The Former Things; A Prayer for The New Things (of 2018)

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
~ Psalm 46:1 ~

And my God shall supply all your need
according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
~ Philippians 4:19 ~

If it hadn’t been for the Lord, we wouldn’t have been able to overcome the obstacles (things He allowed in our lives) that were placed before us this year:  A rainy season that ended the drought in California; several weeks of painting and remodeling in January and February; finding a new place to live and moving out by March 15th; and financial and health problems.

February prepared our hearts for the immediate future. It was a month in which the Lord met me in remarkable ways when I was very needy (body, soul, and spirit). Every day, He answered me, through His word, a radio pastor, a devotional I was reading, and/or the Bible studies I was doing.

On a stormy night, when I was alone and heavy-hearted, I cried out to Jesus. Afterward, at precisely 7:00 P.M., I turned the radio on to listen to one of my favorite pastors. The Lord used this pastor to speak directly to every issue I cried out about and gave me the “peace which surpasses all understanding” that Philippians 4:7 speaks of.

Our anniversary candlelight.

The next day, Don and I celebrated our 27th anniversary. It was a dark, cold, and thunder-stormy night. The power was out, but we still had the gas stove to cook on, so we were able to eat dinner and talk by candlelight.

As we spoke, the Lord reminded us that He would lead and guide us by His light into our own “promised land,” just as He had done for the Israelites. We needed to do our part in preparation for our journey—pack up and be ready to move—and trust Him.

By the end of February, when we were no closer to finding a place to live and I was asking Abba what was going on, He answered me through another pastor on the radio who spoke on Romans 8:28. Then, when I read that evening’s devotional, Abba confirmed that same message with this passage:  “Why did God allow those things to happen in that way? To teach you to be a man or woman of faith, to teach you to quietly and confidently believe that God is on the throne, that He is in control, and that all things work together for good.” Jon Courson, A Pillar by Day.

February ended with an encouraging word and March came in like a lion, seeking to devour us; but we had the Lion of Judah with us! He continued to meet me every day—everything I listened to or read was in sync with what Abba was doing in our lives. All of it was inspiring and encouraging; He was making me strong and able for what was coming.

The three days prior to us moving were remarkable; not only for our family, but also for the family that was moving into the house. God’s timing was precise for both of our families. I won’t go into detail over it, but suffice to say we found a place to live on Sunday; prayed on Monday that His will prevail; on Tuesday, He opened the door—our application was approved, and He provided the funds and people to help us move! We moved on Wednesday, March 15th!

He gave us additional blessings:  Because the exterior of the apartment building was being renovated, an “inconvenience” amount was taken off the rent until renovation was completed! At move in, we had a new washer and dryer set; and within two to three weeks of moving in, a new dishwasher and semi-new stove, too!

But you know, the enemy of our souls hates it when the Lord moves so strongly on our behalf—he was relentless in trying to make me succumb to fearful thoughts. I kept fighting these thoughts off, but was quickly wearying of the battle. Then I realized that I hadn’t told Don about them, when I did and we prayed, they immediately stopped! And so, March went out like a lamb, because the Lamb of God was with us and for us!

Yes, it’s been a very eventful year for our family. While we started some new things, we failed to complete other things. Still, we’re “confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in [us] will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). You see, God, who is with us and for us, is faithful, even when we’re faithless; He continues to provide our needs and we’re thankful that He is gracious and merciful toward us. 

It was Abba who inspired me, at the beginning of 2017, to pray that my latter days be greater than my former days. It hasn’t been easy; it’ll never be easy while I live on earth—trust me, dying to self is never easy! He never asks more than I can handle, but is very tender in helping me obey. He’s given me His Holy Spirit to instruct and teach me, moment by moment, day by day. He’s done the same for you; ask Him, He’ll reveal Himself to you. I have proof: 

He showed “Himself strong on our behalf” (2 Chronicles 16:9) in a variety of ways:  We asked and received, sought and found, and knocked and it was opened (Matthew 7:7-8); He led us into a “promised land” of His choosing (Joshua 1); and He continues to “supply all [our] need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus,” so that “to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen” (Philippians 4:19).

He continues to teach me to look at things from His perspective, has brought amazing and wonderful friends/sisters/brothers into our lives, and has grown us in faith and trust. Nothing is too small, too insignificant, too anything for Him; and His love for us is deeper, higher, wider, longer—it perfectly fits and fills our hearts. He wants us to draw closer and closer to Him; He desires our company and fellowship, our love and minds, and our well-being and abundance of life.

