Strength

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12

The strength of the Lord. I believe this is one of the most under-utilized gifts from God. The strength he offers us. I’m a strong believer in using the Lord’s strength. I find it interesting that this is one of the virtues I have received so many compliments on since I started my walk again. And, I tell people, “It’s not my strength, but the Lord’s.” The Lord gives me His strength, and I just utilize it.

It’s funny how sometimes 1 little comment can change your life. I have had so many moments, where it was just one little comment that changed my life. More often than not, it’s the little things that can change your course. A few years ago, I used to hate cooking. Like, loathe cooking. Bane of my existence. Then, one night, I’m flipping through Pinterest, and I see a quote that says, “What you eat is a form of self-respect.” – Boom! Mic drop! I like to think that I respect myself a lot, maybe I should care a little more about what I eat… hence, maybe I should take more time to enjoy cooking because it’s by-product is a form of self-respect. Now, I can’t say, that I love cooking. But I definitely enjoy it much more than I used to, and I do look forward to making certain things at times because I know I’m going to enjoy eating them. – See that? One little comment, flipped the script.

Similar thing happened concerning God’s strength. I had heard for years that “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” But, as I’ve stated previously, that’s not true- and it’s not the whole verse. “God doesn’t tempt you more than you can bear, and not without a way out.” Is really how that goes. But, part of what got me interested in getting to the truth of this statement, was another statement I read. “If God never gave us more than we could bear, why would we ever kneel?” — Ooooh…. I investigated this during my Year of Great Loss. I’m not going to recap that here, but it was a lot of stuff. Very difficult year. And, please believe, more than I could bear. Also, not all from God. Don’t forget, we live in a fallen world. But, I couldn’t have made it through that year without God. It wasn’t my strength that got me up every day. It wasn’t my strength that helped me move forward, and wind through the ridiculous and insane decisions that had to be made to help us get through the next crisis. It was God’s strength. I figured out how to tap into Him. I found my strength, in memorizing verses. Verses that helped center me and give me focus and strength. I also prayed every morning until I was almost falling asleep again. And at night, and in the middle of the afternoon, and whenever it was time to kneel and get a refill on the strength. (*Please note, that up until a certain point, I was blaming God for everything that was happening, until one prayer when I was begging and pleading with Him to make it stop, He whispered back, “It’s not me.” – So that opened my eyes a lot, and flipped the script on how the rest of the year played out.) But the point is, I know that I am not enough to make it through everything that happens to me. That’s why God is here. That’s part of why He sent His son to die on the cross – to have a personal connection with me. So, we can be friends, family. So we can discuss what’s going on in my life. So I can lean on Him when I am not big enough to do this by myself. And, whenever this is happening, I also remind myself, that my God, created the Heavens and the Earth, and raised people from the dead! My God can do anything, and with Him, I can do all things. My God is bigger than all my problems. And, He’s bigger than all your problems. And He’s bigger than all of our problems combined. We don’t need to worry about how we’re going to survive whatever situation we’re facing today, because we’ve got God, and He’s bigger than that. He’s stronger than that. And, we don’t have to use our strength, because we’ve got someone else’s. We’ve got the biggest body-builder, ump-teen time world champion in our corner. We have the Almighty. He’s got our back, every time, every single day of the week.

So do not fear, for I am with you;

do not be dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you;

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand

Isaiah 41:10

But those who hope in the Lord

will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles;

they will run and not grow weary,

they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:31
I recited this one every day, multiple times a day, while I was working two jobs, trying to make ends meet when I got garnished 2 years ago – leading up to Christmas

My flesh and my heart may fail,

but God is the strength of my heart

and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:26

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 2:10

I love you, Lord, my strength.

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;

my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,

my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Psalm 18:1-2

But I will sing of your strength,

in the morning I will sing of your love;

for you are my fortress,

my refuge in times of trouble.

Psalm 59:16

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.

1 Corinthians 16:13

Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.

Jeremiah 32:17

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

Stand firm, and you will win life.

Luke 21:19
I just love this one.

