Waiting in Faith for the Waters to Recede

by guest author Jenny Stricklin

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Photo credit: Kelley Dague

Weeks into the Covid-19 quarantine, I saw a rainbow. Spread out over my house after a heavy rain. And it reminded me…

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Back in early January, when 2020 was still so fresh and clean, I had asked God to speak.  The new year held so many secrets and I wanted to be the first to know them. Opening my Bible, I asked God for just one hint. I love to get a hold of what God is up to if He’ll let me and then dream about how it might play out.

Of all the verses in those couple of chapters I read that day, one tiny part of a familiar story jumped off of that thin page.

Gen 8:1 said, “But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and livestock with him in the boat. He sent a wind to blow across the earth, and the floodwaters began to recede.”

I bet I read it a dozen times looking for clues.

-“God remembered Noah in the ark” – Remembering here (I learned) doesn’t mean God had forgotten Noah, but that he was about to take action for Noah’s well-being.

-“God made a wind to blow across the earth” – The word wind here can also be translated Spirit. As in, the Spirit moved  over the earth.

-“The floodwaters began to recede” – This sounds hopeful. And it was. But it was a slow, gradual process lasting the better part of a year, per the rest of chapter eight.

My perspective that day was super limited. Obviously, I could never have predicted this pandemic. But God let me sense that He was up to something. And unfortunately, it looked like it would involve a lot of waiting. Waiting is hard.

So that morn, I pondered Noah’s plight and typed these notes in my phone:

“Even as with Noah, Lord, help me be faithful and patient over the next year as “the waters recede” at a slow pace. When there’s no dry land in sight or change to be noted, help me to walk in faith like he did. In the uncertainty, the insecurity, the fear…. In the isolation, the unknown, the frustration. When he had no clue of what You were doing or when You’d calm the storm or how You would rescue…When there was no end or plan in sight, only deep, dark waters of mystery, Noah waited on You.”

I remembered these words again that day. And oh how I needed to pray them again.

crashing-waves-1494707Noah was in the middle of the MOST COLOSSAL GLOBAL CRISIS of all time. And his struggles were likely common to ours – long waiting, isolation, limited Information, total lifestyle change, deep loss, fear of the future.

And in the middle of the mystery, after 40 days of isolation and flooding, God was moved to action. He shut off the water supply and inch by inch by inch, the water subsided.

After many long months, Noah and his family were released from the ark. The land was dry again and suitable for life and flourishing.

—Sometimes floods precede flourishing.

—Sometimes suffering is the soil that nurtures great fruitfulness.

—Sometimes we just have to cooperate with God’s bigger plan for our lives & for the world.

I won’t pretend to understand the flood. Thankfully, He promised He wouldn’t do that again.

And I won’t pretend to understand Covid-19.

All I’m sure of? GOD WANTS OUR ATTENTION. The One who allows the struggle, will be the one to save us from it.

The rainbow that day was a sure sign of His commitment to us…

And perhaps also an invitation to recommit ourselves to Him.

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A New Normal

by Sheila Keedy

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Over the last few weeks I have said and keep hearing from others, “It will be so good when things return to normal.”  Family dinners, church gatherings and meeting with friends are just a few of the things I am sure we all look forward to enjoying again.  

In reality, things may return to normal but then again maybe they won’t.  We already have new words in our vocabulary like “social distancing” for example!  So the question that keeps tugging on my heart and mind is, do I really want things to return to normal?

Normal, before the quarantine, seems to be a blur.  Hectic schedules driving us at a frenzied pace.  Parents feeding kids across the back seat of the car on the way to the next event and many of us falling into bed at night exhausted from the demands of work and activities.  Time to read and study God’s Word marginalized against other things we make a priority. 

Over the last few weeks, it has been such a delight to see moms and daughters riding bikes together, dads and sons playing basketball in their driveway, and couples walking around the neighborhood.  We have enjoyed talking across the yards to neighbors and worshiping together from our driveways – socially distanced of course!  More than anything, I have loved unhurried time with the Lord in the mornings.  

So which of those “normals” do I really want to go back to?  

