Tag Archives: Choice

Take Up Your Cross, And Smile

I’ve been meditating on and praying through the “refresh” verse of the day meditation and prayer on the YouVersion Bible App each morning. Today went into following Jesus, which led my thoughts to “take up your cross daily.”

Usually in taking up the cross, most I know – including me – talk about taking our sin / sin nature up, or our sickness or whatever malady plagues us and hinders us: bearing up under it and pressing on despite it. Even just thinking about that is hard and heavy. So I asked God about that, and He brought to me a new understanding.

Jesus bore the hard and heavy of our sin, paying the penalty once and for all. He took that sin and shame to the depths of hell and left it there along with sin’s death. He now gives us freedom from it as a gift. All we need to do is receive it. We have no need to keep bearing that which is removed far from us in Christ. We need to take up our freedom in Christ and walk in it.

Jesus also bore our stripes for sin and sickness. By His stripes, we are healed. We don’t have to take that up and carry it. He bore that for us. And He helps us bear it now while we walk to full healing, whether that healing comes in this life or the next. Our health may prove a challenge, bringing opportunity to trust God and see all He will do in the midst of our struggle, but it can’t stop God’s purpose in us. There is always a way to serve and shine for Him when we seek His heart in every opportune moment.

Jesus also tells us that we should yoke ourselves with Him. Like Simon of Cyrene, Jesus is there to help bear our cross, but He does so willingly, not because He is required to by some enemy force. He says, “My yoke is wholesome (useful, good–not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.” (Matthew 11:30 AMPC)

As I think on that, I realize the view God has of the cross Jesus bore. That cross was not the sin and shame, sickness and death we look at. God sees freedom for His children. He sees the humility, selflessness, and obedient heart of Christ, which now lives in us. He sees mercy made new every morning, compassion that fails not, forgiveness made free and clear. He sees a willing heart made ready for God’s will. He sees Life, abundant and full.

Our cross to bear up under is yoked with Christ. It is freedom from sin and shame, sickness and death. It is one of willing surrender to the will of God, knowing that all He calls us to, He helps, provides for, and empowers us to do. It’s a cross set to please Him, honor Him, glorify Him. It’s a cross of eternal purpose that displays grace, mercy, forgiveness, love, selflessness, courage, strength, joy, contentment, assurance, power, and more.

The cross God left His children to take up daily and bear for all the world to see is light, easy, and an honor to His holy name. It has nothing to do with our physical strength, health, or struggles in this life. Those are simply opportunities to shine His Light and experience His power made perfect in us. Our cross has everything to do with our eternal perspective and assurance; with love for God and others that does hard things made easier in Christ.

Nothing can keep us back and hold us down when our heart is set on the eternal perspective of God’s purpose, plan, and provision. We experience God as we daily take up the heart of God, the mind of Christ, and the eternal perspective of a Life made new and easy in Him. By the understanding that God will complete and fulfill His purpose through our willing surrender, we partner in the cause of Christ to carry out our ministry to the glory of His name.

Morning Prayer: 1/22/2023

“Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.” – Hebrews 12:28-29

Thank You, Father, that I get to represent You and Our Kingdom in this life. Thank You for calling and equipping me. Fill me, Father, with the power of Your presence and with a grateful heart that serves You well. And thank You for highlighting this: that my service to You be aflame with true reverence and awe in You as I serve in the honor given me: that You choose me for the work You place in my path. Those frustrating people You give me to love in Your name from a grateful heart of reverence and awe in You as You flow through me to help them. Let true reverence and awe for You empower my patient love in those moments. That hard task You grace me to do with joy in the Lord and a life song that glorifies You. Thank You, Father. Let Your fire burn in me as grateful awe and reverent love.

Suicide: The “Why” and “What Now” – Part 3 of 3

The Ministry of Comfort

There are six examples of suicide in scripture. We’ve looked at two of them. Through these six, we see the heart behind the cause of the choice: fear, anger, depression-oppression, pride, shame, a sense of failure, helplessness, hopelessness, extreme remorse, condemnation, guilt, and the list goes on. (Samuel 31:3-6, 1 Kings 16:18-19, Matthew 27:3-5 ) We even see in scripture example of the telltale signs of one planning to take their own life, as Ahithophel set his house in order before hanging himself (2 Samuel 17:23).

Suicide has been around for as long as our need of God has been met by resistance to Him. Those of us who can’t fathom taking our own life, also can’t reconcile God allowing it. Thus we have the frequent struggle those left behind face as they come to such truths as those proclaiming the sovereignty of God.

“The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NASB1995

In a video devotional that went with this verse today, the teacher said our partnership with God and His participation in our lives is not a 50-50 or 70-30, our choice verses His. It is 100-100. I understand that concept, as God taught me the 100-100% principle in my married life. Successful, happy marriages are not 50-50. It’s all-in-all.

In relationship with God, He is all in our being one with Him and He with us. He is also all in for our right to choose whether we will be all in with Him and His will and way.

Right of choice is a gift from God. He does not remove our choice from us: we are allowed choice. But whatever choice we make, God is there and He causes all to accomplish His purpose, working it together for good and glory (Romans 8:28).

When we have God as our delight, we give self to His will. When we refuse Him, He does not remove our right of choice from us. He respects our boundaries against Him.

We are His delight and desire, whether or not we choose Him, for God is love, and He so loved the whole, entire world, that He gave His Son for us. He desires that none should perish, but all come to repentance: which means to align our will and desire with His will and desire for us.

