Rise

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I’m joining Kate Motaung for Five Minute Friday. One word prompt. Five minutes. No editing. Lots of women. All of us writing on that same word.

Today the word prompt is … Rise.

I read the word, “Rise”, and immediately began humming … “In the morning when I rise, give me Jesus.”

Oh how I love the song. The melody alone soothes and the words infuse hope and faith.

And then the Scripture came …

As for me, I look to the Lord for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me. Do not gloat over me, my enemies! For though I fall, I will rise again. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.”
(Micah 7:7-8, NLT)

Enemies can come in many shapes – hopelessness, despair, financial difficulty, a challenging child, a work deadline, health problems. An enemy is anything or anyone which comes against you. On any given day, it can be a host of situations.

It is as I rise each morning, filling my heart and mind with the reminder, “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

Who or what, indeed?

But it is only as I rise each morning and allow Him to put His strength – the steel – back into my heart, my mind and my bones that I can rise again to face the day.

Maybe you need a little push to rise ….

 

Today I am joining … Five Minute Friday and Faith Filled Friday and Dance With Jesus and Grace & Truth .

 

Drought, Desert & Blooms

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Sign in empty desert

The talk on the news lately has indicated the country is facing a drought. Parts are already in a “severe” mode but all are experiencing dryness.

My mind goes back to the mounds of snow piled higher than a tall man which were seen everywhere for months. I remember the explanation as being much of the winter precipitation melted and fed rivers and reservoirs quite nicely but were not retained by the surface.

“Drought” as defined by dictionary.com is “a period of dry weather, an especially long one that is injurious; a prolonged shortage.”

Life can bring times when we feel as if we are in a drought. Our days experience a lack of comfort, laughter, company, encouragement or hope. The only thing in abundance seems to be worries, fears, or hopelessness.

What do we do when drought hits our lives? That is the question on my table this morning and I want to share what I know to be true.

Close-up of girl's hand on wet window

Our souls need to be watered every day. They will become parched and hardened if left to navigate these days on their own. Don’t do it. Keep on opening His Word – every day, throughout the day, as often as is needed – in order to get a word which springs out, delivering what is needed in the moment.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11, NIV)

He sends His Word, the verses for us to hold onto, which infuse our souls with strength, hope, peace and determination. Both the rain and God’s Word are intended to impact the lives of those on earth.  Neither God’s Word nor His promises are impotent or empty. He will make good on all He has spoken.

This is then the result ….

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace.” (Isaiah 55:12, NIV)

His joy and peace fill us so we are able to navigate the day. Others will take note we have been with Jesus. When we respond to Him, something happens in our lives – we have hope because of who our God is – He is God, Almighty, Holy and powerful.

Something happens in the desert and in our lives ….

“The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.” (Isaiah 35:1, NIV)

In the middle of the dryness, of the hopelessness, something bursts – it breaks wide open. Hope springs to life. Joy comes ….

“A joyless life is not a Christian life, for joy is one constant in the recipe for Christian living.” (William Barclay)

Joy – the one constant in our lives. It does not depend on circumstances. It does not depend on people. It depends on the One Person, God, whose very presence in our lives brings joy.

Right now we are in the season of spring. Trees are budding, flowers are opening, the grass is turning green.

Get outside.

Look at what is blossoming.

May it remind you that our God is victorious.

The desert truly does bloom!

Saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea) cactus blooming, Saguaro National Park, Arizona

 

Photo Credits in order of appearance: © Zack Seckler/Corbis; © Tetra Images/Corbis; © Tim Fitzharris/Minden Pictures/Corbis

Today I am joining … Thought Provoking Thursday and Everyday Jesus .

Along The Way

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I used to admire people who had a five year plan. They knew exactly where they were headed in life, how they would get there and all which would occur on the way. Listening to their plans, they always seemed to so valiant, resourceful and full of vision.

I am not sure I have ever had a five year plan. Maybe not even a one year plan, if I were to be honest. Neither have I felt like I was flying by the seat of my pants. The days seemed to often unfold for me.

I do plan out my days. One cannot say I don’t. I even have a calendar which organizes my weeks and each month. Does this count as a plan, I wonder?