These times remind me of Israel’s journey as Moses led them out of Egypt.  God was testing, yet also preparing them for their Promised Land. They experienced God’s presence, saw His mighty hand at work through miracles and provision over and over again.  Yet, over and over again, they would get discouraged and complain, wanting to go back to Egypt. 

Numbers 11:4-5 And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat!  We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.”

They wanted things to return to normal.  God was preparing them for a new normal.  

Several times in my life I have been on a difficult journey and just wanted to go back image0-3home where things were expected and convenient.  One specific time stands out the most – spending over four months in the country of Venezuela.

In the fall of 1983, my husband was invited to play Winter Ball in Maracay, Aragua, Venezuela.  We prayed and believed God had opened this door and we were excited to walk through it.  At that point in his professional baseball career, it was a great opportunity for many reasons.  So off we went with our “English to Spanish” translation book tucked in our luggage.   

When a player was sent to Winter Ball, their length of stay depended on how well they played.  After the first two weeks of struggling and almost being sent home, Pat hit a homerun.  It wasn’t just any homerun – it clinched a game against an area rival and he almost became a national hero!  We were in it now for the long haul.  No matter how difficult the situation or how homesick we became, we were going to be there through the New Year. 

image2-2Our home away from home was a large hotel room with plenty of fresh air as the air conditioner only worked about half the time.  (Just know we were close to the Equator!)   My refrigerator was a Styrofoam cooler where the ice melted faster than we could load it in there. (Did I mention the Equator?) Our kitchen appliance was an electric skillet that popped some really good popcorn; the “manna” of choice as the food in the grocery store was usually outdated, sometimes by years.  The option to buy cow eyes in the meat market was enough to help my satisfaction with our salty sustenance.  The language barrier wasn’t too bad except when I almost got eggs in my water instead of ice getting the two words mixed up in my request!  

As our journey continued, we began to see some difficult things – the unrest in their government, extreme poverty, and odd things that were really out of place for us like military soldiers in full battle gear stationed all around the baseball field with guns ready.  I think our biggest struggle came in not being with family during the holidays and just missing the comforts of home.  By the end of the first month, the adventure wore off and we were ready to pack up and head back home.  

As God would have it, things slowly but surely changed. (Or was He changing us?)

Most of the baseball games were at night, so with no television or a car to go anywhere we had plenty of time each day to read the Bible.  We would then talk for hours about what we had read. We were only two years into our marriage and a foundation of trusting the Lord and each other was being established.  

We became close to teammates and their wives as we found ways to meet for Bible Study.  The opportunity to share our fears increased our faith as we prayed together and saw God move in so many situations.  

An American missionary family made contact with us and provided a place to worship each week in the small church they pastored.  It was a bilingual service so we could hear God’s Word in our own language.  It also gave us the opportunity to share our testimonies with the local people and that helped many of us in our courage to share our faith.  The men naturally connected with the players, but it was such a blessing to connect with the women who were wives and mothers just like us.  

image0-4I learned to cross-stitch, fashioned our first Christmas tree out of felt to hang on our hotel room wall, visited a candle factory where wax ornaments were being made that told the story of Jesus’ birth, saw amazing poinsettia trees, and watched local women make the most beautiful tapestries. Not wanting to forget any of the things happening, I began to journal.  What started as journaling  day-to-day experiences soon became testimonies of God moments that continues to this day, thirty-seven years and over forty journals later.  

image1-3Looking back now, going home early would have been a mistake.  Giving in to inconvenience and the unknown wouldn’t have allowed us to experience God’s presence, His provision, seeing Him heal and restore.  Most importantly, it wouldn’t have allowed for Him to change things in us that needed changing.  

Don’t get me wrong; I was very glad when we did go home!  Hugging my family, listening to their voices, sleeping in my own bed, and drinking all the clean water I wanted was a privilege not taken for granted.  But, how much sweeter was it all because of the journey we had been on. 

So, is wanting things to return to normal a good thing? In some respects, maybe so.  But what if, during this time, we seize these moments seeking God with all our heart, soul and mind and ask Him what to continue, what to cut out, what to change?  Instead of just waiting for the quarantine to be lifted and things to return to normal, allow God to show you how He would like to prepare you for maybe a new normal.

