Monday, February 20, 2017

The Mystery of His Silence




And a Canaanite woman from that region came to Him, crying out,
 “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is miserably possessed by a demon.” 
But Jesus did not answer a word.
Matthew 15:22-23



"It may be a child of God is reading these words who has had some great crushing sorrow, some bitter disappointment, some heart-breaking blow from a totally unexpected quarter. You are longing for your Master's voice bidding you "Be of good cheer," but only silence and a sense of mystery and misery meet you --"He answered her not a word."...

"Why art thou cast down, O… soul?" Thou shalt yet praise Him, yes, even for His silence. Listen to an old and beautiful story of how one Christian dreamed that she saw three others at prayer. As they knelt the Master drew near to them.

As He approached the first of the three, He bent over her in tenderness and grace, with smiles full of radiant love and spoke to her in accents of purest, sweetest music. Leaving her, He came to the next, but only placed His hand upon her bowed bead, and gave her one look of loving approval. The third woman He passed almost abruptly without stopping for a word or glance.

The woman in her dream said to herself, "How greatly He must love the first one, to the second He gave His approval, but none of the special demonstrations of love He gave the first; and the third must have grieved Him deeply, for He gave her no word at all and not even a passing look.
"I wonder what she has done, and why He made so much difference between them?" 

As she tried to account for the action of her Lord, He Himself stood by her and said: "O woman! how wrongly hast thou interpreted Me. The first kneeling woman needs all the weight of My tenderness and care to keep her feet in My narrow way. She needs My love, thought and help every moment of the day. Without it she would fail and fall.

"The second has stronger faith and deeper love, and I can trust her to trust Me however things may go and whatever people do. 

The third, whom I seemed not to notice, and even to neglect, has faith and love of the finest quality, and her I am training by quick and drastic processes for the highest and holiest service.
"She knows Me so intimately, and trusts Me so utterly, that she is independent of words or looks or any outward intimation of My approval. She is not dismayed nor discouraged by any circumstances through which I arrange that she shall pass; she trusts Me when sense and reason and every finer instinct of the natural heart would rebel;--because she knows that I am working in her for eternity, and that what I do, though she knows not the explanation now, she will understand hereafter.
"I am silent in My love because I love beyond the power of words to express, or of human hearts to understand, and also for your sakes that you may learn to love and trust Me in Spirit-taught, spontaneous response to My love, without the spur of anything outward to call it forth."

He "will do marvels" if you will learn the mystery of His silence, and praise Him, for every time He withdraws His gifts that you may better know and love the Giver."

--Selected -  Streams in the Desert


I read this entry one evening during my devotions and was struck profoundly by the story of the three women.

Because I could relate to one of them...

Let me back up...

I am my own worst critic believe Satan's lies.  So often I feel unworthy and downright uncomfortable when people praise my walk with Jesus.  Because they don't truly know me...  The person I can be when I'm alone...  The person I am too often when I am at work...  The person I am when self takes over...  The person who does not always walk with Jesus...

This struggle carries on when I try to understand why the Lord is always so gracious to me, ESPECIALLY when He consistently gives me the desires of my heart; desires I have prayed for... Desires I don't feel I deserve...

As many of you know, my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter lived with me and my husband for almost three years.  Right around this time last year, my daughter and son-in-law began looking in earnest for a home to purchase.  They went to look at many houses; houses that were "far away", to me anyway, when they had lived under my roof for so long.

My daughter loves our hometown and if it were possible, would have chosen to live here...  But houses in their price range would be difficult to find.   So they focused their search in areas where the housing prices were cheaper.

Yet I continued to pray that the Lord would open up a home in town.   After my daughter and son-in-law experienced one disappointment after another the housing market seemed to come to a screeching halt in the towns they were focusing on.  I continued to pray that the Lord would open up a home in our town...

And then one day, He did!  A house that was just three minutes from my own became available and it had everything that they were looking for in a house.  My daughter made an appointment the morning after it went on the market.  My son-in-law had to work so I tagged along to go look at the house.  It was immaculate inside!  It just seemed too good to be true.   The next day my son-in-law was able to go view the house with my daughter.  He loved it!  Something, to be honest, I wasn't expecting because it didn't have the large yard and quiet neighborhood that he was hoping for.   Even though they both liked the house, they just weren't as comfortable with the price and decided to pass.  I was proud of them for passing up a house that would have stretched them financially and instead chose to be good stewards with their money, no matter how much it would have been amazing to have them live so close...

