Let It Rain

Let it rain, rain down on me….

Crowder, with Mandisa, released a song by this name just a few months ago. It reminds me that God is in control. The same God Who made the sunshine made the rain, and through it all, He is with me. He doesn’t leave us stranded to deal with the rain by ourselves. When it’s “raining”; when everything seems to be against me, I need to remember these words:

“I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!” – Psalms 139:14-‬17 NASB (Read all 24 verses of Psalms 139!)

I am important to God, the LORD of the Universe! He created me; He knew me before I was! In His eyes, I am special. It doesn’t matter what the world thinks, or how they might judge me. I am a child of the Most High King, the One Who rules over every other king and ruler; a Princess in the Kingdom of God.

In other posts, I have been very open about wanting a relationship here on earth, and also about how my choices have been very flawed. I still want that loving, caring relationship, but it’s not in my power to find it or secure it. It is solely in my LORD’s Hands, and He has given me – and other single women and men – guidance through His Scriptures. (If we pay attention to them….)

Is the person you are interested in a Christian? We can’t just depend on hearing the words, but we need to look for the fruits. Does that person attend church? That’s really important. For years, I fought attending, saying that “organized religion” was just something man-made and I could be – I was – spiritual without it. We may be “spiritual” without that association, but we also aren’t growing in our relationship with the LORD. We need to be associating with other Christians. Does he* honor his family? Does he treat you with respect? How is his language? What is his attitude when he doesn’t get his way? (* This is a 2-way street, people. I may be using the pronoun “he”, but it applies to both sexes equally!)

You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.” – Matthew 7:16‭-‬20 NASB

Not everyone on earth gets to have a spouse, or someone to love them in that way. I have had the experience and blessing of having a husband who loved me, but he is gone, with our LORD. It has been years, and I want that again, but God seems to have other plans …… and I have to be okay with that. Will I struggle with that desire? Oh yes, without a doubt! I have to continue to search for GOD’s Will; for my LORD’s desires for my life, and accept His way over mine. My prayer today is for every person who is struggling in this area. There is no shame in struggling! Watch out for the red flags, because the Holy Spirit is the One Who is waving them. Study the scriptures, and lean into the Saviour’s arms when that loneliness strikes. He will hold us and never let us go.

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To Every Season

“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven- A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace. ….He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1‭-‬8, 11 NASB

In the late 1950’s, songwriter Pete Seeger created the song Turn, Turn, Turn as an almost word-for-word rendition of verses 1-8 of this scripture passage. It has been recorded and re-recorded, and it is an amazing, beautiful platform for King Solomon’s words. But keep reading…. “He has made everything appropriate in its time.” We don’t understand God (how can we??), or why things happen the way they do, or even what we are supposed to do with our circumstances, but He does.

I’d like to know my appointed times. Well, sometimes I think I would. Other times, I don’t want to know! What would be the point in luving life, if we already knew everything that was going to happen, and when it would happen? Where would the adventure be? Anticipation? Excitement? Life would be dull. Monotonous. There wouldn’t be a reason to make any decisions. Even though I wouldn’t mind skipping the ugly parts of life, how could we possibly know just how good the good times are if there weren’t something to compare them to?

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the Will of the LORD is.” – Ephesians 5:15‭-‬17 NASB

God gave us free will. It’s up to us to make the most of it. Grab that moment of happiness, that ray of sunshine through the clouds. Hold on to the good. Spend time with the LORD, determining the best next step. Pray. Praise. Determine to let the Love of the LORD shine on you, no matter how tattered and confused you feel today. Dwell in Him.

I Hate Myself

“I remember Christian teachers telling me long ago that I must hate a bad man’s actions but not hate the bad man: or, as they would say, hate the sin but not the sinner. …I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction: how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man? But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life — namely myself. However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself. There had never been the slightest difficulty about it. In fact the very reason why I hated the things was that I loved the man. Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things.”
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Ulike Lewis, I didn’t love myself. I didn’t love what I was doing, either. Sometimes, I still don’t. Okay, I don’t really hate myself, at least not anymore, but there are plenty of times I don’t like myself. That’s why I sit in awe as I read this passage from the Psalms.

