By: Lynne M.
How do we know or feel God's presence with us? The Bible encourages us to "Be still and know that I am God" Psalm 46:10. Stillness seems to be the key to communicating with anyone. Not only does it help to slow down our bodies and help us make eye contact, but we really can't truly receive or hear what another person is saying if we don't quiet our minds. The more we learn to take the focus off of ourselves and place it on God, the more we can thrive in relationship with Him, which is how He created us to live.
Here we truly learn that it is God’s peace, not the worlds, that surpasses all understanding and will guard our hearts and minds Philippians 4:7
I was able to hold it together until the last pan was washed on Christmas day at my Dad's. I came home with a high fever and hit the couch. Yes, I had covid and the waves of questions of how this may develop began to hit me. Oh how His peace became my daily Bread.
I couldn't swallow, even water, for 3 days. God guided and directed me at the exact moment I needed to get up and seek help. I was prompted to go to the emergency room. I was dehydrated and needed fluids and pain relievers. I sat there waiting to be treated for hours, in pain and discomfort, amongst so many others in the same condition, I was not alone. His peace, and now strength, that I needed just to sit in a chair, was so real. The recovery was a slow and difficult process, but again, God continued to feed me. Not physical bread that I couldn't even eat for a few weeks, but His Bread, the sustenance of life. . I was like an infant growing and learning to see all the blessings we take for granted each day.
How have you learned to trust the Lord throughout the pandemic? Has he revealed himself to you in new ways? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
“Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.” Zechariah 9:12 (ESV)
Somewhere in my childhood, I learned the lesson that hope is not safe. What imprinted that maxim into my young psyche, I’m not sure. Maybe hoping for something that never materialized: a special doll from the Sears Wish Book. Or a smile of approval from my preoccupied father. My disillusioned heart carried that conviction into adulthood like the chicken pox scar under my eye—barely noticeable but indelible.
I considered “hope” one of the most dangerous words in the English language. Hope is a set-up for heartbreak. Where hope abides, disappointment is idling in the driveway with a U-Haul. Who needs that kind of pain? So I said “nope” to hope and lowered my expectations to passive pessimism, preferring the occasional pleasant surprise to the disappointment of dashed dreams.
I understood intellectually that the Lord is good and loving, but my guarded heart was crippled. By refusing to hope, I was unable to fully trust in Him, afraid to let go for fear of letdown.
Friend, has something robbed your hope? Maybe, like Hannah (1 Samuel 1:3), you long to have a child and every month your hope crumbles a little bit more. Maybe you hope your marriage will change. Your health will improve. You’ll find another job. After a while, you might be ready to jettison hope altogether—or at least imprison your expectations behind the bars of your heart, locking away their relentless ache.
In the days of Zechariah, the Jews had begun to return from their exile in Babylon and rebuild Jerusalem. After years of struggle with adversaries on all sides, some had given up hope that they could ever fortify and reestablish the city. Yet God gave them a promise that lifted their eyes beyond their hopeless circumstances to the source of sure and unshakable hope: the coming Messiah. Scripture tells us, “Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey… Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double” (Zechariah 9:9,12 ESV).
As He did for his people, Israel, God heard my unspoken longings and fulfilled them perfectly through the love of Jesus Christ, setting me free to hope, to risk, to dream God-sized dreams.
When fear and disappointment imprison our hope, Jesus invites us to come to Him, our stronghold and place of safety. Whatever we’re afraid to hope for, whatever we’re afraid to reach for, whatever we’ve lost, He promises to restore double the blessings as we rely on Him.
Dear God, thank You that all my hopes are safe with You. Help me trust You with my deepest longings and remember that You desire to bless immeasurably more than all I could ask or imagine. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
*Originally published at Melanischitwood.com
To learn more about Leslie, please reach out at lamcleod.com
Throughout my life, I was raised in faith. I've gone to church, read my devotionals, participated in Her Life Speaks, served, and did all the 'right' things. While I had always seen God at work in my life, I was what you would consider a 'textbook Christian'. I knew all the right answers, but beyond that I categorized church and God as one part of my life as opposed to permeating and being the ruler over EVERY area of my life.
It wasn't until the pandemic that my faith took a 180. I realized the one thing I wasn't listening for or tapping into was the Holy Spirit. Through a study on the book of Ephesians in the New Testament, I felt for the first time the true understanding of what it means to abide in God's word and let it sink into my soul. The Holy Spirit totally convicted me with this study.
Ephesians focuses on who we are as daughters of Christ. A few highlights for me were:
I couldn't get enough of this study. I felt like it had unlocked the power of the Holy Spirit in my life in ways I didn't know were possible. My faith went from being that textbook Christian to a true believer and servant of the Lord. Once I started listening and abiding in God's word, The Holy Spirit was taking over every area of my life: tithing, prayer, relationships, etc.
When we pause, hear the Holy Spirit, and actually obey - this is where the blessing happens. Our obedience is testimony to our trust in God's plan for our life. This is where we receive the promises of God:
I want to encourage you to find that quiet time to read God's word, let it sink in, pray for the Holy Spirit to speak to you, listen, and then OBEY what God is convicting you of. When you obey, start noticing how the blessings unfold in every area of your life.
What are some ways the Holy Spirit communicates with you?
Have you seen any new blessings in your life from your obedience?
By, April Sliwak
Her Life Speaks concluded a study called I Am, Seven Powerful Claims of Jesus by Rose Bible Studies. We studied who Jesus is to us personally:
This was a contemplation of who Jesus is and what his purpose was for each one of us; God incarnate so we could see true Love, God the Father.
God loves you so much that he made a way to have a relationship with him.
Now it’s our turn. Who are we? Who do we think we are? What do the lies say we are? What is the stronghold that you just can’t let go of?
I live with lies such as; unworthy, unlikable, unlovable, incapable…. Because of who Jesus is, I know that these thoughts are not who God says I am nor for the purpose of which I was created.
This is God speaking to us:
Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. Ephesians 1:4-8
Beginning this month, we’ll be studying: Who I am in Christ (your true identity).
This study will show us that you are:
Do you want to hear more in a safe community? Women and girls, join us in your perspective groups as we become encouraged with the reality of who we really are.
Who are you? You are a daughter of the King. A princess.
Click the Small Groups section on our website to find out more. We can’t wait to see you there.
By Sandy Del Grande
You have breast cancer…the words no woman wants to hear. That was 16 years ago. The memories flood back to me in pictures, the dreaded look on the face of the mammography tech as she tells me I need to speak to the radiologist. The phone call from my doctor at 3 PM giving me the biopsy results. How can I pull myself together before I pick up my kids from school at 3:15? The surreal experience of sitting in a plastic surgeon’s office with a breast reconstruction brochure in my hand. Is this really happening?
I had been a committed Christian for 8 years when this trial entered my life. I can tell you; nothing matures your faith like a testing. I felt so close to the Lord during that time. It was amazing how all the unimportant distractions fell away so quickly, and my priorities came into focus.
I knew I needed to move quickly from fear to faith to get through this storm. I saturated my mind with the Word of God. The words of the bible came alive ministering to me comfort, peace, and hope. It was in my weakness and brokenness that God could shine through. I wondered how my faith would hold up. It turns out it had nothing to do with me and everything to do with God. It was about what He would do and how He would show himself faithful.
I opted for a double mastectomy because I wanted the course of treatment that gave me the best odds of not having it return. I did not want a life of constant screenings, mammograms, MRI’s, ultrasounds, and what I call…torture by testing. After the surgery, the outpouring of love from my church family was both humbling and healing to me. Mercifully, my church, Montclair Community Church, was a place I could be real, open, and transparent.
One of the key things that helped me get through this ordeal was that I would only allow myself a five- minute pity party each day. So after five minutes of feeling sorry for myself, I would take my eyes off myself and put them on God. Whatever we focus on and give our attention to gets bigger. Focus on your problems, they get bigger. Focus on God and He gets bigger. I chose to dwell on God’s past faithfulness to me. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”
I tried to maintain an attitude of gratitude even though I had many complications after the reconstruction. Despite setback after setback, I would find something to be thankful for in the midst of my situation. 1st Thessalonians 5:16 says, “Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
This wasn’t a journey I would have chosen to take, but it has made me a better, stronger person for having gone through it. The author C.S. Lewis says, “God speaks to us in our pleasures but shouts to us in our pain.” My life will never be the same again…but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I would not change things even if I could. I gained so much more than I lost.
Questions to consider:
Her Life Speaks is all about Her testimony, Her life, and who God is in Her story. Here we write our stories in hopes of helping other women find their relationship with Jesus Christ.