Later that afternoon the realtor called and asked them what they were willing to pay for the house. My daughter told the amount to the realtor and the sellers quickly agreed to accept that price!  A house that seemed too good to be true and impossible for them to get, was now going to be theirs!

The Lord had not only heard my prayer, but granted me the desire of my heart above and beyond what I hoped or imagined!

To be totally transparent here, I will actually sit and ponder these types of answers to prayer and wonder why I have been so specifically blessed.

I'm sure you would tell me their are many reasons why God has blessed me...  And deep down, I know these things too...

Delight yourself in the LORD,
 and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4

The LORD your God is in your midst,
 a mighty one who will save; 
he will rejoice over you with gladness; 
he will quiet you by his love;
 he will exult over you with loud singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children,
 how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
Matthew 7:11

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, 
that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
1 John 5:14

For by grace you have been saved through faith. 
And this is not your own doing; 
it is the gift of God,
Ephesians 2:8

 Yet I see incredibly sweet souls who just exude Jesus, but have all manner of trial come upon them, the Lord answering not a word...

I think the reason I have struggled with why my prayers have been answered so wonderfully, yet those I know who walk so closely with the Lord seem to have prayers go unanswered, because early on in my Christian walk, a Pastor had once said that "God does not hear prayers when their is unconfessed/unrepentant sin in our lives.

But I absolutely know we do not earn answers to prayer.

Now I think you can see why the story of the three women's encounter with God was so profound to me...  And which woman I could relate to...  

It was the first woman...  The woman God "bent over in tenderness and grace, with smiles full of radiant love and spoke to her in accents of purest, sweetest music."  The woman that God explained  "needs all the weight of My tenderness and care to keep her feet in My narrow way. She needs My love, thought and help every moment of the day. Without it she would fail and fall."

A good part of my time since becoming a Believer has been spent with long seasons of intently studying God's word whether it was preparing 4th Grade Sunday School lessons, facilitating a lady's Bible study group, preparing devotionals to be presented at Mothers of Preschoolers and currently  this blog.   Yet something Beth Moore said rings true for me...  She had shared that someone had   commented to her that "the Lord must think very highly of you to have you in full-time women's ministry."   She responded that she "believes the Lord has her working in full-time ministry to keep her on the straight and narrow.  Otherwise, she would "fail and fall"..."

I realize that the story of the three women is just a story, but a thought-provoking one none-the-less.

No matter what woman you can relate to in the story above, God's love surrounds each one/each of you to ensure that she/you will NOT fail or fall...

I recently started reading the book of 2 Thessalonians, and I am finding a common theme throughout the chapters...

Our walk of obedience is dependent solely upon Him!


To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling
 and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power,  
so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, 
according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

God will fulfill every resolve for good and every work
 BY HIS POWER.



Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, 
who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 
comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

It is the Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father who 
ESTABLISHES every good work and word in our lives.



 But the Lord is faithful. 
He will establish you
 and guard you against the evil one.
2 Thessalonians 3:3

The Lord will ESTABLISH us and 
GUARD us against the evil one.


Oh what encouragement is found in these verses!  Oh what freedom to know that it is God who works in {us}, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

So whether you are hearing from God all the time or He has not answered you a word, take encouragement from the stories above that it is the Lord who increases your faith by His loving activity in your life which takes many different forms (some seen and some not seen), and serves many different purposes; always for your good and never for your harm.  

Take comfort!  Your Heavenly Father is ALWAYS active in your life, even when He seems silent.


May the Lord increase our faith to be like the third woman, who is "not dismayed nor discouraged by any circumstances through which {God} arrange(s) that she shall pass; {who} trusts {God} when sense and reason and every finer instinct of the natural heart would rebel;--because she knows that {God} is working in her for eternity, and that what {He} does, though she knows not the explanation now, she will understand hereafter.