Consider these things with me:

  • Do you really want to live at the same pace that you were living before the quarantine? 
  • What daily plans need adjusting to prioritize time in Scripture and in prayer? 
  • Are there things you thought you couldn’t live without that may have become an idol? 
  • Do you need to extend love, kindness and/or forgiveness to someone?
  • How can you serve your community instead of your calendars? 

When it’s over, what will you go back to?  Let’s not return to Egypt.

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”— I Corinthians 2:9

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Resurrection Day – Sing Praise!

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This BloodListen to Prestonwood Choir sing this powerful song.

There is a blood that cost a life
That paid my way Death its price
When it flowed down from the cross
My sins were gone, my sins forgot

There is a grave that tried to hide
This precious blood that gave me life
In three days He breathed again
And rose to stand in my defense

So I come to tell you He’s alive
To tell you that He dries
Every tear that falls
So I come to tell you that He saves
To shout and to proclaim
That He’s coming back for you

There is a blood that sights the blind
That heals the sick, the lonely finds
It has the power to free the bound
As chains they fall upon the ground

So pour it out to cleanse my soul
And let His liquid glory flow
Because He lives to make me whole
I owe my life, I owe my all

So I come to tell you He’s alive
To tell you that He dries
Every tear that falls
So I come to tell you that He saves
To shout and to proclaim
That He’s coming back for you

So I come to tell you He’s alive
To tell you that He dries
Every tear that falls

So I come to tell you that He saves
To shout and to proclaim
That He’s coming back for you
This price, this blood
This price, this precious blood
This one He sacrificed to wash away my sin
What can wash away my sin?
Nothing, nothing

What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood, nothing but the blood
What can wash away my sin?
Nothing, nothing

What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood, nothing but the blood

There is a grave that tried to hide
This precious blood that gave me life
But in three days He breathed again
And rose to stand in my defense

So I come to tell you He’s alive
To tell you that He dries
Every tear that falls
So I come to tell you that He saves
To shout and to proclaim
That He’s coming back for you
Yes, I come to tell you that He saves
To shout and to proclaim
That He’s coming back for you

 

What You Can Do During This Quarantine

The night is dark, but the moon is shining bright. There is a bright side to all dark events we face in life. Don’t close your eyes. In all situations, we have the opportunity to look around and find things we can learn in order to become more kind and loving. This season of pandemic is no different.

A day or two ago, I received an email from George Verwer (founder of OM) sharing his 29 suggestions for us to do while we live in isolation and deal with this coronavirus crisis. His list prompted me to write up my own suggestions, which I hope will be a help for you in these days ahead.

35 suggestions for this season of isolation:

  1. Write emails, letters and notes to as many people you can think of. Thank them for the small or significant things they did for you or share what they mean in your life. Write to your parents, teachers, doctors, children, friends, neighbors and so on. A word of encouragement can make all the difference in a person’s life.
  2. Call 10 people each day just to say “Hello” and offer a word of encouragement. Be diligent to share words of hope and refrain from talking about negative things—there’s enough of that in the news already.
  3. Make a list of people that come to your mind and start praying for them. Each day set aside 1 or 2 hours and pray for each person by name.
  4. 35 suggestions for us to do while we live in isolation and deal with this coronavirus season, which I hope will be a help for you in these days ahead.Pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read. Read 5 books at a time. I do this all the time. Read one for half an hour, then switch over to another book and read that. In this way, you are reading many different subjects at the same time. It feels like a good meal that has several items on the plate all at once.
    • If you email me, I will send you a list of some of the most impactful books that have changed my life. Email me at kp@gfa.org.
  5. Read God’s word and memorize verses of hope and promise.
  6. Read poems about hope, love, and faith.
  7. Read a good book about using time wisely.
  8. Think about others, especially those who are in a much more dangerous environment than we are, and pray for them.
  9. Write an email to the Government authorities, both local and higher levels, and encourage them. Appreciate all that they do for the society. They don’t hear positive encouragement very often.
  10. Although you cannot go to public places like the gym for exercises, discipline yourself for at least half hour each day to do some kind of physical exercise in your home. If you aren’t sure what to do, a quick search on Google will bring up hundreds of ideas as to what you can do for exercising at home.
  11. Read my books. You can download them for free by going to gfa.org/resource.
  12. Look around and see the accumulation of material stuff that has cluttered your life. Simplify your living conditions by throwing things away that can’t be used and giving away what can be.
  13. Don’t consume foods that your body cannot use, especially during these days with limited inability to burn the calories.
  14. Listen to music that calms your mind and emotions.
  15. Watch good movies on life. Don’t watch scary movies.
  16. Guard your ears from listening to people talking about negative things.
  17. Read a book on silence and solitude and try practicing it. Make this a habit for your life. They say when you do something for 21 days, it will become a habit. One book I would recommend on this topic is The Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen.
  18. If you have resources to give, look for ways to help others in dire need, especially those in communities and nations that are in greatly suffering due to this corona virus crisis.
  19. Learn something new! Practice a new language, develop speed reading, learn an instrument—you can get started by looking at what is offered for free online.
  20. Go to gfa.org and learn all the ways you can help the needy and suffering in Asia through your prayers and assistance.
  21. Listen to encouraging teachings. Some of the best I’ve found can be heard online at sermonindex.net.
  22. Eat simply and eat less. Fast one or two days a week if you can.
  23. Read the words of Christ about the signs of the last days. Think to yourself what it means to live in the light of eternity. Make decisions that matter beyond time and the physical world around you.
  24. Being isolated with your family members is a gift from God. Be kind and loving to those who are close to you. This convergence culture and online world of social media has caused so much loneliness and isolation. Re-learn how to be a real human being during this time you have together.
  25. Make a list of things you can live without. Use that list to create changes in your life. Think about the amount of time and money you can save and learn how to live simply—it will bring you so much freedom!
  26. Study about the first 400 years of the Holy Church by reading the writings of the church fathers and the desert fathers and mothers. Many of their teachings can be found online.
  27. Use this time to think about the reason for your living based on 2 Peter 1:4. Learn what it means and looks like to embrace the sacramental life, which is key to living as God intended for us.
  28. Use this time to think about all those you need to seek forgiveness from as well as those you need to forgive. Call. Write. Talk to them. Free yourself for the prison of bitterness. We all fail, we are all sinners. No one is perfect, including you. Be kind.
  29. This season of forced isolation is a God-given opportunity to know who we truly are by reading God’s Word over and over again and learning to see ourselves in light of it.
  30. Church is the epicenter of the universe. And the Church is not a crowd. Worship is the epicenter of the Church. You can gather with the handful of people already in your home and have a time of worship, where God is in your midst as the only audience.
  31. Make a list of prayer requests to pray for the nations. You can get started by visiting our website gfa.org/pray and using the list we have provided.
  32. If you have any inclination to write—either stories or poems or a memoir—begin writing a book, especially one that includes stories of hope and courage from your life’s journey.
  33. Pray the Lord’s Prayer as you wash your hands often. [It takes about 20 seconds!]
  34. Every time you become anxious, say out loud, “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I reject these fears.”
  35. Remember this phrase: Don’t waste this corona virus! Use it to your advantage and help others in need.

Tell Me a Story

by Sheila Keedy

Can you imagine the stories we will tell when the COVID 19 pandemic is over? The speed at which things changed! The empty grocery shelves & toilet paper panic! The disappointment for students as their academics & extra curricular activities came to an abrupt halt. The cancellation of things we thought we couldn’t live without like sporting man-and-woman-drinking-milkshake-3951878events & entertainment. The separation of family & friends. There will be good stories, too, like how amazing it was to come together as the church online.

We will also want to tell our God stories. As we seek God in prayer & in His Word, we will surely experience His peace, His comfort, His provision and His presence. We will want to tell how He was glorified and how His mercy & grace came through again & again as it has over the ages.

Some of my favorite childhood memories involve stories. Our extended family would get together on the weekend, and what I loved most about our gatherings was the singing and story telling! In between great old songs there would be stories that usually made us laugh, sometimes cry, but always left us wanting to hear more.

We didn’t know it at the time, but we were learning about what they loved, what they had survived, what was important to them, and a lot about their faith. Stories that marked my life and stories I’ll never forget.

