A Word for the Weary

On August 26th Hurricane Harvey began a devastating journey across the Texas coastline.  In the days that followed life has been turned upside down and wrong side out and will never be the same for thousands upon thousands of people. As the storm approached and poured down on us, I began to pray like never before.  All I could do was cry out to God and weep over the catastrophe being played out in front of my eyes.  After a few days I began to hear God’s voice above the roar of pouring rain and the images of water rescues being played out over and over again on television. The Lord had a word for me and the Lord has a word for you in the midst of hurricanes, floods, and great loss.   God’s voice is stronger than the winds, . . .

“The voice of the LORD twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”  The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD is enthroned as King forever.  The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.”  Psalm 29:9-11

deeper than the waters . . .

"Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.  By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me -                                                  a prayer to the God of my life.”   Psalm 42:7

and is never at a loss for words.

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”  Matthew 24:35

Many years ago a friend told me she had found a verse and suggested that I memorize it.   She said it fit perfectly with my passion for God’s Word. 

“The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary.  He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.”     Isaiah 50:4

As I studied this verse further I discovered that it refers to the Messiah, Christ Jesus, the Word who became flesh.  (John 1:14) Jesus is the Word who calls the weary to come to Him for instruction and rest. (Matthew 11:28-30)  His words are always comforting and hope-filled in the midst of our storms.  If we call upon Him, come to Him, pray to Him, and seek Him with all our hearts, He promises us that we will surely find Him. (Jeremiah 29:13) There we will hear his voice speak peace, love, and hope in the midst of hurricanes, floods and loss. 

If you are one who experienced the wrath of Hurricane Harvey or are in the midst of your own storm, listen for His voice.  It comes to you with strength to walk you through the ruins as he draws you deeper into His love.  Listen.  He says to you, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”  Take hold of them for they are your life!  (Deuteronomy 32:47) 

God’s voice is stronger than the winds, deeper than the waters and is never at a loss for words.

Feasting on the Word!

Nancy

 

 

The Laughing Yes

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My two-year old granddaughter, Isla, knows how to say “No” in a nice, but confident way.  If she really wants to get her negative message across she repeats it three times:  “No, no, no!”  Her “No” is always spoken boldly in a clear, pleasant tone.  She has her “No” down, but has yet to speak “Yes.”  However, she has a wonderfully endearing way of getting her positive “yes” across – she simply giggles!  When I ask if she wants a snack she giggles.  When I ask if she wants to watch Melmo (Islanese for Elmo) she giggles with delight.  Her giggle is in anticipation of what her yes will bring! Reflecting on Isla’s unique communication style brought to my mind a time in the Bible when an older woman laughed. Her laugh, however, was not the laughter of anticipation, but the laughter of unbelief. 

One of them said, “I’m coming back about this time next year. When I arrive, your wife Sarah will have a son.” Sarah was listening at the tent opening, just behind the man.

 Abraham and Sarah were old by this time, very old. Sarah was far past the age for having babies. Sarah laughed within herself, “An old woman like me? Get pregnant? With this old man of a husband?”

 God said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh saying, ‘Me? Have a baby? An old woman like me?’  Is anything too hard for God? I’ll be back about this time next year and Sarah will have a baby.”

 Sarah lied. She said, “I didn’t laugh,” because she was afraid.

 But he said, “Yes you did; you laughed.”   Genesis 18:10-15 (The Message)

God came through on His promise to Abraham and Sarah just as He does with us.  In fact, Paul tells us that all God’s promises are “Yes!” in Christ and that we should simply say “Amen” or so be it.  (2 Corinthians 1:20) No matter how big God’s promise or dream He has placed in our heart, it is not too hard for God to bring it to pass.  So instead of laughing at the possibility of your promise or dream ever being fulfilled, laugh in anticipation of all the possibilities His “Yes!” will bring.  

Yes and Amen!

Nancy

Restore Joy!

Oh the emotions of Christmas!  Yesterday, as I was unpacking in preparation of decking my "halls with boughs of holly," I came across a picture of my son's first Christmas. As I looked at that little boy, full of life and bursting with anticipation, I said out loud to my self, "If only he were that little again!" Oh the fun we had just being together! My heart fell hard for that little boy and my heart has never fully recovered. Looking at him, frozen in time, I longed for a "redo," another chance to teach, to guide, and to simply be with him- mother and child. Oh, the  things I would do differently!  But, they grow up, leave home, and build their own lives with their own families.  It is easy for me to get caught up in regret of the things that I failed to do or left unsaid. Did I tell you that I get emotional at Christmas? 

Waking up this morning I was thirsty and desperate for an encouraging word from the Lord.  Forever faithful is my God.  He whispered in my ear the word restore.  I went quickly to my concordance and Hebrew Lexicon (I know I can't help myself - I am a word nerd!) and looked up restore.

"Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me." (Psalm 51:12)  

The word restore means to turn back, turn around, return, come back. According to my Hebrew Lexicon (Key Word Study Bible) it "essentially denotes movement back to the point of departure."  