You might find me on these link-ups:
Grace & Truth Link-upWoman to Woman Ministries,  Growing in Grace Link-up, 3DLessonsLif4eInspire Me Monday Titus 2 TuesdayA Wise Women Builds Her HomeA Look at the Book,  Sunday StillnessThe Weekend BrewSpiritual Sundays, Soul Survival,  Give Me Grace, Testimony TuesdayWomen with Intention WednesdaysStill SaturdayGood Morning MondaysTell His StoryFaith & Fellowship Blog HopMotivate and Rejuvenate MondaysBe SaltyMonday's MusingsThe Art of Home-Making MondayTuesday TalkWaiting on Wednesday, Reflect His Love and Glory  Words of Comfort Link-upWholehearted WednesdaysTell it to Me TuesdayFaithful at Home Fridays, Faith 'N FriendsTGI SaturdaysSitting Among Friends Encourage Me Monday Words with Winter Essential FridaysSo Much at Home Family, Friendship & Faith House to Home  ,Wonderful Wednesday , Monday of Many BlessingsLiteracy Musings Mondays,Imparting GraceSHINE Blog Hop Dance with JesusGive Me GraceBooknificent Thursdays UNITE Cozy Reading SpotMaking Your Home Sing Monday Social Butterfly Sundays  Let Us Grow Small Wonder Link-up Winsome Wednesday Growing in Grace Thursday After My CoffeeRewind Friday Fresh Market Friday Moments of Hope Wonderful Wednesdays Christian Blogger Link-Up Tea & Word Tuesday Heart Encouragement Thursday Hearts for Home




Monday, February 13, 2017

Thunder Snow

I'm sitting here in my office writing...  The usual pretty view from my desk out to my backyard is now blocked by a snow covered window screen - courtesy of the wind and swirling snow outside.




Yesterday, in these here parts, we reached 60 degrees!  It was glorious, especially because there was no wind.

It was hard to take the forecasters at their word that we were going to have a major snowstorm today.
But, then again, here in New England, that's how we roll.  lol.

I admit that even at my age, I still get excited about a snow day.  There is something about a snowstorm that changes the mundane into wonderful...

A day off from work

A day off from school

Sledding

Hot chocolate

Slowing down to just enjoy looking out at the countryside covered in a fresh blanket of snow.

And of course, childhood memories of snow days gone by, filling our minds with pleasantness...


Growing up we lived in a Leave it to Beaver neighborhood.  True Story.  Snow days were the best!  I can remember waking up in the middle of a school night to look out the window at the street light to see how much snow was coming down and how much was on the ground. I would then make a determination that surely there would be no school the next day and would jump up and down with glee and then crawl into bed with a big smile on my face falling asleep until morning when my hopes would be confirmed!

YAAY!  NO SCHOOL!!

Our house was at the top of a big hill, just as it started to flatten out.  During big snowstorms,  our road was usually the last to be plowed which allowed for amazing sledding - pretty much right out our front door!

Most of us kids had flexible flyers.  Those of you who are my age will remember them well!  :-)

And those of you who aren't familiar, this is what they looked like.  :-)




Flexible Flyers came in a short version and a long version.  Since I am quite tall, I had a longer one.   Two could fit on it at a time!

The steering mechanism was awesome which we would either steer with our hands if we went down on our bellies or with our feet if we sat on the sled.

The neighborhood kids and I would have contests to see whose sled would go the farthest.

Mine ALWAYS went the farthest!

I can still feel the exhilaration of sledding down that hill which was right outside our front door.

Oh what fond memories! Even the parents would join in for some sledding!  The whole neighborhood - children, mommies and daddies would enjoy the snow day to its fullest.

I can still feel the stinging of my cheeks and feet when I would finally come inside, my snowsuit and boots drenched from the snow, mouth watering waiting for a delicious cup of hot chocolate.

And then we'd go out again for some nighttime sledding.  That was the best!!

We all slept good after a day out in the snow.  Such wholesome, healthy, innocent fun...


As adults, we can find ourselves longing for days gone by...  Our minds seem to remember mostly the good while it blots out the bad.  In so doing, we tend to romanticize the past, when indeed it may not have been as wonderful as we remember it in total.

And isn't that how life goes.  It's not supposed to always be wonderful...

If it were, we would never find our need for Jesus nor would we ever experience the special joys that come after trials.

However...

There is a longing that God has built into our hearts...


Instead, they were longing for a better country--a heavenly one. 
Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, 
for he has prepared a city for them.
Hebrews 11:16

We can look forward to a better country where...

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, 
and death shall be no more, 
neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, 
for the former things have passed away.”
Revelation 21:4

Oh what joys await those of us who are in Christ Jesus!

