I unloaded my bags in my room, after a 16-hour trip, only to spot BIG black mold on my ceiling. When the experts came to investigate in the attic they found more. A lot more (thank you, in advance, for your prayers concerning protection for my family).
I don’t like health risks. They make me feel nervous and out-of-control. How can I protect myself from a threat I can’t see? How can I keep us all safe? How can I trust — we’ll all be okay?
Do you feel threatened? Maybe you feel attacked by a silent threat you can’t control. Or a person who is out-of-control. Or the sense that you are not in control. I get it.
All I could do last night, as I prepared to sleep in that room with the black-patch, was to open my bible up to Psalm 91. I rest on that Psalm like a pillow, some nights.
There I read:
“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”
This verse reminded me — there are those who choose to live in the shelter and those who don’t. They stay in worry, or fear, or whatever…
I want to be one of those who actively and decisively come under His shelter. Rest happens when I allow God to shelter me. When I want His cover. Worry and fear always wait, however, as an alternative.
Today, I chose to: enter in. When I enter in, guess where His shelter is? Most High. To be high is to be — above it all. Guess what covers me? His shadow. I am not only protected below but I am protected above and all around too. I am lifted up and covered all around.
This picture God gives me is peace. It is rest for my mind that it needs. Now, I don’t have to circle the same fears again and again.
You too — are protected above, below and around — if you’ll allow yourself to be. Nothing can harm you when you are protected by the Most High God.
I think I need a specific thing. I’ve set it up in my mind as a “must have”. I think: If I get that I will be all good. Then, I can ____.
It’s as if my plan will complete me, but it’s depleting me. I think ahead, verses staying next to God’s plan. I get concerned with what will happen if my hope doesn’t happen and it steals hope. I define what God will do rather than trusting His timing and His plan.
I am looking at a “what” instead of my Who.
“And (a rich young man) came to (Jesus) and said, “Teacher, what [essentially] good thing shall I do to obtain eternal life [that is, eternal salvation in the Messiah’s kingdom]?” Jesus answered, “Why are you asking Me about what is [essentially] good? There is only One who is [essentially] good… (Mt. 19:16-17 AMP)
The rich man here was focused on what he should do… Likewise, I look at what I don’t have or what I think I should have, when there is only One who is good: Jesus.
The second I place my eyes on a “what” instead of Jesus is the second I create an idol. There is only One who is good. But, when I return to expecting God to show up, instead of expecting a thing to pull through for me, my soul gets rightly aligned.
What “what” are you depending on or expecting to change your life? How have you made it the answer, believing it will quell your emotions or transform your life?
To become complete in Christ, we must set down what competes with Him. This begins, I believe, with laying down our own expectations for how things will happen so we can, once again, hope in His BEST plan.
God does things God’s way. On God’s time. In God’s manner. It may not look how we like, but it just may reach 1,000 instead of 1. Or, heal the neighbors family plus our own. Or, bring our wayward kids back as we become healthy again. Or, give us a whole new perspective on God’s real providence.
Who God is — far transcends — what we think is best. This mindset is a return to peace and true trust in God. At least this is what I am learning…
I can’t say why, but, this phrase is resonating in my spirit. It’s not that I’m saying life on Earth is not worth living or giving up on for heaven. Not at all. I am not saying that.
But, what I am saying is — God’s love is better than life. It is better than the best thing I’ve ever gotten here on Earth. It is better than my best day ever. It is better than the best feeling I’ve ever experienced.
I believe this is why Paul desired the Ephesians understand God’s love more…
“And may you, having been [deeply] rooted and [securely] grounded in love, be fully capable of comprehending with all the saints (God’s people) the width and length and height and depth of His love [fully experiencing that amazing, endless love]; and [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself]. (Eph. 3:17-19 AMP)
God’s love is EVERYTHING. Yet, I’ve learned, only when I conceive God’s love, do I receive God’s love. And, only when I receive God’s love, do I become so full that I have “the richest experience of God’s presence in (my) life.”
God’s love changes everything.
Suddenly, in light of God’s glory, grace, and love what happens is — the minors get minor. Stresses don’t bother as much. Worry fades. Fear is far more unimportant. And, the majors become major heavenly pursuits. I want to go with God and do God-centered things, everywhere.
Have you experienced God’s love? Why not ask Him to help you receive His love? To know the depths, widths, and lengths of His care…
I believe an amazing thing will happen.
In light of God’s love, we see more. We see we already have anything and everything we need! We see everything else is worth giving up for His goodness. We see how to love others from pure motives. We see how God is calling us to give away things we thought we needed. We get unhooked from the world because His presence and love call us elsewhere.
God’s love is better than life. It calls us deeper today…
“Cover your face, or else… ”
“We just don’t know when we will all be okay…”
“There is no telling how many people will die…”
The endless discussion is enough to make even the most faithful Christian weary, tired or uncertain. Many of us have taken down our defenses. Now, it seems we are prey.
