For the Weary Writer

A beautiful article to encourage those of my readers who are also writers.

SEE

A blank screen taunts you: You can’t
A rejected proposal mocks you: You’re not
A non-existent platform ridicules you: No one cares
A deadline intimidates you: You’re just not good enough

But then…..

The Author of history. The Author of your story, and of every story, speaks. His words rise up from the ashes of your despair. His words bind your wounds and sooth your heart. His words wrap you in an embrace and quiet the storm churning in your weary heart.

I AM.

I AM the Giver of strength.
I AM the True Author.
I AM the One who is for you.
I AM your biggest fan.
I AM the source of your inspiration.
I AM here.

These words float like dust particles throughout your mind. They swirl like snowflakes around your soul.

You take a deep breath, filling your lungs with His words and then…..you begin again. You write a…

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The Essence of Prayer: What It Is and What It Isn’t

What do you do when you face a situation that you can see no way out of? Panic is often a first response. Fear and anxiety concerning the future. Even anger at God for allowing these circumstances. But as Christians, hopefully we will eventually get to the place where we take our circumstances to our heavenly Father in prayer.

As I look back on 2017, I see a very difficult year, a year of walking through one dark valley after another. Many times, our family was at the place where in the natural we could see no way out.

But I also see a year filled with spiritual growth, especially in the area of prayer. We learned God often doesn’t explain why we are facing difficulties, but that we can trust He has a good purpose in everything He allows to touch our lives. In our difficult circumstances, I learned to cry out to God for help, often using verses from my daily Bible reading. One of the many Scriptures I found myself repeatedly praying was the last part of 2 Chronicles 20:12, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

Some of the lessons on prayer that God taught me:

  • Prayer is a “direct line to God,” the way He has provided for us to communicate with Him.
  • Prayer is simply talking to God, pouring out to Him what is on our heart. This can be done aloud, in our hearts, or even through prayer journaling.
  • Prayer includes any type of communication with God: sitting quietly in God’s presence, listening to Him, worship, praise and expressing gratitude to God are all as much a part of prayer as lifting our requests up to Him.
  • Because God loves us with a perfect love, His answers will always be for our good, even if we cannot see this at the time.
  • Effective prayer is offered in faith. Since faith comes from God’s Word, one of the best ways to pray effectively is to turn Scriptures – which we can have confidence are God’s will – into prayers.

I also learned more about some of the specific forms of prayer:

  • Confession is a good way to begin a time of prayer. Confession is simply being honest with God about anything in our lives that is displeasing to Him. It removes any barriers in our relationship with God that would keep Him from listening to our prayers through forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
  • Petition is presenting our requests to God, with an emphasis on the word “requests.” God gives us the freedom to bring our requests to Him, but the final decision on how He will answer is His.
  • Intercession is sharing in God’s work by praying for the needs of others.

It’s also important to understand what prayer is NOT. Prayer is not trying to force God to do something, to “harness” God’s power for our purposes. It is not manipulating God to do what we want. Rather, genuine prayer is a humble dependence upon God to act in our situation for our good and for His glory.

As 2018 begins, I acknowledge I have just stepped into the ocean of all prayer encompasses. But what I have learned has brought a deep hunger to keep learning about prayer. And the best way to grow in the area of prayer is by practical application of the lessons God teaches us – in other words, by praying. As the administrator of the God-Living Girls Prayers Group, my prayer for you is that you will make a commitment to pray daily in 2018!

 

Exploring Rest: How Work and Rest Fit Together

As I learn about what it truly is to rest in the Lord, my goal is to do a short weekly blog post exploring what it is to REST IN THE LORD. This week, we are looking at how work and rest are not opposites but rather two sides of the same coin.

To rest, according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, can mean “freedom from activity or labor.” When we are speaking of spiritual rest or resting in the Lord, this is not what we are referring to. Another definition given by this dictionary comes much closer to the biblical meaning of rest: “peace of mind or spirit.” When I am resting in the Lord, I am at peace within, regardless of what is going on around me.