But, as it is written, 
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, 
nor the heart of man imagined, 
what God has prepared 
for those who love him”—
1 Corinthians 2:9


There is nothing wrong with fondly remembering times gone by.   It truly is good for the heart.

 It is when we continually live in a state of longing for the past that we are wasting the present.

A life God has called us to live present in Him... 

For “‘In him we live and move and have our being’
Acts 17:28

When we live and move in Christ Jesus, our longing and solace won't come from the past, but will be rooted in the knowledge of God with us and in the knowledge that we will live with God for all eternity...

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. 
Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. 
But take heart, because I have overcome the world."
John 16:33

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God...

“Behold, I am making all things new.” 
Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” ...
Revelation 21:1-3; 5b



The Lord has taught me a few more things on this snow day...

Believe it or not, this photo was not taken in black and white,
but is the exact representation of what the lens saw...

A morning which started out rainy, in an instant, turned into a raging blizzard complete with thunder snow.   

Life can be that way too.  It can totally change in an instant...  

But as I heard the loud rumble of thunder above the howling wind and snow outside, I was reminded that the power of God is ALWAYS present.  Even though we can be deafened by a swirl of emotions, God's power can peal above even the loudest of storms in our own lives and calm them completely.

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”  He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”  Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.  And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Matthew 14:28-33



And the birds, my favorite of God's creatures...

Eating at the bird feeders in a frenzy, getting their fill, while the storm rages on...





In the midst of life's storms, the birds have taught me the importance of continually and voraciously feeding upon the Word of God, filling up on His promises to sustain me/sustain us for the duration.



I guess you could say I have a new item to add to the list of what makes a snow day wonderful.

A time to slow down to reflect upon the beauty of God's creation, even at its wildest, and in gratitude, to thank God for His provision of grace and knowledge through the storm...



You might find me on these link-ups:
Grace & Truth Link-upWoman to Woman Ministries,  Growing in Grace Link-up, 3DLessonsLif4eInspire Me Monday Titus 2 TuesdayA Wise Women Builds Her HomeA Look at the Book,  Sunday StillnessThe Weekend BrewSpiritual Sundays, Soul Survival,  Give Me Grace, Testimony TuesdayWomen with Intention WednesdaysStill SaturdayGood Morning MondaysTell His StoryFaith & Fellowship Blog HopMotivate and Rejuvenate MondaysBe SaltyMonday's MusingsThe Art of Home-Making MondayTuesday TalkWaiting on Wednesday, Reflect His Love and Glory  Words of Comfort Link-upWholehearted WednesdaysTell it to Me TuesdayFaithful at Home Fridays, Faith 'N FriendsTGI SaturdaysSitting Among Friends Encourage Me Monday Words with Winter Essential FridaysSo Much at Home Family, Friendship & Faith House to Home  ,Wonderful Wednesday , Monday of Many BlessingsLiteracy Musings Mondays,Imparting GraceSHINE Blog Hop Dance with JesusGive Me GraceBooknificent Thursdays UNITE Cozy Reading SpotMaking Your Home Sing Monday Social Butterfly Sundays  Let Us Grow Small Wonder Link-up Winsome Wednesday Growing in Grace Thursday After My CoffeeRewind Friday Fresh Market Friday Moments of Hope Wonderful Wednesdays Christian Blogger Link-Up Tea & Word Tuesday Heart Encouragement Thursday Hearts for Home

Monday, February 6, 2017

How to Dwell with God on Busy Days





In the beginning was the Word, 
and the Word was with God, 
and the Word was God.  
He was with God in the beginning... 

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  
The light shines in the darkness, 
and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:1-2; 4-5


Have you every really sat and pondered this great mystery - the Word made flesh?  

I confess, I hadn't until the other night when I was reading from Colossians 2:2b-3 where Paul says, 

...that they may know the mystery of God, 
namely, Christ, in whom are hidden 
all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Do you see that??  All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ!  Where do we find the treasures of Wisdom?  The Word of  God - The Word made Flesh.

This revelation was amazing to me!  When I read the Word of God or better yet, continue to meditate on that very Word of God throughout the day, it is then that I am truly dwelling with Christ.

I've always struggled with this question...  

How do I actually dwell with Christ?  

It's not like dwelling with your husband or family where you physically see them right in front of you  OR dwelling with co-workers as you physically labor side by side OR dwelling with friends who are sitting across the table from you with a cup of coffee - all the while conversing back and forth.

