Freedom

Charles Stanley wrote about surviving “the wait” with courage. He says “Continued delays can be disheartening, especially when circumstances don’t go your way or your burdens become too heavy to carry. Most likely, you’ve experienced heartbreaking occasions before—devastating disappointments that have robbed you of the last of your strength and resolve. The days, weeks, months, and sometimes years go by without any answers to your prayers. The illness, financial difficulty, conflict, loneliness, uncertainty, or need persists. You struggle, feeling the overwhelming temptation to give in to utter despair and fall back into destructive habits.”

I’ve been there. I sometimes feel as though I have spent my entire life there, waiting. Sometimes patiently, but mostly impatiently. The years I’ve spent waiting for answers, through my husband’s illnesses, financial difficulties, so many conflicts; through loneliness and uncertainty.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12 NASB

We sang this old hymn written by Isaac Watts in 1708 on Sunday. It’s still a great reminder of what we are waiting for, and of our security while we wait.

Our God, Our Help in Ages Past –
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home;
2 Under the shadow of thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is thine arm alone,
And our defence is sure.
3 Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting thou art God,
To endless years the same.
4 A thousand ages in thy sight
Are like an evening gone,
Short as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun.
5 Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.
6 O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be thou our guard while troubles last,
And our eternal home.
(Paraphrased from Psalm 90)

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16‭-‬18 NASB

Exodus tells of the Israelites leaving Egypt. They had been in slavery for 430 years, but their bondage was all they knew and it was comfortable. We are like that. Our sin is comfortable. Our despair is comfortable. It’s often easier to stay in bondage than to change it, but Jesus has come to redeem us, to loose each of us from our shackles, our bondage, the oppression of sin. It is just as true now as what Moses said then, “The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.” Exodus 14:14 NASB

In Exodus 14:20, God LITERALLY put a barrier between the camps so that the Egyptians cannot attack the Israelites. GOD is working out their salvation; it was nothing that the Israelites did or could do, just as OUR salvation is nothing that we can do. Standing at the edge of death, God creates the way so we can escape death. We are called to live under His Covenant. He has led us through the waters and to our salvation. We are SET FREE from bondage to sin, we are SAVED from the consequences of sin, and we are SPOKEN FOR by the God of the Universe.

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 NASB

I may not be free of these things I’ve dealt with during my life until the day I die, but I pray that someone, somewhere, might have seen my struggle and realized that my goal is not of this world. I pray that they might see the One God, and the One Mediator in the person of Jesus Christ Who is taking care of me. I’m a terrible example of a Christian, so it will have to be the work of the Holy Spirit!

Special

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” John 14:16‭-‬17 NASB

“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” John 16:7 NASB

I am special. Every person who rejects the world to embrace Jesus as LORD is special! GOD, the very same God Who created the Universe, is a part of their life; He is an integral part of my life. We have this supernatural, incomparable helper that non-Christians can’t begin to understand. Too many times, we – I – forget that. Worry and frustration creep into our lives, despair begins to manifest itself, and all along, we have the means to repel them. The Holy Spirit is real. He is alive. He will defend us and defeat the enemy if we just allow Him control of our lives.

So simple, yet so difficult for stubborn humans, and I definitely include myself in that group. Once again, I’m reminded of one of the sayings that is repeated often in recovery groups: “Let go, and let GOD.” Just do it!

The LORD is my Shepherd

“The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of Righteousness For His Name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely Goodness and Lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalms 23:1‭-‬6 NASB

Thanksgiving 2019

“Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice! Tell all the nations, “The Lord reigns!” Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise! Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy! Let the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord , for he is coming to judge the earth. Give thanks to the Lord , for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.”

1 Chronicles 16:31‭-‬34 NLT

Faithful Suffering

Faithful suffering. First Jesus, then Paul; actually, all of the Apostles served as our examples of this.

“Blessed be the GOD and FATHER of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, the Father of Mercies and God of all Comfort, Who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by GOD.” 2 Corinthians 1:3‭-‬4 NASB

“But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed, therefore I spoke,” [Psalms 116: 1-10] we also believe, therefore we also speak, knowing that He Who raised the LORD JESUS will raise us also with JESUS and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, so that the Grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the Glory of GOD.” 2 Corinthians 4:13‭-‬15 NASB

I don’t suffer faithfully, or gracefully. Do you? Does it make you mad when bad things happen to you or your loved ones? I spent a large part of my life mad at God because of all the bad in my life…. I didn’t want anything to do with Him since He let all of it happen. At the same time, I ignored or denied that any of the good came from Him. My Faith was nonexistent. It took some major disasters to get my attention off me and my faithless suffering, and back into the LORD and my childhood Faith.

