Friday, June 23, 2017

The Feathers of Hope

 Looks like hope is an important theme for us this week! I hope you'll find encouragement from this post and from Shari's earlier in the week. 
My favorite poem about hope is from Emily Dickinson.  I recall my mom reciting the opening line when I was a child. Later I realized that I loved the whole poem.  Here it is:
“Hope” is the thing with feathers – 
That perches in the soul – 
And sings the tune without the words – 
And never stops – at all – 
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard – 
And sore must be the storm – 
That could abash the little Bird 
That kept so many warm – 
I’ve heard it in the chillest land – 
And on the strangest Sea – 
Yet – never – in Extremity, 
It asked a crumb – of me.

It has been said that Dickinson’s poetry has a similar style as the psalms and other religious hymns – perhaps that’s why I connect with her writing style.  It’s flow appeals to me, and her metaphor here speaks to me visually.
Hope in its simplest form is a bit shallow.
“I hope it rains tomorrow.”
“I hope my daughter buckles her seatbelt.”
“I hope you feel better.”

But if we dig a little deeper, real hope adds to it expectation.  When hope combines the idea of wanting something to happen with the idea of expectation, whether because of past results or sheer faith, hope becomes so much more meaningful.
Psalm 3
Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; any are saying of my soul,“There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah
But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah
I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.

I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.
Arise, O Lord! Save me, O my God! 

For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked.
Salvation belongs to the Lord your blessing be on your people! Selah

Our greatest source of hope is through our Lord. The Savior of heaven and earth, Creator of the world and lover of my soul.  No matter the good and wonderful things, or the difficult and sometime tragic things we experience we can stay steady and remain hopeful knowing that He is in control of it all.
There’s so little hope in our world, and because there is such little hope people turn to evil.  The evil is rampant and overwhelming.  
How grateful I am that there is something far greater beyond this life that fuels me forward.  While there are many wonderful joys in this life, it cannot compare to the hope of our future in Glory.  We should share hope with those around us.  Not a flimsy, shallow hope though – let’s share the reason for our Hope – our expectation of a future more wonderful than we can even imagine.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Gossip and Misleading Articles...

by Debi Baker

Today, I am brokenhearted.  I read something on Facebook that I thought was real.  I talked about it in church last night...about how horrible it was.  Then...I found out that it's not true.  I am thankful that it's not true.  But...why...why do people spread such things?  I just don't understand.  God's people are fighting a battle today.  We are trying to do everything we can to spread the Gospel and then there are organizations out there that write such real-sounding articles that cause us to share and comment and essentially spread heinous gossip!

This particular article spoke about a church in Somewhere Town, USA that has decided to stop speaking about God...all on the pretext that they need to get 'money giving units' into the church because 'their expansion from a previous year wouldn't pay itself off.'  Instead of preaching God, they are going to start preaching more 'relevant' topics such as sports, movies, etc.

How foolish I felt in front of my congregation last night when someone looked it up and informed me that it was all a farce!  I haven't been able to substantiate either way.  But it's about more than me feeling like a fool.  It's about the sad turn that the church of today is taking.  The church of today is compromising itself to the point that Satan is evident in many of our churches.  The enemy doesn't care if we go to church; he just doesn't want us to worship or listen to the sermon or to 'do' something for the Lord.

The reality of the matter is that it is more likely that churches will begin, or continue, to share messages that don't mention the Lord.  They will be sermons that 'tickle the ears' to make the congregant feel good about their walk.  It breaks my heart and I know it breaks the heart of our Father in heaven.

First Timothy 4:1 NLT says, "1 Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons."

 It's high time that Christians begin to realize who they are and to whom they belong!!  If we truly are the sons and daughters of the Most High God, then we need to put on the Armor of God EVERY day and fight the enemy!!  Ephesians 6:13 NKJV says, "13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."

I encourage you, today and every day, remember to whom you belong.  Remember that He sent His one and only Son to die for you.  Remember that Jesus willingly allowed the Roman's to crucify Him in order that we might live for eternity!  The least we can do is live for Him and do all we can to enlarge the Kingdom!

Have a blessed day,
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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Perseverance and Hope

By: Shari A. Miller

Happy Wednesday morning friends!

 Today I would like to share with you a set of verses from the fifth chapter of Romans.

 "Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." Romans 5:3-5

God allows trials in our life so that we may grow closer to Him. Through this suffering we experience on earth we develop the perseverance to keep seeking God and praising His name. Through these trials God assures us with a bounty of love that only He can give.

You may be completely discouraged by all the trials that keep happening to you and your family. I know I am! It may seem like you are drowning and have no relief from the pressures of this world.
Yet, you don't have to be drowning. Give it all to Jesus and realize that it's with His power alone that you can set your feet on solid rock.

Remember that there is hope! Just turn your eyes heavenward and dig deep within your soul and you'll find the one and only true hope in Jesus Christ our Lord.

It is time for the Woman to Woman Word Filled Wednesday Link Up. We desire to connect women of God with one another and encourage each other in Christ. So grab a cup of coffee or glass of sweet tea, sit back and visit a few blogs. Be encouraged and share your own stories in their comments.

Use hashtag #w2wwordfilledwednesday

Three rules to this link up:
1. Must be a {Christian} faith post.
2. Link back to W2W somewhere in your post. (Feel free to use our button if you want!)
3. Visit and comment on at least one other blog in the link up.