How do I dwell with Christ when I can't see him or audibly hear him speak?

I know that when we pray, we are actively communicating with Jesus, thereby, in very essence, dwelling with Him. 

But I confess, when I pray, I can become so easily distracted, that it doesn't feel like I am dwelling with Christ at all, ESPECIALLY during day to day activities when I am otherwise preoccupied.

I guess you could say this was a real AHH HAA moment for me...

I can dwell fully with Christ Jesus by meditating upon and thinking upon the Word of God throughout the day - for the Word of God IS the very flesh of Jesus.  

Oh the manifold benefits of dwelling with Christ Jesus!

When we meditate upon the Word of God, we are continually putting on the new self, daily being renewed.

and have put on the new self, 
which is being renewed in knowledge 
after the image of its creator.
Colossians 3:10

but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, 
that by testing you may discern 
what is the will of God, 
what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:2b

Oh how wonderful it is to know that when we dwell with Christ, through meditating upon His Word, we are continually putting to death the old man and being remade in the likeness of our Creator...

...our minds are being renewed to know the will of God; to know what is good, acceptable and perfect.

continue to live your lives in Him,  
rooted and built up in Him, 
strengthened in the faith as you were taught...  
See to it that no one takes you captive 
through hollow and deceptive philosophy, 
which depends on human tradition
and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.
Colossians 2:6b-8


As I mentioned earlier, I struggle with "breath prayers" because I am either hyperfocused on the daily  task at hand or distracted by being pulled in different directions.

I tend to focus more when I am reflecting upon the Word of God.

In no way am I discounting prayer - by any stretch.  I certainly do pray!

It is just for me, dwelling in the Word made flesh, serves as an actionable plan for my own spiritual walk, and I would imagine for many of you as well.

Excitedly, I pondered all that the Lord had shown me during my devotion and Bible reading time a couple of nights ago.  (In the next week or two, I will be sharing more about how nighttime Bible reading has revolutionized the quality of my time in the Word.)  It was then that I decided to daily make note of a stand-out verse or Bible concept that spoke to me the night before and then, record it on my Aida Reminder App. - an app that allows me to set hourly reminders throughout the day.  (You can find the app here.)  

Every hour of the next day the Bible verse I choose to meditate upon the night before will light up my smartphone's lock screen with a pop-up of the verse.  This way, no matter where I am or what I am doing, I will be able to glance down at my phone when the notification alert sounds, which btw has a nice melodic sound  :-) , bringing the verse to my remembrance for thinking upon and meditating upon...

With every hour that passes, I find I am thinking about the verse even before the next alert pops up!   The more I think about the verse, the more I will put feet to the verse.

But be doers of the Word, 
and not hearers only, 
deceiving yourselves. 
James 1:22

This Book of the Law 
shall not depart from your mouth, 
but you shall meditate on it day and night, 
so that you may be careful
 to do according to all that is written in it. 
For then you will make your way prosperous, 
and then you will have good success.
Joshua 1:8


I am excitedly anticipating how the Lord will work through this meditation tool which will help me to actively dwell with my Lord and Savior throughout my busy days.

I hope you too will find this reminder app helpful for increasing the times throughout your own busy days to think upon the Word made flesh.

God promises that the more we dwell with Him in His word, the more we will delight in the Wonderful Words of Life, and the more joy we will experience on our pilgrimage.


Your words were found, and I ate them, 
and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, 
for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts.
Jeremiah 15:16



