November 16, 1985 was almost the last day of my life…
As my family watched me being rushed from the ambulance into the emergency room, bleeding from a gaping head wound, and in agony from a fractured pelvis, they didn’t know if I was even going to make it…
…GOD looked into the future and saw you…
Now available from Rivers of Grace Books…
“CPRfor Your Faith from Beyond Death’s Door” is here!
The book you don’t want to miss has arrived!
Now, at a time when giving up is simply not an option, more people than ever are giving up on their faith. We are the Body of Christ, yet the “pulse” has weakened…
…and the clock is ticking as we move ever toward the return of Jesus, our Lord, to rapture the Church…
In my powerful and encouraging new book,“CPR For Your Faith From Beyond Death’s Door”,available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble from K&F Stewart Ministries, (initials of my husband’s and my first names, Keith & Flossie), under our new imprint, Rivers of Grace Books, I will share my story, along with what I’ve learned on my long road to healing, and what God has given me to share with you about the special kind of “CPR” your faith needs.
If you don’t read another book this coming year, you don’t want to miss this one!
Have you been through a traumatic event?
Felt like giving up?
Does your faith need God’s CPR?
Then you need CPRfor Your Faith from Beyond Death’s Door!
In this powerful book, you will discover…
5 reasons your faith is under attack
God’s CPR and the importance of unclogging your “faith arteries”
The Great Physician’s recommendations for a healthy Christian heart
Throwing off excess baggage and preparing to sail toward God’s plan for you
Navigating your course with God’s “GPS”
The crucial reasons giving up is absolutely NOT an option
How working together, our “pulse” as the Body of Christ can beat strongly again, and more…
Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! I know 2019’s been a hard year for a lot of us, but I’ve chosen to think of it in terms of what God HAS done in the past year, the storms He has brought us through, and how it’s all made us stronger. When I think of the blessings that did come from this year, despite the storms and trials, it just got me to thinking of all the things NOT to bring into this coming New Year. Then too, I think we do that every year. It’s how well we stick with it that counts, and I think too, that comes with maturity and experience.
Well, here we are…20 years after the big Y2K (Year 2000) Bug scare invited itself to our New Year’s Eve Celebrations of December 31, 1999, and just wouldn’t leave, until well into New Year’s Day, when it became apparent that no major failures had occurred. I’ll leave it for you to do your own research if you want to know more about that. For now, as we sit here, around our living rooms by our fireplaces (or “fake fireplaces” like ours, hey, we like it), dining room tables, or mid-morning coffee or brunch tables, talking with friends, loved ones, or co-workers about what all we don’t want to take into 2020, things we want to change, and New Year’s Resolutions, that will likely fade into oblivion by the 2nd week of January, I couldn’t let this time pass, as a writer, without offering my humble take on it all. So, here, altogether in one list, are some old habits, thought patterns, or other forms of excess baggage that should be thrown off the “ship” of your life well before going into 2020.
I am sharing this from a helpful, non-judgmental perspective, and these have not come to me without a lot of trial and error on my part, as well as some intense prayer and fasting in the past few years of my life. Much of it was learned the hard way. So, I hope you will see it this way and be encouraged from it as you and your loved ones and family pray together and anticipate what the year 2020 will bring for you. Together, we can go into this New Year with “20/20 vision”, and “hit the ground running”! So without further ado, here you go…
20 Things NOT to take into 2020…
1. Past Regrets –
In the Old Testament, Lot’s wife disobeyed God and turned to look back at His destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and was turned into a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:26). Jesus also makes reference to this in Luke 17:28-32. We can’t get the past back, and wasting time allowing yourself to be sucked into that old whirlwind of regret will only weigh you down and keep you from moving forward. If you keep allowing yourself to get caught up in all the could have, would have, and should haves of life, it will only continue to allow our enemy, the devil to fill you with sorrow, discouragement, and depression. He will do this to every one of us if we let him. We all have things in our past we regret, things we wish we could change. But if we are going to move forward into 2020 with the renewal and “Holy Boldness” God needs us to have so He can reach others through us and do great things in our lives, this is the first of the excess “baggage” that needs to be thrown overboard. If you have accepted Christ and repented of all your past sins, then He has forgiven all of that. Stop letting the enemy throw it back in your face. Throw that mess overboard and move forward. Besides, a good thorough search of the scriptures will help you see this as the idolatry that it is. Nothing in your past is better than what God has in store for you. We as the Church, as family, and friends, have to help each other move forward. In Galatians 6:2, Paul said, “Bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ”. For some, that may be too heavy a load for them to lift by themselves. If you see someone struggling with past regrets, take time to talk with them about it, pray with them, and help them lift it up to the One Who died to set us free from living a life of regret. Jesus came to set the captives free, and so that we could live a more abundant life in Him (see John 10:10).
2. Grudges/Unforgiveness –
Just as regrets will hold us back, so will old grudges and unforgiveness. Jesus clearly told us that if we cannot forgive others, then our Heavenly Father cannot forgive us: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” – Matthew 6:14-15. The Bible is clear that no one with unforgiveness toward others will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Eternity is a long, long time to spend in Hell, separated from God, in eternal torment, simply because we could not forgive. Let it go. Ask God to help you if you don’t feel like you can forgive. Take a few minutes to watch this:
There is nothing God can’t do. Don’t carry the heavy burdens of unforgiveness and grudge toward others into 2020. Jesus, the Son of God, took the lowly form of a man and hung on the cross in our place, and paid for our sins with his life. So who are we to hold unforgiveness or grudges toward anyone? If Corrie ten Boom could find the strength and grace of God to forgive, then we all can…through Him. As she said, in and of ourselves, we can’t. But through Him in us, we can. Don’t let the sin of unforgiveness and grudges keep you from God’s best for you in 2020. Most importantly, don’t let it keep you out of Heaven.
3. Old Unproductive Habits –
Hey, I’ve had them, we’ve all had them. One of my main issues, which I will discuss briefly in my book, “CPR For Your Faith From Beyond Death’s Door”, coming soon, is my ability to focus and get organized, as far as using my time wisely. This is mainly due to the head injury I received in the accident. I have my issues, just as we all do. But Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things” (read: ALL things) “work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” In the book, I will give my testimony on how God has helped me to triumph over these setbacks that the enemy wanted to use to get me to give up on life. I could have easily given up and missed out on all that God had for me, but He helped me, just as He will help you. His Word is full of encouraging and powerful scripture that will set you free if you take time to meditate on it and speak it over your life. So speak the truth of His undefeated Word over any unproductive habits you are struggling with and trust Him to help you rise above it and move forward to greater expectations in the coming year! Speak it and believe it, because as Isaiah 55:11 reminds us, His Word will not return to Him void!
4. Procrastination –
There isn’t much I can say about this one other than I am an overcomer, just as we all are, according to His Word. There can be many different reasons we fall into being procrastinators, but we don’t have to let ourselves be defined by it. Romans 8:37 says, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” For any of you who are writers, I did a couple of posts a while back on “Writing for Procrastinators”, which you might find encouraging. Here’s the first one, and here’s the second one. We’ve also been promised that we have “the mind of Christ”, as Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 2:16: “For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ.” Whatever you do, or whatever gifts God has given you to excel in, make the decision to trust Him to help you conquer whatever procrastination or other habits that might be holding you back, and believe that 2020 just might be your year! Procrastination can be a hard old habit to break, but then again, there is nothing we can’t do with Christ’s help. Well has He reminded me many times of what He said in John 15:5: “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” It took “Ms. Independent” here a long time to get that, but believe me, I get it now. Apart from Him, we can do nothing, but in Him and through His empowering us, we can do anything (see Phil. 4:13), including overcome procrastination.
5. Complacent Disobedience –
This is one of the worst enemies we can have, if we allow it to seep in to our daily lives. It happens for different reasons. I think for me, it was mainly because I had “hardened” in a sense, becoming insensitive to God’s voice, and complacently disobedient at times, because of the things that had happened in my life. But when we have given it to Him, and we fully surrender ourselves to Him as a living sacrifice for His service, He will help us to rise above the things that have hurt us so that it no longer can be used by the enemy to control us. But if we haven’t, the enemy could still be sitting at the controls of your subconscious mind in a sense, using that old stuff to control our thoughts, actions, and even our words. We must make the conscious decision to get into the Word, seek God in prayer, and ask Him to guide us and help us heal from whatever has hurt us. In His time and His way, He will help us rise above it, and we will see the Holy Spirit begin to work in our lives as never before, ordering the enemy to “cease and desist”! Ask Him to show you any ways the enemy might be still “sitting at the control panel” of your subconscious mind. Trust Him to help you stop seeing yourself as a “victim of your past”, and show you how He can turn it into your testimony. Jesus came to set us free, and His plan was for us to be ambassadors to the future, not prisoners of the past!
6. Corrupt/Inappropriate Communication –
This one speaks for itself, and I think it’s safe to say we’ve all had problems with this. We’re human. But as Christians, we don’t have to let it control us any longer. If we have a problem with it, we can ask Him to help us and He will. In Ephesians 4:29-32, Paul says, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Colossians 3:8 says, “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.” The Book of James has much to say about the tongue. In Chapter 3, verse 10, he says, “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.” The enemy wants us to think we can’t control it, but he is a liar. Don’t let his lies follow you into 2020 and hold you back any longer from what God has in store for you. The Word of God has already rendered his lies null and void (see Jeremiah 29:11)!
7. Judging –
We’ve all done it. But in reality, that is God’s job. As our pastor has often said, “we catch ’em, God cleans ’em”. We are to win them over with Christ’s love, then let God do the cleansing. It’s not our job to “thump the Bible in their face”, but to show them the love of Jesus Christ, pray for them, pray for Him to show us ways to show them His love, let them see His light shining in us, and let Him do the rest. If we all start to do that more, I think we will see a lot more people coming to Him. In Matthew 7:1-5, Jesus said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” Then too, there is what He said to those about to stone the adulterous woman, “…He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” (John 8:7, see John 7:53 – 8:11.) I think if we all concentrate more on how we can improve ourselves, 2020 will be a much better year for all of us.
