Last week I was invited to speak to a group of women at NSB Belong. BELONG is an acronym: The B stands for Begin Relationships. We are always excited to see faces that we recognize, but a new face may be the beginning of a very special friendship. The E in Belong stands for Encourage all women, so whether you need to be encouraged or are a natural encourager, this community is for you! The L in Belong stands for love our neighbor. The O stands for offer mercy to all. The N stands for notice people all around you wherever you work, live, or play. And the G stands for Go and serve the community. Usually they host a monthly luncheon but today we are meeting from the comfort of our own homes.
In case I’m a new face to you. I’m the wife of a retired firefighter, the mother of two adult sons, a teacher, blogger, and an avid reader. My background includes military, law enforcement, but the hardest job I’ve ever had was as a public school teacher. I taught mainly 4th and 5th graders for 16 years and truly loved it. Now I work in higher education teaching future educators.
This year 2020 has been a year like no other. No matter what you’ve faced this year, whether it has been losing a job, transitioning to working from home, losing a loved one, adjusting to being a care giver, or new to homeschooling. It’s been a year of change for us all!
But it has been a year of joy too. I’ve meet new friends in online bible studies, my son was married this past spring and sometime next spring…I’ll be a grandma! Every good gift comes from our Heavenly Father above.
But some days have been hard. On these days, I reflect on Psalm 12:5. This verse reminds me that the Lord sees the poor and hears all our prayers, cries and groans of the ill. In that verse we are reminded that the Lord himself rises up to rescue his children.
Years ago, I heard a statement from Billy Graham that Christians are not exempt from the tribulations and natural disasters that come upon the world. “But he taught that scripture does teach that Christians can face tribulation, crisis, calamity, and personal suffering with a supernatural power that is not available to a person outside of Christ.
This explains how Corrie Ten Boom could survive concentration camp after watching her friends and even sister lose their life while guards sneered at them. Yet later when coming face to face with the very same guard who had tormented her, a supernatural strength of grace, mercy, and forgiveness overcame her.
That was a bad season for Corrie Ten Boom. And while our circumstances are much different, there is still pain and uncertainty of the future that affects us all. But while she was living in cramped living conditions eaten alive by fleas…how did she look past her circumstances to see what God was trying to teach her. She admitted in her book that she questioned God but he allowed vitamins in a small jar to last longer than earthly possible. But most of the time, it was much later until the lessons were revealed to her.
Looking beyond our circumstances to see what God is trying to teach us requires supernatural power. In Hebrews 5:8 Scripture tells us that Jesus learned obedience through the things which cause him sufferring.
Is God teaching me obedience? I know he is. I couldn’t survive the burdens that I’ve been carrying otherwise. Injustice, fear of the Corona Virus, and an uncertain future prompted me to turn to Jesus in fervent prayer. Naturally, I seek relief for my loved ones but Billy Graham through his writings prompted me to be courageous and ask the Lord directly what He is trying to teach me personally.
I’ve sought the answer to that question through prayer and in the pages of scripture. Jesus’ crucifixion reminds me that impossible situations are not impossible to God. Where we look, we see death. But God breathes life where we see death.
In Florida there is a fern that grows on trees that may be brown and shriveled up. But after a rainfall, the fern turns a beautiful vibrant and leafy green. God is victorious over everything even death.
So how do we look beyond the uncertainty of the future? Remembering that God can work all things together for good comforts me.
In Isaiah 43:1 the bible says, When..not if… When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. The Lord is with you even now. And not just through the shallow water that tickles my toes as I walk on the sandy beach. But through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. We may feel like we are drowning, but we won’t. God himself will rescue us. When we walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.” That verse was from Isaiah 43:1
The Lord Sees All. And not only does he see, but He hears. Even if you are an unbeliever, the Lord hears you. The Lord desires to set you free. Even if you are a believer who may have forgotten that you have been set free. The Lord hears us all. And during this year the Lord is continuing to reveal the path to freedom for us all.
Jill Briscoe in her book, Here Am I Lord, Send someone else wrote this quote: “Both Christians and non-Christians need the saving life of God to liberate them from the heavy burdens of this world and to keep them free from sin.”
In Exodus when God saw the incredible cruelty His people were experiencing, God a pure and perfect spirit manifested his presence in the form of a burning bush, a pillar of cloud, and fire. God worked in the heart of Moses and the Pharaoh to save the Israelites.
The Lord sees the hurt and pain of his children here in the year 2020 too. He hears our prayers as we cry out to Him asking Him to guide our steps in this uncertain future. God already has a rescue plan in place to save those who cannot save themselves. He knows we can not live a sinless life. So, He sent Christ to earth to live a perfect and sinless life. Christ willingly shed his blood on the cross as payment for our sin. Sin must be punished, so Christ took our punishment. And three days later, Christ rose again to life and lives now in heaven with God.
Jesus sees our tear streaked faces and hears our cries. Jesus knew that his people would need comfort and that is why on the day you first believed that Jesus died on the cross for your sins, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit, God comforts the poor, the ill, and those who are grieving. Not one tear ever falls to the ground unseen.
When Jesus lived on earth, he prayed to God for you. All through your life, God is preparing your heart, mind, and soul for eternal salvation. And eternal doesn’t begin the day our earthly life ends. No, eternity begins the moment we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior.