The Way of the Righteous

but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night
Psalm 1:2


You might find me on these link-ups:
Grace & Truth Link-upWoman to Woman Ministries,  Growing in Grace Link-up, 3DLessonsLif4eInspire Me Monday Titus 2 TuesdayA Wise Women Builds Her HomeA Look at the Book,  Sunday StillnessThe Weekend BrewSpiritual Sundays, Soul Survival,  Give Me Grace, Testimony TuesdayWomen with Intention WednesdaysStill SaturdayGood Morning MondaysTell His StoryFaith & Fellowship Blog HopMotivate and Rejuvenate MondaysBe SaltyMonday's MusingsThe Art of Home-Making MondayTuesday TalkWaiting on Wednesday, Reflect His Love and Glory  Words of Comfort Link-upWholehearted WednesdaysTell it to Me TuesdayFaithful at Home Fridays, Faith 'N FriendsTGI SaturdaysSitting Among Friends Encourage Me Monday Words with Winter Essential FridaysSo Much at Home Family, Friendship & Faith House to Home  ,Wonderful Wednesday , Monday of Many BlessingsLiteracy Musings Mondays,Imparting GraceSHINE Blog Hop Dance with JesusGive Me GraceBooknificent Thursdays UNITE Cozy Reading SpotMaking Your Home Sing Monday Social Butterfly Sundays  Let Us Grow Small Wonder Link-up Winsome Wednesday Growing in Grace Thursday After My CoffeeRewind Friday Fresh Market Friday Moments of Hope Wonderful Wednesdays Christian Blogger Link-Up Tea & Word Tuesday Heart Encouragement Thursday Hearts for Home

Monday, January 30, 2017

Breaking the temptation cycle: Strength to Strength




Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
    in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
As they go through the Valley of Baca
    they make it a place of springs;
    the early rain also covers it with pools.
 They go from strength to strength;
    each one appears before God in Zion.
Psalm 84:5-7


I remember one of the first times I read Psalm 84:5-7,  I chided  myself, "You don't go from 'strength to strength'; you go from 'worry to worry'.

You see, even as a youngster, I recognized the fact that I essentially "sought after" things to worry about.  Once one worry didn't come to pass, I'd move on to the next one...  In my early 20s,  you could say I had legitimate concerns to worry me which ramped up my anxieties to a new fevered pitch.  It was as if the only normal I knew was to dwell in the "Valley of Baca"; a valley I created by living from worry to worry instead of from strength to strength...

Where should my strength come from?  Trusting in God whose strength provides spiritual rest as it carries me along on the highway to Zion...

But I must let Him...

Happy are those whose minds are wholly set on pilgrimage to Zion...

...those who in the strength of God, surmounting every obstacle,
 appear in His Presence and offer their prayers.
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

 I've definitely come a long way from my worry wort roots.  You can read about those here.

But, that's not to say I still don't struggle with worry and anxiety...

The reality is, one of my biggest besetting sins is falling into the temptation of worry; lack of trusting God...

When I look back at my almost 57 years of worry, I see all the time that was wasted worrying -   because I'm still here!!  You guessed it, my worries, more times than not, were focused on health concerns.

Since my 20s when my worries about health were for the most part unfounded, the Lord, in His lovingkindness, sent big tests in the area of my health... Creating even bigger opportunities to trust Him and kick temptation to the curb as I went from...

strength to strength...

A mystery illness that left me dizzy and incapacitated for six weeks; doctors unable to truly diagnose what was going on...
  • Although I was practically debilitated from anxiety through this illness, the Lord provided a friend who was going through a similar phenomenon which encouraged me in a very discouraging situation
A baby step in trusting God as I experienced God's strength through the encouragement of a friend - strength I would  need for the next time...

An unusual EKG that alarmed the doctor...
  • It was then I felt my first sense of true peace in the midst of a scary finding.  I remember handing the situation over to God right in the exam room and saying, "Lord you know exactly what is going on with my heart.  This is too big for me to worry about, I leave it with you..." {It turned out my heart was just fine.  In fact, the unusual EKG reading was a result of how God designed the tilt of my heart.} 
A big step in experiencing the strength of God through trusting Him when it was just too big for me to do otherwise - strength I was DEFINITELY going to need for the next time...

The discovery of a thyroid nodule with the possibility of thyroid cancer...
  • My immediate response was to storm the gates of Heaven, through the prayers of the Saints, for a clear biopsy.   I believed God would answer, and He did!
A huge step in experiencing the strength of God through believing the power of the prayers of the Saints.  

All paving the way for the peace I would feel the next time...

And now we come to last week when I went for my routine dermatology full body skin exam.   I was not concerned about anything, and as the doctor began her exam, she said she wasn't finding anything concerning either.  Until she got to the very end of the exam, and I heard her say, "Hmm, what's this?".  She said it is probably a lichenoid keratosis which will clear up with a six week course of cortisone cream.  But then she said, or it could be a squamous cell carcinoma...
  • I can honestly say that I stayed very upbeat and didn't even become alarmed.  I even joked about it when my husband came home.  I truly feel totally at peace about this.
In every instance God provided strength greater than the temptation.  I became stronger and stronger in resisting the temptation to worry.  God allowed this series of temptations as a form of strength training. The temptation cycle is now broken.  