8. Wasted Talents/Gifts –
Paul talks extensively about the gifts God gives us through the Holy Spirit, and how working together, with each of us using our gifts, we make up the Body of Christ (See Ephesians 4:7-16 and 1 Corinthians 12). The enemy will use our past to derail our future as long as we let him. But through Christ, we don’t have to allow it to follow us into the New Year. If you believe you are a prisoner of your past, you will remain so, but if you are ready to believe that through the truth of God’s Word, through His Son, Jesus Christ, Who sets us free, your time has come, then it has! Go forward, not backward. Stop letting the devil talk you out of your future, and speak the truth of God’s Word, ask Him to show you the gifts He has given you, and believe! In what ways have you allowed yourself to be distracted or discouraged from recognizing and using the gifts and talents God has given you? In what ways are you willing to work to change this in 2020?
9. Poor Decision Making –
We’ve all made poor decisions, but God promises to guide us in all our ways if we only seek Him. We must all fight the human tendency to do things our way. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths”. Did you catch that? “In ALL thy ways, acknowledge him…” Yet, in how many ways have we tended to pick and choose which scriptures we want to obey, which are “convenient for us” to obey, and how much of God we want to allow in our lives? If we truly want His best for us, it has to be all or nothing in 2020. Let Him take the wheel and trust Him to guide you safely into His destiny for you.
10. Lack of Faith –
Lack of faith will rob us of all the blessings God has in store for us if we continue to think in our own limited human understanding instead of trusting in God’s Word and His promises for us. I will talk more about this in the book, but take some time to review the “faith chapter”, Hebrews 11 and discuss it as a family. In what ways have you let lack of faith cheat you out of God’s blessings for you? In what ways can you work together as a family to stop this in 2020 and claim the blessings God has in store for you and the powerful ways He wants to work through you? What type of ministry might God have in store for you and your family, just beyond that mountain you’ve been climbing?
11. Roots of Bitterness, Shame, etc. –
These can be rooted deeply, sprouting and growing for years until it grows into a “monster” that blinds you from seeing God’s plan for you. These roots will wrap themselves around you and hold you back from ever seeing or reaching the destiny God has set for you. But the Word of God is your “Weed killer”. So make the decision to stop “feeding the weeds”, no matter how loudly it may yell, “feed meeeeee!!!!!!” (from one of our pastor’s sermons 🙂 ). The Word is our weed killer, but we have to apply it to the root of the problems, and then root ourselves deeply in His Word, and water our faith daily. Then, we will see ourselves bearing more fruit for the Kingdom in 2020!
12. Negativity –
It can be too easy to allow the stress of the times we are living in cause us to sink back into negativity. Then our children and others around us pick up on it. At work, it can start with one person complaining, then by the end of the day, everybody’s complaining and biting each other’s heads off. Let’s make up our minds to encourage each other in the Word, in showing Christ’s love and compassion, and throw the old baggage of negativity overboard for good, so we can sail into the New Year with plenty of room for the new things God is going to do in 2020!
13. Pride –
It takes many forms, and we are all guilty. We simply have to recognize that the key to stopping it from controlling us any longer is to humble ourselves before God and ask Him to show us any places in our lives, our marriages, and our family and work relationships, even in the church, where it has crept in. Proverbs 16:18 (NKJV) says, “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.” Trust me. This is one lesson too many of us have had to learn the hard way, including myself. Throw this old dead weight overboard too, and decide together that you will not be carrying any more destructive pride forward into your New Year.
14. Self Doubt –
This too, is another trick of the enemy. The key here is to stop letting him trick you into focusing on your can’ts and have nots, and instead, focus on what you CAN do, which is ANYTHING, through Christ, Who strengthens you (Phil. 4:13). Get into the Word and turn that “magnifying glass” he is using to magnify your problems and weaknesses around on him, and let the light of God’s truth burn him out of your territory in 2020! Speak God’s truth over your life, your finances, your marriage, and your family, and watch God work!
15. Lack of Focus –
I touched on this briefly in number 3, but suffice it for me to say, the enemy knows he doesn’t have much time left, and he is working to distract every one of us from reaching others for Christ, and making a difference in our churches, communities, schools, and workplaces. So, put your Jesus “glasses” on and get focused. What’s going into the New Year with you and what’s not? It’s that simple. You have the power, through Him, to decide, speak it, and implement it!
16. Poor Relationship Choices/Negative, Toxic People –
We’ve all been around them, whether it’s a co-worker, a classmate, colleague, or even family. But we can love them to Him and do our best to show His love and forgiveness. We can do our best to love them to Him, but as Paul well said, many will fall away from the faith in the time before Christ’s return. There are some who are just going to be negative and toxic no matter what we do. We must trust God to guide us and show us when it’s time for us to do as Jesus told the 70 when He sent them out, and wipe the dust from our feet and move on. Influence them in whatever ways you can, but if they want to continue to be negative, toxic, and unforgiving, we have to recognize, through His guidance, when it’s time to break negative, toxic connections that are only going to drain us of our energy to help those who WILL receive His message.
17. Distractions/Time Wasters –
I like the way Bishop T.D. Jakes put it in one of his messages: “Start deleting distractions!” It is time for us as the Church, as the Body of Christ, and as families, to start deleting the distractions that have been holding us back and believe that through Christ, and the power of an almighty and undefeated God working through us, 2020 could be our best year yet! Then too, we have to trust His guidance to help us recognize the difference between “distractions” and learning experiences. He is the Teacher. We are the students. Good teachers must first be good students. He knows the distractions the enemy uses, and He can guide us safely through those storms, but only if we allow Him to be the One at the helm.
18. Wallet Drainers: Things that Drain/Waste Your Finances –
We all have them. We’ve called them “holes in our pockets”, when really, it’s all poor decisions on our part. Things that might have seemed like a good investment at the time all of a sudden become the worst mistake we could have made. Then, we’ve ended up in situations that we can’t back out of, and it costs us much more than we had planned. As long as we allow our own limited, weak, human intuition to guide us, we will continue to make these mistakes. These are all ways the enemy works to steal our “seed”, that is, “seed” God has given us for sowing into the Kingdom. Only in trusting God completely and making Him the Head of not only our families and our marriages, but also our finances as well as every other area of our lives, can we expect to begin to reap the harvest that His Son, Jesus, died to give us. Hey, I’m talking about my marriage here as well. Make the decision to stop “devouring your seed” in 2020 and prepare to reap your greatest and biggest “harvest” ever! Make the decision for you and your family to become Kingdom Builders for Christ, and watch your “crops” grow in the coming year like never before! He is “no respecter of persons” (Romans 2:11, Acts 10:34), what He has done for one, He will do for another!
19. Marriage/FamilyRelationshipDrainers –
This is a biggie and can be a sensitive subject for us to discuss sometimes, but if we invite God to the table, and His Son, Jesus Christ as our “attorney” (the “fee” has already been paid!), He will work all things for our good. He wants the best for your marriage and your family. So invite Him to the table in 2020 and see what a huge difference it will make for you. For marriages, if Christ is the Head of it, it provides that 3 stranded cord that will not be easily broken. This provides the unity that will keep the family strong and undivided, and working together. For our children, just remember, as they grow older, they sometimes need our guidance as to their choices of “friends”, as well as in other areas of their lives. Your loving but firm, Bible-based guidance will keep them from making unwise relationship (and other) decisions, and your Christ-centered discipline and love will help them recover from bad decisions they’ve already made, and help them learn from the consequences. If done correctly, it will help them grow stronger, into responsible and productive Christian adults. I can’t say I have always been the best parent I could be, and neither can my husband, but we have surrendered it all to our Heavenly Father, and we have learned from it. Pray together, love together, and forgive together for a stronger marriage and family in 2020!
20. A Lukewarm Relationship/Prayer Life with God –
Revelation 3:16 warns us about being “lukewarm” in our relationship with God and our service to Him. I am just as guilty of this as anyone, but now, because I have finally reached a point in my life that I was able to humble myself in prayer to God and admit it to Him, rather than “sweeping it under the rug” for as long as I did, I am now seeing big changes. You will too if you only realize that to admit our faults to our Heavenly Father is to welcome Him to help us so that we can finally learn from it and move on. Just as in the story of the Prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), our Heavenly Father will welcome us with open arms when we are finally ready to “come home”. In what ways have you been like that Prodigal son (or daughter, points at self)? What ways can you let Him help you change that? “Come home” and let your Heavenly Father receive you into His “family”. There’s a place for you at the table in 2020!
He is Bigger than Any Storm…
This past year has had its storms, and I would be lying if I said there haven’t been times I wanted to give up, at times even on life itself. But, as I will discuss in my book, “CPR For Your Faith From Beyond Death’s Door” (mentioned earlier), which will have my testimony of my NDE in a car accident in Nov. of ’85, I know that if our Savior, the Lord, Jesus Christ, is the “Captain” of your “ship”, and you make the decision to go into 2020 with His hands at the helm, then you can trust that whatever storms the coming year may bring, He will guide you safely through them. There will be storms, that is inevitable, but you can trust that your Captain will not allow the enemy to do anymore than He allows him to, and what He does allow, He will use it to make us stronger if we only yield it to Him and trust Him.
So, I am counting my blessings, thanking Him for what He has helped me learn from the storms, throwing the excess baggage of the past overboard, and sailing into 2020 ready to “hit the ground running”. I am ready for new beginnings and looking forward to all God is doing and getting ready to do. You can too, regardless of what the enemy has tried to use to destroy you. So, throw that mess overboard, let Him be the Captain of your “ship”, and trust that He is BIGGER than any storm the coming year may bring.