“O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You. ……Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.” – Psalms 139:1‭-‬12‭, ‬16 NASB

I’ve said this before, and I am sure to repeat it many more times: The GOD Who created everything, sun, moon, stars, planets, galaxies, and the very atoms and neutrons that compose them, knows me. He KNOWS me – and even knowing me, He LOVES me anyway….. AND He never leaves me!

That just blows my mind.

Back to C.S. Lewis’s statement about loving himself. I admire that. Think about it a minute. If GOD loves me, in spite of me being me, where do I get off not loving myself? It’s important that we distinguish our actions from our being. If The Great I Am loves me, there really isn’t any excuse for me not to love myself. That goes for you, too. Love yourself. Hate what you are doing, perhaps, but keep in mind that GOD created you and He loves you. He loves us so much that He came to earth, God incarnate, and sacrificed Himself so that we can spend eternity with Him if we choose. Our choice.

Think about how much He LOVES you.

Take A Break From Control

Reading my devotional this morning, I read this and it really struck home:

It’s leaving our work and striving behind to allow God to handle it, knowing that it’s not we who hold the earth in the balance, but Him. It’s trading the unhealthy illusion of control and the addiction of distraction for the beneficial gift of presence. It’s giving up the hustle and having confidence God will take care of things while we take a break.” (from Kate Merrick #HereNowBook)

Such truth! Everything we do seems like it comes back to trying to control our environments, and that is a completely impossible task. Doesn’t matter how hard you work or how much money you might have, you cannot control life. Oh, we might have a semblance of control, but it can be snatched away in an instant. Spouses and loved ones disappoint. Businesses fail. Money markets crash. Homes burn. People die. Hopelessness can overtake us in an instant, even for those of us who love the Lord and count Him as our King.

Can you even imagine how much more devastating such losses must be for someone who is doing it all on their own strength, by themself? I believe that’s why depression and suicide are so prevelant. There is really no hope outside of our Lord and Saviour. I deal with disappointment and loss and setbacks, seems like almost on a daily basis, and I cannot contemplate being here without Jesus.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9 NASB

Hallelujah! What a BLESSING we have in Jesus!

Shock and Awe

Sung by Bethel Music:
I raise a hallelujah, in the presence of my enemies
I raise a hallelujah, louder than the unbelief
I raise a hallelujah, my weapon is a melody
I raise a hallelujah, heaven comes to fight for me

Shock hits us hard. Got a big one today. Not sure how to shake it off or how to deal with it, and it isn’t something I can talk about, so where does it go?

‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ – Isaiah 41:10 NASB

He is the GREAT I AM. He is more than enough; nothing can shake Him. Though the foundations of my life are shaken to pieces, my God will prevail. There may not be anything else to hold on to; I have to hold on to that.

Raise a hallelujah. The enemy hates it when we praise God in our pain and shock and disappointments.

Raise a hallelujah. It will drown out the unbelief that is trying to creep in.

Raise a hallelujah. The songs of our hearts, our prayers, are the melody that will take down the enemy.

Raise a hallelujah. God’s army is on our side! Who can prevail against it?

Victory

Oh Victory in Jesus, my Saviour, FOREVER….

Such a great hymn! Do you happen to know it? With so many churches going to Praise and Worship music, a lot of the older hymns are falling by the wayside, and people don’t get to hear the beautiful stories they tell. Don’t get me wrong! I love singing and praising the Lord, whatever the music. This one, Victory in Jesus, makes me want to jump up and raise my hands – think about it. We are Victorious!

