In Fear of Darkness

 

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I arose early this morning. Something I’ve not done in quite a while. So many things going on in my wee brain. The list of to do’s, the places I need to bring my children or my husband this week, the light fixture in the closet that needs something other than replacement bulbs.

But what weighs on my mind the most this morning as I read my bible was fear. Fear of what we can’t see. I liken it to the fear a child may have of the dark. It’s scary. We wonder what is lurking in the darkness.

When I was younger I was afraid of the dark. I would lay in bed, eyes wide open, waiting. At some point in the night exhaustion would overtake me and I would fall asleep. Waking to the light of day, and putting my fear away until later. There were nights the fear was paralyzing.. Gripping me with a stronghold.

I don’t remember at what age I begin to let go of the fear of the darkness. I know I was an adult. Having not been raised in a believing home, there was much spiritual darkness all around, all of the time. Day and night. I now know that is what contributed to my fear. But what of those raised in a Christian home? Why do some still fear the dark of night?

In First Peter, the fifth chapter, verse 8 we read, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” We are to be alert and of a sober (to make or become more serious, sensible, and solemn) mind. Remembering that God is a not a God of disorder but of peace. 1 Corinthians 14:33

So is fear of darkness unfounded? Absolutely not. To be afraid of darkness is to acknowledge that Satan lurks in the shadows of our lives. But, we, as believers, are to live in the light. With the Trinity on our team, we can overcome the dark because He has come to overcome the world, which is dark.

There are dark forces all around us. It might be a website we frequent, music we listen to, thoughts we have. In a sneaky and conniving way the enemy uses these and many others to put unfounded fear in us.

Fear of shadows that move in the night,
Oh heart, my heart stay focused on God’s light.

When fear grips my soul-
To You I give all control.

Fear has no place in my life anymore,
God’s peace I pray, in joy I’ll soar.

There may be a day when some fear returns,
But my God will abate all of my fearful concerns.

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The first step to overcoming fear is to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior. To let the Holy Spirit indwell in you. “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,: and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9 proclaims.

Next, with godly fear and trembling (“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.: Philippians 2:12)) pray believing that He who created the darkness and the light is with you. A light on a hill cannot be covered. With Him, you and I are that light. Let His light shine before all men… (“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14. )

Finally, search scripture that speaks of overcoming your fear. Read these scriptures as prayers, write them down, and read them during the day and during the night. Let God’s amazing grace and peace wash over you, and see how He washes away your fear.

So as my day comes to a close, and the sun is now beginning to set, may I be held in my Savior’s strong protective arms.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for showing me sections of scripture that remove doubt and fear of your sovereignty. I lift to You a sweet young girl who has been gripped with this kind of fear, I lift her to Jesus; loving arms; I pray you will no longer fear the shadows, but illuminate all darkness with His light. In His name I pray, Amen.

“Say to those with fearful hearts; be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with diving retribution he will come to save you.” Isaiah 35:4”

Blurred Lines

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“I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” Isaiah 49:15-16

Do you ever feel sad, angry, overwhelmed, exhausted, alone and confused all at once? That the life you have is just too much and you want to pack up and leave it all behind? There are days, my friend, when I couldn’t move fast enough in the opposite direction of where I am.  Get me outta here!

Yet, is that what God really wants me to do?

It’s been a life altering season for my small family of four. I used to think the baby and toddler years were the tough ones. Not to demean them, for they are a unique and challenging time for many stay at home moms.

But having had stroke happen, one is never prepared. I sure wasn’t.

From the fear of losing my husband to this dreadful brain attack, to the preparation of finally bringing him home. I was ill-prepared. So much to do, and so much to know. Which I didn’t fully understand at the time. “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7. How grateful I am for a Savior who knows what I need before I ask, who cares for me. Especially in this season.