That said, it is ultimately up to you, what you choose to carry into the New Year with you and what is old baggage that it’s time to throw overboard. So, in a sense, 2020 is a book, the pen in your hand. What kind of book will you write? Better yet, put the pen in God’s hand. He’s already planned the perfect story for you. You have only to trust Him and turn the page.
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” – 2 Corinthians 4:7-10
34 Years ago today…
Thirty-four years ago today, on the morning of Saturday, November 16, 1985, my family drove to the hospital, and watched anxiously as I was wheeled into the ER on a stretcher, covered in blood from a gaping head wound, a concussion, and a fractured hip. By that time, I had stopped calling out, “What happened…”, etc. As they worked frantically to stabilize me, an IV in each arm, taking my blood pressure something like every 5 minutes, I felt myself fading from this life…for the 2nd time.
Although I have no conscious memory of the accident that almost took my life, I would later watch the entire scene unfold on the screen of my mind through hypnosis and the power of God’s Holy Spirit…only from about 20 feet above the car. Because of my injuries and extensive loss of blood, I had to drop out of nursing school, thus, my career I would have had as a nurse was derailed. I was left without much hope of a future. Diagnosed with PTSD, and other problems that would develop over time, I would eventually reach a point of nearly giving up on God and on life itself.
Now, 34 years later, I have written the book that will tell my story, using my testimony of my near death experience in the accident and my healing journey through the years as a backdrop to what God has given me on resuscitating the broken faith of those who have been through traumatic events and become discouraged to the point of giving up. But I will get more into all of this in the book, which will be published under my own imprint, Rivers of Grace Books. Finally, after years of working on it, in between life as a mother and grandmother, it is almost ready! I am excited! So excited in fact, that I have decided to celebrate by doing something a little different.
Here for you below, are 34 promises straight from the Word of God; one for each of the past 34 years that God’s healing, restoring, and renewing grace has led me on this journey. Oh, there are more, many more, but these are some I felt important to include for you now that I feel will be very helpful for you. This was adapted from a recent Facebook post I did, although I have edited it a bit and added a few more, for a total of 34. Feel free to share this post with anyone you know who might find it useful and encouraging.
As I will discuss in more detail in the book, I was given a 2nd chance at life, because He saw you and knew the encouragement and healing you would need at this time in your life. Whatever it is that you may have gone through, these promises of God’s undefeated Word have been tested and proven all through time. They will work for you too, just as they have for me.
Most of these are probably New King James Version, although some are KJV. I am pretty sure I mentioned most of these in the book, but here, I have condensed these for you into this handy little list. I hope you find it helpful and that it builds and encourages your faith. So, without further ado, here we go!
34 Promises of God, Celebrating Our Soon Returning King of Kings
1 – PROMISE OF HIS FORGIVENESS, SALVATION! –John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Romans 10:9-10“That if you confess 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 confess and are saved.”
2 – HIS PROMISE OF SALVATION FOR OUR UNSAVED LOVED ONES – Acts 16:30-31“And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Isaiah 54:13 “All your children shall be taught by the Lord, And great shall be the peace of your children.” Acts 2:38-39 “Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. Acts 10:34 “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:” Romans 2:11 “For there is no respect of persons with God.” – What He has done for one, He will do for another! Romans 8:28 (see number 3) – He is working all things for our good when we choose to serve Him, AND –> “Isaiah 55:11 “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”
3 – HIS PROMISE TO THOSE WHO SERVE HIM –“All things work together for good to them that love God, that are the called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28
4 – OUR HERITAGE, HIS PROTECTION–NO WEAPON FORMED AGAINST US SHALL PROSPER! –Isaiah 54:17 “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.”
5 – OUR WEAKNESS, SICKNESS, HIS OPPORTUNITY –2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “His strength is made perfect in our weakness…”And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
6 – HIS PROMISE OF HEALING, FORGIVENESS –James 5:15 “The prayer of faith shall save the sick…”And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” Isaiah 53:5 “…by His stripes we are healed.”
7 – PROMISE OF COURAGE TO HIS SERVANTS –Galatians 6:9 “Be not weary in well doing, for we shall reap in due season if we faint not.”
8 – PROMISE OF PROTECTION AGAINST EVIL –James 4:7 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
9 – PROMISE OF HIS PROTECTION, GUIDANCE –Isaiah 43:2 “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.”
10 – PROMISE OF HIS FELLOWSHIP – Revelation 3:20“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”
11 – PROMISE OF NEW BEGINNINGS –Isaiah 43:18-19 “Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”
12 – PROMISE OF HELP, STRENGTH, PROTECTION –Isaiah 41:10 “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
13 – PROMISE OF HIS GUIDANCE –Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
14 – PROVISION – Psalm 23:1 “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Philippians 4:6-7 “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 understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
15 – HEALING –Psalm 23:2 “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.”
16 – RESTORATION, GUIDANCE –Psalm 23:3 “He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”
17 – PROTECTION FROM EVIL –Psalm 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
18 – PROVISION, VINDICATION –Psalm 23:5 “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.”
19 – PROVISION, PROTECTION, FAVOR FOR LIFE, ETERNAL REWARD FOR SERVICE TO HIM –Psalm 23:6 “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”
20 – ENCOURAGEMENT – HE WILL FINISH WHAT HE STARTS IN YOU! –Philippians 1:6 “He that began a good work in you will bring it to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.”
21 – WISDOM AND GUIDANCE – James 1:5 – “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
22 – PROMISE THAT WE ARE FORGIVEN! –2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ.”
23 – HIS HERITAGE FOR THE RIGHTEOUS –Psalm 37:3-6“Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday.
24 – PROMISE OF COMFORT FOR THE GRIEVING –Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”
25 – HIS CLOSENESS TO THE BROKENHEARTED –Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.”
26 – PROMISE OF VINDICATION –Romans 12:19 “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
27 – PROMISE OF HIS REWARD FOR HIS FAITHFUL SERVANTS –1 Corinthians 2:9 “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”
28 – HE WILL NOT ALLOW US TO BE TEMPTED BEYOND WHAT WE ARE ABLE TO BEAR – 1 Corinthians 10:13No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
29 – HE WILL NOT ALLOW US TO BE COMPLETELY BROKEN –2 Corinthians 4:7-10 “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.”
30 – STRENGTH IN TIME OF TROUBLE, PEACE, AND HIS INHERITANCE –Psalm 37 – all, click here to read.Psalm 57:1–“Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.” Psalm 27 – Click here to read.
31 – PROMISE OF HIS PLAN FOR OUR FUTURE –Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
32 – HE HAS PROMISED US THAT HIS PROMISES WILL NOT FAIL! – “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” – Isaiah 55:11
33 – PROMISE OF HIS RETURN FOR HIS SAINTS –Acts 1:11 “Men of Galilee,” they said. “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
HE CAME FIRST AS A HUMBLE LAMB…
HE’S COMING BACK AS THE LION OF THE TRIBE OF JUDAH!
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
– 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
“Behold the lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has overcome to open the scroll and its seven seals.” – Revelation 5:5
And, I saved the best for last (but it is certainly not the least!):
34 – HIS REWARD WITH HIM FOR OUR WORK FOR HIM ON EARTH –Revelation 22:12“And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”
Do you have lost, unsaved loved ones who have not received Christ as their Lord and Savior? Are there some in your family, friends, co-workers, etc, who have become discouraged and broken and given up on their faith? I think we all have loved ones in these catagories. Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” We have a special kind of unity at our church, a shared burden for the lost, the broken, and those who need God’s restoration, not only in our families, etc, but in our community as well. We pray with each other and lift each other up as we speak God’s Word in agreement over the salvation, restoration, and deliverance that is needed. When one of our church family members’ prayer is answered, the rest of us rejoice with them, knowing that what He has done for one of us, He will do for the rest of us. We need only speak His Word and agree on it together (see Matthew 18:19-20, Hebrews 11:1). Here is a special link to a post I found on scriptures we can pray over them: 14 Bible Verses To Pray For Your Unsaved Family Members.
Know someone who would find this information useful? Share! Hit the buttons below to share with your friends! Let us bear one another’s burdens and work to lift each other up until He comes! Believe and He will bring it to pass!
Thank you for taking the time to read this post, and may God bless you as you continue in your own journey to finding His wonderful plan for your life!
“Cookie Cutter Authors?” You ask. What on earth do you mean by that? Well, let me try to explain. I will admit first off, that my first two books didn’t quite measure up to NYTBS list material. As a matter of fact, there probably aren’t many of us authors whose first books will make that highly coveted list. That doesn’t mean we give up of course. We simply learn from those experiences and become better writers. If yours haven’t done well either, don’t feel bad. Hey, we cut our “writers’ teeth” on those first books, and if we had never written them in the first place, we might never have come to be writers. We have to crawl before we can walk, right? That said, even though we may come from small beginnings, I have now been in this business long enough to know a few things. So, grab some coffee, sit down, and let’s talk about this.
Genre Expectations: Are Readers getting bored?
I have well learned, at least at this point, that there are certain expectations for each genre that readers expect to see. (By the way, for any of you fellow authors still struggling to pin down a genre for your book, or just needing a brush up on the whole genre thing, check this handy Book Genre Finder site out.) Put a book in a wrong genre that’s not the right fit for it, and it will likely result in negative reviews. Thus, my coining the term “Cookie Cutter Authors”, if someone hasn’t already beat me to it. Hey, we can do that, we’re writers. 😉 Too often, this has caused increased pressure on us as authors to put out what our readers want to read. But more and more lately, I am seeing articles and posts with comments from readers saying they have begun to tire of what seems like the same story repeated in numerous books within a given genre, and the same, typical, even stereotyped characters, only the names, places, and scenes have changed. While many readers may continue to expect books they read to fit into those expectations, there are also a good number of them out there who have become bored with the same old scenarios repeated in books by authors trying to fit the old cookie cutter molds. It’s time for us to break the molds of pleasing the world, and write to please Him.
So, What’s Your Point?