We feel powerless.
Yet, we are not powerless. Christ has not left us powerless, but power-full.
“I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.” (Eph. 1:19-20)
Can you even imagine? The same power that raised Christ from the dead AND seated him in the place of honor — is for us!!!
This is not theory or hearsay; this is truth.
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Tim. 1:7)
We have a spirit of power.
Power to turn off the TV.
Power to pray.
Power to love.
Power to say I don’t agree with what I am hearing.
Power to use wisdom in accordance with peace.
Power to rise above the mayhem and into God’s rest.
Power to cast what is bothering us unto God.
Power to engage with God’s Word.
Power to have great faith.
Power to see God’s great moves in action.
Power to bless and heal others, through Christ’s love.
We are not powerless — like the enemy wants us to feel — we are power-full!
The difference between the two is often the difference between mental health and deterioration.
Prayer: Father God, I thank you that you have not left me powerless. You have not deserted me. You have not left me behind. I am not without a friend. Jesus is my friend. You are my Father. I have family. I am loved. It is well with my soul. It is well in my world. You have given me power, through Christ, to effect godly change in this world. And, I will do so! In Jesus’ name. Amen.
I stood at the front door, waving bye to my husband…
He was flying to a different state to be at his father’s bedside (keep him in your prayers).
Frankly, I didn’t know when he’d get home and this was okay. Not too long after he left, I sat down and started scrolling on Facebook.
I remembered Mother’s Day was Sunday. I figured I’d be home alone, in quarantine, with two kids, no church, and some potato chips to quell my feelings. The more I sat there, the more I wished some friends would drop by to wave hi, call, drop off something or give me a bag of chocolate. My mind was fantasizing about being loved. But, I knew it wouldn’t happen.
No one is coming. No one knows me, here, really…
Being hard on myself, I berated my actions over the past six months: I’ve been busy. I’ve had too many things to do. I’ve been focused on other issues. I haven’t been a good enough friend.
No one will care for me, because I haven’t cared enough for them.
As I sat there, I determined post-social distancing that I would be the friend I want.
I would do this through: – Availability: I would make time and space to meet with key people. I wouldn’t wait to be invited, but I would become an — inviter.
– Intentionality: I would go deeper with these people. I would seek to encourage, love, and help others, recognizing their times of need.
– Transparency: I would seek to be honest with others, about where I am at — allowing them to encourage me, offer hope, and help. It’s okay to cry, with the right people. I can share my story and listen to theirs.
To have a friend, I must be a friend. I tucked that lesson in my pocket and went on with my day. But, it wasn’t a short time later that I got a text. A woman I loved knew I was home alone. She invited me to her house for dinner.
God touched my heart: He does see me. He knows exactly where I am.
“The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man.” (Ps. 33:13)
I guess I haven’t been a horrible friend, after all…
The next day, I didn’t get one, but a ton of loving messages. I am loved! It is funny how our mind tricks us and tells us that we’re down and out, left behind and unwanted.
God’s love tells us a different story: He knows our story. He sees us. He always takes care of us. He always provides. He always helps us out of our pits. He has gone the Calvary Road distance to save us. His love never quits. While we may have times alone or things may not feel right, His love will always be there for us.
My friend Catherine and I set out for a lazy summer stroll through the neighborhood just before the fireflies emerged to start their party. We chatted about raising boys, working husbands, and decorating dilemmas. When we arrived back at her house, she invited me to come in and look at some fabric swatches for a new sofa. Before I knew it, a few minutes had turned into a few hours.
“Oh, my!” I exclaimed. “It’s ten o’clock. I’ve been gone for over two hours! I bet Steve’s worried sick. He doesn’t even know where I am. I’d better give him a call before I start back home.”
When I dialed our number, the answering machine picked up…which made me just a little mad.
“Steve, I was calling to let you know I’m at Catherine’s. I thought you’d be worried, but apparently you don’t even care because you won’t even pick up the phone!” Click. I said my goodbyes to Catherine and left feeling dejected. “I’m wandering around in the dark all alone and he doesn’t even care,” I mumbled to no one in particular. “I could be lying in a ditch injured, or dead for that matter! I don’t think he even loves me.”
As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I noticed Steve coming toward me on his bicycle.
“Where have you been?” Steve desperately asked. “I’ve been riding all over the neighborhood looking for you! Do you know what time it is?”
When we arrived home, I quickly erased that angry voicemail. Whew, I thought. That was close.
A few days later, Steve called me from work. “Sharon, have you listened to the voice mail lately? There’s something you need to hear.”
So, I used my cell phone to call my landline.
