Category Archives: Encouragement

09/21/17

Life’s Valleys

“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.” Psalm 23:4a (NLT)

A familiar passage, if there ever was one.This, along with John 3:16, may have been the first 2 Scripture references I ever memorized as a child.

And what a wonderful gift to first memorize and engrave upon your heart that God loved the world so much, that He gave up His Son for you to die and redeem your soul and bring you to life everlasting with Him, and then to assure you that you have no reason to be afraid- for He is with you, walking beside you. It is 2 of the single greatest Spiritual truths you can learn in this life.

You are unconditionally and recklessly loved.

And you are not alone. He walks with you.

He walks with you through the darkest, saddest, most hopeless moments and valleys of your life.

Through the loss of a loved one.

Holds your hand as you hear the doctor’s droning voice describing an untimely and discouraging diagnosis.

Sits with you as you are paralyzed by fear.

Picks your head back up when you are passed over for that promotion at work.

Gives your strength to carry on, even when you feel completely hopeless, lost, and with no direction. He guides your feet.

Whispers His love to you as you are battling depression and feelings of rejection, once again.

He tells us this in the Psalms because He Knew. He knew this earthly life was hard and full of pitfalls and valley because He lived it. He felt it. He was tempted. He was beaten and bruised. He lived. 

I loved this devotion from Proverbs 31 last week. It whispered sweet reminders and big, meaty truths to my weary, road-weathered heart. It needed some refreshment.

Maybe yours does too?!?

Devotion Graphic

 

“In life, we all certainly like mountaintop experiences better than valleys — the air is clean, the sun is shining, and the view is amazing. But the truth is, we’re going to go through valleys. It’s inevitable. You’ve observed that, haven’t you?

Jesus didn’t want us to be surprised by difficult times, so just before He died on the cross, He warned us, Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows” (John 16:33b, NLT). “You will have …” means it’s not a matter of if; it’s a matter of when.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that you can’t plan valleys or schedule them. Who’s ever had a flat tire or a root canal at a good time?

But be encouraged that valleys are temporary; they do have an end. And valleys have a purpose. God never wastes our pain.

The apostle Peter wrote, There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold — though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world” (1 Peter 1:6b-7, NLT).

When God assured Moses He would be with him as he led the Israelites to the Promised Land, God said, “I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest — everything will be fine for you” (Exodus 33:14b, NLT). I love Moses’ reply: “If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place” (Exodus 33:15b, NLT). Amen, Moses — that’s exactly how I feel about going to strange, new places too.

What encourages me is that God never asks me to go through a valley alone.

Notice in our key verse that David, the one who wrote Psalm 23, refused to be filled with fear in the dark valleys, because God was with him in a very real and personal way: “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.” (Psalm 23:4a)

Earlier in this psalm, David’s comments about God are in the third person — the LORD is my shepherd … He makes me lie down … He leads me… He refreshes my soul … He guides me.

But when David gets to the dark valley, he switches to second person: “for you are with me” (v. 4). That’s oh so personal. It’s as if David sees the darkness ahead, and he reaches out for God’s hand. What a comfort to put our hand in God’s hand, as we take a step into the dark!

Pastor, writer and Bible teacher Andrew Murray once encouraged us to say: “I am here —
1. By God’s appointment.
2. In His keeping.
3. Under His training.
4. For His time.

Thank You, Lord, for that truth!” 

TRUTH FOR YOU TODAY: 

Hebrews 13:5b, “For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.’”(NLT)

2 Corinthians 4:17-18, For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (NLT)

*Read more at http://proverbs31.org/.

xoxo….

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08/08/17

Holding Back

And the Pastor tells the story…

“Suppose I owned 45 acres and was willing to sell you 44 of my 45 acres for a very reasonable price. It would be your land to farm, to care for, to build a nice big house on, to host bonfires, or whatever your heart’s desire. The catch is that the 45th acre that I am holding back for myself is in the dead center of your property. You can buy 44 acres, but I still own the center, or the heart of the acreage.”

Would that be a good deal to you??

Would you take that deal??

