When I’m in the Valley, He Points To The Mountain Top

I went through one of the darkest most difficult times in my life over a decade ago. I was deep in the Valley, suffering grief, loss, and  financial hardships. I literally could not see my way out: no light at the end of the tunnel. My ship was sinking, and I was desperate!

What I learned was….I was desperate for God! Desperate times call for desperate measures, so I got on my face before my loving and compassionate Father. He held my hand through every challenge; through every pain; through every shed tear; through every fear; through every attack; through my grief, anger, resentment,un-forgiveness, and isolation. He held my hand while I experienced every hard emotion of my rock bottom.

He taught me how to pray; how to find contentment and joy in the smallest of things. He taught me how to read His Word, and the Holy Spirit gave me understanding. He would encourage me every day to not give up. His grace taught me how to brush myself off as I made mistake after mistake. He taught me how to forgive, how to love Him, others and myself.  NO, my situation did not change right away, but my outlook did. He turned my focus from the valley toward the mountain where He was taking me.

“But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” Psalm 3:3

God held my hand in the valley, all the while lifting my head toward the mountain top. I want to encourage you today.  If you are walking in the valley, you are not alone! Your Father is with you! I can assure you that this” valley season” will not last. Hold fast to hope! Hope fast to your faith! There is a mountain top waiting with your name on it!!!

“God Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not,  I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let you down relax My hold on you! Assuredly not!” Hebrews 13:5 ampc

“Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 msg

Check That Filter

My husband changed the air filter to our HVAC system yesterday. He stepped in the kitchen, and held up the black dirty filter in disgust! It had been way too long since he changed it last. That’s not the only filter we have to change in our home. Since we live on well water, we installed a filtration system. Once, we were very low…….very low on water pressure. Why? You guessed it…the water filter beneath the house had caked up so bad with clay like silt, that it restricted the water flow.

Not changing the filters to your home can restrict air flow and water flow. My son Josh works for an HVAC company. His company understands that you don’t wait until there is a problem on the unit…..you try to stave off problems with proper upkeep. So currently, his main job is to provide routine maintenance for their clients.  I asked my son, what type of maintenance you do to help avoid unit issues. Boy oh boy he sent me a long list. You can thank me later that I shortened it for you:

  • Change filters
  • Check capacitors & contactors
  • Wash coils
  • Tighten wire connections & fuses

What’s the point to all of this, you’re wondering? The point is, that without changing our spiritual filter, keeping our spirit man in check, washing and renewing our minds, and tightening our connections to God……we might find ourselves experiencing malfunction.

Do you find yourself ‘breaking down’ every time somebody says something to you? Is your thinking ‘damaged,’ and you’re thoughts are negative? Have you discovered some ‘friction,’ along with difficultly forgiving wrongs or hurts?  Is your love ‘flow restricted’? Are you ‘sputtering’ things out of your mouth you feel you can’t control? Is your anger management system in ‘disrepair’? In general, are feeling that spiritual ‘wear and tear’?

Let’s get back to the basics: check your filter, we all have one. It affects our perspective in life. What’s collecting on your filter: hurts, anger, insecurities, and resentments? Time to change the filter. Here’s how:  “Above all else guard your heart because everything you do ‘flows’ from it” Proverbs 4:23.  Wow-there we have it folks. If we let our filter collect garbage, that garbage will restrict the ‘flow’ of God in our lives.

 “Let me explain further. Live your life as your spiritual nature directs you. Then you will never follow through on what your corrupt nature wants” Galatians 5:16 gw. What a good picture of what the filter does for us as Christians: separates the spirit from our flesh. Let’s not be led by our clogged up filter (the flesh), and let’s be led by the Holy Spirit.

Each of us has spiritual maintenance that we must do!

  • Change that spiritual filter (Proverbs 4:23)
  • Keep our spirit man in check (Galatians 5:16)
  • Wash and renew our minds (Romans 12:2)
  • Tighten our connections to God (Psalm 16:8, James 4:8)

Searching For Answers

There will be some things we will never understand; things that leave us puzzled and scratching our heads.  There will be events that occur in your life, and you will not comprehend their purpose. Tragedy so tremendous befalls some, and we just don’t understand. We are left with an overwhelming WHY that bubbles up like a broken record.