The message went something like this: (The voice of sweet Southerness) “Hello, you’ve reached the Jaynes’ residence. We’re unable to answer the phone right now… (enter the voice of Cruella De Vil) “I was calling to let you know I’m at Catherine’s. I thought you’d be worried, but apparently you don’t even care because you won’t even pick up the phone!” (Return of sweet Southerness) “At the sound of the beep, leave a message, and we’ll get back with you as soon as possible.”
“Oh, my goodness!” I screamed. “How did this happen! How many people have heard this over the past three days?”
I called the phone company, and they explained that most likely during the thunderstorm we had a few days earlier, a lightning strike must have merged and scrambled the message.
I was mortified. I think God was too.
The Bible says, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” (James 3:9-10). That all went down in one single voice mail.
As women, I am amazed how quickly we can flit back and forth between blessing and belittling, praising and putting down, cheering and critiquing—all in a matter of seconds. God has given us incredible power in our sphere of influence, and it begins with the words we speak.
In Genesis 1, we read that God created everything we see with but a word. He said, “Let there be,” and then there was. Then on the sixth day, when He created man and woman in His own image, He did something amazing, astonishing really—He gave us the gift of words.
Few forces have greater impact then the utterances that pass our lips. Our words can embolden a child to accomplish great feats, encourage a husband to conquer the world, reignite the dying embers of a friend’s broken dreams, cheer on a fellow believer to run the race of life, and draw a lost soul to Christ. Words start wars and bring peace—globally, and right in our own homes.
Sharon Jaynes is an international conference speaker and author of 24 books, with close to a million sold. For ten years, she served as vice-president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and co-host for their daily radio program. Sharon is the co-founder of Girlfriends in God, Inc., a ministry that touches nearly 500,000 women daily through internet devotions. Sharon is also a popular guest on radio and television programs such as Focus on the Family and Family Life.
Last Thursday, as the blog post I wrote about “patience” hit your inbox, let me tell you — my patience was running thin. Here I was telling you why you should be patient, yet, I was snapping at my kids…
What I thought I had it figured out when I wrote the post on Tuesday, was an issue again on Thursday!
The fact of the matter is — we don’t get it right, all the time.
Some of us need to hear this loud and clear today: you won’t get it right all the time. You’ll yell when you meant to be sweet. You’ll sweat when you should have stayed cool. You’ll be anxious when you determined to have peace. You’ll doubt when you determined to believe.
You’ll say to yourself, “Why can’t I do better? Be better? Act better?”
You may put your head down, in defeat. Yet, I imagine, God lifts it up again, whispering in your ear, “Child, I still love you. Even though… Always…”
Let that relief sink in… You see, where we are human; God is grace. Where we feel “fed up and ready to head out”; God still wants us. Where we are moody; God is constant.
Oh, how I celebrate this! He wants me, He wants me, He wants me. Even during all my — there I go again… why can’t I… I only wish…moments. He wants you too. It is His love that changes us. His love lifts us out of our pit of condemnation and sets us on a path of transformation, so we don’t do that thing we hate that we do.
Rest under His ever-flowing grace.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9)
It is not by your work that you change — lest you boast.
Little-by-little, step-by-step, it is God who carries us up and out of our old pit to new actions and reactions. He gets the credit. He owns the work. We meet Him as he prompts our new steps, sure, but he ultimately transforms and conforms us to His image, not to a pattern of repeat-wrongs.
Acceleration comes, in this process, by receiving grace. Otherwise, you strive and then seek to take credit for His glory. Or, you start comparing your self-righteousness against the next girls.
No. Grace is a gift and, through it, all glory belongs to the Lord.
Do you see the beauty here?
There is rest available to you. Accept His grace. Open your hands. Allow God to change you, renew you, free you, form you and fashion you. Obey Him as He leads. You are His masterpiece and His possession. He cares for you.
The Master is at work. Rather than putting your eyes on what you do wrong, confess, and put your eyes back again on Him. He will shape you. Entrust yourself into His hands. And, He will do it.
Today cannot be a time of blessing, can it? After all, we are social distancing, staying 6-feet away and looking at others like walking-viruses, ready to attack.
God, what do you have for me, here, in this weird place? This is an important question to ask.
I believe there are blessings available for those who ask. A blessing, not a cursing — for those with eyes to see. A bounty, not a backbreaking burden — for those at home.
Is that you? Or, do you feel it is unbiblical to be blessed? To seek a blessing?
You know, my friends and family…
for a long time, I could not receive a blessing. Nor, would I ask God for one. It felt self-indulgent to say, “Lord, will you bless me?” It felt unbiblical to say, “God, I want your blessings.” There are so many people who need so much more than I do. Who am I to ask. I should be a servant, not a seeker for myself…
Yet, a Psalm, written by David, a man after God’s own heart — set me straight. Within it David says:
“With all my heartI want your blessings.” Ps. 119:58
If David wanted a blessing, and God inspired these very words in His Word, who am I to disagree? I can ask for a blessing, with my whole heart, without shame!
