darkness, hope, rest, victory, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Held: Resting in God, Who is Present in Our Darkness

When we stand face to face with the dark and unknown, we can rest. We rest because we are held in the loving arms of our Almighty God, who has given victory over darkness. 



This summer, my family took a vacation to Kentucky. We had a wonderful time visiting a horse farm, the Ark Encounter, and Mammoth Cave. My husband and sons love exploring caves, and Mammoth Cave is one of the largest in the world.

The inside of the cave was beautiful! The rock formations, rooms, everything, was simply breathtaking. We were on a group tour and following a guide, who told us the history of the cave and other interesting facts and stories. I did my best to stay close to the guide because I didn’t want to get lost in the largest cave in America.

Yet, like, most cave tours, we came to the inner part of the cave and the guide turned out the lights, asking all of us to turn off all cell phones and flashlights, as well. All of a sudden, utter and complete blackness consumed us. I have never experienced anything as dark as in that moment.

When we stand face to face with the dark and unknown, we can rest. We are held in the loving arms of our Almighty God, who has given victory over darkness. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

God in the Dark

I held tightly to my kids’ small hands assuring them of my presence, all the while trying not to panic in the black. I couldn’t even see something right in front of my face! My heart was pounding as I silently reminded myself that I was safe, and the darkness wouldn’t last.

How do you feel when the dark is closing in? When you can’t see your way, and you don’t know if God is there?

In a moment of utter darkness, it is easy to want to panic. When we can’t see very far ahead of us, or anything around us, when we can’t see God, it can be difficult to rest.

But in that deep, dark place, Jesus is there. He has been there since the beginning, always working in the darkness. Creation itself came out of a place of darkness and emptiness.

The earth was without form and an empty waste, and darkness was upon the face of the very great deep. The Spirit of God was moving (hovering, brooding) over the face of the waters.

Genesis 1:2, AMPC

Held in the Dark

Jesus is not afraid of or taken aback by the darkness. Nothing is unknown to Him, and even when we cannot feel it, He is there.

In the same way, I held onto my little one’s hands in the deep of the cave, in the same way, I hold them close in the middle of the night, Jesus holds us close to His heart, to assure us He is near.

And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Colossians 1:17, ESV

As I read this verse, I like to picture the big arms of God wrapped around me in a loving embrace. He knows me. He sees me. He knows and sees you!

I don’t always know what God has in store for me or my family. I can never really be sure what the future holds. And that scares me a little, sometimes a lot.

What I CAN be sure of is that I am following a good God, who knows all, understands all, sees all and loves me! I don’t always know where we are going, but I always know I am held. Even when I can’t feel Him, I know He is there, and I know He is good.

Jesus is not afraid of the darkness. Nothing is unknown to Him, and even when we cannot feel it, He is there. Click To Tweet

Victory in the Dark

The darkness was never meant to overwhelm us. We can have victory in the dark when we choose to trust our Guide, Jesus Christ, the Light of the World. He is always present. He never changes. He always wins!

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:4-5, ESV

A tiny seed is planted in the dark ground and grows to be a magnificent oak. Lava rumbles in the dark and unseen and erupts into a powerful volcano. And the Earth we live on came out of emptiness and formless dark. Do not fear the dark, rather, expect victory to come from it.

I can see, and that is why I can be happy, in what you call the dark, but which to me is golden. I can see a God-made world, not a man made world.

Helen Keller

When we stand face to face with the dark and unknown, we can rest. We are held in the loving arms of our Almighty God, who has given victory over darkness. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

confidence, hope, provision, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Confidence: Relying on God’s Hope Through the Storms of Life

Life is guaranteed to bring storms. We must learn to put our confidence and trust in God. Only He can provide hope for the days ahead. 



While everyone was hunkering down in anticipation for Hurricane Florence, my family too was (and still is), walking through a storm, but it’s not the tropical kind. It is the physical kind. My son Evan is having his bone marrow transplant. He has had 7 rounds of chemo and after his brother donates bone marrow, Evan will have his transplant.

He Goes Before

I have faced fear these past few months in a way that I had not thought possible. Sometimes the fear is so real, I can taste it and so strong, I can barely breathe. It is in moments like this I have had to remember what my heart can quickly forget. My God goes before me.

This summer I spent some time in Proverbs. At the end of the study, I looked at Proverbs 31. Two verses clearly stand out to me…

She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet… Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.

Proverbs 31:21,25, ESV

Maybe saying they stand out is not the right way to put it. They literally make me groan. Not afraid? Clothed in strength? Laughing at the days ahead? How?

Life is guaranteed to bring storms. We must learn to put our confidence and trust in God. Only He can provide hope for the days ahead. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Emotional

I find myself spending way too many days in a panic hoping things will change. And if I am honest, I am frustrated by my own feelings and how emotional I feel.

I can quickly equate extreme emotion with sin. I am not sure where I made that connection. But let me be clear. Scripture does not support this. Emotions are good. God gave us feelings. I get in trouble when I live as if they are always true. Just because my feelings have me running to fear and anxiety does not mean I have to stay there.

