help, weak, community, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, ministry

Help: Crying Out to the Lord Who Delivers from Trouble

Often, we move forward boldly, trying to accomplish things on our own, not asking for help. When is the right time to ask? What is at stake when we don’t?



“Oh Lord, help us” is not just the name of this ministry, but the cry of my heart.

It’s 11 o’clock on Tuesday night and I committed to have a devotional submitted by the end of the day. A week ago, I had a handful of ideas on what I wanted to write about. Clearly, seven days later, none of those panned out. This morning I put together some thoughts that were decent, but they were messy and didn’t flow or connect. This evening, after another hour of typing, I crawled underneath my covers and stared wide-eyed. I told my husband, Sean, “It’s crap. I have no space in my brain for writing right now.”

My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart…I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.

Psalm 7:10, 17, ESV

David gave God glory for the protection he received. I, too, must sing praise to God for His righteousness and cry out to the Most High.

Often, we move forward boldly, trying to accomplish things on our own, not asking for help. When is the right time to ask? What is at stake when we don’t? Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Opening Up

What happens when I need help and don’t ask? Uh…tonight. I’m totally sitting here crying. Which is kind of cleansing, but why ask for help to begin with? Well, for starters, to avoid getting to a place of hysteria. Haha. But all the more because I need community and I am weak. And that’s not just okay, it’s Biblical.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

Matthew 7:7-8

In one of Sean’s notebooks is written: Patience with God changes us from a different angle. His knowledge of what’s next isn’t the point. Our desire for His will is.

Giving Up the Ghost

On days like this, I try to align myself in community with God, fighting for humility to get to that place of sacrificial praise. I know it’s okay for me to ask for help from my husband or my kids when I’m spent. But I forget in the moment. Today, I feel used up. I realize I haven’t had space to breathe. So many worthy things vie for my attention and I genuinely want to be available. However, when I was driving to pick up my son from basketball camp this afternoon I had a fleeting thought of how nice it would be to keep driving. Not to leave him or escape my family, just to recharge.

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

Romans 8:26, NASB

The Spirit in the heart helps, dwelling in us, working in us, as a Spirit of grace and supplication, especially with respect to the infirmities we are under when we are in a suffering state, when our faith is most apt to fail; for this end the Holy Spirit was poured out.

Matthew Henry

I know it’s okay for me to ask for help when I’m spent. But I forget in the moment. Today, I feel used up. I realize I haven’t had space to breathe. Click To Tweet

Feelings Are Tricky Tricksters

The funny thing is, I love my home. It is bright and peaceful. I like my neighbors. Being at home is not a burden. I guess it’s my mind that has taken on a hostile stance. Many intensely emotional situations have occurred in the past few weeks. Some joyful, some heart wrenching. All of which I desperately want to be present in. I want to sit with sisters who are battling fear, depression and loss. I want to be waging war in the spirit realm for my brothers and sisters who are fighting the good fight of faith. To add on to the pile, I started school this week. It is a worthy undertaking, yet it is putting more constraints on my time.

I recall to mind a text Sean sent me a few days ago: Don’t let your feeling direct you. Be driven by purpose. Feelings come and go and are rarely righteous.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

Proverbs 19:21, NIV

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4, ESV

Help Is on The Way

This reminds me that when I say oh Lord, help me!…there is actually a God to call on that answers with hope and He reveals Himself to me in Christ. When I fall down at the feet of Jesus, He hears and redeems me from all of my worries. He continually exceeds my expectations through the work of His Spirit.

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.

Psalm 34:17, ESV

Often, we move forward boldly, trying to accomplish things on our own, not asking for help. When is the right time to ask? What is at stake when we don’t? Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Nine Köpfer

testimony, daily devotional, spiritual growth, Christian mentoring, Oh Lord Help Us

Testimony: Sharing The Good That God Has Done in Our Lives

Sharing our testimony of the good that God has done in our lives strengthens our own faith and builds others’ faith as well.



A few days ago, I received one of the most incredible messages I’ve ever seen. It was a testimony from a young man I had prayed for back in the spring. It read: “Hey Mrs. Hope, my name is Jacob.* You may not remember me, but a few months ago you gave me a ride and money for gas. You gave me your card with your cell number on the back and I just stumbled across it tucked away in my wallet. At the time I was a heroin addict, the kind of person most people avoid like the plague. You were the complete opposite, and showed nothing but genuine care and kindness towards me. I have turned my life around completely and now have a close relationship with Jesus Christ. I don’t know if I thanked you that day, but I’d like to take the chance now to tell you how appreciative I was and still am. You are a powerful woman and I hope you are doing well because you absolutely deserve it. I hope you have a blessed day.”

Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.

Psalm 66:16

Sharing our testimony of the good that God has done in our lives strengthens our own faith and builds others' faith as well. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Can I just take a moment to say….

“Praise God! Hallelujah!! Thank You Jesus!!! What a mighty God we serve!” When I read this message, I was speechless. Overwhelmed by the grace and mercy of God, I was in tears. I felt so grateful that the Lord allowed me to be part of an intense change in this young man’s life. What a blessing to witness a glimpse of the mighty work He’s doing to change Jacob’s direction–from a crash course with death to a renewed sense of life to the full!

