When It’s Dark…

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How often do things of this world, of this life, of an individual’s life bring us to despair?  to discouragement?  to fear?  to anxiousness?  How often?

Just in the past 6 weeks, I have personally known about 3 suicides, told to me by two precious women who are close to my heart.  They have been touched by suicide as I was 23 years ago.  It is such a difficult trauma.  Thoughts of…could we have done something, anything to have prevented this tragedy?  Guilt and wondering about what we did or did not do run through the mind.  As my mother once put it after a cousin took her life, leaving a husband and three children, “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”  So often, that is the case.  Not always, but more often than not.

In praying for these women and their families, plus the families of the dead, I find my mind thinking about all of this all over again since I personally experienced being the one to find a special friend dead.  The many passing years have helped me to be able to speak and pray with comfort to these women.  Yet, the true reason I can pray and share hope and comfort is that my God has given me salvation through His Son.  He is my hope and love and my anchor.  God has wrapped me in His arms of security.  The Holy Spirit lives in me and gently comforts and gives me the perfect words I need when I am listening and desiring to hear with my ears and my heart.  At the time of the suicide 23 years ago, I did not know Christ as my Savior and LORD, but in less than two years, I had, indeed, accepted the One and Only Jesus into my heart and life.  Because of Jesus, I am able to speak words of comfort, hope, and life to those here who cared about someone who chose to take his or her own life.   May we find our peace through the Holy One.

God created us ~

So God created man in His own image,
in the image of God He created him;
male and female He created them.  Genesis 1:27

God has a plan for us ~

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11

God wants us to have life ~

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  John 10:10

God sent His Son to take our sin upon Himself and to save us ~

He himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed.  1 Peter 2:24

But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.  John 1:12-13

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  Romans 10:13

Accepting Christ gives us a new life ~

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  2 Corinthians 5:17

Walking with the LORD takes one step of faith after another ~

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ.  Romans 10:17

Seeking the LORD when we feel that there is no hope takes that faith.  God is ever near ~

Our soul waits for the Lord;

he is our help and our shield.

For our heart is glad in him,

because we trust in his holy name.

Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,

even as we hope in you.  Psalm 33:20-22

Christ promises to give us rest from any and all struggles ~

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

We have the assurance of eternal life from God Who gave His Son through death on the Cross for our sins ~

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.  John 5:24

Father, I lift up those who are walking through or are mired in the tragedy of suicide this very moment.  I pray that Your Holy Spirit comfort them.  Please rain down Your peace upon them.  Oh, LORD, I also pray that those who do not know You as the God of all, who do not know Jesus as their LORD and Savior, that Your salvation would soon, LORD, soon, reign in their hearts.  Oh, Father God, our hope is in You.  You love each one of Your precious creations and are waiting for us to open the door to our heart to let You in.  I pray.  To anyone who reads this, who is thinking about suicide, I pray that you seek your Creator for He is the God of all comfort and peace and hope.  Father, wrap them in Your mighty loving arms.  Send a warrior, an angel, a calm spirit to pray with them, to speak with them.  Give them hope, LORD.  I pray in the Powerful Name of Jesus.  Amen. 

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Are there any among the false gods of the nations that can bring rain?
Or can the heavens give showers?
Are you not He, O LORD our God?
We set our hope on You,
for You do all these things.  Jeremiah 14:22

 

beblacksig

Giving Care God’s Way

I am blessed to be a guest writer at Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood today in the first of a number of posts on caregiving.  Please join me over there.

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But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.  Isaiah 40:31

The LORD is where our strength rests. He has more than enough for each one of us who gives care to another. Our task, besides the giving of care, is to wait upon the LORD.

Oh, my!  You may ask, “How can I wait when I have all of this to do? I don’t have time to wait.” He calls upon us to wait. upon. Him.  He will give us all that we need, all that we don’t even know we need.

