What do we do when life knocks you down? When a phone call changes your life forever?
A few days before Christmas my husband’s brother Barry died instantly from a blood clot. He was only 58, in good health, and working daily as an Associate Pastor. His ministry to families and children in his community was vibrant. He was a superb husband and father. We were in shock and searching for understanding.
Trusting God when His plan doesn’t make sense is… intense.
Grief is very real! It’s messy, nasty and tougher than we ever imagined.
So how do we cope? What do we do?
I have learned that I have to trust God
for who I know Him to be.
God is loving. He cares about all the details of my life. As my loving Heavenly Father He can handle my raw emotions. I cry out in my pain. I rant and rave in anger. I rage about injustice and unfairness. He’s a big God. He can handle it. His love is unconditional. “pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.” Psalm 62:8
God is omniscient. He sees the whole picture. I only see my small part. He knows how this event will affect my life and the lives of many others. He knows how this will impact His ministry and who will come to know Him as their loving Heavenly Father. I watch for how God is at work and that helps me see some of His big picture.
God is wise. He knows that hard times teach me. He knows that hard times send me to my knees in prayer. Hard times send me to my Bible to search for His promises and His purposes. Hard times give me sensitivity to other people’s pain.
I trust God because of His promises.
God will never leave me. When life knocks me down I’m not in control. I don’t like uncertainty. It frightens me. But, I know God will never leave me! I hold His hand tightly but He never lets mine go! “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
God will give me peace. Peace that helps me sleep. Peace that gives me patience to wait. Peace that helps me think straight. Peace that helps me cope with each new hour of each new day. Peace that gives me hope for the future. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”. Philippians 4:7 When I experience His peace I understand why the Bible says it is a peace that passes understanding.
I trust God because He will send help and hope.
I have seen God’s hand in many ways, the lyrics of a song that spoke right to my heart. A Pastor’s Sunday message that seemed written just for me. A friend’s invite for dinner, or the words in a letter or card that cheer me and give me hope. God sends His good people to reach out with loving acts of service.
I trust God because He’s proved He is trustworthy.
I am watching to see how God is at work in these hard days and what He is teaching me.
TODAY’S little STEP: Find one of God’s promises. Claim His promise. Memorize His promise. Believe His promise.
I’d love to hear how our Great God has been at work in your life. What hard time has God brought you through? What is He teaching you?
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Do you have a prayer notebook or binder? Make 2017 the year you make one.
I promise you won’t be sorry you did. It is one of best ways to really get serious about prayer and get excited about the Greatness of God!
Many years ago as a young wife and Mom, I was challenged to make a prayer notebook. Can’t believe it was 26 years ago. Yikes, I must be old!
My notebook has pages that are filled with heartfelt requests for me, the people I love and many others. I need lists and written requests to keep my mind from wandering.
My notebook has coffee stains and tear stains. One page has doodles from long ago when my young daughter practiced writing her name. My notebook pages are jam-packed with many answers; yes, no, and wait.
This notebook has become one of my treasures. It testifies to God’s love and power and His care for me and many other people. If my house were on fire this book would go with me!
There are many resources available. You can purchase a preprinted prayer journal at your local Christian Book Store. Or you can check out these links to setting up a prayer binder or a prayer notebook.
These ladies have done a great job of showing you all the details you need to get started. I leave it in their capable hands.
I didn’t get too complicated at the beginning.
I started with, and still have, a notebook that lies flat for easy writing.
I record the date and the request. I try to capture a little of the emotion surrounding the request especially if it is a bigger one. God encourages us to pour out our hearts to Him, and that’s what I do.
I leave a couple of lines so I can record answers too! That entry usually has more detail as I try to capture the fresh emotions.
We think that we will always remember how we felt but we don’t.
So capture them.
When God answers with yes, the praise is easy.
When God answers with no or wait, the praise is much harder.
I record the uncertainty and wait to see what God will do.
Sometimes God gives me insight years later. I feel like God gives me a little peak into His big plan for me and those I love.
I record those details too.
There are many entries were I asked God ‘why?’.
When I experienced the deep sadness of 2 complicated miscarriages. When my husband got laid off and we were a one-income family.
