Is It Well With My Soul?

wall-hanging

I was perusing through a department store trying to escape my emotions. Honestly, I wanted to feel numb, even for just a moment. I slowly walked through each aisle capturing words on decorative wall hangings. One of them caused me to take a long pause. It read, “It is well with my soul.” I asked myself if that was true for me. The answer was no. No, it was not well with my soul. Life had been feeling difficult. Goals out of reach. Loneliness and depression setting in. Things happening out of my control. I wanted it all to be well with my soul, but it was not something I could magically make happen. As I continued my perusing I found myself surrounded by words of encouragement on these wall hangings.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me…

Love bears all things…

Amazing grace…

God is good…

Faith…

I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you…

Choose joy…

Be still and know…

You get the picture. I chuckled because I was not in a Christian store! Here I was surrounded by God’s Word causing me to think and address some of my emotions.

Have you ever felt things were not well with your soul?

Have you ever felt your purpose or goals were out of reach?

Have you ever felt confused by your emotions?

Me too!

I know that God is not a God of confusion, but of peace. (1 Corinthians 14:33) When I find my joy gone, and my soul in a drought, I go back to His Word. His Word always speaks clarity to what I am struggling with.

Back at home from the store, I began my daily reading in Deuteronomy and God brought to light something so simple and yet profound. It is found in chapter 30:11,14

“For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it.”

Let that word wash (or spoken from my true southern dialect “warsh”) over you for a moment. Read it again.

Now, receive this next truth that only God can accomplish. (Deuteronomy 31:8)

“The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you.

He will be with you.

He will not fail you or forsake you.

Do not fear or be dismayed.”

If what His Word says is true, and I believe it is, then why does it ‘feel’ like it is not? It is because our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12

The enemy (Satan) wanted me to be numb. He wanted me to not address what I was experiencing. But God wanted the opposite for me. God surrounded me with His truths, His promises, His commands, and drew me into His Word in Deuteronomy. He was pursuing me, letting me know that things can be well with my soul. I needed to focus and acknowledge that He is sovereign, He goes before me and yet never leaves me, and what He is desiring me to do is not too difficult.

What He is desiring you to do is not too difficult!

We can trust that if God has planned it, He will do it. (Isaiah 46:11b)

Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. (1 Thessalonians 5:24)

It can be well with our souls no matter the battle we are in. There is no storm that He cannot calm, nor any depth of despair He cannot pull us from. Let praise be on our lips for His word is in our hearts, and ever so near to us. As we trust Him with what we are trying to escape, He will work all things out for the good.

 

 

 

 

Romanticizing The Past

romanticizing-the-pastHer eyes danced with wonderful memories as she reflected on the good ole days; days full of happiness, fun, adventure, and freedom. I could tell she was reliving some of the fun when her mouth smirked with a grin. She knew that God had led her to where she is today, however, her present hardships left her thinking that maybe the past was not so bad, after all.

Has God ever delivered you from a difficult, painful, or unhealthy situation and yet you find yourself grumbling in your present circumstances?

  • Maybe you are minimizing the pain of a previous marriage because the new one feels hard.
  • Maybe you are minimizing the toxic relationship you were once in because you now feel lonely.
  • Maybe you are minimizing the difficulties of your childhood because being an adult stinks.

When the present feels difficult, we often romanticize the past. 

For a moment, we can forget we were once crying out to God for deliverance, begging Him to rescue us from our darkest time.

The Israelites forgot the bondage from which they had been delivered, and consequently, rejected a Holy God.

Their deliverance:

God heard their cries for help and saw their affliction. He delivered them from bondage, oppression, and great sufferings. As God led them to freedom, they journeyed through the desert and wilderness experiencing His presence, protection, and provision.  In their forty years of traveling, they never once ran out of clothing. Their shoes remained intact. Their feet did not swell, and water and food were provided.

Their rejection:

They felt reprieve as God led them from all their hardships. But something happened that caused them to romanticize their past.

They focused on their provisions instead of their Provider. This is shown throughout the book of Numbers.

We read in Numbers 11:5 how the Israelites recalled the fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic they received in Egypt because their stomachs were tired of eating the manna and quail God had provided for them. They felt so deprived of the luxurious foods that they wished they were still in Egypt. Their time in Egypt was full of traumatic experiences and yet they felt it was better than their current circumstances.

I have a name for them, “Whiney Hineys!”

Let’s not be too quick to judge them, though. Have you been a “whiney hiney” lately? Are you romanticizing your past instead of remembering your deliverance?

