October 18, 2017

Blessings Are Better

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The Lord also will be a stronghold for the oppressed.
A stronghold in times of trouble;
And those who know Your name will put their trust in You.
For You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.
Psalms 9:9-10

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“Why isn’t God helping me?”  {We feel like this sometimes, don’t we?}  “I mean, if God was helping me then I’d have food to eat, money to pay bills, a job, a happy marriage…” and the list goes on.  Truth be told, God never promised us rainbows and sunshine.  Jesus Himself said,

“… In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33b

Not something you think you would be hearing from the Creator of the world.  Frankly, I don’t see why He couldn’t have said, “In this world you will have easy times.”  That sounds so much better; but that isn’t what He said. He warned us that things were going to come our way that were not going to be so pleasant in nature.

This doesn’t mean that we are meant to just lay down and take every trouble that comes our way.  God is a good God; by His nature, He cannot do bad things.  There are very logical reasons as to why some things happen.  If you don’t eat right and exercise, you are going to gain weight and that weight gain left unchecked can cause health problems.  God didn’t give you those health problems…this all started back when you decided not to make the right choices.  If you decide not to go to sleep on time at night and your work performance slips and you end up getting fired, God didn’t take your job from you, you chose to make poor decisions.  These examples have results—they are called “consequences.”

I believe that God can make anything right.  As long as we go to His Word, turn from our ways, and do things His way.  If we are willing to learn the better way, God will show us a better way.

For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds.
And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
Matthew 7:8

Here’s a thought: instead of asking God to give you money, why not ask Him to show you how to biblically manage your money so that you are better equipped to avoid money shortage situations.  Here’s another thought: instead of asking God for a better job, why not ask Him to show you how to appreciate the one you have.  My pastor told us that miracles are nice, but blessings are better.  At first I didn’t get it, but he explained that miracles go against natural happenings.  You know…the impossible.  Blessings go with natural happenings, i.e., blessed with a promotion for your great work or money in savings because you managed it correctly.

So, are you asking God to do all the work? Or are you willing to do your part?
God loves to help.

Sure As The Sun Will Rise

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There is good news
There is good truth
That you could never change
No matter what you do
You are loved
More than you know
More than you could hope for
After everything you’ve done

As sure as the sun will rise
And takes away the night
His mercy will not end
His mercy will not end

There is good news
There’s a promise
That no matter where you go
You will never be alone
In the dark
In the doubting
When you can’t feel anything
Oh, His love remains the same

Even through the night
Silver stars will shine
Hope of glory’s light
That will wake us once again

singer/songwriter – Ellie Holcomb
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The premise of this song is truly something we don’t ever worry about, right?  Oh, we have our worries about other things…I hear you!  But not this—not the rising of the sun.  We just KNOW it will be there when we awaken each and every morning.  And as assuredly as we stake our trust and confidence on God’s faithfulness to His plan for each new day, we should be equally as positive of His mercy and love.  Perhaps when we are ensnared in doubt we could remind ourselves, “See…look! The sun came up this morning! And just like that, God will faithfully provide mercy and lovingkindness today!”

Let us acknowledge the Lord;
let us press on to acknowledge Him.
As surely as the sun rises, He will appear;
He will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth.
Hosea 6:3

There is a promise in chapter 3 of the Book of Lamentations that I cling to every day of my life…may I share it with you?

But this I recall and therefore have I hope and expectation:
It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed,
because His [tender] compassions fail not.
They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness.
Verses 21-23

Some days it is difficult, seemingly near-to-impossible sometimes, to be hopeful and have joyful expectations.  The world we live in is full of things that snatch away our dreams and desires; tempting us to feel futile and overwhelmed.  But, Jesus assured His disciples (and us!) of the peace and hope we have been given.  And so we endeavor to hold this Truth firm in our thinking knowing that Jesus spoke it and so it IS the Truth.

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

At times when my heart is needful of being reminded that “as sure as the sun will rise and take away the night…” I confess the following promises made by our faithful, loving, compassionate, merciful Father (recorded in Jeremiah chapter 29).  And I recite it like this…

For I know the thoughts and plans that <You> have for <me>…thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give <me> hope in <the> final outcome.
Then <i> will call upon <You>, and <i> will come and pray to <You>, and <You> will hear and heed <me>.
Then <i> will seek <You>, inquire for, and require <You> and find <You> when <i> search for <You> with all <my> heart.
<You> will be found by <me>….