Let’s Pray

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you!! Thank you for your STRENGTH! For your everlasting love and endearing nature toward us. Thank you for sending your son to die, that we might have a relationship with you and lean on you in times of trouble. That you might bless us Father, with all your gifts. That we may all learn to press on toward the goal, but know that we are never alone and that you are always with us and willing to give us whatever we need to get there. Thank you for your amazing patience and your grace. That you always bless us and guide us Father. That you have given us Your Holy Spirit that we may learn and grow to be more like You and Your Son every day. That we may understand that this battle is not our own, but Yours Father. That we are on the side of the Victor, and that we will win, we just need to submit to You and give all our cares to You, and that You will handle the rest. That You are the good, good Father, who wishes to bless us and help us win at life. That we may all rest in Your glory and rely on Your strength to get us through each and every situation Father. You are the Almighty. And we thank you that we do not need to go through this alone or rely on ourselves. Thank you Father for all that You do. Please bless the words from our mouths, and the work of our hands. Each and every day Father, that we may bring glory and honor to You. IN JESUS’ NAME!!! AMEN!!!

Mission’s Circle

Can’t stress this enough! You ARE A MISSIONARY!!

Focus on the positive. If you are already doing something, then bless you! Keep on, keeping on!

Ways to reach out, where you’re at:

Make a video of something fun and interesting for those in isolation

Facetime people you know who are in isolation

Are there elderly/older people around you? Save them a trip to the store (next time you go), by picking up their stuff too and delivering it to them

Make masks and donate to local clinics, nursing homes, older people you know (many states have a specific #millionmaskmayday page to find local places that need masks if you’re local clinic isn’t accepting them.)

Participate in #worldofhearts or #we’reallinthistogether by decorating your windows with hearts

Think of something on your own. What can you do to help? Everyone can be a missionary, where they’re at.

Featured

Waiting

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, – Romans 3:5-6

It’s funny, we’ve been reading a book on waiting in our Ladies’ Bible Study, and here we are, going through a season of waiting. When we started the book, no one was going through a waiting season, but as time progressed, the Coronavirus happened, and we’re all going through a season of waiting. And, now, I’m going through another season of waiting on top of it. Waiting for an answer to move into a house. Just another rental, but still. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Waiting for an answer, waiting for things to open up, waiting to return to a semblance of normal. Waiting. Nobody likes waiting, but it’s definitely a part of our lives. So, what do we do while we wait?

We trust in the Lord.

We believe in His timing.

And, when we finally get our answer, we accept it. Whatever that may be.

This, reminds me of a story. Years ago, I was working for a different company, in a different town. I was having to commute every day to get to work, and here in South Dakota, that can be a challenge. The snow and the winter definitely make commutes more dangerous, even when they’re only 20 minutes. I thought my job was going really well, and I was loving it. So, my husband and I had decided that we would start looking to relocate to the small town, to eliminate my commute. We just-so-happened to know someone in that town, and she owned a house that she didn’t live in. Because she liked us so much, she was willing to sell us the house as a contract-to-deed. We started the process. My husband and I put together a down-payment. We started making arrangements and packing. We were going to get together with her 2 Fridays from now, and have lawyers go over the paperwork, sign, and give her the down payment. Small, exciting season of waiting. This was all decided on a Wednesday. That Friday (exactly 1 week before the lawyer meeting), I was pulled into the CEO’s office with a fellow employee, and we were both ripped from stem to stern. I had never experienced this before, and was rendered speechless. After the meeting, the other employee and I could only figure out that maybe they were trying to get him to quit because he was so expensive for insurance, but why I was there, we could not figure out. To this day, I cannot fathom what I did that so egregiously offended them as everything they discussed didn’t seem to be anything worthy of termination, let alone the eating-alive that I had received. Over the weekend, I decided I would leave the company. I proceeded to work there for 1 more week, until Friday – the day that we were supposed to meet with the lawyers and put a down-payment on a house, when our truck suffered a catastrophic failure. I was done. Apparently to me, I had my answer. This is not my road. And, within 2 weeks, I started working for the company I’m at now. And, I have shared with all of you, the winding journey to where I’ve gotten today. But, without that small season of waiting, I wouldn’t be here. Without giving God that time, who knows where I would be today. And, although, this is just one story of waiting, of course, I’ve had many, as I’m sure you have. But, it doesn’t seem to make waiting any easier.