When we begin to feel our current circumstances are worse than our past ones, we ought to turn to God. Ask Him why. Ask Him to show us the good in the NOW. Ask Him if our feelings are lying to us. Seek Him in His Word for truth, direction, and wisdom. But, what we should not do, friend, is reject God by romanticizing what He has delivered us from. When we do that, we are saying to God that He is not worthy to follow and that He has made a mistake.

Is that what you really mean to say? I hope your answer is no.

So, let’s stop minimizing what He has brought us from, and start maximizing what He is seeing us through, NOW! He is worthy! He is forgiving! He is in control! He is who you need Him to be right now so, cling to Him like never before and rest in Him. And by the way, God never makes mistakes!

What are you thankful for in your present circumstances? I would love to hear from you. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When To Stay-When To Go

When to stay when to goEver relocated your family for a job assignment? We moved several times while in the military. Each move required packing up our belongings, emotions, and what was familiar. Uncertainties of when we would move, where we would go, and how long we would remain was part of military life. We were at the mercy of orders handed down from Command. We learned to depend on God for comfort, wisdom, and guidance.

Are you in the process of a move?

Are you packing up your belongings, emotions, and all that is familiar?

If your answer is yes, let me comfort you with a truth. God is already where you are going. He has your back. He is working out all the details and preparing new friendships… He is also working within you a deeper dependence on Him. He wants you to be settled in Him when your circumstances feel unsettling.

God shows us in Numbers 9:15-23 how He moved the Israelites through a cycle in an effort to grow them in complete dependence, obedience, and trust in Him.

God used a cloud by day and the appearance of fire by night (representing His presence) as a sign for when they were to move, where they were to move to, and how long they were to remain. If the cloud was settled upon the tabernacle, they were to camp and remain, but if it had moved, they were to set out.

This was the cycle upon God’s command:

Set Out-Camp-Remain

Set Out-Camp-Remain

Sometimes they would remain 2 days, a month, or a year…

I imagine the Israelites waking each morning, wiping their sleepy eyes, stumbling to the entrance of their tents, and slowly pulling the curtain back to see if God’s presence was settled upon the tabernacle, or if it had moved.

They looked for His presence and leading daily.

Can we say we are doing the same thing today? Are we wiping the sleepy off of our eyes expecting to see Him each morning? Are we trusting Him as He leads us?

Relocating can make us weary. It can lead us to shift our focus away from God and onto ourselves.  When that happens, we can feel misled, unsure of our decision, and unsettled.

But, if we choose to apply Proverbs 3:5-6, we will find a settling peace and comfort in knowing we can trust God even when things do not make sense and they are hard.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths. (HCSB)

The Lord will be at our side. He is a friend to the upright and blesses the home of the righteous. So, no matter where we are in the cycle of setting out-setting up- or remaining, God is at work. Look for His presence and leading daily.  He is faithful to provide comfort, wisdom, and guidance.

 

 

 

 

 

Perspective Shift

IMG_0136Ever felt ill-equipped? Feeling like you don’t have the necessary skill, ability or resources to do or be what God has called you to? I have felt it!

Ill-equipped to:

Witness for Christ

Fulfill my purpose

Forgive

Love

Be a wife

Be a mother

Be a friend

1 Chronicles 22 transformed my perspective from feeling ill-equipped to fully equipped.

The desire of David’s heart was to glorify God and equip Solomon, his son, to do likewise.

David labored to provide all the resources and skilled laborers necessary to build the sanctuary.

Solomon had all the resources he needed, yet he became afraid and believed the lie that he was ill-equipped for the calling ahead. In verse thirteen David told him to be strong and courageous and not to fear or be dismayed.

David was encouraging Solomon that although the task seemed daunting he ought not be discouraged for God was with him.

Lean in closer and listen up!

David said, “of the gold, the silver and the bronze and the iron there is no limit. Arise and work, and may the Lord be with you.”  (1 Chronicles 22:16)

Solomon only needed to take the next step and start building.

Y’all!

God has provided us with unlimited provisions to fulfill what He has called us to do or be! We need only tap into the source and get to work.

In Him we are equipped with limitless:

Grace, mercy, forgiveness, love, wisdom, compassion, discernment, Gifts, talents, access to Himself, friendship, help…

Not only is He our help but He places others in our path with special skills to come along side us.

If God calls us to a task, He will equip us. Paul’s own testimony of this is true. “I am sure that God who began the good work in you will keep on working in you until the day Jesus Christ comes again.” (Philippians 1:6 NIV)

Maybe you’re asking yourself how to even begin using the provisions God has set before you.