Sometimes, the “thing” is so tragic, packing a devastating blow and crushing grief. We may turn our WHYS toward God, and our anguish turns to anger as we try to make sense of what DOESN’T make sense.

Job found himself in these very shoes after he suffered the loss of family, livelihood,  and his own personal health. He too asked WHY.

Job even came to the “conclusion that that righteous have no advantage more than the wicked.” (Job 35:16 ampc)

This is exactly the mindset Satan wants us to have when something bad happens. He wants us to be confused; to doubt our Christianity and doubt God; to draw the wrong conclusions; give up and turn away from God.

God never tells Job why, instead He reminds Job of who HE is; reminds Job that HE planned creation…. that He keeps it in order, and that it continues because He tells it to. He reminds Job that HE was the very foundation of the world! His response brings Job back to the  basics of faith…….to simply trust God’s plan even in the valley. King  David had also suffered great loss and hurt in life, yet he says this of the Lord in Psalm 23….. Even though I walk through the valley, I know You are with me and You will comfort me.

Don’t get confused and perhaps draw wrong conclusions like Job did, by chasing down the wrong answers. The answer to Job’s question was Jesus!  And He is with you even in the valley!

Job had begun to look toward himself for answers, but God tells us in Proverbs 3 to “trust God from the bottom on your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track.”

HE IS THE ANSWER!!

Releasing Faith & Power; Praying Scriptures

There is nothing more powerful than praying out scriptures. I’ve been praying this prayer- these scriptures- below, and I wanted to share it with you. Change the pronouns to fit your dear loved one, and even pray this over yourself; and stand back and see the glory of God’s Word fulfilled!

God will direct and order __________________’s steps. (Proverbs 16:9, Psalm 37:23) And even though she has many plans, the Lord’s plans for her will prevail!  (Proverbs 19:21) Not only are His plans for her are good, (Jeremiah 29:11)  but when the time is right, God Himself will make it happen. (Isaiah 60:22)  With Love in His eyes, He will teach her, and give her instructions.  (Psalm 32:8) The Lord is her Shepherd, (Psalm 23:1) and He will continually guide her and will satisfy every need! (Isaiah 58:11) Her times are in His hands! (Psalm 31:15)

In faith, I declare this in the name of Jesus because I believe that God’s Word is full of power, and is alive and active for me and my family today!!

 

Feeling like Jupiter

The planet Jupiter’s iconic red spot is actually a storm of monumental proportions. This red spot has become a distinguishing characteristic for children trying to identify planets. Imagine three Earth’s put together….that’s how big this storm is. Furthermore, it’s been raging for hundreds of years with winds that reach 425 miles per hour!!

In 1969, Camille, a category 5 hurricane brought 190 mile per hour sustained winds when it made landfall in Mississippi. And who can forget 2005 when Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast states with winds reaching 174 miles per hour.  Just days ago, Hurricane Florence hit our Southern East Coast with wind gusts up to 105 miles per hour.

These furious winds, combined with atmospheric pressure changes, force the ocean to rise beyond its borders creating what we call storm surge.  This results in devastating and destructive flooding. These catastrophic storms are deadly and costly, but thank God they do not last for hundreds of years like Jupiter’s red spot.

Over the years many scientists have pondered not only the size of the red spot, but they are curious as to why this storm hasn’t fizzled out after a few centuries. From start to finish, the average hurricanes here on Earth are measure by hours or days.

Hurricanes always form over the sea, and take days to develop, and grow in size and strength. The warm moisture from the ocean actually fuels the storm. So what eventually stops the hurricane? Without fail, the moment it makes landfall, the storm begins to degrade and lose momentum because it has lost its fuel. Secondly, the solid ground creates friction, further compromising the storm’s structure. Conditions become unfavorable for the storm. Simply put, it falls apart, and will soon come to an end.

Solid ground! That’s the answer! That’s the reason Jupiter’s storm has been raging for centuries. Jupiter: this giant ball of gas, has no solid ground and no defense against the raging storm.

Thank God that HE is our Solid Rock! He is our defense and safe place!

