"Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.” (Luke 1:78-79)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Just keep right on going...

I came across this quote recently, and it keeps rambling around in my mind.  "Satan will tell us what's true, but he never tells us the truth."*  Lies, cloaked in truth...Satan's calling card.

Recently I read a verse I'm sure I've seen hundreds of times, tucked inside a very familiar portion of Scripture, Hebrews 11, that famous chapter on faith.  But this time God took out His big yellow highlighter and drew my eyes to verse 27.

"It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king's anger.  He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible." (NLT)

That's the kind of endurance, perseverance, and faith I want!  I want to keep right on going even in the midst of battles and burdens.

God longs for us to keep our eyes on Him, the invisible One, instead of focusing on the obvious, as Satan would have us do.  What's the "obvious" in your life?  You know, those noisy things that yell out for attention, grabbing at you, pulling you down.  Those trials and situations that beg to consume you.  Those pesky distractions that buzz around you, jumbling your thoughts?  Satan would have us believe that this is as good as it gets, and it's all downhill from here.  But he never, ever wants us to know "the rest of the story."

God is above and beyond the obvious.  The invisible One operates in ways we often don't see, working things out for His glory and our good.  When we're bogged down and focused on the obvious, we only hear the "truth" that Satan spews at us, and we miss the Truth that Jesus is whispering to us.

One obvious in my life is that my husband, Steve, doesn't have a job.  This is not something we ever expected, and Satan wants me to believe this is just awful!  After all, my meager income from my part-time job can't begin to sustain us :).  But Abba, my Father, cups my chin in His hand and gently tilts it up.  Bev, look at Me.  Don't let Satan confuse you with his version of the truth.  I AM Jehovah Jireh, your provider.  Don't look around at the obvious, but keep your eyes on Me, the invisible One.  Just take one day at a time, one step at a time. Just keep on going.  I provided for Moses and I'll provide for you.

There are a lot of obvious situations in my life that cause stress, angst, confusion, and frustration.  I don't always handle them so well and far too often I react in ways that are, shall we say, less than godly?  Satan gleefully points out what's true -- I blew it, but he neglects to tell me the truth.  God tells me that I'm His child.  And when I confess my sins, He joyfully forgives me and cleanses my heart.  Then he promises to never hold that sin against me.  He does not keep a record of sins, but faithfully forgives me (see Ps. 130:3,4).

What's your obvious? Satan will try to hammer you over the head with what is true, but he'll never tell you the truth. The truth is that we can trust God completely.  The truth is that God loves us more than we can even imagine.  The truth is that what Satan means for harm and destruction, God intends for good...always, every time.

"Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith."  Heb.12:1b,2 (NLT)

That's what faith is all about.
*This quote is by Michael Wells, Abiding Life Ministries. Quoted by Kelly Minter in her Bible study, "No Other Gods", p. 62.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Doubt Your Doubts and Believe Your Beliefs!

"You need to doubt your doubts and believe your beliefs..."

I heard these profound words on a recent Rick Warren broadcast* and I can't get them out of my mind.  On my January 1 blog I wrote, "As I was praying, I saw myself standing with God on top of a mountain looking out over the year ahead.  But everything was foggy and hazy—I couldn’t see a thing.  Then God quietly reminded me that He alone knows what’s ahead.  He held out His hand to me and said, “Let’s just walk there together.”

Fast forward 5 months. The early months of this year were very difficult and trying, and I am so thankful for the promise that God holds tightly to our hands as we walk through life.  Steve experienced a dark battle with depression, which culminated in a hospitalization.  We praise God for the healing Steve has experienced and trust it will continue.

Time and again over these past few months, God has reminded me to "believe what I believe."  In fact, He not only reminded me to "believe my beliefs," but He Himself has been reminding me of WHAT I believe!  There's a verse in John 14 which I just love.  John 14:26 says, "The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you."