When I wrote about my encounter with Jacob in a previous piece, I had no idea whether I’d hear from Jacob again. When I gave him my card, I was simply offering for him to reach back out if he needed help, prayer, etc. I did not expect to receive a text two months later with a testimony of how he had overcome his heroin addiction and rededicated his life to Jesus! When I was praying for Jacob, I felt a strong release of power from the Holy Spirit. So, I believed something shifted for him spiritually. But when I left him, the only assurance I had that he would kick his addiction was my own faith that the Lord would do a work in his life.

Testimonies build our faith…

I’m so thankful Jacob shared his testimony with me because it confirmed what I’d been believing for him in faith. You see, the Lord has set this whole thing up so beautifully! He wants us to have faith in Him. To believe that He will carry through on the promises He has made for our lives. But He also knows, that to truly believe, we need to experience His goodness firsthand. For ourselves. And when He answers our specific prayers, He knows we’ll be so blown away by what He has done, that we will praise His name. That we’ll testify of His goodness to others.

This is what happened with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. When she encountered Jesus, He offered her living water. He told her he knew that she had had five husbands, but He did not judge her. Rather, He invited her to a new way, to a new life filled with His living water. The woman accepted Jesus’ offer, left her water pail, and ran back to Samaria. There, she told everyone who Jesus was and what He had done for her. The result:

And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.

John 4:39

Salvations and strengthened faith resulted from the Samaritan woman’s testimony. These are the kinds of things that can happen when we testify of God’s goodness and mercy in our lives.

When we share how He has set us free, we help build the faith of other captives who desperately need to know that true freedom is possible. Click To Tweet

Sharing my testimony…

When I was in my Jeep with Jacob, he was at the end of himself. Out of gas. Strung out on heroin. Out of hope. And I knew what that felt like. Before we pulled over to pray, I shared my testimony of what the Lord had done for me. I told Jacob how a number of years ago, I had been suicidal and was driving 90 mph down the interstate. I admitted that I’d been trying to figure out how to wreck my car in a way that didn’t hurt anyone else and looked like an accident. How I was crying out to the Lord and telling Him that I was done. That the depression was too much for me to take anymore. I was begging Him to show me what my purpose was, or it was all over!

And then I shared how that little beater car had the audacity to pull right in front of me going 60mph. How I had to slam on my brakes not to hit the car. Then, the license plate that read: “SongTree.” The word seemed odd to me, and I asked myself, ‘What the heck does that mean?’ And right then, the Holy Spirit asked me a question in my spirit, “What do a song and a tree need?” And I knew the answer. A songbird. I knew that He was confirming my purpose. To be His Songbird of Hope. To sing and write and praise Him all my days. Precisely when I needed a specific answer from the Lord, moreso than ever before in my life, He answered me. Me. His answer shocked me back to life, rang clear and true all the way through my spirit, and still reverberates as I write this.

A testimony of his own…

I knew that my testimony had struck a deep chord with Jacob because he began weeping as I was speaking. When I offered to pray with him, he was not even able to say yes, but he was nodding his head forward and back over and over again. And when we prayed, the God whose goodness I was testifying of, touched Jacob personally. And now Jacob has a powerful testimony of his own. The Lord has freed him of addiction to heroin–one of the most lethal drugs known to man!

Friends, there is power in sharing our full testimonies. And not just the pretty parts where it’s all wrapped up in a bow. Because there are ugly parts too. We need to be honest about the wrecks we were before the Lord saved us. We have to be willing to share the hard truth that we did not do everything perfectly. That our faith was barely the size of that proverbial mustard seed. That we were literally helpless and hopeless without the Lord. Beloved, we need to share the good, the bad, and the ugly because our honesty and vulnerability shows our need for a savior who truly saves us.

And our testimony is even greater when we acknowledge that what the Lord has done for us is not because we were the strongest, most faith-filled, perfect people to ever approach His throne. He answers our prayers and blesses us because He is a good God who loves and cares for us. And when we turn our lives over to His grace, He will move mightily on our behalf.

How we defeat the enemy…

Rest assured, when the Lord does a work in our lives, the devil is right there trying to sabotage the good that God is doing. But Jesus has provided His blood and the power of our testimony to ward off attacks from the enemy. So, let’s wield our shields and our weapons well and testify to the goodness of God in our lives.

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

Revelation 12:11

How has the Lord built your faith with a testimony? Have you shared it?

Sharing our testimony of the good that God has done in our lives strengthens our own faith and builds others' faith as well. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

*name changed to protect privacy
**all scripture references from the King James Version of The Bible

Evan Kirby

home, community, fellowship, alone, mentoring, Christian, scripture, Oh Lord Help Us

Home: Five Tips for Building Community Where We Are

Where we feel the most at home, isn’t always where we end up. Often times, it takes our own will power to seek out and build community where we land.



There’s something about going “home”. I love returning to the place of my childhood. Especially in the summer. I was able to return to Indiana this past weekend, and so many things made me miss my home state. The cool grass on my bare feet, the summer breeze that rarely happens in the South, the tall corn fields that make me feel protected. When I close my eyes, I can feel and smell and sense that this is home.