He wants us to know that He cares about everything that affects or concerns us. (For instance, as I write this, I’m having an allergic and respiratory system reaction to spicy food that a neighbor loves to cook and eat (I have no idea how it gets in our apartment). But I’ve decided to turn this “assault” on my body into an opportunity to trust my Father. I’m not doing this alone, either. I’ve reached out for prayer to others, and I know that He’s with me and for me. I’m getting slowly getting better.)

Abba wants us to trust Him that He “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20). It’s His work in us that brings Him glory that lasts forever and ever. 

The new year, 2018, is a new beginning for all of us; whatever it brings, make sure that you know that you are never alone, He is always with you! He loves you! Believe it and receive it; and as you embrace His love, He’ll take you into His arms and never, ever let you go! Go to Jesus, quickly, He’s calling you! As the old hymn* says, “Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, Calling for you and for me;…Come home, come home, You who are weary, come home; Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling, Calling, O sinner, come home!” 

Dearest Abba, Father, our hearts rejoice that You love and care for us! We’re never alone! You know every detail of each concern that we have and You lovingly and tenderly meet us where we need to be met. Thank You for 2017 and the ways You showed Yourself strong on our behalf. Our prayer is that we always know and be glad in knowing that You are sovereign in our lives.

Help us to give heed to Your word, because You love us with an everlasting love and want us to have an abundant life filled with the fruit of the Spirit. Help us to follow Your desire for us, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:2-3). And finally, to remember this:

Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea
And a path through the mighty waters,

“Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.”
~ Isaiah 43:16, 18-19 ~

We pray in Jesus’ name, for Your glory and honor, forever and ever. Amen.

*Softly and Tenderly by Will L. Thompson, is a public domain hymn.

Posted in Answered Prayer, Difficulties, Encouragement, Purpose, Trusting God | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Were You Born in a Barn?!

And she brought forth her firstborn Son,
and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths,
and laid Him in a manger,

because there was no room for them in the inn.
~ Luke 2:7  (NKJV) ~

Did your mother ever say to you, “Were you born in a barn?” because you left the front or back door open? The truth is most of us were born in a hospital or clinic—my husband and daughter were. I was born at home. I’ve never met anyone who was born in a barn or stable; but I do know Jesus was born in a place where animals were kept.

Tina the sheep

On the 23rd of this month I was at a high school Christmas play and had the “pleasure” of smelling a sheep as it passed in front of me. Though clean, Tina the sheep emitted a distinctive “animal fragrance.”

Tina’s scent got me thinking of Jesus’ birthplace—a place that most likely stunk. The animal menagerie that stayed there weren’t as clean as Tina the sheep. Think about it, did Joseph and Mary have time to clean up the place? Maybe or maybe not. Either way, it wasn’t sanitary, it wasn’t neat; it wasn’t a place where women give birth, yet that’s where God the Father chose to have His Son born.

Still, if you think about it, it’s the perfect location for His birth! Why? Because Jesus came to save us from the sin that stinks up our lives. Maybe that’s why God compares us to sheep. Not only do we share similar characteristics, we also get ourselves into things that we shouldn’t and end up dirty with sin and stink of it. Maybe others can’t smell us, but God can.

Jesus, who can truthfully answer “Yes, I was born in a barn,” left a door open to reconciliation with His Father. He guards that door so that none can enter it without going through Him. Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life”; He is the gatekeeper to the fold:  “I am the door of the sheep….If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture….I am the good shepherd” John 14:6; 10:7, 9, 11.

I’m thankful I “met” Tina the sheep because it gave me a different perspective on why Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice in leaving His heavenly home. From a lowly birth in a place that was fit for animals, Jesus overcame the world through His death and resurrection, so that we would no longer stink with sin, but have the “fragrance” of Jesus.

You may not have been born in a barn, but you can enter into the door that was left open for you by Jesus. He succeeded in reconciling us to His Father so that you can enter into a relationship with Him. Don’t think about what you’ve done, don’t make any excuses; take a leap of faith and run into Jesus’ arms. He’s waiting for you. You’ll be accepted, no questions asked. Won’t you come now?

