Jesus, Light of the World {Advent Resource}

Friday, October 24, 2014

Christmas can be a crazy time of the year! A season when we should focus on Christ and His coming can leave us drained and discouraged. All the lights and decorations can blind us to the real Light of the World. This Advent it is my goal to really focus on Him instead of the distractions of the season. This year I will be using a new resource that I am really excited about!


Have you ever prayed God's Word back to Him? When we don't have the words He has already provided them in Scripture.  Candace, over at His Mercy is New, has a plethora of resources on her blog about praying the Scriptures. This Christmas she has a new e-book out on praying the Scriptures through Advent.

The focus for each of the passages that Candace has selected are on light and how Jesus is our light. As I read through the verses she chose I was amazed at how much there really is in God's Word about the subject and how we can apply it to our lives. I love that she picked the conversion story of Saul/Paul to talk about how powerful God's light is in our lives. He has the power to change us like he did Saul. He has the power to work in our circumstances. Advent is about change. Christ's coming changed everything and made it possible for us to change. It is the hope we celebrate this season.

Each day (there are 31 total) you get a passage of Scripture to read, a short devotional, a prayer and a place to write your own prayer using the Scriptures you just read.  I love how Candace has laid it all out.  It can be as simple as reading through and then praying, and yet she also has extras at the beginning of the book. You get links to two Pinterest boards to help you with crafts, educational activities, and home decor related to the study.  There are also two gorgeous printables beautiful enough to frame. Candace also gives a list of ways to expand the study and go deeper.

This e-book would work great as a personal devotional, but it can also be used with kids or with the whole family. If you are looking for a way to focus on Christ this season I would highly recommend Candace's book.

Being Held Together {Verses of Hope}

Ever felt like you were having a hard time holding yourself together? Your life is falling apart and you are right there with it? I am an expert when it comes to not holding it together. A few years back I came across Colossians 1:17, and it gave me such peace! I don't need to hold myself, my circumstances, or my world together. He does that.

Life is not perfect when we keep it all together. In fact, it is in the falling apart that we learn more about who God is and to what lengths He can carry us. My relationship with Him has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years simply because life fell apart. The irony is that while life was falling apart He was slowly making me whole. Knitting me into someone new...tying up my loose ends to create beauty in my life.

Do you feel like your life is falling apart? Are you afraid you will never be able to collect all the pieces to put it back together? Do you think you will always be a scattered mess? He holds all things together and that includes you. Hand over to Him the pieces.  He will know what to do with them.

This post is a part of the series, "Verses of Hope" born out of my need to find hope in the hardness of life. To see all the posts, click here.

When What Happens is Deliverance {Verses of Hope}

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The past can be a scary monster. The one always lurking in the closet of our lives. We would rather avoid than meet him face to face. Our pasts can be filled with hurt, our sin, our mistakes, or our losses. No amount of closing the closet will shut out this monster because we carry it with us. So what do you do with a past less than perfect? How can you have hope when you can't get pass your past?

Your past has the potential to be your ticket out of the closet that holds it. Paul so eloquently wrote long ago that what had happened to him would be his deliverance. I can now say that this verse has so much meaning for me because what has happened to me has actually delivered me. The scary awful pain has brought me to a place of peace. God has delivered me in little ways along the way. He has built up boundaries in my life that I so desperately needed and torn down idols that were impeding a relationship with Him. My fear of man was demolished because of what "man" did to me and the hurt that followed. If I could survive the abuse then there would be nothing to fear in the future.

Such a verse of hope...look back into that closet that houses the scary monster of your past. Has God used it? Has good come out of it? Be looking for the creative ways God takes the pain and brings peace and when He takes the hurt and brings healing. If you are in the midst of the pain and can't see past it hold on to the hope that deliverance will come at some point.  You may be surprised to find that what you thought would only damage you has now delivered you. 

This post is from the series, Verses of Hope. Check out the link for more ways to hold on to hope.

My Times {Verses of Hope}

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

We like to think we are in control. Control of our lives, our schedules, and our relationships. It is only an illusion, but this great farce is probably some of the best news we can receive. Our times are not in our control. We can't truly manipulate our lives into what we want, because we are in God's hands not ours. We can't lay down the worry and let Him take the lead.

