Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Freedom in Surrender

"If you cling to your life, you will lose it; But if you give it up for Me, you will find it." Matthew 10:39
What a powerful portion of God's Word. Losing your life....but finding it in Him. The many times that I have read and heard this verse, it has made me think of persecution or the actual losing of my life for Christ's name. When doing my Bible study this week, Nancy Guthrie shed a whole new light on this well-known verse. It blessed my heart.

There are specific dreams, aspirations, hopes, and desires that we each carry within this life. We make plans, we dream dreams, and we eagerly wait with anticipation those things for which we long. And then sometimes the waiting gets long.......disappointment sets in....discouragment follows. Sound familiar?
For most people, it is perhaps very familiar. Waiting is hard. Surrendering those ambitions is difficult.

Guthrie writes: "Jesus calls us to abandon our own agendas, what we have deemed will please and fulfill us, so that we can embrace the kind and quality of life that only He gives. This is about making Jesus our life. This is about putting our plans for our lives to death so that the abundant life He offers has room to take root and grow."

When I read "Amen." I prayed. I had never before thought of it in that way. By putting those plans and desires to death, I would be able to live the abundant life that God has planned for me. Giving up those plans and dreams that I have made for myself does not necessarily mean that I will never receive them. Giving them fully to the Lord means that He can instill within me the life that He has planned for me and, therefore, shape me into the woman of God that He has created me to be.
"Those who are sailing through a comfortable life at this point have not yet been forced to carefully consider their lives and surrender their dreams. But because you have been shaken to the core, you see clearly that if you cling to your own plans and desires, you will never discover the freedom and joy found in losing your life for Jesus." Nancy Guthrie

Do you feel as if you have been "shaken to the core"? Have you come to the place of surrendering those desires at Jesus' feet...knowing that He will do what is best in His perfect plan and in His perfect timing?

I feel that in order to sincerely do what Guthrie speaks about, we must have "eyes of faith." I am currently reading a book called "Lady in Waiting." One of my college roommates suggested that I read it, and my goodness is it ever encouraging! Inspired from the book of Ruth, this book speaks of certain qualities that a woman should seek in order to be a Godly wife for her future husband. One of these qualities is faith. The love story of Ruth and Boaz was referenced within the chapter. Many of you may be familiar with this story. One of my favorite concepts in this story is the faith that Ruth displayed. In man's eyes, it only seemed logical for Ruth to move back to her homeland after her husband's death. In man's eyes, that would be the only way that she would ever be given the gift of marriage. Yet, Ruth chose to live with the "eyes of faith" and stay with Naomi , serving the one true God. This act, in essence, was almost as if Ruth was possibly giving up the desire to ever be married again. She surrendered it. Her decision was not based on circumstances...but the Sovereign God Who was in control of cirumstances. As we know from God's Word, this act of faith would eventually result in the gift of a Godly husband. God rewarded her faith by giving her a husband, Boaz.

"Faith does not eliminate questions. But faith knows where to take them." Elizabeth Elliot

Isn't that true? It is difficult, I speak for myself, to lay those precious desires down at my Lord's feet. It can be difficult to "lose that life," for it is sometimes easier to cling to it. We feel more in control. Yet, it is when we fully surrender, that Jesus promises a joy and peace that follow. We can experience freedom, knowing that His way is perfect. He has provided direction. He has a plan. Are you thankful for that, dear one? He has a plan. He is in control. May you be encouraged that He is faithful.

"God's way is perfect. All the Lord's promises prove true. He is a shield
for all who look to Him for protection.
For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid Rock?
God arms me with strength, and He makes my way perfect."
Psalm 18:30

We sang the song, "Jesus, All for Jesus" in church this morning. A portion of this song reads: "All of my ambitions, hopes and plans I surrender these into Your hands. For it's only in Your will that I am free." Yes, it is only in His will that I am free. And what line comes before? I "surrender these into Your hands." With surrender.....comes freedom. Lose your will find it in Christ. Surrender your will find freedom in Christ. Precious ones of God, may you find hope today in the promises of God. He has not forgotten you. He has not forgotten your circumstances. May you walk with "eyes of faith," knowing that He is sovereign, and He is in control.

"But I am trusting You, O Lord, saying:
'You are my God!
My future is in Your hands."
Psalm 31: 14-15
Hannah Grace

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Where is Your Mission Field?

