Encouragement Needed

IM000749.JPG“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”   Hebrews 10:24-25

“No man (or woman) is an island.” This saying is so true. We need each other to get through difficult times and celebrate good times. God didn’t make us to be solitary creatures. He meant for us to have fellowship and relationships with other people. Through those relationships we can encourage each other, lend a helping hand, and be a shoulder to cry on or a strong arm of support.

Writing is a solitary activity, but writers are not supposed to be solitary people. Every writer needs other writers. We need to be spurred on to keep going when rejection letters come our way. We must have critiques of our writing done lovingly by fellow writers so we can grow our craft. Writers need people around them who speak the same language and have experienced the same struggles regarding writing.

The writer of Hebrews knew it was important for Christians in the new church to have others they could count on. Christians today must continue meeting together in worship and fellowship to encourage and support each other.

Writers can learn from these verses. We also need to meet in groups routinely for fellowship and support. A small group of writer friends we can depend on to help us with our writing and keep pushing us is essential for our growth in this craft.

It’s OK to find a quiet place to write alone, but don’t forget the support you can receive and the encouragement you can give by including other writers in your life.

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Slow Down

Lake MI 3“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”   Matthew 11:28-30

Life is full of chaos. Daily we are pulled in fifty different directions. Family, work, social life, and other obligations demand our time and energy. However, our bodies and minds were not made to be constantly in motion. If we don’t take time to stop and rest our bodies are eventually going to make us stop. We become exhausted and ill. We experience burnout physically and emotionally. Add a crisis that comes out of the blue – a death of a loved one, a child who’s gotten into major trouble, sudden loss of a job – and we explode. We reach a point where we just can’t handle any more. What can we do?

Jesus tells us what to do. We are to slow down, take a deep breath, and go to Him. We owe it to ourselves and to Jesus to spend time alone with Him. Take the time to get away from everyone and everything else. Go to another room, shut the door, and pour out your heart to Jesus. He promises to provide comfort and rest.

Don’t misunderstand me. The chaos will still be there. The situation or the hectic life isn’t going to disappear because we went to Jesus. However, talking with Him produces a calming affect. He helps you to think more clearly and look at the situation at hand. Jesus may lead you in a direction to solve the problem and ease the turmoil which you never thought of. Or there may be no immediate resolution and you have to ride out the storm. If that’s the case Jesus can provide you with the strength and inner peace to make it through and accept what is happening.

We need to take time daily to physically rest our bodies. Likewise, we need to give time for the resting of our souls. Don’t wait for turmoil to strike before you do this. Start now while your life is in a relatively calm state to focus on your spiritual/emotional rest by going to Jesus with the normal concerns and joys of living each day. Then when chaos hits your life you already have the foundation of talking to Him.

Jesus is available 24/7. Take advantage of His availability and go to Him. He is waiting to help. Slow down and reach out to Him. He will provide rest.

Dear Jesus, Just living in today’s society can be hectic and demanding. Then when an unexpected crisis gets thrown into the mix I panic and don’t know which way to turn. I’m asking You, Lord, to have your Holy Spirit work in me daily, reminding me to spend quiet time with You. Then when a crisis comes my first response will be to turn to You for rest, peace, and guidance.  In Your Name I pray,    Amen

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Do Our Best

IM000067.JPG“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”    2 Timothy 2:15

These words were given by Paul to Timothy. They’re given to all Christians, We should be doing our best in all aspects of our lives. However, in today’s society there are times Christians are not presenting the right example and those actions would not be approved by God.

This verse should be heeded by Christian writers as well. No matter in which genre we write we should be writing our best so that our words will be approved by God and we are expressing the Truth appropriately. Are the words we write something we can be proud of or would we feel ashamed before God?

Christian writers have an obligation to stay true to God’s word and His leading. He expects us to write our best and not be embarrassed in how we present God to others. We are instruments of God to help get His word out to the world.