Of course not! Because even though we own the majority of that land, the landowner in the middle of our property could make it very miserable for us to own the 44 acres that surround them.

We would never take the deal, but we often expect God to. We expect Him to be okay with our 44 acres while we hold back the 45th.

Do you see that truth in your own life?

I do. I hate to admit, but I do.

You see, I accepted Him at a very young age. I was 9 years old and it was Easter week and I was the littlest angel on top of the cross at our Easter Pageant, The Living Pictures. Yes, it was just a musical put on by a small town Baptist church, but the music was amazing and the message we conveyed on stage night after night was life-changing. And as I stood up on that very high riser looking down on a struggling, agonizing Jesus as he took his last breath and the stage shook with the beat of the drums, something broke and shattered inside of me. It wasn’t until much later that night in the car riding home with Dad that I was able to ask questions and he pulled the car over and we prayed together, therefore ensuring my name was written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. The following Sunday, I walked the crimson carpeted aisles of FBC and make a public declaration of faith. I remember that I couldn’t wait to tell my teacher, Mrs. Copeland, about it on Monday morning in class. I was so very excited.

It was not hard for me to comprehend salvation, or the merciful Savior who gave the gift freely. It was a simple, childlike faith, but it was not hard for me to understand. I knew He loved and I knew I loved Him and accepted Him. It was not hard to accept the Savior Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, the forgiver of our sins. But, as I have grown in my faith walk, and as I have gotten older, it has been increasingly difficult to accept the Lord Jesus Christ, lord of my life. My whole life. All the acreage.

“If He is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.”

Do you believe that is true?

That He can be Lord of your finances? Of your relationships? Of your past, present, and future? Of your career? Of your health and well being and the health, wellbeing, and safety of others important to you? Of your decisions, both big and small? Of your marriage? Of your children? Of what you put in your mind- music, media, words, etc. that don’t honor Him?

I have been holding on to my final acre for far too long.

Maybe you can relate?

You see, I like control. I’m not too proud to admit it. I like knowing that I can take care of the situation in my time, in my plans, and in my way; the right way! So, there are certain areas of my life I have withheld from my Master. Letting Him in when it was convenient or it served a purpose or a goal. But, the burden is too heavy to continue to carry and I am weary from effort.

That last acre is a big one, one of my larger acres for sure.

It contains my singleness.

Will I ever get married? Will I ever meet “the one”? How will I know that it’s him, that he’s the one? What kind of wife will I be? Will I have kids? 

It contains my hope for the future, in the uncertainties I harbor around my career decisions.

Does what I do really make a difference? Am I in the right seat on the bus? Am I honoring God through my work, in my day-to-day efforts? What goals am I setting for the career I am striving for 5 or even 10 years down the road?

It contains fear.

Fear of failure, of ending up alone. Fear of losing a loved one, and trusting God with their total health and well-being. Fear of just existing, just getting by. Fear of losing myself while I am running the hamster wheel. 

It’s a big, hairy, ugly, fear-filled acre. And I don’t want to maintain it anymore.

I’m making a commitment to til it up and hand it over to the master gardener because I know what He can and will do with it. I know He can produce beautiful blooms for years to come. I know that His way is the only way and I trust Him because He is my Good Shepherd and He only wants what is absolute best for me.

So, why should I fear?

It may not be done in my way, in my plan, or in my finite sense of human timing, but divine work is about to happen on my acre and I cannot wait to put the “For Sale” sign in yard!

It’s always been yours Lord, my whole life, my whole heart, my everything. But I give up the 45th acre. I relinquish it to you. I have been foolish to think that it was mine or that I was owed a portion of all that you give. I’m tired of maintaining it. I’m tired of carrying the burden that you want to shoulder for me. Thank you for this journey you have me on, and I thank you for walking it with me. Be patient with me O God, because my flesh will fail and my spirit is often weak. Don’t let me take back “control” of that acre. Help me to hold firm to your promises that you have spoken over my life. Remind me daily of your unfathomable love and of your absolute truths. Amen. 

xoxoxo…

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