So, what’s my point, you ask? My point is this: There are too many Christian authors these days who have failed to “stand out” as Christ called us to do, for fear of “offending” their readers, and losing sales. They fall for the deception of writing what readers expect, to the point of settling for compromising, even sacrificing what our Lord expects of us as the writers He has called us to be. They have chosen to “blend in” rather than stand out for Him. I am at the point, I can no longer settle for just being one of these cookie cutter authors, just spitting out generic stories that “fit” into what the world wants to read. As a Christian author, I must answer the call to stand out and make a difference, to write that one unique story that’s not a “cookie cutter” copy of 800 others, but one that might just inspire its readers to change their lives for the better. We as Christian authors will not do that by “blending in”. There will never be a time that the money, riches, and fame this world has to offer will be worth more to me than what my precious Savior has called me to write.
A Choice to Make: Pleasing the World or Reaching Readers for Christ
So, for most of us who are Christian writers, it looks like we’ve come to a “fork in the road”. Every one of us has a choice to make. I know that for those of us who choose to represent the King, Jesus, our Lord and Savior, in our writing, it will likely mean that we may never see our books rise to popularity by the world’s standards. But then, I am no longer writing to please the world, but my Lord. If even one of my books somehow touches someone’s heart and inspires them to change their life for the better, maybe even accept Him as Lord and Savior, then it will all have been well worth it.
Avoiding the Idolatry of Selfish Ambition
Up until now, I have mainly worked on fiction, and, until now, like many other authors, I had aspirations of making that “NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR” list. That is, until God began to continually lead me to Philippians, chapter 2, verses 3-4, which says (NKJV): “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” The more that began to sink in, the more I have come to realize, through the intense spiritual awakening that has followed, that it is no longer important for me to make that “list”. I no longer subscribe to the covetous, selfish ambitions of worldly fame and recognition, or even the desire to maybe see my books made into movies. Coveting all those things more than the work God wants to do through my writing, and the people He wants to reach through my work falls under something the word of God explicitly warns us against: idolatry. Am I saying that’s a bad thing (Making the NYTBS List)? No, of course not! And if I ever do make it, wonderful! And if you are an author or know one with at least one book on that list, let me be the first to congratulate you, or even the 59th person to do so. Please understand here, that I am not saying that in itself is a bad thing. Not at all. I am just saying that I will no longer covet this above the difference God has called me to make and the plan and purpose that He has for me with the books He has given me to write (see Colossians 3:2 and 2 Corinthians 4:18).
God has really begun to drive this important truth home to me more than ever before. He recently spoke to me and said, “ANYTHING you put before ME becomes an idol!” He also warned us that idolaters will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and 1 Timothy 6:10-12). For too long, we have put on the “masks” of tolerance, political correctness, etc, and chosen to “blend in” to society, rather than stand out for Christ. I will no longer blend in, but I choose to stand out for Him, and help people see that what He has done for me, He will do for them. I choose to believe He is faithful and is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (see Hebrews 11:6), and my work from this point onward will reflect that.
Oh sure, it would be easy to tailor my stories around “what the world wants to see”, and what will guarantee me a spot on that coveted list, but when I think of the price tag that is attached to that deceptive “selfish ambition”, no thank you! What my Lord and Savior did for me on Calvary is deserving of no less than my all for Him, and the complete surrender of those things I once considered important, for His will for me instead, and the lives He wants to touch through me. In Philippians 3:7-8, Paul says, “ But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” His will, and what He wants to do through it all, and my testimony reaching more readers through my work for Him is much more important now than the selfish ambition I held on to in the past. All of that other stuff is no longer important.
Mark 8:36 says, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Indeed, the lure of worldly fame and recognition is the greatest illusion ever perpetrated on humanity by the deceiver we all know as the devil. Even my fiction work is now undergoing a huge “face lift”, as I re-evaluate my projects and seriously seek Him to show me how to write works that line up with the message He wants me to project to my readers. I will still, of course, do all I can to maintain the professional standards expected of any of us as writers, but at the same time, I will not compromise to the world’s standards (see 1 Corinthians 10:21 and Matthew 6:24). I want to be that one that’s different from the others.
God’s Version of Success: Choosing the Hidden Rewards of Writing for Christ
I know that conflict and tension have to be there in order for readers to appreciate the big, powerful, “Wow-I-didn’t-see-that-one-coming” conclusion when it ends. But we as Christian writers can do this without sacrificing our God-given purpose and perspective. There may even be “pre-Christian” characters in my stories, or characters representing the hurting, lonely, and struggling. My soon coming book, “LOGAN – Chain of Grace”, is a good example of this. I feel that most readers will be able to identify with at least one of the characters, especially once they see how their lives are transformed by what happens in the story. Thus, it is my goal that as a result, readers will see how their own lives can be transformed if they are willing to surrender their all to Christ. (It is mainly for this reason that a couple of my current fiction works in progress have been delayed, but they are coming soon, promise!) But if we continue to settle for being “cookie cutter” authors, just writing the same tired old scenarios others have written, we may never see others’ lives touched like this. It is only in breaking free from the “fit-in-to-what-everyone-else-is-doing” mold that we will ever reach this hidden pinnacle of success in God’s eyes, as He sees it. He has gifted each of us with unique talents and insights, and we will never see these gifts come to fruition as long as we are busy trying to please the world instead of Him. But if we are willing to break free of that limited thinking and rise to His definition of “success”, who knows, we might just pen that best seller anyway. After all, you may never know the lives He wants to touch through you until you hand Him the quill, the pen, or these days, the keyboard/typewriter, and let Him write through you…
So, why don’t we stop being so afraid of losing sales, or missing out on the “big ticket”, or offending someone, and start being more concerned with reaching the world with the special, unique, encouraging, faith-building, life-renewing message that He has chosen you, out of all the other writers in the world, to write. Pray and ask Him to show you the bigger picture of what He has for you, and He will. And throw out the old cookie cutter image of yourself, break the mold, and get out there and get your message into the hands of the readers the Great Author Himself has already chosen for you to reach…
...That, you see, is how it works when you write for the King!
Besides, He makes BIGGER “cookies”… and no two are the same. We are all unique, just as He meant it to be. Now, wouldn’t it be a shame if you let the world miss out on that?
November 16, 1985 was almost the last day of my life…
Have you been through a traumatic event?
Felt like giving up?
Does your faith need God’s CPR?
Now, at a time when giving up is simply not an option, more people than ever are giving up on their faith. We are the Body of Christ, yet the “pulse” has weakened…
…and the clock is ticking as we move ever toward the return of Jesus, our Lord, to rapture the Church…
If you don’t read another book this coming year, you don’t want to miss this one!
November 16, 1985 was almost the last day of my life…
But God had a different plan…
As my family watched me being rushed from the ambulance into the emergency room, bleeding from a gaping head wound, and in agony from a fractured pelvis, they didn’t know if I was even going to make it…
…GOD looked into the future and saw you…
Now, in my book, “CPR For Your Faith From Beyond Death’s Door”, available from K&F Stewart Ministries, (initials of my husband’s and my first names, Keith & Flossie), under our new imprint, Rivers of Grace Books, I will share my story, along with what I’ve learned on my long road to healing, and what God has given me to share with you about the special kind of “CPR” your faith needs.
You may be one of many people who have been through a life altering event and reached a point of feeling there is no hope. I know what that feels like. I’ve been there. While I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers (only God’s Word fits that category), I do know that what God has done for me, He can do for you.
I’ve often said, God can take the “lemons” life has handed you and turn it into some of the best “lemonade” you’ve ever “tasted”. But you have to give Him the lemons! Whatever it is the devil intended to use to destroy you, God wants to take it and turn it into your testimony, just as He has done for me! He can and He will!
November 16, 1985 was almost the last day of my life. I was in a horrific auto accident that derailed my nursing career and changed my life forever. Only later, through the divine power of the Holy Spirit revealing it to me, along with the help of my psychiatrist, would I come to learn that I had gone through a Near Death Experience, and that I had indeed passed through death’s door. Although I was left with a fractured hip, a terrible head injury,a speech problemI still suffer from although it isn’t immediately obvious, and other problems due to the traumatic brain injury (specifically,right temporal and frontal lobe damage, my head actually dented the dashboard, and I was unconscious), PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and psychological scars that would last long after the physical ones had healed, through Christ and His healing power in my life, I have triumphed over it all and gone on to write “CPR For Your Faith From Beyond Death’s Door”(Resuscitating the Christian Heart, Yes, Your Ship is Coming In!), available now on Amazon in print (paperback) and ebook, and Barnes & Noble in hard cover (paperback should be available soon). In the book, I will tell my story, and share with you what God has taught me on my long road to healing. I know that just as He has done for me, your faith will be renewed, and you will be on your way to discovering His plan to take whatever has happened in your life and turn it into a powerful testimony to help others!
We are also in the finishing stages of my next book, LOGAN, Chain of Grace, and we will hopefully have a release date sometime in the near future for that as well as other projects coming soon. So, if this is you, run, don’t walk, and hit the“Subscribe to my email”tab and subscribe so when it does come out, you’ll be one of the first to know! You can also feel free to share this to your Facebook, Twitter, etc, using the buttons below.
More great books coming soon from Rivers of Grace Books…
“Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; To shew that the Lord is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.” – Psalm 92:13-15
In November of 2018, the Eastern North Carolina Church of God Senior Adults (50 and older) gathered at the ENCCOG Campground/gathering center in Kenly, NC for their annual Young at Heart/Senior Talent Convention (<– Click here for info on this year’s event). I entered in the Woodwinds Division, with a solo I played on my clarinet, and in the Creative Writing/Short Story Division. I started not to even bother with the writing part. But then, at the “last minute” I decided, “why not?” So, that evening, with the deadline approaching as of the next morning for the entries to be sent, or emailed in, I started thinking of what to write. Sitting here at the computer, I prayed about it, still thinking of just giving it up and going to bed.