When you hear the phrase "mission field" what do you think of? China, India, Mexico.......a different country besides the USA maybe? I have been guilty of the same thinking. At the beginning of this year, I started praying about what direction God was leading me this summer. I desired that He use me somehow within the ministry. I wanted to be poured out this summer for His honor and glory. What suprised me was that God did not lead me where I thought He would have. I am not going to another country to serve in Jesus' name, I am not on a summer camp staff....I'm actually doing an ordinary job. Even though it was not where I thought I would be, God clearly directed me to: a hospital. A hospital? "But God," I prayed, "I'm going to have many opportunities to work in a hospital after I graduate. Shouldn't I be involved in a ministry this summer? I have such a heart for missions and serving others." I was more or less disappointed. I am ashamed to say it, but this was my thinking a few weeks ago. Don't get me wrong. I was excited about the opportunity to work as a student nurse. Yet, I felt as if I was missing out on being used by God this summer. I wanted to be on the mission field. I wanted to be poured out for His honor and glory. I wanted to make a difference this summer. And what has God taught me? Something amazing.

I am privileged to be employed at a hospital where it is still acceptable to pray and share about the Lord. Each morning at 8:00, the chaplain brings a devotion which is heard all over the hospital. My coworkers will even stop what they are doing and agree in prayer with the chaplain. It's amazing to see. Above each bathroom door in each room of the hospital, a specific verse is found. That is perhaps my favorite thing to do when I enter into a patient's room. I love to see what portion of Scripture is on their wall. I feel that it is by no mistake what room they are placed within.

One morning, I followed one of the doctors as he made his morning rounds. We went from one room to the next until we came to the last room on his list. This particular patient was not one of my assigned patients, so I did not know her story. I was shocked to hear the doctor's words as he proceeded to present her with the diagnosis of cancer. My heart ached for her. Once the words "cancer" and "malignant" came out of his mouth, I looked above her door to see what verse was posted. And the beautiful words of Romans 15:13 fell upon my eyes.

Romans 15:13:"I pray that God, the Source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident
hope through the power of the Holy Spirit."

"Oh yes, Lord," I prayed to myself. "We are never left without hope. Thank you, Jesus. May you fill them hope."

As the doctor continued speaking with her, I desperately wanted to wrap my arms around her. I wanted to pray for her and pray that she might have hope...even in a cancer diagnosis. I wanted to encourage her precious family members who were at her bedside. I wanted them to know that Jesus was still in control no matter what. I do not know if they were believers, and I was never able to find out. But, I did not forget to pray for them. I prayed that they might come to know the Lord if they did not already. I also prayed that they might look upon the wall and see those words from our Almighty God.

It was after that experience that I, I knew....I'm on the mission field. God has placed me in this hospital, "for such a time as this." Even though I was not able to directly minister to that specific family, I am praying for opportunities in the weeks to come.

Wherever we are: school, work, church, grocery shopping, carpooling, caught in traffic jams, cleaning.....we are tools for the ministry. Isn't that humbling? God desires to use us...even in everyday living. Yes, going to a another country on the mission field is such a blessing. That is not to be lessened. What God has been impressing upon me is that instead of wishing I was "on the mission field," I should start living "on the mission field."

On Sunday night, I had the opportunity of hearing some members of the youth group speak about their mission trip to Mexico this past March. My cousin, Christian, gave a wonderful testimony of God's faithfulness and some challenges that he gave to the others while on their trip. He quoted the verse 13 out of Matthew 5, which states: "You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot." Verse 16 states: "In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father."

Is it not humbling that God can, will, and chooses to use His children no matter where they may be? Not only is it humbling, but it is challenging. Do my actions reflect Christ? Am I willing to be used by Him? While traveling the road to my house, there is small church which always has quotes on its sign. Right now it reads, "Do they see Jesus in me?" Hmmm....can others tell there is something different in my life?

Whether you may be in China, South Africa, or a little 'ol town in Mississippi.......God can work through you. Will you allow Him to? We are living "on the mission field."

"He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.'"
Mark 16: 15

Monday, May 25, 2009

In the Hands of an AWESOME God

Be encouraged, precious ones of God. He delights in you. Even to the smallest are precious in His eyes. He knows what is going on within your life. In our Lord, ALL things are held together! He is never out of control. Praise God for that. May you be blessed in hearing this truth.