I love this quote from G.F Pentecost “ Let us pour out our prayers, and leave them with God. If they fall within His gracious covenant of salvation, they will receive the answer in due time, and as quickly as it is possible for us to receive and bear it.”
So what is God trying to teach you?
For me, the Lord is teaching me that He is compassionate and merciful every day no matter what is happening in the world or in my home. Every morning the Lord extends his love and grace to me. It is quite humbling to consider that the Eternal God, the creator of the universe desires a personal connection with you. He even sent Christ to earth to redeem you, if you will accept Christ as your personal savior.
With Jesus supernatural power it is possible to live in the year 2020 with all the fear and uncertainity but to have peace in your own soul that God has underthing under control and good will come from all this.
With Jesus supernatural power it is possible to have joy on the darkest day, because Jesus is your joy. No matter what happens, Jesus will sustain you through it. Not only does He see us, not only does He hear us, but He walks beside us every step of the way. All we have to do is to turn to him daily in prayer to receive his supernatural grace.
Billy Graham challenged me to ask two questions during my prayer time.
#1 Lord, What are you trying to teach me?
#2 Lord, What step should I take now?
The Lord will reveal deep and hidden things to you when you ask with the expectation that He will answer.
I don’t know about you, but this year seems like it is the longest year ever! And we are wondering when will this end? But God’s timing is perfect and good things will come from this year’s events.
The bible says that God purifies our faith so if 2020 has done anything it is to purify our beliefs. During this year, I’ve learned how to be merciful, to show grace to others and be compassionate even to the people who are not loving to you. This season has taught us perserverance and thankfulness.
We don’t have any choice about the next crisis, calamity, or natural disaster that may occur in the future. But we do have a choice whether we will push through it with the supernatural strength of Christ or whether we will continue to struggle on our own strength.
Instead of focusing on our own circumstances, we can choose to encourage and strengthen others who also are struggling. We can choose to encourage and strengthen ourselves, and others. We can choose to glorify God.
Uncertainty is scary. Isiah 7:4 says In a time when people were waging war and people were fearful. The Lord spoke to Isaiah, “Calm down and be quiet. Do not be afraid or disheartened.” This verse reminds me that the Lord is limitless in power and nothing is too difficult for him.
No matter what happens in the world, we still can have confidence in our Lord.
Jeremiah 17:7 says, “Blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence.”
So what should our next step be?
Colissians 2:6 – 7 teaches, “Just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him, established in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
So how can we be thankful in uncertain circumstances?
Only with the supernatural power of Jesus! Allow scripture to be planted inside your mind by using scripture during your prayers
Here are 3 verses that are great to include:.
John 14:1 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Christ.”
Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
James 1:2-3 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
Another season where the Lord taught me many things about my own relationship with Him is through motherhood of watching my sons grow up.
Here is one example that I think about often. Going grocery shopping is a task that belonged to me, but my son when he was almost three took it upon himself to help me carry the groceries from our car in the driveway inside our house.
He was tall for his age, but his little toddler arms were not strong enough to carry a gallon of milk. But he was determined to help and he was determined to carry that milk jug. His little red puffy face lugged the milk jug into his arms and teetered forward a few steps before dropping the milk onto the driveway.
I knew he wasn’t strong enough to carry the milk, but it pleased me that he was willing to help me with my task. Smiling I reached down to help my son Matthew carry the milk, but he pulled back from me and defiantly demanded to carry it all on his own.
So I withdraw my assistance and left him to his own strength. He pushed, half carried that milk jug, even pulling it and teetering perilously until he tripped.
On the floor, he was crying, exhausted and discouraged. And then at that point, I scooped up not only my son into my arms but carried the milk all the way to the final destination.
On that day, I wondered how often do I do that. I select tasks that aren’t even my own responsibility, a task too great for me.
And then I don’t even ask my Heavenly Father for assistance. Do I refuse help when He sends people my way?
But I smile because I know that every time I’ve fallen, God has been there to pick me back up carrying me all the way to my final destination.
Let’s not wait until we’re exhausted, discouraged. Let’s call out to our Lord now and ask assistance for carrying whatever burden you’re carrying today.
If you have never asked the Lord to be your Savior you can do so, right here and right now, let’s pray together.
Thank you Lord,
Lord, you are my strength.
You are almighty in power.
You are the perfect truth that sets me free.
External circumstances do not change my status or identity.
Your word keeps me safe on the path aligned to your will.
Your truth stabilizes my feet when the path ices over.
When my feet desire to run, calm my heart and remind me-
You are my God. I will obey.
Thank you Lord, for giving me holy courage to align my decisions,
my reactions, my attitudes, and my ambitions with your word.
Thank you Lord, for empowering me to control my thoughts,
and blessing me with a deep inner stability because I choose to follow Jesus Christ.
Thank you Lord, for releasing your power, your promises, and your victory-
into my life whenever I call on your name.
Thank you Lord, for relieving the pressure from my shoulders,
and leading me away from danger that I can’t see.
Forgive me Lord, when I take glory from you.
Convict me when I lean on my own feelings or others’ opinions.
Father, help me to hear your voice.
Give me discernment to separate half-truths from your truth.
Guard my mind and filter my thoughts through your word.
Strengthen my inner being so heavy loads won’t buckle my knees.
Magnify your spirit in me so my words will be bold.
Give me courage Father, to stand with your word.
In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.