Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year's Hope


There is a lot of hope as the new year rolls around. Do you feel it? You know that hope you feel at the start of a new day as the sun’s rising and your day stretches before you? That feeling, only multiplied. Reminds me of this verse:

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!”
(Lam. 3:22-25 NKJV)

God is the God of hope, according to Romans 15:13 (NKJV)—

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Aren’t you glad there’s always hope? God can turn things around in an instant. No matter the circumstances.

We’ve been through some trials in 2013, but through it all, even the suffering, God has shown up. He has graced us. He has provided for us. He has given us hope for the future. And He has turned things out for our good. Reminds me Romans 8:28 (NKJV)—

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.  

So, what if hope is distant? Here are some hope finders:

** Hope comes from discovering God’s will, hearing from Him. Go to Him in prayer and ask for a word from Him. Sometimes personal prophecy has been just the encouragement we needed. If you have a prophetic friend who can pray for you, consider asking them to minister to you.

** Locate a promise in His Word and apply that promise to yourself, to your circumstances, by faith.

** Believing that God is with you. You are not forsaken. He could never forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)

** Believing that God will come through for you, provide for you, bring you through the situation, whatever it is. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. (see Psalm 30:5) 

You never know the amazing blessings God is bringing your way, the breakthroughs, the answers to prayer. Hang in there. Sometimes humbling ourselves and reaching out to others is exactly the thing needed for breakthrough.

Here’s a hopeful verse to end on for today:

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jer. 29:11 NKJV)

With a promise like that, we can hang onto hope.

Have a hopeful New Year!

* photo credit: At Day's End by Jennifer Ellison on

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Season Series: Light

lit candle
Some December days, daylight begins to fade at 1:30 here. Mostly, that’s due to clouds or an incoming storm. All the dreariness can be wearying. Then, I glance over from my perch and see the Christmas tree. One of the perks of a dreary day, is we turn on the twinkle lights early. They bring cheer and bling into a gray world. 

Jesus does that too. From the very beginning, John describes Him as the life that was the light of people. His is the light that cannot be overcome by darkness. Amidst hopelessness, loneliness, aimlessness, or pain, Jesus brings light. He brings healing. He brings hope.

That’s the gift at Christmastime—Jesus coming to earth to bring us hope. Light.

And not just at Christmastime, but year round. Jesus is there, ever present. He’ll get as close as you let Him. He’ll heal and restore.

His life is ours. His light is ours. I’m grateful for that. Aren’t you?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Christmas Season Series: Joy

Christmas Tree*

We heard a sermon today on the spiritual fruit of joy, linked to the Christmas story and season. Pastor Tom walked us through Mary’s experience as the chosen vessel of God to be Jesus’s mother. 

I too was reading Mary’s story lately, in the beginning chapters of Luke. Zacharias’ heart was hardened from years of unanswered prayers. His wife was barren, and both of them were getting on in age. His response to Gabriel as the angel brought glad tidings was one of bitterness, like “do you expect me to believe this?”

Let’s talk about the pathways to joy.


But Mary’s was “How can this be?” She didn’t understand but she didn’t reject the good news either. And because she trusted God, she would see her needs met, her promises from God fulfilled, her joy complete.

An unhardened heart can receive the good news so much more easily than a bitter one. There’s no room for joy in a cold heart.


The other “pathway” to joy, besides trusting God is that of thankfulness.

Next time your joy meter is low, try this: make a mental list of seven things you’re thankful for, and dig deep. Don’t just settle on the obvious ones. If you say “family,” let a picture of your family’s love come to mind. Go beyond the obvious. By the time you’ve finished, you’ll not only see how God has been faithful to you and your family, but joy will sneak up on you.

Deep and sincere gratitude leads to joy.


One more “pathway” is that of communion with God. Nothing lifts burdens (that crowd out joy) like chatting with God, giving Him our burdens, getting His perspective, hearing from Him, recalling His promises.  

So, this season, make room for joy. Let God fill you up. 

Photo credit: Christmas Tree by Keattikorn

Friday, November 8, 2013

Encouraging Music: I Can Feel You by Jenn Johnson of Bethel Music

Sometimes you just need the encouragement of knowing Jesus is near. I love how He manifests Himself to us! If you're going through something, listen to this and let Jesus minister to you. He is near.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Faith Builder Series 5 - Hear from Him

Golden Ocean Wave*

Aren’t you glad God speaks?

The year was 1992 when my new husband and I went off on a Christian retreat together. The topic? Hearing from God, journaling. The setting was perfect—inspiring and beautiful with mild weather. Everyone in attendance was housed in her/his own small cabin, complete with a candle, a matchbook, a “picture” of Jesus, and a notebook and pen.

During the sessions, we received some printouts with descriptions of different ways one can journal: Scripture journaling, prayer journaling, psalm writing. Oh, it was such a gift to be there.

