Things we can Always Know

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In a hymn by William Fullerton we see these words:

“I cannot tell how silently He suffered, as with His peace He graced the place of tears, or how His heart upon the cross was broken, the crown of pain to three and thirty years. BUT THIS I KNOW, He heals the broken hearted, and stays our sin, and calms our lurking fear, and lifts the burden from the heavy laden, for yet the Savior, Savior of the world is here.”

This beautiful hymn reminded me that even if life is intense and confusing, even if things around me are murky and unclear, there are many things that I do know. Many things that I can still trust. Many things to be encouraged by. Here are just a few:

God is love.

1 John 4:16 – “And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.”

Jeremiah 31:3 – “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued to extend faithful love to you.”

God is good.

Psalm 136:1 – “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good. His love is eternal.

God is light. No darkness dwells in Him.

I John 1:5 – “Now this is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in Him.”

God is my protection.

Psalm 36:7 – “God, Your faithful love is so valuable that people take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.”

God is my sanctuary.

Psalm 55:22 – “Cast your burden on the LORD, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”

Psalm 71:3 – “Be a rock of refuge for me, where I can always go. Give the command to save me, for You are my rock and fortress.”

God is my portion.

Psalm 16:5 – “LORD, You are my portion and my cup ⌊of blessing⌋; You hold my future.”

Psalm 119:57 – “The LORD is my portion; I have promised to keep Your words.”

God is faithful.

Psalm 36:5 – “LORD, Your faithful love ⌊reaches⌋ to heaven, Your faithfulness to the clouds.”

Deuteronomy 7:9 – “Know that Yahweh your God is God, the faithful God who keeps His gracious covenant loyalty for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commands.”

1 Corinthians 10:13 – “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.”

God is present.

Psalm 46:1 – “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

God is glorious and righteous.

Psalm 97:6 – “The heavens proclaim His righteousness; all the peoples see His glory.”

God is sovereign.

Psalm 138:8 – “The LORD will fulfill ⌊His purpose⌋ for me. LORD, Your love is eternal; do not abandon the work of Your hands.”

God is kind.

Romans 2:4 – “Or do you despise the riches of His kindness, restraint, and patience, not recognizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”

God is peace.

John 14:27 – “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.”

John 16:33 – “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”

Philippians 4:9 – “Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.”

God is Healer.

Psalm 103:3 – “He forgives all your sin; He heals all your diseases.”

Luke 6:17-19 –“After coming down with them, He stood on a level place with a large crowd of His disciples and a great number of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon. They came to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases; and those tormented by unclean spirits were made well. The whole crowd was trying to touch Him, because power was coming out from Him and healing them all.”

God is trustworthy.

Romans 4:20, 21 “He did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God because he was fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.

God is incomparable.

Psalm 40:5 – “LORD my God, You have done many things— Your wonderful works and Your plans for us; none can compare with You. If I were to report and speak ⌊of them⌋, they are more than can be told.”

God is greater.

1 John 4:4 – “You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

God is FOR me.

Psalm 56:9 – “Then my enemies will retreat on the day when I call. This I know: God is for me.”

God is worth it.

2 Samuel 22:4 – “I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I was saved from my enemies.”

Revelation 4:11 – “Our Lord and God, You are worthy to receive glory and honor and power, because You have created all things, and because of Your will they exist and were created.”

So, be encouraged. Even when life is bombarding you with situations out of your control and you are struggling to keep your head afloat, cling to what you know. Cling to the God you know. He will not fail.

Fullerton went on to write in his hymn:“I cannot tell how He will win the nations, how He will claim His earthly heritage, how satisfy the needs and aspirations of East and West, of sinner and of sage, BUT THIS I KNOW, all flesh shall see His glory, and He shall reap the harvest He has sown, and some glad day His sun will shine in splendor when He the Savior, Savior of the world is known.”

Trust that today. Trust what you know. Trust in the One you know. God has never failed anyone throughout all eternity and He will not fail you!

Seeking Hearts Ministries      My Story

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We Are Planting Trees, Not Wheat

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Psalm 1:1-3 says,How happy is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked or take the path of sinners or join a group of mockers! Instead, his delight is in the LORD’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night. He is like a tree planted beside streams of water that bears its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. The wicked are not like this; instead, they are like chaff that the wind blows away.”

“Whatever he does prospers”…hmmm.

Doesn’t feel like it at times, does it?

Feels like we sow seeds that never germinate.

Feels like we plant seeds over and over again with no results.

Feels like a “hard row to hoe”, as many of us grew up saying.

But, when we remember verse three in this passage, everything changes.

