This love.

There is a love.  It’s a love that’s hard to fathom, until you know it.  It seems out of reach, until you’ve attained it.  It appears surreal, until you’ve experienced it.  Yes, there is a love like no other.  It’s unconditional, unearned, unfailing, unending.  It is freely given, but at a high cost – a cost that has already been ransomed.  This love.  There is nothing like it.


 

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

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All scriptures from Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 or New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson

Coronavirus – Faith, Not Sight.

Well, this is definitely a different time for all of us.  This day ends and I know I’m not the only one thinking, “this has been surreal.”  Having to hunt down usually basic groceries such as toilet paper, rice, canned goods etc., as it was announced schools will be closed for at least a month, gatherings of 250 people or more not allowed, and other closings.  There’s such uncertainty about where this is headed and the affect it could have.

I have strong faith.  Two years ago I faced a lot of trials in a small period of time and one thing that season did in me was give me a lesson in God’s faithfulness and in trusting Him beyond what we see in the natural. “Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies. (Psalm 36:5)

We walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

In any given moment there is so much we can see or perceive in the natural, but there is also so much we cannot see.  As children of God, we have to trust His ways. As He says in His Word, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)  His Word says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” We will not always have understanding, but we can always trust.  

We know God numbers our days and that we have an eternity to look forward to with Him, we know that He is in control and that His Word is truth. We know, as His Word says, “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”  Yes, we know these things and we have to stand firm on these truths.  God is faithful! We can trust Him!


Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:12)

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:12)

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised. (Hebrews 10:36)

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

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)

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

Psalm 91:
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”

Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence.

He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.

You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you look, and see the reward of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;

For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.

You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, the young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.

“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation.”

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All scriptures from Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 or New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson

2020, A year of… Grace

Grace.

I could never have enough of it; I can’t live without it. God’s grace sustains me.  As I prayerfully considered what God would have me share in this new year, He led me to share a few, “2020, A year of…” words of encouragement.  This one, “grace,” is the one that resonates with me the most right now.  I’m at a place in my journey where it is only by His grace that I press forward.  For those like me who day by day lean on His grace, I encourage you, we are at a good place.  Relying completely on God and the strength and grace He provides is the best posture we could be in.  As we keep seeking His grace, we will keep finding His grace. We must keep our eyes always fixed on Jesus, our Lord and Savior.  He fulfills, He heals, He makes whole.

Lord, Thank You for Your unfailing love and for Your never ending mercy and grace.  For all those who need Your grace in this new year, I pray that you would pour it out in abundance.  Thank You that You never leave us; You never forsake us. With You by our side we will never fall.  You uphold us and strengthen us.  God, You have shown us so much grace!  Thank You, Lord!  May we experience more and more of Your grace as we press forward, keeping our hope and trust always in You.  In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen!

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

“Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” (2 Peter 1:2)

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.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

“Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace.” (2 Corinthians 1:12)

“But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

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All scriptures from Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 or New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson

As He leads

I have pondered some big questions lately.  What is my place in this world? How can I help the hurting?  What does God have for me to accomplish?  I am different than the average; how can I really be used?

As I have pondered all this, There is one solid conclusion I have come to.  Jesus.  Jesus is the only answer.  He defines my place in this world, He is the only answer for the hurting, God has much for me to accomplish because of my faith in Jesus and He has led me to embrace my differences and realize that my differences equate to Him being able to use me in a different way.  God wired me the way I am and He has purpose in the way He designed me.

I dont know exactly what all He will call me to do, but He has been lovingly revealing to me over the past few years that I am someone He can and will use to accomplish His purposes.  He once told me, “what you see as your weaknesses, I see as your strengths.”  He has been growing my faith tremendously over these past few years as I have stepped out in faith and obedience and as I have realized my complete dependence on Him.  I’m not afraid because I know He is with me.  I have complete trust in Him and He gives me strength.  When I face worries and uncertainty, I know that because I am submitted to and trusting Him everything is working out for good.  I walk by faith and not by sight.

When I was just starting my faith journey, a little over five years ago, He gave me a vision of how my journey would look and He gave me a ‘life scripture’:

 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

I saw a vision of an incomplete brick path in the process of being laid.  It looked rather rough as if it had been there waiting to be worked on a while.  At the time I received the vision, I was having worry over stepping outside of His will – of missing it or taking a wrong step.  He told me that I do not have to fear taking a misstep because, while a step off the path would cause delay, as I focused on Him and trusted Him He would rework the path so my feet would be on it once again.  He showed me my feet on the incomplete path and I saw my foot take a step and as I took the step He laid a brick below it before my foot hit the ground.  As I took the step, the path no longer looked old and abandoned!  He was completely directing and establishing my path as I took a step.

I have been seeing this vision take place in my life.  He speaks something to me and as I take a step in faith and obedience, He truly directs my path.  I see good come out of these steps of obedience.  I see His strength overcoming my weaknesses in these steps of obedience.  I see His purposes being accomplished in these steps of obedience.

I just recognized this right now, seeing that unfinished path that hadn’t been worked on in a while was an invitation.  It was an invitation for me to be a willing servant, for me to be obedient in lifting my foot to take any step He calls me to take.  Over these past few years, I’ve had to overcome some worry and I’ve had to allow Him to do some much needed growth in me, and now I’m at that place where nothing holds me back.  I am willing to step as He leads.

May His good, pleasing and perfect will always be done in me and through me. For His glory!

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All scriptures from Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 or New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson

Thankful

It’s that time of year again where everyone is asked the question, “what are you thankful for?”  Hopefully whenever you ponder that question, you have a hard time answering – not for lack of things to be thankful for, but because there’s an immeasurable amount to be thankful for!  I couldn’t answer that question in simplicity; I’d have to write a book and it would be incomplete.  I hope that you feel the same way!  We are so blessed!