Still…

While I have been dealing with this extreme situation, I have also been fighting for joy and looking to see God’s good gifts. Many people in God’s body have rallied around us providing in ways I could not have thought possible. As each new needs has appeared, God has supplied. His ways have truly not been my ways.

I was sharing my frustration recently with a friend about my inability to laugh at the days ahead. She just shook her head at me and told me I was laughing. I told her I was definitely doing more crying than laughing. But she reminded me that I was still seeking, still praying, still fighting to believe that He is my supply. This is a joy that cannot be taken away through any trials in this life.

Just because our feelings have us running to fear and anxiety does not mean we have to stay there. Continue seeking, praying, and believing He is our supply. Click To Tweet

Confidence Through the Storm

James tells us to count it all joy brethren when we face various trials knowing that the testing of our faith develops perseverance (James 1:2). And Paul reminds us…

…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character and character produces hope,

Romans 5:3-4, ESV

The Proverbs 31 woman doesn’t have confidence because she has taken care of her family in her own strength or because she has put provisions aside. She has confidence because she knows who ultimately is responsible for her home. I know that too. The doctors have come up with a treatment plan, but God is ultimately the one I can and must turn to for hope. He holds all my days in His hands and He cares about my son in ways I cannot even imagine.

Life is guaranteed to bring storms. We must learn to put our confidence and trust in God. Only He can provide hope for the days ahead. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

calling, purpose, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, ministry, mentoring

Calling: Who We’ve Been and Who We’re Becoming

The Lord knows who we’ve always been, who we are, and who we’re becoming because He created each one of us with a specific calling.



This morning, I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me to go upstairs to finally open up an old box. The box has been sitting in a cabinet for nearly three years, and I have not had the courage to open it. It contains a bunch of old items that my siblings and I recovered from the little house where we grew up. Old keepsakes, letters, journals, and photos comprise its contents. We found these things in the attic at the old home-place after Mom passed away, just over three years ago. I’ve been reluctant to open the box because I’ve known that there will be things in it that could be hard to see. But, the Holy Spirit said it is time to open the box.

The Journal…

As I quickly scanned the contents, I came across a Steno pad journal with my name on the front. Although discolored, miraculously the little book remained unscathed during a serious house fire that nearly burned our old house to the ground. Somehow this little journal survived, tucked away there in the attic. Apparently it was one that my fifth grade teacher had assigned because each page contained a different writing prompt.

Thumbing through it, the particular entry that caught my eye was titled: “How do you think your childhood will affect your adult life?” Wow. Isn’t that the question we’re all still trying to answer?! Here’s what my 11 year old self had to say on the subject…

September 5, 1991.

I remember when I was younger, I used to have dreams about a big red bubble. In my bubble, I would float around the world and stop destruction. In my dreams I would see horrible sights. I would wake up and tell my dad that I wanted to help helpless people when I grew up. Hopefully someday I can make my dreams a reality. I will try to get good grades so that I can get a good future career which will hopefully be as a robotics technician or a writer.

Not Much Has Changed!

The thing that struck me as I read my own words is that in nearly three decades, not much has changed! Except for the part about wanting to be a robotics technician. Thankfully that childhood dream remained just that, a pipe dream! But the fact that I had terrible dreams where I saw awful things, is still true today. The Lord shows me things in my dreams, sometimes very hard things, but I have learned that there is a prophetic purpose to many of them. Sometimes He has me share a dream with the person that it’s about, or I simply pray for that person based on what I’ve seen in the dream.

And then there’s the part about wanting to help people who feel helpless. This calling definitely has not changed. For as long as I can remember, my heart has broken for people who feel hopeless and helpless. The Lord has begun to open doors for me to move through life–not in a big red bubble, but covered by His blood–to encourage those who are hopeless and to help those who feel helpless. And then there’s the bit about wanting to be a writer. Well, case in point, I’m writing this devotional that you’re reading and working on a family memoir. So, He is making my childhood dreams a reality.

The Spirit Is Unchanging…

Although we grow and change throughout our lives, the core of who we are–our spirit–is the same from the time we’re born until the day we die. And what’s more, as eternal beings, our spirit has always been and will always be the same. Our physical bodies change; emotions go on rollercoaster rides; minds become more fully open or closed. But our spirit–or rather His Holy Spirit in us–is unchanging. It’s in our spirits that our true identity resides. And in our spirits dwell our deepest desires and purest callings.

We can see an example of this in Jeremiah, when the word of the Lord revealed who he’d always been and who he’d become:

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

Jeremiah 1:5

Although Jeremiah was reluctant, claiming that he was merely a child, the Lord assured Jeremiah that he would fulfill his prophetic calling:

But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord.