Verse nineteen answers: “Set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God.”

When you seek the Lord, you will find Him. The same God who called Solomon and equipped him is the same God who calls you. We can trust in God to equip us for our calling because He promises to do so in His word.

Do not be discouraged or dismayed instead be strong and courageous because the Lord is with you.

Let’s transform our perspective from being ill-equipped to fully equipped. The Lord will be glorified through us. Through Jesus we are equipped to witness for Him, fulfill our purpose, forgive, love, and be what others need us to be to them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Place at the Table

Chair 2

God planted a deep desire within me to grow as a speaker. For several years, I prayed about attending the “She Speaks” conference put on by Proverbs 31 Ministries. I was overwhelmed at the number of speakers that are out there; but, I read something that made me think that just maybe, I could be one of them. It read something like this, “Only you can tell your story the way you tell it, and it needs to be told. Even though the table seems crowded with thousands of speakers and writers, there is always room at the table for you. An empty chair is waiting.” Those words inspired me to take the next step, so I signed up!

As I attended the conference I was astounded to be in a sea of eight hundred ladies pursuing a calling from God and feel a bond with them all. We all “get” one another.

Though I must be honest and share that as I entered the conference room to take a seat, I was not prepared for the wave of emotions nor the spiritual warfare that I was about to confront.

It started with the enemy of comparison. Realizing that I was surrounded by such godly women, seemingly far more advanced than myself, created in me a desire to hide in the shadows, becoming unnoticeable. The Enemy noticed me, though. He noticed my insecurity and wanted to create his own special seating for me.

Has he ever pulled up a chair for you and whispered lies?

The enemy tempted me over and over again to sit in the chair he pulled up because his lies felt more like truth than truth itself; lies that I was unworthy, inadequate, and out of place. Y’all, he even whispered that my southern dialect would be a hindrance! He drew the line there! 😉

But, God saw my struggle! He is El Roi, (The God who sees). As I journeyed through the two-day conference, He was faithful to place new friends in my path to walk alongside me every time I needed encouragement.

The vast knowledge and insight I received was too much to process while there, so I spent the following Monday unpacking all I had learned. As I sat in my oversized comfy chair at home, still before God, He washed me with His truths in a way only God can. God enabled me to redeem much of the confidence that the enemy robbed from me at the conference.

God reminded me that He is the lover of my soul. He loves me in my shame. He loves me in my doubt. He loves me in my brokenness. He loves me in my insecurities.

God revealed to me that He has plans for me to become something I struggle to fully see. He reminded me of the sixth chapter of John and the little boy who offered Jesus ALL he had: five loaves of barley bread and two fish. God used the little he had to feed thousands.  God whispered gently to my soul, “Jodi, bring me ALL you have and with the little you bring, I will do great things! This is the first step in becoming what I see in you. You can trust ME!”

Maybe you, too, need to let those words wash over you. I do not believe they were meant for me alone. God sees you! He desires for you to sit in the chair He purposed just for you. It may be to become a speaker, writer, homemaker, nurse, teacher, or whatever… He will help you become more than you can see in yourself right now. It may take a thousand steps of faith, but only one is required at a time.

There is a battle going on and we must choose our chair carefully. The Enemy’s chair wobbles, and the legs will crumble beneath you, guaranteeing your fall; but, God’s chair is secure and balanced. It will fully support you under any circumstance.

Just know that you too belong at the table God has prepared. Pull up your chair and take your place. See what great things God will do.

I am joining a Blog Hop hosted by Cindy Bultema. To learn more about She Speaks and other that have attended check out this Powered by Linky Tools

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He Tested God and So Did I

GideonHave you ever tested God? I know I have, and so did Gideon. Recently, as I was reading the book of Judges, I came upon the story of Gideon.  Because this was such a familiar story, I thought I would skim over it, but God got my attention.  I began seeing myself in the story.  Maybe you can see yourself, too.  See the full story of Gideon (here).

  • He was insecure. I can be insecure.
  • He questioned God by asking, “Why then has all this happened to us?” I have asked God the same question.
  • He was fearful. I am fearful at times.
  • He was hiding from confrontation. I have been one to avoid confrontation.
  • He had doubt. I have doubts at times.
  • He needed to know that he was truly hearing from God. I need to know it is God leading me, not my flesh or others’ opinions.
  • He was weak and did not see himself as God did. I have so many weaknesses that I struggle seeing what God sees in me.

