Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Praise. Even In the Valley.

By: Jenifer Metzger

When life is good, it's easy to praise God. Things are going our way. Hard times are hardly seen. Life is in order. So we praise God easily.

What about in the hard times? What about when things are not going our way? Life is hard and chaotic. Life feels like it is spiraling out of control. In the difficult times it is easier to turn inward and focus on our problems than it is to give praise.

Can any of you add one moment
to his life span by worrying?
Luke 12:25


It is in the low moments, these hard to breathe moments, that we need to praise God the most. We need to turn our focus away from our problem and onto the face of the Problem Solver.

The Lord is my strength and my defense;
He has become my salvation. He is my
God, and I will praise Him, my
father's God, and I will exalt Him.
Exodus 15:2 

Our family has faced some difficult moments lately and every time I start to get down I feel God saying, "Jenifer, start praising Me." The words of a worship song begin to flood my mind. Yes. I will praise Him even in the hard times. I begin to tell God how good He is, I give Him praise for His many sweet blessings in my life, I thank Him for who He is, and soon, I feel His beautiful presence all around me. The problem may still be there, but it reminds me that He is close and He will not leave. That He has a plan and His plan will not harm me.

Listen to the song below and no matter how low the valley is, praise God.

Yes I will, lift You high in the lowest valley
Yes I will, bless Your name
Oh, yes I will, sing for joy when my heart is heavy
All my days, yes I will




It's time for Share A Link Wednesday! Each Wednesday we invite you to leave a link to your latest blog post in the comments. We still 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.







Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Mary's Surrender









Photo Courtesy of Ben White



"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written:
“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come."
~Romans 8:33-38



"Then the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.' Then Mary said to the angel, 'How can this be, since I [c]do not know a man?' And the angel answered and said to her, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.' Then Mary said, 'Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.'” 
~Luke 1:30-38



I don't know about you, but when the Lord asks me to do something I view as being much too hard or outside my comfort zone, I struggle to surrender. Mary, however, when called to bear God's Son while yet a young virgin, was so different. It’s not that she was sinless or didn’t battle fear. It was that her love for the God of Israel was far greater than her love of comfort or love of her own personal plans. It was that her theology was so deep, rich, and profound that she was able to trust in that God, able to rest in the knowledge she had of His surpassing goodness, compassion, grace, and love.

She knew He would never call her to something for which He would not also equip her. She knew it would be against God’s character to ask her to do something and then leave her alone to fend for herself through it. Though this calling would undoubtedly be hard (for she knew that she would certainly face ridicule and rejection), she was still willing, for she saw herself as a servant of the Most High God. Not in a demeaning or abusive way (for the Lord is not like any earthly master!), but in a way that said because of the great love of God, she would be His, no matter what. It was her desire to show her gratitude for His mercy in her life by giving her all to Him and His plan for rescuing His people. She knew the God she served, so she was able to rest in His ways—even when they were unlike anything she would have chosen! 

What are you facing in this season of your life, friend? What mountain are you trying to climb? Or, from what valley are you trying to emerge? What is causing you to doubt God's love for you? Whatever it is, you can combat the fearful lies of the enemy with the truth of Who you know God to be. Go back to the truth of His character and allow yourself to not only view your current situations through that lens, but to also walk forth in hope, knowing your God has you in the palm of His loving hand.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Come and Rest

By: Joanne Viola


Last week we were on vacation as a family.

Vacation.

The mere word suggests a time away from work. It’s getting away from the typical week to enjoy a time of rest and recreation.

“This is what the Lord says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls.”
(Jeremiah 6:16, NLT)

Rest – the elusive find.

Sometimes we think we know where to find rest and we can so miss the rest God has for us.

Jeremiah tells us in order to locate and obtain rest, we must return to the crossroads, the fork in the road – the very place where our souls became overwhelmed and rest slipped away. It is the very spot we will find the rest for which we are longing.

The crossroad is the place where we decide to follow God’s ways. More so, we make a commitment to Him and in so doing, find what we are looking for.

Hidden in this verse, we find four verbs which instruct us how to find rest: “Stand” – “Look” – “Ask” – “Walk”.

Jesus spoke similar words as well:

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29, NLT)

We pulled up to the house we would call home for the week. In the late afternoon when we arrived, as we were in the middle of unloading the car, a rainbow stretched across the expanse of the mountains and lake. We all ran out onto the dock to appreciate the fullness of its beauty.

And the words of Jesus once again breathed deeply into my soul …

“Come to Me,
and you will find rest for your souls.”



