This can be an odd week…

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So, it’s the week of Thanksgiving.  And it’s summer.  And it’s hot.  And the grocer let us know today that frozen turkeys from overseas would be here next week.  After Thanksgiving.  So… do you find yourself missing Pumpkin Pie and Pilgrims?  Do you experience the unique homesickness that happens around the holidays?

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Looking at my circumstances and feeling frustrated is never something that works out well for me.  It usually starts with something that has disappointed me – no turkeys this week – and then drifts into “why am I here?”, and sometimes tumbles into “this ministry would be better off without me”…

So, on those days when we feel discouraged – when we feel like our ministry would be better off without us, Psalm 103 can bring us back to thinking – not about ourselves and our circumstances – but on God and the blessings we have in Him.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name!

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:

He forgives all your iniquity

He heals all your diseases

He redeems your life out of the pit

He crowns you with steadfast love and mercy

He satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagles

He works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed

He has made known his ways to us

He is merciful and gracious

He is slow to anger

He is abounding in steadfast love

He will not always chide

He will not always keep his anger

He does not deal with us according to our sins

He does not repay us according to our iniquity

His steadfast love is as high as the heavens are above the earth

He removes our transgressions from us as far as the east is from the west

He shows compassion to those who fear Him as a father shows compassion to his children

He knows our frame, he remembers that we are dust

Bless the Lord, O my soul!

What a list of things that the Lord has done for us!  Turkeys don’t seem so very important anymore.  

Pick a couple of these to write where you can see them.  Keep them in front of you for a few days.  Meditate on what He has done for you.  You will see Him instead of your circumstances.

That will bless the Lord!

Blessings,

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It might as well be now…

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“I’ve had enough,” he told the Lord. “Take away my life. I’ve got to die sometime, and it might as well be now.”

                                 1 Kings 19:4 (TLB)

Have you been discouraged recently? 

Has ministry become difficult instead of the joy it once was? 

Has the life you are living become a burden instead of the blessing it was in the past? 

This life we have been called to is not easy.  When we look at others, it seems like they have it all together.  We look at other women in ministry and they seem to have endless amounts of joy and patience.  We look at ourselves and see the times we have lacked patience and the days that joy has seemed far away.

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Our pastor preached a sermon on Sunday from a passage in 1 Kings where Elijah battled discouragement to the point that he asked God if he could just die. 

“I’ve had enough,” he told the Lord. “Take away my life. I’ve got to die sometime, and it might as well be now.”

                                 1 Kings 19:4 (TLB)

Wow!

So I spent some time in this section of the Bible. 

What I found was a bit surprising. 

This utter discouragement came just after he had seen miracle after miracle – including the miracle where God showed Himself Lord over all the earth in front of 400 prophets of Baal. 

Just prior to his dark night of the soul, God had delivered bread and meat to him via ravens.  God had sent him to a widow’s house to eat, and her jar of flour and oil never became empty while he was there – and God raised her son from the dead through Elijah. 

And then that whole prophets of Baal contest.  They prayed and danced and wailed all day long in front of their altar and sacrifice and it never started on fire.  Elijah drenched his altar and sacrifice with multiple jars of water not once, not twice, but three times until it filled a trench of water.  He then prayed and fire fell and consumed the offering, the wood, the stones, the dust and the water.  Fire, consuming water!  Water usually puts out fire. 

And then God brought rain once Elijah prayed for rain.

All of these amazing things have just happened to Elijah.  Have you been here? Are there times when ministry is really going well?  Things that you never thought would happen, do happen.  You can see God in the midst of what He has called you to do. 

And then. 

Then there is a circumstance that you have prayed about repeatedly.  And God doesn’t answer you the way you were hoping.  Maybe no answer at all.  That long silence.  Your heart whispers that God is saying no.  You pray and there is silence.  You may be afraid.  Of what your circumstances will be like if God’s silence is really a no.  You see only the difficult and the ways in which you have failed.

