August 25, 2011

I.R.E.N.E. ~ What's in a Name?

Ahead of Irene, classes cancelled, some students told to leave campus
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me: for my soul trusts in you: yes, in the shadow of your wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.
Psalm 57:1
After I posted this, the Lord began to remind me of how some named tropical storms are SO BAD that we retire them. No more will we have to endure a storm with the same name again, just due to the devastation that particular storm brought. I wonder, too, for us, if He allows some storms to be so bad, and the devastation is so destructive, that we will never have to endure another one of the same "name" again. Of course, HE helps us to recover from it in His time, but we don't walk away from it without a respect for what we learned from that particular named-storm.  And at the sound of that name, we remember it's effects all over again.  (Hopefully to remind us of the lessons He taught us from it.)

What storm am I going through spiritually? What's its name? Hmmmm.
Good one to think about.

***Another Update*** (Aug. 26, 2011)  
Thank you Lidj, from Crown of Beauty, for pointing out something very special.  The name Irene means, "Peace."    WOW!  As we await the arrival of Irene, I will think of how Irene means "Peace."  Seems like the LORD is driving home a lesson:  Peace in the midst of the storm! Sending a hug to you, Lidj!  :)  All the way from the Hampton Roads, Virginia USA area!  :)                                    
Just a quick update.   Our area (Hampton Roads) is watching Irene's path closely...  Hurricane Isabel left the Hampton Roads area with bad memories!!   And we do not want to see another storm like Isabel (or worse) come through here.   However, according to the latest track models, they have Irene's eye going right over top of Virginia Beach.   Isabel formed another "inlet" on the Outer Banks. . . and I have to wonder what in the world Irene will do if it stays on the forcasted track.  ??

Anyway, we were without power for nine days when Isabel came...and hopefully and prayerfully we will not have to endure the same type scenario.

One thing is for surenothing is certain.  I can watch the meteorlogists' reports, and with each passing hour I get this strange feeling that we'll never really know what track it's going to actually take 'til it's basically over top of us.  Best thing we can do is Pray and Prepare. . and then when I look at Psalm 71:14, "But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise You more and more." ... that makes me want to add one more word:  "Praise."  So . . . guess we can Pray, Prepare and Praise... for only God knows which way He'll steer Irene. 

And if the storm churns up the sea along the entire Atlantic coastline, it helps to remember that He's allowing it all for a reason.  

When Jesus was walking on the stormy sea, and called out to the disciples to "not be afraid," Peter replied, "If it IS You, tell me to come to You."   What faith Peter expressed!   Would we have faith enough to ask Him Who is walking on the stormy sea, to invite US to step out of our vessel (Step out of ourselves, our strength, and our comfort zones) and WALK ON the "STORMY IMPOSSIBLE" in victory with HIM?   Whew.  That's some faith!   I take comfort in the fact that Peter did step out and walk on that water in Victory With Jesus.  And even though Peter quickly shifted from  the "naturally impossible" *(walking on water) to the "naturally expected" (sinking), Jesus allowed him to experience the impossible-with-man, but POSSIBLE-With-GOD.  This is a testimony for US to glean a lesson! 
After sinking into the stormy sea, Jesus lifted Peter up and he climbed back in the boat... and others worshipped the LORD.  I wonder what Peter would have named that storm?  Thinking of names, it's rather ironic to note that Peter's name means "Rock."  Petras.  From a human standpoint, if I throw a rock into water, it's going to sink.  But, Jesus allowed Peter to do the humanly impossible:  WALK on water. . Peter stayed afloat, all because of Jesus.  

No matter what we go through, and even if we feel like we've fallen and failed due to a "sinking-faith-moment," Jesus can still redeem our failures and turn them into victories and bring God glory through them.

What relief!

Thank You, Jesus!!   Each of us has a "Named Storm" that we are enduring.  Sometimes the storm is such a devastating one that once it's passed, we'll never go through another one with its name!  Even though that storm may be "behind us" and its name "retired," help us to remember the lessons we learned during that storm, so that at the very sound of its name, we remember how You used it to teach us valuable lessons and bring us closer to You.   We believe You will keep us safe during our storms, and even if we do lose faith for a brief moment, please redeem it, and receive all the glory and praise!  In Your Name, Amen.