God wants a loving, growing relationship with each of us. He also desires what is best for us. One of the things He sees as best for us is that we have right of choice. A love without choice is no true love at all. God wants true love relationships, so He gives us choice: God or not God, life or death, blessing or curse. God is Life and God is Blessing.

The hard thing is reconciling the fact of God’s sovereignty and His love for us with things like hard hearted Pharoah, or, closer to home, a dear friend’s family member who committed suicide. It’s hard for us to comprehend God, who is sovereign, being 100% partner with those horrendous decisions of the heart of man, and, in the case of Pharoah, even increasing his stubborn, hardened heart for God’s purpose. Our finite minds with our limited way of thinking cannot comprehend a loving God allowing, much less seemingly participating in such decisions leading to horrid outcomes. That’s where the truth stated by Joseph fits into the equation: “As for you, you meant evil…but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Genesis 50:20 NASB1995 – https://bible.com/bible/100/gen.50.20.NASB1995).

But God! His thoughts and ways are so much higher than ours. He sees things beyond our comprehension. His plans reach to effect far more than our here and now. And He uses the effect of such hard things in our here and now to accomplish purposes far more eternal in nature than we can begin to realize.

Take this beloved’s suicide. I cannot even begin to think that God’s will was his suicide. What I do see is this: a long time struggle with depression-oppression and constant heartache that became unbearable for a precious man, loved by God.

I believe that, in 99.9% of suicides, there is a point where mental health loses the battle. Though he may have wanted to believe in and trust God, the constant struggle hindered him being helped by any degree of hope he managed to grasp hold of through Christ. I don’t believe God wanted his death in that way, but God did want this one He loved free from the struggle. So when this beloved of God could not grasp God and chose death, God allowed His choice and took him out of his pain. Absent from the body…home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).

My understanding about this young man is that he wanted God and new Jesus as the way, the truth, the life, and the gateway. I believe God has him home with Jesus right now, no longer in pain, no longer struggling. He is now safe in the arms of God, freed from that mental turmoil. That is a hope I stand on, and encourage those suffering such loss to grasp hold of.

Now for those left behind suffering the aftermath. What now?

God says, “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. 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,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will restore….’” (Jeremiah 29:11-14 – https://bible.com/bible/100/jer.29.11-14.NASB1995)

Those left behind have a choice now. Trust that God’s purpose in allowing their loved one’s suicide was not death, but life. They are more set free to live than ever before, never to be troubled by depression-oppression again. Their grasp on the reality and provision of God is finally firm.

Now the ball is in our court. Will we run from God to our own struggle and hardship, or will we grab His hand, get His heart for the good He wants to work through our pain, and walk with Him to the fulfillment of the future He planned for us?

It may not be an easy road. Walking a hard path we can’t understand seldom is easy. But when we grab hold of trust in God, He always leads us to an eternal good that accomplishes through us an unfathomable glory.

So the choice is to run from God in anger and grief, which is death-though-we-live. Or run to God, where healing is found in the grief, restoration to life arises, and a greater good comes out of our pain as we who are comforted by God comfort others.

I pray you grab His hand. He will help you.

Love Is Something You Do

Love is not an emotion. Emotion can accompany love, but deep, abiding love is a choice flowing from who we are that reveals itself through actions.

Rick Warren writes, “Over and over again in the Bible, God commands us to love each other, and you can’t command an emotion. If I told you right now, “Be sad!” you couldn’t be sad on cue. Just like an actor, you can fake it, but you’re not wired for your emotions to change on command.

“If love were just an emotion, then God couldn’t command it. But love is something you do. It can produce emotion, but love is an action.

“The Bible says, “Let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions” (1 John 3:18 NLT, second edition).

“We can talk a good act: “I love people.” But do we really love them? Our love is revealed in how we act toward them.” (From YouVersion’s Forty Days of Love: Day 26)

This is essentially what God and I have been talking about today. Love takes action and shows it’s sincerity. And love is not hypocritical, expecting from others what I fail to do myself.

The example that has been the topic of conversation with my Father today is this. As a new widow, facing a medical test requiring help my sweet husband usually gave, I am having to figure out how to do this without him.

In this situation, I am finding that it is hard for me to call people and seek assistance when they never call or come by to check on me. Though they say, “Call me if you need anything,” the lack of any show of caring without a cry for help calls into question their sincerity. Couple that with knowing how busy people are and how overwhelming life is these days, and I feel like a nuisance in even considering bothering people with my problem.

That is the start of a vicious cycle. Feeling like a nuisance keeps me from calling or going by to check on others, not wanting to be a bother to busy, over stressed people. Which potentially leaves them thinking I don’t really care for them and am too busy to be bothered. Here we go on the round-e-round. 🔄

“So,” I question, “what should I do, Lord?”

His response?

Call. Go by. Love actively. Don’t worry about what the other person does or doesn’t do toward me. Be what Father God tells me to be. This love journey fits into the scriptural principle of giving. As we give into the lives of others, it is returned to us.

“Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” (Luke 6:38 NASB1995)

Here am I, O God. Send me.

Suicide: The “Why” and “What Now” – Part 1 of 3

Trusting Love: the Cure for Soul Death

Yesterday Father led me to call a precious friend and ask a simple question regarding her coping with her beloved’s suicide: “How is your trust in God through this?” The answer was as I suspected: “Not good, Darlene.”

Then God led me to find a devotional series on coping after the suicide of a loved one, asking Him to use the thoughts therein to inspire my heart as to how to pray for this beloved family in this unfathomable time.

