at perfection. They have come to the place where they can just rest in knowing and trusting in the One who is perfect. They rest in the knowledge that they are a work in progress and the Spirit will continue to work in them until they day they see Jesus.

At least that is what I hope…because I haven’t arrived here yet either….

So perhaps instead of assuming anyone has it all together and being totally shocked when they fail, say something ugly, or behave in a way we think is uncharacteristic of them we should just give them grace.

Perhaps we should just assume that’s not who they want to be, give them grace and love them through it.

“I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am”John Newton

Joining this great ladies!

Have You Lost Hope?

Have you lost hope? Are you growing weary of fighting to find hope in your circumstances? Too often we are looking to the wrong things or people. As I was reading Lamentations 3 this morning I was reminded that regardless of how I feel, regardless of my current circumstances, or how people treat me, I can still have hope. I can still walk with joy through my circumstances because I hope in what the Lord has promised.

In Lamentations 3 we see one who has lost hope. He is a man who has seen affliction(1) and feels as if his prayers are not heard.(8) He has no peace and has forgotten happiness. His strength has failed and he has lost hope. (17-18) Can you identify? Have you been so overwhelmed by your circumstances that you have lost hope?

If you find yourself in a place of lost hope then may I encourage you to remember that the Lord’s faithfulness will never cease toward those who seek Him. Lamentations continue with a reminder that we would also do well to remember. “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.” (21)

In the midst of feeling forgotten and losing hope we need to remember that “ The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail.They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. (22-23) God promises to remain faithful to His children. He will never fail or disappoint. We can have hope because God, and God alone, will never fail us.

God is our portion and because He is we can hope in Him. What this means is that even if we have lost all we have in this world, finances, family, friendships, comfort, or even my health, we can have hope that God is with us. We can be satisfied with nothing and rest knowing we have God.

 This attitude is hard and I am still working on it. To be content with God alone even if my family and friends forsake me? I’d rather be destitute, live in great physical pain and poor health than be forsaken by those I love. My greatest fear has always been to be abandoned by those I love. To come to the end of my life and realize I have no friends or family who care about me. Yet I am continually reminded that all the Lord has in mine and He is enough. I am reminded that the things (and people) of this world will disappoint but God never will. I am reminded that unless I put my hope in the Lord I will always live in a place of disappointment.

When our hope is in the Lord we are never disappointed.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him. (Lam 3:24-25)

Why not spend time today reading Lamentations 3. Circle the word hope and write down all you see about hope. Who do we hope in? Why should we hope? What is the result of hope? I would love to have you come back and share what God has showed you.

Linking up at Grandma's Brief's Grand Social! Stop on in and visit other baby boomer bloggers.

His Goodness in Times of Trouble

There is much heartache and trouble in this world. It comes to us in so many forms and for many reasons. The bottom line is that we have troubles because sin entered the world long ago. Adam and Eve disobeyed God and since that time there has been all kinds of suffering. All of creation suffers and groans because of sin.

It is because of the sinfulness of man that wars are started. It is because of sin that spouses are not content and commit adultery. It is because of the sinful desires in our hearts that we hate, envy, murder, lie, steal, are unkind, lack compassion and are selfish. A sinful heart causes a man to hit his wife, a child to rebel against his parents and woman to abort her child. Because of sin we break our covenant and divorce our spouse. Because of sin there is all kinds of suffering in this world.

We have troubles because we do not obey God. We do not obey God because our heart is deceitfully wicked all the time. Our hearts desire what is wants, when it wants it regardless of what God has said is good.

So is there any hope? Is there hope for the believer of Christ? Of course there is hope! David, in Psalm 27, reminds us that we do not need to fear, we can be confident in the One who will rescue us. Yes we will be rescued from the  troubles on this earth one day when Christ returns, but I also believe that David is telling us that we can also see the goodness of the Lord today. We can have hope in the midst of troubles. We do not need to fear.

To have hope, to see God’s goodness in times of trouble we need to…

seek Him. We need to worship God, meditate on His word and sing praises to Him. (Ps 27:4-6)
pray. Cry out to the One who does not abandon you, to the One who promises to help you. (27:7-10)
walk in humility. Be teachable through the Spirit of God. Submit to His word, to His will. (27:11)
wait. If we seek Him, pray and are willing to submit to His will then we must wait for the Lord to show us what to do next. It is the strong heart, who seeks the face of God, that can humbly wait. (27:14)

Just to be clear though, we can seek God, pray, walk in humility, wait upon Him and still have troubles. We will still experience suffering, pain and evil in this land. The difference is that the one who seeks God will not be consumed by it. They will remain confident in the Lord, knowing that it is He who will lift us up out of the pit of suffering so that we see His goodness. (Psalms 31:19-24)

Are you in the midst of suffering right now? Does it seem that your whole world is falling apart? Why not spend some time reading Psalm 27 and Psalm 130. Cry out to God. Pour out your heart to Him. Worship Him today through His word in spite of your circumstances, regardless of the pain you are experiencing. He promises to answer the one who truly seeks His face. (Matt 7:7; Deut 4:29; Jer 24:7)

'Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. 'I will be found by you,' … (Jer 29:12-14a)

I am Afflicted and Needy

Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; and let those who love Your salvation say continually, “Let God be magnified.” But I am afflicted and needy; Hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay. (Psalm 70:4-5)

I want to be self reliant, to not appear needy. For me to ask for help is difficult especially when it comes to emotional or spiritual help. Actually if I am really honest it’s just any kind of help. In 2005 I was in a car accident and there were those of my friends who wanted to provide a few meals afterwards. I said I was fine; I could manage. I was lying, I could manage, but it was difficult, I was in a lot of pain. In spite of what I said a few friends brought meals anyway. They just didn’t give me a choice. It was such a blessing.

