Trusting in the Midst of the Flood

Strength for the Journey Ministry

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you.  Isaiah 43:2

Recently, due to an incredible rain event in our city, our entire neighborhood was flooded.  We watched helplessly as the water levels rose dangerously close to our homes.  Streets and sidewalks were invisible as front yards became lakefront property.  To get from place to place, people had to wade through the murky water.  Some even brought out small boats to get around and check on their neighbors.  For two days, we watched the water levels rise making it difficult for anyone to get in or out of our subdivision.  However, once the waters receded, we could see streets that had been temporarily hidden from sight.  The roadway was clear; normalcy returned.

Sometimes in life, it appears as though the road has been flooded over and we can’t see where we are going.  Our outlook is threatened by muddy waters so to speak.  Our path seems uncertain.  In times like these, it is important to remember that the road hasn’t disappeared.  It’s still there.  Circumstances may have hindered your view, but God is still on the throne and in control.  He knows exactly where you are and how to get to you.  Trust that He is leading you even when you cannot see the road before you.

It was very difficult not to panic as we watched the waters rise around our home.  Fear of the flood waters overtaking our house threatened our peace since we, like many others, didn’t have flood insurance.  Through prayer and reading God’s promises of provision and protection, I was able to focus on God and fend off fear.  Likewise, when it looks like the flood waters of life will overtake you, put your trust in the Lord.  His promise is to provide, protect and keep you in every circumstance.  I had to reach the place of peace; trusting in His ability to help us restore our home even if it flooded and we lost everything.  He can restore what the enemy has stolen from you.  Don’t let the enemy threaten you with an ominous outlook.  Trust God to be your all in all and to meet your every need in every situation that arises.

Since our neighborhood wasn’t in a flood zone, it wasn’t supposed to flood.  We often feel that because we are Christians doing everything right, we shouldn’t have to experience times when we can’t see where God is leading us.  However, there will always be times in our journey when life simply doesn’t make sense, and our path is obscured for days, weeks or even months.  It is a time of growing deeper in our trust and holding onto the hand of the One who promises to guide us through the dark places.

God’s promise from Isaiah 43:2, is that the flood waters will not overwhelm you.  You may have to pass through them.  The floods may even inhibit your vision causing you to question God’s faithfulness.  However, if you keep your eyes on Him and trust in Him with all of your heart, He will see you through.  At some point, the flood waters that hide your path will disappear.  Faith will be made sight.  The sun will shine once again, and the way will be made clear.

Blessings!

Going Deeper in Intimacy

Strength for the Journey Ministry

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, Ephesians 2:4

Last week during the middle of a worship service, the Lord whispered something into my spirit: “I love to love you!” The voice of my Father took my breath away. It was such a sweet thing for Him to say. It was so intimate! Several years ago, I would never even imagined that I would hear Him say something so special to me.

Sometimes we forget that God wants to be divinely intimate with us. We quickly go through our prayer list during our quiet time or we sing along with the songs during the worship service but do we allow Him that place of intimacy? That depth of relationship where He can whisper sweet things into our ears. Do we hunger to hear His voice?

I know we all go through different phases in our relationship with Him just as we do with our spouse, children, and friends. Sometimes I don’t feel as close to my husband as I do at other times (Don’t tell him that!). But I believe God is calling us into a deeper level of trust, intimacy and fellowship. Our relationship is not just about knowing who He is but also how very much we are loved. He died so that we could enter into this deep fellowship with Him.

Often, we spend time telling Him our needs when He simply wants to tell us how much He loves us and desires to care for us. Or, we allow our problems to weigh so heavily on our hearts that we are more self-focused than God focused which hinders us from hearing His voice. I want my ears to be sensitive so that I hear His gentlest of whispers. I know that means I have to be listening, but I also have to know how very much He loves me and desires that intimate fellowship too. So many people tell me that they don’t feel intimate with God or that they don’t hear His voice. Most of the time, it’s because they doubt His unconditional love and mercy. His Word is full of sweet messages of love. Ephesians 2:4 talks about the great love with which He loved us. So, as we begin 2016, I encourage you to spend time in the Scriptures reading about how very loved and cherished you are. Go deeper and then go deeper still! Don’t be satisfied until you have found that place of divine intimacy between you are your beloved Savior.