Dear Father, You loved us and gave Your Son Jesus, “so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16 (NLT). Thank You, Father. Thank You, Jesus. It’s in Your name that we pray, amen.


Posted in Christianity, Jesus, Reconciliation, Salvation | Tagged , , , , ,

Come to Me…and I Will Give You Rest

Come to me, 
all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.
~ Matthew 11:28 (NIV) ~

Those December 1987 meetings with my counselor also brought about another relationship. She told me that there was a greater need inside of me, “Maria, God is important to you, you need to get right with Him.” 

Still, I didn’t know how it was going to happen. Christmas and New Year’s were coming up and we couldn’t meet to talk about how God is found. I assured her that I would do my best to “get right with God.”

I began by searching for the only true Christian I knew—Wendy. She was the only one who could tell me how I could find God and make peace with Him. But, I couldn’t locate her; it seemed like every attempt at contacting her was being blocked. I was at a standstill.

Jesus is calling.

One Wednesday night in the middle of January 1988, when I was disheartened and sitting alone at the dinner table, the phone rang. I picked up the receiver to hear, “Hello Maria, do you recognize this voice from your past?”

It was Wendy! I was so overwhelmed that I kept repeating, “Jesus loves me, Wendy! Jesus loves me!”

I had sought God and He found me—a weary, sinful, burdened, and broken woman

When I spoke with my counselor, she was surprised to find that I was doing so well. “Jesus loves me,” I told her, “My life is different now, I won’t be coming to see you anymore.” It was true; that night my life changed dramatically. All the weight of the baggage on my back was gone. Jesus made me new again—my steps were lighter, my laughter heartier, and joy filled my heart. Jesus loved me!

In hindsight, I see that December 1987 had a purpose—reconciliation. I was first reconciled to my earthly father because it paved the way to reconciliation with my heavenly Father. You see, I needed to know the love of my earthly father in order to know that my heavenly Father also loved me. Also, that I could be forgiven for the wrong that I’d committed against them.

It makes sense to me that God began that reconciliatory work in me during Christmas. The birth of Jesus was the Father’s way of reconciling us to Him (see 2 Corinthians 5:18 and Colossians 1:19-20 below). 

This is love in its fullest expression, “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8, NLT). He’s done all the work for us, all we have to do is accept His love. No one is too far gone that he/she isn’t loved or can’t be found by Him.

Are you weary and burdened and you don’t know what to do? Jesus is calling you to go to Him. Will you respond to His call? When you answer, you will find the love and rest you need. If you can’t go to Him, just call out His name, you will find and be found by Him. “If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me” (Jeremiah 29:13, NKJV).

Abba, Father, from the first, Your love captured me. And now, almost 30 years later, Your compassion and faithfulness are constant, as is Your presence. Your patience with me has never worn thin or out. When I fall, You’re ready to forgive me. You make me strong when I am weak in Your grace. You hold me up when I can’t stand. Nothing is too hard for You—all my need is met. You are the “the LORD who heals…” (Exodus 15:26, NLT).

Thank You, Jesus, for bringing me to Your Abba, Father, who is now my Abba; You love me! Amen.


2 Corinthians 5:19:  “For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them….” (NLT)

Colossians 19:19-20:  “For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross” (NLT).


Posted in Jesus, Reconciliation, Salvation | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Love Has A Name: “Dad”

Be kind and compassionate to one another,
forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
~ Ephesians 4:32 ~

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the beginning of a search that changed my life. In December 1987 I found myself in a counselor’s office wanting to know the cause of the ulcers in my stomach. A middle-aged woman, quiet and gentle in her ways, told me what I already knew, but didn’t want to acknowledge:  I had to get right with my father.

“Write down everything that you have against your father; every single grievance. Then, write them in a letter to your dad. We’ll go over it next time we meet.”

At the next meeting, she read my letter, folded it back up, and handed it to me, “That’s a detailed explanation of each grievance. Now go and read it to  your father.” My face must have registered how incredulous her statement was, but she was not deterred by my, “I can’t!”

She told me that healing wouldn’t come until I complied; that our future meetings would be meaningless. She waited while I fought with myself and smiled when I agreed to meet with my father.

We were sitting together, on the sofa. I pulled out the letter and read it to him. By the time I was finished, all those grievances had rolled down my face as tears. He gently put his arm around me, “Mary (only my family called me Mary), in the old days men were taught not to show any emotion, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have feelings. I love you, I always have. I just don’t show it or say it.”