The Lord is my solid rock, my fortress, my rescuer. My God is my rock—I take refuge in Him!—He’s my shield, my salvation’s strength, my place of safety.” Psalm 18: 2 ceb

He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.” Psalm 40:2 nlt

He’s solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul, An impregnable castle: I’m set for life. My help and glory are in God —granite-strength and safe-harbor-God—So trust him absolutely, people; lay your lives on the line for Him. God is a safe place to be.” Psalm 62:6-8 msg

Are you feeling a bit like Jupiter?  You may be weary from the storm, and your flesh and your heart may fail….. but God will be your Rock and He will give you strength….. always.  (Psalm 73:26 ampc)

Draw near to God (your solid ground), and He will draw near to you, and the pressures of your storm will dissipate. “He will heal your broken heart and He will bind your wounds!” (Psalm147:3)

I thank God that He is our firm foundation, and our solid ground! He makes our storms fall apart!

On The Way To The Trashcan

“I’m all done,” said three year old Stella, referring to the partially eaten school lunch in her hand. She stands up to leave the table. Grabbing her plate, she starts walking over to the trash can but does something odd…..she continues to eat food from her plate. All the while she slowly walks to the trashcan.  “But I thought you were done,” I laughed to myself. That’s when it hit me.

Don’t WE do the same thing? We say, “I’m all done” what that bad habit….that addiction…..that negative talk……that unhealthy lifestyle.  “I’m all done” with fear and insecurities. “I’m all done!!!”  All the while we continue to partake or participate or engage in the very thing we are trying to dispose of from our lives.

Oh that we should be patient with one another as those around us make attempts to turn over a new leaf: saying I’m all done, yet succumbing to it one more time. Even more, we should be patient with ourselves.

We need to forgive the failed attempts, and encourage that long slow walk to the trash can! Hebrews 12:1 tells us “. . . We must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially sin that distracts us, and run the race that lies ahead of us and NEVER GIVE UP!”

Making life changes can be immediate for some, but most of the time it’s a process. In other words, THE STRUGGLE IS REAL! Don’t be quick to judge yourself or others. Mom & Dad, don’t be so harsh on your children as they struggle to make the right choices. God has equipped us to turn over a new leaf…….as many times as it takes us to get it right.

We can do all things through Christ because He gives us strength, because he wants us to succeed, and because He has good plans for our lives.  He is patient and kind to forgive our failed attempts, and He extends to us the power of His grace. Furthermore, He says to you…..NEVER GIVE UP!

I Thessalonians 5:11 Encourage & build each other up

Ephesians 4:29  Don’t say hurtful things to each other. Find something good to say & help when you can

Galatians 6:2 Share each other’s troubles & burdens

Hebrews 10:24-25  Come up with ideas to stir up love & do good things; be encouraging

I Peter 4:8-10 Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love makes up for many of your faults. . . God has given each of you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God’s many kinds of blessings.

 

What I Say Matters

Because he bends down and listens, I will pray as long as I breathe!” Psalm 116:2 tlb

We had gone out to supper at a nice restaurant, with a pretty nice 45 minute wait. While waiting, a shadow caught my eye of someone  s-l-o-w-l-y walking toward the waiting area.  The shadow looked to be that  of an elderly person with a severely hunched back. I was already feeling sorry for this individual.

Then, the shadowy figure came into the light and I saw a father walking with his young son. This tall man was hunched over with arms around his son; and walking ever so slowly as to hang on his every word.

What could an 8 or 9 year old boy have to say to his father that is so captivating, as to garner such undivided attention in a busy restaurant? What can WE say to our Father that would garner His undivided attention?  The answer: SAY ANYTHING! SAY EVERYTHING!

Because he bends down and listens, I will pray as long as I breathe!” Psalm 116:2 tlb

Picturing this father and son is a great first step toward changing our image of, and our idea of who we THINK God is…………………furthermore, it’s a great first step in changing our idea of how we THINK God relates to us.

Simply put, God loves us, and He is eager to bend down His ear to listen to what we have to say. Never again let the enemy tell you that you are not important, and that what you have to say doesn’t matter. This scripture tells us differently. We are His sons and daughters.