Jeremiah 1:7-8

The Lord knows who we've always been, who we are, and who we're becoming because He created each one of us with a specific calling. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Assurance for Our Calling…

Perhaps you have known from a young age that there is a call on your life. But have you also doubted that you have what it takes to really live out your calling? The Lord assures us that we will be able to fulfill our calling because He created us to accomplish the very purpose we so desperately long for.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10

Although I’ve always had a heart for those who feel hopeless, and helpless, for years I shied away from the calling on my life. I felt ill-equipped to help anyone else because I was desperately fighting so many of my own battles. You see, that little 11 year old Hope (or “Hopey” as my mom called me), was about to go through some of the darkest battles of her life. In less than two years, her dad would die. She and her siblings would be scattered to the winds.

For most of her adolescence, she would be extremely anxious and depressed. Bouncing from one home to another, she would wind up with emotional whiplash by the time she left the sixth family’s home that had taken her in. Lost and alone, her heart would harden. She would turn to all the wrong things to try to find acceptance and love- rigid perfectionism, shoplifting, sex, drugs, you name it… And in her late 20’s she’d hit a wall and try to take her own life.

The Lord assures us that we will be able to fulfill our calling because He created us to accomplish the very purpose we so desperately long for. Click To Tweet

A Much Better Ending…

But God knew who He had created me to be, and He did not allow suicide to be the end of my story. He knew all along that the story He was writing would have a much better ending. And I know now that He has already written the chapters that I’m living out. The story changed when He rescued me, and I gave my life to Him. Now Jesus Christ is the protagonist in my story, and because of that, it will indeed have a happy ending. And beloved, because Christ is in your story, it will have a good ending too. Because that’s what He promises, and He is not a man that He should lie (Numbers 23:19).

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:6

Do you have an old “box” that you need to open? Is there a call on your life that’s been collecting dust on a shelf of fear? How has the Lord assured you of who He created you to be?

The Lord knows who we've always been, who we are, and who we're becoming because He created each one of us with a specific calling. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

All scripture references from the King James Version of the Bible.
Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, faith, brokenness, healing, darkness, light, prayer, scripture

Darkness: Stepping Out of the Shadows and Into the Light of Jesus

God invites us to step out of the darkness of our brokenness, and into the light of Jesus. That is where we find freedom, this is where we find healing.



Prayer is the believer’s greatest weapon. It is the first line of defense. I was named after the prophetess who recognized Jesus as the Messiah. In the last several months, more people than I even know by name have been praying for my life. I am amped to share with you my first-hand account of God calling me out of darkness and into the light. I now trust my Messiah.

Once I was told a Christian must have a specific transforming moment in their life to claim salvation. It was the evidence of the changed life he or she claimed to have. I had been baptized and I went to church every Sunday. Surely I was good to go, right? But I couldn’t recall an exact moment. I began to question my faith and everything else I believed in.

Dispelling inaccuracies…

Whoever told me I had to have a pinpointed moment of conversion was off the mark. Relationships don’t form in a single moment; they take years. These multiple moments define our faith; they are crucial to it. What is a relationship without doubt? Doubt proven wrong turns into trust. And what is a relationship without hardship? Hardships provide opportunities to share the load when you can’t stand on your own two feet.

You cannot have a relationship with someone and not interact with them. How do you expect to grow close to someone if you’re not willing to grow with them? In other words, how can you expect to grow close to your God if you’re not willing to speak to Him? You simply cannot.

What is a relationship without doubt? Doubt proven wrong turns into trust. And what is a relationship without hardship? Hardships provide opportunities to share the load when you can’t stand on your own two feet. Click To Tweet

A little history…

I have been battling progressively crippling anxiety over the last decade. Most recently, I would not be physically or mentally able to get through more than a few hours without breaking down. Anxiety/panic attacks became daily, sometimes hourly companions. At times, the assault lasted no longer than a few minutes, but others dragged on two to three hours. In an effort to stop an oncoming episode, I would scratch and scrape my arms and legs with my fingernails.

Sinking into darkness…

Amidst the chaos of my worsening state, my family and I had moved nine hours away from everything I’d ever known. The odds were not in my favor. Depression inevitably entered the scene. Within this dark cloud of hopelessness and despair, I began harming myself with whatever I could find in hopes to ease some of the torment in my mind.

After telling my parents shortly after the self harming began, they put me in counseling. That wasn’t cutting it (no pun intended) so we added medical professionals to the mix. That worked for a while, but at my core I felt worthless and hopeless. In May, I relapsed and landed in the ER. It was a wake-up call for me. Miraculously, with the support of several kind and loving brothers and sisters within and outside my church, I was finally able to begin my journey to recovery.

Goosebumps encounters…

I am 16 years old and last month I watched my first horror movie. Any fears I had about watching the film were canceled out in contrast to the horror I faced in my own life…or so I thought. I watched the movie on Thursday night without any trouble. But when it came time for bed on Friday, my last night in the house we’d been living in for two and a half years, I began to feel afraid. Pictures from the movie danced around in my brain.

I felt unsafe, like something dark was lurking in the shadows of my nearly empty room. I was scared of the dark, or rather, what I thought was concealed by it. My mind began to race faster and faster. Thoughts flooded in carrying heartbreaking things that had happened in my life. I was spiraling. Here I go again, I thought; causing my own destruction.