As I share pieces of what I know about caregiving each month, let’s make our walk together in a garden setting for there is peace and tranquility, beauty and quiet in such a place.  We need these in order to wait upon the LORD for His direction.  I will focus upon the giving of care to the elderly whether he or she be a spouse, parents, elderly relatives, but you may easily be able to transfer this information for any caregiving circumstance such as an ill child or one who is mentally challenged, each of whom depend upon us for their well-being.

I was a giver of care to my mother for fifteen years.  She lived well over 98 years.  She has been with the LORD since January 30, 2013.  Knowing that there are many in this role of caring for someone elderly or ill, I pray that my experience will benefit each one who reads this in the ways that God knows you need support.  God plants seeds that sprout through rich and watered soil.  When I began caring for Mama, my soil was quite parched, but over the years, the LORD watered me, weeded out that which He could not use, tilled the soil until it became richer for His seeds:  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)  He gave me laughter when times were hard, tears for moments of needed release, a quiet spirit when family members were nasty. Over the years, He filled my soil with plants of His wisdom, of others’ love, authors’ and other caregivers’ experience and wisdom, prayers of many.  If God has called you to tend to another’s needs, I pray that you will allow Him to till your soil and plant His seeds, to water you with His Word and love for He wants to nourish you so that you may be sustained during this season.

I may be on the other side of taking care of Mama now, but that does not mean I no longer understand.  I do ever so much and want to share what I have learned, what I needed, and what I still need to this day.  I want to make this “our garden” for I want you to share your needs as well.  If you work in an assisted living facility, in a nursing home, or through hospice, I want you to share your experiences on the topic at hand.  In this garden we want to care for the precious ones God has given us as though our hands are the hands of Jesus. Let us pray together and pray for one another, encourage and support each other as we do what God has called us to do, or do what we may even feel a heavy burden to do.  It is not easy, but God strengthens us for the task, if we allow Him.    

Today, on this first post, I am recommending a couple of excellent books I have used over the years continually, even now:

The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People with Alzheimer Disease, Other Dementias, and Memory Loss in Later Life by Nancy L. Mace, Peter V. Rabins.  In print since 1981, fifth edition.  It is best read by the subject needed at the time a loved one with dementia/Alzheimers is going through that particular phase or has a certain symptom. No two dementia/Alzheimers’ patients are the same as far as how stages progress or the way that the person regresses. The index is the key. I used it as an encyclopedia with each phase that Mama went through.  An excellent resource.

“Quiet Moments for Caregivers–devotional and worship ideas for caregivers and care receivers” by Betty Free, 2002. No longer in print; many booksellers have used/new copies available. I heard James Dobson interviewing Betty Free on “Focus on the Family” in my early days of caring for Mama.  Not only did I need the book, but it is one I have given away to many.  The pages are filled with prayers of praise, adoration, thankfulness, of love and family, of hope, strength, prayers for forgiveness, prayers focusing on Jesus.  Mrs. Free shares her insights about love and caring, about changes, worries and fear, of pain and suffering, even of joy and laughter.  She asks “why” questions, those unanswerable ones, placing them into the hands of God. The book ends with prayers for the care receivers…comforting Psalms, Scriptures, and hymns.  It is a peaceful and comforting book.

LORD, I lift up this precious group of sisters who are under Your care as we care for another.  We ask that we have open eyes, open ears, open hearts to hear from You, to see You, to know Your ways, and to bend our knees in humility and prayer at Your feet.  May we tend to one of your creations as only You desire, cultivating quality of life for them, nurturing them in ways that You prescribe.  I pray also, LORD, that You nourish us through the power of Your Word by Your Holy Spirit in the fellowship of believing sisters, by encouragement, support, and bountiful prayer.  In the very Strength of Your Son’s Name, we pray.  Amen.

Caring through Christ, ~ linda

 

Quietly, I Pray

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With a quiet mind, heart and soul, I pray for the peace of Jerusalem.  God, I have no words but to lift up Your city, Your people, to You and only You.  My heart longs for peace in this world.  There is so much turmoil everywhere I turn.  Yet, it is with the deepest prayer that I call out and pray for Your Israel, Your Jerusalem, Your precious people.  Hear me, O God.  Hear me.  Amen.