At what point did I depart from the joy of decking my halls?  The point of departure was in my thoughts.

 "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:5)

 The Living Water was beginning to fill my mind and heart with truth, the truth that will set me free from regret, shame, and the lie that says, "You are a failure."  I am choosing to believe that Jesus will restore my joy.

As I reflect on God's grace I am reminded of the man my son is today. He is a faithful husband, a kind and caring father, a diligent teacher of God's Word, and above all else loves Jesus.  I guess I didn't do such a bad job after all!  In fact, I know it is Christ in me, my only hope of glory, who works powerfully in me, in my children, and in whomever He calls me to minister to.    

We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.  To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy which so powerfully works in me."  (Colossians 1:28-29) 

If you are struggling with your emotions this Christmas season, take His Word to heart, drink it in, chew on it, believe it, live it, and be restored by it!

"And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast."( 1 Peter 5:10)

Restored,

Nancy

Come and Hear!

"Come and hear, all who fear God, and I will tell of what  He has done for my soul." Psalm 66:16  

My heart is full even though my mind and body are weary!  Out of this fullness I am compelled to share what God has done!  Have you ever grown so weary of trying to make things work that you wanted to quit?  That has been my story over the past 18 months.  After hearing the news that the self-publishing company that published my book was closing up shop, I felt deserted and devastated.  My efforts to have it published through another company were stalled financially due to my daughter's beautiful, but costly wedding.  I put it out of my mind, choosing to focus on the joy of my daughter's wedding celebration and the arrival of my first grandchild.  But, people began to ask me about my book and how they could get a copy.  I had no answers.  Each time someone asked, I had to explain my difficult journey and I would end up feeling like a failure.  The thought of republishing my book was overwhelming!  I wanted to just give up, but God had another plan!  

The Lord sent me help in the form of a new friend!  My new friend is a life coach who has the gift of encouragement.  After referring another friend to her for coaching, she gave me a free coaching session.  That session was life changing!  She led me to first accept myself for who God made me to be and to move forward in what He had called me to do.  She referred me to another life coach who just happens to help people self-publish their own books.  As soon as I connected with him, I knew God was up to something really good!  He set up a plan, walked me through the process and today my new improved edition of Taking the Word to Heart is live on Amazon.com!  During this difficult journey the verse the Lord brought to my attention over and over again through devotionals, sermons, and even through Hillary Clinton's concession speech, of all places, was:

 "Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

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Whenever we recall what God's Word says and reflect on what God has done and is still doing, our souls are refreshed and renewed.  We are then able to not give up, but to persevere in our working and waiting.  Then God comes through with the harvest!  I am thankful today for His harvest:  Taking the Word to Heart:  Five Ways to Get a Grip on God's Word.  

Keep doing good and do not give up!  

Keep Feasting On the Word!

Nancy

It's All About Abiding

This year I will turn sixty years old, a milestone to say the least.  I have been thinking about this since last year.  In fact after my daughter’s wedding in September I have thought myself into a pit!  Now that both of my children have married and have their own families to build apart from me, I am left in a bit of a funk.  Nothing seems to remain the same.  Children grow up, friends move away, jobs change, bodies change, and the world seems to take on a whole new look.  

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Speaking of new, that was my word for 2015.  I had some wonderful new experiences including becoming a new grandmother and adding a new son-in-law to my family.  But I failed to prepare for the “hard” that comes along with “new.”  It is kind of like those new heels that look so awesome when you buy them, but result in sore, blistered feet the first couple of times you wear them.   That has been my experience of new this past year. What I thought was going to be new and exciting, turned into new and hard.  It’s hard to see your last child really leave the nest, no longer needing your immediate attention and to go from mom to grandma can be exhausting, especially if you try to keep up with all the other creative and gifted grandmas! 

But God.  Pushing ahead through these emotions is like walking in mud up to your knees.  James’ words always cheer me on, “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” But it is the second part of his statement that really spurs me on:  “ . . .  Wash your hands, you sinners and purify your hearts you double-minded.” (James 4:8) The Lord gently, yet firmly, told me not only to wash my hands through confessed sins, but also to purge my heart of “other things” that were distracting me from a fixed, fervent focus on Jesus.   I was grieving the loss that accompanies the new in my life rather than anticipating God’s answer to my “so what’s next?”  He led me to the word “abide.”  This year I am focused on abiding in Christ and learning what it practically means for Him to abide in and with me.

The first lesson that Jesus is teaching me is that to abide in Him is to wait on Him.  Instead of using my own strength to push through this muddy place in my life, I am learning to rest, wait, and trust Him to work while I wait.  He gave me an acrostic to remind me of this first lesson in abiding:  Ask Before I Do Every time!  I am not going to push through the mud any longer.  Before I allow my mind to go to those despairing thoughts or worse, put steps to those thoughts, I will ask the One who is Abiding in me, “what’s next?”  As for me, I am abiding – no more pushing through mud!

Abiding,

Nancy