This is what my husband says to me if I am ever feeling down.
Remember when God helped you in that situation far worse than this one…
Remember when you didn’t think you’d ever be healthy again and then you were…
Remember when God answered your prayers and how He showed up.
Remembrance recovers faith.
I believe it is why in Joshua 4, God instructed Joshua to build a memorial with stones. God had just parted the Jordan River for these Israelites, so they could make safe passage. Then, he instructed them to gather 12 stones, for the tribes of Israel and to pile them up, in remembrance.
The Lord of Lords said to Joshua, “In the future, your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.” (Josh. 4:6-7 NLT)
What memorials do you need to remember? What markers and moves has God made in your life that are unmistakable? What made you stand in awe of your awesome God?
You know, what strikes me in this story is that the stones did not come from any old place… They came from “the middle of the Jordan” and then they were piled “at the place were you camp” (Josh. 4:3 NLT).
God wanted them to take the victory with them, never to forget it. Never to part with it. To see it. Understanding this concept, Joshua also built a memorial in the center of the Jordan. There, it would always be remembered — seen or unseen — that God is faithful.
We build altars of praise when we stop, thank, and praise God for doing the unthinkable.
What great thing is God doing in your life, even right now?
It is wise to write down, to mark, or to memorialize the greatness of God. These things encourage us in the future. They build hope. They crush discouragement. They build us up again at the right time.
Breakthroughs of God, remembered, are great reminders that God will move again! They showcase His power and might.
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.
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.
Long ago, our kids asked for a dog. A puppy is a lot of work, I said. So we gave them fish. But nobody can cuddle a fish, and next we appeased them with a guinea pig. That’s a long, smelly story for another day.
Soon we were back on the puppy train. The dachshund train, because I grew up with this sweet breed. I don’t know if you’ve encountered many dachshund owners, but there are no other dogs in the world, once you’ve loved a doxxie. My husband simply humors me.
The day came to choose a dog, and we picked Blaze. If we had known about his issues—how he would chew through shoes, bag straps, blue jeans, and even mess with the legs of our kitchen table—we might have named him Marley. 🙂 But we only knew his sweet baby eyes, that tiny whimper, and the way he snuggled into our necks and stopped crying when we sang to him.
Eight months later, the little guy’s quirks and offenses are clear, but so is the laughter he inspires.
Blaze lays at my feet nearly every day when I’m making dinner. He sits down and places one little paw over my foot. As I move about the kitchen, he follows me. While I know he wants to be near the food I drop, he also wants to be close to me.
No matter what I’m doing or where, if his eyes are open—they’re usually on me. He wants to be near me, all the time, no matter what.
It’s had me thinking about the way I long to be near God, and the times I’ve been too busy to be with Him.
God loved the world so much, that He sent Jesus to pay for our sins—not to condemn us, but to save us.
When we believe in Him, we are given the privilege–the blessing–of being in His presence.
We are able to talk with God and listen to Him. To come to Him for all the help we need. To go to Him boldly and with confidence as His beloveds, without any fear.
Jesus came near to us, so that we might move toward God.
And when we come to Him, we find incredible joy, blessing, and goodness. He fills us, He satisfies us, until we echo the psalmist’s words, His nearness is my good. There are many benefits of drawing close to God, but these can only be understood by experiencing Him. When we draw near to God, we experience His love, and we want more.
“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:22, NIV
Have you moved toward God with a true heart and full assurance of faith? If not, will you call on the Lord in a prayer of belief today? Will you seek out someone who knows the Lord, to show you the way?
Those who believe—think about your heart. Are you drawing near with a true heart? Let us lay at His feet, longing for more than the food He drops, longing to be close to Him.
Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.
Parked in my car, I stared at my neighbor’s perfectly ornamented outdoor tree. I’d missed it; I missed the moment. It was there for the taking, but I drove right past it. I couldn’t see past my path – to God’s path.
Reflecting on the morning, I considered how it went. My son called out, “Mom…our neighbor liked it. She…” I screamed from the other side of the car, “Buckle up, we’ve got to get to school, son.” At the sound of his click, I was off…
And, like I said, I missed it. The moment. He wanted to celebrate my sweet neighbor’s tree. But, the fact is, in my haste, I didn’t even notice the tree. I hurried past the display of reds and greens, of joy and peace, of excitement. But, most of all, I rushed past the little wind-chimes my son had made her a few months before.
She could have removed them off her grand display. But, she didn’t.
He wanted to let me know that she cared enough to keep them there. He wanted me to know that he was worthy to be part of her Christmas. He wanted to let me know that his heart to love and to show kindness was being celebrated where Jesus is. He was a special part of her Christmas; he loved and felt love.
He wanted to show me the meaning of Christmas.
But, I rushed on.
I saw destination and nailed it, with precision.
I saw my time sans kids, and grabbed it with strength.
I buckled up, grabbed my sunglasses, and peeled out of that driveway like a mother descending on a 3-hour vacation.
I wish I would have stopped. I am sure my son wishes I stopped too.
How often does God wish we stop?
