Devotional Thoughts: God Walks with Us

We are always walking through waters in this life, waters of death, waters of grief, waters of disappointment, waters of pain, waters of violence, waters of anger and the list goes on and on… The comments I hear inside our loving church family are many on how we don’t even know how people survive without God in their lives. What a sweet message for us today in this verse from the One who always keeps promises and is always faithful.

God is with us. These things that seem so engulfing will not overcome us. Some feel like waters will sweep us away. Others feel like hot burning fire. The flames will not burn us out! God grants us what we need to press on. I know many inside the church who have experienced horrific things. A child is rebelling, a child is missing, a child is in prison, a child is addicted. A spouse is abusive, a spouse is cheating, a spouse is lying. I could fill up this post with things that are deep waters and fiery flames in this life. People wonder how those in these circumstances are still standing. They still stand because God holds them up. They choose to keep walking. the Faithful One will see us through.

This verse reminds me of Isaiah 40:31. “But they who wait for 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.”

Sometimes we are soaring on wings like eagles and other times in life we are just trying to walk without fainting. God is good, faithful and walks with us through all these times. To the one who doesn’t know this or understand this, reach out to God today. God loves you and will give you what you need to carry on. Not only just carry on but God will use your suffering for good! You will shine! I hear Romans 8:28 echoing through my thoughts: “and we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

The one whose child is in prison started a prison ministry. The one whose child is an addict now ministers to women who struggle with addiction. The widow was lonely and started a place for people to be on Christmas Day. What will you do with life’s hardships?

Devotional Thoughts: Barreness, Spurgeon and God

The pain of barrenness runs deep in the soul of a woman. While meeting with a social worker preparing to be a foster parent I was asked if I can have children. “I don’t know,” I said, “I never tried.” We both laughed at my unique answer, unique because I’d been single for many years and because of my faith I wasn’t going to have a child out of wedlock. I’d even ceased dating for ten years because of some bad experiences I had. I accepted I’d never marry or have children. Out of this situation I felt God’s call to foster.

In Isaiah 54A the barren one is asked to sing? Her children will be more than the one who is married? This sounds quite absurd and sometimes God calls us into what seems a bit crazy. Isaiah 54 is so rich! Here the verses that follow:

2 “Enlarge the place of your tent,

stretch your tent curtains wide,

do not hold back;

lengthen your cords,

strengthen your stakes.

3 For you will spread out to the right and to the left;

your descendants will dispossess nations

and settle in their desolate cities.

4 “Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame.

and settle in their desolate cities.

4 “Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame.

Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.

You will forget the shame of your youth

and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.

5 For your Maker is your husband—

the Lord Almighty is his name—

the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;

he is called the God of all the earth.

6 The Lord will call you back

as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit—

a wife who married young,

only to be rejected,” says your God.

7 “For a brief moment I abandoned you,

but with deep compassion I will bring you back.”

“In this Western clime, we do not know all the misery which was felt by Eastern women who were childless; they were looked down upon and despised; yet here God bids them sing. And, dear friends, if you and I feel as if our hearts have become barren, so that we cannot think of God or raise our thoughts towards him as we would desire; if we feel that we have become useless, and for that reason our spirit is greatly depressed, let us give heed to this sweet, this charming exhortation of Jehovah: “Sing, O barren soul; break forth into singing, and cry aloud;” for God can turn our barrenness into fruitfulness, and make us to rejoice exceedingly before him. If we are now sighing and crying because we are not what we ought to be, or what we want to be, God can, in the richness of his grace, make us all that we desire. Therefore let us begin to be joyful even before the miracle of mercy is wrought; let us have unbounded faith in God, and expect him to bless us, even while we are in our lowest state.” -Spurgeon

God cares for the hurting. It is He who stands in the gap for us and makes things right even if it doesn’t happen in this life. So, never mind what’s happening. Let’s stretch out our tents and welcome all who will listen to how good God is! Remain close to God and all will be made right today, tomorrow or on the other side of eternity.

Devotional Thoughts: When I’m Crushed

Psalms 34 is absolutely beautiful. God brings beauty from pain. In times of sadness, suffering and sorrow. God is near. When my child dies what’s my response? When my spouse leaves, how do I survive? When someone I love commits a heinous crime, what do I do?

I’ve seen two replies when these overwhelming circumstances arise. Some become angry at God thinking If God is real certainly He wouldn’t allow this to happen to me. I prayed one way and the opposite happened. God didn’t do what I wanted Him to so I’ll walk away. This response comes from a deeper level that at it’s core believes I, a simple human am the master of God. God should obey me and if He doesn’t that means He isn’t right, just or loving.

One of my foster daughters came from a home without love. She thought a parent who loves her would give her everything she asked. She would get terribly upset when I said no and especially when I needed to ground her. Just like all parents say no, God isn’t unloving because He didn’t do what I wanted.

The other response is to draw near to God, ask those hard questions, and continue in the faith trusting. This road is hard but I’ve seen such great blessings arise out of such dark times.

I’ve seen God birth entire ministries out of pain. Those who run away never experience God’s sustaining power, God’s closeness, salvation, comfort and closeness. Pain generally is a process to tread through. Some pain is so big it changes us forever. we never get over it. we can only find our new normal. God is present in these times. God is near. God never falters. It’s we humans who try to restrain God by defining God in our minds. We think God can only be what we think about Him.