But, that story, has made me more accepting of God’s answers while I wait. And, more aware, that you never know what’s going to happen while you’re waiting. Sometimes the waits are more important than the final answer. What you’re doing while your waiting can completely change the outcome of the situation. And, you never know, what God is doing behind the scenes. The story of Ester is a great example, and also the one we just read about in our Bible Study. While Ester was waiting for the second feast, that was the night that Xerxes couldn’t sleep and decided to read the chronicles of his kingdom and decided to honor Mordecai for saving his life. And Ester used that situation to her advantage in the plea for the lives of her people. But, if she hadn’t waited that one extra day… would the outcome have been the same? I mean, thank God, she did as it gave her people a fighting chance, but here everything was right at the edge of her grasp, and she decided to wait… just a little bit longer. To trust God, that now was not the moment. And, He used that time to give her the edge she needed to ensure her victory. (Ester 5:5- 7:10)

So, take heart and do not be discouraged in your season of waiting, for the Lord is good and wants to give you good things.

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

Psalm 27:13-14

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.

Isaiah 30:18

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

2 Peter 3:9

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,

Romans 5:3-4

Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

Psalm 33:20-22

But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.

Micah 7:7

Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

James 5:11

Let’s Pray

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You! Thank you for always taking the time to direct my path. To direct the paths of others. To work your blessings into my life. That in all our seasons of waiting, you are working. You never stop working your blessings into our lives. Thank you God for patience, perseverance, character, and hope. Thank you that you are watching over us Father. That you know how the pieces fit. That you bless us. That you guide our paths in the way we should go, that we may honor you. We just pray Father that we always see the glory in the wait. That we understand the blessings you may have for us, at the end or in the in-between of our waiting. That we are faithful servants to you Father, and that You may always give us the answers we need when we are waiting. Bless us Father, guide us in your ways, and thank you for also making us wait sometimes. As we grow stronger in You. Bless the words of our mouths, and the work of our hands, all day, every day. IN JESUS’ NAME!! AMEN!!

Marathon

3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 
4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. – Romans 5:3-4

This week has been interesting. I moved back into work-with mixed results and feelings, a local company laid off 100 employees, I’ve been house-hunting, I received a sales pitch to be part of a growing business, and we finally got my dad’s memorial stone/bench. Sometimes, I find it interesting to think of how many things can happen in 7 days. Sometimes, it only takes 1 second to change your life. I think anyone who has lost someone close to them can relate. You’ll never forget that day, that moment. What you were doing when you heard the words. And, then, there are whole other gaps in time where seemingly nothing happens.

The one thing that kept resounding through this week though. Life is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. It’s cross-country running. Now, I personally have never been a runner, but I can imagine that there’s a lot of training involved. Training your breathing. Training to pace yourself. Training to have the endurance to complete such a task. I really like the analogy of it being cross-country running since their “courses” have ups and downs, turns and obstacles, definitely more like life. I’ve been thinking about this a lot because it keeps seeming like people keep expecting us to just snap out of this pandemic. Like, next Tuesday, we’re all just going to wake up, and be able to not wear masks, and leave our houses whenever we want, and life is going to just be “normal” again. And, that is just not the case. Just like when you lose someone close to you, you have to find a new way to be. Life is different now.

And, I don’t really feel like this is a bad thing. Humans are some of the most adaptive creatures. We’re really incredible. I think the biggest issue is getting people to realize that this is the case, to accept that things are going to be different now, for a while. This is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. But, we have hope. We have God. He will see us through this. He’s our coach and He’s given us everything we need to succeed. We just have to change our attitude about the situation and realize that this is just part of our marathon.

I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding.

