Responding to trials · Speech

Coming Clean

Have you ever driven through one of those intense car washes?  They start by manually washing off the windshield and side windows with a brush.  Then the car gets pulled through the wash on the conveyor track while huge sponge-like fingers slide over every nook and cranny.  Colored bubbles, sprayers and cloth wheels continue the cleaning process. The end result is a car that is totally and thoroughly clean!  

Last weekend I had the blessing of attending the Ladies Prayer Advance in Roanoke, VA. It’s a three day event focused on the Word of God and times of prayer.  I came out of the weekend feeling like one of those cars that had gone through that intense car wash.  There truly was no area of my life unchecked. The Lord brought the searchlight of His Word to Revive, refresh and restore me. I came away feeling so clean.  

I also came away with one word as a take away – Rejoice.

That word came as a result of many different teaching/preaching sessions. Here’s how that word  is working its way into my life as I’ve come home.

I’m to rejoice in my circumstances – As I mentioned recently, I’ve been experiencing a trial for quite some time.  It’s been heartbreaking, but I can also see that God is working in my life as a result.  I must choose to rejoice and give God glory rather than bemoan my situation. He is using this to draw me to Himself.  That alone is reason to rejoice!

Rejoice through forgiveness – The Lord taught me how I can give forgiveness in the midst of my trial.  I’ve struggled with this because I’ve felt that I’ve given it all to Him only to turn around in a day or so with thoughts of my trial swirling in my thoughts and heart like a spring twister.  Ugh. I’d wonder how that bitter thought got back into my heart. Then I heard this illustration that made it absolutely clear.

Corrie Ten Boom, a prisoner in the Nazi Concentration Camps, had tried and failed to forgive those that had mistreated her and her sister Betsy.  Coming to a pastor at a church with the question about how she could forgive, he took her to the bell tower of the church. He gave a tug on the rope and the bells clanged loudly.  

“Each time you rehearse an evil action or cruel word spoken against you, you are ringing the bell, causing unforgiveness to remain in your heart.  What you must do is let go of the rope.

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Suddenly I saw myself with my hands tightly gripped around that rope of those bells as I rehearse or repeat the misjudgments, or evil deeds done.  Clang, Clang, Clang. The bell of unforgiveness begins to ring loudly in my heart.

But now when those thoughts come racing in, or the words start to form on my lips, I make a choice to let go of the rope. How freeing it is to live this way!

Lastly, I’m also applying rejoicing to my speech.  The weight of my critical words have profound effect on myself and those around me.  How much better it would be if I found things to praise God for, rather than complaining about life’s irritants! Yes, the car that darted in front of me, the slow person at the check out desk, the hateful person who took my phone call can be turned into times of praise instead of criticism or complaint.   It takes intentionality to overlook the negative and be thankful for the blessings. This is a lesson I seem to have to learn and re-learn over and over again!

I’m so glad I took the time and effort to go to Ladies’ Car Wash Prayer Advance! It’s sure great to be clean!

Is there an area of your life that could use a good scrubbing?  A point of spiritual defeat?  A sin that is on repeat? You don’t need a weekend away to get it right. Do it now, then you, too can rejoice.

Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.  Philippians 4:4

denise a

Responding to trials · trials

Spiritual Leg-Bouncers

 

Leg bouncers amaze me.  Do you know who I’m talking about? It’s those people who are totally oblivious to the fact that while they’re eating, watching a ballgame, or listening to music, their leg is bouncing 100 mph!  It seems like such a waste of energy!

No criticism here, but I’m married to a leg-bouncer.  Many times when sitting in a quiet setting like a service or at a table, I’ve gently put my hand on his leg.  He knows it’s my request for him to bring his energy into control so the table or pew will stop its shaking!

I’m pretty blown away at leg bouncers’ ability to do this vigorous muscle sprint!  I’ve tried it and it just isn’t possible. Oh, except in my heart…

Yes, when I’ve got a problem, my heart steps in and begins its flurry of mental activity at the speed of 100 mph!  With each thought is

  • How this issue could be stopped
  • How I might help it stop
  • Who else might give me a hand!

Like busy leg-bouncers, I don’t even give real thought to what I’m doing until the Spirit of God puts His loving hand on my heart, making me aware of my useless activity.  It happened just yesterday.