Woman to Woman Ministries

Monday, June 19, 2017

Praying Godly Friendships for Your Husband

By: Jenifer Metzger

When my husband was first saved, his old friends were not happy. They didn't like the change in him and wanted nothing to do with it. My husband knew it was time to move on. For nearly 19 years he went without a close male friend. He didn't seem bothered by it. After all, raising a young family with 4 kids, having a full time job and doing full time ministry work, we were plenty busy. There were men that came into our lives, husbands of my friends or some men in our church, but he never seemed to be able to create that connection with them. He enjoyed going out to lunch, with the wives and kids, and that kind of thing. But a real heart connection never happened. I never worried about his lack of a male friend. I knew he had me to talk to and share with. That's all he needs right? He had all of our siblings and parents. He was good to go, in my mind.

About 2 years ago, God spurred my heart to pray for my husband to have a good, Godly male friend. I have incredible, precious, Godly female friends who bless me more than words can say and God was showing me that my husband needed the same. I began to pray that God would bring a Godly man into my husband's life that would teach him and learn from him, pray for him and be prayed by him, encourage him and be encouraged by him, laugh with him, and live life with him.

Boy did God answer my prayers! Before I tell you how He answered, let me tell you why He answered.

Iron sharpens iron,
and one person sharpens another.
Proverbs 27:17

Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts.
For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls
without another to lift him up.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

God didn't intend for us to do this life alone. He says in His Word how important it is for us to have friends. We need each other. Sometimes our husbands need to talk to someone for prayer, encouragement and advice. Someone other than us. Someone who sees that male perspective and understands in a way we won't. Sometimes they need someone to give them a little knock on the head and tell them they are acting like a knucklehead, something they will not accept from us.

If your husband has Godly male friends, encourage him to cultivate those relationships. Pray that God would bless the friendships. If he doesn't have Godly male friends, immediately begin to pray that God would bring someone into his life. Praying that God would give your husband Godly friends and grow the relationships is a prayer that He will honor because it is straight from His Word.

In addition to praying for your husband to have a Godly male friend, allow him to actually have this friend. Sometimes as wives, we don't want our husband to leave to go hang out with a friend. His free time is so little and we want to spend it with him. Yet, if he is not given this time to develop the friendship, it is not going to grow. When he says he's going to lunch or fishing or to play basketball or just needs to talk to his friend, don't get upset. Instead, give him your blessing and while he is with his friend, pray over the both of them. Pray that their time together would be fun, but would also be spiritually uplifting for the both of them. You can also invite his friend and his family over for dinner to grow a family connection.

So how did God answer my prayers? He sent a family to our town and our church. Not only did my husband gain a strong Christian friend, but I gained an amazing new Godly friend and our kids gained new friends. His new friend speaks life into him, prays for him, encourages him, laughs with him and does life with him. They have become the best of friends, brothers really. We have been greatly blessed. In addition, other families have become good friends and friendships with men he already knew are being cultivated. When God answers, He answers!

Does your husband have Godly male friends? If so, do you encourage the cultivation of these friendships? If not, how can you begin to pray for him? Share your experiences and thoughts.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Peace and quiet...

We live in tumultuous times. Once again, this week's news was filled with violence and controversy.   I long for peace and quiet in the midst of this world's chaos.  In Isaiah 32:18 we read that God's people can dwell in peace, safety and quiet.  Perhaps there are some things that we can do to cooperate with God in making this happen.

1) Ask the Prince of Peace to dwell in you and in your home and family.
Jesus is the Prince of Peace.  Invite Him into every area of your life, home and family.  Give Him permission to show you anything in you, your home and your family that is a peace robber.  There are many things that can steal your peace.  Unforgiveness, offenses, worry, anxiety, overcrowded schedules, chaotic surroundings...I could go on and on.  The good news is that God is willing to show us the things that are keeping us from living in peace if we will ask Him to and then listen to Him.

2) Feed on the Word more than you feed on the world.
I'm a news junkie.  I want to know what is happening in our world.  But if I'm feeding on the news more than I am on God's Word, no wonder I'm feeling stressed and anxious!  God's Word is the plumbline of truth in this world that has lost its way.  We've got to keep our mind and heart aligned with truth or we'll lose our way as well.  God's ways, the way of wisdom, is a path of peace it tells us in Proverbs 3:17.  Isaiah 26:3 promises us perfect peace when we keep our mind set on God.

3) Take a break.
This week my lower back went out which limited my ability to get outside and walk.  After a few days I noticed myself feeling anxious.  Exercise is a great stress reliever.  My walks are also times when I listen to worship music and have some good heart to heart talks with God.  Both the exercise and the prayer time help me to stay at peace.

Extended breaks are also necessary at times.  Quiet times away from stress, the demands of everyday life, and the noise of social media are good for us.  If you can't go away for a weekend or a vacation, take a couple of hours for a mini getaway. Find a beautiful place somewhere close to home, such as a local park, river or lake.  Take your Bible and journal and soak in the beauty of God's creation and spend some quiet moments with Him.  Let go of what is causing you stress and ask God to carry it. Exchange it for His peace.

I think God wants our lives and homes to be filled with peace, not just for our benefit, but also because of the witness that it is to others.  Peace and quiet is a rare commodity in our chaotic world.  Others notice a person whose life is filled with peace.  People want to linger in a home filled with peace.

A prayer for peace-
Father God,
I thank You that you sent Jesus, my Prince of Peace, so that I can have peace with You.  I thank you that I can walk in love and unity with You because of the righteousness of Jesus that I have been given in exchange for my sin.  If there is anything in my thoughts, words or deeds or in the affections and desires of my heart that is robbing me of the peace that You want me to have, please show me what it is. Bring everything within me to into obedience to You and Your ways so that Your peace can rule my heart, mind and life.

Father, I want my home and family to be filled with Your peace.  Fill our home with Your peace and presence.  Let it be palpable to all who enter our home.  I pray for every family member to come into alignment with You and Your ways so they, too, can walk and live in peace.

I ask this in the name of Your Son, Jesus.  Amen.

still following,