Glimmers of hope…

Then, like a flicker of light in the self-made darkness, a memory found its way into the turmoil. I recalled something I’d heard my Mom say once. “Say Jesus’ name over and over and over again. The devil hates it. He can’t stand it.” So I began whispering His name. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. As the fear continued so did my prayer. Then a song came to mind. The enemy, HE HAS TO LEAVE, at the sound of Your great name.

As I repeated the name of Jesus, begging for relief from all the pain, all the fear…I felt something. Not knowing what this hiccup in my spirit was, I pressed in and began talking to God. And for the first time ever I felt Him. I could feel His presence. And the small glimmer of Christ, of Love, was enough to bring me to tears.

Accepting Love…

I tried as hard as I could to continue praying through the sobs. I was astounded. After all I’d done, and all I ever would do, the Lord still said, “That one’s Mine.” Christ bled, suffered, and died, knowing so many would turn away, so many would curse His name. He still took the weight so some of us could come home.

Christ redeemed us from that self-defeating, cursed life by absorbing it completely into himself. Do you remember the Scripture that says, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”? That is what happened when Jesus was nailed to the cross: He became a curse, and at the same time dissolved the curse. And now, because of that, the air is cleared and we can see that Abraham’s blessing is present and available for non-Jews, too. We are all able to receive God’s life, his Spirit, in and with us by believing—just the way Abraham received it.

Galatians 3:13-14, MSG

Sometimes, I find myself—actually, most of the time—missing the fact that Jesus took the weight of ALL our sin. The moment Jesus walked out of the tomb every sin committed, past, present and future, was washed away. Just a small taste of my sin would daily land me sobbing on the floor. My sin alone was so overwhelming I considered taking my own life. But He loved us—HE LOVES US—He loves you, me, your coworkers, your classmates. Because we are His, He took every drop of death. He conquered it.

God invites us to step out of the darkness of our brokenness, and into the light of Jesus. That is where we find freedom, this is where we find healing. | Faith | Spiritual Growth | Christian Women | Prayer | Scripture

Stepping into the Light…

That Friday night I finally understood how much I really didn’t understand a thing. For so long I’ve been angry at God for taking so much and putting me through so much. But I understand now, it was so I would have nothing but Him. It’s like a tattoo; it hurts in the moment, but it lasts forever. All the pain was worth it. Humans attempt to promise a forever, but the forever Christ promises us goes beyond all our knowledge of time.

Dear friends, don’t overlook this one fact: With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.

2 Peter 3:18, CSB

We forget how much power our God really has. If He wanted the earth to vanish beneath us, vanish it would! If He wanted it to rain cats and dogs, THAT’S WHAT IT WOULD DO! We forget to remind ourselves how truly awesome He is. So entangled by our own flesh, we completely forget who gave us this flesh. We have nothing to show; nothing. We are broken… we are ugly… we are sinners. But because God loved us, He made a way for us to step out of the darkness and come home. That makes us beautiful. It makes us whole.

God invites us to step out of the darkness of our brokenness, and into the light of Jesus. That is where we find freedom, this is where we find healing. | Faith | Spiritual Growth | Christian Women | Prayer | Scripture

Annie Spratt

constant, unchanging, hope, Oh Lord Help Us, women, Christian, ministry

Constant: Hopeful in the Waiting Because Jesus is Unchanging

Hope is challenging when our lives are full of waiting. Jesus is our hope and deliverer even when nothing may ever change. He is our constant.



My friend had a broken heart. I’m done she wrote. Done praying, hoping, waiting. What kind of father allows his children to suffer and hurt when he has the power to change and heal hearts? He hides behind this idea that we are to learn lessons and become stronger. It’s cruel and I want no part of it.

As I read my friend’s words, I knew I too had felt these very thoughts and more as I suffered through long periods of waiting. What is a believer to do in the midst of extreme despair? As believers our only answer is hope.

Hope is challenging when our lives are full of waiting. Jesus is our hope and deliverer even when nothing may ever change. He is our constant. #hope, #constant, #givemeJesus

He is Our Hope

The weight of situations have left me feeling broken, alone, vulnerable, and angry. While listening to preachers talk about peace and comfort and better times, I have rarely connected better times with being in God’s presence. I know I have attributed better times with better circumstances; the problem would be resolved and the weight would fall off. Yet, Scripture is full of those who saw long times of waiting. Moses in the desert – not one time but twice, Joseph in prison, and David in hiding. And us his church waiting for his return. If I am honest, I do not want to be one of the waiting. I want to be one of the delivered.

How can I find hope and even believe there is anything to hope for in the face of so much pain? In the face of impossible situations and ones that may not change?

He is Our Deliverer

Hebrews 11, while it speaks of so many who were faithful and saw victory, also talks about suffering, mocking, flogging, sawn in two, stoned, killed by the sword. Destitute, afflicted, mistreated- of whom the world was unworthy.  While many today want to make Jesus into some wise teacher, He is and was so much more.