The great, white, blank screen loomed before me…
“Okay, God, You’re writing this, so please just take over. Help me write what you would have me to write,” I prayed.
Before I knew what was happening, the words started to flow onto the page, the keys clacking into the night, as I worked to get it done and send it in to our Pastor’s wife, so she could email it to them.
Even now, as I look back and read it, I can only say that God wrote this, not me. I am only the hands that typed it. Seriously, there is no way I could have ever come up with this on my own. It has all the elements of good fiction I have worked to have in my books, especially the newer projects I am working on, you know, depth, character development, conflict, and tension, and believable dialogue with the characters, all building up to the powerful resolution at the end…an ending that makes us think, makes us take a closer look at ourselves. All of this has to be balanced with not giving too much away early in the story.
When I started writing a few years back, I will admit now, even laughing at myself, that I did not really know what I was doing. I didn’t know then, what all experience has taught me. Things like having the necessary conflict and tension in the story in order for that powerful climax, or resolution at the end to be fully appreciated. I will also admit that even now, at my age, I have often thought of giving up. (Can anybody out there relate? Anybody out there over 50 still writing, or whatever it is you do, shout out to you! 🙂 )
For all my fellow “writing seniors” out there, you may have felt that way yourself at times. So, after much prayer about this, as well as what to do with this thing now, other than let it sit here on my hard drive, collecting “computer dust”, I have felt led to share it with you. You can click this link to download it. I hope you enjoy it and find it encouraging…
Not bragging or anything like that, but I feel led to share it with you, just to show you, what any of us, every single one of us, can achieve if we surrender our all to the Master. All of us have talents, everyone. Some of us are terrible at things others are good at, and vice versa. But that is not a bad thing. That’s just God showing His creative variety. When we put it all together, all of us working together, doing the best we can with whatever He’s given us, it all comes together like a big, beautiful quilt (by the way, we had some nice quilting and needlework entries, including our “first lady”, our Pastor’s wife’s awesome entry of a crochet rendering she did of the missionary couple who were pastoring at the church where she got saved and accepted Christ).
For all those my age and older, it can be too easy at times, to just give up or think that we are too old, tired, sick, or (insert whatever comes to your mind here) or that we’re not really as good at doing things as we “used to be”. It’s easy to get tired, stressed, and overwhelmed with all that is going on in the world around us. I am no exception, thus, my putting this whole idea off till that last night before the Creative Writing entries were due in to the ones who would be judging them. But maybe that is why God gives us our creative gifts, not only for building His Kingdom together, but to encourage others through whatever it is our talent is.
Whether it’s a drawing, painting, an uplifting song written, sang, or played, every little thing we accomplish through Him can encourage and influence someone. Maybe it was just that last little bit of encouragement the Holy Spirit was trying to give me, that last little nudge that made me change my mind. Who knows how many of our greatest inventions might not have come to be if it hadn’t been for that little last minute nudge. And so, on I typed into the night…
Fast forward to this past April 30th – May 2nd, 2019, in Gatlinburg, TN, with my husband, our Pastor, and his wife. (We drove separately of course)…that’s right. My little short story won Runner Up at the Senior Talent Competition/Young at Heart Convention, and several others in our church won in their categories as well. The one who won over me in the Creative Writing Division would not be able to make it, so I was able to go and compete at the Nationals. That adorable little crocheted couple our “first lady” did, and our Pastor, who competed in Percussion, Indefinite Pitch, and my short story, made it to the Nationals Competition in Gatlinburg, at the convention center there. There were others in our church who also won who were unable to make it to the Gatlinburg competition, but we still shared our pictures and everything, and they were still cheering us on. The thing is, all of us in the group of those who entered the 2018 Senior Talent Competition were the ones who listened to that last little nudge…that one more little prompting in our spirits that said, “Aww, come on, you can do it!”
And that’s right. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ, which strengthens me.”
We are all in Christ, and together, with all of our talents and gifts He has given us, we make up the Body of Christ as a whole. We can do anything He calls us to do. Whether it’s crocheting, knitting, woodwork and building things, quilting, writing, singing, or playing a musical instrument, we all have something we are good at. But we are not gifted in these areas in and of our own accord, but it is through Him, working in us, that we do these things. We try and fail once, we learn from it, we get up and try it again. Besides, as Seniors, (or soon to be seniors), especially those of us who are grandparents now, or even great grandparents, we have to remember that those precious eyes of our grandchildren, and even our adult children, are still watching us. Like that lighthouse beacon guides the ships at sea, we are that shining light to them.
The greatest inventions would have never come to be if their inventors had given up.
Just the same, we will never know what we are capable of if we don’t try. It doesn’t matter how many times we may have failed before. What matters is that we had the courage to get in there and try again. Perhaps the best thing about it all is, as my husband and I walked through the room where all the entries were displayed on the tables in the various categories, admiring the paintings, drawings, crochet and knitting projects, quilts, etc., we knew it was the same wonderful hands of our Creator who had done it all. Just as He had gifted each of these creators with their talents, He had also gifted all the musicians, singers and instrument players. Together, it is the awesome God we serve, showing His creative variety, knowing that when it all comes together, it completes the greater masterpiece He is painting, a grand design only He can see. We are only the various hands that He has gifted for each of the colors, musical notes, and stories that He chooses as He works to create the legacy we will leave for our children and grandchildren…
So, what about you?
Whether you are young or older, like us, there is something you can do, and little eyes will be looking up at you for their own encouragement. After all, that is what our Master Painter does. We are just the hands He uses to do His work.
So paint that painting. Build that little cabin or church woodwork project. Make the quilt. Write the story (or song). Play the music. Sing the song, because all of it glorifies our wonderful Master, and there is no limit to what we can do if we only yield it all to Him. All He needs is a trusting heart and a set of willing hands.
My short story did not win at the Nationals in Gatlinburg, but then, we weren’t there to “win”, but rather to enjoy the blessing of meeting and shaking hands with other “movers and shakers” who are working, as we all are, to build the Kingdom for our Jesus as we work toward His soon return. That in itself was an encouraging experience for me. “Faith Builders” encouraging one another, knowing that what He has done through one of us, He can do through another. And in that respect, we are all winners from the start, because it is the same great Master hands working through us all. It was an honor and a blessing to me, to have just made it that far, to have had the chance to go. And by the way, our Pastor, Bishop Allen Gupton, won in the Percussion Division, so we did not return home empty handed! In fact, as I told him before we left to return home, I was already shifting gears for what is next. On that note, I have to give a shout out to our graduates in our church family who have just graduated high school, as well as our own graduates, my youngest daughter, who just received her Master’s in Social Work (her B.A. is in Psychology), and my husband’s son, who just received his Bachelor’s in Psychology. His wife and my eldest daughter will finish in their respective degrees in December (2019). We are proud of each and every one of you, and our prayers and best wishes are with you as you each look toward the future. We look forward to seeing what God is going to do through each of you! Congratulations to you all, and all Class of 2019 graduates everywhere!
Nevertheless, we all give Him the glory, not only for what He has done, but for what He is about to do, what He can do, through you, me, and any of us who yield to Him what He needs most to complete His masterpiece…a trusting heart, and willing hands.
I’m glad now that I said yes to that little nudge in my spirit. As the sun rose and began streaming through the windows, I finished my humble little short story entry, including the “tightening” and editing I had to do to get it to be within the allowed word count. Was it worth it? Of course it was! A big, resounding YES on that one! I hope you will say yes too, to whatever it is He is calling you to do. I promise you, it will be more than worth it.
Need some more encouragement? Okay, I promised to share it with you, and here it is. FREE for you to download and read, my short story I entered in our Senior Talent Competition. I hope you enjoy it, and that it gives you encouragement in some way, because what He has done through me, He can do through you. Whatever He has gifted you to do, just remember, it is often just when we feel like giving up, like we are just too tired and worn, or discouraged to go on, that He does His greatest work through us. And even though it did not win in the Nationals, I know that there is no limit to what He can and will do with it, so I have yielded it to Him. After all, it’s His story. Again, I am only the trusting heart and willing hands that He used to write it. You can click the link below to download it and read it…and yes, again, it’s FREE 🙂 .
So, for any of you out there who are in the Eastern North Carolina Church of God region, if you can paint, draw, sing, play, drum, knit, crochet, or you are awesome at woodwork, (or even cook & clean!) why not try and join us this year? Many seniors just do it for the fun (and food!) and fellowship, and worshiping God together, even if they don’t feel they will win. After all, you’ll never know what God can do through you if you don’t try. Remember, it’s all through His hands, not ours! We only have to have a trusting heart and a willing set of hands. And just as the people of the little church in the story, you will never know what beautiful music our Grand Maestro could play through you…
Do you sometimes feel like your life is out of balance, like there’s something missing?
Does it seem that no matter what you do, things just don’t “add up”?
Would you like to know how you can find that balance and peace in your life?
My friend, there is a way. But are you really seeing the greater picture, or just going by what you can see immediately around you, as it applies to you?
Stay with me here, this gets really good. I know it has helped me. I know this because I have lived it, and found out most of it the hard way. I am currently 52 years old, soon to be 53, and I can honestly say, when you reach this pinnacle on the journey through life, you want to share the wisdom you’ve gained (most of it the hard way if you’re like me) with others, and hopefully maybe prevent someone else from taking the same falls in life you have.
Isaiah 40:31 is a powerful verse that has guided me through some of the rockiest, toughest roads of my life. It reminds us to see that greater picture through the eyes of the eagle:
“But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.”
We all go through hurt in this life. Most of us can relate to going through these painful times in our life. People you thought you could trust “stab you in the back”, reject you, judge you without getting the facts. Old unforgiven hurts and grudges. People who have written you off a long time ago. So how do you ever find peace despite it all?
1. Look at the Bigger Picture…From the Greater Perspective of Our Creator
The answer is simple. But you must first understand that you need to look at it from the proper perspective. As humans, we only see what is immediately around us. However, the eagle sees all that is on the ground below. If we pray for God to help us “mount up with wings as eagles” as the above scripture promises we can, then we see the picture through the eyes of that eagle, or closer to God’s perspective, seeing the whole picture.
