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Trust

2 Kings 18:5 NKJV — He trusted in the LORD God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor who were before him.

For he held fast to the Lord ; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses.
II Kings 18:6 NKJV

These words are written about King Hezekiah.

These two verses are an opportunity to learn from King Hezekiah’s example.

The first tells us of his trust in God.

The next, what he did, how he lived a life of trust in God.

The Bible makes it clear we should trust God.

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.
Proverbs 3:5‭-‬6 NKJV

Psalm 62:8 KJV — Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.

What does a life of trust look like?

The life which trusts; holds fast to God, doesn’t depart from following Him, and keeps the commandments.

This can feel a bit daunting until one reads Jesus’s words.

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Matthew 22:36‭-‬40 NKJV

This is trust.

Walking daily in complete devotion to the Lord and not doubting His ability or His character.

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.
James 1:6 NKJV

To live, holding fast to God, follow Him, keep the commandments, all begins in the heart and flows out into attitudes, actions, and words.

Trust requires choice, practice, and understanding.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for the example of King Hezekiah and so many others in scripture. Lord, thank You for making it clear that not only are You worthy of all our trust, we need to trust You. When we try to live without trusting You it doesn’t go well. Lord, please help us to trust You, to choose to cling to You and to follow You and to obey Your commandments. Please help us to love our neighbor as ourselves and to love You more than anything else. Thank You, Jesus. Amen.

Desires of the heart

It’s been several days.

I’m not even sure when the Lord began talking with me about it.

Yet, His faithfulness is evident in His consistent love.

He’s been pointing out an area of my heart I’m struggling with.

When does the heart set itself upon a particular desire?

How does it suddenly become a treasure you guard and hide?

Nothing should be so important, no desire so attractive, that it begins to be “off limits”.

In other words, the Lord has been pointing out a desire which has grown out of proportion.

He’s been bring it to my attention and saying:

Give this to Me.

My answer: “Yes, Lord.”

But my emotions are less obedient,

And thus I’ve struggled.

It’s so much harder to untwine the tendrils of desire than for them to grow.

Especially, when it’s a perfectly normal desire.

Yet, God is Sovereign.

He knows when a desire has gotten out of line, encroaching upon my willingness to surrender all.

I’m thankful He loves me so much as to show me this danger.

I’m thankful He’s so patient with me and my unruly emotions.

I’m certain He has my best at heart.

So, I’m being purposeful in replacing my overgrown desire with God’s Word.

Psalm 10:17 NKJV — LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear,

“Lord, help me to be humble. To understand Your will is best, mine is shortsighted. Please prepare my heart.”

Psalm 40:8 NKJV — I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart.”

“Lord, please help me to trust You with every detail of my life. Lord, each time this desire, or any other, begins to grow, clip it back, bring it under submission to Your perfect will.”

Psalm 37:31 NKJV — The law of his God is in his heart; None of his steps shall slide.

“Lord, please help me to keep You on the throne of my heart. Keep my devotion to You pure. Please be with my thoughts, help me take each one captive. Please be with my eyes, help me be wise as to what I look at.”

Romans 13:14 NKJV — But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

“Lord Jesus, I never want to feed my sinful nature, but instead, I want to put on Your attributes, Your love, Your mercy, Your grace. Please help my heart to follow You.”

Ephesians 6:11 NKJV — Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

“Lord, thank You for this armor. Thank You for protecting me. Please help me to be focused and purposeful each day.”

“Dear Lord Jesus,

You know my heart. You know what I am struggling with. I choose to place all my desires in Your hands and to walk forward into Your perfect truth. Thank You again for showing me this. Thank You for Your patient endurance of my struggle. I know in You my heart, mind, and emotions will line up with Yor will. May Your name be glorified! Amen.

Because, sometimes I make mistakes.

I knew we had to go get some flowers for a project.

Sis needed me to watch our sweet grandbaby during her doctor appointment.

It’s also my shot day.

So, I was in a bit of a hurry at the store.

To my chagrin, my card was denied.

“Try it again, probably just your pin. The machine just got up and running.”

Denied

Then it hits me.

The envelope from the bank which is sitting on my dresser.

It contains my new bank card, because the old one just expired.

I got out of line with an apology to the clerk.

Anne opened her purse.

“Mom, I have some cash.”

I looked and had some as well.

We went through our purchases and figured out what we could buy with the money we had.

The clerk was very nice as we went through the line again.

I apologized again for the inconvenience.

As we drove to the allergist, I thanked Anne for her help and promised to repay her.

She tried hard to console me, thinking that I was embarrassed and upset.

Funny thing.

I wasn’t.

Yes, I verbally admitted my error of not replacing my old card with the new one.