He is the great deliverer. For some, that will be here on earth. They will see healing and change. But, many may never see deliverance until heaven. Regardless of when the hope that we long for is fulfilled, we can all stand sure of one thing- His presence. He has promised us His presence. Jesus said he was sending us a comforter. What does that mean but that we would require comfort? This world has trouble, but take heart. I have overcome the world.

Regardless of when the hope that we long for is fulfilled, we can all stand sure of one thing- His presence. Click To Tweet

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He is Our Constant

I can see the weight of worry and despair fall off because He is my peace, who has broken down every wall. My problem will not go away. Some of my worries may never get better or even change until I walk the gates of heaven. But, He is constant. I can trust him with my agony knowing that He too, understands what it is like to suffer. I can lay my despair at the feet of Jesus and know if not now, then one day all will be redeemed. All will be made new. All will be as He intended.

Jesus too, suffered knowing that the only relief would be the cross. I can take comfort that in whatever I face He, who knew no sin, suffered in my place so that I will not face eternity with no hope. This is a different kind of hope than the one who does not know Jesus, our great high priest who, though was tempted, was without sin. I will forget this truth often and I hope that I can reach out to those who will gently remind me of what is good and true. I can pray and take time to train my heart to remember and meditate on His constancy.

Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 12:3, NIV

Hope is challenging when our lives are full of waiting. Jesus is our hope and deliverer even when nothing may ever change. He is our constant. #hope, #constant, #givemeJesus

eberhard grossgasteiger

lament, fear not, joy, Oh Lord Help Us, ministry, Christian, women

Lament: Fear Not, Limitless Joy is Available in the Midst of Struggle

Feeling sorrowful does not necessarily indicate lack of trust. Having a right understanding of God’s limitless power and love frees us to lament with hope. Joy is unshakable in the midst of struggle.



Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4, ESV

A great deal of life seems to play out in the valley of the shadow of death. As a matter of fact, I am currently in a season of darkness. Why not throw in the towel? How can I continue to take joy in the God of my salvation when following Him places me on the front lines of battle? Hope, for one; but not as an afterthought. Because flippantly telling someone to have hope in the midst of a trial is like telling an exasperated man “patience is a virtue.” Yes, thank you; I am aware.

Feeling sorrowful does not necessarily indicate lack of trust. Having a right understanding of God's limitless power and love frees us to lament with hope. Joy is unshakable in the midst of struggle. #lament #fearnot #limitlessjoy

Fear not…

It would be easy to fixate on my current heartache, but that gives birth to anxiety. However, God’s word has a lot to say in response to fear. Over and over in Scripture we are told to fear not. But it isn’t dismissive in nature like, why can’t you keep it together? I’m God, remember? No; He commands: fear not, and then tells us why we don’t have to be afraid.

FEAR NOT:

  • I am with you
  • I am the One who helps you
  • I have redeemed you
  • I am your shield
  • I hear you
  • I am working righteousness in you
  • I fight for you
  • I go with you into battle to give you victory
  • I am with you wherever you go
  • I give victory
  • Stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord

Feeling sorrowful does not necessarily indicate lack of trust. Having a right understanding of God's limitless power and love frees us to lament with hope. Joy is unshakable in the midst of struggle. #lament #fearnot #limitlessjoy

Lament…

Notwithstanding, neither can I ignore or control the incapacitating sorrow weighing down my soul. I must lament. Because the act of lamenting faces me toward God. While in His presence I am able to share honestly all that grieves and worries me. Within His capable arms I can say: This is too much! I feel overwhelmed! Remind me of your faithfulness. Open my eyes to see where You are working this for Your glory and our good. Fight for us! Protect us. Help me to stand firm on Your promises.

When we act like we can handle our suffering on our own, we commit idolatry — acting like we are God, capable in ourselves. Lamenting is relearning our humanity. Lamenting is admitting that we can’t handle it, knowing we need God’s power, mercy, and grace. If we could handle our sufferings, we wouldn’t need Jesus, his cross, his power, and his resurrection. Lamenting is how we grieve as those who have hope.

J.A. Medders, Redeemer Church Tomball, TX

Limitless…

Relearning my humanity = understanding my limits. Finally, it is there I remember I belong to a limitless God. Furthermore, I can only dream of what God has prepared for the future. But even now, in His mercy, I am seeing collateral blessings rise up out of this dark valley. So I find as I rely on our limitless God, hope is catching like wildfire.

Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort…For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.

2 Corinthians 1:7-10, ESV

Relearning my humanity = understanding my limits. Finally, it is there I remember I belong to a limitless God. Click To Tweet

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Hero, God, glory, Oh Lord Help Us, ministry, women, scripture

Hero: We Are Not the Main Character of this Story

God’s word is applicable to our lives, but this cannot be where we start. We must begin by acknowledging the true Hero of the story.



