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1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

 

January and February are the hardest months of the year for me. The anxiety starts in November, builds up in December and by January 1st, I am paralyzed by the fear of freezing temperatures, snow covered landscapes and icy roads. The Winter months plunge me into this deep abyss of fear that only Spring and warmer weather can pull me out of. I paid my daughter to take me and pick me up from work one Saturday, when we woke up to 5 or so inches of snow. The next Saturday, I drove to work but conditions deteriorated during the day and I was frozen with the fear of having to drive home in blowing snow and icy roads. God heard my silent prayer and my youngest daughter picked me up and took me back the next day to get my car when the roads were better. I trembled when I woke up to -9 degree temperatures, frozen car doors and had to go to work. I am absolutely TERRIFIED of Winter! It has been a annual struggle for me for 26 years now and as a native Southern Californian I am ready for warmer Winters!

I know what you are thinking! How can a God-trusting woman allow fear to paralyze her to a level of not being able to even function? I’m not perfect. I struggle with issues just as everyone else does. My struggle with fear keeps me running to God for help, mercy and grace. These verses in 1 Thessalonians sums up how I get through the Winter:

  1. Rejoice Always – In the middle of my fear, I rejoice that God is ALL Powerful and ALWAYS in control. I rejoice that I am protected. I rejoice that God knows my struggle and calms my heart with a sense of His peace in the eye of the storm. This is not always an easy thing for me to do. I admit, I usually have to force myself to rejoice in God’s goodness when I am held in the grip of fear. It isn’t always easy to remember that God has EVERYTHING under control. Even when things feel out of control, God is with us ALWAYS and for that we rejoice!
  2. Pray Continually – I pray my way through January and February, one day at a time, each Winter storm as it comes. I keep an eye on my weather apps and pray for God’s intervention and protection. God expects us to pray without ceasing. That line of communication is always open. He will always listen when we pray.
  3. Give Thanks in ALL Circumstances – How do you give thanks in ALL circumstances? It isn’t easy! During these past two months, I have thanked God for daughters who were willing to take their anxiety ridden mom back and forth to work. I have thanked God for protection when I actually did have to drive myself. I have thanked God for calming my fears and giving me courage. I have thanked God for not being to frustrated with me in  my occasional unbelief and having mercy on me in my suffering. We give thanks because we know that no matter what the world throws at us, God can handle it and that means that we can handle it. We give thanks because it is often in the eye of the storm that we see God’s power. It is often in the eye of the storm that miracles happen. It is often in the eye of the storm that God’s mighty wings provide refuge and safety, sheltering us from flying debris and negative thoughts and for that we give thanks!

 

If you have found yourself in the eye of the storm and are paralyzed by your circumstances:

Rejoice in WHO GOD IS

Pray continually to a God WHO IS ALWAYS LISTENING

Give thanks to a God WHO SHOWS UP IN MIGHTY AND POWERFUL WAYS

God is with you ALWAYS! Never doubt His love for you! He can and will protect you, even in the worst of life’s struggles!

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Day 2: Stand Firm

 

Exodus 14:13-14

13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

The Israelites were terrified. They couldn’t understand why Moses had led them out into the wilderness, only to die at the hands of the Egyptians. At that point they were wishing they had stayed in Egypt, where they served the Egyptians as slaves, but at least they were alive. They cried out to God in their distress and God heard them.

Moses gives them three commands:

Do not be afraid – Moses trusted God to protect them. He knew that God would not call them out of Egypt only to let them die at the hands of the Egyptians in the wilderness. Moses wanted the Israelites to trust God. He spoke to calm their fear and build their faith.

Stand firm – Moses had faith that God would deliver them from the Egyptians. He encouraged the Israelites to stand firm in their faith, trusting that God would deliver them from the oppression and slavery that they had lived with in Egypt.

Be still – Moses knew that God was already at work defeating the Egyptians. He encouraged the Israelites to be still, un-moving, to see how God would fight for them.

THE PROMISE:

You will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. 

The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.

The Lord will fight for you.

 

There have been times in my life when someone in my life lived to make my life miserable. I dreaded having to deal with these people. Like the Israelites, I too, cried out in fear and despair. I have felt helpless. I have wondered why God would allow this oppression and attitude of hate toward me when I did nothing to deserve this treatment.