When we remember we are planting trees, our perspective changes.

Trees take a long time to grow, even longer to bear fruit. Wheat comes up quickly, but is used up. One season and wheat’s value is over. The chaff of wheat is not even good for a season. The Word tells us that the wicked, those who are not following God are like chaff, but those that are following God’s leading are like planted trees. That’s why the Word can promise us that “whatever he does prospers.” Every seed that’s planted, every weed that’s plucked, and every waiting period is not wasted because we are planting trees, not wheat.

Sometimes, planting a tree looks like teaching Sunday School year after year, never knowing whether the seeds you are planting are really taking root. Don’t worry, you are planting trees, not wheat.

Sometimes, planting a tree looks like teaching Vacation Bible School to the same rowdy kids year after year. Don’t give up. You are planting trees, not wheat.

Sometimes, planting a tree looks like home schooling two head-strong boys for fifteen years. Don’t worry. You are planting trees, not wheat.

Sometimes, planting a tree looks like ministering to the same couple with the same problems week after week. Don’t stress. You are planting trees, not wheat.

Sometimes, planting a tree looks like being kind to the meanest person in the neighborhood day after day. Don’t worry. You are planting trees, not wheat.

So, keep planting, keep sowing, and keep trusting the Master Gardener to watch over those precious seeds. Allow Him to water, to weed, and to nurture until those seeds become the most fruitful trees you ever imagined. Don’t be discouraged if results take a while, years even, because we are not planting wheat. We are not planting seeds that are only good for a short season. Be encouraged. We are planting trees.

 Seeking Hearts Ministries

*image by blogdailyherald.com

 

 

Lesson Four – No Such Thing as Limbo Land

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Back in May, I began to share lessons I was learning through this season of transition for our family. We started with Lesson One  which discussed how activity in any ministry doesn’t necessarily indicate life. Then, Lesson Two  talked about how no parent is perfect. Then finally, in Lesson Three we discussed how to get through a tough time with grace instead of white knuckles. I’ve learned many more lessons, but God put writing about them on hold, until now.

“Limbo Land” is not my favorite place to be. As I have often written, I am a “road map kind of girl”. Even though I am content (mostly), in this season of rest and revitalization, the transition has been longer than I expected. Even though I am currently involved in a local church (and loving it), I’ve known the whole time that it’s not our permanent place of ministry, so it’s been hard to jump in with both feet. It’s a joy, but it still feels like Limbo Land.

What I’m learning though is that there is really no such thing as Limbo Land. I am learning that every step with my Savior is a step to be savored.  Every season (temporary, or more permanent) has its own rewards and its own lessons.

Lesson Four is a constant battle for me. I like arriving. I like getting to where I’m going, but what is helping me through this season is the realization that when I feel like I’m in Limbo Land, I’m actually in the middle of a leap of faith. And, you know what? Leaping is fun.

Remember jumping on a trampoline, or hopping across a creek when you were little? The thrill wasn’t in the landing, was it? It was in the air. I am not an adrenaline junky, but even I have to admit that the excitement was when there was nothing under my feet. Whether I was on a trampoline, jumping into a swimming pool, or bouncing off a couch, the fun was in the air.

So…lesson four…there is no such thing as Limbo Land. I’m simply in the air, with a big smile on my face, excited to land into the next ministry knowing that my Savior is not just on the other side, but in the air with me every step of the way.

Seeking Hearts Ministries

*Photo by Bar-barella

 

Becoming an Expert

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Song of Solomon 3:7-8 says, “Behold, it is the traveling couch of Solomon; sixty mighty men around it, of the mighty men of Israel. All of them are wielders of the sword, expert in war; each man has his sword at his side. Guarding against the terrors of the night.”

As I came across these verses last week, I realized that to be an expert in war, you have to have had some incredible experiences in battle. I thought about the battles that I would have rather not been through and the battles I would rather my family not have had to face, but I also realized that if we didn’t experience those battles, we would not become the experts in war God would have us to be.

We have to have battles before we can become experts.

Notice as well that these men surrounding the King held their own sword at their side. This reminded me that I need my own relationship with Christ. I can’t depend on someone else’s sword and expect to win my own, personal battles. I have to have my own sword ready to go. Ephesians 6:17 tells us that our sword is the Word of God. I have to know Scripture, memorize Scripture, and know how to use it in battle. How exciting to know that Word isn’t just for information and to make us feel good, but to train and use in warfare!