 




Sunday, August 18, 2019

Handfuls on purpose


When we bought our "new to us" house four years ago, we purposefully bought a house in an older, more established neighborhood-one with more room between us and our neighbors than the newer housing developments in our area. Our home is on a corner lot so we only have a next-door neighbor on one side. Between us and that neighbor there is not a neat and tidy fence. There is, for want of a better description, an area I like to call "no man's land." While in the front, back and other side of our yard we've worked hard to remove and prune back the overgrown shrubs the previous owner left behind, neither we nor our next door neighbor are sure of where the property line lies in "no man's land".  There's a large tree of unknown species in the front of "no man's land" by the street. There's a HUGE walnut tree at the back of "no man's land" by the back fence. In between there is a wild tangle of assorted overgrown shrubs entwined with wild blackberry vines and aggressive, impossible to kill english ivy. While it wouldn't be hard to look up the plot plans of our two yards and figure who actually owns what, there are two factors that I think are contributing to neither one of us doing so. The first reason is - that wild jungle of overgrowth is it's own free privacy fence. Their puppies never come over into our yard and our grandchildren never venture over into theirs. Those blackberry vines are nature's barbed wire. The second reason is - neither of us wants to face the amount of work it will require to get "no man's land" into shape. Right now we can both use the excuse that we can't pull out bushes or cut down shrubs when we don't know who they belong to.

Last week I noticed that the blackberry vines on our side of "no man's land" were heavy with ripe blackberries. I spent a good hour picking the ripe berries while the summer sun warmed my back. It was rewarding to put some blackberries from our own yard in the freezer for a future berry crisp. A thought popped into my mind as I did so, "handfuls on purpose."  In the Old Testament book of Ruth, Ruth is in her own personal "no man's land", her messy middle. She and her mother and sister-in-law had all lost their husbands. Her mother-in-law decided to leave Ruth's homeland, Moab, and return to her homeland, Bethlehem, Judah. Ruth committed herself to go with Naomi and to serve Naomi's God. With no husbands, Naomi and Ruth were poor. So, Ruth went to a field to glean grain for them to eat. In this "messy middle" this "no man's land" that Ruth was living in, she had no foresight into God's plan and purpose for her life. All she could see was the mess of the circumstances she was living in. Yet, God knew that she had a key role to play in the most important event in all history, the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. She "happened" to be gleaning in the field of Boaz a relative of her deceased father-in-law. She "happened" to get his attention and he blessed her with "handfuls on purpose"- extra grain that Boaz had his workers leave for her to gather. Boaz "happened" to be her kinsman redeemer. They "happened" to get married and then she "happened" to have a son. Ruth was the great grandmother of King David, and from his lineage Jesus Christ was born. But, that day in the field, Ruth didn't know any of this. All she knew was that in the middle of her "no man's land" God, through Boaz, had blessed her with handfuls on purpose, with more than enough.

Sometimes, I get hyper focused on my current "no man's land", my messy middle. All I see is that dreaded english ivy and those pokey blackberry vines and all of those overgrown shrubs. But, in the middle of that mess there's a dogwood tree with the most beautiful spring blooms, there's a wild rose with pink blossoms that smell exquisite and, this time of year, there are ripe, sweet blackberries. My very own God given handfuls on purpose! Similarly, I can at times get hyper focused on the messy middle of life. I can fail to notice how many handfuls on purpose my more than enough God leaves for me along life's way. I also don't foresee the end of my story-His good and perfect plan for me. Ruth was a part of HIStory, but so are you and I. A bowlful of blackberries, a little handful on purpose, reminded me of that fact this week.



Friday, August 16, 2019

Facing Life Changes with Greater Faith




By: Sarah Geringer



What life changes are facing you now?

The life changes I'm facing are pretty big right now. My children returned to school this week, and I miss them after being at home with them all summer. This switch means I have full-time puppy duty, which is delightful yet draining. Also, I'm gearing up for my own book to launch in the coming weeks.

When life changes hit me hard, I can juggle them okay during the daytime. But at night, my dreams are wild and frantic. My brain just won't settle down, and I often wake up against my will.

Don't you wish that you could press a button on your body and go right to sleep? As overtired as I was last night, I couldn't force myself to go to sleep. So frustrating. But I decided to meditate on Scripture, like I usually do when I have insomnia.

This is the scripture that came to my mind somewhere south of 1:00 a.m., from the recesses of my Christian school girl memory bank...

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:8 NIV


This verse comforted me in my sleep-deprived state. No matter if we are facing positive or negative life changes, Jesus stays the same.

Jesus knows our life changes are coming. He can see our sleep deprivation, messes, and challenges before they ever happen. But he also sees the joys ahead, which can be hard for us to glimpse in the short-term.

If you are facing a challenging change right now, cling to Jesus as your anchor. Meditate on the fact that he is immutable, never changing despite all your changes. Trust that he sees you, cares about you, and will give you the strength to push through.

I encourage you to find a scripture today that gives you peace. Write it out on a card. Post it on your mirror. Make a lock-screen for your phone or desktop. By meditating on this verse, you will be prepared to receive God's peace even when change throws you for a loop.

Here's a prayer to encourage you today:

Heavenly Father,
I praise you that you are a constant in my ever-changing life.
I confess that I get tossed about by life's changes and forget that you are my anchor.
Thank you for walking steadily beside me in all of my life changes.
Help me see how to choose your strength and peace in the toughest change I am facing today.
In Jesus' name, Amen.
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Have a wonderful weekend!

Blessings and God's peace to you,





Photo from Canva.com



Reflection questions:




1. Which life change is hitting you right now? Which one is around the corner for you?




2. Which scripture is encouraging you most in this season?