Psalm 122

A Song of Ascents. Of David.

I was glad when they said to me,

“Let us go to the house of the Lord!”

Our feet have been standing

within your gates, O Jerusalem!

Jerusalem—built as a city

that is bound firmly together,

to which the tribes go up,

the tribes of the Lord,

as was decreed for Israel,

to give thanks to the name of the Lord.

There thrones for judgment were set,

the thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!

“May they be secure who love you!

Peace be within your walls

and security within your towers!”

For my brothers and companions’ sake

I will say, “Peace be within you!”

For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,

I will seek your good.

Verse 6 of Psalm 122:

 שָׁאַל

sha’al

pray

to ask, to inquire

שָׁלוֹם

shalowm

completeness, soundness, welfare, peace

peace, quiet, tranquility, contentment, peace (from war)

יְרוּשָׁלַם

Yĕruwshalaim

Jerusalem = “teaching of peace”

שָׁלָה

shalah

to be at rest, to be or have quiet, to be at ease, to prosper

אָהַב

‘ahab

to love

…human love for another, includes family

…human love for or to God

…act of being a friend

…God’s love toward man…

     …to individual men

     …to the people of Israel

    …to righteousness


From Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Psalm 122:

“This psalm seems to have been penned by David for the use of the people of Israel, when they came up to Jerusalem to worship at the three solemn feasts. It was in David’s time that Jerusalem was first chosen to be the city where God would record his name. It being a new thing, this, among other means, was used to bring the people to be in love with Jerusalem, as the holy city, though it was but the other day in the hands of the Jebusites. Observe, I. The joy with which they were to go up to Jerusalem (v. 1, 2). II. The great esteem they were to have of Jerusalem (v. 3-5). III. The great concern they were to have for Jerusalem, and the prayers they were to put up for its welfare (v. 6-9).

….

“Here, I. David calls upon others to which well to Jerusalem, v. 6, 7. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, for the welfare of it, for all good to it, particularly for the uniting of the inhabitants among themselves and their preservation from the incursions of enemies. This we may truly desire, that in the peace thereof we may have peace; and this we must earnestly pray for, for it is the gift of God, and for it he will be enquired of. Those that can do nothing else for the peace of Jerusalem can pray for it, which is something more than showing their good-will; it is the appointed way of fetching in mercy. The peace and welfare of the gospel church, particularly in our land, is to be earnestly desired and prayed for by every one of us. Now, 1. We are here encouraged in our prayers for Jerusalem’s peace: Those shall prosper that love thee. We must pray for Jerusalem, not out of custom, nor for fashion’s sake, but out of a principle of love to God’s government of man and man’s worship of God; and, in seeking the public welfare, we seek our own, for so well does God love the gates of Zion that he will love all those that do love them, and therefore they cannot but prosper; at least their souls shall prosper by the ordinances they so dearly love. 2. We are here directed in our prayers for it and words are put into our mouths (v. 7): Peace be within thy walls. He teaches us to pray, (1.) For all the inhabitants in general, all within the walls, from the least to the greatest. Peace be in thy fortifications; let them never be attacked, or, if they be, let them never be taken, but be an effectual security to the city. (2.) For the princes and rulers especially: Let prosperity be in the palaces of the great men that sit at the helm and have the direction of public affairs; for, if they prosper, it will be well for the public. The poorer sort are apt to envy the prosperity of the palaces, but they are here taught to pray for it.”

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Henry Commentaries on the Whole Bible by Matthew Henry

graphic:  http://gatewaychristiancenter.org/pray-for-the-peace-of-israel/

photo/graphic: http://whowillyouserve.blogspot.com/2012/09/psalm-122.html

Praying for Israel

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Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure.   Psalm 122:6

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Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,

and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.

For the Lord is a God of justice;

blessed are all those who wait for him.