Talk about stories to tell! In my Chronological Bible study, I am in the book of Joshua and it is packed full of adventure, battles, fulfilled promises and amazing illustrations of miracles by the hand of God that will take your breath away.

brown-book-page-1112048Joshua himself lived a life on the front row of God’s theater watching and experiencing Him deliver His people from bondage in Egypt, providing safe passage across the Red Sea, manna from heaven and His presence in their midst. Joshua was Moses’ assistant and was with him when he came down the mountain with God’s commandments. He was one of only two spies out of twelve that believed God would give them the land they had been sent to check out. In fact, after Moses died, he was appointed to lead Israel in to take possession of the land. He obeyed God’s Word and saw the walls of Jericho fall with a shout, and armies defeated by hail stones and the hand of God. His life was marked by faith in God so much so that he prayed for the sun and moon to stand still and it did! Can you imagine how many times that story was told and how many came to believe in Israel’s amazing God?

Earlier in the book of Joshua is a story of someone whose life was marked by stories she had heard of that same God. At the time, Israel was encamped across the Jordan from Jericho and Joshua sent in two spies to gather information. Rahab had taken in and hidden the two men. As they were hiding out, she goes to them and makes these amazing statements based on what she had heard about their God.

Joshua 2:8-11 “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites …And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.”

Rahab didn’t know much about God except what she heard but it was more than enough to light a fire of faith in her heart. Whatever gods she had known in Jericho did not compare to what she heard and came to know about the One True God.

And don’t you just imagine she told her God story over and over. Can’t you just hear Rahab, as a grandmother, with grands all around her leaning in closely so as to not miss a detail of her story?  She would surely tell them how Israel had marched around the city not once but seven days in a row, horns blowing and then on the seventh day they just shouted and the walls came tumbling down and she and all her family were rescued!  If you’ve ever told a child a story you’ll know they most likely would have said, tell it again, tell it again!
So, with all that said, think about this. Joshua, Rahab, you and me – such different lives and times, yet, something very much in common.
Lives marked by hearing and believing.

Joshua’s family heard God’s instructions to wipe the red blood of the Passover lamb on their doorpost and they were rescued from the angel of death.
Rahab heard the words of the spies and let down the red cord from her window and she and her family were all rescued as Jericho fell.
We have heard the Word of God and believed in the red blood of Jesus Christ, shed on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin and we are redeemed and rescued.
All of us marked by faith. Faith in a God who wrapped us all up into His grand and glorious story.

So the question for us is:
What stories are you telling?
What God stories have marked your life?
Who might hear and believe?

We don’t have to wait until the pandemic is over ~ the time is now.  Sing with me…my family would be so proud of us and are probably singing along, too.  

“I love to tell the story of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, Of Jesus and His love.
I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true;
It satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.
I love to tell the story, twill be my theme in glory.
To tell the old, old story, of Jesus and His love.

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Romans 10:17”

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This is My Commandment…

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by guest author Rita Patton

Love one another.  John 15:12

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. I Corinthians 13:4-8

Our pastor suggests to us each year that we might ask the Lord for a word for the year that we might follow Him more closely in word and deed. This year I prayed about my word and the Lord gave me LOVE.

Oh ok.  Uh, I think I do this, Lord, I really do love people. In fact I have certainly tried through the years to make loving the people a priority in the church families we have served in.  Love, really?

Then He added something – – LOVE WITHOUT JUDGMENT. What? Me? Well, I am not prejudiced? Partial? Arrogant? Petty? Phobic? Judgmental? ME?

I just read a book a few weeks ago by Bob Goff, Everybody, Always.  He is a lawyer that travels the word advocating for the persecuted and sharing the love of Jesus. As you can tell by the title of the book this is the way he describes HOW Jesus loved.

This caused me to really think about who does the Word tell us Jesus loved?

He loved his mother, his best friends, a circle of friends (men and women), a betrayer friend, a denier friend, the mentally ill and possessed, lepers, paralytics, tax collectors, widows, a centurion and his servant, adulterers, a bleeding woman, blind, ruler in the synagogue and his daughter, crowds, rich, poor, a thief, his enemies … believers in His Sonship and unbelievers. Supporters and scoffers.

Everybody.

Always.

LOVE is my word this year and I know I won’t be able to express love like my Lord did, but I truly am going to work on the WITHOUT JUDGMENT part each day and with each person I encounter.