He didn’t have to say, “I’m sorry for hurting you. Forgive me.” Or, “I forgive you, Mija,” because my heart melted as love for him flooded in.

“Dad, I’m so sorry for hurting you,” I blubbered. He took me in his arms and caressed my hair. That night ended years of resentment, bitterness, and anger.

Dad, Noah, and me in 2002.

When I spoke with my counselor about that evening’s meeting, I no longer spoke of him as “my father,” but “my dad.”

Dad and I had a different understanding about our relationship. We loved each other without him having to say so, but he did, every now and then. Whenever I went home I gave him a hug and kiss and told him that I loved him. When I said, “Dad, I love you,” he knew I meant it.

If we hadn’t reconciled, I would have never known what a warm, tender, and loving man he was. I would have missed years of being able to comfort each other when my brother and mother died.

He’s been home with the Lord for 5 years now; I miss him so much! I’m thankful we reconciled our relationship, because regardless of age, a girl/woman still needs her daddy.

Father, thank You for the years I had with Dad before he went home to you. Reconciliation is something that You desire for us, both with You and with each other. I pray for those whose familial relationships are broken; that You, being our good, good Father, would make a way for reconciliation to happen. Bless those relationships with Your love and grace. We ask in the name of Jesus, amen.



Posted in Family, Parents, Reconciliation | Tagged , ,

“Is Anything Too Hard for the LORD?”

Is anything too hard for the LORD?
~ Genesis 18:14 ~

The storms of life either deepen our love for and walk with Jesus, or they cause us to abandon Him. It’s where we discover our true character and whether we truly believe and trust that God is who He says He is. And, it’s in the aftermath of a life storm, when we’ve reached our destination, that the Lord speaks to us about our journey and helps us to see His presence with us and how He carried us on eagles wings when we couldn’t walk.

“Nothing, LORD, is too hard for You.”

Genesis 18:14 accurately summarizes our two-year journey through difficulties that became the Lord’s tools in refining and growing us in faith. 

That process began in early 2015, but escalated in November 2015, when we left our place and moved in with my sister. When we faltered in hope and trust, He was faithful to remind us that he who belongs to Jesus, has both hope and help. 

As difficult as that season’s transition was, we knew the Lord was with us because He kept asking, “Is anything too hard for the LORD?”

In January 2016 the Lord began to move in ways that astounded us:

He provided for us financially (through others and new clients that contacted Don). 

Noah’s Japanese teacher (and our friend) invited her to travel with her to Osaka and Tokyo. Then her grandmother invited her to a family reunion at Disney World in Florida. Once again the Lord asked us, “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” Of course not! Noah joined the family at Disney World in April and learned the things she needed to do to prepare for her trip to Japan. At the end of May she traveled to Japan and participated in two home school conventions; she also had a marvelous time being a tourist.

Living in a space that was less than 300 square feet, we felt cramped, like sardines in a can. We prayed. Then my sister told us she was moving; we needed to find a place quickly. “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” No! Friends asked us to house-sit for two months. On a rainy Friday in May, we moved into a house with four bedrooms and two bathrooms—a living space of at least 1,300 square feet! One week after moving in, we found out that we could stay until February 2017! We began to pay rent July first—at an incredibly below-market rate!

Not only did the Lord expand our living space, but He also provided more clients for Don—enabling us to catch up on overdue bills, get both cars fixed, and take care of some dental and medical needs.

This house was a turning point in how I saw life events:  My thinking process changed:  I gained eyes to see life’s experiences through God’s perspective and to graciously accept what He allows in my life and not resist Him nor them.  

Lesson 1:  Though something is old, it still has purpose—this old pink house was serving as our dwelling. For whatever reason, I identified with this house:  Built in 1955, it needed repairs, a paint job—updating. I was born in 1956 and was feeling my age. Unlike the house I can’t be repaired, I’m allergic to paint (cosmetics), and modern styles of dress don’t appeal to me. But God uses my imperfections to minister to others. Amazing, right?!

Lesson 2:  Sometimes, the Lord’s instruction is humorous. The house didn’t have AC; during the first heat wave, His response to my prayer was, “Look at this way, Maria, you’re sweating out the toxins in your body!” With this perspective in mind, I endured the heat until the weather changed.