I grew up in a family that attended church every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. I heard a lot of preaching. But, it was only until college I began to systematically study the scriptures for myself. It was stunning, what I began to discover. Well-meaning teachers had added information to the Biblical stories. I am not sure of their motives but I want to believe they were wanting to motivate a desire to make the Bible interesting or to promote a character trait they were hoping to emphasize. The hard truth was they made up details.

The one that was perhaps the most shocking to me was the story of Noah. I had heard over and over again about Noah’s impassioned plea to his neighbors to repent and believe and come on the ark. Over and over Noah’s neighbors laughed at him and denied that the rain was coming. Or so I was told. But, that’s not really how the story goes.

And those that entered male and female of all flesh went in as God had commanded him. And the Lord shut him in.

Genesis 7:16

Noah did not try to convince his neighbors. He did not try to defend God or discuss the coming rain. He built the ark and gathered his family and the animals and he waited for God to close the door.

That’s a pretty big difference.

God's word is applicable to our lives, but this cannot be where we start. We must begin by acknowledging the true Hero of the story. #GodsGlory #worship #hero

The Main Character…

And there were lots of other stories just like that. In fact, I even have had a bent for adding emphasis to certain details from the Bible and leaving other details out. My biggest problem however was even more subtle. I was reading the Bible always looking for application. How would this affect me? How would this scripture influence my life? What was God telling me to do and how could I be like the human character mentioned in this story?

The Hero…

While these are all good goals to wrestle with as we study God’s word, if it’s where we start, it’s pretty flawed. Just like those Sunday school teachers I had 30 years ago. The emphasis of every story is a hero. And that hero is God. He begins in the beginning and creates. He comes in the form of Jesus to be crucified and resurrected. And He returns again to come take his bride. Every story is whispering his name. Every story is declaring his glory. This is not new news to us. If we have spent any time in scripture, we know this. But we still don’t look for Him.

We look for us. And we come away from scripture more convinced that we don’t have what it takes (we don’t in the flesh), and we come away more discouraged and defeated. God’s word is active and living – a two edged sword. It is meant to divide us from our thoughts of lies and unbelief. Yet, we can’t be the hero. He has to be the hero of every page. He’s there. I will admit, I forget this. I forget this a lot. And when I remember who I am reading about and what He is capable of and whose I am… Well, I find my heart soaring and my lips praising and praying. I can’t help myself. As I meditate on his truths and on Him, I find peace, I find joy, I find hope. I can’t find hope in myself.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

If this has been an encouragement, please share the love with others…

The emphasis of every story is a hero. And that hero is God... Every story is whispering his name. Every story is declaring his glory. Click To Tweet

God's word is applicable to our lives, but this cannot be where we start. We must begin by acknowledging the true Hero of the story. #GodsGlory #worship #hero

Jon Tyson

hope, longing, desire, Oh Lord Help Us, ministry, women, encouragement

Hope: Live with Longing and Expectation as Prisoners of Hope

To hope in God is more than a wish. It is a longing and an expectation. It is this hope that sustains us through darkness. How do we live as prisoners of hope?



When I was a young girl, I hoped I would grow up to be a fabulous journalist. Later, as a teen, I began to see and understand the darkness of addiction that had insidiously invaded our family. Then I began to hope and pray for a Godly husband with whom to build a strong, enduring family of faith. Was I hoping or wishing…or both?

To hope in God is more than a wish. It is a longing and an expectation. It is this hope that sustains us through darkness. How do we live as prisoners of hope?

Wishing

Hope: to cherish a desire with anticipation; to want something to happen or be true…at least that is how Merriam-Webster defines it. This somewhat sterile definition sounds more like wishing to me.  An online dictionary pared it down a bit more: a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. But perhaps that’s how we use it today: “I hope it doesn’t rain; I hope we can get together soon; I hope you like this new recipe I tried for dinner.”

Hope has become a word we throw around like the word ‘love’ and several other words in our language; the meaning has been blurred, but we continue to use them. I can ‘want something to be true’ or ‘cherish a desire with anticipation’ all day long, but if that’s all I’ve got…well, as Paul said, then I am of all people most to be pitied (I Cor. 15:19 NIV).

Longing

When I hear the word hope my mind turns to deep longing; a blossom in the soul that is waiting to unfurl.

I found it interesting while researching meanings for hope online that after two definitions, every single entry afterward was about Christian hope.

Now, why would that be??

The answer might be found in a 1986 sermon by John Piper: “Biblical hope is a confident expectation and desire for something good in the future.” There is no wishing here, no uncertainty in our hope.  Piper said, “Biblical hope not only desires something good for the future; it expects it to happen.  And it not only expects it to happen; it is confident that it will happen.”

Do you have that kind of hope? A certainty and confident expectation that God intends only good for you and your future?

Expecting

Sometimes, as the Psalmist urged, and Piper reminded, we must tap ourselves on the shoulder. We must say to ourselves in the mirror on those difficult mornings or those dark evenings when the clouds of doubt or the trials and suffering threaten to overcome us:

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.