Whether we want to admit it or not, we tend to see ourselves in the middle of our little “circle of life”, envisioning everyone else and everything in life rotating around us. But in reality, we are not seeing the full picture. It is our Heavenly Father, our Creator, Who sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to save us by His grace, which we didn’t even deserve, Who belongs in the middle of that circle. So, the first thing each of us must do is put Him back in the center of our lives, and stop making it about ourselves.
Hey, I am talking to myself here too, friends. I went through years of heartache, dysfunction, and disappointment, because of the bad choices I made early in my life. I’ve also gone through a lot of undue stress and wasted precious time I cannot get back before I could ever get it through my head that it wasn’t all about me.
But what about all those hurtful situations that we find ourselves going through that we feel we didn’t even deserve? How do we forgive those who have hurt us deeply for no good reason, or treated us unfairly?
2. Forgive, Let Go, and Let God…
Well, first, we forgive them with the same grace Christ was willing to forgive us of our own sin. (See Matthew 6:14-15, Mark 11:25, among others).
Romans 12:19 boldly emphasizes this: “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
He sees that bigger picture a whole lot better than we do, and He sees the hearts. Nothing is hidden from Him and nothing surprises Him. Besides, we never know that when we show them the love of Christ and forgive, it might just touch their hearts and win them over to Him. When we insist on being angry and getting our own vengeance, we rob Him of that.
Once we see it all from His Grander Perspective and forgive, this closes the door to the enemy being able to further use it to control us, and it opens the door for our loving Heavenly Father to work it to our advantage (see Romans 8:28, Galatians 6:9). Then, we apply a simple formula, which I will share with you here. For that, we’re gonna do some math.
I heard those groans! I know, math was never my best subject either, but this is a simple and time-tested process. I know because I have already been tested on it, so now, I am sharing it with you because I know it will work for you just as it has for me…
I have a chapter in my upcoming book, “CPR For Your Faith From Beyond Death’s Door”, called, “God’s Mathematics”…If the “equation” of your life isn’t “balancing out”, try what He has told me (and it won’t, until you do this, trust me, no better yet, trust Him)…
3. Take yourself OUT of the equation.– Hey, I know that’s hard, believe me, it was for me. But like I said, in order for this to work, we each and every one have to get this through our stubborn, human heads…it’s not about us. It’s about Him, and what He did for us. It’s also about what is available to us, if we are only willing to believe, trust Him, and put Him back in control. This means total surrender from all the “I deserve, I shoulda, I coulda, I woulda, I’m gonna…”
Let. It. Go. This is the only way it can work. It represents total surrender to Him, the only One Who can save us…even if it means saving us from ourselves first. Trust me when I say, I went through this one “kicking and screaming” – okay, not literally. 😉
4.Put Him (Jesus, our Lord and Savior) in all the places you’ve been putting yourself.
Then…and only then…will it finally start to balance out. Trust me. It works.
For a long time, I held on to resentment, bitterness, anger, unforgiveness, and the longer I held on to it, the longer I kept making it about “what I felt I should have been entitled to”, what I deserved, ya da ya da… I wasted a lot of time trying to figure it all out myself. It wasn’t until I let all of that go, and turned it all over to Him, and did just what He’d told me, that it all began to work out, and I began to finally have peace.
Now, for no. 5…
5.Put down the pencil. – That’s right, just give Him the “pencil”!
After all, HE ALREADY HAD YOU FIGURED INTO THE EQUATION– long before you or I were even born. We need only turn to His Word for proof of this…
Genesis 15:5 – “And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.”
Galatians 3:8-9 – “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed. So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.”
Galatians 3:29 – “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
Matthew 10:30 – “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”
Luke 12:7 – “But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.”
Matthew 6:26-27 – “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?”
Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
And this one, which speaks for itself, as all of God’s Word does…
Psalm 139:13-16 – “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.”
The Grand Equation…
Too many times, the hurt, damaged self esteem, and feelings of worthlessness we have suffered at the hands of others leaves us damaged in ways that have left us unable to trust our Heavenly Father, Who only wants the best for us, and created us with His perfect plan in mind for each of us.
Only He sees the grand equation of the plan He had for our lives, fully balanced out, with all the factors in place, blessings He had originally intended for us, many of which we often forfeit when we insist on being in control and doing things our way. Far too often, we grieve His Spirit when we do this, and we hinder, or delay His ultimate plan for us.
Jeremiah 29:11“sums” it up best: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” – KJV
The New King James Version renders it this way: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
In truth, it is only in finally letting go, releasing it all to Him, turning the “pencil” over to Him, and trusting Him to balance it all out, in His perfect, all-knowing, all-seeing way, as He sees fit, that we will finally begin to see that we are already a part of a far grander equation than we could have ever dreamed possible. We only see one page, of the greater “book” that He sees, the “bestseller” He penned, with you as the main character, long before you were even born.
If you know someone who needs this word of encouragement, please share via the buttons below! And don’t forget to subscribe to my email, via the tab above so you can receive email notifications of my book, “CPR For Your Faith From Beyond Death’s Door”, coming soon, as well as future book releases.
“True prayer is neither a mere mental exercise nor a vocal performance. It is far deeper than that – it is spiritual transaction with the Creator of Heaven and Earth.” – Charles Spurgeon
As most are probably aware by now, Hurricane “Florence” (OK, no “Flo” jokes) just tore through our area here in the Carolinas. It came ashore here in North Carolina, causing major damage and catastrophic flooding, then tore through South Carolina, and according to this news report, is still wreaking havoc, now spread over six states. As my husband and I just got our power back on Saturday night, and our internet wasn’t restored until late Sunday, we are just now being able to access information as to just how bad the damage has been. We had some tree branches down all over the place, including about half a tree in the back yard, which, thankfully, didn’t hit the house, and some flooding, which we are still dealing with, but we are thankful that our kids and everyone in our families is safe. That said, we are also praying for all of those in areas that got it worse, and especially the families that lost loved ones in this storm…which brings me to what this post is about.
The little angel figurine in the picture was part of a collection of Christmas figurines, some Nativity pieces, and other things, which, up until now, have remained in a box, carefully wrapped in pillow cases, etc. The collection came from household belongings which were donated to our church a couple of weeks ago by a local preacher and his wife after her mother passed away, most of which was dispersed by our Outreach team of our church. Keith and I have gone out with them the last couple of times, reaching out to the community, and we have truly been blessed and humbled by our experience so far. We are seeing lives restored and people saved and delivered at our church, and I believe it has only just begun.
Until recently, setting up a “prayer room” in our home was just an idea, something I had been thinking of doing, ever since I saw the movie, “War Room”. But when our pastor began to speak about it in his messages, we knew it was time to stop “talking about it” and make it happen. I can tell you, things have changed for the better since we cleared out that back room and turned it into our own “War Room”, and God has certainly made His presence known in that room in some powerful ways, which is just what happened this past Sunday morning.
I can tell you that if our own resources were better right now, and we weren’t sitting here unable to even get out or get anywhere much because of the flooding, (the dirt path leading to our house has pretty much been turned into a river), we would most certainly be out there, helping others who have gotten the worst of this storm. But since I can’t do that, I have done the next best thing, and that is, pray.
For the sake of everyone’s safety, our pastor as well as I am sure, most around here, made the decision to cancel services, urging everyone to still honor God in our devotions as well as staying in prayer for those affected by the hurricane. So, after I got up Sunday morning, I just felt the urge to go into the prayer room, and just pour it all out to God. I don’t mean just my family and our little circle of friends and all of that. I will just say here, that my faith has grown in leaps and bounds since I came under strong conviction to pray for others more, in our church, our community, and not just my family. We pray for each other in our church, and we share each other’s burdens. We rejoice when someone in the church’s prayers are answered, and it gives us a special kind of joy when we know we prayed for that need with them. It helps build our own faith. Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” So, that is what we do. We rejoice with others as their prayers are answered, because we know that what God has done for them, He will do for us.
So, that is what I had in mind when I went into the prayer room. I knelt down at our humble little makeshift altar and just began first to praise Him, which is how I always begin my prayers. Then, I began to pour my heart out to God, not only for our own family, our kids, and our church, but for all those in our local church community, and the church as a whole. In other words, as the “Bride of Christ”, and others all over who have been affected by this terrible hurricane that has done so much damage and wreaked so much havoc and devastation everywhere. I prayed for God to help our Outreach program, and to help us all be the true examples, the light of Christ’s love, that we need to be as we reach out to those around us. I prayed for the families of those who lost their lives in this storm. I prayed until I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit begin to fill that room, lifting up my praises to Him.
When I came out, I looked at the time and realized I had spent at least a whole hour in that room, and I can tell you, I received an immediate answer. So, in effect, this special way God chose to answer my heartfelt prayer is for you, too, which is why I just had to share it with everyone. Immediately, as I walked out of the prayer room, I began to hear what sounded like a tune being played, from somewhere. At first, I thought something had happened with one of our neighbors, and it was someone’s cell phone. I walked all around the house, trying to figure out where in the world it could be coming from. It wasn’t my husband on his phone.
Then, I realized it was coming from somewhere in the house. It was muffled, like it was coming from inside of something…the box! That was it. It was coming from the box of Christmas figurines, which I had yet to even go through. I got down the box from where it was sitting, and opened it, and sure enough, it was coming from inside it. When I located the piece it was coming from, I carefully unwrapped it, the one you see in the picture above. It was playing “Silent Night”.
I sat down at the dining room table, where we usually have our devotions, and after a minute or so, turned it over to find the button to turn it off….
…it was already in the off position.