There are times in life when we may not have control over someone else’s behavior. There may not be an immediate way out. As painful as it is to feel helpless, we will have to trust that God WILL deliver us from the situation. It may not be immediate. God may leave us in our struggle to bring about a bigger miracle, but never lose faith.

Do not be afraid of those who may keep you under the thumb of oppression. God is in control and He will defeat your enemy just as He defeated the Egyptians.

Stand firm in your faith. Never doubt that God is at work in your situation. There are times when it may not feel like it, but He really does have everything under control.

Be still and allow God to fight for you. You do not have to worry about defending yourself. God will protect you. God will defeat your enemies.

 

Do not be afraid. Stand firm and I will see the deliverance the Lord will bring me today. _____________________ I see today I will never see again. The Lord will fight for me; I need only to be still.

Fill in the blank to make this verse personal to you. Who or what do you need deliverance from? Hang on to this promise of God. The Lord WILL fight for you! The Lord WILL deliver you! I know how hard it is to be still, but please take heart! God has your back and HE WILL NEVER BREAK A PROMISE!

 

 

 

 

 

Day 1: Intercession

 

 

Nehemiah 1:4-11

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Then I said: Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you.We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses. “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’ 10 “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. 11 Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.” I was cupbearer to the king. 

God welcomes us to be partners in His mission and ministry on this earth. As partners in the ministry, God expects us to intercede on behalf of others, just as Nehemiah prayed on behalf of the Israelites.

1Timothy 2:1-4

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

I believe this verse says it all! God expects us to pray for ALL people. God wants ALL people to be saved!

We are to pray for:

Kings, Queens, Presidents and all those in authority – that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

Unbelievers – God wants All people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Believers – Ephesians 6:18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Our Nation – The prayer of Nehemiah sets an example of interceding for our Nation.

The World – Intercession is to be made for ALL people.

Challenge:

I challenge you to pray for:

The United States of America

Believers

Unbelievers

Those in authority

The World

ALL PEOPLE!

We need to be in prayer. These are times of uncertainty and chaos. We can not allow the enemy to gain a foothold in our lives or our communities. The enemy (Satan) prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). We must pray like never before! We need to partner with God in bringing HIS will to earth. We need to pray!

 

 

 

Day 1: Be Still

 

Psalm 46:10

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

God tells us to “Be still.” He also tells us to “know that He is God.”

Be Still

Not moving or making a sound; deep silence and calm

Know

Be aware of through observation, inquiry, or information.

Have developed a relationship with (someone) through meeting and spending time with them; be familiar or friendly with.

So, we need to “not move or make a sound” and be aware of God through what we have observed in spending time with Him and developing a relationship with Him.

I have talked about my anxiety and fear in previous posts. I have talked about my frustration at not “finding my purpose.” I have also shared my struggles as a single mom raising five children in poverty and struggling to make ends meet on a daily basis. Psalm 46:10 has been a life verse for me. It has been a reminder that I need to sit back in silence and remember WHO GOD IS in my life and in the universe.

We need to make time to sit in that deep silence and be aware of the presence of God and who He is. The question is: who IS God?

God is Faithful

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

God is Light

1 John 1:5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.

God is Love

1 John 4:8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

God is our Refuge

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 

God is our Provider

Philippians 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Challenge:

There are many more verses that tell us who God is and I challenge you to do your own search. Go through the Bible with a notebook or journal and write down the verses on God’s character. When you have finished, sit in that deep silence and reflect on the person of God. Let the essence of who God is sink into the depths of your heart and spirit.

BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD! 

 

 

 

I have spent 18 years as a single mom. That is more than twice the amount of time that I was married. There have been good times, as well as, bad times. There have been moments when I felt like I was nailing this single mom thing and then there have been times when I knew without a doubt that my kids would need some serious counseling because of me. My kids aren’t kids any more. They are adults who are growing into their own lives. My youngest, Ty has 11 months until he is 18. It is a bitter sweet moment for me. I’m not going to lie, I have had moments when I wished my kid’s childhoods away. Times when I thought that life would be so much easier if they were all grown up. Have I done enough to get them through the challenges that they will face in life? I hope so. I tried. I have always made them my priority. Amid the failures, God has blessed me by being ever present in this single parent journey. I wanted to mark this bittersweet moment by reflecting on the lessons that I have learned as a single mom.