Psalm 119:32

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,

Hebrews 12:1

31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:31

12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

James 1:12

13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Mark 24:13

3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Romans 5:3-4

I really like this last one from Romans, because it has definitely changed my perception of experiencing trials and hardships. That with every trial, whether from God or the world, I become better. I am a better me because of it. I now have that experience to draw from, to compare to, to remind myself that I survived that, and I will survive what’s in front of me. One of the most important lessons I have learned is that it is not true what they say, “God will not give you more than you can handle.” This is actually from this verse, “God will not tempt you more than you can bear.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) This is not the same thing. This is spoken in relation to idolatry and some other sins, that you will not be tempted to commit sin beyond what you have the capability to say no to and that he will give you a way out. But when it comes to trials and tribulations, you will absolutely encounter things that are overwhelming and seem like “too much”. If we never encountered things in our life that were too much to bear, why would we need to cast our cares upon Him? Why would we need God at all? If we could do this whole life thing on our own… why does God even care? When life becomes too much to stand, kneel. God does care, and He knows that life is overwhelming. He’s here to be our Coach. We tell Him our problems, and He helps us handle them. Our lives are marathons, not sprints. We are currently on an uphill climb, some steeper than others, but we just have to pace ourselves. Don’t give up, give in, or give out. Keep fighting the good fight, and keep the faith. We’ll get there, for we have already won.

Let’s Pray

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for being with us today, and every day. Thank you for being our coach. For helping us in this great time of need. For running with us, this day and every day. For giving us your Holy Spirit to guide us through this time and all the times to come. That you may guide our steps Father. Light our path. Help us to show the enemy, we are not afraid. We are on the winning team. Thank you for the peace and encouragement in these uncertain times. Thank you for the patience and understanding to give us the will and the perseverance to endure. To make us, long distance, endurance runners. This is just a part of our marathon, and you have been here since the beginning and You will be here through the end. Thank you Father for all that you have done for us, and all that you will do for us. Thank you for being everything we need right now. That we may all have the wisdom and understanding to turn to you and let you show us the way. Thank you for all that you are, and all that you would have us be. IN JESUS’ NAME!! AMEN!!

Mission’s Circle

This week, I’m going to focus on local. Your local, my local. It is my understanding, that each United Way foundation out there has created a special COVID-19 Relief fund for their community. Now, if you don’t know much about United Way, they are a non-profit that works with all (or almost all) your local non-profits to help keep them running. They’ve got their finger on the heartbeat of your community, and they allocate funds to these local non-profits accordingly to help keep their “doors open” and helping whomever their target “audience” is. It’s a great organization to give to, because they’re giving a lot all over the place. If your local food pantry needs some extra support right now, they’re stepping up and helping out. If your local abuse shelter is experiencing an overflow of people right now, they’re doing their part. During this time, where we don’t know who, what, where, how to help, you can donate to your local United Way, and they’ll help get money to where it’s most needed to help your community get through this. I encourage you to find a way to help others right now. We are all in the same storm, but the boats can look staggeringly different right now.

Here’s the big homepage, you can find your local chapter from here: https://www.unitedway.org/

God’s timing is perfect

This week has been an incredible reminder that God’s timing is perfect.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

James 1:17

Sometimes it feels like He is late, or has been sidetracked, or forgotten all about what we think we’re waiting for. But, He is never late. His timing is always perfect. If anything about my life has shown me it’s that God’s timing is always perfect. This past week, I had a couple instances of God’s perfect timing in particular.

For Tuesday night Bible Study, we have been reading a book. A book that we started in late December/early January. Now, when we started this book, we had a couple more people in attendance, who were really excited to do it. And the topic of the book, is Waiting. This one is particularly women who are waiting in the Bible. When we started the book, I was a little hesitant, because I’m not waiting for anything, why should I be learning about waiting? But – then all of this happened. And here our lives are on hold, and EVERYBODY’S WAITING. And this week, in particular, as we are starting the next chapter, it felt like the writer was talking to all of us. Everyone had the same creepy sensation, that this chapter, was meant for this moment. It even had the sentence,”Have you ever felt like your life has been put on hold?” “UM, YEAH?!?” It was an incredible sensation. And, it was the story of Esther, Esther 4:14 says that “Perhaps you were born for such a time as this.” <— If that doesn’t send chills down your spine and leave you in awestruck wonder. One thing we all noticed about the story of Esther, did you realize that she waited an entire year to meet the King? A whole year of primping and polishing, of bathing in oils, and sitting around and waiting… makes this seem not so bad. I mean, she was being waited on hand and foot, but it was a whole year… just to meet him. This is before the rest of the story even took place. Talk about patience. We should all strive to be more like Esther.