Lesson 3:  He allows illness in order to reveal His greater purpose for our lives—I got the flu at the beginning of November. He showed me that nothing is too hard for Him.

Prior to the full onset of flu symptoms, my gracious Father provided an organic tea product to prepare my respiratory system for what was coming.

A song, “Great Are You, Lord,” gave rise to a prayer that His breath enter my lungs to kill the virus and cleanse and heal my lungs.

In a dream, Jesus embraced me and I knew I was healed; the virus was dead. That day I started getting better. And though my respiratory system was weakened, His breath was in my lungs, and healing came.

We may not always know why God allows trials that tax us to our limits, but we’re not alone—He’s always with us.  He’s promised to “never leave us nor forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5), and  that “…goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…” (Psalm 23:6, KVJ). But this time, He did reveal both at that time, and in hindsight, that getting the flu in November was a Godsend—it was like a vaccination early in the flu season. It meant that my body was ready for what was coming in the first three months of 2017. 

Lesson 4:  “’My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me,” and “Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day,” are true—I lived them (2 Corinthians 12:9; 4:16).

Dust, paint, and other chemical fumes stressed my lungs and body when the interior of the house was painted and the hallway bathroom remodel began (in January 2017). And the question was asked again, “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” Again, my answer was no. His grace and power got me through each day as I leaned more and more on Him whose shoulders are strong and wide, whose arms are warm and loving, and whose heartbeat said, “Beloved, I’m with you and for you. I’m taking care of you.”

The water receding after the torrential downpour.

Lesson 5:  God sets boundaries to things that are out of our control.

One weekend in January, three storms deluged the southland. Friday brought a torrential downpour—water rushed, like a river, from the side of the house that was paved with concrete into a backyard that was already flooding. Water quickly approached the sliding door, but we didn’t panic. We prayed that the downpour stop and it did!

The Lord was gracious because it didn’t rain on Saturday, giving us one day for the land to drain and dry out. On Sunday I was afraid of leaving the house to attend church, so I prayed: “Father, I don’t want to trust in fear, I want to trust in You! Give me a verse to hold onto and to keep me from giving in to fear.” 

He gave me three! He parted the Red Sea and held the waters up (Exodus 14:21); He set the boundaries of the seas (Jeremiah 5:22); and He held the water up at the Jordan River (Joshua 3:16). I asked Him to place a boundary for the water and not let it flood the patio or come into the house and left. When I drove out, the streets were beginning to flood, but I didn’t fear. 

“Is anything too hard for the LORD?” Absolutely not! When I returned, I drove through streets and intersections that were like rivers and large ponds. Cars were getting stuck, even the bus had a hard time getting through. But around the house things were different—in the backyard, God held the water at the concrete joining line (the line beside the right side of the bench)!

Throughout Sunday and into Monday, when the third storm came, the water held at the boundary God set at patio’s concrete joining line!

The five-year California drought ended in 2017 because of all the rain and snow that fell; and through it all, the Lord maintained a boundary around the house. Truly,

God is our refuge and strength
A very present help in trouble.
~ Psalm 46:1 ~

Are troubles overwhelming you? Ask, “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” Then hand the reins of your life over to Him just as Proverbs 3:5-6 instruct us to do:

Trust in and rely confidently on the LORD with all your heart
And do not rely on your own insight or understanding.
In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him,
And He will make your paths straight and smooth
[removing obstacles that block your way].
(Amplified Bible)

“Is anything too hard for the LORD?” How could anything be “too hard” for You? You are God Almighty, the One who spoke and it was; You are the Beginning and the End. You set eternity in our hearts so that we would turn to You to satisfy the emptiness in us. You love us. The proof is in the fact that Jesus took our wrath upon Himself on the cross, and then showed His power over death by resurrecting. Nothing is was too hard for You! 

Father, help us to keep this in mind as we face various trials. In looking at our troubles with Your eyes, we will “count it all joy,” as James 1:2 says. You’re ever present and ready to show Yourself strong on our behalf as faith is tested to produce fruit that is pleasing in Your sight. You desire to conform us into Your Son’s image so that we too can stand, as He did, in the day of our testing and bring honor and glory to You.

We’re grateful for Your presence and love, patience and grace, strength to endure, training in perseverance, and the amazing work You’re doing in us. We love You, Jesus, and we rejoice in being loved and cared for by You! In Your name we pray, amen!