“God, I want your blessings. With all my heart, I want your blessings. In a time of Coronavirus I want your blessings!”
The fact of the matter is — I need God’s blessings — His unmerited favor, right now, in my time of trouble, more than ever. Anything less than me needing God’s blessing is likely pride in-action.
To think I can do it without God’s help and generous giving is probably self-work or pious self-proving.
Thanks to God’s wisdom on this, during this season, I have received His blessing. This is why this time of “social distancing” has become a different time. Rather than “social distancing”, it is a time of “family gathering”. I have gotten closer to my kids and husband. I have laughed more. I have played more. I have gotten to know fun without big price tags.
I am blessed! What is simple has trumped what is complex and the peace of the Lord is here — in my house.
Because of this, I give him thanks. All glory to Him; I am blessed.
Might you ask God for a risky thing: to be blessed today…?
Prayer: Father God? I ask you for more, today. More blessings! More of you! More of what you have for me! I ask without shame! I ask expecting to receive. I ask ready to give all thanks and glory back to you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
I snapped. He raised his voice and snapped back. We gave each other squinty-eye looks.
After all, we’ve been in close proximity, in tight quarters for over a week. We’ve been cooped up and trying to stay positive… We’ve been walking around the block, many times a day… I’ve been homeschooling the kids… Add all this to the constant influx of bad news…and…
I’m not complaining. We are all just trying to make it, aren’t we? It is what it is. However, we can’t deny: it’s easy to get fed up and fired up at those we most love.
Distance doesn’t always make a heart grow fonder; in many cases, it is making us more irritated at those who are close to us.
The dishes left on the counter can feel personal. The person who snaps back is attacking us. The mistimed comment is a trigger. People feel too close for comfort.
So what do we do?
“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” (Col. 3:13)
My husband and I have agreed, in order to make it this season– it must be a period of “extreme grace”.
This means we don’t (as much) comment on small issues. We don’t hold things against each other. We keep our mouth shut more often than we comment on meaningless things. We extend love even though. We make a decisive decision to look for the best in one another. We allow things to roll off our shoulders. We forgive rapidly. We remember that tensions are higher. We choose to reach out with patience more than to operate from panic.
We extend the very grace we desperately want to receive. We don’t count the price, but offer free love, despite ___(whatever).
I won’t say I am doing it perfectly. I can’t say he is either. But, I can say that more and more, we are keeping peace in our house and acting differently than the world around us. We aren’t fearing. We aren’t setting our kids up for a tense environment. We aren’t opening the door to other outside issues because we’ve let our guard down. This is good.
In this, we can far more walk with the Prince of Peace than the panic of this world.
What about you? How are you doing?
Prayer: Father God, these times are odd. We, in many ways, don’t know what we are doing, where we are going or how things will happen. The ground feels unsteady. But, we know that you are our rock. You are our steady-footing. We are in your fortress. We are in your strong tower. We are your children. We are your beloved. We thank you for how you are taking care of us in this hour. You are near. You are with us. You are our helper. You are our refuge. We are safe.
Father? Help us to receive your love so that we might love others well. Fill us with your mercy, grace and help this hour. We love you, Jesus. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
A friend looked at me and said, “With God, the bad is good.”
Hmm…she had my wheels turning now…
I wonder, how many of us can see the truth in her statement?
The bad boyfriend that we, at one time, thought was good for us? We can see now, it is darn good that we didn’t marry him.
The bad health scare that we figured would kill us? Well, it is good that we are still alive and, not only that but, we now have more faith than ever.
The bad news that we lost our job?
It is good that God repositioned us. We hated every minute of that job and now God has us on unique-assignment, impacting specific people.
What bad has become good, in light of your prayers and God’s grace? Think back. Recount. Reflect. Remember. Restore your countenance.
What looks bad, becomes good, with God.
“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” (2 Cor. 2:20-22)
With God, through Christ, it is: “Yes!” It is good. It is God’s promises, delivered. It is God’s grace, right here and now. It is what looks bad, coming into the light of Christ. It is what hope we cannot see, becoming manifest.
See beyond your natural eye and you will see again. See beyond circumstances and issues to hope in Christ, once again. See beyond panic and you will see The Prince of Peace. See beyond what everyone else is doing and you will see Him. By the natural eye, we are blind, but by the Spirit-eye, we see: God’s promises are yes and amen. Jesus is greater. Jesus has conquered. The war is done. We are safe, forever. God is the Pre-eminent Ruler of The World. And, we are His children.
There is goodness waiting for you — right here, right now. Bad becomes good in light of God’s mercy and grace.
Glory to God!
Friends, during this time that can feel scary, panicked or stressful, I am doing more videos on Facebook and on Instagram. Come join me there, as I pray and share God’s Word to encourage your heart.