For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you.  And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.  Isaiah 30:18-21

I pray for the peace of Jerusalem, LORD.  All of this fighting and killing is just so hard.  The children who are caught in this war and all of the others around the world break my heart.  Their innocence draws my heart towards them.  I know You know and know the ways of men, the ways of this world.  I pray for justice, for Your sovereignty, for Your righteousness, LORD, and for Your mercy.  May Your will be done and may Your Truth and Light shine in this vast darkness. May Your love prevail over the hatred and Your peace prevail above war.  May Your salvation rain upon Israel, O Heavenly Father, as well as this whole world.  And may I stand tall in Jesus Christ, my LORD, and show the world that He is Savior and LORD over all.  One day, Father.  One day.  I pray in the Powerful Name of Your Son.  Amen.

 

beblacksig

 

Photos from:  iBibleVerses @ http://ibibleverses.christianpost.com/

Devotion, Honor, Love

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Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  1 Peter 5:5

For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.  John 1:16

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.  Philippians 2:3

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.  Romans 12:3

[[A Song of degrees of David.]] Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!  Psalm 133:1

But He gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  James 4:6

Years of giving care to my Mama and greeting, hugging, touching, and talking with the many other residents of the senior places Mama lived, with my teaching career where I could offer loving teaching to young children, with my one-on-one tutoring now, through my teaching at senior centers for the city health department, and all the other ways God has used me to reach the very young and the very old, I truly feel blessed to have been allowed such moments with so many.  There never feels like there is a gap between the ages or the relationships.  I am grateful that He has graced me with His touch, His love, His peace.

Father, I pray that You use me as You desire in touching others for Christ.  May I be the loving face, the gentle hands, the tender touch, the kind words, the compassionate heart towards each and all of those You place before me.  May I be Christ to those who have never met Him.  Take any fear away from me that keeps me from sharing the Good News that I know.  May I love as You love, Father.  In Your Son’s wonderful Name, I pray.  Amen.  

 

 

Photo with Scripture:  from Heartlight.org Gallery – http://www.heartlight.org/gallery/2656.html

Isaiah 54

I am participating in a Bible study of Isaiah 54 written and facilitated by Dawn Boyer from Journeys in Grace.  We are in week four.  There are three sections to the study.  Each one will conclude with a woman who epitomizes the verses we are studying.  Hannah is the woman who brings to life these first verses.

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Isaiah 54:1-4 ESV

“Sing, O barren one, who did not bear;

break forth into singing and cry aloud,

you who have not been in labor!

For the children of the desolate one will be more

than the children of her who is married,” says the Lord.

“Enlarge the place of your tent,

and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out;

do not hold back; lengthen your cords

and strengthen your stakes.

For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left,

and your offspring will possess the nations

and will people the desolate cities.

“Fear not, for you will not be ashamed;

be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced;

for you will forget the shame of your youth,

and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.

 

God commands me to sing, to enlarge the place of my tent, to spread out, and not to fear.  He calls for trusting Him in areas where I have insecurities, where I am full of fear, where I feel guilt, where I am self-conscious or selfish, where I am weak, where relationships have walls or hardening of the heart strings, where He calls me and I think I know better.

Dawn writes in Week One: “The reality is that we all have places where we are broken, barren, and full of fear.  Isaiah 54 is a song that was written for those moments in our lives when we need to be rescued, redeemed and restored.”

I am barren as far as having children.  I struggle with that at times, especially around Mother’s Day.  I actually do not go to church any more on Mother’s Day because the churches I have attended over the years hand out flowers to mothers, celebrating motherhood.  Church does not take into account those of us who are barren or who have lost a child in a miscarriage, having no other children.  I no longer go.

But my barrenness goes beyond childlessness as Dawn points out.  She has us look further into ourselves for areas where we feel barren, as of land which is too poor to produce much or any vegetation, a tree or plant unable to produce fruit or seed, places in one’s life that show no results, achievements, empty of meaning or value, or of a place or building that is bleak and lifeless (definition from dictionary).  When barrenness dwells in one, the fruit of the soul is nil, nada.  The life I live needs the refreshment from God’s Word, from drinking the Living Water of Jesus to grow and show the beautiful God-filled fruit.