Psalm 42:5, NKJV

HOPE IN GOD!  Sometimes, I want to tattoo that message on my forearm or over my heart so that I see it as a daily reminder that hope in God is the anchor of my soul. Beth Guckenburger said in her book, Start With Amen, “Hope keeps a medical diagnosis or wayward child from taking us under. It’s the best weapon we have on any given day. It says, “I don’t care how it looks or what I feel. I know this story isn’t over. I know Jesus sits on the throne…””

Besides Jesus, what better example than David do we have of someone who has placed utmost hope in God? Throughout his days we witness him praising in prosperous times and heart wrenching, sorrowful times. David dances with gladness before the Lord and falls before Him in repentance after he sins with shocking abandon. David portrays confident hope in Adonai, the LORD of lords Who is filled with compassion.

I love how Acts 2:25-26 reframes a Psalm by David in The Message:

I saw God before me for all time.
Nothing can shake me; he’s right by my side.
I’m glad from the inside out, ecstatic;
I’ve pitched my tent in the land of hope.

Prisoners

Dear sisters, may we pitch our tents in the land of hope. Yes, may we even be ‘prisoners of hope,’ as Zechariah said in his missive. While we have been, and may at this moment be prisoners of many things, let us covenant to be only His prisoners, prisoners of righteousness and hope. Our Lord is faithful and true; He is worthy of our hope.

Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope. Even today I declare that I will restore double to you.

Zechariah 9:12, NKJV

While we have been, and may at this moment be prisoners of many things, let us covenant to be only His prisoners, prisoners of righteousness and hope. Click To Tweet

digital print, watercolor, hope, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, ministry, encouragement

To hope in God is more than a wish. It is a longing and an expectation. It is this hope that sustains us through darkness. How do we live as prisoners of hope?

This watercolor, painted by Rachael Smith, is available as a digital download in the Oh Lord Help Us Shop.

rest, stillness, meditation, Oh Lord Help Us, women, ministry, encouragement

Stillness: Creating Oneness with God in Quiet Meditation

Stillness can be a daily habit to insure our whole being aligns with God. Creating oneness with God in our busy lives, becomes easier during quiet meditation.



Life is a whirlwind of happenings, appointments, activities, stuff. The world yanks us in many different directions and the multiplication of all of life’s intricacies, create huge “energy stealers”. In busyness, it can be incredibly difficult to focus in on God. At the extreme, it paralyzes our ability to even experience God. So, how can we overcome these pulls?

I recently wrote about rest and how rejuvenating our souls in the Lord gives us true energy. But, what should we do with that energy. Yes, the normal daily things come to mind… cleaning up messes would be a great use of it. However, I want to suggest one more step before we head off into our worlds of schedules and tasks… stillness.

Stillness can be a daily habit to insure our whole being aligns with God. Creating oneness with God in our busy lives, becomes easier during quiet meditation.

Confused Stillness

I’ve touched a bit in previous posts that I tend to be more reserved and introverted. For a long time, I thought stillness and quietness were one in the same. That may be true in the worldly realm, but spiritually, they are quite different. I am quiet and also distracted. Yes, I can pray while I do the dishes, or contemplate God while folding laundry, but that is not stillness. That’s multitasking.

Stillness can also be confused with rest. Stillness uses energy. Whereas, resting causes you to gain energy. When you seek rest in the Almighty, you are trusting Him to fill you with supernatural energy. Oppositely, stillness uses that energy to zoom in on God within us, to provide peace, clarity, and joy.

What Is Stillness?

Not to get all Hippie-Dippie on you, but it’s a tranquil activity which produces serenity and calmness within. Stillness is a complete focus on God inside of us. Our bodies, minds, hearts being completely still before the Lord. Stillness insures we are hearing God’s voice, feeling His presence, and His goodness is filling us. A meditation if you will. In order to truly meditate on something, you must have energy. Just like in any activity, you need the power to do it.

Now, meditation can be a taboo word in the Christian community. It’s usually has association with other religions or practices. However, in my research, I learned that meditation is not linked to any religion, at all. There’s actually science behind what happens. Our bodies physically benefit from this activity, and, ultimately, our souls.

Quiet Meditation

Yes, messes are all around us physically, but our minds are no different. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if God didn’t have to push through all that clutter in order to speak with us? To have an unadulterated oneness with the Lord, could you imagine? We are humans, so, this isn’t possible. However, we can create habits that drive us towards oneness.

I’m not a yoga teacher and I have no schooling in the art of meditating. All I can give you is what I have personally learned…

Clean Space

I noticed that when I need meditation most, is when there’s the biggest mess. So, finding an uncluttered, completely clean part of your home may be difficult, but it’s vital. Yes, our eyes are shut, but our minds are not fooled.

Breathe

We all know that a few deep breaths can bring calmness and clarity, but slowed, controlled breathing for periods of time, really brings a nice detox to the blood stream and the mind.

Posture

I am a sloucher. If I don’t change this habit, I see back issues in my future. Sit up straight. Really be mindful of the posture of your body. Sit in a comfortable position that allows for pristine spinal posture.