People may forget what is spoken, but once those words are in print they’re not so easily forgotten. How do we want our writing to be remembered?

From now on, every time we write, remember Paul’s words to Timothy. We need to look at what we’ve written and ask ourselves the following questions:

1. Did I do my best?

2. Would God approve of what I’ve written?

3. Is there anything I’ve written I’m ashamed of?

4. Did I handle God’s truth correctly in my writing?

Dear Lord, Please oversee my writing. Guide my hand and my thoughts as I write. May my written words by the message You want me to present.   In Jesus’ Name, Amen

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Who Controls Who?

IM000703.JPG“Oh, The depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.”    Romans 11:33-36

Human beings are unique creatures. We want everything wrapped up in neat little packages, no loose strings. Life needs to make sense to us and when it doesn’t we panic or try to fine someone to blame. Often that “someone” is God.

Events hit us out of the blue and we call out, “Come on God. Why is this happening to me?”  Or we say, “This isn’t the way it was supposed to happen. You were supposed to do (fill in the blank) for me.”

Why do we think we can tell God what to do or believe in the ridiculous notion that God owes us a living? God doesn’t owe us anything. He OWNS us and everything around us. Without God nothing would exist – not you and me, not this world, not this universe.

People are so arrogant, thinking nobody and nothing can control them. Let’s face it. We are not in control. We cannot make things happen the way we want. And we definitely can’t tell God what He should do. Everything past, present, and future is in God’s hands.

Sure, God gave us minds and the ability to make choices, but He also allows the consequences which result from our bad decisions. We are never going to understand why things happen the way they do. Our human minds cannot grasp things that don’t make sense to us. If we could know and explain everything we wouldn’t need God.

Because of the fact that God didn’t create us to be all-knowing we must rely on His plan and His will. He knows what’s best for us and what we need to go through in order to grow. We will never have the authority to tell Him what He should do. However, we can ask Him to do something a certain way, but then we also need to trust His answer, even if it’s not what we wanted or expected.

What is your perception of God? Do you believe He has the control over your life or do you think you can control Him?

If you believe God is in control cling to Him. Bring all your hopes, joys, sorrows, conflicts, and pain to Him. Rely on Him to give you what you need to grow and survive in your faith and life.

God knows our needs. We cannot order Him do to anything, but He is waiting for us to ask Him, to depend on Him for fulfillment of those needs as He sees fit.

Examine how you approach God. Is it time for an attitude adjustment on your part?

Dear All-Knowing God, Deep down I know that You have control over all things, but sometimes my human nature comes out and I want all the control. I’m asking, Lord, for You to give me the peace and confidence to let go of the reins of my life and help me turn those reins over to You.  In Jesus’ Name,  Amen

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IM000216.JPG“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”   Acts 1:8

Electrical power has a major hold over us. Imagine if all electricity stopped, not for just a few hours or days but forever. There would be no air conditioning and no appliances would work. Candles, lanterns, and flashlights would be our source of limited light. Eventually no cell phones, computers, Nooks would work because recharging them would be impossible.

There is another power we can depend on and it will not go away. That’s the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ disciples received that power after Jesus ascended into heaven. The Holy Spirit’s power is given to us when we acknowledge Jesus as Lord and the only Savior.

Throughout the ages writers have always had a degree of power. They’ve influenced leaders, created new ways of thinking, and shaped history.

Christian writers have the extra power of the Holy Spirit behind their writing. Along with having the Spirit within us comes the responsibility of witnessing to “the ends of the earth”. The power inside us flows out into what we put down on paper. It’s a power God will use through what we write.

However, the flow of power stops if we’re not writing. God has messages and ideas He wants us to spread to others. It is our choice if we are going to release that power or put up barriers.

Keep writing, Get the word out. God has given each of us unique messages He expects us to share.

Are you going to stop the flow by not writing?

