Archive for the ‘Strength’ Category

This painting, created by my friend Sharon Taylor, is an enlightening representation of the spiritual warfare that exists all around us. This is a graphic reminder that Satan is a very real enemy who purposefully seeks to destroy those committed to Christ. 1 Peter 5:8 says, Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Christians suffer daily for the sake of following Christ. Some are tortured physically, imprisoned, and even killed; others are tortured mentally and emotionally by addictions, broken homes, kidnappings. The methods of his attacks are never-ending. Satan and his army stand ready to attack, and we must always be on guard.

In the midst of the darkness, you can see innumerable rays of light. Each light represents those who follow Christ, those who draw near to God, and those who faithfully share the light of His love for all to see. John 1:5 says, The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. Satan will try his best to shake our faith and to dim the light of each Christian, but we have complete assurance that we serve a conquering King, and we are not alone in this battle!

Now, notice the bright beams of light penetrating the darkness and the mass of light above Satan and his army. Isaiah 41:10 says, Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Praise God there is light in the darkness! 1 Peter 5:10 says, The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little while. These times of suffering will not last forever.

The battle is real. God is our strongest defense against the devil’s attacks. We must always be alert and protect our “light” with the whole armor of God so that others may know God. Ephesians 6:10-18 says, Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.

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In just a few weeks, COVID-19 has transformed from a subject of very little concern to many people in my area to something that is totally disrupting the lives of most if not all.

There are so many things you may be dealing with personally that may be causing anxiety, but know that God can give you peace beyond all understanding. No matter how difficult or impossible your situation may seem right now, trust God. You’ll find it’s much easier to trust Him through any struggle and even the day to day mess when you’re spending time with Him in prayer and reading His word each day. If you aren’t already doing that, don’t hesitate; start now.

My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever. Psalm 73:26

But you are a shield around me, O Lord, my glory , and the one who lifts up my head. Psalm 3:3

Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all. 2 Thessalonians 3:16

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How bold are you in proclaiming your faith?

Our cat has suddenly begun crying out boldly in the middle of the night with a squall that jars everyone awake from an otherwise uneventful night. This has become an almost nightly occurrence. I finally discovered this cry comes from our bathroom which amplifies the volume. Why does she do this? Maybe she likes the acoustics and the fact that there are no other sounds during the night to drown out her late night songs. She doesn’t care that our dog (who thinks he’s her boss) is always ready and waiting for her to do something wrong so that he can chase her through the house. She is unstoppable!

Paul was a lot like my cat…bold and unstoppable. Acts 28:31 says “He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ – with all boldness and without hindrance”. Prior to chapter 28, Paul had been arrested for preaching, conspired against, imprisoned, tortured, shipwrecked, and more. He had many circumstances that might deter his preaching, yet he continued without hesitation.

Paul did not back down simply because someone wanted him to stop. He was not intimidated. He did not make excuses. He continued to tell of God’s goodness and of Jesus’s resurrection boldly. His ministry thrived because he was a force that would not stop simply because of his faith.

How bold are you in proclaiming God’s goodness? Often we are our own greatest obstacle. We make excuses. We are intimidated by the opinions of others and stopped by fear and insecurity.

How can we share God boldly like Paul with so many obstacles? Ask Him to cast aside all fear of judgment and give you strength to do what He wants you to do. No hesitation. No fear. No hindrances. Believe that God loves you, and hold on to the fact that His love and approval are all you need.

Like Paul’s ministry, there will be trials, but with God we can overcome any obstacle. Step out in faith and share God boldly like Paul. Then keep singing His praises like my cat who just won’t give up even when the dog is on your tail!

Be bold! Be unstoppable! All for the kingdom of God.

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Armor of God

“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:10-18‬ ‭NLT‬‬

www.bible.com/116/eph.6.11.nlt

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It wasn’t supposed to be this way. We’ve probably all said it or at least thought it when an unexpected crisis left us gasping for breath. Accidents happen. Bad decisions are made. Illness suddenly strikes. Death occurs. These events are not a part of our plan and will shake us to our core.

Before David was crowned king, he experienced one of these life shattering moments. In 1 Samuel 30, he and his men returned home to find their city in ruins and their families had been taken captive. Verse 4 says, So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep.

The remainder of chapter 30 tells how David faced an unexpected crisis and provides some valuable lessons for our own challenges, even the small stuff.

1. Find strengthIt’s okay to cry, but find strength from the Lord as David did. (v. 6)

2. Pray for God’s direction – David inquired of the Lord (v. 8). Don’t react out of anger but instead seek God first.

3. Fight the enemy if God leads – Don’t allow Satan to knock you down and win. Get back up and fight! (v. 8, 17)

4. Some people may not stick with you or may turn against you – David’s men turned against him (v.6) and some were too exhausted to go to battle with David (v. 9-10). Unfortunately, your problems may be too intense for some friends to handle. Be thankful for those who offer support.