I saw that played out in a profound way these past few months.  As I agonized with Steve through his depression, there were times I felt the oppression myself.  When the fears and doubts and anxiety closed in on me, I would ask God for "a word."   I didn't crave big chunks of Scripture, but instead hungered for the simplicity of a verse or two.  I longed to taste the manna God had prepared specifically for me that day -- or for that moment.  And God never failed to come through.  Through His Spirit, He reminded me of so many promises that Jesus has taught me through the years.

When I was scared, He told me to have courage and to not be afraid (Luke 12:32)  When I was lonely, He reminded me that He would never leave me, never forsake me (Heb. 13:5).  When I was confused, He told me "The light shines in  the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." (John 1:5), and He reminded me to keep following the Light.  "Jesus said...I am the Light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but have the light of life." (John 8:12)  When I was feeling weak, He gently showed me I was being carried in His strong arms.  "The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are his everlasting arms..." (Deut. 33:27).  When I was feeling anxious, He freely blessed me with words of peace and hope (John 14:27; Heb. 7:24,25).  When I would worry, He taught me to turn my worries into prayers (Phil. 4:6-7).  I could go on and on!  I have pages filled with the words He spoke to my heart.  Words that shifted my focus from me to Him.  Verse after verse, promise after promise flooded my mind and brought peace to my heart.

God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do!  If you have the Holy Spirit living in you, He will freely remind you of all you've been taught.  If you're going through a difficult season in your own life, I'd encourage you to "open wide your mouth and let God fill it!" (Ps. 81:10).  He invites all of us to "taste and see that the Lord is good...!" (Ps. 34:8).

*To listen to this message by Rick Warren, go to http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/daily-hope/.  Click on "Never Fight Your Battles Undressed! Part 3."  The message was aired on 5/7/13.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!  I love the thought of a new year...fresh, clean pages on the calendar...days waiting to be written.  This morning as I was praying, I saw myself standing with God on the top of a mountain looking out over the year ahead.  But everything was foggy and hazy—I couldn’t see a thing.  Then God quietly reminded me that He alone knows what’s ahead.  He held out His hand to me and said, “Let’s just walk there together.”

Earlier today I glanced through the paper before I picked up my Bible.  Big mistake!  Not a lot of good news in there, especially on the financial front.  As our nation teeters on the fiscal cliff, it’s easy to be filled with fear.  And this time it hits very close to home.  Steve’s place of employment, where he’s worked for 24 years, was just sold to a large corporation.  The transition from one company to the other takes place today.  Steve, as the head finance guy, has been working crazy long hours for the past several weeks.  It’s been stressful, to say the least.  As with any big change like this, there’s been a lot of uncertainty, confusion, and stress.  Thankfully, most of the people were able to keep their jobs.  Unfortunately, Steve isn’t one of them (the financial work will be done at corporate headquarters).  He will keep working through the first quarter of the year, but after March 31 we’re not sure what he will do.  He has some options available (tentatively), but nothing for sure. 

How quickly life situations can change.  You don’t get to age 53 without realizing that truth over and over again!  But another truth stands out in my mind, too.  God has always taken care of us in the past and He will take care of us today…and in the future.  So we’re determined to take one day at a time, our hands in His.

When I finally put the paper down and picked up the Bible, God led me to the most amazingly appropriate verse.  I’ve been reading through the Psalms, and this was tucked away in my Psalm for today.

Praise the Lord; praise God our Savior!
For each day He carries us in His arms.” (Ps. 68:19 NLT)

That’s a keeper!  I wrote it on an index card that I’ve started for 2013 and taped it to our bathroom mirror.  I love the image of God carrying us in His arms each day.  He’s bigger and stronger than any problem we could possibly face.  So I’m looking forward to 2013!  Yes, it’ll be a year filled with challenges and uncertainty, but isn’t that how life always is, this side of heaven?  God wants us to simply live one day at a time, safe and secure in His arms.