Psalm 31:15 is such a comfort for me. I can rest in knowing that whatever happens in my life God has it all under control. There have been many times when life whirls and wars wage in my circumstances and my heart, but God is there holding my "times". And because He is there I can rest in the fact that whatever is pursuing or tormenting me {a hectic schedule, a broken heart, a worn-out body} He will deliver. He doesn't walk out on us when it gets tough. ALL our times are in His hands. We can give up being in charge.

When anxiety strikes I tell myself that "My times are in His hands." He's got this situation. He's got me. He is not about to let go. Are you struggling right now through a specific "time" in life that is less than cheery? Please remember that He has you and this time and will never let you go.

This post is a part of a series called "Verses of Hope".  Do you need a bit of hope? Check out the other verses in the series.

A Spacious Place {Verses of Hope}

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A little over a year ago God led me out into a wilderness. I had been living in a world of pain suffocated by the actions of others. I felt confined and hopeless. I was anxious because of the unhealthy situation I was in. I felt stuck and wanted out. Trapped. Then in the middle of it all, He set me free to move from the unhealthy situation to a whole new world. God had taken me to a "merchab", the Hebrew word for a "spacious place".

There is now freedom. I can breathe and feel safe. I can take the time to heal without the condemning eyes of others watching me. It truly is spacious in the sense that I can move about freely without fear of condemnation. "Merchab" also has a second meaning...freedom from anxiety. The "spacious place" is where we can be free to trust Him and what He is doing in our lives. 

God's aim is always to bring us to a spacious place. To set our feet in freedom. He refuses to hand us over to our enemies whatever or whoever they may be. Basically, He is out for our good even when it is painful. We just need to wait on Him to lead us to that roomy place of freedom.

If you are struggling right now hang on to hope. He will not leave you forever where you feel stuck. Call out to Him. Lean in on Him. Wait on Him. Because God is the Great Mover, and He wants to change your residence to one that has a bit more room.

This post is part of a series called Verse of Hope. Come join me as I explore God's Word and the hope He gives through it.

A Fortress of Hope {Verses of Hope}

Monday, October 20, 2014

I never thought of hope in the terms of a fortress or even a prison, but as I go through the trials of life I realize hope is vital to make it through. There may be a myriad of reasons that we need hope. Life can be so hard...

Bills to pay. Schedules to arrange. Busyness to control. Conflicts to navigate. Grief to heal from. Illness to recover from. Sorrow to process. Tension.  Loss. Heartache.  

How does a person overcome it all? Or forget about just managing the day-by-day so that you don't drown in it all. When we lose hope we walk out of the fortress and the hurt of life can kill us. Better to put up your defenses and surround yourself with hope than to succumb to it all. Hope is like a circling of the wagons, the building of some trenches, or installing of a security system. It protects us from whatever we may come up against.

To give it up is to give up. Defeat is sure to follow.

For me and those of you who have suffered a loss of any type, Zechariah 9:12 tells us why we can have hope. Our God won't leave us in the loss. In fact, he will restore twice as much to us. It doesn't mean he will bring back our deceased love one or even a particular relationship, but it does mean that He will find ways to bring restoration that will outweigh the loss. We can have hope that whatever the loss is He will redeem it.

So today I choose hope as my fortress, my prison. I plan to stay awhile...

This post is part of a series called, Verses of Hope.  Please join me for other scriptures that can maintain your fortress.

Verses of Hope

Friday, October 17, 2014

We all need hope in order to wade through life. There are seasons when we may need it even more. I am in one of those seasons. A few weeks back I went and bought a stack of pretty index cards ringed together. My goal was to collect verses of hope that I could read each morning. 

Life has been a series of losses for so long now that I need an extra dose of hope almost daily. My lifelong fight with depression and anxiety don't make the grieving any easier. I literally have to battle myself to re-frame my negative thinking. Maybe you do, too? Are you suffering? Feeling like life is too hard to be happy? Grieving? Wishing that whatever has become of life was not your reality? I have been there. I AM there on many days. On the tough ones I have to constantly realign my thinking with His. Not easy, but worth it if I am going to make it through.

So starting on Monday I would love to share with you ten of the verses of hope tucked away in my stack of index cards plus a short devotional on each of them. One verse each day over the span of two weeks. My prayer is that you will find hope in His Word even if life is less than perfect, less than good. I am praying for you...even if I don't know your name or your situation...praying that God will give you hope.

Here is a list of the posts. The links won't work until the posts actually go up on the blog...