5. Minister to others despite your own crisis – David took time to stop and care for a man in need (v. 11). Ministering to others’ needs can relieve some of the stress of your own situation.

6. Share God’s blessings and grace with others – David shared the plunder with all (v. 26) Don’t keep to yourself God’s blessings through this crisis. You never know how it may help someone else.

When life isn’t going the way you thought it would, are you going to allow the unexpected crisis to break you, or will you jump up ready for battle? Satan will be waiting to crush your spirit, but instead go to God and ask Him how you should proceed. There is no crisis greater than God’s power and direction.

Ecclesiastes 3:4 says, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. There are many seasons in life, and some will be difficult. But praise God there will also be many times to laugh and dance!

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I am with You

Two years ago my daughter and I flew for the first time. We were both a little anxious about the entire process from security to landing and even how to make our way out of the airport. Since we were alone, we had no choice but to be strong, push forward, and walk through this journey together.

I had prayed many times for God to give us courage and for protection, and thankfully the entire trip was very smooth compared to all the concerns which had rushed through my mind in the days leading up to our flight.

My daughter, Lindsey, was anxious but also excited for her first flight. I, on the other hand, am afraid of heights, terrified on roller coasters, want to feel in control, and had the intentions of never, ever flying!

She immediately opened the window to see everything going on. I sat afraid to even look until the plane seemed to have leveled off and was no longer ascending higher into the air. When I finally did look out that tiny window, I was amazed at the beauty and comforted by the peace that I felt.

After landing and meeting my husband and son-in-law, we began to look through the pictures Lindsey had taken from the air.

When I saw this photo, I was immediately drawn to something that we had not seen as we were flying . I quickly zoomed in and very clearly saw an image which to me represented Jesus.

I was moved to tears. It seemed as though God was showing us that He had been with us throughout the trip. Although we did not see this image in the clouds when the photo was taken, He was there! It reminds me of the disciples in a boat as a storm raged all around them. They were so fearful, but Jesus was right there with them in that boat!

This zoomed-in photo has been the screen saver on my phone since that moment. It is a constant reminder of God’s presence through this earthly journey.

Two weeks after that flight, our family faced a raging storm when my husband was struck by a fire truck. It was a difficult time and still is sometimes, but I know without any doubt that God is with us!

Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

Regardless of what you’re going through or what emotions you are struggling with, God can give you peace in the storm. You can face anything with confidence that God is with you. Whether it’s an exciting moment that causes just a little anxiety or something that causes great fear and a loss of control, He is there!

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She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. Proverbs 31:25

A kind hearted woman gains honor. Proverbs 11:16

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:26

Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:14

God is with her, she will not fall. Psalm 46:5

Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her. Luke 1:45

The Lord is my strength and my shield. Psalm 28:7

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged for the Lord your God is with you where you go. Joshua 1:9

Under His wings you will find refuge. Psalm 9:1

Don’t worry about anything, instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Philippians 4:6-8

By the grace of God, I am what I am. 1 Corinthians 15:10

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14

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Fear of the unknown causes much distress in our lives. When things are out of our control, we often worry, feel stressed, and even become physically ill. Unfortunately life is not always as perfect as it appears on social media. People are hurting all around us. Those who are battered and bruised may show visible signs of their pain. Others endure pain that we cannot perceive. Whether its physical or emotional pain, many are fighting battles of which we are unaware.

Isaiah 42:6 says, “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do. I will not forsake them.” The Israelites were blinded by their captivity, and they experienced the same fears and questions that we experience today. God did not forsake them. He delivered them and guided them to the Promised Land. Today, He continues to turn the darkness into light, makes the rough spots smooth, and never forsakes us, just as He did so many years ago.


Often when the way grows dark and we can’t see what lies ahead, it is easy to wonder where is God and why isn’t He working. We may forget that He is always there. Isaiah 42:6 reminds us that He will smooth the rough places and will never desert us. It doesn’t matter how dark or rough the road becomes, our Almighty God has the power to turn the darkness into light. Even in that darkest moment, when things seem to be spiraling out of control and we possibly even doubt God’s presence, we can trust that He is still there just as He promised! The secret is to turn our focus from the fear, worry, pain, anger, or stress and instead focus on seeking Him.

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am you God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

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The Cross Room

The young man was at the end of his rope. Seeing no way out, he dropped to his knees in prayer. “Lord, I can’t go on,” he said. “I have too heavy a cross to bear.” 

The Lord replied, “My son, if you can’t bear its weight, just place your cross inside this room, then open that other door and pick out any cross that you wish.” 