Hannah was barren, childless.  She prayed through her struggles, her pain, her feelings of not good enough in the eyes of others.  She prayed silently and she prayed aloud.  God heard her words and answered.  God hears all my words too, even the ones that are filled with frustration or fear or other emotions.  But it is through my prayers that God takes the barren areas and blesses me.  I have faith that God hears me, just as Hannah did.  Trust and obedience take me to Jesus.  I must hear God and believe.  Trust is faith and faith is believing what I cannot see.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:18  Reading His Word, spending time with my Creator, praying with the heart knowledge that He hears, listens, and answers.  God says in verse four that by being obedient to His commands, I will not be ashamed nor confounded not disgraced, and I will no longer remember any shame from my youth or reproach of widowhood.  Hallelujah!

As Hannah, I have to come before God fully trusting and obediently willing to His very call upon my life.  “Full faith in barren situations yields faith-filled abundant harvest.” (Dawn Boyer)

Father God, I come to you humbly in prayer.  I feel Your hand upon me.  In my love for You, the God Who hears me, I place my life in Your hands and trust You for the fruit of my life.  Teach me Your ways.  Guide me to dig up those places of barrenness and to not be afraid of them.  Bring an Aaron and a Hur alongside of me to hold my arms up when I grow weary, helping me enlarge the place of my tent, to stretch out my habitation, and not hold back.  May I lengthen my cords and strengthen my stakes, that my place be strong and wide and willing and open and trusting in You, my God and my Redeemer.  In the Strong Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.

 

Only In Him

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(The photo and the words below are from ibibleverses.  I could not say this any better.  The prayer is from my heart.)

The Word of God Says in Jesus Christ…

We are faithful

(Ephesians 1:1)

We are God’s child

(John 1:12)

We have been justified

(Romans 5:1)

We are Christ’s friend

(John 15:15)

We belong to God

(1 Corinthians 6:20)

We are a member of Christ’s Body

(1 Corinthians 12:27)

We are confident that God will perfect the work He has begun in me

(Philippians 1:6)

We are a citizen of heaven

(Philippians 3:20)

We are hidden with Christ in God

(Colossians 3:3)

We have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self-discipline

(2 Timothy 1:7)

We are blessed in the

heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing

(Ephesians 1:3)

We are adopted as his child

(Ephesians 1:5)

We are given God’s glorious grace lavishly and without restriction

(Ephesians 1:5,8)

We are in Him

(Ephesians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:30)

We have redemption

(Ephesians 1:8)

We are forgiven

(Ephesians 1:8; Colossians 1:14)

We have purpose

(Ephesians 1:9 & 3:11)

We have hope

(Ephesians 1:12)

We are sealed with the promised Holy Spirit

(Ephesians 1:13)

We are God’s coworker

(2 Corinthians 6:1)

We are alive with Christ

(Ephesians 2:5)

We are raised up with Christ

(Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 2:12)

We are God’s workmanship

(Ephesians 2:10)

We are dead to sin

(Romans 1:12)

We are not alone

(Hebrews 13:5)

We are His disciple

(John 13:15)


LORD, I truly love learning more and more about You and am finding my identity, my identity in You, my Precious LORD.  You have given me every possible gift, drawing me to You.  Oh, how very grateful I am to You for all that You have done for me.  I was created by the hands of the Master Weaver in my mother’s womb.  I was whole then, perfectly woven, but was born into this fallen world.  Your sacrifice upon the Cross and my faith that You are The Resurrected Holy One have given me light and life.  I am whole once more in You.  Hallelujah!  I stand before You as I live this life and begin to understand this identity that I have in You.  Guide me as I take one step at a time, growing more and more like You.  I praise Your Holy Name.  Amen.

 

 

Originally posted 2013-05-03 12:08:44 from http://ibibleverses.christianpost.com/bible-verses-images/our-identity-is-found-in-christ