Then, another thing happened this week. On Monday, I’m watching our Superintendent’s weekly update video about the school’s district’s happenings. And he tells us that they are starting to put together a plan to delay the beginning of school year in the fall. Possibly more remote learning, maybe won’t start until September, etc. I was blown away. This is not going to last that long. We don’t need to do all this. But, at the same time, a little part of me is saying, “what if”. Then, literally the next day, on Tuesday. Our Governor announces the “getting back to normal” plan. We’re going to start opening things back up. Talk about mixed messages, but I’m going with the Governor on this one. The worst of it is over for us, most likely, and we should start getting back to life before-ish. Although, I’m sure we can all understand, that life will never quite be the same. But then again, it shouldn’t. You should never go through something like this, and not take away from it, and definitely not take things for granted.

With the above in mind, I had also decided to start slowing down my mask-making. I was going to make 30 more because I had already cut all the liners out for 30. Then, I wasn’t even sure who I was going to donate them to. I had decided all of this on Wednesday. On Thursday, I got a phone call. Our business is opening up next week, could you make us 30 masks? HA!! hahahahaha! Yep, you got it! God’s timing is perfect.

I have many more examples. But these are all just in one week. It is important to understand that HIS timing is perfect. No matter how we feel about it, He is never late. He can see the big picture, and we’re all just a small part. He understands that each intricate cog has to go exactly so, in order for other things to fall into line. He is managing 7 Billion people, and you have just the one – you. He is working it all together for his good. <– The good things, together for His good. So, if you are currently waiting for something, or you feel like your life has been put on hold…. just rest assured that God has perfect timing.

For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. – Habakkuk 2:3

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. – Ecclesiastes 3:1

For there is a time and a way for everything, although man’s trouble lies heavy on him. – Ecclesiastes 8:6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. – Proverbs 3:5-6

He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. – Acts 1:7

The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. – Lamentations 23:25-26

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. – Ecclesiastes 3:11

Let’s Pray

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for this day. Thank you for this time together. Thank you that your timing is perfect. That you always know exactly what to do, and when to do it. That if we just put our faith in you Father, and are patient, you will lay your hands upon the situations in front of us. That if we wait and put our hope in you Father, you will reveal yourself in the situation. If we trust the Holy Ghost, and move in the way you direct us Father, you will always guide our steps. I pray today that everyone reading this put their trust in You. That they allow you to be a part of each and every situation, that they know today, and every day, that you will guide their steps, if they just allow it. That not all things are possible through man, but ALL things are POSSIBLE WITH YOU!! That if anyone out there is in a season of waiting, that you give them the everlasting, supernatural peace that surpasses all understanding. That this peace alight on them like a dove, and take over their restless souls. That the peace of the Messiah overwhelm them Father, and give them the strength to wait. For we wait upon the Lord, and we should not falter. Bless us Father, with your overabundance of blessings, on each and every house, and in all their lives, for all their days to come. IN JESUS’ NAME!! AMEN!!

Mission’s Circle

This week, I’m going to focus on local. Your local, my local. It is my understanding, that each United Way foundation out there has created a special COVID-19 Relief fund for their community. Now, if you don’t know much about United Way, they are a non-profit that works with all (or almost all) your local non-profits to help keep them running. They’ve got their finger on the heartbeat of your community, and they allocate funds to these local non-profits accordingly to help keep their “doors open” and helping whomever their target “audience” is. It’s a great organization to give to, because they’re giving a lot all over the place. If your local food pantry needs some extra support right now, they’re stepping up and helping out. If your local abuse shelter is experiencing an overflow of people right now, they’re doing their part. During this time, where we don’t know who, what, where, how to help, you can donate to your local United Way, and they’ll help get money to where it’s most needed to help your community get through this. I encourage you to find a way to help others right now. We are all in the same storm, but the boats can look staggeringly different right now.

Here’s the big homepage, you can find your local chapter from here: https://www.unitedway.org/