Vickie's Blog

Thoughts Along Life's Journey


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He’s Always There

One of my favorite authors and Bible teachers is Tony Evans. He said this: “You may not see Jesus in the middle of your trials, but He sees you. Hang in there.”

We’ve all found ourselves in a dilemma that seemed impossible to escape. We can see no way out of the confusion, the pain, the heartache. The “why” question goes unanswered. We call out to Jesus but we don’t hear Him speak into our wounded places. We look for Him in every detail of the situation, but we cannot see Him there. What does that mean?

It means that it’s time to put our faith into practice. It’s easy to believe the words of God when everything in our lives is looking like roses. Strangely, a weakening of trust comes into play when the thorns begin to appear. It’s at such moments that we have a vital choice to make: we may accuse God of abandoning us and plod on in our misery or we may declare that we know He is there. We choose to believe that He is working something out for our good. We know that in God’s perfect timing, He will reveal purpose out of all that is taking place in our lives. It’s a choice. In my own experience, the latter has always proved most satisfying, for when I call out my trust to Him, inner upheaval changes to an awareness of peace. It’s all a choice.

Remember the story of Job in the Old Testament? There he was living the best he could to honor God. He was blessed with a large family and with financial gain and with good health. Then, in the midst of his roses, the sharp, cruel thorns of devastation pierced his world of tranquility. His health deteriorated. Horrific weather killed his children. Did he grieve? Deeply. What didn’t he do? Job 1:22 tells us, “In all this, Job did not sin by blaming God.” In other words, in the midst of his deepest trials, he made his choice. He could not see God but He chose to believe that He was there, working the outcome to his good. Read the story to see the goodness that God prepared for him. Job only received the great blessings that were to come because of his choice to trust God even in life’s blinding storms.

Remember, God has never let anyone down; He’s not going to start with you. Don’t blame God in the midst of pain; reach out and hold on to Him. He is always there.


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Wearing God’s Clothing

Last week I shared thoughts about Jesus being our everything.  Whatever we need — He is.  All that He has — we have, too.  When we begin that practice of placing our focus on Him,  peace begins to settle in the storms of our lives, but something else takes place, too.  It is this “something else” that we need to be aware of and take heed.

You see, the devil will not be pleased at your endeavors.  In fact, he will be outraged at your quest to focus on Jesus because he hates Jesus with a passion.  Therefore, we are warned to be careful of attacks from the devil.  James 4:7 reads, “So humble yourselves before God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”  

This is a most helpful verse.  Let’s look at it carefully.  First, the dictionary definition of “humble” is this: “to show a modest estimate of one’s own importance.”  Therefore, in the light of this verse, we are instructed to focus, not on our own importance, but as we humble ourselves before God, we are reminded once again, that the focus is, in fact, God Himself.  In other words, our own importance is nothing compared to the greatness of God; and yet, even as we are nothing and He is everything, He loves us and longs to fill us daily with His own power and wisdom.

When we focus on that, what happens?  We find that it is indeed possible to resist the devil and his depressing thoughts and lies.  When we resist him, we are found to be steadfast in our faith in God’s care for us.  That’s a lovely thought but there is something else to remember.  Look at the verse again.  It says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”  In other words, he will flee for that moment — but beware! He will return at a later time!

When the devil fails at keeping us from coming to accept Jesus as our salvation, the next thing he attempts is to keep us weak.  He doesn’t want our faith to grow strong.  He doesn’t want us focusing on God’s love for us.  He doesn’t want us to realize that God is our everything to get us through anything.  Therefore, he will keep coming back to tempt us, to lie to us, to get a foot into our door of peace in order to throw in his havoc.

We must resist the devil again and again.  What a tiring thought!  How do we accomplish this?  The answer is found in Ephesians 6:13, “Use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil. so that after the battle you will still be standing firm.”  Isn’t that a wonderful verse?  What a terrific instruction, reminding us that if we dress in God’s armor, then the evil darts of Satan cannot penetrate; we will be left standing firm.

What is God’s armor?  That’s found in Ephesians 6:14-17.  They are:  the belt of truth, body armor of righteousness, shoes of peace, a shield of faith, a helmut of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the very Word of God.   Satan is strong but God is stronger.  Therefore, when we are dressed in the armor of God, Satan cannot win.

Remember the story of Jesus in the desert?  He was met by Satan who tempted him powerfully.  How did Jesus resist?  He skillfully used His sword of the Spirit — the Word of God.  What happened?  Satan had to flee.  He absolutely cannot stand against God’s Word.  That’s why it’s vital to our daily peace and joy to skillfully use the Word of God.  We must hide the words in our hearts.  We when do so, we will be ready to draw our swords and fight to victory when Satan attacks.

God’s Word is the only way to constant victory.  All other attempts pales in comparison.  May you dress for battle everyday and may you rejoice in every victory!

 


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Everything He Has, We Have

There is something sad when we become so fearful of situations that the fear nearly blinds us.  We can no longer see clearly what is important.  If not careful, we even begin to hallucinate, seeing or imagining things in our situations that aren’t there at all.  Thinking the best in a situation is easy for some, while thinking the worst in a situation is all others can do.  Is there any hope when we become so fearful that we are nearly paralyzed to move, and nearly blinded to truth?