GOD IS LOVE. (1 John 4:8)

Valentines, Gal-entines, Pal-entines!

You are loved!

Valentine’s Day is a holiday that is hard for so many. It makes us focus on romantic love and also, on any lack of romance in our lives.

But that is just ridiculous!

Life is a wonderful gift from God! Let us savor it and enjoy it and appreciate what we do have rather than mourn what we don’t!

We are on a grand adventure ladies – an adventure with the Father. Some of our adventure is pleasing and fulfilling and exciting. Other parts are painful, discouraging, and just plain hard. But isn’t that the way adventures are? Aren’t they a mix of good and bad? Magellan and Vasco de Game and other explorers of old had a mix of great days and awful ones, huge discoveries and successes mixed with utter failure. So why would we expect the adventure of our lives to be any different?

We are lured into false expectations that can ultimately do us in, emotionally at least. We feel we want a love in our life, a man. We have an expectation of that. We expect we’ll get married and live happily-ever-after like the heroines in stories do. We expect roses and romance and fairy tales. But life is an adventure story, and adventures have trials and tragedy as well as love and hope.

So here is your February 14th challenge: Whatever your circumstance, whether pleasing or disappointing to you, hang onto it and savor it in any way you can as part of your grand adventure with God!

Does that seem impossible for your situation? Try these thought changers.

  • closeup-photography-of-pink-rose-flower-in-clear-glass-vase-835773No matter how badly you feel yourself, show love by giving a single flower to someone else.
  • Feeling left out because you don’t have a date? Call a friend and initiate an outing.
  • Make a handmade Valentine’s card for a child in your life to speak truth, peace, love, and encouragement into their life.
  • Make your co-worker’s day brighter in any small way: bring them coffee, cover some of their work load for them, give them a small box of “conversation hearts,” … Use your imagination.
  • Be the friend to someone else that you long to have. Take them a cupcake!
  • Text everyone in your phone list and tell them you love them and that they are special!
  • Pass out boxes of Little Debbie heart-shaped cakes to the homeless you pass on the streets each day.
  • Cut out dozens of red and pink hearts, write encouragement on each one, and use them to decorate someone’s room, car, or office.
  • Share the Gospel of Jesus (a gospel of love and redemption) with one who is feeling unloved.

The bottom line – Get your mind off yourself and show God’s love in small tangible ways to people around you. Even strangers!

We can sit and mourn not having a Romantic Valentine in our life, or we can be that Gal-entine or Pal-entine that makes someone else feel loved. You are guaranteed to feel better yourself if you take time to show love to another. And your Father God will be pleased.

close-up-photography-of-cupcake-on-gray-ceramic-plate-1028708Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:7-12

 

 

She Loves Out Loud

Do I?

Do I love others in a way that speaks louder than any voice ever could?

Do I love hurting, broken souls well?

Do I love myself more?

Do I love enough to pray with heart-rending cries to the Father for their rescue and their salvation and their peace?

Do I pray for other women, these Christian sisters, friends, acquaintances, and even strangers God puts in my path?

Do I pray for them as earnestly as I pray for my own children and family?

***************

She Loves Out Loud is an opportunity to join in prayer with woman all across America. We will join hearts in prayer for our families and our marriages, praying against the temptations, betrayal, and pornography that seeks to destroy our homes. We’ll pray for hope and healing for abortion survivors, for race relations, for our military spouses, and for the trauma and pain of abuse or trafficking that many women have dealt with.

It’s our time to rise up as women of God to call on Our Creator for His intervention in our society’s struggles.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

Join us Saturday, February 15, 2020, from 10:30-3:30 at GFBC for a time of testimonies and prayer. (Go to the GFBC women’s page, scroll down to “Events” to register.) You’ll hear live-streamed testimonies and encouragement from Priscilla Shirer, Carol Kent, Sheila Walsh, and many others. We will pray together, seeking God’s hand to move in our nation. If you cannot make it to that physical location, check out the She Loves Out Loud website for free streaming of the event. And visit their social media pages on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter

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The Lord gave the command:
A great company of women brought the Good News.

PSALM 68:11

 

Looking Through the Lens of Contentment

What is your word for the year?