I’ve been in the midst of a hard trial for over a year.  At times I’m sure I’ve had “both legs bouncing” while trying to make this situation stop.  Then in my time in God’s Word, I came to Psalm 62 and read,

Verse 5 – Wait thou only upon God…

Beside that verse I had written,

While waiting be still and silently wait:

  1. Patiently – Stop all your activity of trying to fix the problem. Sit still.
  2. Trustingly – Stop any questions about why God would allow this. Don’t doubt His character or His promises.
  3. Expectantly – Start looking for what He will do. Be on the edge of your seat watching for His answers and His solutions!  It will be better that anything I could imagine!
Spring entryway a
O my soul, wait thou only upon God, for my expectation is from Him.  Psalm 62:5

In short, stop your leg bouncing and use that energy to be on the lookout for what an awesome God is up to.

Are you “bouncing your leg” while you wait for God to care for your trial?  Sit still and be patient, trusting and expectant.  Then you can say as the psalmist said in verse 6 – I will not be moved. There will be no temptation to fix things when we realize that God is at work.

Whew.  We can rest!

denise a

Encouragement · Overwhelmed · Responding to trials

When Your Holly’s Not So Jolly

 

hollyA couple days before all the twinkling lights were removed, the evergreen boughs were swept up off the floor, the empty cookie tins were cleaned of their crumbs, and the gifts were neatly put in their rightful spots, a picture was taken and linked to my blog showing my family in the middle of our Christmas festivities. It revealed genuinely Continue reading “When Your Holly’s Not So Jolly”

Responding to trials · womanhood · Work

Dealing With the Mundane Or Critical Times With Purpose

What mundane things does this day find you doing?  Going to work?  Washing dishes?  Caring for a baby or toddler?  Cleaning up a mess?  Perhaps yesterday was the very same and tomorrow will follow suit.  As you trod through your days, what guides your steps?  What makes you do the next thing and the next?

There are also those days when the situations makes your heart race and your steps quicken.  We gasp at the thought of those days that are marked by trial and difficulty.  How will you respond?  What will keep you from coming apart?

Proverbs 4:11-12 gives good encouragement about how we can do more than just survive both kinds of days.  Watch the video below to hear the wisdom we get from God’s Word.

Where does today find you – walking the monotonous, plodding steps? Or are you running in a trial?  I pray you now have the wisdom to know how to make the most of each kind of day so that you know what to do next and how to keep from stumbling.

God has a purpose for today.  Make it count for His glory.

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Responding to trials · trials

Keep Looking Up!

spring tree 1

Last week I was doing my weekly errands of grocery shopping  and Target run with the typical flurry of moving quickly from one place to the next.  While walking up the parking lot towards Target, I had my head down, towards the pavement, while also reaching for my shopping list.  Then in my peripheral I caught a glimpse of

PINK 

lots of pink! 

I turned my gaze away from my frenzied walk to look up towards the sky.  There in my view was this lovely sight –

spring tree

Of course I had to snap a picture!  I didn’t want to waste the gorgeous view of these pink blooms against the crystal blue sky.  It literally took my breath away.

After I finished my shopping and walked again under its beauty, I heard the Lord whisper in my heart ~

You need to keep your eyes upward.  That’s where the joy is!

Oh, that is so true!  Hebrews 12:2,3 tells us:

 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;
who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross,
despising the shame,
and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself,
lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

It’s really difficult to stop and consider Jesus when I have my head down, dwelling on my concreted  problems.  It’s hard to see the beauty of His presence and remember His promises if I focus on my list of troubles.

I must lift my gaze into His lovely face.  It doesn’t take the problems away, but it reminds me of the truth that He endured mistreatment from sinners, but He is now in heaven, victorious!  Because of that, I don’t have to be weary and faint! I can have victory, too!

That’s a beauty even spring blooms can’t come close to! One day all those that know Christ as their Savior will be gathered with Him where troubles and trials will be over forever.  Until then, friend, let’s

Keep Looking Up!!

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Encouragement · Responding to trials

Read This Only If You’re Discouraged

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If there has been one request that has been repeated in my prayers it has been, “God use my life!”  I truly desire that my days and years count for Christ.  I want treasures to lay at His feet. I want to make a difference in others’ lives for the sake of eternity. But the means in which God will accomplish that request has not been part of my request.  You see, God’s school is often through hardship, trials and difficulties.  Who wants that?

Did Jonah enjoy the fish’s belly?

Was the widow woman excited about having only one more portion of food left for her and her son?

Did Moses relish being berated by his own people?