So instead of asking, “what are you thankful for,” here’s my question:  “When you think of this past year and all you have to be thankful for, what is one thing this year that has really stood out among the immeasurable list of what you have to be thankful for?”

Here’s my answer:

Last year was a year of many trials, but also a year of growth.  In a span of four months, my sister was in the hospital for over a month with life threatening injuries, the home I lived in had a house fire, I moved in to my own place with my son for the first time in his life, my grandma had a stroke that left her in an alzheimers state, my grandpa died after a long battle with cancer, I was in a hit and run car accident (the guy later turned himself in) that totaled my car and left me in a very long and frustrating process, the car I replaced it with broke down, my super sweet and loved boss passed away after a short battle with cancer.  It was a lot of trials, but also a lot of growth and a lot of blessing in response to the trials.

I share this because it was the beginning process of what I am most thankful for this year.  Last year when I was facing trial after trial God placed the word “preparation” on my heart.  This gave me hope in the midst of what I was facing.  I really was able to keep my eyes on Jesus through it all.  At the beginning of this year God placed the word “growth” on my heart, and that is what I have experienced this year.  What stands out to me this year in particular to be most thankful for is that God has been growing me in my relationship with Him and He has been growing me as a whole, helping me to discover who I am in Him and to find complete fulfillment in Him.  As I have given over control to Him over these past two years, submitting to and trusting Him, He has truly directed my every path, led me in the way I should go, and established my plans — just as His Word promises to do (see Proverbs 3:5-6, Psalm 32:8, Proverbs 16:3).  It is this growth, in dependence on Him, in faith and trust in Him, in fulfillment in Him, in completeness in Him, that I am most thankful for this year.


Someone shared this fabulous idea and my son and I started a “Grateful Jar” at the end of summer.  We write down one thing we are grateful for in the morning before we start our day and drop it in the jar.  It has been wonderful to reflect on all God has done and continues to do for us!

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Be blessed!

Why I believe… my testimony to the good news of God’s grace

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:24)

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. ” (1 Peter 3:15)


Last week I was asked the question, “why do you believe” for the first time since I was saved in 2014 so, as a result, I wanted to take a few minutes to share my story of God’s great grace in my life and why I believe in Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

I can look back the past several years and see all these dots connected which led me straight to Jesus.

Eight years ago I was at a point in my life where I felt numb,  I felt sick, I had no desire to live.  I was hopeless and had no vision of a future for myself.  I can with quite certainty say there’s a large possibility I wouldn’t be here today had God, full of love, grace and mercy, not intervened when He did. I had reached a point of being sickened with where I was at.  I felt stuck and I no longer wanted to be doing what I had been doing.  I wanted it to all end. I felt completely hopeless.

When I found out I was pregnant I knew I couldn’t stay where I was.  I hadn’t been able to break free for myself, but I could do it for my child. Getting pregnant was the first dot in the story of God leading me to Him. I moved to a new state and this was another dot. I got a job in this new state when my child was 11 months old. Another dot. This job was a pretty miserable work environment, but I learned a lot of job skills I did not previously possess. At this miserable job, someone persistently invited me to attend church for over a year. After a series of events and my child having illness I decided to try the church. Another big dot.

At this church I was taught about Jesus – that He came to this world and died a terrible death by being crucified on a cross, dying in place of me, and that He rose from the dead and is seated at the right hand of God.  I learned that by believing in Him I could be saved. I learned that if I was repentant, by His great grace, He would forgive any sin I’d committed and release me from it.

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.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,” (Acts 3:19)

‘Come now, let us settle the matter,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’ ” (Isaiah 1:18)

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” (Ephesians 1:7)

So at this church, after three weeks of pondering within myself as to if God would really forgive every sin, I repented and I surrendered my heart to Jesus and I believed in Him as my Lord and Savior. Kaboom, majorly huge dot – the biggest one in my story!

God didn’t stop there though. Even after being saved I have seen dot after dot leading me to where I am today. That miserable job? No more. There was a dot that led me to a great job in a wonderful work environment that I wouldn’t be able to have had I not learned the job skills at the miserable job and accepted the invite to church at the miserable job.  Shortly after becoming a Christian, my life scripture became Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will direct your paths.”  I have learned that in every situation I have faced this scripture holds true.  I am at a point now in my faith where I have seen the way God directs me and I have seen His faithfulness time and time again in my own life and in the lives of people God has placed around me. His Word has proven true.  As I said, I have seen dot after dot connecting and these dots represent a caring God who is real and who loves me, who didn’t just create me and leave me wandering aimlessly, but who leads me and heals me and strengthens me and upholds me, who gives me joy and peace and life.

The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” (Isaiah 58:11)

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My loving eye on you.” (Psalm 32:8)

The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with His hand.” (Psalm 37: 23-24)

I have this thought, “how couldn’t I believe?” The belief I have in Jesus is more real than things I see with my own eyes in this world. So often when I see things in this world I see a facade. I see falseness all around me – people trying to appear as something they’re not or seeking in places that will never fulfill, finding security in things that cannot stand (and I used to fit in this description before knowing Jesus).  What I have with Jesus is a love I never thought was possible for me, but now I know it is. It is real and true, not based on anything I have done or have not done — unconditional love.  I don’t just know of Jesus, I truly know HimKnowing Him, I believe in Him.  I am in love with Him.  Jesus is my Savior and my Lord.  He truly is the reason I live.

Glory to God for His great love, mercy and grace!

Be blessed!

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ALL SCRIPTURES FROM HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® COPYRIGHT ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 OR NEW KING JAMES VERSION®. COPYRIGHT © 1982 BY THOMAS NELSON
(originally written 4/4/19)