No, I wasn’t upset.

“Sometimes, I make mistakes.”

I used to think my mistakes told things about me.

That in making an error I was somehow less of…you name it, mother, wife, friend, person,…

Walking with Jesus has taught me that isn’t the case.

Mistakes are opportunities.

Something to learn from.

Something to grow in.

Something to keep me humble.

Because the truth is, I make mistakes all the time.

I’ve misread directions.

I’ve missed my turn on the freeway.

I’ve been clumsy and broken things.

And the list goes on.

None of this has any impact on my importance or value.

Jesus loves me.

And that is all I need.

He loves me.

He loves me enough to teach me, at times painful lessons, through my errors.

Which is why I can admit to a stranger, “I just realized it’s my card. The new one is at home, my old one is expired.”

The truth is, the Lord reminded me more than once about my card and I responded, “Right, I’ll do that later.”

So, this morning I knew my moment at the store was a direct consequence of my putting off His direction.

Guess what I’m no longer putting off!

(Yes, my bank card is getting dealt with, but something much more important.)

I’m learning to listen and respond with appropriate action to that gentle leading, especially when it seems like I could do it later.

Just because I made a mistake, doesn’t mean I have to repeat it.

Not if I’m willing to learn from it.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for teaching me and being so very patient with me. Lord, I do ask Your forgiveness in putting off something You told me to do. But I thank You for providing a lesson from it. Lord, please teach my children to listen to You and to learn from my mistakes. Help them to be gentle and easily led by Your Holy Spirit. Lord, thank You for humbling my heart and walking with me through another mistake. Thank You, Jesus. Amen.

Answers

It’s been several days.

I’ve been seeking the Lord for direction and guidance for our family.

My prayer: “Lord let us know what Your will is.”

The answer came yesterday.

But it didn’t look like what I expected.

It wasn’t a comfortable circumstance.

Yet, our direction was clear.

As I went to bed, I thanked God for His direction, although was still a little emotionally prickled by the form.

I hadn’t realized it until this morning.

Without really thinking about the words my emotions were asking God, “Why did the answer have to come that way?”

With my first thoughts this morning He answered.

You wanted direction and I gave it.

I chose that tool to make it very clear to you and your husband.

And my response had been to be focused on my own discomfort, rather than praising God for answering.

I had to wonder.

Would my husband and I have accepted His guidance if He’d used a different circumstance?

I can say, my perspective changed in that moment.

I began to praise God for His direction and guidance.

My heart thanked Him for His Sovereignty.

I looked at my life and began to see a long series of circumstances which were uncomfortable, some very painful, and I could look back at how God’s hand of direction was in each.

Although I didn’t enjoy walking through those things, I am praising God for them.

He has used trials, pain, and all manner of life’s struggles to direct, guide, and hone me.

As difficult as those things were, I am praising God for them.

As uncomfortable as some things are, I’m praising God for them.

I don’t want to live without Him, and He said to take up my cross and follow Him.

He wasn’t walking to a picnic when He carried His cross.

I shouldn’t expect one either.

Following Christ, carrying His cross, brings so much reward.

His path broke the chains of sin and death forever!

Then He rose, and He walked a little longer with mankind on the Earth.

And now He is preparing a place for all who believe in His name, what He did, and who He is, God’s Son.

Part of that preparation is a wedding feast, the marriage of the Lamb.

Yes, I want to carry my cross and follow Him.

For the days of struggle, trials, and pain are few compared to the joy which eternity holds.

I praise God for His path for me.

And I’ll take a wedding feast over a picnic any day!

Psalm 16:11 NKJV — You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Handmade cards

Because it’s a season where everyone can use a little encouragement.

Today, I’ll make a couple handmade cards.

I doubt I’ll get as many done as I want to send out, but even one is a blessing to me and hopefully the person I send it to.

I want to reach out to our friends and extended family.

I can’t do it in person and talking on the phone wears me out, but I can write.

In every season of life, there’s always two sides: things which can be and those which can not.

Focusing on the can helps me remain open to the Lord’s leading.

When my heart remains grateful and thankful, I’m much better at being useful and loving.

Even when my abilities are very restricted.

Because God is so much bigger than my limitations.

He can use even the things I think are insignificant.

That’s why He’s God.

Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You for always being our help. Lord, You know each heart. You understand every struggle, each one’s personal trial, and we know throughout them all You are our help. You are our Comfort, our Rock of Salvation, our Refuge in the storm. You hold truth and peace and You give freely mercy, forgiveness, and love to those who seek You with their whole heart. Lord, You alone are the answer to the questions. You have all wisdom and knowledge. Please grant us the ability to be discerning, to follow in Your example of love and brotherly kindness. To be lights which shine brightly. Lord, help us to remain diligent in prayer, steadfast in faith, and honorable in all things before You. Please Lord Jesus, comfort the hurting, restore the lost, and bring the hearts of mankind back to a knowledge of You. For the glory of Your name, Jesus, we humbly ask these things. Amen.