In the beginning I could not see clearly. My life lines became very blurry. Many days they still are.  But what has not been blurred is my need to stay focused on Jesus and his beautiful words written for me. I belong with Him, to Him. My life and my hope are built upon the solid rock of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Although I don’t know how it will all turn out, I can be certain of the end. In the end I will be sitting with Jesus in heaven, forever. Enveloped in His glory. 🤗

“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.” Proverbs 24:3-4.

Oh, let my life be a reflection of Proverbs 24:3-4!

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians‬ ‭6:9‬ ‭‬‬

I am weary, to be sure.  But am reminded that staying on the course of doing good, there will be a harvest.  In God’s perfect timing and way.

When life’s lines become blurry,
When burdens seem to great.
Just rest in Him, no need to hurry,
With Him it’s never to late.

With faith as small as a mustard seed,
Great mountains and oceans He moved;
And in faith the multitudes did He feed,
My friend there is nothing God cannot improve.

Be strong and courageous, but not in yourself,
But in God whose proven through the ages,
His treasure abounds, not ever withheld,
For in His death did he pay our sins wages.
His word reminds us he’ll not forget us,
He’s engraved us in the palm of his hand.
We are worth more than rubies and such,
So take heed of each word and command.

For the days will soon come to an end,
All the trials and challenges and pain.
And He’ll say, “Well done, my faithful friend .”
Nothings lost, but all eternity you gain.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians‬ ‭2:8-10‬ ‭NIV‬‬‬‬

Dear Father God, I pray that I would live today as though it were my last on earth; that I would serve others, put others before myself; that I would rest in the knowledge that with You I need nothing, for with You I have everything. I pray that I would be a hearer and doer of Your Word; that I would be kind, gentle, loving and long-suffering. You know that in my flesh I can’t do anything, but with You, in You all things are possible. Lord, you have been faithful even when I am not; your hand is ever upon me; on Your hand my name is engraved. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for this life you have given me. Let me love because you first loved me; let me hope because you have shown me what it means to be hopeful; let me give because you have given to me the ultimate gift, Your life in exchange for my sins.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen!

CREATED, CALLED, CONTROLLED

Then Moses said to the people of Israel, “See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, (‭Exodus‬ ‭35‬:‭30-31‬ ESV)

Created in Your image,
To live a life in love.
I belong to you, my Lord,
From the earth and up above.

Called into Your service,
My life belongs to You.
My every waking hour, I pray,
Your light shines brightly through.

Control me Lord, in everything
I say, and do, and think.
Your gift to me, the world to see,
For You my heart does sync.

Characterized by God’s wisdom,
A trait each day I’ll wear,
From now until He calls me home,
This is my daily prayer.

Commanded by Your Word to show
The love you’ve freely given.
My life is filled to overflowing.
In Christ I am truly forgiven.

Colored by Your many shades
Of crimson, bright and clear.
A reflection of Your majesty,
God’s presence is ever near.

Citizens of heaven,
I pray we all will be.
In His Presence we’re made whole,
Dear friend-Jesus is the Key.

Created in His image.
You can rest assured,
He holds you in His loving arms,
For you -death He endured.

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. (‭1 Chronicles‬ ‭29‬:‭11‬ ESV)

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, (‭Philippians‬ ‭3‬:‭20‬ ESV)

…and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. (‭Colossians‬ ‭3‬:‭10‬ ESV)

Laughter

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Laughter…is the best medicine.

I wrote  this yesterday morning.  Just now getting to finish and post. 🙂

Today is Halloween. Although as family we don’t celebrate what this day is about, we do participate in a huge happening at our church. A harvest party.

This year has been pretty challenging for our family. So as the announcement came and sign-ups to help were posted, we said “yes!” Yes to being helpers. Yes to participating in sharing the gospel message. Yes to fun and laughter.