Blessings on your year ahead!

I Found My Hope

Strength for the Journey Ministry

We’ve all experienced that moment of panic when we realize we’ve lost something: our keys, our car in the grocery store parking lot, our presentation for an important project at work, our child at the mall…the list could go on and on. However, have you ever lost your hope? Just can’t seem to find it anywhere? You’ve looked deep within you, but it’s just not there?

I know! Me too! Over the past year, I found myself searching for hope. I’d lost it somewhere between having a book released and trying to get it out to the masses. I’d see little victories along the way…praise reports of how God is using it to minister to readers, small doors opening for speaking engagements or book signings…but for the most part, progress has been slow causing me to misplace my hope.

Biblical hope is a desire combined with confident expectation. To hope means that we desire something with the belief in the possibility of obtaining it. When we lose the belief that God will come through for us and that He will bring His promise to pass in our life…we lose hope.

The Lord recently spoke Psalm 27:14 to me.  Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!
It’s so encouraging when God whispers a promise into our spirit. Yet, as the clock ticks by and the pages on the calendar turn without seeing the fulfillment of our promise, we are apt to lose hope if our hope is not securely anchored in Christ (Hebrews 6:19).

Today as I was reading Psalm 42, the Lord showed me a key to finding and holding onto our hope. I’d encourage you to read the entire passage but look with me at verse 5 and 6.  Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.  O my God, my soul is cast down within me; Therefore, I will remember You from the land of the Jordan, and from the heights of Hermon,
From the Hill Mizar.

First, the psalmist talked to himself. Don’t we do that when we lose something? “Where did I put those keys?…Where was that kid the last time I saw him?” When we find ourselves without hope, the first thing we should do is ask ourselves the question, “Why do I doubt the promises of God? Why would I question His faithfulness?”

The next thing the psalmist did was to begin to praise God. Throughout the month of November, I like to post a daily “thanksgiving post”. I’ve seen others do it as well. It is a daily reminder that we can always find something to be thankful for. As a matter of fact, we have much to be thankful for. When we look back at all God has done, which is exactly what the psalmist did, it gives us hope for our future. God doesn’t change (Hebrews 13:8). If He came through for me before, I can anchor myself in the belief that He’ll do it again.

The psalmist put his hope in God. Our hope must be anchored to Christ; to His Word and His promises. If we look at our situation, we can easily lose focus and become hopeless. But if we’ll speak encouragement to ourselves, praise God while we wait and remind ourselves of past victories…we’ll soon find our hope again.