The first day was introductory and one paragraph sums up the path to healing. “There is help. There is hope. This help and hope is found only in Jesus Christ. He alone gives genuine comfort to your inward being. He alone gives healing to your heart. Only Christ can replace anguish and hopelessness with transcendent peace and enduring joy.” (Julie Gossack, Hope Beyond Despair)

Today covered the suicide of Samson after Delilah’s betrayal, and this one telling fact that opened my heart to a slew of understanding. The truth is this:

“It came about when she pressed him daily with her words and urged him, that his soul was annoyed to death.” (Judges 16:16 NASB1995)

They may try to grasp it, but the battle raging against their mind, will, and emotions weakens their grasp on truth, robbing their strength, and turning them to willingly receive the lie. Trapped in the vale of the shadow of soul death leads to an agony they cannot overcome on their own. Feelings of being unable to get out of their situations or to trust love, grace, and truth from family and friends, or even God, they choose death.

The truth God is giving me is that those who succumb to suicide first suffer soul death. Their own thoughts and desires over life situations nag them until their soul dies, making them feel useless, worthless, helpless, hopeless, and insecure to the point of seeing no sense in continuing on with life. Their nagging thoughts – influenced by the lies of fleshly comprehension, worldly desires, and demonic designs – get such a hold on them that they cannot believe the truth countering their beliefs given by loved ones, nor even by God.

Many who survived a suicide attempt bear testimony that in the instant physical death was upon them, they recognized the truth that their concerns were based on lies. That they can overcome the issues at hand because they are loved and cared for by a God who deems them worth the cost paid in full by Jesus Christ. Because of Him, they are not helpless. There is hope.

I believe that instant of life to their soul is God’s reality reaching them as a hand to pull them back. That being true, I believe that same hand reaches the heart of those who succeed at their suicide commitment, which gives hope to my heart that, though the hand of God did not pull them back to this life, it did pull them up to eternal life. As long as there is our loving God who desires that none perish, but all come to repentance, there is hope for God’s mercy and love to prevail, even in the instant of death.

For family and friends left behind in the wake of their beloveds suicide, here’s the thing to realize and watch for as you cope with the reality of a loved one’s self induced death. Feelings that God failed in preventing the death in such an unimaginable act is a weapon against our own faith to trust God, hindering our ability to perceive and receive His help for our grief. Struggling with our own inability to help our beloved and prevent their demise leads us into a depressive struggle with our own sense of failure, inadequacy, and helplessness that can produce hopelessness. Blaming self or others in the equation that look to be the straw that pushed our loved one to such an end produces hate, unforgiveness, and bitterness that can prevent our ability to help others, or to be helped in our grieving.

These issues open us to constantly struggle with the why, what, and who questions that can put us in an onslaught of our own troubled thoughts, leading us into our own soul death situation. This struggle is, at least in part, a reason we too often see suicide come to groups in multiples. It explains why many fall away from loving relationships after suicide and even leave faith in a good God. Turning from faith, family, and friends removes from our lives the very things we need for help in healing, which robs us of the support that is needed to keep us safe from a soul death battle.

My prayer for my friend and her family is that trust in God be restored and firmed up. God constantly reaches to us, offering Himself to us and placing His resources in our path to pull us back from the brink. He does not force Himself on us: trusting Him is a choice He will not remove from us. If we earnestly seek Him, taking time for a close examination will reveal His presence reaching a hand out. If you’re reading these words from God’s instruction to me, this is His hand reaching out to you, giving insight and understanding that will help if you can grasp it. And God will help your grasp if you choose to trust Him in the midst of your struggle.

Friends speaking concern and trying to connect are also God’s hand reaching out to help you find soul life. God’s word touching your life is His loving presence set to draw you to Himself. But it is our choice to grasp the hand and open up to God and those He sends to help us.

If you are one who lost a loved one to soul death leading to suicide, God’s love for them leaves hope that His hand of love pulled them into eternal life in an instant of their own realization and acceptance of His loving care. If your grief is causing a thought life and emotional onslaught of bitterness and anger leading to the beginnings of your own soul death, grasp God’s love for You. Let Him lift you from death to life. Trust in God’s unfailing love is life, abundant and full. No one and nothing can rob this truth from us who choose to rest in His grasp through believing faith.

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants.” — Deuteronomy 30:19

Fight the Good Fight of Faith

I stepped into a spiritual battle with a friend under siege, which, of course, placed me in line of fire. This is what God is firming up in me.

Take your stand and stand firm.

  • On The Rock of salvation.
  • In the knowledge and assurance of God’s Love.
  • In the security of His promises.
  • Fully dressed in the wedding clothes of Christ.
  • Fully suited in the armor of God with spiritual weapons in hand.
  • Constantly dressed in readiness with Lamps alight.

Stand firm in Truth – know what truth is…

  • About God.
  • About God’s Word.
  • About His power, sufficiency, faithfulness, watchful care, eternal plan, and sure purpose.
  • About the situation and circumstances.
  • About heart issues.
  • About the true battlefield and enemy forces in heavenly places.

Stand firm in Trust, earnestly and watchfully believing and expecting God to be God and do God.

  • Be stilled in quiet faith – enter His rest where peace and calm prevail.
  • Cease striving in own strength.
  • Let be and know with assurance that God is God: the good God who works good in and for each of us, according to His perfect will, plan, and purpose.

Stand firm in Thankful praise and worshipful adoration.

  • God’s throne in our lives is revealed and lifted high on the praises of His people.
  • Praise bows the heart to submit to His will.
  • Grateful submission to God resists Satanic influences, causing them to back off and flee.
  • Grateful praise draws near to God who responds by drawing nearer to us, bringing us under His wings, into His shadow, hedged in by His Presence.