Yes indeed!  There is always hope found in Jesus Christ, no matter what is going on in our lives.  The key is upon what we focus.  Too often, we focus on what we imagine that God can do for us.  Then, when our problems are not quickly taken care of, we despair because things aren’t turning out as we had hoped.  Again, the key is hope, not in what we imagine, but in all that is found in Jesus Christ.

I often remind myself of the words found in Nehemiah 10:10, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.”  Notice what those words don’t say.  They don’t say, the joy of what God can do for you is your strength.  They say the joy of Him; the joy of Him being who He is — it is in Him and all He is that is our strength.

When we think about it, it’s all very exciting.  For example, Jesus is joy.  Jesus is compassion.  Jesus is truth.  Jesus is courage.  Jesus is wisdom.  Jesus is love.  Therefore, when we change our focus from situations that trouble us, and turn our focus upon everything that Jesus is, then we begin to sense our own joy levels rising.  When we have Jesus, we have everything that He is available to us.  He has already given to us all we need to get through life even in the most hurtful of times.  Just take it.  Too often we plead for God’s help, when really, we can begin thanking Him from the start for already being everything we need.  Everything He has, we have, too.

It is the joy of Him being everything that He is that is our strength.  When Jesus lives in us, we have all of Him,  meaning all His strength, all His joy, all His comfort, all His wisdom, all His courage, everything good, available to us.  Now, that’s something rather exciting to think about, isn’t it.

As you go into this New Year, pay attention upon what you focus.  Let it be Jesus and all that He is; it will do wonders for your daily walk in this world.


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Another New Year’s Resolution

Have you made a resolution for the coming new year?  What could it be?  Lose weight?  Exercise more?  Eat more healthy?  Quit biting your fingernails?  Be kinder to your neighbor?  The list could go on.

Every new year there are countless people who make a declaration of some resolution that they are going to keep.  Every new year those same countless people will most likely break their resolutions within the first week.  Some will forget what the resolution was in the first place.  Are you one of those people?  You mean well; you want to make a good resolution that will put you on a path to becoming a better person, but somehow success alludes you.  You tell yourself there’s always next year.

There’s good news for the Christian where resolutions are concerned.  There is a goal to aim for that doesn’t have to be forgotten until next year.  There’s a target in our sites that is a joy to hope for everyday, not just once a year.  It’s found in Proverbs 3:5-6:  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek His will in all you do, and He will direct your paths.”

Choosing to trust God and choosing to seek Him is a high goal to set for ourselves every morning.  Will we make mistakes?  Oh yes.  Will we greedily choose our own way on occasion?  Again, yes.  So, if we know our attempts will not prove successful on every day of our attempts, then why even try?

The joy is in the pursuit.  The joy is in knowing that our mistakes are forgiven when we ask our Father to forgive.  The joy is in knowing that our Father has a perfect plan for each of us and that He never tires of our attempts to stay on the path of His design.  The joy is in knowing that as we continue to try, we will continue to grow stronger.  As the days pass by, we will discover that we’re walking a bit farther each day without falling.  As the days pass by, we discover that our understanding of God and His ways and of his love for us, deepens.

Choosing to trust and choosing to seek Him is a daily resolution that never grows old.  It is a goal that always brings joy and peace in the midst of any of life’s storms.  Trusting and seeking God is a resolution that will never fail us.


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A Train Set On Christmas Morning

For some reason today, my thoughts were recalling Christmases of long ago.  In particular I remembered one exciting Christmas morning when a very special gift was waiting for me beneath the tree.

When I was a little girl I was a real tomboy.  I had no interest in dolls and little stoves and tea sets.  I wanted trucks and bows and arrows and a train set.  How excited I was when on the morning of the particular Christmas that I recall, there was a shiny silver track with a black engine and various colors of train cars to hook to the engine.  It was a beautiful sight for my eyes to behold.

Immediately I sat down and took hold of the pieces of silver track.  I was in a hurry to put them together and get the train to chugging around it.  My Dad offered to help me put the track together.  “I can do it by myself,” I remember saying in great confidence.  I took one piece of track and attempted to insert it into a second track piece, but it didn’t want to go in.  “You sure you don’t need some help?” my Dad asked.  “No, I can do it,” I answered, still determined to do it without any help.

It took some time working at it, but I did get the track laid.  I set the engine on and hooked several cars behind it.  Then, I flicked the switch and watched the little train chug around the track.  Well, it nearly chugged around the track.  It came to a piece of track and stopped, the electric engine still whirring but not going anywhere.  What had happened?

I removed the engine and looked at the track pieces.  I had not fully understood the grooves and how they were to slot into each other.  I had forced one piece into the other and it didn’t lay flat.  The engine couldn’t go over it.  My face must have been a great picture of disappointment.  I had only just got the train set and now it was broken.