Jeremiah 29:11-14 AMP (pronouns changed)

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Here are some additional verses from the Scriptures to persistently hang onto. I pray that you will be encouraged by each one of them as You remember Who has made the promises—the same One Who causes the sun to rise each and every morning—Almighty God, our heavenly Father.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.
Hebrews10:23

I wait for the Lord, I expectantly wait, and in His word do I hope.
Psalm 130:5

God is not human, that He should lie,
not a human being, that He should change His mind.
Does He speak and then not act?
Does He promise and not fulfill?
Numbers 23:19

Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid or terrified because of them,
for the Lord your God goes with you;
He will never leave you nor forsake you.
The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you;
He will never leave you nor forsake you.
Do not be afraid; do not  be discouraged.
Deuteronomy 31:6 and 8

Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of His purpose
very clear to the heirs of what was promised,
He confirmed it with an oath.
God did this so that,
by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie,
we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us
may be greatly encouraged.
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul….
Hebrews 6:17-19

Whatever You’re Doing

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It’s time for healing time to move on
It’s time to fix what’s been broken too long
Time to make right what has been wrong
It’s time to find my way to where I belong
There’s a wave that’s crashing over me
All I can do is surrender

Whatever you’re doing inside of me
It feels like chaos somehow there’s peace
It’s hard to surrender to what I can’t see
but I’m giving in to something heavenly

Time for a milestone
Time to begin again
Revaluate who I really am
Am I doing everything to follow your will
or just climbing aimlessly over these hills
So show me what it is you want from me
I give everything I surrender

Time to face up
Clean this old house
Time to breathe in and let everything out
That I’ve wanted to say for so many years
Time to to release all my held back tears

Singer/Songwriters ~~ Sanctus Real
(D. Gartley, M. Hammitt, M. Graalman, C.Rohman, P. Prevost)

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How many times do I have to remind myself to just breathe.  The world can be a really hard place and sometimes things are thrown at us when we are not ready.  How would I react if I actually expected it?  What if you knew that a person was about to shove you while you were standing in line? If you didn’t see it coming, you would stumble. If you saw it coming and  were prepared, you would stand firm where you were, feet planted.

God tells us that we will have trouble and hardships and chaos in our lives. And He has given us a way to prepare ourselves—His Word.  The Bible gives us direction and guidance in every situation.  We can read how David lived and defeated a giant with a stone and slingshot.  We can see how Jonah ran from God and yet God sought him and went to all the trouble to have him swallowed by a fish.  He really needed Jonah to spread the Good News to a specific city.  And then there’s Gideon who doubted that he could do anything, even with God proving over and over to him that he was really equipped to defeat his enemies.  And the list goes on and on….  Each one of these men went on to do great things. Because they didn’t let it defeat them.

The chaos going on in your life is also creating something beautiful and heavenly.  God wastes nothing…no hardship, no affliction. He makes something good out of the hard things that we just knew would be the end of us.  It is time for healing, dear friend.  And the only way that can happen is to totally surrender to Him and His will for you…whatever that may be. Are you ready?

I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart, I have overcome the world.
John 16:33

Seek the Lord while He can be found: call upon Him while He is near.
Isaiah 55:6

And God is able to bless you abundantly,
so that in all things at all times, having all you need,
you will abound in every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:8

When times are good, be joyful; when times are bad, consider this:
God made the one as well as the other,
so people won’t seek anything outside of His best.
Ecclesiastes 7:14 ISV

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Let us pray:
Dear Lord, You are mighty and awesome.  Your name is to be exalted above all!  Your love knows no end and we are so blessed to be Your children.  Oh, Lord, it is time to surrender, clean house, and let You take control of our lives.  What may seem like chaos may just be the beginning of a change that was so needed and You are to be praised for it all.  Lord God, thank You for Your precious Word!  A Light in this dark world and a Guide to make it through it all.  May we turn to You and be patient and just breathe.  Knowing that all will be well…because in Him, all IS well!  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Take Heart

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There is a Light
It burns brighter than the sun
He steals the night
And casts no shadow
There is Hope
Should oceans rise and mountains fall
He never fails

So take heart
Let His love lead us through the night
Hold on to hope
And take courage again

In death by love
The fallen world was overcome
He wears the scars of our freedom
In His Name
All our fears are swept away
He never fails

All our troubles
And all our tears
God our Hope
He has overcome
All our failures
And all our fear
God our Love
He has overcome
All our heartache
And all our pain
God our Healer
He has overcome
All our burdens
And all our shame
God our Freedom
He has overcome
All our troubles
And all our tears
God our Hope
He has overcome
All our failures
And all our fear
God our Love
He has overcome
God our Justice
God our Grace
God our Freedom
He has overcome
God our Refuge
God our Strength
God is with us
He has overcome

Songwriter: Joel Houston ~~  Hillsong United

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Oh, how I love His promises.  They comfort us in all situations.  Whether you need healing physically or you need chains to be broken—He is always the answer.  There is no burden too heavy that He can’t carry it for you.