I still don’t want any suffering or bad stuff; however, now I can recognize where it really comes from. I know that no matter what the enemy throws at me, my LORD is with me, beside me, supporting me, carrying me when I need it. I still worry, and I still get angry, but I’m learning through Faith that I am not alone. You aren’t alone either, if you’ll allow Jesus to walk with you.

Cracked and Broken

“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

“For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; …..” 2 Corinthians 4:6‭-‬7 NASB

“But God
Rich in mercy
You came to save me
Now I’m alive
But God
Strong and mighty
You reached down for me
So I could rise
Now I’m alive”

(Words by Zach Williams)

Can you relate?

GOD is My Refuge and Strength

“GOD is our Refuge and Strength, A very present help in trouble.” – Psalms 46:1 NASB

Big Daddy Weave sings this song called Alive. Here’s an excerpt:

I am far from being perfect
There are days that I regret
On this battlefield I struggle
With the lies that I have lived
I have fallen short of glory
I can’t make it on my own
If You kept record of my past
I’d be sinking like a stone

But God, rich in mercy
You came to save me
Now I’m alive**

Without Him, where would I be? Probably not alive! Oh, God, how I need You in my life! There is nothing I can do or say that can negate that, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. His Mercy and Grace sustain me. Everyday life gets to me sometimes, tying my stomach in knots when siruations spiral out of my control….. which means my stomach is tied in knots a lot!

Can the God Who created the Universe care about me and my everyday concerns? Can He, does He, care about my feelings? Jesus says that not only He can care, He does care about each and every single one of us!

For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” ….. “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:25‭, ‬33‭-‬34 NASB

Whenever I catch myself getting tense and anxious, these are the verses I need to be thinking of. No matter what is going on, He is with me.

“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose Word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me? You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?” – Psalms 56:3‭-‬4‭, ‬8 NASB

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6‭-‬7 NASB

What are you anxious about today? What twists your mind and your stomach into knots; what are you afraid of? Spend time in prayer, just talking to the LORD. It still amazes me that I can have a conversation with Him!

Thank You, LORD, for sending Your Son so that I can have a life in eternity with You. All the petty things in this life that I get twisted into knots over – I know in my heart You have it all under control! Now, if you could just get my head to follow along….. The relationship I pray for is in your hands. My home, my finances, my health. Thank You for removing those burdens from my soul. In Your Precious Name, I lay my heart. Amen.

**Alive by Big Daddy Weave Publishing: © So Essential Tunes / Fellow Ships Music (SESAC). Admin by Essential Music., Be Essential Songs / Anthems of Hope / Westeria Drive (BMI). Admin by Essential Music., So Essential Tunes / Hickory Bill Doc (SESAC). Admin by Essential Music / Writer(s): Jason Ingram, Zach Williams, and Jonathan Smith

Joy, Joy, Joy!

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together And all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who enclosed the sea with doors When, bursting forth, it went out from the womb; When I made a cloud its garment And thick darkness its swaddling band, And I placed boundaries on it And set a bolt and doors, And I said, ‘Thus far you shall come, but no farther; And here shall your proud waves stop’?” – Job 38:4‭-‬11 NASB

Oh, the Absolute Joy of Creation!

“Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing.” – Psalms 100:1‭-‬2 NASB

Listen to All of Creation by Mercy Me!

“Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His Lovingkindness is everlasting.” – Psalms 106:1 NASB (Psalm 118:1, 136:1)

There is so much to be thankful for! So much JOY to be had, if we just reach out for it. Finding beauty in our pain, our loneliness, our darkness…. it isn’t easy, but it’s possible. I woke up today. Sometimes, I think about the alternative to waking up here and how utterly glorious it will be to wake up with Jesus, but I’m not ready to leave just yet. So I am thankful I woke up! I walk out the door and view the profusion of God’s decorations – flowers, trees, birds – and I rejoice at His Creation. Our birth families may not be what we hoped for, but we have many opportunities to forge our own families with people we love. I am blessed to love and be loved by my birth family. We should always be able to find something to fing joy in and rejoice over!

“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” – John 15:11 NASB

Jesus gives us an even greater reason for joy. He came to us, stooped down to our level, to bring His Joy to us. Amazing Grace! His Joy can be in us! Accept it!

Photo credit to http://www.ministry.com

A Little Reminder…..

HALLELUJAH; OH GLORIOUS DAY!! Good Friday is over; Black Saturday is past us; Sunday has come – HE IS RISEN! The grave could not hold Him; death has NO power over Him!

“Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.
And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the LORD descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it.
And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.
The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men.
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified.
HE IS NOT HERE, FOR HE HAS RISEN – just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.” ” – Matthew 28:1-6