Dear God, Sometimes I feel like the power in me has dried up. There are times I don’t feel like writing or have absolutely no idea what to write about. Please Lord, re-ignite that power within me so I can once again be the messenger You want me to be.     In Jesus’ Name,   Amen

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Flee In The Right Direction

sheep“Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord.”  Isaiah 31:1

Out of nowhere flew the baseball and BAM! it hit me in the face. Was I playing baseball? No. I was eleven years old and at recess. A boy with a crab in hand was chasing me. All I could think of was getting as far away from him as possible. The thought of which direction to run never crossed my mind. Instead of running toward the school I fled in the opposite direction, right into the middle of a baseball game. The result – a broken nose and wearing an ugly splint on my face for a week.

Abraham and Sarah were living in an unknown land. God had led Abraham there and Abraham had followed without question.Then came a famine. Instead of relying on God to get them through the rough time Abraham took Sarah and fled to Egypt. In a time of panic Abraham depended on his own abilities when he could have turned to God. Then to compound the issue he lied about who Sarah was when he got there to save his own skin. Twice in a short period of time Abraham didn’t think about fleeing to God. He fled in the opposite direction.

All of us will experience times of panic when the situation we’re in appears unsolvable. What do we do? Some people try to physically run away from the location of the problem. Some attempt to drown it in a bottle of alcohol. Others pretend it’s not really happening and hope it will just go away. None of these solutions will solve the issue. The situation will still be there. We have to go through it. But how?

God tells us how – seek help from Him. We will have to bear unpleasant, at times hurtful, periods throughout our lives. Life on earth is not going to be perfect until Jesus returns and sets up His kingdom. In the meantime, we must deal with the negative aspects of living here. However, we don’t have to deal with them alone. God, through the Holy Spirit, is our Counselor. He will provide us with the direction we are to go and the strength to get there.

In his new book, Abraham, A Nomad’s Amazing Journey of Faith, Charles Swindoll says this, “God doesn’t use difficult circumstances to find out what we’ll do. He already knows what the future holds. He uses tests to reveal us to ourselves!”

The choice is up to you. In which direction will you flee?

(see my author page at http://www.facebook.com/devotionsbylorraine)

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Keep Going

IM000331.JPG“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”   Joshua 1:9

Breathing increases, heart pumps faster, the adrenalin flows when we are about to experience something new. Entering places or situations unknown to us can be scary and uncomfortable.

When God spoke the above words to Joshua, Joshua was taking over the leadership of the Israelites. He was to lead the people into the land God promised them, a land full of pagans with strong armies. God’s words provided Joshua with confidence to proceed with God’s plan for the Israelites.

Writers love to write. The passion within us to write keeps growing.We have a collection of things we’ve written. Now comes the scary part. We need to let someone else read them. In order to know for sure if our writing is good or needs some improvement is to let someone critique it. It doesn’t matter how many times we go through this process it’s nerve racking. However, to become the best writer we can be we must go through it. “Be strong and courageous.”

OK, we’ve had our writing reviewed by our peers in the writers’ group. We’ve done the rewrites. Now it’s time to send it out to a publisher/editor.  “Do not be terrified.”

A few months later the dreaded rejection letter might arrive.  “Do not be discouraged.”  We do more rewrites and resubmit it to a different market.

Do not be afraid to get your writing out there, to try new approaches, to keep learning the craft. The one thing to remember in this whole process is “the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Dear Lord, As I write out of the passion You have given me, help me to keep going and not be afraid. I know there will be obstacles along the way. I also realize I need to keep learning in order to improve my writing. I want what I write to be the best I can do to Your glory. Please give me the courage to keep going and continue to remind me that You are always with me. In Jesus’ Name,  Amen

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Peace In Times of Pain

IM000700.JPG“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.”   2 Thessalonians 3:16

After being married for almost 15 years I suddenly became single again. Several years later, once my children were grown, I found myself wanting to find another man to become a part of my life. I spent way too much money on dating sites with no success, not even a nibble. In my frustration and longing I turned to God. “Lord, is there someone out there for me? If so, where will I find him?” God answered me immediately and it was not the answer I expected. Through my mind this is what I heard God say, “Jesus is the only man you need.”