"He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." Colossians 1:17

Louie Giglio: "How Great is Our God"

Sunday, May 17, 2009

"Baby Weaver"

It was the evening of Mother's Day. My family had gathered for lunch earlier that day and honored all the mothers/grandmothers of our family. We specifically honored the "grandma's" of the group. It was so neat to hear each one around the table expressing their love and thankfulness for Grandma Good and my "adopted grandma," Ms. Joan. Their lives proved an inspiration to each one in the family. How precious that time was!

That evening, I found a special treasure. Inside my "treasure box," I found a letter that my Grandma Good wrote to me even before I was born. Priceless words written in black ink filled three yellow pages. I could just picture in my mind, my precious grandma kneeling on the floor praying these words over my life on earth....which had yet to even begin. What a prayer warrior she was...and still is. For not only her grandchildren...but for many others, as well.

As she writes in the letter, the Lord awakened her early the morning of December 17, 1987. He quickened the passage of Matthew 6:9-13 to pray for me. She began to pray specific truths over my life.

Inspired from Matthew 6, she wrote specific challenges for my life that was to begin in a few months.

  1. To have and know God

  2. To have a personal relationship with Him

  3. To recognize that He is Lord of your life

  4. Adoring Him and giving Him praise

  5. Anticipation of all that He is doing and going to do in your life

  6. Consecrating yourself to God on a daily basis

  7. To know that God is universal and in control of all

  8. Being conformed to God and not the world

  9. Letting your supplications, desires, and prayers always be Christ-centered

  10. Being definite of your commitment to Him

  11. Standing true for Him

  12. The necessity of coming to God on a daily basis as much of need as daily eating

  13. Pentitence-always have sorrow over sin and doing wrong

  14. Obligation- to forgive others as we have been forgiven

  15. To walk in a spirit of forgiveness

  16. Love and mercy towards God and others

What a tremendous blessing.....what a humbling thought. That someone took time to pray for me, even before I was given my first breath of life. It made me even more aware that the Lord has His hand upon my life. Reading this precious letter revived a thankfulness in my heart for being raised in a Godly family.

Each time I read this letter, a new sense of hope is revived within my spirit. It makes me think of Psalm 139. That God created me for a specific purpose. Psalm 139: 16: "You saw me before I was born. Every day was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are Your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!" Oh, thank you, Jesus. You have ordered each step of the way.

As I sit here tonight....I'm not claiming to have everything together. In fact, the past few days have at times been somewhat difficult. Perhaps even sometimes it is easier for me to write down God's promises and truths than it is to actually dwell on and live in them during those difficult times. Some things have entered my way that have fought to steal my joy. There are many things that I just simply do not understand. But tonight, by the grace of God and the strength that only He can bring, I rest in the fact that He has divinely planned each day of my life. a suprise to Him.

My uncle preached such an anointed sermon today. It spoke to my heart. One thing that he said really stood out to me. "Contentment and thankfulness go hand in hand." He referenced 1 Thessalonians 5:16-8: "Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." Oh that you and I would truly be thankful in those "not so great" circumstances in life. May your discouragement, disappointment, brokenness, tired drawn more and more into the Lord's loving arms. That is my prayer tonight. For myself and for you. We've got a loving Lord on our side. Rejoice tonight that He knows your name, you are precious in His eyes, and He is, has been, and always will be in control.

And even as He knew "Baby Weaver" before she took her first breath on March 17, He knew you as well. Your life is no mistake. He has ordered each one of your steps. He has a specific purpose and plan for your life. Nothing is a suprise to Him. He is taking care of you. Are you thankful for that? I am.

Be encouraged, precious one of God. Rejoice. You have hope.