Community

Those pleasing sensations really do make me miss my home. But, when I close my eyes, I also see the community we left behind. Most of my family lives there, our beautiful church family, the friends I made as an adult, long-time family friends. The deepest parts of my soul, long for familiar community again.

I left a piece of myself, a piece of my heart, in all those I cherish.

With community comes a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose. There is confidence that no matter the season of life, we are not physically alone. When one is weak, the other is strong (Ecclesiastes 4:10).

Where we feel the most at home, isn't always where we end up. Often times, it takes our own willpower to seek out and build community where we land. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Home Alone

When we moved to North Carolina, it was easy for me to seclude myself. I have a hard enough time making relationships, let alone attempting this while grieving the loss of my community. No one was checking up on me. No one making sure I was going to church or getting involved. This is dangerous for someone who is prone to hermit-hood…

Just let me be in my house, my safe place, and I’m happy. Or am I?

And the Lord God said, “It isn’t good for man to be alone; I will make a companion for him, a helper suited to his needs.”

Genesis 2:18, ESV

God knew, even from the beginning, man should not be left alone. It’s not healthy for us to be alone, left to our own thoughts and plans. We need companionship. We need community.

It's not healthy for us to be alone, left to our own thoughts and plans. We need companionship. We need community. Click To Tweet

Building Fellowship

Fellowship isn’t always effortless. There are times we have to be diligent in creating it, but as I said before, I tend to be a hermit. I’m learning to break through this personality flaw. It’s only taken me 4 years to realize I have had the power all along. Through prayer, God is showing me ways I can stretch…He always answers prayers. Here are the areas He’s laid on my heart:

Go to church and get involved…

When we exhausted all the church options in our new area, we found that the effortlessness of our old church was very rare. I was not prepared to have to put effort into feeling like we belonged somewhere. I thought we would just fit right in, in the right church. Thus, creating a horrible habit of not even attending church. We are still working on fixing this habit, but we have found our church. Now, it takes ME to get involved and make it home.

Open up our homes, be hospitable…

I’m awful at this, Lord knows I need to work on my “grumbling”. Whether it be busyness, messiness, or lack of funds, I seem to always have an excuse to not open my home to others. This is not the command of God…

Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

1 Peter 4:9, NIV

Practice sacrificial giving…

One way to build relationships and solidarity with others is to give what you have. It can be time, money, food; whatever we have. Everything we possess must be held with open hands because it all flows from God, above.

All believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.

Acts 4:32, NIV

Share our stories, our testimonies…

Vulnerability and transparency have been my battle cries for about a year now. We all have our stories and they are important to share. Every single one, points directly to our good Father! No matter how wretched we were/are, God is still so good. And, in that truth, we find commonality. Camaraderie.

So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind.

1 Thessalonians 5:10, MSG

Show love, always…

This seems like a no-brainer, but so often we fall short of this commandment. When we put on love, fellowship falls right into place. All these other tips just seem to happen. Love is the greatest commandment. To put it plainly, love the Lord and love your neighbor (Matthew 22:37-39). Making sure our actions align with God’s word, is a good way to prove we are achieving love and building community with one another….

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Colossians 3:14, ESV

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:

1 Peter 4:8,10, ESV

Where Are You?

Are you in this position? Feeling alone, left out, like you don’t belong? Have you found yourself in a place that doesn’t feel quite like home? In a place where community seems so distant? Trust me, I truly know this walk. I wish with all my heart I could walk alongside of you. Help you create a new community. But know this, when you are struggling to build that community with your own efforts, God has just what you need.

Where we feel the most at home, isn't always where we end up. Often times, it takes our own willpower to seek out and build community where we land. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Masaaki Komori

limits, love, Oh Lord Help Us, spiritual growth, women of faith, Christian mentoring

Limits: Learning to Love With Your Whole Heart

We are to love God with our whole heart, and others without limits even when it hurts. We will feel the pain of love when we choose to invest in people. 



I have heard it said that when you have kids, a piece of your heart lives in someone else’s body. Having three kids of my own, I know this to be very true! Their little smiles, their dreams, their ideas, their laughs, their smells and even their sins are all wrapped up in little packages of human right before me. God took a part of me and a part of my husband and made these beautiful, wonderful gifts. They truly are gifts from God. And my heart is in them, walking around at their school, on their sports teams, in their play, in their work. That is my heart out there learning to navigate this big, beautiful world. I long to be with them, hold them close. I want them to love what I love. Share my passions and my dreams. They are my heart.

I wonder, does a piece of God’s heart live in each one of His children? Does He watch as we take His heart into our homes, workplaces, schools and neighborhoods? Does He long to be with us, long to hold us close, long for us to love what He loves? I believe He does. I believe this is a part what it means to be made in God’s image. But it’s not just my kids. I have left a huge piece of my heart in a nation across the ocean, in another world, another culture.

Living overseas changes you, no matter how long or short your time in another land, you can never be the same. We were blessed with an incredible experience to live in North Africa for a time. It was beautiful. Palm trees swaying in the breeze, gorgeous sunsets like none other, exotic sounds and smells, the kindness of people all around me. Constant jabber in a foreign tongue. I loved it. Living in another country was hard, to say the least. But to me, living in North Africa was a little piece of Heaven. I was home. When circumstances forced us to leave earlier than expected, I wept.