We got started in that first session when the leaders announced: if you aren’t already hearing God’s voice, you soon will.

Now, I grew up believing in God, but I don’t think I’d ever knowingly heard his voice until that weekend. Their promise came true. I did. He spoke to me.

Over the 20+ years since, I’ve learned more about hearing God’s voice—how to discern whether the voice I’m hearing is God, my own, or the enemy’s. I’ve learned about shutting out (through warfare) the voices of the enemy. I’ve learned that laying down my will is the best way to hear God’s answer, especially when asking a “yes or no” question of Him. I’ve learned that what I’m guessing He’ll say isn’t always what He does say. I’ve learned that setting an atmosphere makes all the difference. A prophetic atmosphere is best, but He will speak to me in the everyday mundane moments.

I’ve been journaling for over 20 years. I’ve written letters to God and written down what I heard Him saying as I prayer journaled. Going back and reading those entries build my faith. His answers are so profound. Affirming. Comforting. Challenging. True. Good. Just like Him.

He reiterates His promises.

He encourages.

He exhorts.

His voice builds my faith. He will do what He said He would do. He will take care of the situations weighing on us. He is faithful.

Next time your faith sags, go hear from Him. He’ll shore up your faith. 

* Photo credit: Golden Ocean Wave by By Evgeni Dinev from

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Faith Build Series 4: Get Into God's Presence

hands holding a burning candle*

The problem was so heavy. Wearing me out emotionally. Mentally. A painful problem, full of rehearsals and angst. 

In the unseen realm, the enemy laughed at my torment. Tell her more lies. Make her feel alone. Tell her even God can’t fix this.
At some point it hit me. The battle became obvious. And when I go to battle, I often turn on worship music. Music that extols God’s goodness and might. Jesus’s victory on the cross. His victory for us. For me. And the more I celebrated Him via that music, the smaller my problem got. The more I believed God would come through for us. He will turn it all around for good because we’re called according to His purpose. He will perfect that which concerns me. 

He cares. 

And the darkness receded. The lies were abolished. God’s light invaded and the pain was replaced with victory. Sure, things were dark before, but they would get better. They had come to pass. Temporary. Whereas God’s goodness and power are forever. And the victory Jesus won for me is forever.

God’s presence helps us see things from His perspective—more objectively. This perspective helps us endure. Sometimes we feel alone because we haven’t opened ourselves to His presence. He’s holding our hand (as He promises in Isaiah), but we don’t sense His nearness. So, turn on the worship music. Get into His Word and His presence. Agree with God’s goodness. Let Him push back the darkness.

He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. He will help us. He will grow our faith through the trials we face.  We don’t have to face them alone. Almighty God goes with us, holding our hands, saying to us “do not fear for I am with you.” 

An experience in His presence will cement that truth and build your faith. 


*photo credit: burning candle by Sommai from

Monday, September 9, 2013

Faith Builder Series: Part 3--Remember God's Promises

Sky and seascape*

We’ve been talking about how we can best build our faith as we’re waiting on God. First, our faith is encouraged when we look at what God has already done in our lives. Our testimonies themselves are a powerful faith builder. Then, we discussed how focusing on what God has done for others builds our faith. There’s a pattern in the Word of people reviewing what God had done for others as they waited on Him. 

Today, let’s talk about how reviewing God’s promises can encouraging our faith. 

A lot of times, these trials of our faith occur when we’re waiting on God to fulfill a promise.
Sometimes His promises are personal. Other times, we can mine them from His Word—these are the promises that all His people can claim. 

Let’s focus on the promises He’s specifically given you. First, has He ever fulfilled one for you?
Once, I turned a promise from the Word into a prayer and He granted it. I didn’t see the fruit until about ten years later, but there’s no denying the miracle. 

As we see what He’s already answered, we’re encouraged during the wait for His next answer. And we can be sure He will fulfill every single promise He’s ever given us. 

Here are some Scriptures I hang onto when I’m waiting on Him to fulfill a promise to me or my family:
The Lord will perfect that which concerns me;
Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever;
Do not forsake the works of Your hands.
(Psalm 138:8 NKJV)

Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well,
for I am ready to perform My word.”
(Jeremiah 1:12 NKJV)

So good! Question: if He is ready, perhaps the delay is Him making us ready.

Look at that same verse in the Modern KJV:

And the LORD said to me, “You have seen well;
for I will watch over My word to perform it.”
(Jeremiah 1:12 MKJV)

And one more:
I will worship toward Your holy temple,
And praise Your name
For Your lovingkindness and Your truth;
For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.
(Psalm 138:2 NKJV)

Be encouraged! He hasn't forgotten His promise. He honors His Word above His name (meaning He takes it very seriously). If He promised you something. He. Will. Do. It. 

One final verse:

For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
  So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
(Isaiah 55:9-11 NKJV)

*photo credit: "cloud and seascape" by samuiblue at