Hannah Grace

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

He Hears and He's Working

Had an extremely interesting scenario last night. I was so encouraged from my devotions last night, but at times when I was reading I kept hearing things moving in my room. As I'm hearing these creepy noises, I'm thinking: "Hmm...." I didn't think it was really something. As I knelt on my bed praying before I closed my eyes to sleep, I heard something again. I thought: "Okay, what in the world?" I finished praying, crawled into my bed, and tried to sleep. What followed was the sound of something plopping down on my bedroom floor.....literally. My thinking now, you may ask? "Alright, that's it!" I stood on my bed, flipped on the light, and there beside my bed...almost about to pounce on my bed might I add...was the most hideous, slimiest, grossest tree frog. (Those words are not even grammatically correct, but they were all I could think of.) If you know me, you know that tree frogs are just about more than I can handle. Needless to say, thanks to the hero I have in my dad, he's gone. I have no idea how he got there, but I can assure you that I will be checking to make sure he never returns. :) I must have laid in my bed laughing for five minutes afterwards at the ridiculous scene.

Well, anyway, now I want to share with you some things that I learned last night. Let me ask you something? Do you ever feel as if the things you pray for are just forgotten by the Lord? Do you ever feel as if He has overlooked your plea for help?

The Israelites sure felt this way. Within their burden of slavery, I'm sure these people wondered if they would ever taste freedom again. Exodus 2:26-25 states:

"Now it happened in the process of time that the king of Egypt died. Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage. So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them."

Within the devotional book entitled "Hope," Nancy Guthrie made a powerful statement about this passage. She writes:

"There was no way for them [the Israelites] to comprehend that God's plan for deliverance was already in motion when Pharaoh's daughter pulled baby Moses out of the river. They couldn't see the burning bush hundreds of miles away as God called and began to prepare Moses to lead them out of Egypt."

How neat is that perspective? Even though they felt forgotten within their current suffering, God had long been preparing for their deliverance. Man....that gives me chills.

I flipped over to Nehemiah 9:9-31. If you have a chance, read it. This passage of the Bible gives an account of the numerous ways that God provided for the Israelites. Even in the midst of their cries, suffereing, rebellion and disobedience, He did not abandon them. He had compassion on them and provided for their needs. Verse 19 stood out to me.

"But in your great mercy you did not abandon them to die in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud still led them forward by day, and the pillar of fire showed them the way through the night. "

AMEN! I was thinking over the ways that God has provided for me. Sometimes I was not even able to see the ways He was providing for me. Think over your life. What are some ways that He has been providing for your "deliverance." This thought caused me to dwell on the faithfulness of God and His goodness towards me. I may not understand the ways in which He works, but I know that all is intended for my good. Even as I sit here today, I did not imagine being where I am at this present time. My plans were different. Yet, I am thankful because I know that God has led me every step I have taken. He has been providing, He is providing, and He will continue to provide for me and for you.

Maybe you are in the midst of suffering at this very moment. Maybe it is hard for you to dwell on His goodness because you feel forgotten. Perhaps you feel as if your prayers and pleas for help fail to reach Him. Oh dear one, you are not forgotten. You are not abandoned. You are loved, you are cherished, you are redeemed. He has called you by your name. All His promises are true. He walks the way with you, guiding your every step. Isn't that a wonderful promise? I encourage you to keep seeking Him in His Word and daily in prayer. He does hear you. Cry out to Him.

Psalm 40: 1-5a: "I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord. Oh, the joys of those who trust in the Lord, who have no confidence in the proud or in those who worship idols. O Lord my God, you have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal...."

Lord, we praise you for what you do in our lives. May we never forget the ways you have provided for us in the past. And may we look forward, trusting that You will indeed provide for our every need, giving us hope for the future.

Hannah Grace

Monday, May 11, 2009

Letters from a Fourteen-Year Old Heart

I am so excited to share something with you tonight. As most of you know, the reason I created this blog was to bring about a message of hope. God has been impressing upon my heart the theme of hope within these last few months. What I discovered last night was that this theme began not a few months ago, but years ago.

Tucked away in my "treasure box" are letters, letters to someone very special. I had not forgotten about these letters, but it has been a couple years since I've read them.

When I was fourteen-years old, I began to pray for a special someone, someone who I would one day spend my life with, someone who I would grow in the knowledge of the Lord with, someone who I would walk beside "till death do us part" future husband. As I began to read these precious words written by a young, exuberant heart, an excitement grew within me. I have prayed for this person for many, many years. I have prayed that he would have such a deep love for the Lord and that he would walk uprightly in all that he does. And that in our time of waiting until the day we would meet, we would trust in God's plan and know that it is perfect.