I have to admit that at first, it discouraged me just how much I related to Gideon. But, what I learned from his story really opened my eyes. What God was after was Gideon’s belief in himself and an undivided faith in God.

The struggle was real for Gideon, as it is for you and me.  We battle so much self-doubt, fear, and insecurity, that it takes a process to get to where God wants us to be.

Look back at Gideon’s story:

While he was hiding from the enemy, God saw him as a “valiant warrior” (Judges 6:12). I tend to believe that living in fear of his enemies for seven years paralyzed him from ever seeing himself as God saw him.

Maybe you have a past that has paralyzed you from believing that you could ever be more than the sum of your past.  Don’t you want to be set free from that? I know I do!

I have tested God over and over, wanting to confirm His calling on my life.  Gideon also tested God to see if He would do what He said He would do.  Check out the “fleece test” in Judges 6:36-40.

With each testing of God, Gideon’s confidence grew in himself and in God.  I find this to be true in my life, as well.  But, at some point, we need to make a decision to be all in, or take a seat.

I am encouraged that when Gideon tested God not once, not twice, but four times, God never got mad.  He did not say, “Never mind, you are hopeless”.  He did not lose patience, nor abandon him. God was aware of how Gideon viewed himself. He knew what it was going to take for Gideon to believe in himself, and believe God.

When I read about Gideon’s final test for God, it hit me! It was time for me to stop testing God, and choose to have an undivided faith, instead.

Gideon’s response to his last test drew the line in the sand.  When he overheard the enemies interpreting a dream about how they would fall at the sword of Gideon, he bowed and worshiped God.  See, Gideon was willing to do anything for God, but because of his fears and insecurities, he deemed himself altogether insufficient.  Therefore, he needed confirmation that God was who He said He was, that He could do what He said He could do, and that he could become more than the sum of his past.

God knows exactly what it will take for each of us to believe in ourselves.  It is a process, just like it was for Gideon.

For me, it takes a secure faith (believing God) in God’s calling on my life to hang in there.  Because, when the storms come, and they will, I need my anchor to hold.  Do not give up on the process you are going through to anchor your faith.  God is not giving up on you! God can pass any of our tests with flying colors! But, the greatest test is really on us… will you believe God today?

Keep pressing forward. God sees you, even if you are hiding, and He is calling you to a greater purpose. So, live it, believe it, and own it.

 

 

She Had Bold Faith

Bold Faith 1She was a desperate parent seeking help for her daughter. She was persistent in crying out to Jesus to have mercy on her and her child. Perhaps, she approached Jesus with panic and anxiety over her situation.  Still, she recognized that Jesus was her only solution.  Her faith was greater than her fear.

The Lord led me to read about this woman in Matthew 15:21-28 (NKJV), at a time when I needed His help. My anxiety was taking a toll on me.  I found myself crying out for help on a consistent basis, for over a month. I felt there was no resolve to the source of my anxiety, and that led to panic, on occasion.  I thought that if I kept crying out to God, He would answer me.  In my mind, I was doing all I could.

Then, God brought me to a woman I could relate to.  She taught me what I was lacking.

  • She was a mother believing Jesus could be her daughter’s Savior, too.
  • She had bold faith believing Jesus would be sufficient to meet her need.
  • She followed Jesus unashamedly.
  • She recognized Jesus was who He said He was.
  • She knew she was not worthy, but recognized Jesus would meet her as she was.
  • She was interceding for her daughter at all cost.
  • This is where God revealed to me what I was lacking: She bowed down to worship Him with a humble heart and said, “Lord, help me!”

In my anxiety and panic, I was pleading to God with my lips.  All the while, God was waiting for my heart to be still, and bow before Him; acknowledging Him as Messiah; recognizing that He alone is the solution to my every concern, problem, and circumstance.

Someone once said, “The measure of your faith is determined by your perspective of who God is.” Sometimes my perspective gets lost, but God is the faithful and just One to forgive me, and sharpen my perspective with a clearer vision of who He is.

The right perspective is acknowledging God with a reverence of His Holiness, and trusting Him with my children’s lives.  No matter what the outcome, God is still good, and He is faithful to help us through any circumstance. So I tell my heart, “Peace, be still.”

I want to be found with the faith Jesus saw in this women. “Then Jesus answered and said to her, ‘O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.’” (Matthew 15:28 NASB)

Are you crying out to God and feeling like the sound of your voice is not heard? Humble yourself. Seek and worship God with reverence and praise, then say, “Lord, help me!” He will be faithful to meet you where you are, and speak peace over you.

“Lord, help my faith be greater than my fear.”