We are to love God with our whole heart, and others without limits even when it hurts. We will feel the pain of love when we choose to invest in people. | Scripture Study | Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Christian Mentoring

Love With Limits

I constantly feel the ache of knowing that when I left my Beloved Tunisia, I left a piece of my heart there, too. I live daily with the strain of living in one place I now call home and missing another that was my home. I miss the smells, the food, the sunsets, the sounds, the colorful Medina. I miss speaking another language, walking and riding in taxis. I miss looking into beautiful Tunisian faces and telling them they are loved, they are special. That nation, those people and culture changed me. Jesus changed me. It has been seven years since we returned to the States, but I still long to return to my other home.

So being thus tenderly and affectionately desirous of you, we continued to share with you, not only God’s good news (the Gospel), but also our own lives as well, for you had become so very dear to us.

1 Thessalonians 2:8, AMP

Love Without Limits

So, how do we do it? How do we live life day in and day out, with our hearts spread all over the place? How do we live with the limits the world and circumstances place on our hearts? Some days my heart feels shattered. I wonder why I am here. I beg God to show me my purpose.

Yet, there is holiness in the shattered pieces. A love that bleeds through barriers of culture, age, status, situation.
Jesus let His heart be shattered to save our world. The more we know Him, the more we become like Him, the more we gaze into His eyes, the more we love like Him. To love Jesus with my whole heart, means I might need to let it shatter.

For the love of Christ controls and compels us, because we have concluded this, that One died for all, therefore all died;

2 Corinthians 5:14, AMP

Don’t be afraid to love until your heart is bursting! Wherever you are, whatever your life stage, you are called to love. Love with abandon, without restraint. Love through the mess, through the aching. When we love Jesus with our whole heart, He holds the shattered pieces, and gives us His own heart. When we choose to invest in people, love without limits, He holds us tenderly. The more we love Him, the more we love like Him.

When we love Jesus with our whole heart, He holds the shattered pieces, and gives us His own heart. Click To Tweet

We are to love God with our whole heart, and others without limits even when it hurts. We will feel the pain of love when we choose to invest in people. | Scripture Study | Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Christian Mentoring

Marko Blažević

Oh Lord Help Us, video, honesty, truth, purpose, mission, influence

Honesty and Truth: You Have Purpose, Pursue Your Mission!

We can often feel that we have no purpose, or that there is no reason to pursue what we feel passionate about. This is a lie!



Honesty and Truth

Ready for some honesty and truth? Here’s the honest: I often feel that I have no influence. I feel like the message that I am sharing, that I am so passionate about has already been said, and it has been said way better than I could say it. So why bother?

But here’s the truth. We do have influence. God gives us a passion, a mission, a dream, a purpose. In Titus chapter 2, verse 11, it says…

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people…”

All people need to hear God’s good news, and it takes all of us to get that message out. It says a few verses later, in verse 15…

“Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.”

If you are feeling that you don’t have purpose, and that you don’t have influence… dear lady! You are so mistaken, just like I am. Let’s not believe this lie that our words don’t matter. We are to share the good news, spreading God’s truth. So go out there and pursue your mission.

time, present, past, future, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, ministry

Time: Making The Most of It by Living in The Present

When we dwell on the past or fixate on the future, we can’t make the most of the time we have. Let’s learn to fully live in the present.



When I was a little girl, for all practical purposes, I lived outside of time as we know it. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my family lived on a small, sustainable farm without electricity, indoor plumbing, or other modern conveniences.Local school kids and youth camp groups used to come out to our homestead for field trips to literally see how the pilgrims used to live. Except my family wasn’t just reenacting history, we were living it!

In lieu of electric lights, we showed the kids how we rendered beeswax and paraffin for hand dipped candles to light our home. Rather than driving to the local grocery store, we explained how all our food came from our farm–eggs from the chicken coop, meat from the animals we hunted or butchered, vegetables from our gardens, and fruit and berries from the orchard. And instead of looking at a watch or clock to check the time, we noted the angle of the shadows cast by the sun as it made its trajectory across the sky. We understood that time existed, but we were not slaves to it. We were simply living and doing the work that was necessary to survive.

Behind or ahead?

When I compared our lifestyle to that of our neighbors in their modern homes,it felt as if we were living a century behind. But as I observe today’s trends of doing it yourself (DIY), going green, and living sustainably, it appears as if my folks were about a generation ahead of their time when they moved off the power grid in the early 1970’s. Today, people are returning to methods that a decade or so ago would have seemed old fashioned. Folks are choosing environmentally friendly health and beauty products instead of chemically produced ones. They’re growing vegetables in their own backyard gardens and eating whole organic food rather than processed products. And they’re using essential oils and other natural remedies rather than relying so heavily on pharmaceuticals. It’s as if history is repeating itself.

That which is has already been, and what is to be has already been; and God requires an account of what is past.