Letter after letter, an all-too familiar theme presented itself: hope. In a few of the letters I referenced Romans 8:25: "For if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance." In another letter, I pledged purity to not only my future husband but also my future children. I prayed that in this time of waiting, that God would guard my heart, as well. In one of the letters, I referenced verses that "brought me hope." Psalm 84:11: "For the Lord is a sun and shield. The Lord will give grace and glory. No good thing will He withhold from the who walk uprightly." Yet, one letter stood out......above all the rest.

Written on January 12, 2003, I wrote:

God has allowed people to come into my life that give me hope for the future. I have been awed. These people have changed my perspective. I realize that I do not want to settle for less than God's best. I'm afraid that I would have settled for less. I'm thankful to God for this experience.

Tears flooded my eyes as I read those words. Even back in the year 2003, the Lord was using others to fill me with the message of hope. I had a realization that I wanted nothing less than God's perfect will for my life. What is so significant about this paragraph is that this principle is exactly what I am being encouraged with at this present time. The Lord has raised up precious people in my life. They encourage me with the message of hope. This message gives me encouragement to wait, yes wait, for His perfect His perfect timing.

I felt as if God were sitting on my bed right next to me saying: "See, dear child. I am in control. I have given you desires, hopes, dreams. I have had My Hand over your life, even since the day you were born. I am in control. Do you trust in Me?"

"Yes, Lord.....I do trust in you."

What I am encouraging you to do is pray, dear ones. Pray about...everything continuously. (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Nothing is too small, too insignificant, too vague, or even to vast to bring before the Father's throne. He delights in every detail of our lives. Praise God for that!

Psalm 37: 23: "The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives."

Little did I know the events that would follow the writing of those letters. Little did I know the plans that He had in store for me. Little do you know the wonderful plans that God has in store for you, dear one. But, we serve a God Who is the "Blessed Controller of all things." Trust Him. Devote time in prayer to Him. Surrender to His plan. Accept that you are not in control. Walk in the hope that He so freely gives.

"There I will go to the altar of God, to God—the source of all my joy..... I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!" Psalm 4a, 5b

Hannah Grace

Saturday, May 9, 2009

What Will They Say of Me?

Saturday mornings are the time to run errands. I look forward to it every week. Special time with my mom and a relaxing morning. It is something that I will definitely miss one day.

This morning we passed by a small church, who was obviously trying to pack in more vehicles than it had room for. I everywhere. At first, my thought was: "Only in Mississippi." My second thought: "Oh fun. Someone must be getting married today." Then, I proceeded to see a hearse, followed by a very long procession. And as I sat there waiting on the cars to file in, wondering where on earth they were going to fit everyone, I began to, this is sad. Young and old came out to mourn the death of a loved one. can be viewed as such a painful and sorrowful idea. I watched the crowd as they walked into the church. Some had solemn dispositions, but then I saw a woman smiling. She had such a peaceful and joyous countenance. Then I thought...this is such a beautiful sight. I had no idea what kind of life this person lived. As believers, death brings such a hope and the promise of eternal life. Not that we have to go around constantly smiling at loved one's funeral. It is okay to mourn. But, the hope that we have following a believer's death. Jesus overcame the power of death, so that we might have eternal life!

That life picture made me think of the passage in the Bible which says: “Death is swallowed up in victory. 'O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?'” 1 Corinthians 15:54b-55. And then in verse 57: "But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ." (NLT) The death of a believer is really a celebration. Because of Jesus' sacrifice, we have hope...even in midst of such sorrow and pain that death can bring. Praise God! Isn't that a comfort to know there's hope? Oh, how I wish all believed.

So this got me to thinking: "What are people going to remember about me when it's my funeral?" I know that I want it to a big celebration! I want the things that I did in my life to make a difference. I want my life to be a testimony.

Mom, Heidi, and I are singing on Sunday night for Mother's Day. When we were listening to the CD with our song on it, another song caught my attention. Such wonderful words and exactly what life is all about. Thought I would post the song for you to be encouraged.

