Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"In Everything, Lord, May I Give Thanks"

"Be encouraged--God is in control.
You will look back one day and see
how it all fit together for your own good. (I Thess. 5:18)
I love you,

These sweet words are what awaited me inside of my car one morning last summer. That particular time in my life, I was struggling with fear/anxiety about an unknown future. My precious dad knew of this discouragement and never failed to remind me that he was praying for me and that he loved me.

Looking back on that difficult but beautiful time in my life, I see the handiwork of my Maker. For my heart was "scared to death" of an unknown future, possibly a future of being alone. And since that time, God has answered, provided, and guided my very steps. Today even marks a special day of that answered prayer. For during that time, I was praying for the one whom I would spend my life with. Five months ago today, he was brought into my life. The time spent in the waiting was all in God's plan. Oh, how my Father perfectly orchestrated my every step and answered my prayers far greater than I could have imagined. All praise to Him.

Tonight, almost a year ago to the day, God ordained that I would receive the same encouragement. What a God!

I recently graduated in May. With this awaited graduation, the hopes of a job were on the forefront. I was eager, willing, ready to serve others through my career. And here I am, June 30, without a job. It seems almost as if these past few weeks of job-searching have been a roller coaster. I've sought God, pleading for His direction and the opening of doors. As ashamed as I am to admit it, I would cry out to God...almost as if I felt that I deserved a job. "But, God, I am seeking you and honoring you with my life. I've surrendered to do whatever You lead me to do. I've pledged my life to You. Why aren't You answering me?"

I have a specific place in my room where I have special prayer times with the Lord. Many times, I have found myself in this place kneeling, praising, weeping before my God. And tonight...I found myself there. And as I kneeled there, these lyrics poured out of my stereo speakers:

"Find rest my soul
In Christ alone
Know His power
In quietness and trust

When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with You above the storm
Father You are king over the flood
I will be still and know You are God"

Oh, how I long to know His quietness and in perfect trust. To truly be still and know that He is God. (Psalm 46:10) As I was crying out to God, I looked up. And from where I was kneeling, the top shelf of one of my bookcases was in plain view. There I saw my diploma. But what caught my eye was not the diploma, but what was sitting right next to it. For what was right next to the diploma was a small plaque. And on it read: "In Everything Give Thanks. 1 Thessalonians 5:18" I then finished the verse out loud:

"In everything give thanks;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
1 Thessalonians 5:18

"Thank you, Lord." I prayed. For I was reminded that the verse did not simply say: Give thanks. It said: "In everything give thanks..." Not give thanks when things are going well, or give thanks when things are going as planned, or even give thanks when a job is everything we are to be thankful. But even more than that, we can be thankful because God is in this. We can be thankful, because this is His perfect will for our lives. Psalm 18:30 reminds us:

"As for God, his way is perfect;
the word of the LORD is flawless.
He is a shield
for all who take refuge in him."

What a precious and beautiful source of encouragement I was given tonight. A year ago by my earthly father, this time by my Heavenly Father.

I received a sweet reminder last Sunday. We as believers do not love God just because of what He can give to us or what blessing we can receive. We love God, because He first loved us and gave His Son as a sacrifice for our sinfulness. (1 John 4:10) What a timely reminder this was to me. For I serve God Almighty, not because of what He can give me, not because of the blessings that come from His hand, not because of life that I want....I serve Him, because I love Him. He is my All. He is my Rock. He is the foundation that I desire to build my life upon.

I desired to be very honest with you tonight and share from the depths of my heart. Tonight, I have come from a heart of imperfection, made perfect by God Almighty. I have come from a heart tainted with discouragement, encouraged by the Great Comforter. I have come from a heart threatened by anxiety and fear, made to rest by the Great Calmer. And tonight, I have no more answers about the future than I did this morning, but I rest under the shadow of the Almighty. I choose to be still in His presence and trust that His will is perfect.

Where are you at tonight, sweet one of God? What area in your life are seeking direction from the Lord? May you rest tonight the mighty and perfect will of your Lord Jesus. May you truly be able to give every circumstance. He has a plan. He knew your very steps, even before the day that you took your first breath. He has your tomorrow's planned and nothing is a surprise to Him. May you surrender tonight. Let's do it together. May we surrender tonight...surrender our hopes, dreams, desires, plans....surrender them with thanksgiving into the hands of Almighty God. I'd like to pray for both you and I. Praying that this night leaves you filled with hope and a perfect peace.