My normal morning routine includes a time of being quiet before the Lord and listening to His voice. I also spend time in God’s Word, since this is what He often uses to speak truth to my heart. And this morning, through a verse that popped up as the Verse of the Day on one of my Bible apps and another on Scripture passage on my regularly scheduled reading, I heard one message loud and clear: REST IS NOT CEASING FROM WORK. IT IS COMMITTING THE WORK I NEED TO DO TO THE LORD.

If you are like me, most days you have work that needs to be done. So this is an essential principle to understand about walking in rest. I am writing this on Tuesday, which is a day that will be filled with laundry, writing two needed posts for God Living Girls with Chronic Illness, and doing some bookkeeping for our business. Not what I would normally think of as a day of rest! Yet this is what God was speaking to my heart this morning. So how can we rest in the Lord and still accomplish the tasks that need to be done?

  • This begins by committing to the Lord whatever is on your schedule for the day. “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” (Proverbs‬ ‭16:3‬ ‭NIV)‬‬
  • To commit our plans to the Lord, in the original Hebrew language, means to roll the weight of them onto the Lord. What a wise way to begin the day! By rolling the burden of our responsibilities on Jesus’ shoulders, we stop trying to carry the heavy weight ourselves and acknowledge our need for His help. We still need to fulfill our responsibility, but this enables us to enter God’s rest even while we are working.
  • So what are to commit to the Lord? Whatever project or undertaking is scheduled for this day, whether it is routine or especially difficult and complex.
  • This verse promises, when we take these steps, the Lord will establish our plans. To establish something is to make it firm and stable. But the Hebrew word translated “establish” in this verse can also mean “to direct, as an arrow” on it’s way to the target. If we have committed our plans for the day to the Lord, rolling the weight of it onto the Lord, He will direct our steps throughout the day. And while inwardly at rest, we will accomplish what God desires for our day.

Wow! When I sat down to study this verse, I had no idea all of the meat in these few words. I know this is my desire for my day. How about you? And to accomplish God’s purposes and be at rest as I’m doing it! A double blessing. Lord, I commit the tasks before me today to You, and I choose to work at them as You instruct me to in Colossians 3:23-24, with all my heart, working for You and not just to please those I am serving. Because in reality, it is the Lord Jesus Christ I am serving.

I Am Doing A New Thing

For the last two years, God has clearly put a specific word on my heart for a Word of the Year. In 2016 it was JOY. I learned that JOY is found in our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. And I began forming a new habit of CHOOSING JOY when I didn’t always feel it in my emotions.

In December 2016, I again received clear direction from God for a Word of the Year for 2017. HOPE was the word I heard repeatedly in prayer, as 2016 came to an end. Again, it proved to be a very appropriate choice, during a year that turned out to be one of the most difficult we’ve recently been through. I shared some of the things God has taught me this year about hope in my recent blog post: https://readywriterbr.wordpress.com/2017/12/26/exploring-our-theme-part-2-still-anchored-in-hope/

As December 2017 began, I again began asking God what word He wanted me to focus on for 2018. For the whole month I prayed, but no one particular word stood out to me. Then as I was reading my Bible and praying this final morning of 2017, I sensed God speaking not a word but a phrase to my heart: A NEW THING. I did a search using one of my Bible apps, and Isaiah 43:19 jumped out at me as a clear word from the Lord.

I’m not sure what lies ahead of us in 2018, but there are definitely some signs that God is at work. My husband has an appointment on New Year’s Day that has the potential of being a major breakthrough in his dream of producing Christian movies – or possibly a total detour from God’s plan. We are moving forward with expectancy that the Lord will make His will clear.