Ecclesiastes 3:15, NKJV

A reckoning with time…

It’s as if we in the western world are in the midst of a reckoning with time. In the name of convenience and productivity, we’ve created a whole host of environmental, social, and health problems that we’re trying to dig our way out of. And time seems more elusive than ever. No matter how many time-saving strategies and gadgets we develop, no one seems to have enough time to accomplish all that they want to in a day.

People are stuck in the past, worried about the future, and don’t know how to live fully in the present. It’s like we are all little figurines in one of those old fashioned cuckoo clocks. Everyone’s rushing in and out of little trap doors and screaming cuckoo all the time. Before the hands of the clock fly off and hurt someone, let’s pause and consider how the Lord invites us to regard this time that He gives us.

When we dwell on the past or fixate on the future, we can't make the most of the time we have. Let's learn to fully live in the present. #intentionaltime #Godstime #faith

Dwelling on the past…

We’re encouraged not to dwell on the past, but so many people seem to be stuck there. Whether it’s regret about a decision that we made or resentment for someone who hurt us, we can re-live old wounds over and over again. Others might dwell on seemingly positive things from the ‘golden years’ of their youth. That can’t be harmful, right? Actually, yes, it can be if we’re looking back nostalgically on years gone by and pining for things that are no more.

Dwelling on the past trains our minds and our souls to sort and filter for similar kinds of experiences in the present. Then we wonder why the same destructive patterns that have wreaked havoc in our families for generations keep repeating themselves. Or we lament the fact that our current life never quite seems to measure up to the memories we’ve created and recreated in our mind’s eye. But beloved, when we are reborn, we are made new in Christ. And if we will let Him, the Lord wants to do a new thing in our lives.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

2 Corinthians 5:17, KJV

And in Isaiah, we learn that we should literally forget the past:

Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43: 18-19, KJV

Let's not spend so much time trying to unravel the knots of our past that we miss the new thing the Lord is doing in our lives. Click To Tweet

Fixating on the future…

Just as scripture instructs us not to live in the past, it also warns against fixating on the future. Often our uncertainty about what is to come breeds anxiety and worry. But we learn that worry does not help us get through today.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:34, NIV

Rather than worrying what the next day will bring, we are to make the most of each day. Just like the manna, or the daily bread, that the Israelites would receive every morning in the desert, we are given 24 hours of time daily. We can’t stretch those hours out any longer, and we can’t save any of them either. What we can do is trust that what is coming will be good, because God promises us that it will be:

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11, NIV

Indeed, He is leading us somewhere even better than we can arrange for ourselves or really even imagine:

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

1 Corinthians 2:9, KJV

Living in the present…

With no regret from the past or fear of the future, we are free to fully live in the present. And that’s where the Lord invites us to reside. With Him.

To live in His presence in every moment. To learn to walk daily with Him, trusting that He is ordering our steps. To know that He will shoulder our burdens if we’ll cast our cares on Him. To trust that He will feed us like the sparrows and clothe us like the lilies of the field. To experience the joy that He has set before us. To taste and see that He is good in the land of the living. To enjoy and make the most of our time with our loved ones. To win souls for the kingdom. To live out the desires that He has placed in our hearts. To believe that He is Immanuel “God with us.” Right now.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.

Ecclesiastes 3:11, NKJV

How are you making the most of this day? Have you left the past behind? Are you rooting your hope for the future in Jesus?


All of us need encouragement. Share this message with others!

When we dwell on the past or fixate on the future, we can't make the most of the time we have. Let's learn to fully live in the present. #intentionaltime #Godstime #faith

Schalk Neethling

focus, dream, purpose, mission, worth, value, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, ministry

Focus: The Most Important Step When Pursuing Our Purpose and Mission

We need to be careful not to do this with our focus when we are pursuing dreams and fulfilling the purpose we believe we were meant to fulfill.



I was feeling  discouraged. Why is it so difficult? Why, Lord? Then I heard in my spirit, “Rachael, stop trying to get everyone to like you. Love them, be kind to them, but how people respond to you or feel about you, is not your concern.” Ok, fine.

My longing and discouragement was deeper than that, though. So I made a decision. Instead of powering through and acting like I have my act together, putting on a show in front of the One who knows me intimately, I got honest. (Yes, sometimes my actions show that I believe I can actually fool the Lord. Ridiculous, I know.)

But what about you, Lord? Do you approve of me? Are you proud of me? I know I am approved, as in I know I am loved and am a child of You, the King. But do you approve of what I’m doing? I need something here, Lord! I’m not doing this for popularity, or something to keep me busy. I’m doing this because I have followed the direction of Your Holy Spirit one scary step at a time. Now I am in this place, and I’m wondering if I took a wrong turn somewhere.

A couple hours went by while I replenished my low endorphin supply with exercise. When I returned to my phone, a few confirmations were waiting for me. Validation. “Yes, what you are doing has worth. Yes, you are valued.”

Driving back home, I was feeling lighter, and it was not just because of the endorphins. It honestly made me feel special that the Lord, the Creator of the Universe, truly cares about each of us intimately. My hurt was seen, and He knew I was in need of Fatherly encouragement.