And then I saw this little graphic and quickly realized the depths to which I could identify with my friend, Pooh …

winnie-the-pooh-quote-i-dont-see-much-sense-in-that-said-rabbit-no-sai

As we make plans, it all truly does make sense to us. Our plans are practical, logical, reasonable and strive for success. They truly do. And yet … something happens along the way. Plans get changed. They don’t pan out quite the way we had hoped.

And through it all, we discover it isn’t that something happens along the way. It is that Someone happens along the way …

  • Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” (Psalm 139:16, NLT)
  • “You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.”
    (Proverbs 19:21, NLT)
  • For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NLT)

Our God is sovereign over all. All of our life. Every day. Every moment. Max Lucado once put it this way …

“It all works out in the end. If it hasn’t worked out yet, then it’s not the end.”

Just that simple. All of our life, all of our days are held in the sovereign hands of our God.

Yes, something is happening along the way.

Whatever comes our way,

May we trust Him.

 

Today I am joining … Three Word Wednesday and Tell His Story and Wedded Wednesday and Women With Intention and Wednesday Prayer Girls .

How to Love Your Neighbor

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Evangelism is something which does not come easy for most people. It certainly has not come easy for me. It conjures up images of going door to door, Bible in one hand and tracts in the other. Oh yeah, been there and done that and it wasn’t overly successful. {{and that was many, many years ago before I truly knew better}}. Promise.

Evangelism, as defined by dictionary.com is “the practice of spreading the Christian gospel; the preaching of the gospel.”

Maybe that’s the problem – I am not a preacher.

But I do love a good conversation.

51qwvdCgvzL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_In her book, How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird, Amy Lively shares about effectively talking {{ie – having a good conversation}} about your faith with those around you. She admits, “I wanted to love my neighbor, but I didn’t know how.”

In this book, Amy shares her faith, her failures, her struggles, and her process of sharing her faith. In fact, she makes it seem easy. Her book is full of practical, everyday suggestions on opening our homes and our hearts to those living around us.

One of the things I loved about this book is that Amy suggests conversing with your neighbor about neighborly things – find out about their kids, how they keep their grass so beautiful, where they buy their flowers, vacations, etc. She encourages each of us to stop making excuses and get out there. Sure, evangelism can be intimidating but less so, if you start a relationship with your neighbor first.

“God’s kindness in sending Jesus Christ as my Savior – and His kindness revealed through the people He placed around me – turned me from my sin.” (page 24)

Plain and simple – Love will win them over every time. Natural relationships can change the destiny of those living around us.

“God has carefully placed us in our neighborhoods. He planted you on your street, on your block, in your house for a specific reason, which is explained in this verse: “God did this so that people would seek him.” (Acts 17:27)

God has placed each of us where we need to be because there is someone, in our neighborhood, who needs Him. And we may be the one who needs to introduce them to His Son. Sure it can be intimidating. But we can overcome our fears and make a difference right where we live.

This book was a delightful read as Amy wrote openly of her excuses, her fears, failures and her successes. It is a book which will challenge every reader to “love your neighbor”.

**** Thanks to Bethany House, I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own.

 

Today I am joining … The Book Nook and Literacy Musing Mondays and Booknificent Thursdays .

Because I Need To

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I had been asked, “Why?”

Why get up early when I do not need to do so. In thinking about it, the answer became crystal clear – –

I get up early because I do need to!

I will readily admit when I began this practice, it was an experiment. Would my days run more smoothly? Would I be more aware of God’s Presence with me? Would His Word help me throughout the day? I needed to know the answers to these questions, all of which are, “Yes! Yes! And, yes!”

Little by little, I found I could no longer give myself an out. There was to be no choice given on whether to get up early or not. I needed to spend time with God in His Word. I had to have a verse to carry with my in my thoughts as the days unfolded. Sometimes they were even written on an index card. And some days, they are like this, stuck in my wallet, to be handy wherever I would go ….