Without a word my Dad looked at the two ill-fitted track pieces.  Then, he pulled them apart.  I noticed his big hands and fingers.  They were so strong.  He bent the piece that I had nearly broken, and then he slipped the pieces together properly.  He smiled and said, “Now try it.”  I put the engine back on, flicked the switch, and watched in great delight as the train pulled its cargo round and round.  “Thanks, Dad,”  I looked up into his smiling face.  “That’s okay,” he replied, “I never mind helping.”

Our heavenly Father doesn’t mind helping either.  Sometimes we insist that we can do things by ourselves.  We don’t need God’s help or anybody else’s help either.  We think we can lay the tracks of our plans all by ourselves.  When we take on that attitude, we’re very likely to be foiled in our own attempts.  Remember, Father is smiling upon us; He is waiting for us to let Him help.  His help is always better than our best efforts, just as it says in Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.”


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The Night When Jesus Was Born

I had lunch with a dear friend this week.  As we were talking, my friend began to talk about the Christmas story.  She is to teach on this subject in her Bible class on Sunday.  She told me that, as she was contemplating this familiar story,  three things drew her attention.  She shared her thoughts after which I said to her, “That’s great; may I borrow that?”  “Please do,” she happily agreed.  Therefore, I share with you what my friend shared with me.  She calls it — The Three P’s.

On the night Jesus was born, the Scripture tells us in Luke 2:9 that a host of angels appeared to a group of shepherds who were tending their sheep.  The shepherds were frightened at first, but calmed as the angels reassured them and even sang praises before them.  In other words, when this never seen before phenomena appears before them, they were perplexed.

The shepherds did as the angels instructed them; they went to Bethlehem and found the Christ child laying in a manger.  The angels told everyone what had happened that night when the angels appeared to them.  In Luke 2:19 we are told that “Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and pondered upon them often.”

In the next verse we see that the shepherds return to their fields and flocks.  As they were going, they were “glorifying and praising God for what the angles had told them and because they had seen the Christ child.”

What a night!  The shepherds are perplexed.  Mary ponders it all.  The shepherds go away praising God for all that has taken place.  It would be a night to remember — a night that is still celebrated to this day.

We can fully understand why the shepherds were perplexed.  They were in a situation they had never been in before.  Then there is Mary.  She’s already been in an unexpected situation when an angel told her she would deliver Jesus into the world and yet she was a virgin.  Yet, as unimaginable as that could be, she believed God and humbly gave herself to Him.  She treasured in her heart all that took place.  Then, the story ends in praises being given to God for what He had done in sending the Christ child into the world.

What an amazing application for our own lives.  Haven’t we all found ourselves in unimaginable situations?  We’re scared, perplexed!  However, when we choose to trust God, giving Him our fears, trusting Him with the outcome, goodness is surely to follow.  When His goodness comes, like Mary, we have a wealth of God’s blessings to store in our hearts.  Remembering our blessings always serves to lift our dampened spirits in times of distress and fear.  When we’re perplexed, but choose to trust God with the outcome, then seeing His goodness follow; well, what fun it is then to praise Him for what He has done.

God always has our best interests in His heart.  That’s why Jesus came — because God so loved the world.  God loves you.  He loves me.  Are you in a perplexing situation?  Choose to trust Him with the outcome.  Then, when the blessings come, praise Him for all He has done.  That formula is sure to bring inner joy in the darkest of days.

 


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One Twig At A Time

I walked to our mailbox by the road to see if any mail had arrived.  As I was strolling along I looked up and noticed a bird’s nest balancing on a limb!  I stared in amazement!  There were no leaves to help it stay together, nor was it balanced between two limbs; it just rested atop one slim branch.  The wind was blowing, but there it rested securely.

I tried to imagine the bird that decided to build a home in just that spot. One twig at a time would have been put in place.  I don’t understand how it all came together, but I saw it with my own eyes — a beautiful nest.

As I contemplated further, the thought came to me that, that’s how it is when God puts it in our hearts to do something in particular.  Perhaps we tell ourselves that we’re not skilled enough or perhaps we say that someone else can do the job better than us.  Excuses can go on and on.  We want to do what God has put in our hearts to do, but the fear factor can put our efforts into slow motion.

What can we do?  How about, think of one twig at a time.  That’s how the bird built her nest.  Paul ministered to churches in many countries by traveling one day at a time.  Noah built an ark by putting together one board at a time.  Jesus fed 5000 people, one fish at a time.  John baptized in the Jordan River, one person at a time.  Mary gave birth to the Son of God by trusting in Him, one day at a time.  Peter preached to thousands, one crowd at a time.  David led his soldiers into victory, one battle at a time.

Too often, we scare ourselves with our own imagination.  We try to envision the outcome of our attempts.  It’s too big!  We might fail!  What will people think?  How will we ever accomplish the task we have been given to do?  We will accomplish what God asks of us, just like all the examples before us — one step at a time, one day at a time, one prayer at a time.

“For with God, nothing shall be impossible.”  Luke 1:37

The key to this verse is in the word, “with.”  It’s with God that we can do anything that He asks us to do.

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