We need to be careful not to do this with our focus when we are pursuing dreams and fulfilling the purpose we believe we were meant to fulfill. #dreams #purpose #mission

Focus on the mission…

Then, later in the afternoon, the reminder came of why He has led me on this path. Turns out, it is not about me feeling valued, it about others knowing their value. This mission I am on is not about me, or getting that pat on the back. This mission is about finding freedom, and joy, and hope. It’s about people becoming – truly becoming – who they were created to be.

Yes, I love approval, who doesn’t enjoy a good compliment? It is so easy to get sucked into the mindset of it being about me. Almost 100% of the time, when I begin to feel discouraged, or insecure, it is because my focus has shifted to where it does not belong.

It is the Lord who fulfills me. It is this mission that makes me feel alive. The Lord is who brings me joy, the mission brings purpose. I love this mission I am on, and I believe I am doing what the Lord wants me to do. But more than that, He wants my heart. Only when He has all of my heart does He reveal the next step to take in pursuing mission and purpose.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Matthew 6:33, ESV

We need to be careful not to do this with our focus when we are pursuing dreams and fulfilling the purpose we believe we were meant to fulfill. #dreams #purpose #mission

Focus on our purpose…

Purpose looks different for each of us, and this is so beautiful to me. But I do forget it at times. Sometimes I think everyone has the same purpose as myself, and then I feel like, why bother – she has so much more talent, she knows more people, she, she, she…

In actuality, if we stop looking at other people, and look to our Creator, we will find our own specific purpose and see how it all works together to glorify the Lord. We will see the value each of us hold, and how we need one another. We will be fulfilled by the Lover of our soul, be confident in the value we have, and motivated by the purpose we have been given.

God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.

1 Corinthians 12:6, NLT

If we stop looking at other people, and look to our Creator, we will find our own specific purpose and see how it all works together to glorify the Lord. Click To Tweet

Focus on The Lord…

What is your mission? What dreams are you pursuing? And what purpose makes you feel alive?

Remember that the mission you are on does not define who you are. It is not your identity, or where you find your worth. If you find yourself holding on too tight to the dream that was place in your heart, I urge you to take a moment, and evaluate where your focus is, and where it needs to be. Yes, we are created for good works, but we are first created to worship.

xoxo

necklace, silver, loved

Sharon McCutcheon

service, useful, servant, Oh Lord Help Us, ministry, Christian, women, encouragement

Useful: Foundations for Effective Serving

It is important for all of us to feel useful; to feel as though we have a purpose. Understanding and accepting the foundations of effectiveness, creates confidence in serving God.



Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

2 Timothy 2:21-22, NIV

I believe we all have this innate desire to feel useful; to feel like we have a purpose. We all want our lives to account for something. Even more, Christians feel this pull. Our example of this is modeled after a servant. Jesus is the perfect example of usefulness to the Kingdom of God. So, if He is who we should look toward, what’s our hang up?

It is important for all of us to feel useful; to feel as though we have a purpose. Understanding and accepting the foundations for effectiveness, creates confidence in serving God.

Wrong Side Of Useful

My love language is acts of service. It’s how I show love, and also how I receive love. Unfortunately, when someone more or less tells me they have no need for my services…I feel worthless, useless, undesirable. I become fearful that I may not be doing what God is calling.

When I put my ambition in the opinions and wishes of others, I lose sight of my true purpose: serving God. When I feel inadequate because of other humans, I smack God right in the face. Absolutely, feeling rejection is awful. However, if I am truly discerning the Spirit and obeying His promptings, I should feel confident that I am being useful towards God’s will, paying no mind to the reception of others.

Serving the Kingdom

Don’t get me wrong, I have not mastered that mindset. Actually, on the contrary. The running lesson in my life is to overcome the need for approval from others. I’m slowly accepting the only opinion that truly matters is God’s. Serving Him by serving others is easy for me. However, the part where I care too much about how I’m being perceived, is hard to let go of.

In order to be useful to those around us, we have to know what they require, desire, and need from us. The same is true in our usefulness in serving God. Yes, He can use any and all situations for His glory. But, if the true desire of our hearts is to be effective for the Kingdom, we must work to stay rooted in the elements of spiritual usefulness.

If the true desire of our hearts is to be effective for the Kingdom, we must work to stay rooted in the elements of spiritual usefulness. Click To Tweet

Biblical Foundations

The Bible is the VERY best tool we have. It helps us align our lives with the commandments of God. We can daily compare our actions with the words of God. So, based on the Bible, these are the foundations I have found helpful for knowing I’m on the right track…

Knowing I Am Loved

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8, NIV

Seeking God’s Plans

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Psalm 119:105, NIV

Listening For God’s Voice

My sheep recognize my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

John 10:27, TLB

Accepting I Am God’s Creation

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10, ESV

Knowing I Am Not Alone

‘You’re my servant, serving on my side. I’ve picked you. I haven’t dropped you.’ Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.

Isaiah 41:10, MSG

Realizing My Weaknesses

But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

2 Corinthians 12:9, ESV

Obeying God

Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

1 John 2:4-6, ESV

Having Confidence in Him

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

Psalm 62:1-2, NIV

 Application

Every calling is unique, but the ultimate purpose of all Believers is to serve God. Accepting and learning these foundations, is giving me an abundance of confidence in the mission God has placed on my life. Whenever I doubt, I meditate on the specific principle that needs work. Writing these scriptures down and diving deeper into their meaning, is helping me to focus on my God ordained purpose, not the purposes of the world.