Notice as well how close these experts in war were to the King. This shows us that being close to Christ is a requirment for becoming an expert in battle. When we follow Christ, we will see conflict. Christ Himself tells us to not be surprised when the world hates us because it hated Him (John 15:18-19). Sometimes, I think we have told ourselves that the closer we get to Christ the easier life will be. In one sense, we are absolutely right. The closer we are to Christ, the easier issues will be to handle because we are in agreement with Him and His power is enabling us to handle whatever He allows in our paths, but it does not mean that our paths will be clear of all problems.

As we start our weekend, let’s remember that battles are ways for us to become the experts in war that God has called us to be. Let’s remember that when one of our family members is facing difficulties we are called to encourage them in prayer, asking God to help them learn what they need to learn in that particular battle. I know that’s hard. I know we just want to pray to get them out of the fray, but for them to be the experts they need to be, the men and women that God has called them to become, they must carry their own sword and use it as battles arise.

Battles are tough and let me be clear… I don’t like them, but knowing that they serve a purpose in our own lives and in the lives of our loved ones helps, doesn’t it? Knowing that each battle makes us more adept at wielding our swords, knowing that each battle draws us closer to our King, is beautiful to think about. So, let’s choose to be thankful for our battles today knowing that each has a purpose, each has a lesson and before you know it we will become experts in war as God intended.

My Story

Seeking Hearts Ministries

*Image by Popular Mechanics

Success is Inevitable

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The author of this exact quote is unknown, but I love it. It reminds me of First Thessalonians 5:24 -“Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.” In other words, success is inevitable… when it’s God’s call on your life.

Has He called you to coach?

Has He called you to teach?

Has He called you to write?

Has He called you to raise those kiddos?

Has He called you to sing your heart out?

Has He called you to tend to your home on a full-time basis?

Has He called you to tend a sick loved one?

How about going to the mission field (close to home, or abroad)?

Has He called you to drive a school bus, deliver mail, or maybe even clean windows?

Whatever He has called you to do…rest in the fact that success is inevitable. No striving. No freaking out. Only simple obedience, faith and trust in Him is necessary. He will bring it to pass. It’s not only a great quote…it’s Scriptural.

Rest in that truth this week and know that no matter what circumstances may look like in this moment, when God has called you and you have answered, “Yes”, success is inevitable. Don’t proceed with caution. Proceed in faith knowing that your God has more for you than you ever imagined (Ephesians 3:20).

Seeking Hearts Ministries

My Story

Being Salt and Light

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As I was reading a book by Neta Jackson a few weeks ago, I came across an explanation that I’ve pondered for quite a while. In her book series, Souled Out Sisters, one of Ms. Jackson’s characters describes “salt people” as people who make a situation taste better and “light people” as people who bring clarity and not confusion. I liked that…a lot.

In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men. You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

If you know me at all, you know I love my salt and if you have been around me enough, you also know I love windows because I adore light. Both salt and light add joy to my life. So, why I’ve had trouble with being salt and light in this world is beyond me! I think I’ve tried to make it more difficult than it really is. If salt is simply making a situation more palatable, (as Ms. Jackson’s character explained) we can all do that. It’s not as complicated as I’ve thought.

If attitudes are going south, we can express an encouraging word. If everyone is exhausted, we can be the wise one and suggest a breather, or offer a bag of almonds to help energize the situation. If fear is invading, cover the situation with prayer. Such simple things make life more appetizing, and that’s being salt in this world.

Same with light. If being light in a situation brings clarity instead of confusion, then we can pray for wisdom, and know we will receive it because James1:5 says, “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him.”

How neat is that? Jesus didn’t just give us a command and leave us to figure out how to fulfill it on our own. He tells us how to receive the clarity we need in each situation in order to be light. It’s called wisdom. How do we receive the wisdom we need for clarity? The book of James tells us we ask God for it. Simple stuff. He gives us the needed wisdom, which gives us the needed clarity, which gives us the needed light to share. Love it!

Oftentimes, I feel like I’ve been more pepper than salt, and more darkness than light, but I’m encouraged by this simple way of looking at being children of light and salt-a-holics in this world. Through Christ, we can bring clarity. Through Christ, we can make life full of flavor for those around us. So, let’s do it. Let’s be salt and light wherever we go.

*image by bbc.com

Seeking Hearts Ministries

 

Meet A Friend Day

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Hey Everybody!

One of the things I like most about being a Christian is the community of friends that over time become as close as, or even closer, than family. So, this week I’ve decided to introduce you to a great friend and choir buddy of mine. She’s a published author (many times over) and a faithful blogger. Click on the link below to read her blog for this week. Enjoy!

Diana’s blog

Seeking Hearts Ministries

** Clipart by Clipart Panda

Who Needs a Map?