Shut Out

One part of meditation is the practice of completely shutting out the world. This is really important. As a child of God, I have a calling to not be OF this world, but to allow God to transform me. If I don’t minimize myself in meditative habit, I cannot be changed.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Romans 12:2, NIV

Thinking

This is the hardest for me; to combat human nature… I think all of the time. It’s so important to push out all our thoughts and really focus on God. I try to focus only on one thing about God: the cross, a specific characteristic, God’s work inside of me (physically or spiritually), specific scripture.

Stillness can be a daily habit to insure our whole being aligns with God. Creating oneness with God in our busy lives, becomes easier during quiet meditation.

Hope for Stillness

Again, this oneness in the Lord is something only hoped for. However, stillness thins the line between hope and achievement.

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

John 15:4, NLT

Jesus came to earth, lived as one of us. He saw our struggle then, and sees our struggle now. The world pulls us in so many directions; most dragging us away from our Father. Jesus knew this truth when He spoke those words. We cannot flourish in all we do, aside from God. Making stillness a daily habit insures our actions, attitudes, thoughts are saturated in God.

We cannot flourish in all we do, aside from God. Making stillness a daily habit insures our actions, attitudes, thoughts are saturated in God. Click To Tweet

Stillness can be a daily habit to insure our whole being aligns with God. Creating oneness with God in our busy lives, becomes easier during quiet meditation.

Inheritance: The Source of Our Future and Present Hope

Our hope, and our inheritance is not found in earthly things. Our inheritance is the promise of the Creator Himself.



In the early hours of December 10, my mom took her last ragged breath in this world and took a cleansing, pure breath in the next one. Her mind and body were instantly restored as she was welcomed home by a loving embrace from her heavenly Father. I’m sure my dad was standing or kneeling somewhere nearby and a joyful reunion likely followed.

My parents were middle class folks. Any meager savings they may have accumulated was spent on medical bills during the years my dad faced his battle with cancer. An inheritance isn’t something that ever entered my or my brother’s minds.

My father-in-law is 91. He worked in and retired from a factory. He and my mother-in-law had 6 children, so he also worked many odd jobs, in addition to any extra shifts he was asked to work at the factory. They were frugal; she sewed, grew a garden each year, and canned vegetables. As a result, their six children never had an unmet need. However, other than a small, rundown farm, an inheritance of large sums of money is unthinkable.

Since her death, my husband and I have attempted to close my mom’s estate, such as it was. We have chuckled at some of the absurdities of government, (don’t get me started)…such as having to take a $13.67 check from the bank to the nursing home so that Medicaid would not think we were stealing from the estate. Really. Oh! And having to call the Veteran’s Administration twice to inform them of her death only to have them deposit her funds, and then send us a letter to send it back. You can’t make this stuff up…

Inheritance: The Source of Our Future Hope

Inheritance. What comes to mind when you think of the word? The child of a wealthy person? People sitting around an attorney’s desk with an air of expectancy? Siblings fighting over heirlooms or the jewelry? The Jerry Springer show? Interesting where our thoughts initially go when that word comes up.

Recently, I was remembering a favorite passage of scripture I turn to in difficult times. You wouldn’t think Lamentations could give anyone cause for hope (!), however, these verses always renew mine.

This I recall to mind, Therefore I have hope.
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!”

Lamentations 3:21-24, NKJV

Our hope, and our inheritance is not found in earthly things. Our inheritance is the promise of the Creator Himself.

The Lord is my portion…

Today we have a tendency to think of a portion in regard to food, (as in smaller portions, since dieting is such a huge marketing focus.) Not surprisingly, there are other nuances of the word in the Old Testament that have become lost in today’s vernacular. In our simplification of the language for texting we often lose the richness of word meanings.

For decades the Psalms have given me much solace through seasons of trial, pain or loss. However, the full weight of the meaning of Psalms, such as Psalm 16:5, have only recently been dawning on my spirit.

Oh Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
You maintain my lot.
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places.
Yes, I have a good inheritance.

Psalm 16:5, NKJV

Let your heart rest on that for a moment, as Asaph finally did in Psalm 73 after feeling jealous of his enemies.

GOD, everything HE IS, is our inheritance when we belong to Him. What does it matter if we have houses and lands? We have HIM, the God of Creation.

Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is nothing upon earth that I  desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:25-26, ESV

Our hope, and our inheritance is not found in earthly things. Our inheritance is the promise of the Creator Himself.

Inheritance: The Source of Our Present Hope

You might be thinking, “Well, yeah, in the sweet by and by He’s my inheritance, but what about now?”

David answers you…

I cried out to you, O Lord: I said, “You are my refuge, My portion in the land of the living.”

Psalm 142:5, NKJV

God is our inheritance here, too.  He is our strength, our refuge, our deliverer, our fortress.

So, again, from where will your portion come?


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GOD, everything HE IS, is our inheritance when we belong to Him. Click To Tweet

Our hope, and our inheritance is not found in earthly things. Our inheritance is the promise of the Creator Himself.

Quinsey Sablan