Discouragement

Discouragement comes to everyone.
You have many things, yet the more you have,
the more problems occur.
To live simply may relieve anxiety concerning things.
Tomorrow they may all be gone.
I believe you recognize your treasures need to
be here where I live,
yet, you trouble yourself with trivial concerns.
Live today as though you only have today.
Count your blessings.
Think of others.
Generally, this is an antidote for feelings of discouragement.

 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Matthew 7:19-21 (NLT)

 As many of you know, my husband received the diagnosis of ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease twenty years ago and was given only one to three years to live. He wanted to travel and in order to do so we sold our house and most of our possessions. We put some treasured items into storage and fit everything else into our fifth wheel. Actually living in a small place is a freeing sensation and we both enjoyed it.

After ten years of God-given health we decided we would also purchase a condo, thinking there may be a time when he will have to stop driving. Upon taking our few belongings out of storage, the above scripture was clearly demonstrated. Most of them had deteriorated.

This day, I found myself discouraged over trivial concerns such as buying more “stuff”. I believe God is telling me to live simply and be more focused on other people who want friendship and may become interested in heavenly things. There is joy in talking to those people I meet on my daily walks. There are many others who may need an encouraging phone call or a prayer. I also have many blessings to count.

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Learn from Me

If you want to be effective in ministry,
your prayer life
must be a priority.
You need to be refreshed and renewed daily.
Even then, you, as I did, will get tired.
However, my love and compassion for those without
a shepherd was great and so I prayed.
In the lonely nights I would spend time with my heavenly
Father, gaining strength for the journey.
Thus, if you want to be like Me,
you need to withdraw for a season of prayer.
Often it is difficult to see what is truly important.
I listened to the cries of the blind and the lepers
and ministered to them. There were other times
I only taught my twelve disciples.
However, I often left the crowds to spend time in prayer alone.
Learn from Me.

Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak. Matthew 26:41 (NLT)

 Jesus asked the disciples to pray while He was in the Garden of Gethsemane. I wonder if, instead of sleeping they had prayed, would they have deserted him in the hour of his greatest need? Is it possible many miracles took place because Jesus did spend many hours in prayer?

When the disciples could not help the demon-possessed boy, Jesus said, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.” (Mark 9:29 NLT) Reading books by A.W. Tozer and other champions of the faith, we realize their prayer life far exceeds most of ours. I pray God will renew the desire and discipline in me to spend more time with Him.

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Direction

You obeyed!
You listened to those you love and learned more in listening for a day
than you have for many years.
You told them you loved them.
Is not this the message I give you every day?
Many things could have made you stumble and give up.
Yet, you persevered.
Do not berate yourself for not having answers
or even asking good questions.
Your assignment was to listen which you did.
Rest now in Me.
I will show you My path one step at a time.

 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. John 13:34 (NLT)

 Prior to giving the disciples this commandment on love, Jesus had washed all the dirty, dusty feet of all his disciples (yes, He even washed the feet of Judas). And, of course, we all know He loved us enough to die for our sins on Calvary.

One act of love which sounds quite simple but can be difficult is to listen to another person talk. In my many years of marriage counseling, I found most couples do not really listen to each other. It is the first task which must be learned.

With parents and children, the kindest task is to give each child at least fifteen minutes of undivided attention. Often with grown-up children, we also need to listen to hear what they want and need to say without becoming defensive. We often want to give advice or explain our decisions and points of view.

However, this one day, acting on the advice of the Holy Spirit, I simply listened and am  glad I did. Our children, no matter how old, need to know we love and care for them.

 

 

 

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Don’t Panic

“Don’t panic. I’m with you,
There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.
I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you.

I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.”
(Isaiah 41:10 The Message)

 “When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you,
For I am the Lord, your God.” (Isaiah 43:2 NLT)

 Often the Lord speaks to us through the pages of our Bibles. Lately, I had been reading the Message, which although a paraphrase and not a translation, sometimes speaks to my mind in a very direct manner. Today it did! We desperately needed to hear the words “Don’t panic, I am with you.” There were some stressors on our minds which brought along anxiety and fear. With this scripture came peace as I realized the Lord would give us strength, hold us steady and would take our hands as we traversed some unfamiliar terrain.

Recently at a Bible Study, some women were going through rivers of difficulty, one has MS, another woman’s husband had two severe strokes early this year. Yet, they felt God’s presence. As we heard from many women who had underlined this passage in their Bibles we were encouraged by their testimonies. There are many verses the Holy Spirit shows us in the Word which speak of God’s protection and commitment.

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I Understand

I understand your world more than you realize.
I understand the many duties and distractions and
your desire for companionship and order.
You also have a desire for things eternal.
You seek a closer relationship with Me,
and stand up for the way of the cross.
You are grateful for the sacrifices I made,
and press on, like Paul mentioned, “toward the mark
for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”(KJV)
Enjoy this day with Me as your companion.

 In the New Living Translation, Philippians 3:4 says “I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”

Paul was very single-minded in traveling throughout the country presenting the gospel to others. He penned much of the New Testament through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. While imprisoned he witnessed to many and prayed for all the fledging churches and fellow Christians.

At times, we need to examine our lives and priorities. As we pray, God helps us define our purpose and mission and fulfill God’s plan for our lives.

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God’s Plan

The love of God a perfect plan
Is planning now for thee
It holds “a future and a hope,”
Which yet thou canst not see.

 Though for a season, in the dark,
He asks thy perfect trust,
E’en that thou in surrender “lay
Thy treasure in the dust,”

 Yet He is planning all the while,
Unerringly He guides
The life of him, who holds His will
More dear than all besides.