Did Elijah’s bucket list include being chased by a wicked queen?

Was Paul looking for people to persecute him?

The answer to all of these situations is, “Of course not!” But the result of every one of those trials was that God used them in mighty ways!  It came after.  After what?

After a mess.

After being frighteningly low on daily provision.

After ugly threats.

After pain.

Then blessing came.  Then provision.  Then nearness to God.  Then usefulness.  Then their stories were written in Scripture for our encouragement. Then they became our examples, our heroes!

If you’re in a difficult time right now, let me share a truth with you that I heard Sunday night from one of our dear missionaries –

 

The most important thing that God wants to accomplish
through you might still be in your future!

What if our Bible heroes had quit during their hardship?  We wouldn’t have their example, and God couldn’t have used them to encourage us and bring glory to Himself.  What if you and I quit in the midst of our trial?  We, too, could miss out on the most important thing God wants to do in our lives.

So…

DON’T QUIT!

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God's character · Responding to trials

How We Turn Our Treasures Into Curses

Treasures and Curses

When I was a 7 year-old girl, I really, really wanted a bike.  The children in our neighborhood rode their bikes on the sidewalks, and had such fun.  I knew I was missing out not being able to do the same!  So, for Christmas I asked, begged and prayed for a bike.  What a special surprise to find my longing fulfilled on Christmas Eve!  It was a purple/pink Schwinn with a bell and streamers.  I could hardly wait to join my friends, once the Michigan snow cleared.

Finally spring came, but there was just one problem – I hadn’t learned to ride a two-wheel bike yet!  My dad came to the rescue, doing what dad’s do best – holding onto my wobbly bike’s seat and running along side, yelling out instructions –

Keep your eyes in front – not on me.

Keep pedaling.

Keep your body in the center of the bike.

It was much harder than I imagined it would be! The afternoon when my bike met the tree trunk, and my lip the met the dirt, I was sure this bike wasn’t such a great idea!  Who thought of trying to stay upright on two wheels, anyway?! From that day on, when my dad would try to get me out to try to learn to ride, I’d run!  That bike wasn’t a special gift; it was a curse!

Yesterday’s post  showed us how Joseph’s brother’s assumed God was cursing them when they found the money for the food they’d gotten in Egypt was still in their sacks.  They assumed they would be severely punished for this.  When they told Joseph’s servant, he answered that God had given them treasure in their sacks. It was a gift of kindness, put into Joseph’s heart by their God! If only they could have seen the gift for what it was they wouldn’t have had to take that Pepto Bismol for their upset stomachs (okay, the Scripture doesn’t say that, but you know their stomach’s were churning in fear!).

What a difference a biblical perspective gives us!  Joseph’s brothers jumped to the same conclusions we do!  Consider how we respond in these kind of situations:

  • Those children for whom we prayed, begin a pattern of poor behavior and defiance, and suddenly the gift of motherhood has become a curse!
  • We moved into the house of our dreams.  It was roomy and big enough for our family AND for guests.  But we look at all the that hardwood and see so many floors to mop, and suddenly that gift of a house is a curse!
  • We prayed to be married, and he was the man of our dreams at the altar.  But over time we see his sinfulness and are disappointed.  He’s no longer a treasure; now he’s a curse!
  • We watched God give the perfect job and we were grateful.  But when we meet up with a difficult fellow-employee or two, that job becomes a curse!
  • To have a computer at home to work with eases so much – we can pay bills, shop or connect with friends, but on the day there is no Internet service that thing turns into a curse!
  • When we found our church we were thankful for its teaching, it’s congregation and it ministries, but when we see that not everything is done the way we think it should be done, those blessings are now a curse!
  • …You add whatever difficulty has touched your life recently.

All along, those things were all “treasures in our sacks,” only we didn’t have eyes to see it!  Instead we’re staring down in the deep well of the bag  and we become consumed with our own self-focused thoughts instead of what God could do in that darkness. 

If something seems to be a drudgery, a source of sighing and heaviness, or not what you wanted, take that need to the Giver of that blessing.  Ask Him to allow you to see with new eyes the joy of this gift, and what He can do in the midst of this time. A right perspective on the “hard things” in life can help us see that God is not against us, as a matter of fact, He just might be up to something really, really good!

When you have eyes of faith to look for the treasure, you’ll have peace while you wait.  You’ll have hope in your heart.  You’ll realize that that “thing,” whatever it is, truly is a TREASURE in your sack!

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