What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving and Praise

From 31 Days of Praise by Ruth Myers; Day #28: “I exult in the free, confident access You have provided, so that I can come into Your Presence for warm fellowship, for refreshment, for mercy when I’ve failed, for grace when I’m in need. What a joy to know that I can draw near to You at any moment, wherever I may be . . . that I can come boldly to Your throne of grace, assured of Your glad welcome – not because I’m worthy or because I’ve served You, but because You’re a God of grace, a God of unmerited, unlimited favor – not little dribbles of favor reluctantly measured out, but overflowing, super-abundant favor. I’m so glad that You welcome me just as I am, simply because Jesus is my risen Savior, and I am alive with His life and righteous with His righteousness!”
Today, that grace and mercy from God is what I’m most thankful for. Without it I would be living in fear and guilt, unable to rise up and be glad in my circumstances. I don’t always believe I’m totally forgiven and free from the guilt of my sin, but Scripture tells me I am – just because of what Jesus did and because He’s my Savior.
I’m without fear of eternity and that only comes from having a relationship with God. But, my faith wavers and sometimes I have to rely on sources outside of my own thinking to regain a sense of being totally forgiven and loved. Sometimes I turn to various books, like the 31 Days of Praise quoted from above, to help me focus on the truths of my relationship with Christ. Sometimes I rely on friends to remind me. Sometimes it’s my therapist that says the words I need to hear to put me in the right mindset to have the faith I need to turn to God.
On this day, Thanksgiving 2014, I could focus on the many blessings in my life, but I’m choosing to focus on the ultimate reasons for thankfulness: Salvation, grace, and mercy because of Jesus. My you find the same thankfulness in your lives this holiday season.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thirty Sterling Principles, Part 15

Today will be the last look at the thirty sterling principles. I know I haven’t covered every one of them but I’ve looked at the ones that have struck me in some way. Sometimes, like last week, they’ve been encouraging to me in very personal ways. Other times they have just been good principles to think about and meditate upon.
Today we will look at principle #29 found in Proverbs 24:19-20. It says,
Don’t bother your head with braggarts
    or wish you could succeed like the wicked.
Those people have no future at all;
    they’re headed down a dead-end street.”
There have been times in my life when I’ve said, “Look at how easy so and so has it. I wish my life could be that easy.” However, those people often live like there’s no God, making them “wicked.” I dream about how easy my life could be if I didn’t follow God’s instructions . . . like taking care of the less fortunate than me or tithing to the church. How much money I would save if I didn’t do those things!
However, would I be any happier? I may not even have the blessings I have in my life now. God rewards those who follow Him. So if I wasn’t following God, it’s quite possible that my life wouldn’t be easier but would be less somehow. I just can’t say for sure what my life would look like if I didn’t follow God and try to obey His instructions.
This passage tells me that the ones I may be envying have no future. It says they are headed down a dead-end street. So if I was like them, I would not have a future and I would be heading down a dead-end street. So maybe I can imagine what my life would look like if I was “succeeding” like the wicked. I would not have the hope and future that God has promised me. I’d not have the direction and a wide-open road to walk down. I sometimes wonder what my life would be like if I lived as if there was no God. This passage tells me that I might appear to be succeeding, but in reality I would not have a future and would be walking on a dead-end street.
So when I wonder what my life would be like without Jesus in it, I can look at this passage and remember that with Jesus I have a hope and a future. I may not know what that future is . . . except I do know what the ultimate future holds: eternal life . . . but I definitely have one. That’s worth following Jesus for.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thirty Sterling Principles, Part 14

As Christians we know we are supposed to look out for those less fortunate than us. Principle #25 addresses that and speaks to our lives for the last year and a half. It’s found In Proverbs 24:11-12. It says,
Rescue the perishing;
    don’t hesitate to step in and help.
If you say, “Hey, that’s none of my business,”
    will that get you off the hook?
Someone is watching you closely, you know—
    Someone not impressed with weak excuses.”
This last year and a half, my husband and I have taken in two high school-aged girls. Their situation may not have been life or death, although we believe it was close to that, but it was dire and they were in need of a more stable environment in which to live. This verse told us we were doing the right thing by stepping in to help in the situation. It wasn’t an easy decision to make. We spent many hours in prayer over it. But it often came back to this passage telling us to get involved any way we could.
It would’ve been easier and less heartbreaking to say, “Hey that’s none of our business.” But Someone was watching us closely. God was watching to see how we would use the resources He’s given us and the gifts He’s given us. God is not impressed with weak excuses and we could not give such excuses and expect to please God.
That’s not to say there are not times when I wonder if we did the right thing. But I’m drawn back to this verse. It tells us not to hesitate to help. So when those momentary doubts come up, when I wonder if we did the right thing, when I wonder if we are continuing to do the right thing, this verse comes to mind and I stop my questioning and turn to God. God would not expect us to step in and help if He wasn’t going to give us what we need in order to be of help. He’s met our spiritual needs, our emotional needs, our mental needs and our physical needs throughout this situation.
God doesn’t tell us to do something, like stepping in to help the perishing, and then not give us what we need in order to follow through. Today, I’m worried that I don’t have what it takes to meet the needs in this situation. But God has said He will supply us with all our needs (Philippians 4:19, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”) So I choose to trust Him and press on in helping as best as I can, for His glory and for the benefit of others.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Thirty Sterling Principles, Part 13

Skipping ahead a few principles to #24. Principle #24 is found in Proverbs 24:10 and says,
“If you fall to pieces in a crisis,
            there wasn’t much to you in the first place.”
This is a thought-provoking statement. When I think back on my life and try to isolate the crises in my life-story, I don’t really have that many of them. Once I was in a severe car accident where there were deaths in the other vehicle. At the time, I didn’t know there were deaths, but I knew things weren’t good. But my daughter was with me in my truck and I had to remain calm for her sake. I was able to check her out physically while we waited for emergency personnel to arrive, I was able to use my cell phone to call my husband, I was able to take account of my injuries, and I was able to assist the firefighters in getting both my daughter and myself out of our flipped over vehicle. I didn’t panic. I was possibly in shock to some degree, but I didn’t “fall to pieces.”
Another crisis in my life was when my daughter was born. She had pneumonia and was very sick. The doctors and nurses in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) didn’t know if she would make it or not. They prepared my husband and I for the worst. However, I was able to remain calm throughout the five days she was in the hospital – in large part because I had faith that God would work everything out according to His plan including whether she lived or died. I didn’t fall to pieces in that situation either.
There have been other crises in my life of a more minor sort ranging from disagreements with my husband to situations requiring disciplining our children. In all of them I did not fall completely apart. There was something to me in the first place. I believe that what I had was a faith in God and an ability to trust Him no matter the outcome of the situation. That’s what there was in the first place.
Even in times when I was severely depressed and thinking about taking my own life, I didn’t fall to pieces. I was able to think rationally enough to know to get help from therapists, doctors, and even the hospital when necessary. What caused me to seek help? I believe it was the prompting of the Holy Spirit. God and His Spirit in me is what “was to me in the first place.”