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Why do I continue this habit each day? I think God likes it :) I think He likes when I meet with Him and have my first cup of coffee with Him. There is an infusion of strength and grace and peace and hope which occurs. His Word assures us –

“Satisfy us in the morning with Your faithful love so that we may shout with joy and be glad all our days.” (Psalm 90:14)

‘Satisfy’, according to dictionary.com is “to give full contentment to; to give assurance to; to solve or dispel, as a doubt“.

And there is was, the answer to my “why?”

Getting up early each morning enables me to believe Him, for He alone dispels all doubts. He brings me contentment as He assures me He is with me.

So tomorrow morning, the alarm will go off early. I will head to the kitchen to pour my first cup of coffee and sit down with His Word in my lap.

For each morning as G.K. Chesterton suggested, the Lord is saying, “Do it again, child!”

 

Today I am joining …. Testimony Tuesday and Unite and True Story and RaRaLinkup and Intentional Tuesday .

Dreams Are His Business

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11015084_865590096835214_4335680576188250137_nWe continue this week to look at the life of Joseph, finding Joseph in prison still dealing with dreams. Only this time their not his own ….

  • Dreams are God’s business. The cup bearer and the baker each have dreams which trouble them. Joseph does interpret them reminding them, “Interpreting dreams is God’s business.” (Gen. 40:8, NLT). He recognizes and gives glory to the One who helps him to understand dreams. Even while unjustly in prison, Joseph uses his gifts to the glory of God rather than becoming angry or bitter. He seems to have learned only God can make sense of our dreams and our lives.
  • God’s plans unfold in His time. Joseph continues to sit in prison for two years more until he is called on to help the Pharaoh, who now has troubling dreams of his own. Joseph continues to use his gifts to honor God and unfolds the meaning of Pharaoh’s dreams. In 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, we are told one of the purposes of those spiritual gifts, “A spiritual gift is given to each of us SO we can help each other.” May we use our gifts wisely to help each other, putting aside jealousy. We are all needed. May we also learn to trust God’s timing, remembering that He sees the entire eternal picture.
  • People will notice us. The famine hits just as Joseph predicted through the Pharaoh’s dreams but Egypt is well prepared. Joseph made good on his word, helping them to prepare for the years of famine. The Pharaoh made this observation about Joseph, “Can we find anyone else like this man so obviously filled with the spirit of God?” (Genesis 41:38, NLT). Whether in good times or bad, may others see God honored in our lives in all we do and in the manner with which we respond to circumstances.
  • Leave no room for fear. Jacob sends his sons to Egypt in an effort to buy grain to survive. But he keeps back his son Benjamin due to his fear of losing another son. Fear will keep us hanging onto things or people, sometimes longer or tighter than we should. May we remember, “The Lord is FOR me; so I will have no fear. Yes, the Lord is FOR me; he will help me.” (Psalm 118: 6-7)
  • View life through His lens. We see the brothers scrambling, filled with fear and more so, with guilt. They immediately think they are being punished for what they have done to Joseph, which at this point happened years before. Whether in prison or when they discover the money returned in their bags, they allude to judgment. We also find Jacob bound up with a few old feelings of his own. When the brothers return and tell him all which has occurred and what they now must do, he turns on them to vent. He brings up all they did, accusing them of taking away his children one by one. When we hold onto old feelings – bitterness, guilt, unforgiveness, anger, etc., it will rise up in us when other situations arise. We see life through the lens of our choice. May we fill our life with God’s love and compassion, mercy, peace and view life through His lens. May we remember that the Spirit is always interceding for us in accordance with God’s will (Romans 8:27) and that is the reason all things work together for good for those who love Him (Rom. 8:28).

This week we see dreams continued to play a huge role in Joseph’s life, unfolding God’s plan for his life in ways he never could have thought possible. And He will do the same in each of our lives as well.

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Today I am joining … Sharing His Beauty and Create With Joy and Playdates With God and #SmallWonder and Inspire Me Monday .

Compassion On This World

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“Then the King will say, “I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me – you did it to me.”
(Matthew 25:40, MSG)

Schoolboy drinking water

“Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks with
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.”  – Teresa of Avila

 

Today I am joining … Give Me Grace and Sunday Stillness and Spiritual Sundays and Scripture & A Snapshot .