That one statement, which I heard loud and clear, changed everything. I began feeling a peace come over me. I didn’t have to fret and struggle about finding a mate. Jesus, himself, was going to fill the void I had in my heart. I realized at that moment I didn’t physically need a male presence in my life. I had Jesus.

Believe me, I’m no saint. That twinge of wanting a man in my life still hits me once in a while. It would be so nice to have that special man take me out for dinner, go on trips with me, share life with me. I do get tired of being the single person in a room full of couples. Then I remember the voice I heard from God and none of that matters anymore.

Are you going through a struggle in your life right now and feel there’s no peace in sight? There is a peace you can experience. The situation itself my never go away, but Jesus can provide the peace you need to deal with it. Open your heart and soul to Him. Tell Him what you’re feeling and ask for Him help. You might not hear a voice immediately like I did, but Jesus will answer you. He may bring someone into your life to assist you. He might lead you in a whole new direction you never thought of. There are hundreds of ways Jesus can bring peace if you let Him.

Are you ready now to open yourself up to the peace only Jesus can give and let Him take control? Your life will change forever. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”   Philippians 4:7

Dear Jesus, I am struggling today and I don’t see any way out. I feel so all alone, I am crying out to You, Lord. Please lead me in the direction I am to travel  and let me feel Your peace in my life.    In Your Precious Name,   Amen

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Book Review – Abraham, One Nomad’s Amazing Journey of Faith

978-1-4143-8063-6Charles Swindoll draws the reader into the life Abraham lived, the struggles and the joys. Abraham was willing to leave behind the life he knew to become a nomad, following God to an unknown destination. Dr. Swindoll does not shy away from including Abraham’s flaws as well as his strengths. Abraham was human in every sense of the word yet God used him for great things. Dr. Swindoll tells it as it is.

This book would be for people who enjoy Bible history and finding out new insights into this strong Old Testament man. Also, people who don’t always see the modern day relevance in the Old Testament should read this book. Throughout the telling of Abraham’s story Dr. Swindoll interweaves principles for us today. It is an easy read and hard to put down. I give it 5 stars.

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Our Work

IM000726.JPG“I have brought You glory on earth by completing the work You gave me to do.”    John 17:4

These words are part of a prayer Jesus prayed to God before He was arrested. He came down to this earth for a specific purpose and He fulfilled that purpose. God gave Jesus a job to do – to spread the Good News of His love and grace – and then to physically demonstrate that love and grace by suffering on a cross for our sins.

We have our own jobs to do. We are doctors and nurses, police officers, garbage collectors, teachers and preachers, farmers, bus drivers. These are the jobs God equipped us to do. How are we doing our work? Are we happy each day, excited for what the new day may bring? Or are we grumpy and hate our jobs, dreading to face another day? Which attitude is showing glory to God?

God has given Christian writers a job to do. The work He gave us is to spread His Word to as many people as we can. What is our attitude? Do we grumble and complain when we have a deadline to meet? Do we procrastinate thinking we’ll write double the amount of words tomorrow, but tomorrow never comes?

How about what we write? Are the words we put down on paper bringing glory to God or only attention to ourselves?  What’s our motive for writing? Is it to see how much money we can make or how many people we can lead to Christ?

God is watching to see what we do with the work we are to perform. I don’t know about you, but some day I hope I can stand before God and say I completed the work He wanted me to do.

If God wants you to write, write all you can to bring Him glory. Be His messenger through your written words. Make God smile when He sees what you’re writing. Will you be able to say the words Jesus said? “I have brought You glory on earth by completing the work You gave me to do.”

Dear God in heaven, You have equipped me to do a specific work for You. Please help me to do that work to the best of my ability and with a joyful heart. May what I do bring You glory and show the way to others so they, too, can experience Your love and grace.    In Jesus’ Name, Amen

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