Trust were not trust if thou couldest see
The ending of the way,
Nor couldst thou learn His songs by night,
Were life one radiant day.

Amid the shadows here He works
The plan designed above,
“A future and a hope” for thee
In His exceeding love.

“A future” – of abiding fruit
With loving kindness crowned;
“A hope” – which shall thine own transcend,
As Heaven the earth around.

Though veiled as yet, one day thine eyes
Shall see His plan unfold;
And clouds that darkened once the path
Shall shine with Heaven’s gold.

Enriched to all eternity
The steadfast soul shall stand,
That, “unoffended,” trusted Him,
Who all life’s pathway planned.

 “I know the plans, which I am planning for you, plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

This poem was written by Freda Hanbury Allen in a book called “Springs in the Valley” published in 1939.  During a very troubled time in my life when I felt I needed to lay “my treasure” down,  reading those words gave me courage. I don’t know what you are facing at the moment but I trust this will bless you. Throughout life there may be many “treasures” we will lay at the feet of Jesus. It may be a relationship, a career or anything we prize greatly. Yet, God often replaces the silver with gold and it truly is beyond anything we could have imagined.

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Appropriate My Strength

I care about the sparrow that falls.
I clothe the wild flowers with their beautiful colors.
Do you not think I will provide for you?
I promised to supply all your needs.
Your desires for emotional, physical and spiritual stability will be met.
Access My power, strength, love and peace!
Ask and you will receive.
You have been obedient with the talents I have entrusted to you.
Now, I will give you more.
You will find My strength is made perfect in your weaknesses.
You are conscious of these imperfections.
Now learn about the strengths I am giving you.
Appropriate them for your life and work.
Try me now and see!

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Philippians 4:13 (NLT) 

Many times, we do not attempt projects because we are only focused on our doubts, fears and weaknesses. Some people are plagued with feelings of impeding failure and inadequacy. This scripture speaks to our lives again and again.

From a high school dropout who finally went back to school at age forty, I can attest to having those feelings. When I asked God to take over my life, He showered me with blessings. He helped me get a Master’s degree in counseling. With His guidance I started a nonprofit counseling agency which, at times, had 15 employees. He blessed my life as a marriage and family therapist for over twenty-five years.

God gave me the desire to listen closely to His words of love, comfort and guidance. Because He strengthens me daily, I wish others to know My Savior in the same way. The simple “listenings” I share hopefully will inspire you to take five or ten minutes each day to be still and hear from our Heavenly Father.

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BUSYNESS

I am with you in your busyness.
As you bring order into your world, I am applauding your efforts.
See Me in the mundane tasks of life.
My disciples and I washed our clothes in the streams of Galilee.
I took upon myself the form of man for you to know,
I understand the making of a meal and the making of furniture
in a carpenter’s shop.
All these things I have experienced.
I am well acquainted with the hustle and bustle of life.
I bless all your efforts; though only sometimes you see the results.
Never underestimate what I regard as holy.
Dedicate all your work, no matter how humble, to Me.
Understand I am pleased.
Especially, I am pleased when you do your work joyfully!

 ” Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not Christians will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others”. I Thessalonians 4:11,12

Sometimes, we forget that God worked to give us the beautiful creation we enjoy every day. He designed the world to have rivers and lakes, oceans and plains, rugged mountains and fertile valleys. As we labor to make our homes a relaxing and inviting refuge for our family and friends, I believe He is very pleased.

At times, we are overwhelmed, yet is it not wonderful to know that our Jesus experienced work that was demanding. I know the Lord helps me sift through my priorities and supports all facets of our lives. We have His presence and His love to guide us.

 

 

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Be Quiet and Listen

You have much to learn about meditation and reflection.
Paul spent three years on the backside of the Arabian desert
learning from Me.
I spent forty days and nights alone on the mountains.
If you wish to write my words, you have to learn how to
be quiet and listen.
Be still and know
I am God!

 “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel says, ‘Only in returning to me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength.'” Isaiah 30:15 (NLT)

 Very few people I know take time to be quiet. We are so busy with the mundane duties of this modern day life, we don’t acknowledge the need to be like Mary who sat at Jesus’ feet listening to the knowledge He imparted. I know it has been a couple years since I took half a day to meditate on scripture and allow my Master to impart knowledge to me.

Yet, Jesus took forty days, away from his family and his work before He started his ministry. When I read the scripture in Isaiah I wondered if I take one day away from home every six months and spend uninterrupted time with God, I would have  the confidence and quiet demeanor I admire in other Christians.

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Relevance

The first thirty years of my life down on earth may have seemed insignificant to some.
Many of your years may feel unimportant and without relevance.
When you do what I ask, your work has eternal value.
Do not be perplexed!
You do my will.
The secret is to be as forgiving of yourself as I am of you.
Take a day to simply enjoy those things you love doing.

God has told his people, “Here is a place of rest; let the weary rest here. This is a place of quiet rest.” But they would not listen.
Isaiah 28:12(NLT)

Although we do not know much about the early life of Jesus as a carpenter, I’m sure He faced many of the frustrations we do. The scripture tells us He is our High Priest who understands because He lived his life here on earth as a man.

In his ministry He would take his disciples away from the crowds to rest as well as teach them. I believe they guarded themselves from weariness. Yet, many of us have this inner voice urging us to do more. We are tired in body and soul and I know He often says, “Simply rest!” Rest can refresh our minds and bodies. I don’t want to be like the children of Israel. I want to listen and realize rest is as relevant to my walk with the Lord as work.

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