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I’m not what you would call a naturally flexible person. In fact, my husband has been known to call me “road map girl” because I like to know where I’m going…all the time.

I like to not only know where I’m headed on a trip, but also where life will take us in general. I mean who wouldn’t want to know whether they were moving in the next year, or staying put? Who wouldn’t like to know if they were going to be at the same job this time next year?

Life just doesn’t work that way though, does it? Abraham didn’t get a map, Joseph didn’t get a map, Jonah got a map and didn’t use it, Jesus’ mother didn’t get a map, and I sure didn’t get one either.

I used to only want a mapped out experience, but as I am maturing (ahem) I’m finding I want adventure. I want new experiences.  I’m finding that not having a map doesn’t necessarily mean I’m lost. It simply means I’m enjoying the moment I’m in.

When I have a map, my focus is in the wrong place. When I have a map, my eyes are downward, trying to figure out the next step. But, when my map is gone, my eyes are looking up. Psalm 121:1-2 says, “I will life up my eyes to the mountains; From whence shall my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.” This is where my eyes should be…on the Lord, not on some map.

When I’m not too busy trying to figure out where I’m going, I realize where I am and it’s always wonderful. Always. Because God is here. Hebrews 13:5 says, “…be content with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you.” This verse tells me to be content with where I am because God is here and that’s all I need.

One step forward and two steps back? No problem. God is here.

A marathon? No problem. God is here.

Several mountains to climb? No problem. God is here.

An adventure is eyes wide open to everything around me. A map leads to seeing one thing…the map. Did you notice the picture above? All around the guy holding the map is an adventure waiting to happen, but all he can see is his map. Sad, isn’t it? Eventually, he’s going to have to look up to see if he’s arrived, but he’s missing the journey. He’s missing the adventure. He’s missing the here and now. He’s missing everything… but his map!

I want to stop being “road map girl”. I want the adventure that God has for me, the plan that only He can decipher, and the map only He can read. I want the adventure that He’s called me to and in order to see it I have to take my eyes off the map and turn my eyes to Him.

You in?

Seeking Hearts Ministries 

** Photo by muddymatches.co.uk

 

So Over It…

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I admit it, when I saw the song list for Sunday I was disappointed. Most of the songs were right on (in my opinion) except the last one…the one I have sung over and over and over again. I remember thinking, “I am so over this song.” I’ve actually even written a blog about this song before. Ironic, huh?

So, what’s the song? Got you curious, haven’t I? Don’t gasp too loudly, but it’s “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)”. I know, it’s a great song. It’s even brought traditional churches to tears, but I’ve just heard it one too many times…or, so I thought.

As I was practicing said song, God reminded me that I may know all the words, but I still wasn’t living chain free. He reminded me that I sometimes still wear shackles that He broke off of me many years ago. He knew I needed the reminder because He knew that I had replaced the freedom that His very Son gave me with panic, fear and dread this very week. He knew I was vulnerable to the Enemy’s attacks and that a few fiery darts had hit their mark. He knew I needed to be reminded that my chains truly are gone.

Galatians 5:1 teaches us that, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”

Why did Christ set me free? Was it so I could do good works? Was it because I’m this awesome person who deserves freedom? No. Christ set me free so that I could live in freedom. That’s it. That’s the only reason. His great love, His amazing grace, His mercy that is new every morning, just wants me to be free.

If I received a letter in my mailbox this week that my mortgage was paid off, how many more payments do you think I would make? You guessed it…none. I would be completely free from that debt. Christ is telling us in Galatians that our mortgage, our debt, is gone for all time, yet we find ourselves still making payments.

Spiritually speaking, I still think I need to make a payment to stay free. That’s kind of nuts, isn’t it? But, it’s often how I live. The chains that Christ broke off of me still entice me. My mind thinks it’s better to have a freak out than to rest in Him. My brain thinks watching Netflix will be better to fall asleep to than reading His Word and praying for others as I drift off into oblivion. My body thinks that depending on comfort food instead of drawing on His strength will somehow make things better.

At times, I’m still choosing shackles instead of freedom. I may be sick of the song, but the message still needs to be heard.

…”My chains are gone. I’ve been set free…”

So, as I sing this song that I’ve heard over and over again this Sunday, I pray that it truly is a testimony of my life…not just in that moment, but when I go home as well. I pray that I’m not thinking “When is this going to be over?”, but I will truly give God glory for setting me free. I pray that the next time you see me all you see are wrists that are shackle free, ankles that are unfettered and gratefulness oozing out of every pore for the One who sets us all free.

Seeking Hearts Ministries

** picture by Getty images