That we stop to see His ornaments of goodness and kindness? That we stop to soak in His still small voice? That we stop to receive His oh-so-gentle prompting to call a neighbor in need, to hug a child or to observe a tree that points to the tree that made up the cross?
But, upwards and onwards we go! We make money. We get coffee. We buy presents. We speed through that yellow light. We answer that cell phone call. All the while, we miss God.
If we want to be led by the Spirit, we have to make room for Spirit. If we are so filled with the angst of progress, we will miss Him in the process.
This has happened to me. My heart is aching, because I’ve left no room. I’ve only left room to keep my heart in comfortable control. Yet, if God decides I should be 5-minutes late to something – can’t I sacrifice? Jesus gave far more than 5 minutes, he gave up his very body; He let it break and tear for me.
There is no shame. There is no condemnation, today, friends. Not for you or for me. There is just a ticket, extended to us, that invites us to go somewhere new. Every time, no matter what kind of pain in the side it feels like, it drives us to the point of joy and to the horizon of new peace.
God’s tickets to slow down and see Him always bring you to the peace that – is Him.
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Ps. 16:11
Please God, don’t let me brush past your workings anymore. Please God, stop me in my tracks. Awaken my heart to what you are doing in the moment. Give me eyes to see brilliance and the brilliance within others as I welcome them into my heart in a present moment. Help me rest, with you. Help me go, with you. Help me be, with you. Amen
I tried my best. I put my whole heart into it.
I sought God and followed him.
I didn’t give up despite the big barriers.
I kept my focus and kept going… Only to hit hard times.
Ever noticed, how when you give your all, all of a sudden, you somehow start to believe – God should give his all too?
Silently, longingly and righteously you start to say things like:
“I did my part. Now, you better do yours.”
“You helped me through. Now bring me all the way.”
“You are giving me this? I have done good by you.”
Somehow, I believe my following, trusting and abiding with him DESERVES some sort of sundae with a cherry on top (don’t miss the hot fudge, God) – from him. That is the sticking point.
God’s blessings are not dictated by our demands. God’s blessings are always good, but not always easy. God’s blessings are given and not demanded. God’s blessings are unearned and, often, unexpected.
Perhaps, God doesn’t always payback hard work, because he wants to payout the better gift.
Think of Mary.
Just a young girl, did she ever expect an angel to visit her from high? Likely not. Blessing. Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. Jesus. Lu. 1:30
Might she have thought having a baby, unwedded, was more of a curse than a blessing? Perhaps, but again it was a blessing. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. Lu. 1:31
Might she have been let down by the fact that ultimately Jesus was less great and more humble? He was a King nailed up against a cross. Still – a blessing. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High…his kingdom will never end. Lu. 1:32
What we see as unusual, unwanted and often unwarranted – are often unknown blessings in the process of being baked to done.
Done to the point where:
Things spiritual are cemented forever. Jesus reigns over earthly forever.
Wars are won as people are pressed against difficult. Jesus proclaims it is finished – man will be saved from themselves.
Things of darkness are trampled on. Jesus put everything underneath his feet; he stands above it all.
Lives are saved.The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mt. 20:28
God is glorified.Jesus cried out in a loud voice, Father, into my hands I commend my spirit. Mt. 23:46
You are changed. Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 1 Jo. 2:6
Blessings can look like nails. They can also feel like crosses being carried. Yet, at the end of the day, what springs forth from the winter of cold agony is the warmth of new Spring – overflowing with Christ’s majesty and strength.
The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty; The LORD has clothed and girded Himself with strength; Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved. Ps. 93:1
The cross was an unusual, often unwanted and unwarranted (for a perfect lamb), but it was a blessing that would change the tides of the earth forever.
As Mary’s love was being nailed to the cross, as he cried out as and as she likely wondered why it all had to lead to this – she was being blessed.
What seems to be nailing you? Might it actually be blessing you?
I am prideful.
When I see the face of my sins, it nearly breaks my spirit. It burdens.
But, broken pieces draw us to the original crafter –
the one who puts all things back together again.
And in his light I can see:
I did everything wrong, but Christ did everything right.
I did nothing of worth, but he is entirely worthy.
I dropped the ball, but he holds it – the entire earth is in his hands.
I am destined to death, but he took death on the cross so I wouldn’t have to.
I come to him a broken daughter
and he leaves me as a beautiful bride.
Mercy. Mercy after mercy, time after time, minute after minute, offense after offense the Lord never stops extending, keeps offering and keeps keeping on – after a broken heart that continually draws wayward from him.
What I don’t deserve, he gives. What I am not, he is.
Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. (La. 3:23)
He never stops giving. 24-hours later, new mercies arrive.
His ways are greater than our days.
His mercy makes us worthy and his grace keeps us blessed.
Mercy definition (Google):
compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.
Grace definition (Google):
the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.
Mercy brings us into the goodness of God; grace is the extension of it. Mercy saves us from punish; grace brings us into joy. Mercy takes what was ours (punishment); grace gives us what isn’t.
What we don’t deserve we get. What we deserve was taken from us. In this, all offenses are seen through a new light, the light of Jesus sitting in glory on high.
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)