When dementia took away my father’s ability to talk.
When cancer struck and took my mother-in-law.
My most recent ‘why’ is the unexpected passing of my husband’s brother, Barry, age 58, just 4 weeks ago.
Those entries are the ones that challenge me to trust God. Trusting God when things don’t make any sense to me requires extra prayer.
Prayer that cries out in pain and asks for peace, the peace that passes understanding.
Some unanswered prayer requests will remain a mystery until I go to Heaven.
Then I may ask Him, so I can know what His plan was and how He used it for His glory. Until then I watch to see how God is at work and I record those details.
When I reread my Prayer Notebook I am always encouraged. I realize that God helped me through many hard things. 26 years of hard things!
It puts perspective on whatever the hard thing of today is.
I realize that God will be with me and He will be at work. I can trust Him because He has proven Himself trustworthy!
This January I am retiring my Prayer Notebook (it’s falling apart and worn out), and starting a new Prayer Binder.
I’ll update you later when I get it set up.
It will be exciting to see what the entries and answers will be in the next 26 years, I’ll only be 82!
TODAY’S little STEP: Start a Prayer Binder or Notebook! It is one of best ways to really get serious about prayer and get excited about the Greatness of God!
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How do I pray? Can I really pray about everything? Does God really care about the little details of my life? He sure does! God loves and adores you, and me, more than we can ever imagine. We are His beloved daughters. No concern is too small for His attention. He wants to help.
This January I was challenged to just choose one word for 2016. My word is prayer.
I would usually go buy a new book on prayer. However, this year I went straight to the Bible to read and study by myself. I’m not a Bible scholar. I’m a regular woman just like you. It has been an amazing learning experience. I have been studying where, when, and why Jesus prayed when He lived on earth. Here’s a just a little of what I’ve learned so far and how I’m applying it in my life.
Where? He often went somewhere to be alone. A few times it was on a mountainside or an olive garden. He went somewhere quiet. Jesus needed to be alone with God.
Jesus prayed somewhere quiet and where He could be alone.
When? Jesus prayed before and after events in His life. He prayed after He found out that His cousin John the Baptist was murdered. He prayed after He ministered to groups of people.
He prayed before and after He performed miracles.
He prayed before He chose His disciples.
He prayed for the future ministry of His disciples.
He prayed just before He was going to have to die.
He prayed early in the morning before His day with people began. He prayed for most of the night, about 8 hours, on occasion.
Jesus prayed before and after events in His life and ministry. He prayed in the morning before His day began. He sacrificed sleep for the priority of prayer.
Why?Now this is the hard part to understand. He was God’s perfect Son so He didn’t need to pray for the same reasons we do. Or did He? He prayed about the details of His life because He needed to have a conversation with His Heavenly Father.
He prayed because He was very sad when John died. He was also very concerned for John’s disciples.
He prayed for the people He ministered to. He knew their needs.
He prayed before He chose His disciples because He wanted God’s input into that important decision. He prayed for His disciples and the important role they would have in His ministry.
He prayed before He died when He was in great distress. He prayed that God would be glorified even though He was dreading the crucifixion and the separation from God His Father.
Jesus prayed because He wanted to have a conversation with His Heavenly Father. He sought direction, He interceded on behalf of others and He listened to the Father.
What am I doing?If Jesus needed to pray when He was here then so do I!
I’m easily distracted. If I sit a the kitchen table to pray I notice the placemats and wonder if I should get some new ones for spring. Before I know it I’m thinking about what color they should be and where I will buy them. Uh not good!
I’ve switched to another room with fewer distractions; it’s my War Room. I need to be alone and where it’s quiet.
I try to get up a little earlier so I can pray before my day gets too busy. It really sets the tone for the whole day. I’m praying for people and ministries. For direction in the big and little details of my life and those I love. I’m praying thorough out my day for patience, wisdom and grace.
I’m learning that prayer is my opportunity to talk to my loving Heavenly Father. As I spend time with Him I’m getting better at being quiet and listening. I’m not doing all the talking.