The means by which the  Lord used to strengthen me through the situations above, were certainly quite pivotal, but did not work alone.  As I grew in God's strength to fight those particular temptations, I was also growing in the Lord, through daily Bible reading, Bible study, prayer and not forsaking gathering together with the body of Believers.

A firm foundation to stand on, and the Sword of the Spirit to employ.

Jesus set the example of how to effectively use of the Sword of the Spirit when fighting temptation...

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.  And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”  

But he answered, “It is written,
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
    but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

  Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” 

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the 
kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you,
 if you will fall down and worship me.” 

Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
    and him only shall you serve.’”

 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
Matthew 4:1-11


When the Word of God is hidden in our hearts, we are able to discern the lies of the Devil when he tempts us, and to stand firmly on the Truth.

God promises that He is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13b

The Word of God directs our thoughts and actions in the ways of righteousness.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Psalm 119:105


The more we memorize Scripture,  the more we know God.  The more we know God, the more we love and trust Him.  The more we love and trust God, the more of His strength we build up to break the temptation cycle.

...that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment,  so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,
Philippians 1:9-10

You might say, but Karen I am in the Word of God daily and I have memorized Scripture, but I still seem to fall short and succumb to the same temptation over and over again.  I would respond, I do too...

But there is great encouragement to be found for our dilemma in the following excerpt from Streams in the Desert...

Temptation is necessary to settle and confirm us in the spiritual life. 
It is like the fire which burns in the colors of mineral painting, or like winds that cause
 the mighty cedars of the mountain to strike more deeply into the soil. 
Our spiritual conflicts are among our choicest blessings, 
and our great adversary is used to train us for his ultimate defeat...   
So temptation victoriously met doubles our spiritual strength and equipment.
Streams in the Desert


"Every temptation victoriously met doubles our spiritual strength and equipment!"

Think about a diet.  In the beginning it is hard not to be tempted to have sugary junk food, but we persevere keeping our eye on the goal of reaching a smaller size once again.  It certainly is hard at first and can be down right uncomfortable when the hunger pangs hit us, especially at  night if you're like me, but each time we resist the temptation to snack on junk food, it inevitably gets easier and easier to pass up that sweet treat to the point that there isn't a struggle anymore, but almost a resolve not to have desert - you have lost your desire for excessively sweet food.

We have the strength to fight the temptation to eat sweets through the establishment of a new habit; a good habit!

Why do I bring up the example of a diet?  Because when we fall into the same temptation repeatedly, we have formed a sin habit.


Wikipedia describes a habit as  "a routine of behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously.[1][2][3]

"In the American Journal of Psychology (1903) it is defined in this way: "A habit, from the standpoint of psychology, is a more or less fixed way of thinking, willing, or feeling acquired through previous repetition of a mental experience."[4] Habitual behavior often goes unnoticed in persons exhibiting it, because a person does not need to engage in self-analysis when undertaking routine tasks. Habits are sometimes compulsory.[3][5] The process by which new behaviours become automatic is habit formation. Old habits are hard to break and new habits are hard to form because the behavioural patterns we repeat are imprinted in our neural pathways,[6] but it is possible to form new habits through repetition.[7]

As the habit is forming, it can be analysed in three parts: the cue, the behavior, and the reward. The cue is the thing that causes the habit to come about, the trigger of the habitual behavior. This could be anything that one's mind associates with that habit and one will automatically let a habit come to the surface. The behavior is the actual habit that one exhibits, and the reward, a positive feeling, therefore continues the "habit loop".[13] A habit may initially be triggered by a goal, but over time that goal becomes less necessary and the habit becomes more automatic."

I found this explanation quite sobering applied to the context of temptation to sin.  

Instead of the temporary feel good sensation of sin which causes us to continually fall into the same temptation, let us make Jesus our reward and turn our sin habit into a Jesus habit.  Every time temptation knocks at our door, we must pray and ask God to bring to our remembrance the very Truth that banishes Satan's lie.  Each time we say no to temptation, we will become stronger for the next time, until finally, the temptation no longer has power over us.   

Let us break the temptation cycle and go from strength to strength.



The strength of a man 
consists in finding out
 the way in which God is going,
 and going in that way too.  

~ Henry Ward Beecher



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