By the way…I found my hope again! 🙂

Blessings,

Cindy

In Due Season

Strength for the Journey Ministry

Isaiah 50:4 “The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning; He awakens My ear To hear as the learned.
There are many times in my life that I’ve had more questions than answers from God. I’ve often found there to be times when I didn’t understand what He was doing, or how He was moving in my circumstances. It was in these times that I needed an in season word. A word that comes at just the right time that explains the season I’m walking through with God and thrust me into a greater understanding of His love and care for me in every circumstance.
God orders our lives in seasons just as He works in the natural in seasons. Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds us that everything has a season. In the natural, we experience four seasons: summer, winter, fall, and spring. If we reflect on our life in Christ, we’ll see we have gone through these same seasonal cycles in our spiritual life. It’s important to understand this principle because it helps us locate where we are in our walk, understand what we are going through and gives us hope for where we are going. When we can identify the season we are in with God, we can cooperate with Him where He has us and have greater incite as to how to pray and bear fruit within that particular season.
Seasons are temporary. As much as I like the fall season in the natural, it’s not going to remain fall forever. The hope of winter is that spring will soon follow. We only have grace for the season that we are in – not the one we used to be in or the one we’d like to be in. So we need to tap into that grace and walk joyfully within our season.
Psalm 1:3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season.
Fruit only comes forth from a tree in its proper season. There are seasons in our lives where we are to prepare for planting, seasons to plant seed, to be pruned, to harvest, and seasons of rest. It’s important to discern our spiritual season. Often, we think God is not answering our prayers. However, the reality is that we may not be in the “season” for that prayer to be answered. We may, for instance, be in a season of resting and waiting on God. We can’t assume that God is not going to bring His promises to pass in our lives just because we don’t see promises fulfilled within our timeframe. Otherwise, we can pluck up seed that was diligently planted in the planting season before it has had time to germinate and bear fruit. Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Every promise from God has a due season.
If we look at it from God’s perspective, every season we walk through is beneficial and fruitful. God is always working for our good. He always has a good plan for our lives.
Spring time is a season of planting spiritual seed; making our request known to God. It’s a time of refreshing rains after a long, cold, dead winter. It’s a season of new beginnings in our life which may be experienced by new doors opening, new assignments, etc. You won’t see a harvest in a spring season, but you’ll sense the excitement that God is is working to bring forth a harvest in your life.
The summer season is a time for rest after a busy spring. We may not feel like we need times of rest. However, God, in His wisdom, knows when rest is required for His children. It’s also a time of watering the seeds planted in the spring through prayer and fellowship with God. If you’ve been praying for God to open doors to no avail, you might be in a summer season. He is calling you to rest in Him. We’ve all heard the saying, “the heat of summer.” Summer seasons can be marked by a time of intense heat experienced through trials of testing. The purpose of the heat is to burn out impurities in order to prepare us for the upcoming fall season. The summer season is a time of reaping in the blessings of the summer fruit.
Fall is a season of major change. Fall winds blow in cooler weather offering a respite from the heat of summer. The lush green landscape colors of summer are transformed to golds and oranges. Change can make us anxious. However, it’s important to remember that God is in the midst of us, and He goes before us. It is our Father who orders our footsteps. We have to trust Him when the winds of change blow into our lives, and we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory. It’s also a time of the early rains, which soften the ground for planting in the preparation of the winter harvest. In Israel, rains were a sign of blessing upon the land. The blessings of a fall season prepare us for the winter that is promised to come.
Winter! Cold, barren and dreary. In a winter season, it may appear that everything is dead, and harvest will never come but the roots are still growing far beneath the ground. It’s a time to trust in what you know and not in what you can see. In winter, we live off of the past harvest or what has been stored up. We focus on what we know to be true in God’s Word. Like the roots of the trees and dead bulbs beneath the ground, you may not “see” the fruit of your prayers being answered but keep praying, standing and believing.
If you don’t like the season you are in…this too shall pass! God will always take us from glory to glory. However, we must learn to worship and trust Him in our seasons.
Ask God to help you discern the seasons of your life so that you can partner with Him and accomplish great things in the Kingdom.
Blessings,