Some may say it’s my pride, and perhaps it is, but somewhere along the line I got the message that needing the help of others was a bad thing. It shows weakness and I didn’t want to appear weak. I don’t want to “have” to need anyone. Most of my life has been lived with an attitude of “ I can do this, I don’t need your help”. Unfortunately this attitude carries over into my relationship with God. I’ve made choices without God because I “can do it” on my own. Yes, I know, pride with a capitol P!

But God, don’t you just love that phrase! BUT GOD! He is unwilling to just let me go. He knows what is best and while I may fight against Him at times He is patiently and lovingly teaching me of my absolute dependency on Him. He is showing me I do need His help and the way He helps us is by sometimes using others.

Since my accident I have lived with chronic pain and today I can rejoice for it. This pain has taught me of my need to rely on God. It has taught me humility. I am afflicted. I am needy. Neither of those are a sign of weakness. In fact they are quite the opposite. I have learned it takes strength to admit that we indeed are weak and in need of help.

Today I still struggle, at times, with asking others for help, but I am learning. However, I can freely admit before God that I am needy. I can not do this thing called life apart from His help. I need Him in every single moment of every single day. As I learn to rely on Him in the moments of life I am able to see in a greater way just how marvelous and wonderful His grace is poured out to me. In fact because I am relying on Him more and more each day I am able to see just how He uses our affliction and neediness to bring glory to Him.

You see, if I get up in the morning, barely able to walk and in great pain, yet do what I am suppose to do and serve those God places in front of me it is because He has given me the grace to do it. He is the one who gets the glory, not me. So while I have not yet arrived in full knowledge I have learned to say along with Paul, “… "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.” 2 Cor 12:9

It is a continued journey of learning, growing and walking in His grace. A grace that gives me what I need in each moment. A grace that strengthens me, His beloved daughter who is afflicted and needy.

Linking up with Grace & Truth and Counting My Blessings

Living in Peace with the World in Unrest

The world is a crazy place theses days. Truthfully it has always been a place of confusion, hate, war and fighting the enemies of God. Somehow we think our time is unique, we think it’s worse than it’s ever been and yet I believe every generation has felt the same way.

peace in urestIt would be so easy to give in to the hysteria of the news and social media when it comes to what is happening or could happen in our world. As I read blog posts, twitter and Facebook statuses of friends I am reminded of just how easy it is to become overwhelmed. We begin to focus on how it all might affect us, our children and our families. We want to lash out against our enemies, build walls of protection and cry out to the authorities to protect us.

It’s true we live in a world today that is hard to know who our enemy is. Are we truly safe in our homes, in the grocery store, at work, at school or even on the playground. When will the next bomb rip apart our security? When will the next terrorist walk into a public place and just start shooting randomly? How can we live in such a time as this without becoming fearful?

This morning I was reminded of truth. I was reminded of the One who is my shield and my refuge. Psalm 2 tells of people, kings and rulers who counsel together against God. They are enemies of God, therefore they are an enemy of God’s people. But God’s response is to laugh and scoff at them. He will deal with them with His righteous anger. He reminds us that He has a plan and that plan began with sending His Son Jesus who is The King. He is King over the earth. (Psalm 2:4-5) Chapters 3 and 4 continue to remind us that God will deal with our enemies. He will “smite them on the cheek” (3:7).
He has a plan for the wicked and He has a plan for the righteous. His plan is Jesus (2:6-9). Jesus will judge His enemies. He will judge those who do not trust in Him. So we need to rest in His sovereign plan no matter how bad it seems in our eyes. We can not see what God sees. We do not know His plans and purposes in allowing evil to continue on this earth. But we can rest assured knowing and trusting that He does have a plan for each of us for all of eternity.

We are not to live in worry or fear but to live in joy and safety. But how are we to live a life of joy and peace in a world gone mad? We are to cry out to God, pray to Him. He will answer the righteous. Know that He is your refuge. He is your shelter. He will protect you. Spend time in His word, meditate on it. Do not trust in the words of man but trust God. Praise Him. Worship Him. These are the things we are to do in place of worry and fear.

This world can be a very scary and uncertain place, but for those who trust in the Lord we can walk in peace instead of fear. In those times when this world begins to overwhelm you and fear begins to rise up why not come and sit before God, read Psalms 2-5 and list all that God promises to do for those who fear His name. Then you can list all that God will do to those who mock His name. Look over your list and ask God for help in those areas that you find it difficult to walk in peace. End your time with Him by praising Him for His purposes and promises of protection for His righteous ones.
From my distress I called upon the LORD; The LORD answered me and set me in a large place. The LORD is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me? Psalm 118:5-6

The above verse came to mind as I was reading these passages today. We do not need to fear this world or what man may do to us. We need to fear the Lord. To be honest, even if I would be killed tomorrow by some random bullet somewhere I have peace knowing that I will spend eternity in the presence of God. It is the one who does not know God or trust in Him that should fear what man might do.

I know it’s not always an easy place to live, especially when I think of those I love who may not know God but still I need to trust that He is not willing for any to perish and He will not lose even one of those promised to Him.