Stand firm as a Testimony of a faithful servant of God: keep living Him into life.

  • Be His image bearer.
  • Be His ambassador, knowing His authority over, in, and through you.
  • Be intentional in faith, love, and action.
  • Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.
  • Be His witness.
  • Be found faithful at His coming.
  • Be love as He is love.
  • BE real – strive to BE simply because He is.

Soul Care

God wants our all to grow strong and be in good health. As I read this verse, to my understanding it is giving priority to the requirement of our soul’s health and growth. As our soul prospers, so will our body and life.

The soul is our mind, will, and emotions. The mind here indicates our thought life. The will points to our desires and passions that dictate our choices and decisions. And our emotional health indicates the dictates of our feelings in any given moment.

Our emotions are good and intended to help our lives, but not as the leading role for life. Our emotions can prosper and help us only when they are dictated by right thinking and good choices flowing from the dictates of the Spirit controlling our desires and passions.

The soul is covered in scripture as one part because, to function properly, the three aspects that make our soul must function as one. As Father, Son, and Holy Presence work as one, so must our mind, will, and emotions. When mind, will, or emotion go off in their own direction, separate from the whole, that is when struggle, dysfunction, and instability takes hold of our lives.

Give some focus to soul care today and may your entire being prosper as your soul grows stronger allegiance to God and His ways.

Tactics of Persecution

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭4‬:‭12‬-‭13‬, ‭19‬

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. …

“Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”

Satan is the author of persecution. He tempts to the dark side. It is his goal to use the things we face in day to day life to tempt us away from faith-filled trust in God. The tempter desires to tempt us away from a life that honors God as God. He wants to ruin our testimony and rob us of peace, joy, and hope so we are ineffective as Christ’s ambassadors, the image bearers of God. In doing so, he causes us to doubt our Christian faith and walk away from God.

A man once said something ugly, condemning my Christian faith, then in one breath, quickly adding, “and no: I’m not persecuting you.” I don’t remember saying anything to him before or after. He was a passer by I did not know, nor have I seen him since. He spotted me as who I was in Christ, said whatever it was he said followed by the part I remember, and walked on, leaving me looking at him with “How rude” on my stunned face.

On one hand, he was correct. He was simply the unwitting instrument in the hands of him who was using the man to persecute Christianity. On the other hand, he was allowing himself to be that instrument, seemingly without understanding it’s source and purpose.

The same is true of a deadly diagnosis, the sudden death of a loved one, or any number of tragic events that leave us wondering where God is and how He could let such evil come upon one who loves and trusts Him. Anything that tempts us to doubt, fear, and turning from God is Satanic persecution of our Christian faith.

I believe Satan’s being the author and perfector of persecution is why God warns us to realize our battle is not against flesh and blood, but demons and principalities (Ephesians 6:10-18). Not only do we tend to focus anger toward the instruments of persecution, failing to love even our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, but we fail to realize enemy tactics of persecution through the temptation to doubt God that comes with our daily struggles.

This belief regarding tactics of persecution coming from the enemy of God has protected me from giving myself to fear, doubt, and unforgiveness. It has helped me separate the sin from the sinner so I can walk in God’s mandate regarding love and prayer. And it has kept me from allowing the fruit of God’s Spirit to be stolen and buried by the evil intent brought to life’s circumstances.

“… Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light And your judgment as the noonday. Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing. For evildoers will be cut off, But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.” – ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭37‬:‭1‬-‭9

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭5‬:‭8‬-‭11‬‬‬

Morning Prayer: 12/7/22

Father, life is filled with continuum experiences, granting us understanding. I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately, mainly that You are good and we cannot fully understand Your goodness this side of glory. Evil is the opposite end of that continuum. As we do not know the fullness of Your goodness, we cannot fathom how evil bad can get.

Your call for us to overcome evil with good is vital to our days, Lord. Grant us daily to draw in closer to You so our understanding of what “good” is grows.

Out of the heart flows the wellsprings of Life. May our hearts be cleansed and made good as You are good, and may that goodness flow freely from our lives surrendered to You who are good, the source of good, and the only one who can make us truly good. In Jesus, amen.

Call to Trust

God is calling me (and I believe He is calling all He calls “My people”) to greater trust.

I am in a spiritual battle right now that God is impressing on me as being training ground for increased trust in Him. I stand in awe of His accomplishment in this experience. You are going through something right now that is God’s call to greater trust in Him. God is getting “My people” ready. Cooperate with Him and choose to trust Him.

Believing God feeds trust. Unbelief kept Israel from entering God’s rest because it reveals a failure to trust. Our trust in God increases and releases our faith, which, in turn, strengthens our ability to believe Him. I am discerning that the strengthening of our trust is vital to our ability to stand in these days that are coming at us. I discern that an evil like this generation has never seen or imagined is coming around a blind corner, something we can’t fathom. End of days? Maybe. But for sure an evil beyond our ability to survive without trust in God for it.

We know we’re living in evil days and we know worse is coming, but this thing coming is beyond comprehension to even think. Trust in God is all that will get us through. Blind trust, that doesn’t have to see to have faith that believes God’s love and faithfulness, is the call of this hour. We cannot stand firm without it. We will fall. Proverbs 3:5-6 is vital to live out now.