God is so much greater than what we can wrap our minds around. His existence does not depend on our acknowledgment. God doesn’t need our definition. God desires to love us, heal us and hike with us in our pain. Sometimes the only reason something happened is because of sin. God hurts with us. God doesn’t take people away from us. Please! Don’t ever tell anyone the Lord giveth and taketh away! When people sin sometimes death is the consequence. We should not blame God for the actions of sinful people who do not live in God’s ways.

No matter who we are pain and suffering will come. The Lord is near. I have only to open the door and let God in. Life presents such difficulties. I can press on because God is here with me. I’ve experienced times of dry and times of life giving, sustaining water. I press on through it all to arrive where I belong. I belong where there’s no more pain. Will you come with me? Take that step and reach out to God. He loves like no other.

Devotional Thoughts: Mother’s Day, Remembrance and Gratitude

It’s Mother’s Day. This is an interesting verse for this day. The apostle Paul is called an apostle because of the encounter with God he had being blinded. He expresses gratitude to believers in Philippi as he writes to them. Thoughts of them brings up feelings of gratitude.

My husband is with his father today because two years ago his mother passed away On Mother’s Day. For the past two years I’ve heard his stories of gratitude for his mother. Today is a painful day for him.

I’ve adopted three teens who are reminded each Mother’s Day that I wasn’t their birth mom. Each of them referring to me as mom has been a process. Mother’s Day can be a painful day because we remember. we remember good and bad. All mothers hurt their children at one time or another. We are all human. Some have hurt us more than others. Some I’ve mothered have rejected my offering to be their mother. Mother’s Day I remember those too who came through my home. All were offered a chance to stay but many moved on. Biological children stray away too. This can be painful. Some have children in prison. Some have children who are overcome with addiction. Mother’s Day can be painful.

Who doesn’t want to receive a letter saying someone is thinking about them and that thoughts of them brings thanksgiving?

I’m a believer, so I belong to this great family all over the globe. I’ve traveled afar and met with believers of other countries and I know this feeling of gratitude because others have affected my faith. Believers in Phillippi affected Paul. Paul had a hand in bringing them to Christ. If you’ve ever led someone to Christ you know this feeling well.

I’m most proud of those I’ve led in ministry who are now involved in ministry and are living out their faith. I’m greatly encouraged by what God is doing in their lives! I’m encouraged anytime my kids express their faith. I have holy gratitude when I hear from those I led to Christ and how they still follow and even share their faith with others.

It’s Mother’s Day and I am blessed with a great mother. She encouraged me, guided me and pushed me to be all I could be. My husband too was blessed with a good mother. Not everyone feels gratitude today, but gratitude surely can be found somewhere no matter what our circumstances.

Look around. There’s someone needing a mother. There’s someone we need to express our gratitude for. Paul mothered the churches he wrote letters to. He encouraged them but he also disciplined them.

I’ve learned that where our lives are lacking God places others in those empty spaces. We only have to be willing to receive. If I’m lacking a mother God provides a mother like figure. This is one of the blessings of having a church family.

Signing Up to Get Your Heart Broken, This is Ministry

Some of our kids are dead:  gang shootings, domestic violence, a hit and run at night where he was left for dead like he was trash.

Some of our kids are in jail:  gangs, violence, drugs, theft, fraud.

Some of our kids are in foster care: Mom chose her sex offender boyfriend over her children, domestic violence, addiction.

Some of our kids we’ve lost contact with, they moved away out from under our wing.

Some of our kids had a baby while they too were just a baby.

One 5 year old told me he has 5 daddies and is getting a new Mexican daddy.  “Aren’t I lucky?”

 

ALL of our kids heard the Gospel from us.

It is our greatest gift to them: The Gospel Message.

The Greatest Hope of all.

The one thing we know we can stand on, trust, hang our lives upon: The Gospel.

 

God is good all the time.

Unwavering,

Solid,

Overwhelming Love, the kind that loves even when we fail.

 

Humans are unfaithful.

Humans are sinful.

Humans are selfish.

Humans want to be God.

 

How can dirty mankind come together with a Holy, unblemished God?

This seems impossible, but God did it!

God provided a way.  Why?   He loves.

He sacrificed Himself, He died, He arose on the third day, He heals, He restores, He guides and directs.   He can set us FREE.

 

The Gospel is alive and will never die.

May we never keep it to ourselves!

May the seeds we share grow into beauty that will spread out other seeds that will grow too.

To God be the glory!

 

Our children pray for the salvation of their parents.

Our children pray their families will go back to the way they were before all the bad things happened.

Our children pray for a parent in jail.

Our children pray they can save their mom from killing herself.

Our children pray for us, they thank God for us.  They thank God for all He has done for them.

 

Some of our kids graduated high school!

Some of our kids are working and supporting themselves.

Some of our kids are in college.

One did his senior project on how to share the Gospel.

One plays football for a well-known college campus on full scholarship.

One is married, has children and attends church regularly.

One is headed to Hawaii in the Marines and asked for prayer to live out his faith in the military.

One wrote us a note thanking us for laying the foundation for him to find Jesus Christ.  He expressed his faith has brought him great joy.

Signing up to get your heart broken:  It’s what Jesus did. Ministry does this to us too.

All experiences cited in this poem are fruits of Multi-Housing Ministries of Asheboro that was birthed in 1997.

 

 

 

 

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