Cindy

Choose to Trust

Have you ever been reading a Scripture or listening to a song and you just know that God is speaking to you. But it’s not that He’s speaking to you, He’s warning you or preparing you for something that’s coming ahead. And, of course, that something is not something you are going to enjoy necessarily. Last Sunday during worship, it happened. Ugh!!! The worship team was singing a song, and suddenly I knew; God was preparing to me. The words to the bridge were, “And when I don’t understand, I will choose You.”  God said to me, “Listen to the words you are singing.”
We are often faced with situations in life that simply don’t make sense. Maybe you believe God has spoken to you to take a step out in faith yet, it doesn’t seem like the doors are opening. Or, perhaps you’ve been experiencing a trial for so long that there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.  Maybe you lost a loved one to a disease when you were standing strong in faith.
I’ve been praying for healing in my body for YEARS! Many, many years! It doesn’t make sense to me as to what is hindering that healing from manifesting itself. There are other things I’ve been praying for that haven’t come to pass, but I’ve heard the Lord say to me, “Trust!”
Sure enough, this week I was faced with the situation the Lord was preparing me for on Sunday through the words of the worship song. And I had to make a choice. It’s something I don’t understand. I don’t hear the Lord giving me instruction. But I’ve had to choose to trust Him.
It sounds easy, and to some people it might be. But, this is my life! My flesh wants to scream, throw a temper tantrum and complain. However, I know God in His grace was preparing me beforehand. He wants me to pass this test. I want to pass this test. So with all that is within me I choose to trust.
It’s how we handle our trials that are important to the Lord. Jesus tells us in John 16:33 that we are to be of good cheer when we encounter trials and tribulations because He has overcome the world. There is nothing that we will walk through that God has not already overcome. He’s gone before us. He’s our rear guard. He’s got this!
In my spirit, I know God is in control and will take care of my situation. But my flesh wants to rebel and whine. We all want our way, and we want it now! We often behave just like little children. However, we need to trust in His timing, His way, His purpose for the trial or delay…He knows the end from the beginning. So…when I don’t understand, I will trust Him. The One who holds the moon and stars in place, makes the earth turn day by day, and can take the hearts of kings and turn them however He wills…I will trust Him. Strength for the Journey Ministry

Hidden in Plain Sight

Strength for the Journey Ministry

Hidden In Plain Sight

Have you ever noticed that when you are taking the Christmas ornaments off of the tree there always seems to be one or two hiding from you? It happened to me yesterday. I was searching the tree to make sure I’d removed every ornament, and that’s when I spotted one hiding right in front of my eyes. Oddly enough, it made me think about the true meaning of Christmas. We can get so busy during this holiday season; wrapped up (no pun intended) in shopping for the perfect gift or stressed out over a family visit that we forget what Christmas is all about. I know, we’ve all heard it before: Jesus is the reason for the season. However, just like the ornament hidden within the branches of my tree…sometimes the real reason for the season is hiding in plain view right before our very eyes. You see, Christmas is about Jesus. But Jesus is all about love. The gift of His life was a completely selfless gift of love. He left His throne of glory to come to earth and live as a man so that He could die for our sins. Perfect love. There are those who, unfortunately, are blinded to the amazing love He so freely offers us today. He is ready to accept everyone who would believe in Him yet; they can’t see Him because their eyes are focusing on the world and the things of this world. To them, He is hidden in plain sight.  Just as many of us get sidetracked during this special season worrying about insignificant things, others aren’t even aware of the fact that the Savior we celebrate is waiting with wide open arms to receive them into His everlasting kingdom. To many, He is still merely the baby in the manger. My prayer is that God would open every eye to the wonders of His love, the simplicity of His grace and the magnificent mercy He so freely offers. Merry Christmas to each and every one of you and may your New Year be filled with blessings.

Strength for the Journey

Strength for the Journey Ministry
Strength for the Journey
Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
They make it a spring; the rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength;
Each one appears before God in Zion. (Psalm 84:5-7)