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3‬:‭5‬-‭8‬ ‭NASB1995‬‬; ‬‬‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3‬:‭5‬-‭8‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

Today’s Prayer Continued: 11/12/22

Father, thank You for leading us to know that recognition of our great need of You in right and true relationship is our first act of worship. Thank You for reminding us of these things. I praise You that when we seek You wholeheartedly, You keep Your word to make Yourself evident to us and cause us to know You. Father, we — I desperately need You and Your wisdom in these days. We greatly need a fresh wind of Your great vision for us in this time in history. We need You in our every breath. Please breathe on us with the freshness of Your Spirit flow. We need You in our every footfall. Please show Yourself strong as You faithfully direct our steps to paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake. Make us fervent as Your house of prayer in these days. May we be found faithful at Your return. In Jesus, amen.

Morning Prayer: 11/12/22

Lord we need You. You are our first, most vital need and necessity whether or not we recognize our deep destitution apart from You. Please sweep across this nation bringing about a mighty spiritual awakening and great revival. Open our eyes to see You, our ears to hear You, our minds to know You, and our hearts to understand You and Your ways with believing faith. Make us to know our true need and our deepest shortfalls. Cause our hearts to turn to You through earnest repentance, truly seeking Your face. Remove our heart of stone and grant us a heart that is circumcised to You and pliable in Your hands. Forgive our great sin against You and, by Your faithfulness to Your word, heal this land. Restore our strength, renew our minds, and banish everything in us that is not of You. Then glorify Yourself, granting us godly leaders and making us a light of Your goodness, grace, and might in the earth. Until Jesus comes, we seek You with earnest expectation and hope in Your mercy made new every morning and Your unfailing love and compassion toward us who believe.
In Jesus name we pray,
Amen!

God’s Light in Dark Days

I’m going through a series of devotional studies on days of darkness in life, encouraging trust in God, the knowledge that He uses such seasons to prepare us for the purpose He has for us to live out in the light. God does not take us through the deep, sunless valley without working His good will through it. I believe this season of grief in the passing of my husband from this life to the next is such a valley.

These days are filled with the grief of missing him. Giving away his clothes was hard, but it was easier than seeing them set, unused in his absence. We don’t believe in letting such needful things remain in closets and drawers, rotting, when others can get good use out of them, so giving them in his memory was a blessing in this darkness. It shined a light that helps me see the goodness of God in these days.

Reminders of Johnny are everywhere, making me smile and hurting my heart at the same time. I reach in the cabinet for a glass to find the set bought specifically for him, ones more narrow and sculpted in a way his arthritic hands could more easily grasp, and tears fill my eyes. The kids moved his chair across the room for me, because I kept looking over expecting to see him there. The heartache, eased when I see it, by this simple act of loving kindness from my kids, them being God’s light of love to me in these days.

The heartache of closing out the imprint of Johnny’s labors as he worked hard to leave me in good shape to carry on, is constant within me. Though I smile, I can only hope the Son-shine is visible, for there is no sunshine in this heartache.

Some days I feel overwhelmed and alone. But in the midst of the worst of such days, God lovingly reminds me, “Yes. Though I walk through the deep, sunless valley of the shadow of death, I fear or dread no evil for You are with me. Your rod -to protect – and Your staff – to guide, they comfort me.” And He is clearly guiding me as I deal with these financial issues. (Ps. 23:4, AMPC)

God shines His light on my next place of footfall as He uses lawyers and accountants to help me navigate the financial and property transfers. He reaches out through loving, praying friends who help bring some sunshine to my dark days. One went with me yesterday, helping me go to the clinic and tend to business there, something I was finding too hard to do on my own. Another friend called, helping gear my heart to areas of church family gatherings where I can plug in. She also asked if we can get together next week for a meal. She is an acquaintance I don’t know well, but I look forward to knowing her better. It helps when others reach out a leading, loving hand and say, “come”. It gives light in the midst of the darkness.

God is helping me: protectively leading and guiding me. I’m seeing His light peeking through the heavy cover of this deep, sunless valley, shining, ever beaconing me through the darkness, assuring me that the other side is drawing closer.

There will always be days when missing my sweet man will bring the shadow. But life abundant and full continues as I trust God to do His good work in and through me. Even in this darkness, God is faithful, who will also do it. (Ps. 37:5)

‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5‬:‭24‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

Morning Prayer: 10/9/22

Let God’s Love Transform Lives

Father, thank You. You led me through a study on patience, the fruit born by Your Spirit in us and lived out through us in Christlikeness. That led to a deep study of love, for “love is patient.” Which led me to this devotional study aid. Love lets Your love transform lives: my own and those around me. Love is patient, trusting Your transforming power and the transformation process.

Love, a bookend flavor of Spirit fruit – it with self-control, holding all other fruit together; love for You first, then for all others as one should love self; love, out of which all other fruit flavors flow. Love patiently waits for Your transforming power to accomplish it’s purpose in those around us and in oneself.

Love is patient. And because it is patient, it chooses to forgive, not holding a grudge or tallying insults, but trusting and praying for Your transformation to be fully accomplished in self and in those we patiently love. Father, I pray to love as You love, not wishing any to perish, but all to come to repentance and be transformed.

Let Love – God is love – abound in me, producing patience that practices kindness; not being jealous or arrogant. Let Your love empower me to act becomingly; not seeking my own desire, nor being easily provoked, nor taking into account a tally of wrongs suffered, but rejoicing in righteousness and truth. Fill me with that love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, knowing that true, godly love never fails. This I pray in Jesus holy name, amen.