Posted in Answered Prayer, Difficulties, Faith, Lessons from God, Trusting God | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Wonder Woman—She’s Not All That!

For even if there are so-called gods,
whether in heaven or on earth…

yet for us there is but one God, the Father,
from whom all things came and for whom we live;
and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ,
through whom all things came and through whom we live.
~ 1 Corinthians 6:5-6 ~

Last weekend I joined dear friends to celebrate a birthday with dinner and a movie—Wonder Woman. Don’t worry, I’m not going to review Wonder Woman and spoil it for you; instead, I’m going to share what’s on my mind as a result of the things I watched in the 160 minutes worth of previews and the movie.

The previews were for Justice League, Spider-Man, Transformers:  The Last Knight, Valerian, and several others. My first thought was their central theme:  Someone, or the world, is under attack, falling apart, and in desperate need of saving, and only one person or group (superhero or not), machine, alien, thing can save him/her/them.

Then I got to thinking about how desperate our real world is for someone to save us from all the mayhem that “wars and rumors of wars” bring us (Matthew 24:6). The world is spinning out of control—no one is content. Struggles for power and the evil unleashed on innocent people are mind-boggling and numbing.

In the movie I saw several elements that were theological in nature and somewhat paralleled the true Savior (His compassion and love for us, His sacrifice for us, His overcoming the evil one, among other things); but in the end, Wonder Woman is still fantasy.

What I saw on the screen confirmed that the world wants a savior, but one that meets its own image. Because there’s an urgency to pursue peace, people are looking for “someone” who will come in the name of peace and unite all people together. The time is quickly approaching when the Antichrist will make his appearance to “save” the world from self-destructing.

Whether or not the Antichrist is alive today is speculation; what we do know is that he’ll prove to be something the world isn’t expecting. Many will be deceived and die. He’ll not be like Wonder Woman, he’ll be more like Ares, and so much more.

I’m not a moviegoer; this was a special occasion—Wonder Woman is the third movie I’ve seen in the past 25 years (in a theater). It was informative and opened my eyes to something that I hadn’t noticed before. Also, it confirmed (to me) that the time of our Lord’s return for us is at hand (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

The time is coming when God will make His move and the 7th week of years begins (Daniel 9). Therefore, there’s an even greater necessity for the gospel of Jesus Christ to be proclaimed. Peter exhorts us, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,…” (1 Peter 3:15, NIV).

Dear Father, “even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth…yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” There is none like You who is “able to save to the uttermost those who come to [You] through [Christ]” (Hebrews 7:25). You are the One who will save us from the wrath that is to come as You judge the world. Therefore, You alone are worthy of all praise and honor and glory and worship, for You alone are holy and are the LORD. In the name of Jesus, amen.





Posted in Encouragement, End times, Lessons from God, Salvation | Tagged , , , , ,

Fear Binds, Faith Frees!

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, 
but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
~ 2 Timothy 1:7 ~

The Lord continues to teach me how to handle fearful thoughts. He tied Israel’s journey into the Promised Land to my family’s circumstances and opened my eyes to the devil’s schemes to bind and destroy faith in God through fear. 

This past year has been like being in boot camp! It was one thing after another, but I gained perspective as each event prepared me for the next. The battle often started in the mind, and sometimes, it was waged through physical discomfort or illness; but through it all the Lord was my “refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

For me, the bottom line became, “Who or what am I going to put my trust in? Fear or the Lord? Am I going to be like Joshua and Caleb, who were faithful and fearless because they knew their God was with them and trusted Him? Or, am I going to be like the ten faithless and fearful men who led an entire generation to their death in the wilderness because they didn’t know their God and didn’t trust Him?”

This is what I’ve been learning about fear and how the devil uses it to paralyze and neutralize us and keep us from walking in God’s will for our lives:


• is founded on unbelief and restrains us as faith weakens;
• swoops in when we’re weak (vulnerable) and/or when we least expect it;
• relentlessly attacks us;
• is a deadly and effective weapon in the devil’s arsenal;
• robs us of hope and life.

Fearful thoughts take our eyes off God, making a way for unbelief to slide in and subtly challenge God’s word and the knowledge of who He is. As we question or doubt God about our situation, confusion arises. By then faith is wavering, and as it weakens, we end up not knowing what to do, so we don’t do anything. Like handcuffs that bind and control a prisoner, fear keeps us from moving forward in obedience to God’s will.

