God Watches Over Me.

Psalm 121: 5-8

The Lord watches over you–The Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun will not harm you by day nor by the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm–He will keep watch over your life. The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

Here’s a wonderful thought for the day. Especially for all you teachers and students who are starting a new school year.

I love this verse.What a promise! God watches over me and you. That’s good to know, don’t you think?

I know this verse to be true. God has proven this to me again and again. I’ve lived it over and over throughout my life.  I know that God watched over me even when I wasn’t aware of it.  He kept me safe from harm even when I put myself in harm’s way.

I became a Christian as a teenager. Unfortunately, I spent many years ignoring God, but God is good. He didn’t ignore me. I was His child, even if I was a prodigal child.  He was there watching over me in spite of my choices and my actions until I returned home to HIm.

He guided me in so many ways but one of the best was to a wonderful satisfying career.

He kept me from harm in countless ways, mostly from my own stupid decisions.

God was there watching over me not only keeping me safe but working things out for my good.

How awesome to know that God will watch over us now and forevermore!

The Worst Thing

Psalm 23:4 (King James)

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

I’m at an age when I grew up with the King James version of the Bible and that was the only version. There may have been others out there but I wasn’t exposed to them since there was no such thing as the Internet back then.  To me Psalm 23, is about not fearing death. OK, that’s a good thing, I’ll give you that. But one of my online devotions used a different Bible version this week. It goes this way:

Psalm 23: 4 (NIV)

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Those words touched me in a completely different way than when I usually read them.

I am going through a dark valley right now. It may not be the darkest valley I’ll ever have to go but it’s pretty dark and certainly not a place I ever wanted to go.  I found out a few weeks ago that I completely lost my hearing in my right ear due to the treatment on my brain tumor.

I’m still facing treatment for my left tumor and that means if the same thing happens I could be completely deaf.

Interestingly enough, when I was diagnosed and told that deafness was a possibility, that was the worst possible news. It seemed as if that would be the worst thing that could ever happen to me. No longer able to hear my husband as he serenades me. No longer able to participate in a simple conversation–face to face or on the phone. No longer able to play and talk with my pet parrots.

To me it was one of the worst things that could happen. In truth, I may be better equipped to handle deafness than most adults. I’m a speech pathologist with a degree in deaf education. I’ve known sign language since I was a teenager.  I’ve taught deaf and hard-of-hearing children how to be better communicators in spite of their hearing loss.

At the beginning of my journey with my brain tumors, It was impossible for me to imagine becoming deaf. Now, it’s not. It’s a very real possibility and one that I must face. Some days, I’m sure if the worst thing does come to pass, I will simply become a hermit, stay home, and write. However most days, I know that is a ridiculous choice.

Those are the days that I remember God is with me and even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for He is with me.

THE WORST THING is different for each of us, but the feelings are the same–pain, sorrow, fear, and even anger to name a few. The worst thing can and does happen to some of us every day. Even as we go  through the worst thing–the darkest valley if we keep our eyes on the light of God’s love and goodness, the darkness won’t be quite so dark and scary and we won’t feel so alone.

One of the best ways to let God’s light shine is to read His Word. I find such comfort and hope in His Word and the promises there. When I read the verse from today, my spirit calmed, and I remembered I’m not alone in the darkest valley. God is there with me.

 When bad things happen we have a choice. Let the darkness win or let God shine his light of love and goodness into the darkness to light the path that leads to God’s Kingdom–a kingdom filled with love, peace, and joy.

SHARING TIME: I’d love for some of you to share your journeys out of the darkness and back into the light of God’s Kingdom.

UNSEEN BATTLES-PART 3

UNSEEN BATTLES-PART 3

Ephesians 6: 13-20

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

 

 

Yes, we are on Part 3 of Unseen Battles. Mmm. I wonder why? It must be because I think it’s important.  And I do! Very important!

Battles are coming your way and my way. Make no mistake about that. They always do! For every battle (big and small) that you can see, there are unseen battles being fought as well. And they are as important–if not MORE important than the battle you can see. God does NOT leave us defenseless in the battles–seen or unseen, but battles ar not won by being passive!

You are the one that must fight the battle!

I want you to be prepared for the battles coming in your life—seen and unseen battles. Because they are out there or maybe like me, you are already in them but find yourself sinking a little more each day into doubt and despair.

That’s what happened to me. I was diagnosed with bilateral benign brain tumors almost a year ago. At first, not much changed except a lot of doctor’s visits. Then I had my first treatment in August and all was well (or so I thought.)

Come December all that changed—along with a sharp decline in my health.

The dreaded complications started and the complications from the steroids to treat the complications continued and now I’m on my second round of complications and that means more steroids.

As difficult as the first round of complications and treatment were, I was able to keep my joy and peace most days in spite of how bad I felt physically. Then I was finally off the steroids and about three weeks later felt better—more energy—more like me than I’d been in months.

And then it happened.

More complications!

Too much! I admit it! I got discouraged. I cried! I whined! Certainly part of it was physical—just tired and not feeling right. But it was much more than a physical issue, that’s when I knew there was an unseen battle happening-a spiritual battle within my soul.

Would I believe God’s Words or the enemy’s lies?