When It's All Been Said and Done: Don Moen
When it's all been said and done
There is just one thing that matters
Did I do my best to live for truth?
Did I live my life for you?
When it's all been said and done
All my treasures will mean nothing
Only what I have done
For love's rewards
Will stand the test of time
Lord, your mercy is so great
That you look beyond our weakness
That you found purest gold in miry clay
Turning sinners into saints
I will always sing your praise
Here on earth and in heaven after
For you've joined me at my true home
When it's all been said and done
You're my life when life is gone.
"You're my life when life is gone." I love that! Praise God that through His love, He overcame the power of death. We have hope, lasting hope, and a peace amidst the sorrow of death. Live in that hope, knowing that though this life will end.....there awaits and even glorious one.
Hannah Grace

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

He's Been There

"While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could deliver him out of death. And God heard his prayers because of his reverence to God. So even though Jesus was God's Son, he learned obedience from things he suffered." Hebrews 5:7-8

At first when I read the title for this week, I was kind of caught off-guard. When I think of Jesus, I do not think of sorrow or pain. I think of my Savior, Who provides hope and wipes my tears and pain away. I think of perfect peace, and I think of overwhelming love. Yet, this week brought to light such a wonderful and ordained time of Jesus' life here on earth. When my heart is breaking in what feels like the deepest sorrow I've ever endured....Jesus understands. He's been there.

If you were to ask most Christians what the shortest verse in the Bible was, most would probably know the answer within a minute: "Of course, it's John 11:35- 'Jesus wept.'" Have you ever really stopped and thought about that verse? Sure, in elementary school, my class always begged for it to be the memory verse of the week. But, really soak that thought Jesus, He wept. He knows what pain is like. His dear friend, Lazarus, had died. Jesus saw the brokenness in Lazarus' two sisters: Mary and Martha. Scripture does not record exactly why Jesus wept. Guthrie suggested a few theories for His grieving. She summoned that perhaps Jesus grieved because he saw what kind of discouragement death brought upon the people He loved.

She writes: "Perhaps he could see in her weeping and hear in their wailing the unbelief that robbed them of being able to grieve with hope and left them with only despair."

Whatever the reason may have been, Jesus was brokenhearted.

Another place in Scripture we see the Lord Jesus once again in great sorrow. In Matthew 26:38, the Lord says: "My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death." Jesus said this statement the night that He took two disciples, James and John, into the Garden of Gethsemane. The time of His crucifixion was soon approaching, and Jesus was spending His last moments on earth in prayer to His Father. What we see in this portion of Matthew 26 is the picture of our Lord experiencing the feeling of deep sorrow and brokenness. I have heard this story many many times but never has the thought of Jesus grieving touched my heart so greatly. Wow. Guthrie writes a powerful statement in this chapter.

"I feel a sense of kinship with Jesus' pain and a sense of relief that he understands what mine feels like. I can't receive instruction on living with pain from someone who has never hurt. I can't receive encouragement to hold on to hope for the future from someone who has never wrangled with death. But I can listen to and receive from this Jesus who knows what it feels like to be filled with anguish and deep distress."

Not only did this passage in Matthew depict the grief that our Lord felt, but it also spoke of a time of loneliness that Jesus must have felt. As He and His disciples entered the garden, Jesus asked the two disciples to "stay here and watch with me." One would think that James and John would have been right by Jesus' side and providing Him with support and encouragement. Surely they understood what was about to take place. Yet, what we see within this chapter is that Jesus came back not one, not two, but three times to his disciples only to find them deep in slumber. How Jesus must have felt. Here He was about to lay His life down for the sins of the entire world, here He was about to suffer agonizing physical pain for which He did not deserve, and here He was about to experience being cut off from His Father God for the first time....and His disciples sleep?

Have you ever felt alone in your time of grief? Maybe those friends just are not there for you like they promised they would. Or maybe you are surrounded by friends and family members, yet feel alone in your grief? Maybe those closest to you are "sleeping" during your time of pain and hardship. Maybe you feel alone.....Now, before we get on a pity trip for ourselves, I invite you to consider a beautiful thought. There is One Who never "sleeps" in your life. God in His Word gives us that promise: Psalm 121:2-3"My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber."
Wow.....really grab a hold of that.