Some of the major issues we have dealt with in 2017 are now behind us, others should be behind us in the next few weeks, and still others present longterm issues that are unlikely to be resolved any time soon. 2017 has definitely been a year of walking through the wilderness, but at no time have we been alone. God has clearly led us through this year, bringing us into a place of increased obedience to the precepts of His Word and a deeper knowledge of His nature. As 2017 comes to an end and 2018 is on the horizon, I’m taking hold of this promise that the Lord is making a way in the wilderness and will provide streams in the wasteland.

And as the new year draws closer, God is continuing to speak to my heart. REST. My new Word of the Year. This is a year to learn to REST in the Lord and in His work in my life. To REST in His promises and His character.

Exploring Our Theme, Part 3: Walking in the Light

During the month of December, I have been doing a Bible reading plan by Rachel Wojo entitled The Light. As I prepared to write this final post exploring the theme of my blog, Hope & Light, I realized my idea of what it means to walk in the light has changed during this study as my understanding of why Jesus came to earth has grown.

Here are some key things I learned this month from my daily reading plan about Jesus as the Light.

  • Jesus came to earth, God in human flesh, to bring light to a world of great darkness.

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” Isaiah‬ ‭9:2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

  • He came as the Light that would draw not only Israel but also the Gentile nations to Himself.

“See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” Isaiah‬ ‭60:2-3‬ ‭NIV‬

  • As a light to the nations, Jesus has the power to open blind eyes and to bring freedom to those held captive, whether their captivity is by physical chains and bars or by sin.

“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.” Isaiah‬ ‭42:6-7‬ ‭NIV‬

The Gospel of John confirms that Jesus is the One spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, clearly identifying Jesus Christ as the Light.

  • Jesus is the Light of men, the Light that darkness is not able to overcome.

“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John‬ ‭1:4-5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

  • By believing in Jesus, the Light, we become children of light.

“Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” John‬ ‭12:35-36a‬ ‭NIV‬

  • He came into this world as light, so those who believe in Him no longer need to walk in darkness. Walking in spiritual darkness is no longer our lifestyle.

“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” John‬ ‭12:46‬ ‭NIV‬

So now to get back to the theme of walking in the light, the main thing God spoke to my heart from this study is this simply means walking with Jesus, who is the Light. To learn how to walk in the light, we do what He instructed us to do, as recorded in Matthew 11. We yield to Him, come into His yoke and walk through life at His side, allowing Him to carry the bigger part of the burden.

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

The most familiar Scripture about walking in the light is found in the first chapter of the epistle of 1 John. Before my recent study on Jesus as The Light, 1 John 1:7 was the main verse I had in mind when I chose the second half of the name of my blog.

If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.” 1 John‬ ‭1:6-10‬ ‭NIV


Yes, this is still an important verse in understanding what it means to walk in the light. Knowing how to scripturally deal with sin is an important part of walking in the light. But I believe it is only a small part of the meaning of the phrase.

To walk in the light in its fullness is to walk with the Light, our Lord Jesus Christ, to walk as He walked when He walked on this earth and to allow Him to lead us in everything we say and do as we walk on the earth.

Exploring Our Theme, Part 2: Still Anchored in Hope

As I sat in the hospital in September caring for our extremely sick special needs son David, I wrote what I fully expected to be part one of a two part series exploring the theme of my blog. You can read that post here:  https://readywriterbr.wordpress.com/2017/09/24/exploring-our-theme-part-1-anchored-in-hope/

Then life happened. David survived his life-threatening illness, but he returned home with a whole new list of medical problems. In October and November, my time was occupied with managing his care and with my leadership team responsibilities with God-Living Girls with Chronic Illness Facebook group. Other than a couple quick Five Minute Friday posts my blog was quiet. December has been filled with daily Advent posts on the names of Jesus.

As 2017 comes to an end, a year in which I chose Hope as my Word of the Year, I feel it’s time to reflect back on what God as taught me this year about Hope. 

What is Hope?