If there is one thing we know for sure it is that this world is changing daily (and not always for the better).  There is so much hurt and anger, there are so many lost people trying to find an answer and searching for a little hope.  But we as Jesus’ followers know that Hope—and His name is Jesus.  He never changes and He never fails.  He is our strength and He is our refuge in times of trouble.  And He is that Light in the midst of this dark world.

God is just so full of grace and mercy, and so much love.  Every fear and every failure, He has already conquered it for us.  He has overcome this world.  And to prove to us just how much He loves us, He sent Jesus, His only Son, to die for us so that we can live in Heaven forever with Him.  In His hands, He bears the scars of the nails and every sin that we would ever commit hung on that cross that day.  Do you realize that we are free?

What do you need freedom from today?  If you have  just a little faith, He can move that mountain in front of you.   He can break the chains of addictions.  He can take anger away. He can give peace to the one who suffers from anxiety…and grace and mercy to the one who can’t forgive himself.  I pray as you listen to this worship song that you will let His love wash over you.  I pray that you feel loved because you are.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me.
Here on this earth you will have many trials and sorrows.
But take heart, because I have overcome the world.
John 16:33

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Hebrews 13:8

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Let us pray:
Dearest Lord, You are so awesome and amazing!  You are our Portion and Strong Tower in this shifting world.  Thank You for taking our burdens and giving us peace. Thank You for the grace and love You give so freely. You have overcome and You give us strength.  May we take this light that You give us and share it with all who will listen.  You are good, You are God, and You are still on the throne.  We love You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

The Forever Gift

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Peace I leave you, My peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27

Boxes and paper, bows and bags…now empty and gifts put away. Stockings no longer hang over the fireplace…they too have been emptied. Is that sometimes how you feel  when this excitement is over—empty?  We stress and shop, make list after list, and bake and wrap; all while playing our favorite Christmas carols. Now it’s over, but does it have to be?

The magic of Christmas is always ours if we love Jesus and seek Him.  He is our Gift of salvation and forgiveness and grace.  He, Who was held on that holy day, holds us today. He walked this earth, healing the sick , feeding the poor and loving the least of these. He went through it all so that we could have a perfect example of how to live and how to love. To forgive always and love everyone. We become the gift to others that He came to be to us.

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart!
I have overcome the world.
John 16:33

See?  He left us peace in the midst of this hard, dark world.  He left us joy in the midst of turmoil. And oh! how He loves you and me!  The world gave Him such a hard time, and it doesn’t leave us untouched either. But what will we do with it? After all Jesus went through, we owe Him so much. All He asks is that we let Him be Lord of our lives. And to spread hope to this dying world. And because we have His Spirit, we can do His work.

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity,
but one of power, love, and self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7

And if you put Him before everything, your life will be so much more than you can ever imagine. Every decision you make will be guided by Him and all your days will be ordained by Him. His favor will be all over your life and the joy you will experience will overwhelm you. When your feet hit the floor, hit your knees and ask Him to empty you of yourself and to fill you up with all of Him.

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And the most wonderful gift of all?  We will forever live with Him after this life!  God’s Son, born to die, to save us, His children. Can you wrap your mind around that?  That someone loves you that much? Well, God does!

Do you know Him? If the answer is no, then I urge you to pause today and still your mind and heart and pray this prayer with me:

Dear God, I know I am a sinner. I need forgiveness. I believe that You are God and Jesus is Your Son. You sent Him to die in my place so that my sins will be forgiven. Thank You for loving me in spite of myself. And thank You for grace. Come into my heart today and be my Lord, to walk with me through it all. In Jesus’ name, amen.