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:4-7‬‬‬

Morning Prayer: 10/2/22

See ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭3:8‬‬‬, ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:9‬‬‬, ‭‭James‬ ‭3:18‬‬‬, ‭‭John‬ ‭15:8‬‬‬, ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭1:8-11‬‬‬, ‭‭John‬ ‭15:16‬‬‬, ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭21:43‬‬‬, ‭‭Colossians‬ ‭1:9-12‬‬‬, ‭‭Luke‬ ‭8:15‬

Father, am I bearing fruit in keeping with repentance? Am I bearing the fruit of righteousness? The good fruit of Your Spirit, that honors, glorifies, and reflects You? Am I bearing fruit with perseverance? Am I setting a righteous example in my own life and living?

When people read my prayers or my ponderings shared to encourage and strengthen, are they inspired to pray for themselves and to walk in Your ways? Are they strengthened in You, in commitment to You, in true repentance that makes fertile soil in hearts seeded by You, made ready to grow strong in You and bear Your fruit in their own lives?

When I speak, do I clearly speak the truth in love? Do my actions reflect Your truth and love actively working in me? I’ve entrusted my tongue to You as a pen in the hand of The Ready Writer, that You may glorify and magnify Yourself through me. Am I in the way of that?

I have entrusted my life to You. Am I surrendering all for Your will to be done: as in heaven, so in me? If there is too much of me and not enough of You, Lord, circumcise the flesh of my heart; deaden the old; enliven the new. Let it be in me as it was in the words and practice of Paul: I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life that I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me. It is my constant cry.

I can do nothing apart from You, Lord. My heart desire is to fulfill the call of Christ to accomplish Your purpose and plan in these days You give me to choose You and live life-abundant in Your name.

You are teaching me greater depths of working out of Your resurrection power that is living and active in me. Empower me, through believing faith, to trust You more. Make Yourself known to and through me, that You may be glorified and magnified, and these with me edified and strengthened for these days in which we live.

May we who are your people live You out into this world, that all may know that You are God, and we are Your people: the sheep of Your pasture, led, fed, and shielded by You. Kingdom people, representing Kingdom purpose, in the power and provision of Your Spirit in us. In Jesus and to Your glory, confirm for us the works of our hands by the good fruit produced, the evidence of Your Spirit power, amen.

Choose Now

Choose Now

Trust God’s Plow

Past hurts, traumas, insults, bitterness, etc., harden us. We can let God deliver us and turn experience into a victory that ministers healing to others, or we can set in our hardened condition and use our past as excuse for being bitter, angry, hardened, untrusting, etc.. Our past can enslave us or we can walk free.

It may not be easy: bringing the ugly to the surface where it can be properly dealt with can hurt for a bit. It can take time as God works here a little, there a little to free us up. But the pain caused by the work of healing is better than sitting in our hardened state, becoming harder, and bringing others with us into a state of hard heartedness as we hurt them.

Matthew 13:18-23

Morning Prayer: 9/20/22

Father, thank You for teaching us that love is from You, through You, and for You; for You are love and You manifest Yourself through us. We cannot truly and fully love apart from You.

Thank You that You direct our paths. Thank You for the highlights in Your word today that point me to dig deep into the subject of loving as You love. Not counting searching through the scriptures for all I can find on the subject of love, You led me to 196 days worth of written daily studies to aid me in that journey. One hundred and ninty six plus days. That tells me that this focus on growth in this area is important to You. I will begin in 3-4 days time.

As I think about that, it dawns on me how this is a continuation of my study on patience, for love is necessary to one’s ability to practice patience in difficult circumstances.

One thing that grabbed my attention today is Psalm 41:1a, which says, “How blessed is He who considers the helpless…”. That grabbed me as I realized that none of us can truly do anything apart from You. We are all helpless apart from You. Yet I expect to love well and be loved well, forgetting that You are love, and You alone are good. Only You can make our love good, fulfilling its intent and purpose.

So why am I shocked by my own struggle when I try to do something in my own strength and fall short in my love walk, thus sinning against You. And why am I devastated when another person’s love actions toward me, done without thought of You, fall so very short. And if I am surrendered and filled with You – Your love, why would I give myself to feelings of insult toward any other helpless person. Shouldn’t I better understand their limitations? As Your word advises, “love covers a multitude of sin” (1 Peter 4:8).

Father, forgive me when I forget my need of You and fall short in my love toward others. I am helpless without You. Fill me with Your power filled love so that You may love through me. Empower me to love in Your name. This I pray in Jesus name, amen.

Morning Prayer: 9/18/22

Father, my heart’s cry and great desire is to live as if heaven matters, building up treasure there, being driven by eternity. Thank You that, through Christ, my flesh is crucified and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Empower me now to love You-Him in kind, knowing that, as one belonging to You, my flesh is crucified with its ungodly passions and desires. Fill me with Your Spirit so the fruit of Your nature is born forth in me. As I live by Your Spirit, may I be found faithful to walk by Your Spirit, giving You all glory and accomplishing Your purpose and plan for my life and living. By Your gace, make it so. In Jesus, amen.

‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:13-26‬ ‭NASB1995‬‬; ‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:1-17‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

Morning Prayer: 9/13/22

Father, thank You for instructing me. Thank You for leading me to have a yearly focus for spiritual growth that includes a focal verse of scripture, a fruit of Your nature being established in me, and an action word. This year’s are Psalm 23 (AMPC), the fruit of patience, and instruction to “be intentional”.

Psalm 23 took me deep into trusting You as my Lord, King, and Shepherd who cares for me. I can trust You. Being intentional in practicing obedience that flows from that trust is empowering.

Then you reminded me that a focus on patience necessitates a study on all Your Word says regarding that fruit. In researching that, You led me to several devotional series focused on bearing the fruit of patience. Thank You for the depth of understanding that taught me. I pray to remember and grow strong in the intentional, faithful practice of these truths.