God does not leave us defenseless against the dark forces. He has given us numerous tools. We’ve already talked about faith, but another important spiritual tool is God’s Word.  The Bible calls the Word of God the sword of the spirit.

A sword is a powerful tool!

But you must possess the tool in order to use it.

To prepare for the battles—seen and unseen—you need to know God’s promises, His words, and His character before the battle begins. You MUST believe God’s there fighting with you but if you don’t know HIS Words before the battle, you might falter.  Knowing God’s Word ahead of time will prepare you for any and all battles coming your way.

The way to do that is to read, study, and believe His Words every day—before the battle, during the battle, and after the battle as well. Memory is not my strong suit so what I do as I read devotions and the Bible is I write verses on index cards that touch me in some way.

Those index cards sit on my desk and I read through them often.  After years of doing that, I may not remember the specific words but I remember the idea and call them to mind as needed.

Not to mention, I find them and read them when I need them specifically.

There is power in speaking God’s Words.

Don’t just read the words, speak the words.

God’s Words truly are the sword of the spirit. Each time, the enemy lies to you through your thoughts or through other people’s words and actions, you can cut their power to shreds by using God’s Words to lift up your spirit to God’s.

 

SHARING TIME: What’s your favorite way to study God’s Word?

UNSEEN BATTLES-PART 2

Ephesians 6:
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

FAITH! FAITH! FAITH!
Our spiritual journey begins with faith when we take that first step to believe and to become God’s child, then faith continues as we grow and mature spiritually, and finally our faith becomes fulfilled on that glorious day when we reunite with our Creator.
In our last devotion, we talked about life’s problems, big and small and that with each of those real-world struggles come an UNSEEN BATTLE—the battle to steal our spiritual inheritance and legacy. That is what the enemy wants. He wants us to listen to his lies, to believe him, to believe we don’t have the power to change our circumstances. To believe that God is not God. To believe that God is not good. To believe that God doesn’t love us as much as the other people around us.

We can’t always choose our circumstances, but we can choose to activate our faith in and through every circumstance. In Beth Moore’s study—Living Beyond Yourself—she has a phrase for each of the fruit of the spirits. For faith, the phrase is FAITH FIGHTS!

FAITH FIGHTS!
Faith is not passive.
Faith is active.
Let’s look at today’s verse again in light of the fact that FAITH FIGHTS. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Which YOU can extinguish…. YOU must do it. Faith is not passive.  Faith is active. You must be the one who activates your faith.
But how?
A good start is with our thoughts, our words, and then our actions!
Every time, those seeds of doubt enter our minds, banish them with God thoughts! A great verse and very easy to remember is “With God, all things are possible.”
Every time, you are tempted to whine about the situation, change it to an act of faith, by using positive words:” It’s tough right now, but God is still with me.”
As you practice using your thoughts and words to activate your faith, let your actions show that you are believing God’s Words and His Promises, not the enemy’s lies.
Faith Fights!
In her study, Beth also talks about prayer and that prayer can change our circumstances. She uses the illustration of a wall of doubt but with prayer that wall can be knocked out and turned into a window to allow God’s Power into our lives. Can you picture that?
I can. I kneel before a sold wall but as I pray to God. I pick up my  axe of faith and start to knock out the wall. With each prayer a little more of the wall of doubt crumbles allowing more of God’s light and power to shine on me. And before I  know it, I am bathed in the light of God’s love.

Bring on the flaming arrows, enemy—I will use them to enlarge my window of faith!
FAITH FIGHTS!

 

 

SHARING TIME: What’s one real way you can activate your faith on a daily basis?

UNSEEN BATTLES

John 16:33

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

LIFE IS TOUGH! And then it gets even tougher. Sometimes it seems as if our problems and troubles will never end. And the truth is they might not! Or they might not end the way we want them to.

Disappointments, worries, and problems come. Illnesses happen. Tragedies strike. That’s the reality of the fallen world we live in.

Those are the battles we fight every day in the natural world.

Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose, and sometimes it becomes a wait and see what happens. But there’s another battle going on as well. This battle is much more important than whatever you are experiencing in the natural world.

It’s an UNSEEN BATTLE

The unseen battle is about stealing your faith, hope, trust,  power,  peace, joy, and all the other wonderful gifts God gives us as His heir. Paul says it this way in Ephesians 6:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

 

Paul knew what many of us forget in this modern world. Even though we can’t see the supernatural world, it’s out there and there’s an unseen battle going on. And that’s the battle that counts!

You may not be able to do much about the battle in the physical world. Sometimes, you can and you certainly should do all you can, but there are times, it is what it is and you can’t change it.

But the UNSEEN BATTLE.

God gives us the weapons we need for that battle, but it’s up to us to use them. If we don’t we’ll lose the war. So, what are the weapons for fighting the unseen battle?

Ephesians 6: 13-20

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

 

As you can see, God has not left you defenseless in the UNSEEN BATTLES, but instead has given you many weapons. They are all important, of course, but it all starts with that shield of faith which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

Wow! Did you read that line? Maybe you should read it again:  that shield of faith which YOU can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Did you notice the word I put the emphasis on that time?

YOU can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one! YOU are the one that much activate your faith. YOU are the one that must use your faith.

So, how do you do that? Good question and we’ll  discuss it some more in the next devotion.

SHARING TIME:  What are ways you activate your shield of faith?