Look at Elijah in 1Kings 19:4 and 5. 

“He came to a lone broom bush and collapsed in its shade, wanting in the worst way to be done with it all – to just die:  “Enough of this, God!  Take my life – I’m ready to join my ancestors in the grave!”  Exhausted, he fell asleep under the lone broom bush.  (MSG) 

And look at what God does.  “Suddenly an angel shook him awake and said, “Get up and eat.”  So, after eating and drinking and getting some sleep, he walks for 40 days and 40 nights to get to the mountain of God. 

And God speaks to him.  Not in the wind, not in the earthquake, and not in the fire.  But in the whisper.  God spoke in the whisper.  And strengthened and encouraged Elijah and told him that He still had work for Him to do.

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We can learn from this.  We may have times of great joy in ministry.  God may not answer all of our prayers.  We may become discouraged even in the midst of what God is doing.  It may feel hopeless.  We may want to give up and go home – die to our ministry.  It is a difficult place to be.  Are you there today?  What did God do when Elijah was at that point?  He sent an angel that made sure that he slept and ate enough to be rested and nourished for his journey.  At the end of that journey, God spoke to him in a whisper and encouraged him, telling him that he was not alone, and that He had more for Elijah to do.

Are you getting rest? 

Do you get enough sleep each night? 

Are you getting nourishment in order to strengthen yourself for this journey? 

Are you eating healthy? 

Are you listening for God’s whisper? 

Are you in the Word every day?  Not just to check off a box on your To Do list, or a quick read of a chapter – in and out. 

Are you spending time reading, reflecting, meditating on His Word, studying words and phrases and letting His whispers feed your soul?  Time with the Lord will nourish you for the journey He has you on. 

In John 15 (verses 1-5) it says that we are to abide (dwell) with Him so that we can bear fruit.  And it also says that if we bear fruit, he will prune us so that we can bear more fruit.  Nourish yourself with the Word of the Lord, be aware that He will prune you – in order for you to bear more fruit.  Do not be discouraged to the point of the death of your ministry.

Blessings,

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when God is silent…

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Have you ever been in a season where you cry out to God, but He is silent? 

Your prayers seem to bounce off of the ceiling.

You beg for wisdom and guidance and none seems to come?

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I am driven to the Psalms when this is my season.  So many Psalms are written with the anguish of the soul bared before the Lord.  Often I can find a Psalm that speaks to exactly what my heart has been crying.

O Lord, how long with you forget me?  Forever?  How long will you look the other way?  How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day?   Psalm 13:1-2

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?  Why are you so far away when I groan for help?  Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer.  Every night I lift my voice, but I find no relief.  Psalm 22:1-2

O God, listen to my cry!  Hear my prayer!  From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed.   Psalm 61:1-2

All night long I prayed, with hand lifted toward heaven, but my soul was not comforted.  I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help.  Psalm 77:2-3

Bend down, O Lord, and hear my prayer; answer me, for I need your help.  Protect me, for I am devoted to you.  Save me, for I serve you and trust you.  You are my God.  Psalm 86:1-2

Yes, the Psalms do speak the groaning of my heart.  I love how honest they are.  How they speak to me when I am praying and not hearing from the Lord.

 

But I also love how they remind me of the Lord and His great love for His people.  They don’t leave me crying out, they comfort me.

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But I trust in you unfailing love.  I will rejoice because you have rescued me.  I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me.  Psalm 13:5-6

I love you, Lord; you are my strength.  Psalm 18:1

All who seek the Lord will praise him.  Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy.  Psalm 22:26

O Lord, I give my life to you.  I trust in you, my God!  Psalm 25:1-2

I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.    Psalm 62:1-2

Yes, it may be that I cannot hear the Lord right now.

But I trust in Who I know He is.

I remind myself of all that He has promised me in His Word.  That is what is true.

He does hear me.  He does love me.  He will take care of me.   He has promised.

Hold on to that when you find Him feeling far away.

Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you.  Psalm 55:22

Blessings,

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