It is important for all of us to feel useful; to feel as though we have a purpose. Understanding and accepting the foundations for effectiveness, creates confidence in serving God.

source, vine, branch, remain, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, ministry, encouragement

Source: Stop Toiling, God is the One Who Produces the Fruit

Constantly toiling to do good works is draining. We strive to produce good fruit, missing the point. God is the Source, the One who produces the fruit. We are only to remain in Him.



God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.

2 Thessalonians 2:13, NASB

Sanctification means to be purified. Purification isn’t a one-time act; it is a continuous work of the Spirit. But that isn’t meant to be a frightening thing for believers. I have found much of my toil to be self-inflicted. I get an idea of what God requires of me as a Christian so I charge full speed ahead like, “I gotch-u, God!” Inevitably, the outcome of my valiant service doesn’t look at all like what I thought it would. Discouragement and frustration flank me and I start dissecting where I went wrong.

Purification isn’t a one-time act; it is a continuous work of the Spirit. Click To Tweet

Constantly toiling to do good works is draining. We strive to produce good fruit, missing the point. God is the One who produces the fruit. We are only to remain in Him.

The Source

One of the ladies in my bible study shared an enlightening interpretation of John 15 this past week. She said when Jesus described Himself as the vine and us the branches, we often misunderstand the call He is making. As branches, we strive toward producing fruit. Yet we cannot manufacture any of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) apart from being an extension of the vine. Therefore, our chief goal is not to produce fruit for the Lord, but to stay joined to Him. God will do the work of producing fruit through us as we seek to gain life from Him.

Our chief goal is not to produce fruit for the Lord, but to stay joined to Him. God will do the work of producing fruit through us as we seek to gain life from Him. Click To Tweet

The dilemma I keep running into is I forget my role as the branch. I want to be able to see how God is working and why. That way, I can help speed things along, you know? God usually moves at a snail’s pace. The Bible reveals that nothing happens without God’s knowledge or permission. But there are days when that isn’t comforting to me, because I want to know why.

The Mystery

A few weeks ago, when I was wrestling with this truth, one of my pastors brought some peace to my grappling. “Be more okay with mystery,” he said. In this information age we want to know and be in control of everything within our grasp. If there’s something we don’t understand or cannot explain — we reject it. Yet there is no way for anyone to know how some suffering or tragedy will be used to sanctify or bless someone else 50 or 100 years down the road. What Satan means for evil, God always uses for good.

There is no way for anyone to know how some suffering or tragedy will be used to sanctify or bless someone else 50 or 100 years down the road. What Satan means for evil, God always uses for good. Click To Tweet

Our enemy whispers to us that we need to understand more in order to gain a better grasp. If we can hold on to something, we can control it. It’s the devil’s way to use such a good thing for his purpose of separating us from God. It’s so difficult to just believe a truth without being able to maintain some sort of personal responsibility for it. It’s actually kind of funny. We often don’t want to be responsible for anything concrete and real. But we will kill and destroy for an idea that requires no responsibility at all.

The Fruit

Jesus is the vine; I am the branch. I do not always fully understand His methods or purposes for pruning in my life. Perhaps so I will know He is my refuge. He has never forsaken me.

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from You.”

Psalm 16:2, ESV

My little branch is being sanctified, and I am confident my source of life is solely in the Vine. As I have stepped back from taking charge, God has been producing fruit through my faithfulness to Him. Instead of trying to peddle the value of kid’s ministry, I went to the Source and He is providing! I also have a desire to shepherd younger women, but I don’t have much formal training beyond life itself. But through studying God’s word and listening to my loving Master, He is bringing people into my life I didn’t even know. It is humbling, at times agonizing, and completely joyous. I LOVE watching God work.

Constantly toiling to do good works is draining. We strive to produce good fruit, missing the point. God is the One who produces the fruit. We are only to remain in Him.

Aaron Burden

Watercolor by Katie Braswell
expectations, Oh Lord Help Us, women, ministry, encouragement

Expectations: Letting Go of the Unrealistic and Gaining Freedom

Operating with unrealistic expectations of others, ourselves, and situations, will only lead to frustration and disappointment. Let go of the expectations, and freedom will be found!



My husband had (at least) two expectations that were not met when we got married. He thought I was going to make sweet tea everyday. And he thought we would fall asleep snuggling at night. He was disappointed.

Having expectations is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s kind of like having a goal. It’s something to work for and strive to attain. Without goals we would become complacent and stagnate. Some expectations, however, can rob us of enjoying what we have, and who we are with. It can discourage our souls and cause relationships to crumble. Let’s look at three areas expectations can cause disappointment…

Operating with unrealistic expectations of others, ourselves, and situations, will only lead to frustration and disappointment. Let go of the expectations, and freedom will be found!