Father God,

I praise You tonight for your faithfulness. I praise You tonight, for You are good. All Your ways are good. Every circumstance, every situation, every moment, even as difficult as some may be, are meant for our good. I pray tonight that we can truly rejoice and be thankful. Thank You, Father, for leading us in very specific ways, opening and closing doors in Your perfect timing. I thank You, Father, for the protection that You grant us through closed doors. And even when periods of silence and uncertainty are all around us, I thank You that You remain in control. You are with us...even in the waiting. I pray for the ones who will read this tonight. I pray that You will fill their hearts with hope. I pray that they may truly trust in You and rest in Your peace. May they know tonight that they are loved. May they truly serve You, not for the blessings to be received, but out of deep love for You. May I do the same, Lord. For my sole purpose here on this earth is to bring honor and glory to You. Thank You for Your love, Father. Surround us tonight...that we may find rest in You.

In Jesus' Name, Amen.

A Psalm of Thanksgiving:

"Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation."
Psalm 100

Praying for you tonight, dear one of God. Rejoice and give thanks. For our Father, He is good. Amen?

Hannah Grace

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hope from the God of the Impossible

A calling given. Needs provided. Protection granted. Promises fulfilled. What hope!

Over the past month, God has been doing such wonderful things. Such wonderful and unfathomable things that I could have never even dreamed of. And as I stand back and watch my wonderful Maker work, I think: "Why should I be suprised?" A verse that has been very near to my heart over the past year very often rings within my ears:

"Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth

by your great power and outstretched arm.

Nothing is too hard for you."

Jeremiah 32: 17

Did you catch that word at the beginning of the last sentence? Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing. Do we sometimes look at our desperate situations, our difficult circumstances, our seemingless hopeless "deserts" in life with despair and defeat saying, "How could God do anything with this?" Perhaps you are even there today. Well, dear one, today I affirm hope in your life.

This morning before the day began, I was reminded of God's miraculous and limitless power. My devotion this morning entitled "God's Possibilities" reflected upon the verse in Mark 10:27:

"Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible,

but not with God; all things are possible with God."

Did you catch that very, very important phrase? All things, all things, all things, all things. Precious one of God, through Him ALL things are possible. Can you say amen to that hope tonight? We serve a God of the seemingly impossible. Nothing is too hard for Him.

My boyfriend and I are currently doing a daily devotional together entitled "At His Feet." One specific day focused upon the God of the impossible. The author Chris Teigreen writes these encouraging words: "Our Bible is full of impossible situations. A nation camped at the edge of a sea with a hostile army behind them. An inexperienced band of fighters faced an impenetrable, walled city. A shepherd boy stood before an armed and angry giant. A worshiper faced a lion's den. 'Dry bones' rotted in a valley. And our only hope of salvation lay in a sealed tomb."

What seemingly "impossible" situation are facing today? What discouragement, hurt, hopelessness may be crowding your view? Well, sweet one, today I have news of hope. We serve a God of the impossible. In light of the Easter celebration that has just passed, may we continue to meditate on the miraculous resurrection of our Lord Jesus. I imagine myself in the disciples shoes, so to speak. The three days that Jesus spent in the grave may have evoked hopelessness, disappointment, name it. How could any good come of this? Death feels final...that's it? And three days later...a miracle. Jesus rose!

Perhaps your life is a series of "three days." Precious one of God, praise Him today for the work that He is doing and for the work that He will do! May you find strength, comfort, and hope in Him alone.

"Have you never heard?
Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
He gives power to the weak
and strength to the powerless.
Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint."
Isaiah 40: 28-31

Blessings to you as you trust in Him!