The young man was filled with relief. “Thank you, Lord,” he sighed, and did what he was told.  Upon entering the other door, he saw many crosses, some so large that the tops were not even visible. Then he spotted a tiny cross leaning against the far wall. “I would like this one, Lord,” he whispered. 

And the Lord replied, “My son, that’s the cross you just brought in.”

Author unknown

As we trudge along dragging our own personal cross, the weight of it sometimes seems unbearable. Like the man in this story, we may wish to trade for another that is easier to manage, but we usually don’t have to look very far to see someone carrying a much greater burden. 

After my husband’s accident, there was a time when he was critical, and the team of doctors were watching for complications which could require immediate brain surgery.  During this time, we waited, prayed, and wondered if those complications would occur and how damaging they might be. But even as we waited, I saw other patients and families in the ICU who were suffering so much more. I also knew of families in our hometown who were suffering greatly as well. Our cross seemed heavy, but there were many crosses in that hospital that seemed much larger. During that time and still today as he recovers, God provided all the strength and grace that we needed to get through each day. 

Recently my new doctor decided to do some bloodwork to determine exactly what kind of arthritis I have been dealing with for several years. I didn’t think much of it at the time. A few weeks later, my cross suddenly seemed even larger and heavier after a much unexpected diagnosis of Lupus. The pain began years ago but had gradually progressed.  There had seemed to be a good explanation for every symptom that had appeared over the last decade, so I never thought much of the possibility that something more could be the cause.  Although nothing had changed physically, the emotional weight was immense at first. But God quickly reminded me again that there are many with greater burdens than mine. I know if I walked into The Cross Room I would see that my cross is tiny compared to so many others.  

The Cross that we bear may be heavy at times, but it’s ours. I would not trade my or my family’s cross for any other because I know that God has prepared us specifically for these crosses. We aren’t equipped to carry the weight of your cross, just as you haven’t been equipped to carry the weight of ours. Whatever you are going through, whatever struggle you face each day, whether its physical or emotional, God has given you everything you need to carry that cross.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness -2 Corinthians 12:9.  Through our difficulties, God’s power can shine!  

When you think you have no more strength to carry it, call to Him. He will provide a way whether it be a rest or simply a realization that your cross isn’t nearly as large as you thought.  Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you – Psalm 55

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How many times have you found yourself in a situation in which it seemed the best response was to just grin and bear it? We often practice this technique in the small day to day annoyances so that we don’t come across as rude or cranky. We do it when we aren’t feeling well, and someone asks how we’re feeling so we don’t appear to be a whiner. How many times have you heard or said, “Suck it up, Buttercup”?  Many of us see this manner of dealing with adversity as a strong trait.

I’ve come to realize that even with the big stuff I tend to take this same approach.  It’s as if when I grin and bear it, that is proof of just how strong I am and how much faith I have. But instead maybe it just proves my lack of faith and that I am stubbornly digging my heels in an attempt to do things on my own.

For weeks after my husband’s accident, God was literally carrying me through each day because I did not have the strength to even try and do it on my own at that point. A week or two after the accident, I finally had to leave the hospital to take care of some things at home. It was probably the first time that I had really been alone. I remember a feeling of peace as I drove listening to the Christian radio station and even joy as I began to sing along and truly worship God in the midst of the storm. Our situation was not what I wanted to experience, but it was much better than what I had expected to be dealing with. Even in the stress of our situation, I was able to praise God for all He was doing.

But as time passed, my life started to feel out of control as I began to dig my heels in and grin and bear it. I stopped letting God carry me.  I stopped depending on Him and began a daily struggle of depending on me. It’s not easy to admit, but that’s when I began to lose my joy.

In Acts 16, Paul and Silas were thrown in prison after being falsely accused and beaten with no trial. They were treated unfairly and placed in a horrible circumstance, yet verse 25 says they were praying and singing to God. They weren’t dwelling on their physical pain, unfair treatment, or difficult situation. They didn’t simply grin and bear it to prove their faith. They showed that faith by choosing to turn their focus to God.  Others in the prison saw and heard their faith including a jailer who along with his family was saved. After an earthquake (v26), salvations (v33), and a heart to heart talk from Paul (v37), the officials released them.

My experience is small compared to that of Paul and Silas.  But their response has helped me to refocus, not on the situation but on God and the peace and joy that He gave me months ago during the most difficult of times. I’ve learned that I must continue to choose joy and check my focus daily, and He will continue to give me the strength I need. Others will see that in my life and ultimately bring glory to God.

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:2-3).

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

“He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless” (Isaiah 40:29).

“Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalms 30:5).

God allows both small trials and big trials in our lives.  His desire is not for us to just grin and bear it.  He wants us to truly have faith rather than depending on our own strength. He wants us to find a way to focus on Him and rejoice through the trial. He will take care of the rest. Don’t grin and bear it. Choose joy!

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