Beyond my expectations

Last night at the concert.

It’s been incredible,

Sis’s college and university years.

She’s not finished yet,

due mostly to time needed for motherhood.

However, I’d never expected her to be singing at this level.

As I held my first born, moments after delivery, I couldn’t imagine God’s plans for her life.

Even if I’d guessed what He might do, the truth is far beyond my expectations.

She is a wonderful mother and wife.

She’s a good student and a gifted musician.

Not only can she sing, she also plays piano and guitar.

She plans on adding more instruments as time allows.

And best of all:

She’s a lovely Christian lady.

After a performance last week, I told her how proud of her I was.

She smiled while responding,

“It’s all the Lord. I was messing it up in practice, but today it just came.”

During my pregnancy with her, when I was so very sick, I’d tell myself, “This is so worth it.”

As toddlerhood brought surprise difficulties and daily challenges.

I’d say it again.

Sometimes with tears.

One season in her life was particularly difficult, she seemed to be the target for multiple people.

I’d pray.

I’d do my best to encourage and speak correction on how to better handle the trials.

The Lord would remind me,

It’s so worth it.

Now, I’m seeing the fruit of years of toil.

And I can say,

It is so worth it.

She’s not just our daughter.

She’s also my friend.

Praise the Lord!

Finding my voice

I could hardly believe it.

As the truth dawned,

tears

formed

and then

rolled silently down.

As I sang.

I didn’t sing just one line.

It wasn’t only the chorus.

I sang the whole song.

And the truth came like a revelation.

“God, I’m worshipping again!”

It’s been one of the hardest parts of this illness.

I’ve been unable to sing.

Which has been very sad for me.

I’ve loved singing since a young child in Sunday school.

To surrender my heart’s longing

of lifting my voice in praise

has handicapped me more than

when my voice is completely gone.

As I stood

in church

voice raised in song

my heart swelled.

The truth is beyond this Sunday.

It happened last Sunday

and

the Sunday before.

I’ve been able to sing,

to praise,

my Heavenly Father

for weeks.

And it didn’t occur to me until today.

The truth has blessed me beyond

anything I could

imagine.

And He did it

by helping me

to find

my

voice.

One step after another

(This is a guest post from Bell.)

Run!

Run faster!

Strong!

Those words are the ones I hear when I run in a race.

I have always run in almost everything I do.

In school, in track, in softball, in basketball, it’s what I have always done.

Yesterday I went to my best friend’s graduation.

I was so proud for her.

We have been best friends since 2nd grade.

As I sat in the back row watching the slide show. I realized that time is very fleeting, it comes so fast that I don’t even notice.

I realize that I have run in my life so much I have not stopped and looked at what is happening now.

What is God saying to me now?

What will God say later?

Instead of running to the next thing that happens in life I need to take the first step and live in the time I have, now.

God has a wonderful life for us. We just need to take step by step and live the life, now, giving it to Him.

My father said this to me once.

“Bell, I know you want to live your life but you are living it now! Your life is now, not ten years later or after school but right now.”

Live the step you are taking

now in God.

Take life step by step.

Three steps…

In March and April, nearly our entire house was packed and moved out so my husband could paint and tear out carpet.

Since then I’ve been going through boxes, trying to find things.

Most of our stuff will remain packed.

But I’ve been in need of some school books which I thought I’d left out.

In searching I found this book my mom gave me years ago.

I’ve intended to read it many times.

Something about the title crystalized the feeling of our house and my health.

I’ve been reading it.

I’m not finished, but I have been encouraged.

Pastor Chuck Swindol has been a familiar voice throughout my childhood as Mom listened regularly.

Many Sundays when I’ve been too sick to attend our fellowship I’ve watched him on YouTube.

And I’m thanking God for his insight in this book.

He uses Job as our example of how to handle life-tragedies-trials-pain.

He’s spot on too.

Job has inspired me many times.

The days of broken-confusion when my heart threatens to burst, and my mind is left with few comforts, my example is Job and Jesus.

Job is a hero of faith.

He lost everything.

And he praised God.

Jesus is our Savior.

He put down everything.

And then He died,

for me!

As well as every single person created in God’s image.

When I look around at the state of my house or yard or schedule, I can feel like I’m taking more than two steps backwards.

But when I look at Scripture and my family and my Father,

I realize…

It is all worth it.