We have been helpers before, each of us. But this year as I think about the past eight months I want to have fun, to laugh, to be silly. Because laughter is the best medicine. Here’s a great article from healthdigezt.com listing nine benefits of laughter. http://www.healthdigezt.com/9-very-real-benefits-of-laughter/

So what does laughter and our churches harvest party have to do with the challenges in my life, you ask? Well, let me tell you. When the weight of life has got me feeling down, I know its time for a change. Being silly, dancing, singing and just general goofiness, lifted my spirits yesterday. I attended a volunteer meeting with our youngest daughter. As we stood in line for lunch, the music was playing right next to us. In a light-hearted and silly way, I started to dance. Of course my daughter backed away from me a bit, giving me the look that only a 13 year old can. But, let me tell you, the feeling in my heart and head were incredible. I can’t remember feeling so good.

Laughter and good times don’t change our situation. However, they can change how we look at them. How we feel overall. I know it’s a chemical thing in our bodies. It’s a very good thing.

So, as I prepare for the day, school, errands, chores…I am excited about tonight’s party. I am looking forward to donning my costume (a jaguar onesie), maybe even drawing whiskers on my face. The thought of it delights my soul.

“A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.” Proverbs‬ ‭15:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬‬‬

This verse says it all, don’t you agree? In your own experience, haven’t you found that when your own heart is happy everyone around you can tell? Your eyes light up, your step is bouncier, you can laugh at yourself. We all need more laughter in our lives.

Laughter, happy hearts and a joyful spirit. James 5:13 says, “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.” So I hope we will, today, chose to be happy.

Laughter is the best way,
To find your true home.
Let your heart rejoice and say,
“let joy be my way to roam.

There’s not nearly enough laughter,
In this world in which we live.
So let your voices forever after,
In Jesus’ joy you’ll be eternally attractive.

Be silly, fun and a bit carefree,
Each day make happiness your choice.
Let the world know and see,
In the Lord you fully rejoice.

Our Perfect Provider

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I have once again been reminded of God’s generous provisions this past week. I’m not just talking about financial provision. More of His eternal provisions. How does the Lord faithfully provide for you in your life? Is it the roof over your head that keeps you warm and dry in this cold season? Or perhaps it’s the job you have that allows you to feed, cloth and cover your family? For some of us, it may be the way God reminds us that He is right here with us, holding us up, encouraging and guiding us toward His end. This is His true provision in my life.

No matter the circumstance in your life I hope and pray that you daily thank God for the help He lovingly, willingly provides you.

In the early morning hours of the day, before anyone else is stirring, I get up to begin my day. Armed with my Bible, a cup of coffee and a journal, I sit. What will my day be filled with? I ask Him to prepare me for whatever is to come, to be ready with love, truth and immense gratitude.

So how does the Lord faithfully provide for me? Let me count the ways.

1. He reminds me to trust in Him with all my heart, and not to lean on what I know or understand. (Proverbs 3:5 paraphrased )
2. He reminds me, that in worldly riches to not be arrogant or put my hope. They are uncertain. But hope only in God…who will provide me with everything for my enjoyment. (1 Timothy 6:17 paraphrased).
3. He reminds me… that the Lord my God is God; he is the faithful God, who keeps his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. (Deuteronomy 7:9 paraphrased.)

Are there more ways? Absolutely! The Bible is filled with promises of His hope and provision for us, his people.

Yet, there are so many days that I forget. I forget to whom I belong. I forget where my hope comes from. I forget what awaits me at the end of this difficult life. After all, I am a broken and sinful human, given free will, able to chose each day what to keep my eyes and heart stayed on. I remember when I first accepted Jesus as my Lord. I thought, wrongly, that once I accepted Jesus, life would be…well easy. That I’d be free from trouble, pain and suffering. Wrong indeed. Now, years later, as I have grown in my understanding of what it means to be a follower of Christ, I known that it is in my trouble, pain and suffering that God meets me and reaches me. “Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, to make his mighty power known.”
‭‭(Psalm‬ ‭106:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬). I am a new creation, not for me, but for Him, “…to make his mighty power known.” Amen.

So you see, His provisions go far beyond my creature comforts. They take me, stretch me, towards heaven. “‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’” (Acts‬ ‭17:28‬ ‭NIV‬‬).