” ‘No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their vindication is from Me,’ declares the LORD.” – Isaiah 54:17 NASB

No weapon. Isn’t that the perfect verse? And this:

“….. but thanks be to GOD, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 15:57 NASB

No matter what happens, my God has my back. When I’m in the midst of a crisis, even – especially even – when it’s one I have created, I don’t always remember this. I’m not in control of my life, regardless of how hard I try to be! We are all at the Mercy of the Living LORD. The enemy is constantly looking for ways to trip us up, and he will definitely use our own words and actions against us. He and his minions want us to fall and to fail, and to forget what we have to look forward to in our Eternity with Christ. If he can keep us looking behind us, focusing on our pasts, then we can’t be looking forward…… and when we aren’t looking forward, we trip. I don’t mean not to remember our pasts. It’s important to remember, so that we don’t go down those paths again. Just don’t dwell on it. (If you are OCD like me, you know that I am fully aware of just how difficult that can be!)

HOWEVER……

Look at these words the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus:

“Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory. For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” – Ephesians 3:153-‬21 NASB

Our LORD, our Jesus, is not constrained by the bounds of sinful humanity. He can do anything, and He can do it in ways that are beyond our comprehension; beyond anything we can conjour up in our imaginations. Don’t be afraid to have honest conversations with Him. Ask Him for the desire of your heart. Be specific. Above all else, remember this:

” ‘No weapon that is formed against you will prosper’ ….. declares the LORD.” – Isaiah 54:17

Can I get an Amen???

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The GOD of ALL Grace

C.S. Lewis was asked what separates Christianity from ALL other religions. His answer: Grace.

All-encompassing, all-inclusive Grace, AMAZING Grace. “Grace, Grace, Marvelous Grace, Grace that is greater than all my sins!” We serve the GOD of ALL Grace; every kind of Grace, every variety of Grace. Did you ever stop and realize there are different kinds of grace?

“For by Grace you have been saved through Faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the Gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” – Ephesians 2:8‭-‬9 NASB

We are offered Saving Grace, the gift God offers to sinful, lost people; completely undeserved. It is not offered because of anything we can say or do, but because of His great and incomprehensible LOVE for us. Salvation is ALL Grace, totally, 100%, guaranteed with His Promise.

“…… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; …..” – Romans 3:23‭-‬24 NASB (also Romans 4:16, 11:6)

There is Suffering Grace. It is inevitable in this world that we will suffer, but it is temporary; a “little while” in light of eternity; and it is under God’s control. He uses suffering to temper us and to strengthen us, and we can bear it because He has all of eternity to make up for what we have suffered here. He will perfect us, mend us, make us whole. Remember Joel 2:25 “Then I will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, The creeping locust, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust…..” and 1 Peter 5:5b “….. and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives Grace to the humble.”

Paul understood Suffering Grace, perhaps more than any of us ever will. Read 2 Corinthians 11, especially verses 21-33. All of the Apostles suffered, but they knew it was temporary.

“For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of Glory far beyond all comparison …..” – 2 Corinthians 4:17 NASB

After you have suffered a little while, our God, Who is full of kindness through Christ, will give you His Eternal Glory. He personally will come and pick you up, and set you firmly in place, and make you stronger than ever. All Power to Him forever! Amen.” – 1 Peter 5:10‭-‬11‭ TLB

There is Sustaining, or Surviving Grace. This is our Eternal Glory, beyond the hurt and grind of this life. This is the Gospel of Grace – we are saved when we deserve the opposite…. and there is more to follow! All Grace is manifest in Christ. It is not, and can never be, our doing, because it was His dying on the cross that provides us with that Grace. Only the God of all Grace can see us to the end. (1 Corinthians 1:4-9, Philippians 1:6) The good news is that my past is my PAST, never to be lived again. I am Forgiven through Grace. Blessed be the LORD, The God of ALL Glory, He has an unlimited supply of forgiveness and salvation through Grace!

“But by the Grace of God I am what I am, and His Grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the Grace of God with me.” – 1 Corinthians 15:10 NASB

Amazing Grace.