Whatever stresses us, weakens us—illness, relationships, finances, work, moving, etc. The enemy knows our weaknesses better than we do, so when chinks in our armor are found, you can be sure that arrows, poisoned with fear, are shot rapid-fire at our hearts and minds. If we don’t stay alert or on guard, and forget to put on our spiritual armor—God’s truth, the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the sword of the word, the gospel of peace, and prayer—we’re taken captive (Ephesians 6:10-18).

Faith and hope sustain us while we wait for the Lord to act on our behalf. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (NLT). Faith and hope are like conjoined twins—without faith, hope dies. That’s why fear is so deadly.

But we’re not helpless against fear! God’s given us the keys to release us from fear and overcome it:  His Holy Spirit, His word, praise, worship, prayer, grace, peace, and so many other things!

The Holy Spirit abides in all believers. He has many roles in our lives, one of which is to teach us God’s truth through His word. He instructs and prepares our minds and hearts for warfare through Scripture. Second Corinthians 10:4-5 instructs us regarding “the weapons of our warfare”; 1 Peter 5:8-9 reveals that the devil stalks and seeks to destroy us; and Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us to “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might,” who we fight against, how we fight, and what we wear in order to protect ourselves.

Prayer is our lifeline to God. It’s as simple as crying out, “Jesus, help me!” As I lay those fearful thoughts at His feet and pour out my heart to Him, I’m confessing I’m weak and dependent on Him. It’s only then that I can raise my hands and voice in thanksgiving, praise, and adoration. He’s faithful to guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus with “peace…which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:6-7). 

Praise is recounting to the LORD what He’s done and is doing in our lives. It’s how we appreciate that He’s with and for us. We’re to “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name” (Psalm 100:4).

Worship is adoration of the LORD for who He is. It means that we bow the knee and confess that He’s our God. Jesus says that “true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks” (John 4:23, NIV). 

Worship moves our eyes heavenward and restores faith. As we focus on who He is, we affirm that He’s our God, that we love Him, and are thankful we’re His beloved children. Worship gives us eyes to see things from His perspective. It motivates us to wait patiently, in hopeful expectation, for Him to move in our situation. So, faith and hope grow, while fear wilts like a weed and is cast into the fire where it’s destroyed. 

“Worship destroys fear and frees us from its oppression.*” Worship reveals our confidence in and dependence on Him. When the king and people of Judah were surrounded by enemies, they sought the LORD. He told them the battle belonged to Him. They bowed down and worshiped Him, then prepared themselves. As they went out in song and praise, the LORD defeated their enemies (2 Chronicles 20). 

Truth:  The enemies we face, are also God’s enemies—we never face them alone! “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31, emphasis mine).

Brothers and sisters in Christ, don’t let the devil take you captive through fear and keep you from the good Jesus has for you! Always stay alert, be on guard. The enemy is continually on the prowl, looking for weaknesses in our armor to assault us with fear. Whatever fears plague you, take them to the Lord, and lay them down before Him. Remember that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” Appropriate this truth and hold on to it! Remember that this warfare will continue until we’re perfected, but we don’t have to surrender to it! 

Ask yourself, “Am I going to put my trust in fear (aka the devil)? Or, am I going to put my trust in Jesus? 

Father, we bow in awe of You! You alone are God—there is none like You! Salvation and deliverance comes only from You! You’re greater and stronger than anything that comes against us and makes us fear! You’re faithful even when we’re faithless. You know our weaknesses and how quickly we lose heart.

Help us, Father! Vanquish fear from our lives. Unlock all bonds and release us from strongholds of fear that “exalts itself against the knowledge of” who You are and who we are in You (2 Corinthians 10:5). 

Empower us through Your Spirit to live in the victory Jesus obtained for us. Help us to stand still and see Your salvation and/or do warfare as You guide us. Make us strong and courageous, like Joshua and Caleb, so that when the next barrage of fearful thought arrows come, we’re abiding in Your Spirit, and fully clothed in Your word, truth, and armor. Guide us in prayer, praise, and worship. And may Your grace and peace carry us through each moment of each day.

Our desire, Father is to walk in awe of You and in obedience, as Jesus did during His time here on earth, that we too, may bring glory and honor to You. We ask in the name of Jesus our Lord, to whom we bend our knees and bow, and to whom all kings and kingdoms will bow. Amen.

*(Ray Bentley)

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