Now today starts the last devotional You led me to in this focus: And the Lord Shall Be King, by Vance K. Jackson. Wow. It is not specific to patience, but I knew it would be vital to me in my journey of growth in the bearing of this fruit. I barely began the first day’s reading and the switch flipped on. Not a switch of the light of new revaluation, but the switch that opened a floodgate of greater depth of commitment.

Patience is vital to right relationship with You as King. It flows out of a trust that knows You are faithful and trustworthy. Your timing is perfect, Your ways indomitable. To be impatient is to move against You and place my ways above Yours, saying that I know best the way and the time, placing myself as king.

Keeping You as Lord, waiting on You, moving with You, trusting Your ways and Your timing is vital to a life well lived. I know this. Help me better live it. I pray for the fruit of patience to be a vital aspect of my who as I bow before You. Grant me ability to intentionally be still, cease striving, be quiet, know and let You be God. Otherwise I wear myself out trying to do Your part as well as my own, doing harm instead of good. This I pray, knowing it is the heart desire of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.

“Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭27:14‬ ‭‬‬

“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 ‭40:31‬ ‭‬‬

“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.”
‭‭James‬ ‭5:7-8‬ ‭‬‬

“Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth!”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭46:10‬ ‭AMPC‬‬ (Read in several versions)

Morning Prayer: 9/12/22

Thank You, Father, for Your Spirit that works in me, recreating in me the fulness of Your image, bearing forth the fruit of Your nature in me. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, along with the humility of Christ, having His heart to seek You as first and most vital need and necessity, possessing His way of thinking from a mind set on the things above where Christ is, and more grow strong in me as I fully surrender to Your gracious work.

Thank You, Lord, that Your Spirit transforms us who are called by Your name from the inside out, changing each of our mind, soul, spirit, and strength to fully rely on and be like You. When the flesh in us rises up and brings struggle, Your Word reveals to us that such a battle is because of double mindedness: the mind of the flesh trying to sabotage the victory of the mind of The Spirit in us who are Yours in Christ.

Father, empower each of us to realize this battle more quickly and choose You and Your ways. Thank You for growing me stronger in this battle of the minds. “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:5-8‬ ‭NASB1995‬‬

Morning Prayer: 9/6/22

1 Timothy 6:12, Hebrews 11:1, 6

Father, You instruct my heart to know that true faith takes hold of the eternal life to which I am called, taking possession now of what You promise I have with You in Christ. I make the good confession as I proclaim and stand in the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Faith is required of us who profess belief in You, for without faith it is impossible to please You. We fight the good fight of faith as we patiently trust that we will see Your goodness in the land of the living.

Coming to You, we must stand firm in faith, believing that You are, and that You are a rewarder of those who seek You. I search for You, O God, with all I know of my own heart. Reveal any place in me that fails to seek after and bow to You. I trust You to make me stand faithful and true, for You are able. In Jesus, glorify Yourself in me, and make Yourself known to and through me. Amen.

ONE

‭‭John‬ ‭14:7-20‬ ‭‬‬

God has really been honing me in on the truth that we are already, right now, one with Him and the Father. Our power to walk through these days in victory, with strength, fully possessing ability and power to accomplish His purpose requires us to know this fact. The flesh is dead. All that remains is our eternal, glorified self in Christ.

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Galatians‬ ‭2:20‬ ‭‬‬

When we give ourselves up fully to Him, we become whole, complete in Him, fully all He intends us to be, powered for His purpose. Trusting Him to be in us fully, the Eternal our now reality, is the beginning of the end of our constant struggle with a dead flesh.

Morning Prayer: 8/24/22

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭45:1-4‬ ‭‬‬

Father, may our words always be founded on the good theme of godliness, righteousness, truth, and love, honoring You with every word. May our words flow from Your heart, knowing You are first to hear, know, and receive our every thought, bringing blessing or curse to Your name. I surrender my tongue to You as Your pen: the pen of the Ready Writer. May I be known as one belonging to You by my words.

Pour forth grace upon my lips, making Your message through me a blessing to those who hear, blessing me in Christ forever. Help me remember that the words of my tongue are a sword, piercing the heart of the listener for good or for evil. May I faithfully gird the Sword of the Spirit on my thigh, O Mighty One, using it properly for Your splendor and Your majesty! In Your majesty ride on victoriously, through my words from You and for You, for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness. Let the right hand, bearing the Sword of Your Word in the power of Your Spirit, teach me awesome things. In Jesus, amen.

Overeating vs. Biblical Gluttony

I am truly enjoying the devotional study by Alisa Keaton, The Wellness Revelation, 40 Day Journey. She makes excellent points that are helping me turn my heart to a healthier lifestyle. However, I disagree with some points on day 9. Knowing many who teach this understanding of overeating being the biblical sin of gluttony, I give my opinion based on past studies years ago by people whose names escape me, but who foever changed my focus on this battleground.

On day 9, covering what the author calls the sin of gluttony: This teaching I take issue with. The dictionary definition of gluttony as overeating used in this devo is not the biblical view of gluttony.

In Bible days, people would come together for celebrations that lasted days and centered around a constant supply of food and drink. In the guise of celebrating, many would drink to drunkenness and eat until they were so full they couldn’t take another bite. But the glutton didn’t stop there. These would make themselves throw up, emptying the stomach specifically so that they could continue their gluttonous celebration. This is not the illness experienced by the person struggling with bulimia, but the sin of the party animal. This is gluttony.