  • First, biblical hope is not wishful thinking. True hope – even when you look up the definition in a reputable dictionary such as Merriam-Webster – is closely tied with confident expectation of fulfillment.
  • There are two Hebrew words usually translated hope in the Old Testament. The first, yachal, is a verb and includes the idea of waiting (usually on God) with an attitude of hopeful expectancy. The second, tiqvah, is a noun and is used in reference to the ground of our hope or the things hoped for.
  • In the New Testament, the main Greek words translated hope are elpis (noun) and elpo (verb). Elpis is probably best translated expectation and can refer to expectation either of good (resulting in hope) or of evil (resulting in fear). When translated hope, the noun is used to refer to the object of our hope (the Author of hope, the One who is its foundation) or the result of our hope (especially the joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation). The verb form, elpo, means to anticipate, usually with pleasure.

What has God taught me about hope this year?

  • The most practical lesson I’ve learned is that hope is especially needed during seasons of waiting on the Lord. This year has been filled with lessons on waiting, and having hope during those times has made the difference between walking in victory and falling in defeat. When Isaiah 40 speaks of waiting on the Lord, the Hebrew word used is yachal, which is often translated hope. The two concepts cannot be separated.

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah‬ ‭40:30-31‬ ‭ESV‬‬

  • Another concept which God has taught me this year is that biblical hope is one of the most important factors in not being shaken by difficult circumstances. When storms come against us, we need an anchor to hold us firm. According to Hebrews 6:19, Hope is that anchor.

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,Hebrews‬ ‭6:19‬ ‭ESV‬

  • A quote by the late RC Sproul of Ligonier Ministries explains this better than I can.

“Hope is called the anchor of the soul (Hebrews 6:19), because it gives stability to the Christian life. But hope is not simply a ‘wish’ (I wish that such-and-such would take place); rather, it is that which latches on to the certainty of the promises of the future that God has made.”  RC Sproul

Many times this year, circumstances have felt overwhelming. I found myself in need of something stable to hold onto. I found that in reading and believing the promises of God’s Word and in trusting what Scripture reveals about the nature and character of God. By God’s grace, I would latch on to one of these and be strengthened to keep going. The storms didn’t go away, but by anchoring myself in God’s character and promises, the “boat” of my life did not capsize.

As 2017 comes to an end and I pray about a new Word of the Year for 2018, I still have much to learn about biblical hope. I’m sure God will continue revealing new truths to me in this area. My hope has grown this year, but I definitely still have room to continue growing and several still unresolved issues where increased hope is needed.

During this year of focusing on hope, there have been many songs which have encouraged me to hold on to hope. I’ll close by sharing my favorite, one that has repeatedly strengthened me during this difficult year.

Jesus, the Indescribable Gift

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In this final post on the names of Jesus Christ, I have an impossible task: to describe what God’s Word itself calls Indescribable. But I know better than to try.  Jesus is the Gift that surpasses the descriptive power of words!

Since I’ve already done all I can to describe Jesus in the past twenty-four days, on this Christmas Day I’m reflecting on where the tradition of gift giving at Christmas came from. Scripture describes some Magi from the east who came to worship the one born to be king of the Jews. They came bearing gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh. Frankincense was a perfume used in Jewish worship, brought to One who deserves our worship. Gold a gift associated with kings, was given to One who would be the King of an eternal heavenly kingdom. Myrrh was a perfume put on dead bodies to prepare them for burial, given to the One who would die for our sins and be buried in a borrowed tomb, then raised for the dead.

Unlike most retellings of the Christmas story assume, this event did not occur immediately after the birth of the Holy Child. Mary, Joseph and the young Jesus were now living in a house. Jesus was probably close to two years old, since Matthew 2:16 says, “When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.”

‭‭As you are giving gifts on this Christmas Day, remember the origin of this tradition. And more importantly, recognize and accept God’s indescribable gift, the gift of His Son.

Jesus is the Gift above all gifts!

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV