Traveling Light, or Packing a Load?

A large but light and cushy pillow lay doubled over on our couch. Wanting to spiffy up some, I took it in one hand and lifted it. Hmmm…this should have felt a lot lighter than it did. Laying it back down and unfolding it revealed a good-sized rectangular rice-filled neck pillow. Ah! That explained it.

It also made me think. Many times we could have had a better, easier and more productive day, but instead pack around unneeded, unnecessary weight. It may not be intentional at all, but there it is, making the task a strain rather than simply and easily done.

Negativity can bring us low! We need to keep a watch, be on the alert, and block what is not in harmony with God’s will. He tells us “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6-8‬ ‭KJV‬‬. http://bible.com/1/php.4.6-8.kjv

We pick things up unintentionally, unaware even and pack an extra burden. Some things that come to mind that we take on are the stresses of the day, anxieties, fears, what ifs, rejection. We get loaded down by feeling we don’t or can’t measure up, the fear of failure… the list goes on and on. These are added, unneeded loads we carry. They don’t add joy, peace, comfort, grace nor strength to us, but actually the opposite. They drain us, sapping our strength, pulling us down, making life hard. This is not a picture of the victorious life our Heavenly Father wants for us. What He wants us to carry is not difficult! “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew‬ ‭11:30‬ ‭KJV‬‬. http://bible.com/1/mat.11.30.kjv

It pays to stop and inspect our load every now and then! We are not in this alone. There is help and we need to access and use that help. God tells us to not carry our burdens but throw them onto His broad shoulders and let Him deal! “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” 1 Peter‬ ‭5:7‬ ‭KJV‬‬. http://bible.com/1/1pe.5.7.kjv. We must lay aside some things, cast off some attitudes, choose carefully what we allow to influence us.

Not all that we carry around is bad, but just too much! Do you take on more than you should? When we have too much ‘stuff’ in our hands and our arms are full, we are limited in what we can accomplish, and tasks become far more difficult and time consuming. Some are flat out impossible to do when we are packing that extra load! Just yesterday I had so many bags of groceries, totes, keys and my purse in my hands that I literally had to set some down in order to open the door. All that stuff, those good and wanted items prevented me from access to where I needed to go and from what needed done. I had to lay aside some things and get them later.

Dear Lord, I ask that You reveal to me the unnecessary weights that I am carrying and allowing to settle in my spirit that are not good for me. Help me notice and take care of my attitudes quickly, leaving angst, fear, irritation and dismay behind me. Open my eyes to see what is good and dwell on those things. Show me what is needful for me to do and what is to be left for another day, another person, or just plain left! Thank You for Your tender mercies, grace, wisdom and strength day by day. In Jesus dear name I pray, Amen.

“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭11:30‬ ‭KJV‬‬

http://bible.com/1/mat.11.30.kjv

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You’ll Be There

It was April 1, 2002, around 9:45 a.m.  I was at work, the librarian for our local elementary school.   I began feeling slightly light-headed, slightly nauseous and somewhat concerned.  By 10:30 a.m. I had notified the teacher whose class had come in for Library Class, as well as our secretary, that things were escalating in my system for whatever reason.

Long story short, by the end of May a tumor had been located in the region of my left ear (Acoustic Neuroma) and needed to come out.  It was small, but would double in size over and over if not removed.

I had never had nor needed surgery, and this was rather daunting to face.  There would be a regular surgeon AND a brain surgeon in attendance as part of my skull behind my left ear had to be removed and the tumor accessed near the brain.

Well, nerves and fear and questions hit from time to time.  One day when I was overly concerned, I sat in our rocking chair and was praying for guidance and peace once again.  The Lord dropped into my heart the assurance that He would be there with me.  He even started giving me a message in prose and the music to go with… and it became this song, “You’ll Be There” that I will share below.

As the words to the second verse formed in my mind, I could picture a dark sky and rough, stormy ocean with an old-time fishing vessel making its way through the waves.  Then, what joy, there at the front, standing boldly erect with hand raised and pointing straight ahead into the dense dark fog, stood Jesus…showing the way.

What a peace descended into my heart!  God reminded me that whatever the situation, whether I can make sense of it or see the way from here or not, He is there with me, guiding the direction to go and pointing out the safe way to head even in the rough and turbulent times of my life.

How loved we are, for our patient and gentle Father to listen to our hearts’ cries, gently calming the fears of His children.  He does not condemn nor rebuke us, but lovingly reminds us we are not alone, even when He leads us through the storm, rather than calming it.  Without correcting us He speaks peace to our hearts and reminds us we are not alone.  He is faithful, ever ready to answer the cries of His children and comfort with His presence.   Yes, it is a comfort to know He’ll be there with us through the storms of life.

 

YOU’LL BE THERE

Lord I don’t know what lies ahead

Sometimes my heart is filled with dread

But this one thing I know—You’ll be there

Guiding my feet along the way

Holding my hand from day to day

Thanks, Lord, for I know You’ll be there.

 

When bad news comes to overwhelm

I see You standing at the helm

It comforts me to know You are there

You show the way that’s safe to go

Through journeys rough it’s good to know

I do not walk alone — You are there.

 

Copyright 2002 by Patricia A. Hunter

Oh To Hear Him!

Have you ever gotten so caught up in reading something that time gets away from you, or you read more than ‘assigned’ for a daily reading?  Well it happened to me again.  In my daily scripture writing (see Facebook group DAY BY DAY SCRIPTURE &  JOURNAL), all of March to date has been from John 1.  I got so caught up in the happenings of verses 29-31 yesterday that I didn’t notice I had completed the day’s scripture assignment and wrote verse 32 as well.  Today I wrote the remainder of today’s writing:  verses 33 & 34.  It stood out to me (1) how John heard from God ahead of time what he would see, what it would mean, and Who would be in his presence, and (2) how important that knowledge was for the entire future of all mankind, and (3) how important it is to hear God when He speaks to each of us!

(NKJV). John 1:32-33  “32 And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’

Remember, John the Baptist was the cousin who, pre-birth, leapt in his mother Elizabeth’s womb when Mary, mother-to-be of Jesus, entered Elizabeth’s home and spoke.  The Spirit in John recognized being in the presence of Christ!  (Luke 1:41 NKJV  And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.)

So John heard the Spirit tell him that he would see the Spirit descend upon and remain upon The One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.  (Jesus Himself.)  Because John listened, he took note when at the Jordan baptizing people in water, when he saw the form of a dove landing upon a man.  And when it remained, he knew that this was who they had been looking for; it was Jesus, the promised one!

Just before coming into the living room to write out my scriptures for the day, and as I walked through our kitchen, I wondered if there are any answering machine messages.  I don’t usually think that while here in the house, but that is what came to my mind.    And I figured likely not…we haven’t had any for quite some time.  Yet because I ‘heard’ that thought, I looked … and there was the flashing light and little beep telling me we had a message waiting for us.  Now I am not saying that it was God who alerted me to check for a phone message, but at the same time, I enjoy these little ‘reminders’ that it just could be Him making me aware to “stay tuned”, as the old tv shows used to tell us!

I want to be so in tune with Him that I hear Him.  I do not want to miss even the little things He has for me, much less the big things God has for not only me, but those whose lives I can influence for good by hearing His directive and obeying.

My prayer:  Dear Lord, cause my heart to listen to You above all the distractions and interruptions of my days, so I can follow You and not miss out on the blessings that hearing Your voice and directives will bring me and those in my sphere of influence.  In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN!

Worrying – what’s the point?

I know numerous people who work hard at worrying, don’t you?  Or worse yet, maybe you are one!  These caring folks that I know work hard at pretty much everything including worrying, actually, so it must be a natural tendency.  But even as little as I personally worry, I have felt the drag, the drain and the tension worry causes.  It sometimes smacks us like a freight train, and at other times it slips in silent and insidious.  Either way, it ends up undermining our very peace and trust.

I see no point in saying, “just stop it, it is not good for you.”  That would be as effective as those highly-accomplished worriers telling me to be a high-octane, energetic and bustling dynamo. “Ain’t happenin’!” comes first to mind!

So I’ve been thinking about this recently.  Surely the energies put into intensive, consistent worrying about whatever could be put to better use, like telling it to the Lord and placing it in His capable, loving hands and leaving it there while we put our mind towards something constructive and uplifting.  In Matthew 6:27 (NKJV) we read:  “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?”  That pretty much shows just how ineffective worrying is, right?  No matter how much we think and think and rethink…that’s all we actually accomplish and produce…more thoughts.  Worry accomplishes no goal, but rather creates angst, heartburn, impatience, ulcers, arthritis…you get the picture?  And it adds fuel to our fears.  It just plain is not healthy nor worthwhile!

Here’s a thought!  Why not develop a new habit?  How about when we recognize we are worrying, we turn from it and purposefully start declaring we are trusting in One greater than our own selves, who cares even more deeply about our concerns than we can?    (“casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”  I Peter‬ ‭5:7‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

I wrote a song a few years back based on the scripture “The eternal God is your refuge, And underneath are the everlasting arms; ”  Deuteronomy‬ ‭33:27a ‬ ‭(NKJV)‬‬  My husband and I have been privileged to get to travel by plane now and then, and we love to fly.  As our plane banked and approached the airport for our mid-trip layover in 2008, I thought of how relaxed and contented we were, happy to be flying and really enjoying the trip, and yet by contrast, how others are so full of fear and anxiety when just contemplating flying.  Once again I personally claimed that scripture in Deuteronomy while on our approach, relying on God’s arms underneath us, upholding us in His care, and *a new song began forming.  I started jotting down thoughts as they flowed about in my mind.  When it was complete, the chorus repeated throughout states, “Underneath are the everlasting arms, I’m safe, secure, free from all alarm.  There’s nothing to fear for I know that underneath are the everlasting arms.”  What a comfort this truth gives when we let it be truth, believing and acting on it?

God gives us so many promises of being with us, caring for us, never leaving us, being a hedge of protection, giving us an ear to hear us anytime we cry out to Him…. let’s start walking in faith, actively trusting Him, and experience the fullness of joy He has to offer us rather than letting worry eat away at our peace and ultimately undermining our trust in God.  Search the scriptures for every promise of God’s loving care, how He will not leave you, how He wants us to ask Him for what we need.  Need peace?  Go to God and ask!  Believe!  Receive!  Rejoice!

You know, if we are letting worry rule our days and/or our nights, we need to change our focus.  We need to change our view.  Quit mentally looking at the worst, imagining the negative, the things that could go wrong, the events that might happen, and instead start quoting scripture and faith-based songs that affirm God has our life in His hands, and that nothing can touch us without His permission.  Do we trust God to be God?  Really?  Then why are we scaring ourselves into a frenzied lather?  Really!  Do we believe His word, that He will go with us (and our loved ones) and meet our needs?  Yes, in this world things do sometimes go wrong, that’s life!  But we are not left to struggle through by ourselves!  He is with us to go through the dark times with us.  He promised in Deuteronomy 31 to be with us, and encourages us with these powerful words in verse 6:   Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”  And in verse 8:  “ And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”(NKJV)

OH, there is SO MUCH I could say about this!!!  But how about it?  How about a new focus for a healthier, happier life?  Do you need help changing this harmful habit?  Let’s take it to God!  He is our answer.  Pray with me:  Lord, I believe You, I trust You, and I thank You that You are in control.  Lord, I want to refocus my heart and mind from worrying to trusting You and rejoicing in being Your child.  I ask You to catch my attention, and show me when I start to fear and worry.  Help me to remain committed to replacing those thoughts with words of faith and hope, with scriptures and songs and affirmations that build up my faith and release Your power to be at work for the good of my own life and of my loved ones.  Lord, I know You love me and mine and promise to be with us through the hard times.  So I release the angst, the worrying thoughts into Your care, and I rest in Your promises.  Thank You Father for loving us so deeply, and for providing peace for my turmoil, giving joy for my journey, and for being my strength when I am weak.  What a wonderful God You are!  In Jesus dear name I pray, with thanksgiving, Amen!

There, we did it!  Step one!  What’s next?  Keeping on putting one foot in front of the other, consistently following the Lord, reading His word, believing it, memorizing and rereading it, researching and learning and internalizing His truths so His thoughts become our thoughts.  And there it is!  We just hit the key, right?!  Here are some of my favorite verses in the entire Bible because for me they are a guide and a control devise so my thoughts won’t go so far amuck!   Philippians 4:6-8, New King James Version (NKJV): 6 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

Not one time in those verses does it say to be anxious, to let our thoughts and fears run rampant, to focus on the bad that might happen.  We are to think of the good, true, noble, pure, things of good report…etc!  So yeah.  What’s the point of worrying?  It profits us nothing, brings doubt and fear (which are the opposite of trust, by the way), and is self-destructive.  Instead, let’s focus on God and His promises, knowing that in Him we are never alone, always loved and in His care.  Look to Him, and rejoice.  Remain steadfast and committed to taking those worrying thoughts captive and controlling them.  You’ll be so glad you did!

* (You can read the lyrics to above-mentioned song in my blog entitled [no surprise here!]  “UNDERNEATH ARE THE EVERLASTING ARMS.”)

Underneath Are the Everlasting Arms

UNDERNEATH ARE THE EVERLASTING ARMS
CHORUS
Underneath are the everlasting arms;
I’m safe, secure, free from all alarm.
There’s nothing to fear for I know
That underneath are the everlasting arms.

Verse 1
I’m traveling with Jesus
He keeps me day by day
The Lord is here beside me
To guide me, Come what may—

CHORUS
Underneath are the everlasting arms;
I’m safe, secure, free from all alarm.
There’s nothing to fear for I know
That underneath are the everlasting arms.

Verse 2
The way gets steep and winding
And can be very rough
Wherever life may take me
The Lord’s more than enough

CHORUS
Underneath are the everlasting arms;
I’m safe, secure, free from all alarm.
There’s nothing to fear for I know
That underneath are the everlasting arms.

Verse 3
Sometimes the path is rugged
And sometimes smooth and clear
Wherever His hand leads me
I’ve nothing now to fear

CHORUS
Underneath are the everlasting arms;
I’m safe, secure, free from all alarm.
There’s nothing to fear for I know
That underneath are the everlasting arms.

Verse 4
I’m going on with Jesus,
My Savior and my friend
He promised to go with me
Clear to my journey’s end.

CHORUS
Underneath are the everlasting arms;
I’m safe, secure, free from all alarm.
There’s nothing to fear for I know
That underneath are the everlasting arms.

©2008 Patricia A. Hunter, All Rights Reserved. 4.24. 2008

Why Christmas?

WHY CHRISTMAS?

The closing line of a movie caught my attention. I quote: “GIVING IN ITS PUREST FORM EXPECTS NOTHING IN RETURN.” I got to thinking. While that may be so, what joy it brings when that same love flows reciprocally back to you. It may have been an act of kindness or an item given that you know your loved one is fond of. Whatever the gift, the love that prompted it is the true and lasting treasure. And certainly if we love someone, we want to protect them, so we give them our attention, our care, our nurturing, our best counsel and encouragement.

Before time began, God thought of us. He knew us entirely, and loved us completely. He knew what we would experience, yearn for, reject and respond to. He knew what we would gladly embrace; He knew our hidden thoughts and deepest feelings. Before we were, He was aware of what would be our insecurities and hopes, our failures and joys. He knew what dangers and temptations we would be susceptible to. Knowing us as He did, and loving us as only He can, He gave us His most prized and priceless treasure, His love gift; the gift of His only Son, Jesus.

Giving in it’s purest form “expects nothing in return”? Perhaps. But does not the heart long for acknowledgment from those it loves? Is there not pain when love is not returned? Is there not a sense of loss and sadness when a gift of love is overlooked, or worse yet, refused entirely? God loved. And because of that love, He gave. God so loved you, He so loved me, that He gave His one and only Son Jesus, to die for our sins. Why? So that anyone- you, me, whosoever would believe on His Son should not perish in eternal payment for our sins, but might have everlasting life.

But how much greater it is, when love is returned. God loved, so He gave. Does He demand we accept His gift and give Him our love in return? No. But what joy we can give Him by returning His love. Loving and giving, expecting nothing in return, is selfless and can be fulfilling. How wonderful when love is reciprocated, shared. And of course there is the benefit of eternal life rather than eternal punishment for us by receiving His gift!

Have you accepted God’s gift to you? Do you return the Lord’s love? He knows you in minute detail, and loves you infinitely, with a non-stop, regardless of us love, an everlasting love.

And that, my friend, is why we celebrate this holiday. That answers the question “Why Christmas?” Because, GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, THAT WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM SHOULD NOT PERISH, BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE. (John 3:16 New King James Version -NKJV)

What love! What a gift! Accept His gift of Jesus, who paid the price for forgiveness from your sins. Love Him back! It’s a win-win situation. We receive His love, He receives our love. Return that love He has given you, and pass it on to others needing to learn of and accept this awesome gift.

Reality Smackdown!

Matthew 1:18-20. I would like to know Joseph and Mary if they lived in my community. She was favored of God, and he was a just man. Even though Joseph at first thought Mary had been unfaithful to him, he was considering “putting her away privately, not willing to make a spectacle of her.” This he considered and thought upon, rather than rashly acting out in a fit of rage and bitter hurt. Verse 20 “but while he thought about these things,” the angel of the Lord brought assurance of her faithfulness to him and their betrothal.

Matthew 1:21-25. Again I am touched by and made aware of what a Godly, honorable man Joseph was! He was smacked in the face with reality. No longer was he awaiting the fulfillment of the prophecy that some virgin lady would bear God’s Son, but his very own fiancee is said to be pregnant yet a virgin. That takes faith! Even with hearing it from an angel, that takes faith! But God’s spirit must have borne witness and rang with truth in his heart…something like “your lady is pure and honorable and has humbled herself to whatever lies ahead. She knows she very well might be scorned, face rejection from her beloved as well as local communities…” Talk about a smackdown…SMACK!!! Reality just hit! HELLO!! God WITH us, God changing our lives! God intercepting our day to day plans and wishes for a greater good. SMACK!!! MIRACLES upon miracles!!! Oh the tongue wagging and finger pointing and shunning by RELIGIOUS folks Mary and then Joseph agreed to by saying YES to God! WOW! Think about it! But thank God for their willingness to deny self and accept God’s challenge-filled blessings. Eternally grateful here in Idaho for the deep, life-changing faith of Mary and her fiance Joseph so many years ago. Point to ponder: Is my relationship with God such that I know hear and know His voice AND willingly obey?