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Entries in God's care (2)

Thursday
Oct122017

A New Kind of Survival

I’ve followed survivor Kathy Carlton Willis in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. In this special UPLIFT, she shares some insights inspired by Harvey.

Kathy is always finding a way to grin through stinky days. One of her Facebook posts said, “Harvey Schmarvey! Harvey is like the unwanted house guest who doesn’t know when to leave.”

Kathy's example encouraged me (Dawn) in my own recent "storm," and I pray her words will help you too.

Kathy continues . . .

One thing that popped up during Harvey was the use of unintentional puns. It’s as if God wanted to help me keep generating grins despite the devastation surrounding me.

Here are a few of them:

  • I forgot to get vaccinated for cabin fever.
  • This whole area feels a bit like cornflakes sitting in milk too long—soggy.
  • I’m flooded by emails and calls from concerned friends.
  • I’m blown away by how people are helping people.
  • The water to all of Beaumont has been shut off. (Sure, we didn’t want more water, but we meant rain!)
  • I can’t believe the Internet router went out just four hours after our electricity came back on. What? Wasn’t ten days enough time without technology? When it rains, it pours!
  • Russ saw a 4-foot alligator on the road. I wonder if Russ said, “See you later, alligator!”
  • We’ll be playing catch up once the power is back on. We’ll keep calm and power on!

And a serious one:

  • “The sun is coming tomorrow. The Son is here today.”

No Light in Sight

The electricity failed for ten days. Having no air conditioning or fan during the hottest part of Texas summer was most miserable.

It was pitch black without the light. I kept flipping the light switch on, even though I knew the power was out. Darkness is never so dark as when there’s not a spot of light. As I pondered about God in the darkness, I centered my mind’s eye on His light, and a sense of His presence gave me great peace.

Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace. (Luke 1:78-79 NLT)

Grateful for Simple Luxuries

It looked like a war zone all around us, with the army tanks and helicopters. Lines at what few stores opened had a two- to three-hour wait time, with guards at the entrance.

We found a battery-powered fan housed in a dented box at the store. It was the only fan on the shelf. Others assumed it was defective. We inspected it, and decided it was functional. Did God crunch the box so I could have some air movement in my steamy home?

My first hot meal was a McDonald’s breakfast biscuit. I never thought I’d be happy for McD’s, but I prayed the most appreciative meal blessing I’d prayed in a while!

Washing my hands with soap and warm water felt like such a luxury.

Finding a loaf of bread seemed like a small miracle.

Weather the Storm

The only way to weather a storm is to plan ahead for it, do all you can, and then rest in God’s presence as you wait out the worst of it.

And then, as soon as relief is in sight, ask God to show you how He wants to use the trial* for:

  1. His glory
  2. The good of others
  3. Your own personal and spiritual growth

What do you need to do today to be ready for the storm that might hit tomorrow?

* NOTE: Kathy wrote Four Ways to Get through the Storm earlier this year. She practiced her own tips during Hurricane Harvey. Kathy is coordinating an encouragement project to deliver donated gift cards and homemade baked goods to a neighborhood hardest hit by Harvey.

The rest of the story? She was supposed to close on a home in that very neighborhood on September 19th. The home was flooded with 5-7 feet of water and the contract was voided. She says she discovered home isn’t a WHERE, it’s a WHO.

Please continue to pray for Kathy and others you know who have "weathered" a tough storm in recent days. Pray they will not only "survive," but thrive in the Father's care.

Kathy Carlton Willis, God's Grin Gal, shines the light on what holds you back so you can grow. She’s a speaker and author with over a thousand articles online and in print, as well as her Bible study, Grin with GraceShe’s a bi-monthly columnist with CBN and a devotional writer for Todd Starnes. She and her husband Russ live in Texas with Jazzy, their hilarious Boston Terrier.

The photo in the graphic, above, was Kathy's photo of the first sunshine that broke through after Harvey.

Friday
Feb052016

Fenced in by Love (Part 2)

In part 1 of "Fenced in By Love," we saw that God keeps and preserves His own "sheep"--the souls of those who love Him and are in a personal relationship with Him. 

Today, we're considering HOW and WHY God keeps His people.

This is important, because I (Dawn) think there is sometimes a misunderstanding when people think God has forgotten them in their difficulties. The truth is, God is always up to something beyond what we might be able to see or understand.

So let's continue . . .

3. HOW is the the Lord keeping His people?

This goes back to the words "keep" and "preserve." Does being kept by the Lord mean God's people will never suffer? No, it's clear from scripture that believers will suffer (Psalm 6:6-7; Psalm 71:20a).

The harmful effects of the Fall in Genesis 3 will touch all of us this side of heaven. We may suffer persecution and even death. But we can be steadfast in the midst of the most desperate trials (James 1:12; 1 Peter 1:6-9).

The Christian's perspective on suffering is far different from those without the Lord. Instead of fighting the testing process of our circumstances, we can ask for our Father's will to be accomplished, learn to see life's trials as a blessing as we seek His perspective, and ask Him for wisdom to proceed.

We are never left alone in this process. Our Father knows we are weak and this is an uncertain world, and we cannot fully protect ourselves.

He is "watching over the way of His saints" (Proverbs 2:8). I have no doubt, if we could lift the veil between heaven and earth, we would see His care and protection in countless ways: the car that missed hitting us, the poison we missed ingesting, the thief who somehow couldn't find our front door, etc.

Yes, many things do happen to us in this sinful world, but ...

We are proud people indeed if we think we are not in God's constant, loving watchcare.

Back to Psalm 121:7 for a moment. The tense of the word "keep" in that verse includes the future. It means God will keep us both now and forever. He is with us and helping us in our current troubles, and and He will ultimately rescue us from ALL our troubles.

God, in His perfect and loving will, may not rescue us from all our troubles in the here and now, but the Lord has promised protection from our ultimate enemy, sin (Romans 6:14). Sin no longer has the power to enslave us or determine where we will spend eternity, if we are in Christ. But we do have a choice about sin.

In other words, our future is secure in Christ, and no one can snatch us out of our Father's strong hand! (John 10:28-29); but will we trust Christ and live now under His provided protection, or will we go beyond the fence of His love and "sleep with the enemy," giving in to sin's control?

4. WHY is the Lord keeping His people?

Way back in Genesis, God told Jacob, "I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go ... I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you" (Genesis 28:15).

God has always watched over His people, not only because He loves them, but also to accomplish His purposes in and through them.

God absolutely has the ability to deliver His people, but it is not always His will to do so. For example, in His love He may allow a physical trial or some other trouble in order to purify us (James 1:2-3) or to show Himself strong in our declaration of faith (as happened with the patriarch, Job).

Sometimes Christians pay the ultimate price for their identification with Christ and their witness, as did the first Christian martyr, Stephen (Acts 6:8-7:53). God doesn't ask everyone to make the ultimate sacrifice, but He does call us to be faithful soldiers in the battle, wherever that leads us (Ephesians 6:12-20; 1 Peter 3:15).

Romans 8:28-30 explains God's ongoing and ultimate purpose for ALL of His children (the "saints" of verse 27):

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified."

Our Father wants us to be like His Son; and He lovingly, faithfully chisels away anything that doesn't look like Jesus.

So we read these powerful words in verse 31: "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?"

  • It's not that we will escape bodily harm (v. 36)—we may even be called to martyrdom; 
  • but rather, we are "more than conquerors though him who loved us" (v. 37)—we have spiritual and eternal victory in Jesus;
  • and nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God in Jesus, our Lord (vv. 38-39). We are sealed for eternity through the indwelling Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14).

No matter our circumstances, God is watching and involved with eternal purposes for our lives.

We are forever fenced in by God's love!

Are you struggling with a deep problem? How does a fresh perspective on God's purposes for you encourage you today?

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is the creator of three blogs:Heart Choices Today, LOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is the Director of the San Diego chapter of Network of Evangelical Women in Ministry (NEWIM San Diego) and is a contracted researcher for Revive Our Hearts. She and her husband Bob have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

Church graphic adapted from pixabay.com.

Chisel graphic adapted, Image courtesy of bugtiger at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.