Does Anyone See Me?

You walk right by me without a word.

Don’t you see me?

My heart is broken. My life in chaos. My husband is having an affair.

Can you see me?    
My wife lost her job and we can’t pay the bills. We are afraid we may loose the house and end up on the street.

Can you see me?

I just got out of prison. I have no place to go. The shelters are full. If I go home I will end up in the same life. I want to change.

Can you help me?

I am lonely. Lost. Depressed. I don’t know if I can handle one more crisis in my life. I don't want to live anymore.

Does anyone see me?

I live a life on the street. I get by the best I can. But it’s hard and I want out of this life, but I don’t know how.

Can you help me?

I am tired, weary and frustrated with this life. Is there more to life? Is there really a God?

Could you tell me?

We walk past people everyday who are hurting inside. They are at work, in our schools, in our churches and on the street.

But do we really see them? Do we care about them? Do we love them? Do we see, care and love them enough to do something or is our life just too busy.

Maybe we are afraid. After all it could get messy. It might cost me my time, money, and energy. Is it safe? What if I get taken advantage of? I wonder if these things crossed the mind of Jesus? Somehow I don’t think so. He came for the sick, the lost, the hurting and the invisible.

As His child I am called to help fight for those who can’t fight. I am to love them. Serve them. Preach the Gospel.

I am to show them Jesus. To let them see that Jesus sees them.

Yes, Jesus sees. He sees those who are hurting and lost. He sees those who walk on by. If I am a follower of Jesus then I must choose to see them too, but not just see them, I need to help them when I can.

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. James 4:17
Oh Jesus I fail in this area so often. Sometimes I do see but chose to not get involved. Forgive me. I claim busyness or some other excuse, but honestly there are no excuses. Please open my eyes and my heart so that I might see those who need you. Help me to see those who need encouragement, love, help, hope, life! Help me to choose to make a difference in the life of those who are hurting. Take my eyes off me and what I might think is important and help me to set my heart upon total surrender to reaching those who need your touch. Jesus I can be so totally self centered, forgive me. Help me to be others centered. I just want to be your humble servant, to give a hug, a smile, a word or whatever is needed that is in my abilities to give. But I know my flesh and I need You working in and through me. Thank you for your grace in my life. Help me to offer it to others. Amen.

Is God Still Faithful When the Storm Doesn't End?

The LORD is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works. Psalm 145:9
I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living. Psalm 27:13

Recently I have heard several proclaim God's faithful as a result of answered prayer. They praised God because He provided a job, healing for illnesses, and the return of a prodigal child. Those around them rejoiced and exclaimed the goodness and faithfulness of God, as we should. God is good. He is faithful and together we can rejoice when we see clear evidence of His goodness and grace to us.

But as I sat there a question came to my mind. I am not exactly sure where it came from and I do not believe the question was meant to be asked aloud at that particular time. But it was question that my own heart needed to answer. The question my heart asked was, "Is God faithful and good even when things do not turn out the way I expect?" My immediate response was "Of course He is! God is always good. He is always faithful. Even in those times I don't see His answers or understand what He is doing."

 The question haunted me. I was not satisfied with my quick heart response. Would God still be faithful if a sick child died after much prayers? Would God still be faithful if your husband chose to walk out of your marriage after praying and fighting for healing? Would God still be faithful if your child remained a prodigal even though many were praying for her?

Would I still see God as faithful if I had to walk the rest of my life in pain, never to be healed? Could I walk through whatever I am walking through, without any apparent answers, and still proclaim God good? 

The truth is there are days I struggle believing He is good to me. I struggle to believe in His faithfulness.

It's easy to proclaim God's goodness when things turn out the way we think they should. It's easy to give thanks when God answers our prayers with a yes, or answers beyond what we asked or imagined. But when His answer is no it can be harder to see and trust in His goodness.

I am learning that I need to know and understand that God's faithfulness is a part of His character. His goodness is not based on what He does and doesn't do according to my plan, it's who He is. God is faithful according to His plans, not mine. I may not see the end of a particular season of suffering but I can trust in God's goodness to see me through.

The thing is, regardless of how I might feel God remains the same. God is good. God is faithful. There is nothing that can change those facts. If I feel that He isn't good or faithful in my life, whatever the circumstance, then I have a wrong view of God and I am believing lies. Nothing can or will change who God is.

We speak of God's faithfulness while we walk through the storms of life but can we speak of His faithfulness if the storm doesn't end? I want to be more mindful to sing His praises in the storm, not just when the storm is over. 

Does Your Heart Break?

I watch them daily as they cry out for love and acceptance. They become angry and bitter about past circumstances, disappointments, and rejection of those they trusted and loved.