Now, I do not discredit the encouragement and support that believers can provide to one's life. In fact, I hold that in such high importance. The body of Christ is such a beautiful thing. Romans 12 speaks of the body of Christ and how vital each member is to the whole. Verse 15 says, "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep." I am thankful and praise God for those that He has placed within my life as encouragers. Yet, I am asking you to consider: Do we put more effort, more time, more fulfillment into being uplifted by others? What would make us value that from the Lord just as much? Maybe if we could audibly hear His voice? Maybe if we could just sit down at a table, with a cup of coffee and Hershey's chocolate, look Him straight within the eyes, and really see and hear Him speaking into our hearts. Would that make it easier?

But what the Lord invites us to is even better than that tall peppermint mocha frappuccino with whipped cream. He has given us an invitation to come before His throne. Hebrews 4:16: "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." What an invitation! No, He has not forgotton that heart. No, dear one, He has not forgotten the loneliness hidden inside. No, precious one, He hurts when you hurt, He knows your hurt, He heals your hurt. Why? Because He's felt your hurt. What we find when we come to His throne is not One who sleeps but One who heals. What we find is not One Who forgets, but One Who wipes away those tears. What we find is One who dissolves those fears, renews that strength, and mends that broken heart. Amen, dear child, you can have hope again!

I encourage you to fall on your knees before the God of Israel, before the Lord of your life. No, He does not sleep.....He gives hope. Hope for your journey.

Hannah Grace

Friday, May 1, 2009

Made by the Master

Why is it that God can clearly speak to your heart about a specific burden....then, you in return receive that truth, only a few days later to worry and become discouraged about the very thing you laid down at His feet? Tonight, I went back and read some notes that I had written in the past. One in particular touched my heart tonight. As I was studying for a final today, I was reviewing my notes on fetal development. Isn't it comforting that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made." He holds every plan, every year, every month, every minute, every detail of our lives? He knows what He is doing. Yes, He knows what lies ahead. He is faithful. He blesses me with hope. May I share this with you tonight? Perhaps it will encourage you, as it did me.

Tonight.....I can't sleep. Partly because today has been a very challenging and hard day. And, partly because God has reminded me of something, and I'd like to share it with you. Maybe you need to hear it too. Whatever the reason, I'm up past 10:00, and that is a feat in itself! :)

In my nursing class, we are studying about fertility and pregnancy. On Wednesday, we began talking about the sequence of fetal development. And as my professor was lecturing...I sat there and thought, "Wow....only God could do this. Wow....what an amazing God I serve!"

Did you know that out of those two cells that unite come one cell, equipped the very DNA of a human being. Everything it needs to grow and be nourished is provided....out of that one little cell. And did you know that at just 4 weeks, the tissues of the heart began to beat for the first time? And inside that womb, this precious little baby is able to grow and be adequately nourished until the time of delivery. Wow....only God. Only God could intricately design this process, detail by detail. The words of Psalm 139 echoed in my mind while listening to the lecture. All I could think as I was sitting there in class is how thankful I am that I know the truth. We are not by scientific reasoning can explain how we are made or how we came to be here. They try...but praise God that He has given us the truth! We are fearfully and wonderfully made. Even at the point of conception....we have life!

Opened my Ladies' Bible study book tonight, and do you want to know what it was about? On the very first few pages, it was talking about a young woman who had just found out she was pregant. She was telling her own mother the news. The "grandma to be" began praying a prayer for her soon-to-be granddchild. And then I proceeded to read the beautiful words of "Psalm 139," just exactly what God had reminded me of just yesterday.

The rest of the lesson focused on how God has ordained each of our days. He has assigned us "our portion and our cup." He is God, and He is faithful. Nothing is a suprise to Him. He knit our very being in our mother's womb. He caused our heart to beat at week 8. He caused our fingernails to form at week 9. He caused us to take our very first breath the day of our birth. Do you think anything is too big for Him to handle? Sometimes I need to remind myself of that. God has ordained every minute of my life. Why is it so hard for me to trust in His ways?

He has a plan for my life, and He has a plan for yours as well. May you know tonight that God is sovereign and has complete control over your life. You are "fearfullly and wonderfully made." For there is nothing you will go through that God does not have control over. Are you thankful for that? I am.
Psalm 139
O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.
5 You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, [a] you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,"
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.
19 If only you would slay the wicked, O God! Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!
20 They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Amen. Be encouraged tonight, precious ones of God. He loves you. He knows you inside and out. He holds your every moment. He has a perfect plan. He is in control. He is hope.
Hannah Grace