There are many issues in our lives that can lead to our overeating: bad habits formed from childhood; emotions centered on self; sin or health issues that need to be discovered having nothing to do with gluttony. Overeating is more often out of bad habits like the tendency to eat too fast, or a symptom of unrecognized sin or some mental or physical health issue that needs to be addressed.

Focusing a person on a lesser definition of gluttony when that is not the underlying issue causes their focus on food to turn to a whole different level of struggle, with the wrong enemy of their flesh targeted. And the person fighting a false understanding of biblical gluttony, who cannot get control because of ignoring the underlying cause of their symptom of overeating, falls to feelings of defeat and gives up a fight they never truly engaged in because they were standing on a battle line that was never the issue.

To win the battle of the bulge, we must discern the true issues we as individuals need to address and point our arrows at that target. Lifestyle changes take time and there are many victories on the way to the desired goals. Find a habit or a trigger point in your life with food and drink. Start there. Win that hill, then move to the next habit, sin, or health issue and target that. Maintain possession of victories won while focusing on the next goal. Little by little, hill by hill, feel better and grow stronger.

By the grace of God, you and He together have got this.

The Wellness Revelation 40-Day Journey’. Check it out here:

Morning Prayer: 8/10/22

Oh, Father. I know the pain of the work of evil in family, and I know several families who are suffering the destructive force of the hand of evil. I pray You fill them with Your love, and deliver them from the self destructive power of hate, bitterness, unforgiveness, even blame toward self and feelings of guilt gets an ugly grip where it is not truth. Evil destroys lives and families if not dealt with properly. Please grant wise counsel to the hearts and minds of each family member. May they seek Your face as never before and help each other recover.

A thought came out of my mouth the other day when talking about the need to forgive. “I can’t afford to not forgive.” When I heard myself say that, Father, I knew deeper than ever the truth of that fact. Forgiveness is for my own sake, putting no obstacle between me and You who are my first, most vital need and necessity if I am to be of any use to others struck by the evil we face. In Jesus, empower these to love the unlovable for Your names sake and bring to these full healing and restoration in the process, enabling them to forgive those snared and used to work the evil done. Amen.

Morning Prayer: 8/9/22

“Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him. This also will be my salvation, For a godless man may not come before His presence. Listen carefully to my speech, And let my declaration fill your ears. Behold now, I have prepared my case; I know that I will be vindicated.”
‭‭Job‬ ‭13:15-18‬ ‭NASB1995‬‬

Father, I have several friends who are hurting so bad today. Their pain is unfathomable; it’s cause, unbearable. I cry out to You for their ability to take a posture before You that bows in surrendered acknowledgement of Your Who. I pray they can, by Your grace, be still and know YOU.

Remind their hearts who You are and of Your faithfulness to Your Word and to them. Grant them to know Your presence. Grant them Your power for each new day, new challenge, their next breath. In Jesus I pray, amaze us by Your reality working in each of us and the pain we face. Amen.

Morning Prayer: 8/8/22

‭Genesis‬ ‭17:1-11‬ ‭‬‬ (read chapters 16-17)

“… You shall fear the Lord your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name. He is your praise and He is your God, who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen.”
‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭10:12-21‬ ‭‬‬

Thank You, Father, that You desire our heart – for us to be wholehearted toward You, practicing our faith through surrendered trust in Your faithfulness.

You have taught me that my faith can only stand firm on You when my focus is Your faithfulness. We too easily make our faith the god that determines our outcome. Faith to believe and trust You is important, for without faith, it is impossible to please You; but, as Your faithfulness did not stop because of Abram and Sarah’s faith that took a wrong turn, in their attempt to make their own way to the promise by using Hagar, so Your faithfulness will prove itself in us and our situations as we put the focus of our trust in You. You still kept Your word to Abraham. You – who know our hearts – will be found faithful by us.

It is Your faithfulness that must be our focus for our faith to stand in agreement and cooperate with You. I pray for discernment of Your promises, trust to take You at Your Word, and clear vision to follow Your lead as we keep our focus on Your faithfulness with earnest expectation and hope in You who will do it. You will accomplish Your Word. Not one tittle of Your word will fall or fail, for, however long the wait, You are faithful and will show Yourself strong. This I’ve seen. This I know of You. In You I trust. In Jesus, amen.

Morning Prayer: 8/5/22

Father, they could not enter Your REST because of their unbelief (Hebrews 3:18-19). Remembrance of all You have done, both in days of old and in our days, holding to You with earnest expectation and hope that You, who have shown Yourself strong before are still strong and working on our behalf for Your glory today, increases our faith to believe and trust You in the here and now challenges of life. The things we remember and choose to set our mind, heart, and hope on is vital to our ability to REST in Your faithfulness. Help us, Father, to have right thoughts within us so we believe You and trust You more. Help us to set ourselves apart to You, knowing You will use us and work good in us, to us, and through us as we wait on You and walk faithfully with You. In Jesus, amen.

Morning Prayer: 7/29/22

Thank You, Father, that You never leave nor forsake me. Your mercies are new every morning and Your compassions fail not. You know my every breath and are mindful of my every step. You count the hairs of my head and know where each is – not one missing from Your care.

My heartbeat is constant before You, my thoughts reaching to You. You are faithful, and I can trust You who care for me watchfully and care about me affectionately. The comprehension of You is a breath, a heartbeat away. I think of You and there You are: in a heartbeat, You touch me with assurance of Your loving care.

Thank You for loving me; for always drawing near to me as I draw near to You, faithfully making Yourself and Your Presence known, knowable, and evident. Here am I, O God. Make Your faithful essence flow through me as light to a dark and weary world. In Jesus, amen.