I watch their brokenness grow deeper. They run after all the wrong things. The lies they believe are so subtle, and so deadly, but they do not see them. They believe lies of an enemy they don’t know or understand. Lies told to them by their parents, siblings, friends, Hollywood and the world.

They say they know God yet walk in disobedience or as prisoners of their past.

Who are “they”? They are the daughters of God. Those who are free yet walk in bondage. They are those who don’t know God as their Father. They are the ones who are currently lost yet will come to know God as Father. They are His chosen daughters. They are my mothers, sisters, daughters, granddaughters and friends.

Does your heart break? Mourn?

I cry out with Jeremiah in chapter 8 verses 18-22…

“My sorrow is beyond healing, My heart is faint within me! Behold, listen! The cry of the daughter of my people from a distant land: "Is the LORD not in Zion? Is her King not within her?" "Why have they provoked Me with their graven images, with foreign idols?" "Harvest is past, summer is ended, And we are not saved." For the brokenness of the daughter of my people I am broken; I mourn, dismay has taken hold of me. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has not the health of the daughter of my people been restored?”

Oh how I wish I had time to break this passage down precept by precept, but as I read it my heart is in anguish and pray that you will hear it.

There are women are all around us who are broken and live without hope. They live in bondage to the father of this world. These women sit in the pews of churches every week and yet they still live in bondage. They believe lies that keep them from the freedom that Christ has given them. They are lost, afraid, and filled with anxieties.

So my question is this. Where are the daughters of God who can lead them to the “balm of Gilead”? Where are the women who can lead the sick to the Healer God, Jehovah Rapha? Why are so many of the healthy, spiritually mature women content to remain on the sidelines?

I know they are out there. I see some of them reaching out in grace, love and mercy. They are taking the broken and leading them to the Father where there is help, hope and healing. But there needs to be more women reaching out. The need is so great, greater than most even imagine.

The women of the church need to rise up and embrace their sisters. We need to rise up and begin to help them to build up the broken, weakened, and destroyed walls that have come tumbling down.

My prayer….

Oh Father, You know the cry of my heart. I pray that that my heart would remain broken and in anguish over Your people. Help me to walk along with my sisters in Christ and lead them to a deeper, healthier relationship with You.

 Father I thank you for bringing me the healing and hope that you have. I thank you for continuing to show me the brokenness of my own heart and life.

Oh God how can the daughters of Zion ever reach a dying world if they still walk in bondage?

Oh Father, show me the sin in my own heart and thank you for Your grace and forgiveness. Continue to reveal to me the need of the cross, Your blood offering. Pour Yourself in me that I may pour myself out to You as an offering. 
Oh Jesus draw me near to you….

When We Feel Shriveled Up By Suffering

Though I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, I do not forget Your statutes. Ps 119:83

I have always loved Psalm 119 and as a result have spent much time reading and studying it. This chapter has brought sweet comfort and refreshment to my soul on many occasions. But it never fails that a fresh reading of it will bring something new that I hadn't seen before. Today, while reading I stopped at verse 83 and thought so what happens to a wineskin in smoke? What does the psalmist mean by saying that he has "become like a wineskin in smoke"? 

Here is what I found:

The KJV uses bottle instead of wineskin and has this to say, "As the bottles in the East are made of skin, it is evident that one of these hung up in the smoke must soon be parched, shriveled up, lose all its strength, and become unsightly and useless. Thus the Psalmist appeared to himself to have become useless and despicable, through and exhausted state of his body and mind, by long bodily afflictions and mental distress." (1)

As I read this I couldn't help but remember those times in my life that I too have felt parched, shriveled up, weak and useless. For a variety of reasons, whether it's illness, pain, tragedy, sorrow, or any number of difficult circumstances, the journey of this life can seem to leave us withered and worn. These times can come as a result of God's discipline. It is true that God disciplines us for good and our suffering comes in order to produce endurance and character (Romans 5:3-5). But it doesn't always seem like it's for our good and we feel as if we are being dried up. 

So it's in the midst of feeling dried up and useless that we can say, "even though I feel like I am being shriveled up and weak I will not forget Your word. I will not forget your truth." I love Keble's paraphrase, "The severity of the discipline does not alienate me from thee, or cause me to depart from thy Law."  And then there is Matthew Poole's Commentary which says, "My natural moisture is dried and burnt up; I am withered and deformed, and despised; and my case grows worse and worse..." (2) but I do not forget Your word.  

Today regardless of where we are in this journey may we remember that our strength comes from the truth of His word. May we be reminded that in His word we find comfort. No matter how "parched or shriveled" you may feel do not depart from what you know is true according the the Word of God.


Joining these blog hops today...

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) 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!