Hannah Grace

Saturday, January 23, 2010

"He, the God of all Grace, Speaks"

Should we be surprised when we pray for God's direction...and He shows up? Should we be surprised when we seek His guidance day after day...and He provides the answer? The question tonight is...why are we surprised? He is a faithful God, faithful to all that He has promised. For hear this, child of God. These words are what He has promised:

“Thus says the LORD who made it, the LORD who formed it to establish it (the LORD is His name): ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’"
Jeremiah 33:3

I believe that I may have mentioned this before, but over the past month I have been doing a study entitled "Discerning the Voice of God" by Priscilla Shirer. What a wonderful privilege it is to dig into the Scripture and study more about my Father God. Over these past few weeks, I have experienced God moving in mighty and beautiful ways. And often, I stand back and say: "Did that really just happen? I prayed for a specific answer...and He responded?" It is almost as if I can hardly fathom that God would choose to answer the requests of this heart of mine. But, He does. Not always in the timing that I think He should or even the answer that I really feel as if I desire...but He always answers.

On the top of my tall, oak dresser sits a special box. On the front it reads: "HOPE Scripture Verse Cards." I simply call it "My Hope Box." More days than not, a card gets drawn
from that box...sometimes more than one a day. And I find myself kneeling on my floor praying whatever verse I have just picked from the box. I can recall countless times where God has specifically allowed a verse to "pop out at me," for lack of better words.

Earlier today, I picked a card and knelt down by my bookcase. I prayed, and then my eyes fell upon these words:

"You, the God of all grace, who called me to Your eternal glory in Christ, after I have suffered a little while, will Yourself restore me and make me strong, firm, and steadfast. (1 Peter 5:10)"

I rose to my feet. Encouraged.

Tonight, I reached beside my bed and pulled out my devotional book entitled "Hope." And then I prayed these words before opening to the page: "Lord, please give me a word of hope tonight. Amen." Turned to this day's devotion and read these beautiful words....again.

"In His kindness God called you to his eternal glory by means of Jesus Christ. After you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation." 1 Peter 5:10

When I read those words, I looked up and thought: "God, You've done it again. Thank you." I thought to myself, "Why should I be surprised?"

He promises to speak to us when we call to Him. And even when we think that He has forgotten...surely He must have forgotten us in our suffering...and even when we are sure that a God like Him could not let one of His own endure a situation like this...He speaks to us a message of hope.

"And I will give you treasures
hidden in the darkness--secret riches.
I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord,
the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name."
Isaiah 45:3

These words from Nancy Guthrie spoke to my heart tonight, and I pray that they will speak to yours, as well. She writes:

"I don't know what scars or wounds following Jesus will leave on your body, on your emotions, or on your soul. But the glory to come will be worth the wounds. Your scars will be cause for celebration. We'll be glad we followed the way of the Cross. One day we'll experience in reality what we now embrace by faith--that suffering is the pathway to glory."

For whatever you may be enduring today, be encouraged to know that He is able "To do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory.." (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Obey His voice (1 John 5:2-3), have faith in His promise (Numbers 23:19), put your hope in His Word (Ps. 119:114).

Prayed for you, tonight. To Him be all glory.

Hannah Grace

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

"I Clear the Path"

This morning I flipped in my mom's book/journal entitled "God Calling" to start this new day with some encouragement. It opened to this page, and I could not help but share this with you. Exactly what I needed to read. Perhaps it is what you need to hear, also.

"Wait on the Lord." Psalm 27:14

"I am thy shield. Have no fear. You must know that 'All is well.' I will never let anyone do to you both, other than My Will for you.

I can see the future. I can read men's hearts. I know better than you what you need. Trust Me absolutely. You are not at the mercy of Fate, or buffeted about by others. You are being led in a very definite way, and others, who do not serve your purpose, are being moved out of your Path by Me.

Never fear, whatever may happen. You are both being led. Do not try to plan. I have planned. You are the builder, not the Architect.

Go very quietly, very gently. All is for the very best for you.

Trust Me for all. Your very extremity will ensure My activity for you. And having your foundation on the Rock--Christ, Faith in Him, and 'being rooted and grounded in Him,' and having belief in My Divinity as your Corner Stone, it is yours to build, knowing all is well.

Literally, you have to depend on Me for everything--everything. It was out of the depths that David cried unto Me, and I heard his voice. All is well."

"The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord." Psalm 37:23

Amen? Wow. What a God!

Clear the path, Lord. I will follow.

Hannah Grace