  1. I Have Learned How To Pray – Through the ups, downs, tears, tantrums (not just from the kids!), joys, sorrows, anger and overwhelming love, God has taught me to pray. Not just the run of the mill prayer list prayers, but deep, heart wrenching, conversational prayers that has drawn me closer to God. I have learned to listen to that soft whisper of the Holy Spirit. Prayer is everything. Prayer is the number one thing that draws us to the heart of God. As a single mom, prayer has truly become my life-line.
  2. I Have Learned To Have Faith – God has shown me many, many times that HE LOVES ME! God has also shown me that HE LOVES MY KIDS! He has answered prayer after prayer (some spoken, some unspoken) and He has provided for us in ways that are truly miracles to me. At times when I felt like I was at the end of my rope, God was there for me. There were many times when I felt God’s presence comforting me, wrapping me in that peace that only God can give us. I will admit that there are times when my faith wavers, but God knows my heart. My faith in God is what keeps me going when I want to give up.
  3. I Have Learned Life Lessons From My Kids – I have learned so many lessons from my kids as they have grown and matured into responsible, compassionate, loving adults. They never cease to amaze me. They have had their bumps, but they always bounce back and as I watch them become adults, I gain wisdom for my own journey. Click HERE to read a series of posts I wrote on lessons I have learned from my kids.
  4. I Have Learned That They Are All Different – As they have grown into adults, I have learned that my kids are all different. Once upon a time I thought that they would ALL go to college/tech school, have great careers and live a happy life. I have learned that life and purpose are not one size fits all. They have each taken different routes, as far as, school and work. They each have different passions, strengths and weaknesses. The other part of the lesson for me has been to allow them each to figure things out for themselves. I give advice, but ultimately they have to figure out what is right for them. So, I encourage them each to do what only they can do.
  5. I Have Learned That Quality Time Can Be Simple – When the kids were little, we ate dinner at the table. We would share how our days were, share positive insights about each other and laugh much. We would go to the park and have picnics. At times, simply being together was enough. We didn’t have to be doing anything exciting or expensive, sharing life seemed to be enough.
  6. I Have Learned That I Am An Example Of Jesus To My Kids – It took me forever to get it through my head that I am a role model for my kids. I am that person that they will emulate. I am that person that they will get their values from. I behaved badly in the first few years. I was wracked with anger, bitterness and overwhelming hopelessness. No excuses though. I was setting a horrible example for them. Thanks to my friend, the Holy Spirit, I finally figured it out and started to be a role model that they can emulate. Am I perfect? Not a chance! Do I mess up? Absolutely! Every day! But I try. I don’t always get it right, but with God by my side, I do my best and leave the rest to Him.
  7. I Have Learned That Kids Have Feelings Too – I never really considered how the divorce affected the kids. I was so caught up in my own feelings that I never considered that the kids were hurting too. I never considered that they might be confused or have fears of their own. I have learned that, but a little late. Our kids feel the same emotions adults do. We all to often dismiss our kids feelings, but I have learned that if we ignore those feelings they will manifest themselves physically and usually not in good ways. Our kids deserve to be heard.
  8. I Have Learned To Apologize – I have already said that I have made mistakes. My kids have seen me at my worst and I have learned that even moms need to apologize. It shows that we are human. If I expect my kids to feel remorse for a wrongdoing then they need to know that there are times when we need to apologize when we blow it.
  9. I Have Learned That My Kids Aren’t Perfect – If I’m not perfect, why do I expect my kids to be perfect? As parents, we all to often, expect our kids to be perfect, to never misbehave, and to never fail. Why do we do this? We aren’t perfect! We misbehave! We fail! Why do we put these unrealistic expectations on our kids? We want better for them, but placing unrealistic expectations on them creates unneeded stress. My kids have had hard times. They have made bad decisions. I have learned that I have to grant them room to grow and learn from their mistakes.
  10. I Have Learned The Art Of Surrender – In my single mom journey I have had broken down cars or no car, I have worried about my kids, I have lived in poverty and I have wondered how I will ever survive. It has not been easy. I have struggled with trying to control everything. I have placed unneeded stress and anxiety on myself by thinking that I had to control everything. There are some things beyond our control. I have had to learn to surrender the challenges to the only one who controls ALL things: GOD.

It has been one heck of a roller coaster ride! It isn’t over yet! I will always be a single mom. My kids may be adults, but they will always need me. I still have Ty to guide into adulthood. I’m sure that as they grow they will continue to teach me life lessons. You are never to old to learn and grow and my kids have been my best teachers. Thank you Cherokee, Kiowa, Cree, Talon and Ty. You five are my heart!