“You want me to what, Lord? Write a book? You must have the wrong person?” I argued with God for several months when He first handed me the monumental task of writing a fiction novel. I informed Him that I wasn’t a writer (as if He didn’t already know), had never written a book, and He had the wrong gal for the task. I reminded Him that I passed high school English with a C and chose not to attend college! He assured me that He was well aware of those facts.
“ I frequently use the words ain’t, kinda and gonna. Please, Lord, surely there must be someone else You’d rather use.” Nope! He kept insisting that I was the one. Eeek! I now know how Moses must have felt. (Ok, at least He didn’t ask me to throw down a staff and watch it turn into a snake.)
So I did what any mature, obedient Christian would do. I threw out fleeces! (Don’t look at me like that; you’ve done it too!!!)
“Lord, if You want me to write this book, give me the name of the book.”
Skandalon!”
“Ok, if you want me to write this book, give me the name of the main character.” He did! And then, to confirm that it was Him, I saw or heard that name spoken several times that week.
“Ok, if You really want me to write this book, give me the opening scene.” Like a movie played before my very eyes, He laid out the opening scene. (Ugh!) “But God,” I argued, “I’m busy: I lead worship, I teach at church and I have a new grandbaby.” My arguments didn’t seem to faze Him. He made sure I had plenty of time to write. He instructed me lay down my ministry of seventeen years at my church. So, I stopped arguing and began an incredible journey with God.
I witnessed Him doing something through me that I thought was impossible. I was writing a novel. We wrote it together; one sentence at a time. Each day as I opened my computer, in obedience to His will, He would lay out the story. When I felt like my work was finished for the day, the flow would cease. I was in awe and amazed at how the story unfolded.
My friend, God is not a respecter of persons. If He could use me, He can use you to do whatever He has called you to do.
The word strength (‘oz) in verse 5 of Psalm 84:5-7 is a word that means might or strength, and it refers to material or physical as well as personal, social or political. So whatever I’m called to do, I have already been given the strength or ability to do it. God will make the divine connections possible, provide the necessary materials needed to get the job done and as I call on Him, open the right doors for me. He’s not looking for those who are necessarily equipped. He’ll strengthen you as you, in obedience, do what He has called you to do. I’ve had to trust Him through this entire process of writing, finding a publisher, and continue to trust that He will help me market the book.
In verse 7, the word strength (chayil) means strength, might, efficiency, wealth, and army. God’s promise to us as His children is to assist us with whatever we need to fulfill His purpose. Do you need finances to complete your assignment? He’s got it! Do you need an army; those who’ll stand with you, pray for you and help you fight your battles? He’s already got that too. And, He’ll get it to you. All you have to do is ask Him, and He promises to give you what you need. If He has called you to do it, He’ll enable you to see it completed. Be encouraged today. His promise is that He will give you strength for the journey!

Out of the Mouths of Babes

WINGSofVICTORY

A couple of weeks ago I had my granddaughter staying overnight. I had fixed her some breakfast and a pallet on the floor in front of the television so that I could keep her occupied while I took my shower. Now mind you, I see this precious girl often. She’s two, extremely smart (spoken like a true Nanny), very expressive and happens to be a drama queen much like her Nanny. She’s not the cuddly type, and you often have to coax kisses out of her.
So I come to check on her after my shower. I was dressed but had on no makeup and my hair was still wet. But when I bent down to ask her if she is still doing okay, she cupped my cheeks in her tiny hands and said, “Nanny, so pretty.” Did you hear the part about NO makeup and my hair was wet? It blessed my socks off!
Needless to say, it stuck with me throughout the day. As I began to ponder her sweet show of affection, I was reminded of the unconditional love of the Father. Over the past year, I have been on a mission of growing deeper in the love and grace of God. My granddaughter reminded me that God loves me unconditionally even though He sees all of my faults and failures. All she saw that morning was her Nanny, who to her was pretty. Blemishes, dark circles under my eyes, wet hair, and all. It didn’t matter to her. I was pretty.
And that, my dear friends, is how our heavenly Father views us. Oh, He can see our blemishes but His love for us is never-failing. He sees through eyes of grace. If you are a blood-bought child of God, He sees who you can be. He sees your potential. He’s for you and never against you. He’s never happy with our sin, but it does not diminish His love for you anymore than my love is weakened when my granddaughter refuses to give me a ‘tiss’ because she’s glued to Doc McStuffin on television.
Looking back on life, if I had one wish it would be that I had grasped His unfathomable love for me much sooner in my walk with Him. I spent so many years thinking that He was angry at me for my imperfections and failures. I don’t want you to spend one more day doubting the amazing grace of our loving Father.  May you grow from strength to strength in your discover of how richly your Father loves you.
Blessings!