Flipping the switch to “on” only made it play faster. I got my phone and took a picture of it, then shared it with our pastor’s wife. Ten, fifteen, twenty, then thirty minutes passed, and it was still playing. My husband actually had to take the battery out to get it to stop. Although it could very well be possible that this may have been a regular, or at least, occasional occurrence with this figurine, that doesn’t really matter. I know that my God is an on time God, and His timing is NEVER off.
It was then, that the Lord brought to my mind the passage in Romans 8:37-39 (NKJV):
“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
This all took on a special significance to me, as I sat there listening to “Silent Night”, after spending almost two days, and one sweltering night, without power, or internet service, in the dark, and with no way to access internet via phones, as we have just switched to flip phones for now to cut corners. Though it was just an electronic tune, I knew the words, and found myself singing along with it, and being filled and surrounded by the peace of God, in a way I had much needed.
So, there you have it, God’s immediate answer to my prayer, to yours, and all of those who have been affected by this catastrophe, as we pray for one another, and help each other through this. Whether it’s hurricanes, tornadoes, or other storms of this life, even after we have lost electricity, internet services, or even our homes, and even if we have lost everything, nothing, NOTHING, can ever separate us from the power of an almighty God who loves us and will never leave us, nor forsake us. Indeed, the God of Abraham, Jacob, and Isaac, the God of Israel, Who parted the Red Sea, and led the Israelites into the Promised Land, and Who sent His Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ to earth to die for our sins, has Himself sent this message of His undying love for us. So, as we all work together to rebuild our lives, may we ever be reminded, that even if we lose everything, and we have nothing left but God, it is then that we will realize, He is all we need.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, which was inspired by a powerful message we recently had brought by one of our newly ordained ministers, that saying is actually on the wall in our laundry room. You can believe I took another long, hard look at it, by flashlight, of course, during the time we were without power, reminded once again, that we will never lose the Power we have available to us through the Heavenly Father Who loved us enough to send His Son to die for us. Thanks to a little angel figurine that played “Silent Night”, one stormy morning in September, even though it was turned “off”, we have been reminded once more of the Love that is stronger than any hurricane. It is a timeless message, lovingly sent by a God who needs no electricity or modern technology to communicate with us, for His power, His love for us, and His amazing grace, are much stronger.
So I was going through some of my pictures, trying to pick out one or two to use for this post. I came across these I took on a summer outing to a local trail park with my husband and grandsons a couple of years ago. The dandelion reminded me of when I would pick one when I was little and try to bring it to my mother. It always made me almost want to cry when all the little thingies blew off before I could get it to her. But now, looking a little closer, I decided it would be perfect for what I want to discuss in this post…the story of Job, one of the “Dwellers” in the Bible, as was the subject of the message brought this past Thursday night at our church. If you think about it, all those little “flyers” that float through the air when you blow on it (my youngest grandson still likes to do this) could represent all of the things that Job lost during his trials: his family, his health, and everything he had. Actually, we’d probably need a hundred or so of them to more accurately represent his losses. After a child or someone blows on it, all that is left is the stem…just the way many of us have felt at times in our lives, right?
Now, more than ever before, God’s people are going through difficult trials, and Jesus said that during the last days it would be this way (See Matthew, ch. 24 and Mark, ch. 13). Being realistic, most of us will go through traumatic events, tragedies, and difficult times at some point in our lives, and all too often, we turn to man-made solutions, and everything else but God. I’ll be the first to admit, I have done this, more than I’d care to admit. Now, I am learning, more than ever, what it means to really “cast our cares upon Him” (see 1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 55:22). My faith has grown in leaps and bounds since I have learned to pray for others in my church family and community, and not just myself and my family (see Romans 2:11, Galatians 6:2, Phil. 2:2-4).
Most of us have to admit that at one time or another, we’ve referred to ourselves or someone we love as a “modern day Job”. But have we really taken the time to read the book of Job and take into consideration all that he went through? Better still, for those of us who feel we have endured similar circumstances where we’ve suffered such significant loss that it’s left us feeling hopeless, like nothing matters anymore, what could Job teach us? How could we learn from his story and how he handled it all? Perhaps we would be more inspired to learn from him if we were to read his story and see how his faith paid off in the end. Truthfully, I can’t think of a better one to learn from than Job, if we ever have to face a time when there’s nothing left…
Would You Still Trust Him? Have You Been “Considered”? (If you are serving Christ, and you haven’t, you most likely will be)…
First, before I go any further, let me give a special shout out to my sister in Christ, Rev. Tamika Clark, who inspired this post. She brought a powerful message on the “Dwellers” of the Bible this past week at our church. Basing it on Psalm 91:1-2, she named several throughout the Bible who were dwellers, men who chose to dwell securely in their faith in God, and saw His answers to their prayers.
“He that dwelleth 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 will I trust.” – Psalm 91:1-2
During the message, she gave a challenge for us to go and read the book of Job, and learn from it, and perhaps post what we learn. So, being one who loves to accept a challenge, the next day, I did just that. Then too, I am a writer, this is what I do. But I must give credit where it is due. I have to say, I woke up Friday morning with some things coming to me about this, and I just had a knowing that God was placing it in my heart to do this.
Soooo… after starting my day in our prayer room, and my husband and I had finished our morning devotions, I sat there and read the entire book. I want to say I have read it before, but it’s been a while, so I went ahead and read it through again. In reflecting on Job’s story after I had read it, some interesting points came out to me. As I prayed about it and thought it over, I found that it spoke volumes on trusting God in the midst of suffering and trials, and paints a picture of a man who remained steadfast in his faith and love for God, all the way through to the end.
In all that he suffered throughout this whole trial, yet Job never cursed God. As Rev. Tamika brought out in her message, we have to each ask ourselves, could we still love God and stand strong in our faith and loyalty to Him if we were to be considered as Job was? (See Job, chapter 1.) Would our faith stand strong through the trial, as his did? Would we still love Him and trust in Him, even if we reach that point that there was nothing left? Then too, this can happen in many different ways, divorce, job loss, divisions in the family, debilitating accidents (such as the one I went through, click here for more info on my upcoming book) as well as tragedy.
To summarize the book of Job:As the book begins, two times, the devil goes before the Lord, and each time, the Lord asks him if he has considered Job: “Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” – (ch. 1, vs. 8). He is told that all that Job has is in the devil’s power, only do not lay a hand on his person. So, Job loses his livestock, his servants, and all of his children. Then, of course, the devil cannot resist, so going back before God the second time, he gains permission to further torment Job, and so, Job loses his health. As the story unfolds, Job is then visited by his three “friends” who proceed to voice their opinions on the matter, accusing him of being a hypocrite, speculating as to whatever great sin Job has committed to deserve all of these calamities that have befallen him. All three are convinced he has to have committed some terrible sin against God to bring all of this on himself. Yet none of them are getting anywhere, as he has something to say each time, so they finally give up. Then, finally, when they’re done, another young man is angered and decides to get his two cents worth in. He is angry at the other three because they have condemned Job without cause, having found no answers (his “rant” begins in ch. 32), and at Job because he “justified himself rather than God”.
Meanwhile…God is just waiting patiently for all of these to get through, and in chapter 38, it says He answers Job out of a whirlwind, and His response, His challenge to Job, is recorded in chapters 38 through 41. I found this part quite interesting. Here are the first 5 verses: “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said “Who is this who darkens counsel By words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know!” Job’s response quickly follows in chapter 42, verses 1-6:
Then Job answered the Lord and said: “I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’ “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.”
In the end, Job repented of his anger and hasty answers before God, and so God forgave him, and let the other 3 know that His wrath was aroused against them (chapter 42, verses 7-9). God also restored to Job twice as much as what all he had lost, after he had prayed for his friends. Interestingly enough, in verse 16, it says Job lived after all of this one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations.
Interesting Points: 5 Things We Can Learn From Job…
Unshakable Faith in our Redeemer…In chapter 19, verses 25-27, in answer to Bildad, the Shuhite’s accusations, basically insinuating that he “doesn’t know God”, (thus, all of this befalling him), Job makes it plain that even after all God has allowed him to go through, he still proclaims his faith in his redeemer: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” Are we building up our faith in Him through studying His Word and staying in prayer and fellowship with Him, so that if we were to go through such a trial, our faith in Him would remain unshakable? The key is to keep trusting Him, no matter what, and not listen to our “flesh”. Job saw beyond the flesh, choosing instead to focus on the end result, as we can clearly see by his response here.
Trusting God’s Righteous Judgments… It is interesting to read the “rant” from Eliphaz the Temanite in chapter 22, then note Job’s response in chapter 23, especially in verses 10 -12, where he clearly lets him know he trusts in God’s righteous judgments: “But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept His way and not turned aside. I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth More than my necessary food.” Do we trust Him no matter what? More than anything or anyone else? Job knew there obviously had to be something God wanted him to learn through all of this. He knew that even though he couldn’t understand it, or why it was all happening, He trusted in God’s righteous judgment in allowing it, and He trusted that God would work it all out for his good. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Isaiah 55:11 further confirms this: “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” His Word will not return to Him void! All things work together for our good, no matter how hard the devil tries to make us think otherwise. Job believed in what he could not yet see (see Hebrews 11:1), and that faith worked for him, just as it will for us. Just as in Job’s case, what the devil intends to destroy us, God will use to make us stronger, AND, He will vindicate us for our losses, and turn it all into a powerful testimony, if we only trust Him, even through the pain.
Repenting for his family/children… Going back to the beginning, in chapter one, (this was also brought out in Sister Tamika’s message), Job would regularly offer burnt offerings for them all (before the time of Christ on earth), so he regularly prayed to God on their behalf. How many of us, when we feel we have been wronged, whether by friends, co-workers, or even family, can we pray and repent on their behalf? Note again here, in the end, in that last chapter, Job’s losses were restored to him, even more children, after he had prayed for his three friends and forgiven them himself, basically repented on their behalf. Of course, we know those who have wronged us will have to repent on their own to God, but again, Job’s vindication came from God, for all he had suffered, not only after his own repentance, but in offering the prayers for forgiveness for his friends, as if you read God’s initial response to them in chapter 42, verses 7-8: And so it was, after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.”