 

 

Guided By God

 

Exodus 15:13

In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.

Exodus 13:21-22

21 By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. 22 Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.

Romans 8:14

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

John 16:13

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

John 14:26

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Galatians 5:16

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

When God led the Israelites out of Egypt, He didn’t just let them wander aimlessly in the wilderness. God knew that they would need a guide to get them to the promised land and so He led them the entire way. By day, He led them with a pillar of cloud and by night He led them with a pillar of fire. He never left them to travel alone through enemy territory and He never expected them to find their own way to the land flowing with milk and honey.

It is the same for us today. God is still with us just as He was with the Israelites in the Old Testament. Today He guides us with His Spirit. God sent the Holy Spirit to guide us in God’s will and purpose for our lives. The Holy Spirit was also sent  to teach us how to live a life that glorifies God and sets a Christlike example to the world around us. But, just as the Israelites could not make it to the promised land without God guiding them, we will never be able to live as a Christian without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I have attended church my entire life and I knew God, but I was never discipled within the church. It was all surface level. Go to church on Sunday and then the rest of the week God was forgotten. It was only when I left organized religion in 2011 did I start to grow in my relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I knew that I had to hang on tighter because following Jesus on your own is never easy. The Holy Spirit has discipled me and has taught me what being a full-time disciple of Jesus is really about. I am on a journey of seeking God’s will for the next season of my life and of learning how to “Be Jesus” to the world around me. The Holy Spirit has been that guide for me. He also keeps me from doing what I know is against God. He guides me through enemy territory and He is guiding me to a land flowing with milk and honey: Heaven. He has been a precious gift that I could not live without!

CHALLENGE:

I am challenging you to do a topical Bible study on the Holy Spirit. He is found in the Old and New Testaments and I think you will be surprised by the different ways that He helps us. Seek the Holy Spirit for direction in EVERY decision you make. Tune in to His whisperings, because He also acts as our conscience, letting us know when we are on the wrong path. If you are a child of God, the Holy Spirit already dwells within you. It takes practice to “walk by the Spirit” as we are told to do in Galatians 5:16, but the more you tune into the Spirit in EVERY aspect of your life the easier it will become. Ask the Spirit to guide you. He will!

 

 

What Gift Shall I Give?

 

 

Matthew 2:10-11

10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

When the Wise Men saw the child Jesus with His mother Mary, they bowed down and worshiped Him. They presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. These were the gifts presented to kings and the Wise Men knew that this child was the King of kings and the Savior of the world. The Wise Men’s gifts were:

Useful: The gold was likely used by Joseph and Mary to pay for their flight to Egypt. The Frankincense and myrrh could have been sold to pay for food and other needs.

Precious: The gifts of the Wise Men were valuable and rare. They came, bowed down and gave the best of what they had to this child who they knew was the long awaited for Messiah. They were gifts fit for a king. The Wise Men knew that this child was THE KING OF THE WORLD!

I had promised myself that this year I would slow down and really take time to enjoy the season. Christmas is about family, friends, but more importantly, Jesus. It is now five days before Christmas and the season seems to have flown by. There is no time to just sit at the feet of Jesus and abide in who He is. Time is flying by and Jesus gets forgotten in the midst of the busyness and distractions.

The passage of the Wise Men caused me to reflect on what I have to give Jesus. What gift do I have to give The King that is both useful and precious? What gift can I give not just in this Christmas season but in the next year too? One of the most useful and precious gifts I can give now and in the future is my time. I can let go of the things that are time wasters and start using that time to pray, study, reflect, worship, serve and abide. The Wise Men knew that their first priority was to worship Jesus. I don’t always put Jesus first. I get caught up in the latest T.V. show, Facebook, or the internet and I forget that my first priority should be Jesus. ALWAYS!

2019 is right around the corner and I am making a commitment to let go of what’s not important and make Jesus my first priority. This is my gift. My time is my gift to my Savior, my Messiah. My time in serving Jesus and serving others around me. The most important thing.

What gift can you give to the King of kings this Christmas season and in the next year? Is this gift useful? Is this gift precious? Is this gift worthy of a King? What gift can you give that will bring you closer to the Messiah? Reflect and then present your gift to the One who gave us the best gift of all: eternal life.