I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day

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I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet their songs repeat
Of peace on earth good will to men

And the bells are ringing (Peace on Earth)
Like a choir they’re singing (Peace on Earth)
In my heart I hear them
Peace on earth, good will to men

And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men

Then rang the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep (Peace on Earth, peace on Earth)
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men

Then ringing singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men

Do you hear the bells they’re ringing (Peace on Earth)
The life the angels singing (Peace on Earth)
Open up your heart and hear them (Peace on Earth)
Peace on earth, good will to men
Peace on earth, Peace on earth
Peace on earth, good will to men

Original hymn: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (lyrics) and John Calkin (music)
Casting Crowns version includes lyrics&music by Mark Hall, Bernie Herms, and Dale Oliver

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In today’s day and age it can be easy to get discouraged with all the things we see around us.  We have to decide if we are going to focus on all the stuff surrounding us or CHOOSE to look at the good.

I love the lyric ‘Do you hear the bells they’re ringing?  I think of this every time I walk out of the apartment where I live now.  When I go outside every so often I can hear the faint sound of church bells ringing from the church close to where I live.  In today’s world with all the evil around us it would seem that you have to intentionally listen for the still, small voice of God in the midst of it.  This does not mean that God has stopped working.  He is still there.  He is a gentlemen.  It is up to us to be looking for Him.  Are we listening?

But Jesus replied, “My Father is always working, and so am I.
John 5:17 NLT

The key to peace in this world is the peace that can only be found in Him.  Jesus said…

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me.
Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.
But take heart, because I have overcome the world.
John 16:33 NLT

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Heavenly Father, thank You that You never stop working and that no matter what is happening in our personal lives or in the world around us Your good plan will always prevail.  In Jesus’ name, AMEN!!!

Prince of Peace

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For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given;
and the government shall be upon His shoulder,
and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father [of Eternity], Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6 AMP

Glory to God in the highest [heaven],
and on earth peace among men
with whom He is well pleased [men of goodwill, of His favor].
Luke 2:14 AMP

Peace can be very elusive this time of year.  In some ways this has been a rough year for us—we lost our darling granddaughter five days after her birth.  This time of year is particularly hard.  Perhaps you, too, have suffered the death of a loved one or a major loss…loss of a relationship, job, home.

Maybe stress is stealing your peace right now.  {I must admit I have let a little stress sneak in as well.}  Our daughters live in other states so we don’t get to spend as much time with them as we would like.  However, they will be coming here after Christmas.  I want to have the perfect gifts for them.  I want to make wonderful memories while they are here.  And that gets me a little frantic and a bit stressed out. When the cares of this world weigh me down Romans 8:6 reminds me that,

For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace

So, how do we have this peace that seems so elusive?  The peace Romans 8:6 refers to comes only from Christ and passes all understanding.  There are so many wonderful scriptures that reiterate this.  Take a minute to read through these slowly and carefully.  And let their meaning sink deep into your heart and mind.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep,
For You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.
Psalm 4:8 NASB

The Lord gives His people strength; the Lord blesses His people with peace.
Psalm 29:11 HCSB

You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace
Isaiah 26:3 HCSB

…The chastisement {punishment} [needful to obtain] peace
and well-being for us was upon Him,
and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.
Isaiah 53:5b AMP

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart.
And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.
So don’t be troubled or afraid.”
John 14:27 NLT

In John 16:33 (HCSB) Jesus tells us “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace.  You will have suffering in this world.  Be courageous!  I have conquered the world.”  As I was writing this, the words of a Castings Crowns song came to mind – “It’s all because of the blood of Jesus Christ!”  Truth!  We cannot do it alone.

Christ IS our Prince of Peace.  His birth was a step towards peace.  He came voluntarily, knowing what lay ahead of Him.  I do not want to be guilty of rejecting His gift that cost so much.

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Today, I would like to leave you with Philippians 4:7 as my prayer because God puts it much more eloquently than I can.

Dear Lord, please let Your peace, which surpasses all comprehension, guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen – It Is So!

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May the Lord turn His face toward you
and give you peace this Christmas season and all year long.
2 Thessalonians 3:16

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 1:2

Season of Gratitude

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But thanks be to God!
He gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:57

‘Tis the season to be grateful.  All around are commercials about gifts and then there’s the occasional “I want that!”  We stress and we try to figure out where the money will come from to buy these gifts and think that ‘if we had just kept Christmas about His birthday’ there would be more joy.  So today, as we enter into this season, may we focus on just being grateful for the gifts that He has already given us.