God Knew the Devil Would Lose this Battle…We have to remember here, that God knew how this whole thing was going to turn out from the beginning. (I’m actually picturing God, shaking His head, with a big grin on His face as the devil walks off.) In reading chapter one, we have the conversation between God and the devil: “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” So Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” Clearly, the devil thought he would no doubt, win this whole thing, and get Job to turn against God. But think about it. He is clearly being offered a chance to get at the most Godly and faithful man there was, on earth even! Yet, through it all, it says in verse 22: “In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.” Even in chapter 2, verse 10, (after being struck with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the top of his head) when his wife asks why doesn’t he just curse God and die, he answers: “…“You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” It further reads, “In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”. And even through all the torment he went through with the “debate” with his three “friends” and all their accusations and speculations, and his defense rants he retorted back to them, yet his faith was never shaken. Why should it be? He knew God Himself was his “Attorney”, and that His judgment was the only one that mattered. Throughout all that he lost, he never cursed God, and in the end, after he prayed for his friends and forgave them, even as he knew God had forgiven him once, God restored to him twice all that he had lost. Job’s faith was tested in the fiery furnace, and because he never lost faith in God, (as God well knew that he wouldn’t) and indeed, continued to praise him, even after the loss of his children, his health, his wealth, and everything, he came out “as fine gold”, just as he had said he would (ch. 23, vs. 10-12). He did, and we will too, if we keep our faith, and our focus, on our Redeemer, and not what others say. Like Job did, we must place our trust in the One Who laid the foundations of the earth, and what His Word says about us, not what our naysayers think.
The Boils – What We Can Learn From His Pain…If you’ve ever known anyone who has had them, they are no doubt likely some of the most painful kind of sores you can get. As I woke up and went into the prayer room that morning, the Lord brought to my mind an insightful comparison on this. If you apply this in a spiritual context, many of us are walking around with deep emotional wounds that we’ve managed to hide, even from ourselves. Only after going through some fiery trials myself during the past few years have I finally begun to see this. Like many others, sometimes it seems after a “wound” is almost “healed”, there is always something else that happens, or is thrown upon us, or someone who hurts us, in a way that seems to “rip the scab” off again, leaving us “bleeding” emotionally, or in a spiritual sense. We can’t understand why it happens, after we’ve prayed about it, fasted, and prayed some more, yet still, it happens. (We must understand here, that when we “hide” our wounds, instead of giving it fully to God, the enemy sees this, and he will hit us where it hurts.) Many times, instead of really trusting God, we say we’ve prayed about it, but then, we still keep “nursing it”. No doubt Job, in his initial discourse, was in enough pain to regret the day he was born. Yet, like Job, we must remember, God, our Healer and loving Heavenly Father, will bring us through these painful trials, and bring us healing and deliverance, in His time, not ours. In my own personal experience, I found myself at times, feeling sorry for myself, (even sometimes, calling it “prayer”), in effect, “nursing” those wounds again, when it finally occurred to me the more I sought the Word and prayed about it, that He can’t “heal” all those old wounds I’ve been covering up and hiding, even from myself, until I completely turn it all over to Him. Then, there won’t be an old “wound” for the scab to be ripped off to start with! When we get in the Word, believe it, and speak it over our situation, this breaks the enemy’s power to use it over us any longer! God wants to heal all those old wounds in our hearts, and use it all to make us stronger, but we have to open the door of our hearts and let Him in so He can!
When There is Nothing Left…
In reflecting on my own journey through life, I’ve gone through some “Job” trials, and before it’s all over, no doubt, I will go through more. Jesus said as long as we are on the earth, we will have trials. In John 16:33, He said: “These things I have spoken to you, thatin Me you may have peace.In the world youwill have tribulation; but be of good cheer,I have overcome the world.”. At age twelve, I lost my nine year old brother, Charles, in a tragic freak accident, and at twenty, I was in a horrific automobile accident that almost took my own life. The road to recovery for me was a long and hard one, and because of the choices I made early in my life, it was a lot harder. There were times I almost threw in the towel. Even in more recent trials I have gone through as I work toward getting my books finished and preparing for my ministry, I have had times I felt like that. Yet, through God’s grace I am still here. We will go through those fiery trials as long as we are on this earth as we work while we await our Lord’s return. But if we:
Never lose faith in our Redeemer
Trust His righteous judgments as Job did (in other words, stop second guessing Him and questioning why He lets things happen-again, see Romans 8:28)
Open our hearts so He can go in and heal all of those old “wounds”,
Study His Word, and let it build our faith, then…
Speak it over the situation!…
…It is then that we will have developed the truly unshakable faith that Job had. It is then, as we are passed through the fire, that the impurities are removed, all those weaknesses we had before are purged out, and then that we will come out tried as fine gold. Yet, in His infinite wisdom, God knows that sometimes, it is in reaching our lowest valleys in this life, when we feel we have lost everything, when there is nothing left but God Himself, that we finally see that He is all we need. Perhaps that is what motivated the previous residents of our home to put this on the wall in our laundry room: “When you have nothing left but God, you become aware that God is enough”. Job’s point, exactly.
A reflection on 2 Corinthians, 1 & 2, emphasis: chapter 2, verses 14 & 15…This is something God led me to for our devotion this past week, and I thought it was so powerful that I just had to share it!
For those of you who may read my posts regularly, you know as an author, I have, up until now, only written fiction books (see my two currently available books in the side bar, or visit my home page). Currently, I have other projects I am still working on, which I hope to have available soon, but one, for which I am currently looking at publishers, is a non-fiction book, which will be inspirational to those who have suffered traumatic events and/or are giving up on faith in God. It will have my testimony of my near death experience in a horrific automobile accident in November of 1985. Click here to read more on this. Be sure to hit the subscribe tab above if you or someone you know would be interested in a copy when it comes out.
What do the words “expensive perfume” make you think of? Chances are, you are already naming off a few brand names. What are your favorites? How about “priceless perfume”? Perhaps you are thinking only celebrities could afford it if it was “priceless”. But the type of perfume I am talking about here is much more priceless than any of it…
2 Corinthians, Chapter 1 at a Glance…
In chapter 1, after talking about the “trouble” they ran into in Asia, so that they “despaired even of life” (verse 8), Paul thanks the Corinthians for their prayers for them (verse 11), and reminds them that they do not operate their ministry according to the flesh, or “fleshly wisdom”, but by the grace of God (verse 12). He goes on to remind them of the “yes” of the promises of God. I have read the entire New Testament, and one of the things that really impresses me about Paul’s ministry is, he put his whole heart into it, and didn’t just go one time to preach the Gospel to these people, he made it his life’s purpose to go back and follow up on them. In his writing to them here, he actually gives them the route he had intended to take to come by and see them. If you go back and study Philippians, chapter 4:10-17, he talks about giving, not that he “desires gifts from them”, but that “fruit abounds to their account”. He knew that once they understood this, and gave, either in money or provisions, food, etc, to help in his ministry, they would be “bearing fruit”, and he knew they would then see the ways God would bless them back for it (you can’t out give God! Try it!).
2 Corinthians, Chapter 2, Here’s the Good Stuff!
That’s just a little background info to catch you up to what’s going on in chapter 2. Now, to get into the good stuff! Although it’s not clear (to me) whether Paul is, at this point, in prison or what his exact circumstances at this point were (pastors, teachers, anyone, feel free to comment and elaborate on this), it is fairly clear, at least to me, in verses 3-4, that he very likely wrote these words weeping, in being unable to get to them. He makes it clear here, the love (of Christ) that he so “abundantly” has for them:
And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all.For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you. (verses 3-4, KJV).
Now, that is love! Paul’s joy in his ministry was in being able to go back and see them living the joy of bearing fruit for Christ, basically saying here, “your joy is my joy”. So, what really jumped out at me in reading this chapter was, he stated 4 reasons in his writing to them:
Their joy (in Christ) is his joy, not sorrowing Him, but the joy of seeing the fruit of his labor, thus, his dedication in actually following up on them.
That they would know his dedication and his love for them, in reflecting for them, the love of Christ for them all, which was his affirmation that he had gotten through to them, seeing the fruit of his labor, thus how he was able to rejoice, even in prison, through the tears he wrote them through.
Reminding them of the importance of forgiving and comforting those who did wrong (“caused grief”, verse 5) as Christ forgives us, in His great love for us.
To “put them to the test” as stated in verses 9-11, reminding them that not forgiving, as Christ forgives us, opens the door for the devil, (verse 11b-“…for we are not ignorant of his devices”).
Now, for the really good part! So, what, you may be asking, does all of this have to do with perfume? No doubt, if you really wanted to do some research on this, they did have “perfumes” in those days. Here are some other Bible verses about perfume. In Matthew 2:11, the wise men visited the Christ child and gave Him gifts of what would have been very expensive oils or perfumes in that time:
“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.” -Matthew 2:11, KJV
Mark 14:3 tells the story of the woman with the alabaster box. Although the King James version doesn’t mention the word, several other translations refer to the costly perfume it held as “Nard”, which is actually one of the scents above, which is an Amazon page on which you can buy these 3 perfumes.
Now, back to 2 Corinthians, the two verses I especially wanted to emphasize here are verses 14 & 15:
Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: (King James version)
The New King James version of the Bible renders it this way:
Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.
When we go to dress up for a special occasion, we wouldn’t put on cheap perfume that stinks. Just the same, if we don’t do these things Paul talked about, and conduct any ministry we try to have in the ways Paul reminds us here, and show Christ’s love to others we minister to as he did, then, we “stink”. Plain and simple. We must “diffuse the fragrance of Christ”, everywhere we go, or we stink. And who wants that?
And you know I just had to include this for you. We’ve all felt like that woman at one point or other. So, here you go, enjoy, and go be that “Fragrance of Christ”!