My great, generous and powerful Provider, who delights in me, desires that I would delight in Him. Like it says in Matthew 6:26, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” He provides.  Period. So why not let Him? Why don’t you give Him all the glory and praise?

Today is a new day. What will you choose to do?
Will you hold onto worldly things, or give it all to God?
Can you look at life’s challenges, trust Him to see you through?
With blind faith, and trust eternal, in Him be deeply awed?

Today is a new beginning, may your heart be renewed
In the the beauty of the trinity-Holy Spirit, Father, Son.
May you know for sure and certain, a heart full of gratitude
That in His life and death, dear child, “it is finished,” for you it’s done.

Today is but a moment in the heart of God above,
So don’t hesitate to make the choice for eternity;
For Jesus Christ’s death is about you, His true love.
Godly repentance to salvation, a magnificent certainty.

Today will soon be tomorrow, so my friend do not delay.
Jump into the living waters with everything you’ve got.
All your sin in His death, because He loves you, He paid,
Your salvation, life in heaven, with his life he gladly bought.

As I close out my quiet time with the Lord, I hope and pray that I will keep my eyes on Him. That no matter what bumps I hit, or storms come my way, I will say, like Paul the apostle `“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians‬ ‭3:12-14‬ ‭NIV‬‬).

Our provider, the Lord Jesus Christ, it is all we need. Today. Because, my friends, today is all we have. No promise for tomorrow. So let’s live today as if it were our last, living it for Him. “In the same way, let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16 NASB)

Dear Heavenly Father, help me to be a light for You, let my eyes and heart and mind be firmly planted in Your living Word. I pray that today I would share Your joy, and I would delight in You. Thank you for your faithful favor as it gently falls upon my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Psalm 24

 

On difficult days like today, I cling to the words in Psalm 24.  A reminder that this world, and my life, belong to the Lord.  By His word it was all founded and established.  By His word.  Not mine.  That’s why I need to cling to Gods word.  I can so easily think I’ve got some control.  Even convince myself I can change things going on around me.  So for today I will say, with David…

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.” Psalm 24:1-2

 There are also days when I feel incapable and unworthy of the Lord. My hands are not clean, but filthy with sin. My heart is not pure, but dark and dank.  Often my idols are not statues, but people.  Specifically, my children. I want to be worthy to ascend His mountain and stand in His holy place.  But am incapable on my own, in my sinful humanness.  What must I do, Jesus?

 Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. Psalm 24:3-4

 So what do I see?  What I believe?  That God has already cleaned my hands and purified my heart.  A gift freely given to me when Jesus died on the cross once and for all.  That includes you, too.  That’s where verse 5 brings it home for me. A sweet beautiful blessing.

 They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior. Psalm 24:5

 In the midst of our trials, temptations and challenges…we will choose to keep our eyes stayed on His face?  To raise our hands in praise and worship to the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?  I hope and pray, like the psalmist, David, we will say yes!  Always and forever yes!

 Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob. Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Psalm 24:6-7

 And when I question who He is,

The Lord of heavenly hosts.

May I remember that I am His;

Of God’s glory may I always boast.

The Lord is strong and he is mighty,

Through all times, be it in joy or in battle.

I’ll lift up my head and see him rightly,

My wee life in Him shan’t unravel.

 

Oh! King of Glory, perfecter of grace,

Let my life be a beautiful testimony.

Let all, in me, see Your face,

Forever and ever, only.

  Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Psalm 24:8-9

 In Mark 8:29 Jesus asks his disciples, “But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am.”  In a bold and rock-like manner, Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”

Oh, to be as bold, strong, confident and courageous as Peter.  With all of my sin and imperfections, I forget that I can come boldly to His throne. “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 KJV.  And suddenly it all becomes clear.  Which doesn’t make it easy, just clear.  Clear that He is the King of glory, the Lord Almighty.  Of me, my life, my family, my finances, my health.

 Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty— he is the King of glory.” Psalm 24:10 NIV

So on days like today, and perhaps even tomorrow, may we always remember that God is in control.  He knows everything, sees everything and controls everything.  To be a follower of Jesus, a disciple, we must take up our cross and follow Him.  In so doing even though we lose our life, we are saved…because we have lost our lives for Him and for the gospel. (Romans 8:34-35 paraphrased.)

Dear Heavenly Father, I desire to live my life for You, help me to take up my cross daily and follow You.  You already know my story.  From beginning to end.  Let me fully trust You in all of the details of my life, trust You with my husband and my daughters, with our finances and our future.  Thank you, Jesus for being my Lord and my Savior. Amen!

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Each day is an opportunity.  Each day is a gift.  Each day is…

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“Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies.  Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” Psalm 34:12-14

There once was a young girl, about 16, who longed to find true love.  She searched for it in the people she met, giving so much of herself away in hopes of receiving a small amount of love in return.  Yet, only pain, suffering, humiliation, shame and great loss ensued.

Years past.  Although her search never ceased, her heart was weary and became ever doubtful of finding her one true love.  Another series of losses, pain and suffering came.  Only this time she knew something had changed.  Something was unsettled in her heart. Calling a friend, who immediately came to her, she was prayed over in the name of Jesus.

A strange sensation fell upon her.  Was it true love?  Her friend asked if she’d wanted Jesus to be her Lord and Savior.  Again, another feeling.  Was it peace?  She said yes and asked for forgiveness of her many, many sins. Next she asked Jesus to be her personal Lord and Savior.

Then it happened. An explosion of emotion.  Her heart was filled to overflowing. She found her One true love.  Sins washed away by the blood of Christ, she was given new life.  She was a new creation in Christ.  Alive and in love with Jesus.

What this story reminds me of is hope.  When we look at each day as an opportunity, we allow the Lord to show us what it means to love others more than we love ourselves.  In Mark 12:30-31 we read,

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all our mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

To love your neighbor as yourself means to begin to put others above you.  This friend did just that.  Leaving her own family and came to help her friend.  That story is mine.  I am the lost girl looking for true love.  My friend, Lanny, was my lifeline to Christ.  She loved me as she loved herself.  She loved me because Christ first loved her.  A precious gift indeed.

When I woke up this morning I was faced with, well, a rat problem.  Not something we generally view as an opportunity.  Yet, it in a weird way it has been.  It allowed me to stop and problem solve.  How can I rid our home of the rat while still allowing the other events of the day to still occur?  When I stopped and prayed, I was able to see an opportunity for my daughter to have extra time with her friend.  A slight change in plans, but better for her.  Getting rid of the rodent is of high importance.  However, with all of the challenges and changes we’ve been faced with as a family allowing fun and frivolity to happen is very important.  So, even with a rat roaming around our home I will say, “Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised.  Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses.” (1 Kings 8:56 NIV) 

The rest for me was sitting in the middle of a crowded mall listening to classical music and writing.  My daughter was spending time with a good friend, while my younger daughter is at a junior high event with our church playing games, eating pizza and learning something about Jesus.  My husband was home enjoying, I pray, much needed quite time. Hoping our dogs were quiet.

So in this unusual place, with so much chaos going on around me I am delighting in it all.  I am reminded of Psalm 103:1-5;

“Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.  Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits-who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” 

Of hope and joy life is reborn,

No earthly gift can change.

Pain and suffering are no more,

His death our lives were exchanged.

Be of good courage,

Praise the Lord dear soul.

Like a flower you’ll flourish,

In His garden you will stroll.

As you seek, you will find,

For He gently awaits your call.

In return is your peace of mind,

And a calming of the squall.

Be hopeful and joy-filled,

Love life and do good.

And your heart will be fulfilled,

In Christ forever understood.

I pray that each of you knows the beauty that comes from the storms in life.  That you can, in the midst of your storm, bless the Lord for His faithfulness; that you remember God’s unfailing love and forgiveness.  I pray that you trust in the Lord with all of your hearts.  To know Jesus is to know freedom.

May God bless you and keep you.

Debra J.

for i know the plans