How often do we get lured in by what looks good only to realize we’ve short-changed ourselves and gotten a worthless emotional fix at the expense of a truly satisfying yet maybe less flashy object? That must-have kitchen gadget that now sits gathering dust. Last year’s expensive fashion accessory you just put in the box to Goodwill because it’s out of style. The latest fad self-help book that was no help at all because you simply need Jesus, not a formula.

Distractions abound. We clutter our houses with stuff which takes time away from people. Bling entices us. The new movie release calls our name. Pinterest projects tempt us. Our long range “To Do” list gets longer instead of getting completed. Books pile up on the shelf and in the app waiting to be read. The latest diet or exercise fad promises a new us, new life, hope. We take expensive vacations, yet we return home needing to rest up from them. We feel the call to buy more, do more, get more, go more. More, more, more distractions!

man-walking-on-the-empty-street-3289156.jpgWe try to fill the emptiness in our soul with these distractions. We seek relief, escape from that dark, scary void. We long to matter. But an ache so deep cannot be filled by material stuff. These distractions are simply packaging popcorn we use to try to fill the gaps in our soul. What we really need is a relationship with our Creator which amply supplies all that we long for and brings self-acceptance and meaning to our souls. We need the Father’s perspective which yields satisfaction, contented lives of faith, and all one needs to face the road ahead without fear.

As I was seeking my Word for the Year this December, the Father surprised me. The word He gave me is Content. Not success, or joy, or hope or any of a number of great things. Simply, Content. As my flesh seeks for thousands of things to comfort and fill the void in my heart, my spirit longs to say with the Apostle Paul, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:11-12)

Have you learned that secret?

Contentment yields the strength we need because we are resting in Christ. In the very next verse Paul said, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” And we can too. We can live contently in plenty or in want – whatever our circumstances are if we are content in Christ. Why? Not because we are denying our problems, but because as Paul goes on to say in verse 19, “my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Because we know that God Himself will meet all our needs.

Do you know that?

Do you have contentment? Are you seeking it?

In 1 Timothy 6, Paul again mentions contentment. He talks to his young disciple, Timothy,  about godly teaching, people who cause unhealthy controversies, quarrels, and strife, and people who seek financial gain. He reminds Timothy in verse 6, that, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” So as we grow in godliness this year, let’s add contentment and experience this great gain. What gain? Maybe more peace. More compassion. More usable time because we aren’t bound up being a care-taker of all our possessions and close-up-of-eyeglasses-256273distractions. A greater ability to hear from the Lord as we sit in contentment at His feet. An ability to see with spiritual eyes the the direction to take on the paths before us.

Sometimes our physical eyesight gets bad and we need to get glasses. Uncertainty abounds from not being able to see clearly. Sometimes our spiritual eyesight gets blurred as well and we need a new lens to look through. Sometimes we are blinded by the glare of the world. Whether your vision is blurred or you need some sunglasses to see through the glare, contentment will be a new lens for you. Try it on and see if it doesn’t help.

Maybe contentment is a primary need of your heart, like mine. As you seek the focus you need for this new year, as you pick your “word for the year” or “verse for the year,” consider the word content. Look up the scriptures on contentment. It may be just the focus you need. It will definitely send you down a new path.

Whatever your word or verse is this year, please share with us in the comments below. Others may be encouraged by what you share.

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Prepare Him Room

When the children were little we had a small, wooden manger that sat beside the fireplace for the entire holiday season. Next to it was a bin of hay. Each time a child did a kindness for someone He got to add a handful of hay to the manger. The children knew that as they were acting in love toward another, they were preparing a place for Jesus to come on Christmas morning. The child-friendly lesson was simple and based on scripture: “‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:40

A very familiar Christmas carol encourages us to “let every heart prepare Him room.” Are we? Preparing Him room in our hearts and homes and lives? Are we, coming in child-like faith and laying down a full, soft bed of hay for the baby Jesus through our generous and kind acts of love and service to the world around us?

That same carol proclaims, “Joy to the world the Lord is come!” Does your life proclaim joy to the world? Does it reflect that all joy is because the Lord has come? Does our daily behavior encourage the those around us to “let earth receive her King”?

This Christmas, may you find joy in the Lord. May you prepare Him room in your life and in your home. May your actions draw the people you come in contact with to come receive the King!

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