How are you doing? Are you calling out to God in prayer? Accessing God’s power is the most important change most of us need to make in our journey up the Mountain of Health and Well-being. Our health journey needs to be something we pray about. God will empower us and strengthen us when we ask for help.
God says,“Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.” Jeremiah 29:12
TODAY’S little STEP: Talk to God in prayer. He loves you and He wants to help with all the details of your life. Access that power!
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We don’t like to wait. We like drive through banking, fast food that arrives at the front door and online shopping. Waiting seems inconvenient and unnecessary. What are you waiting for?
My last wait involved international customs. My husband, Don picked the line. However, we soon noticed that our line wasn’t moving very fast; in fact it wasn’t moving at all!
We watched as the red Toyota truck beside us in the next line cleared customs and then we counted as ten more vehicles moved through; while we continued to sit back in our original spot. We sat in that line for thirty-five minutes waiting for five vehicles to clear customs! Don won’t pick the line any more; he gave the job to me!
What are you waiting for today? The long awaited child, test results, a promotion, a home, a restored relationship?
David in the book of Psalms poured out his heart to God; he knew what it was like to wait.
David was waiting to live with his family again.
Waiting for his reputation to be restored.
Waiting to no longer be pursued by an angry King that wanted to murder him.
David said, “But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God. My times are in your hands.” Psalm 31: 14
Waiting was part of God’s plan for David’s life and may be for yours.
Relying on God during the waiting involves a conscious decision to leave the matter in God’s hands. God can be trusted with all the details; the plans are His to work out.
When you’re forced to wait (and you will be from time to time) forced to wait for something enormously important or something inconsequential.
Remember David’s words, “You are my God. My times are in your hands.” Say them aloud, often, and as a prayer of surrender. Relinquish the details into God’s hands and you will feel His love and care.
I hope this little devotional encourages you, my friend. Sometimes we just need to change things up a bit!
I eat when I’m under stress and when I’m hurt because of relationships. I can’t resist the temptation to eat to make me feel better. Food is a fast fix for pain, stress, hurt or frustration for many of us. Feeling hopeless in the battle? Jesus brings hope to your struggle. He brings the power you need!
Last weeks’ little step was to keep a record of what caused you to turn to food. We call these triggers. What were your triggers? Relational stress is one of mine.
We can’t avoid the stress in our lives. Those triggers will always be part of life. The good news is that we can change our response.
On this journey up the Mountain of Health and Well-being we are lead by our Gentle Guide-Jesus./gods-winning-formula-for-health-and-well-being/. Jesus loves us and He cares about all the details of our lives. He knows we want to have a healthier lifestyle. He knows about the power that food has over us and He offers hope and His power. That’s what we need girlfriend!
Ever wonder if Jesus can understand the power food has in our lives. In Luke 4 we learn that Jesus hadn’t eaten for 40 days and nights.
He would have been extremely hungry and His resistance would have been really low. Guess He does know what it’s like, girlfriend!
I’m guessing none of us has done a 40-day fast lately!
Satan used this low time to tempt Jesus. Satan told Jesus to change some stones into bread, so Jesus could eat right away.
But, Jesus didn’t use His divine power for Himself. He resisted the temptation by quoting a verse from the Old Testament.
Satan is no match for the powerful truth of God’s word!
So we are going to follow Jesus’ lead. When we want to choose food for reasons other than hunger, we’ll claim the same power as Jesus did!
We can’t avoid the stress in our lives. Those triggers will always be part of life. The good news is that we can change our response. We are going to claim the same power as Jesus. God’s good words!
We need some good power verses! Verses we can put on our phones and computer screens! Verses we can learn and remember! God’s words have power!
Here are some good verses to choose from, but I encourage you to find a verse that is best for you.
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. Psalm 28:7
But He (Jesus) said to me, “ My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”. 2 Corinthians 12:9
Finally, be strong in the Lord and His mighty power. Ephesians 6:10
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
Yet in all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Romans 8:37
Fear not for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
TODAY’S little STEP: Find a power verse to claim as yours! When your triggers come say your verse, say it out loud, say it often! Leave the food and go do something else.
My power verse is “But as for me, I am filled with power, with the spirit of the LORD, and with justice and might”. Micah 3:8