Expectations of Others

Problems arise when:

  1. The expectations are not communicated.
  2. The expectations are unrealistic.

Spouse:

As a woman I possess the power to read my husband’s mind and completely understand what he is needing at any given moment. Or, maybe not. So why do I expect him to read mine? Why do I expect him to know that I need something done around the house if I haven’t asked him to do it? Why do I expect him to know that I am struggling with fear if I don’t share with him?

There have been many times when he has “read my mind” and did exactly what I was hoping he would do. If I would remove my expectations, then instead of feeling frustrated when they are not met, I would feel cared for when they were. I don’t want my spouse to meet my expectations due to the fear of what will happen if he doesn’t. Rather I want him to meet them so that it will bless me when he does.

I also have learned am learning that I cannot expect my husband to be someone that he was not created to be. He is calm, level-headed, and steady (and praise the Lord that he is). I, on the other hand, am not. So when I am getting worked up about something and getting frustrated with him that he is not getting worked up, I am not being fair. I am expecting him to suddenly be a different person. (But seriously, isn’t that so maddening when you’re upset about something and the other person just sits there so calm!)

Children:

For some reason I feel like my children should have their acts together by now. Logically I know this is ridiculous, but my frustrations would show otherwise. I feel like I should only have to tell them one time to stop rubbing their hands on the wall, or to wash their hands before eating, or to give the dog food AND water, or pick up toys before bed, or…

If it is unrealistic to expect my husband to know what I want, how can I expect this from my children. Of course, I don’t have to tell my husband to wash his hands, but for now I do need to tell my kiddos. My 2 year old: I have to Tell. Her. Everything. She’s two. My 6 year old, I give hints. “What do you need to do before bed…?” And give him a chance to realize he needs to put his socks, shoes, jacket, backpack, pants, dirty clothes away. My 10 year old, well, he actually does do the things he needs to do without being told. Most of the time, anyways.

I’m still learning who my children are. I’m learning that my oldest may be super competitive with his brother, but not with friends. I want him to be competitive with sports, because he has the talent and that’s “what you’re suppose to do.” We keep putting him in sports and I keep getting frustrated that he is not aggressive enough. I’ve had a lightbulb moment. I’m trying to make him be someone he is not. And the thing is, I like who he is. He is sweet, and compassionate, and friendly.

Expectations of Ourselves

Problems arise when:

  1. We are expecting ourselves to be someone we are not.
  2. We are expecting to achieve something unrealistic, and/or in an unrealistic time frame.

I love to have dance parties. At home. With my children. I have always loved dancing. I have always danced badly. Thankfully, ever since college, this has not bothered me and I have accepted that I can’t dance and it doesn’t stop me from still enjoying myself. But when I was in middle school this was heartbreaking. I tried out for the dance team. Twice. Got cut on the the first go round. Twice. This is alright, I’m not scarred. But I did have to learn and accept the fact that this knobby knee’d girl looks awkward even doing the electric slide. After accepting this I was able to find a new love, running. And I still love it.

It’s also harmful to expect too much from ourselves within certain time restraints. I was naturally a good runner, but when it came to competing I expected too much too soon. My first race was 1500M (just shy of a mile) on in indoor track. I actually envisioned myself winning. Ended up I got lapped. I was expecting too much (and maybe a tad unrealistic) too soon.

After years of training I ended up running at a fairly competitive level. But I never “won gold.” And I was ok with that. There is ALWAYS somebody faster, smarter, wealthier. The most we can expect is our best. As long as we are doing that, we are good.

Expectations of Situations

Problems arise when:

  1. We try to control outcomes.
  2. We depend on those outcomes.

So many things are out of my control: taxes, weather, jobs, other people. And if I try to control those things I will end up living a life that leaves me feeling completely disappointed. There is nothing wrong with feeling disappointed when bad things happen. But ideally we don’t stay in that place, and instead use it as an opportunity.

My husband and I were married on a Friday. It just happened to be the 13th. As the ceremony was about to begin, I could hear people whispering around me in the room I was waiting in. Stress was rising. My sister-in-law came to me and said, “Remember what I said earlier about today being just a ceremony and that it’s your marriage that matters? And that there is bound to be something that will go wrong? Well, your florist thought the wedding was tomorrow. You have no flowers.” So I walked down the aisle holding tight to my dad with both arms. I rocked the no-flowers thing. People thought we did it on purpose.

It’s fine to plan and prepare, but then let go and remember what the main purpose is.

To Sum It Up…

To fight the temptation to focus on how we want things to be, we are to instead focus on truth. We are to express gratitude for our reality, and have hope for the future.

Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Philippians 4:8, NLT

Life would be more peaceful if we could live without unrealistic expectations. Even so, expect to have expectations and remember it’s alright to “mess up.” That’s why we get to start over the next day. That is grace.

Focus on truth. Express gratitude for our reality. Have hope for the future. Click To Tweet

Operating with unrealistic expectations of others, ourselves, and situations, will only lead to frustration and disappointment. Let go of the expectations, and freedom will be found!

Operating with unrealistic expectations of others, ourselves, and situations, will only lead to frustration and disappointment. Let go of the expectations, and freedom will be found!
Operating with unrealistic expectations of others, ourselves, and situations, will only lead to frustration and disappointment. Let go of the expectations, and freedom will be found!

Samuel Zeller