See, before the Christmas tree, there was a Baby.  He was born in a manger, made of wood from a tree, and He was surrounded by His parents and the animals of the barn.  His coming is the greatest gift of all.  That little tiny Baby would grow up to take the big sins of all the world and nail them to the cross with Him.  He would die and rise again, and then ascend to Heaven to prepare our home.  And while we are in this place…as we wait for His second coming…we count all the ways that He loves us.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His love endures forever.
1 Chronicles 16:34

And because of this love, we have a joy that goes beyond circumstances.  Just sitting in His presence brings a warm feeling and so much love for Him.  He doesn’t promise a life without heartache and trouble, but He does promise that He would go before us and with us through it all.

I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart, I have overcome the world.
John 16:33

“For everyone born of God overcomes the world.
This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
1 John 5:41

Then comes a peace that passes all understanding.  In horrible sickness and trials, we can rest easy knowing that He has it and will carry it for us.  He is able and He will make a way for us.  When the way seems so dark that you cannot see to take the next step, trust His hand to guide you.

Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it.
Genesis 28:16

He is with you and that is the best gift of all, and definitely something to be grateful for.  So as Thanksgiving approaches,  I encourage you to look for the gifts that right now are all around you.  And find something each day to be grateful for. It is the season of lists; so, instead of making lists of things wanted, make lists of things that you already have and make sure you thank the Giver for it all.  He is such a good God and all He gives is good.  So today we praise Him for all the many blessings and those to come…and for Jesus Christ, His Son, who came to save us all from everything we will ever do and all the sins we have committed.  To give grace freely even though we haven’t earned any.  These are the best gifts to start with, things to be grateful for, on the top of your list!

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Do you know this God…the Creator of this whole world and the Creator of you? Oh friend, you need Him and all you have to do is ask Him to come into your life and all will be changed. Pray this prayer with me:

Dear God, I know that I am a sinner.  I am in need of a Savior.  I believe that You sent Your Son to die for my sins so that I am forgiven.  I will live eternally with You.  Come into my heart and be my Lord.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

 

 

Just A Reminder

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Answer me when I call to you,
O God, Who declares me innocent.
Free me from my troubles.
Have mercy on me and hear my prayer.
Psalm 4:1

I almost get the feeling that the psalmist is trying to rush God in Psalm 4:1.  In my mind, I picture God just shaking His head thinking, “Rest, my child. I see your troubles and I have handled them.”  Then again, the psalmist could just be making a sincere plea to God for Him to answer the prayer.  Regardless of how I decide to perceive this verse, I feel the Lord’s verbal response would be the same—Rest!

Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
Matthew 11:28-30

This verse says that if you come to the Lord, He will give you rest. So, take your request to Him and then rest. {Do not forget about the resting part!}

And don’t forget this:

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
John 16:33

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Lord, help me take my requests to You and then to rest.  Thank You for the ability to rest in the midst of troubles, knowing that I am adequately taken care of.  Amen.

Busted Heart

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Winter has come back again
Feels like the season won’t end
My faith is tired tonight
And I won’t try to pretend
I’ve got it all figured out
That I don’t have any doubts
I’ve got a busted heart
I need You now
Yeah I need You now

Hold on to me
Hold on to me
Don’t let me lose my way
Hold on to me

I am the wandering son
Enough is never enough
I keep chasing the wind
Instead of chasing Your love
I’m screaming out Your name,
Don’t let me fall on my face
I’ve got a busted heart
I’m in need of a change
Yeah, I’m desperate for grace

Broke Your heart a thousand times
But You’ve never left my side
You have always been here for me
You never let me go
You never let me go
Don’t ever let me go

Winter will come to an end
Soon the season will end
I surrender tonight
You meet me right where I am

 

For King&Country (Joel and Luke Smallbone) along with Ben Glover, Jenna Torres

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Are you in a season where you are tired, weary…and ready to give up?  I am in that very season right now.  Maybe you can relate…the season when life is coming at you in all directions and the darkness is closing in and it is hard to see the light….

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28 NLT

When the unexpected things happen and life starts closing in and it is hard to find our way that is the very moment when we need to run BOLDLY to the throne of Grace.

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence,
so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Hebrews 4:15 NIV

He is always there waiting with open arms to meet us right where we are at.

So be strong and courageous!
Do not be afraid and do not panic before them.
For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you.
He will neither fail you nor abandon you.
Deuteronomy 31: 6 NLT

Life is hard and unexpected things in life will happen. He is our Strength. We only need to put our hope and trust in Him and not the things of this world.

These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace.
In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
John 16:33 KJV

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Heavenly Father, thank You for Your grace and mercy in our time of need.  Thank You that when we are about to lose our way and our faith is tired you meet us right where we are at.  Thank You, Lord, for holding on to us and never letting me go. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!!!