August 23, 2011

Quakes and Storms

For You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.  Psalm 4:8

Today was a rather unusual day for us.  At the eye doctor for my daughter, and while she was being tested, I was sitting nearby. . . all of a sudden, I heard this "sound;" at the same time, the building began to shake, and I began to feel like I was sitting on a freight train, barreling down a track.  At first it reminded me of when Hurricane Isabel was roaring through here, in 2003.  With the news and focus on Hurricane Irene which may make landfall near the Outer Banks and then come through our area, my mind was already on the idea of a hurricane coming through.  So as I heard the sound, and felt the shaking of the building, my eyes went directly to the window and saw the bright blue sky.  That's when I realized this was no major wind/storm event, but rather an earthquake.  That's just something that doesn't happen around here y'all.  "Bizarre" was the only word I could think of. 

Immediately I picked up my cell phone to check in with my cell phone coverage. . . for a long time.   In fact, no one in the building had coverage, regardless of who their cell phone company was.

Seems like as soon as something earth-shaking happens, we automatically turn to our phones and call our loved ones, to check on them, or to reach out and find out what is going on.  And in times like this, it seems that "all circuits are busy" for quite some time, and we can't "get through."

With all eyes on Irene, and as we face uncertain times, we need to remember Who makes us to dwell in safety.  It's rather ironic how my physical life today seems to mimic my spiritual:  unexpectedly shaky, and another big storm on the horizon. 

As I glanced at my little perpectual calendar here, and read the "thought for the day," it was appropriate, so I thought I'd share it here.

"God's presence stands between
the turmoil of the world and my spirit. 
His peace is my safe harbor in the storm."  
B.J. Hoff

I'm so thankful that when I'm shaken by the storms and quakes in life, I can reach out to my Heavenly Father, Who knows all things, and I will never have to worry if I'll "get through" to Him.  In fact, not only can I be assured that I'll get through, I can find assurance in knowing that He is with me in the midst of the storm.

The LORD your God in your midst,  
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”
Thank You, Father, for keeping us safe today, and please have Your will regarding the storm that is churning out at sea.  I remember how Jesus had "constrained" the disciples to get into the boat, and He knew that there was a huge storm awaiting them.  He had just done the miracle of feeding the 5000, and they had witnessed Him doing that.  Yet, in the first big storm after that, as He began to walk towards them, on that stormy sea, they not only didn't recognize Him, they feared He was a ghost.  I can understand how they felt.  At least Peter had the courage to call out to Jesus and say, "if it is You, tell me to come to You."  And Peter did step out of that boat.  The others remained in the boat.  Of course, like Peter, I take my eyes off of Your Son, and look at my surrounding circumstances, and then I sink.  I can hear Jesus whisper, "Why do you have such small faith?"  Oh Father, please forgive me for how quickly my faith can be rattled, and allow Your Son to pick me up; and if He chooses to put me back in the boat, may others see that He is Who He says He is, and may they bring Him glory too, just like the disciples did when Peter climbed back in the boat.  In Jesus' Name, Amen. 

August 18, 2011

Overcoming in this World

This is a note for anyone who may find that the storms of life are overtaking them. . .that the waves crash, one right on top of another, without any reprieve.  There seems to be "no rest for the weary."  This is for anyone who has ever felt like they could just use ONE DAY with good news. . .one moment in time where there was peace from the ongoing storms of life. 

When everything seems to be so discouraging, remember Jesus said, "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)

He says "IN HIM" we may have peace.  "Abiding in HIM" (and "He in me") is the way for me to experience peace in my storms.  God's Word tells us that Jesus is the Prince of Peace.  To be a prince, a male must be born to the royal family of that particular country.  He inherits the title Prince, by birth, and the country is what He is the "prince of."  Peace.  Jesus is the Prince of Peace.  He IS peace.  And He is the ONLY ONE Who can speak Peace to our storms.  Wait a minute!  He is the Only One Who can come IN the MIDST of our storms, and set up His kingdom and "reign" down His Peace to our hearts.   

The Prince of Peace, Jesus, tells us that He has overcome The World.  The World of worry, the World of fear, the World of meanness, the World of selfishness, the World of pride, the World of self-righteousness, the World of greed...the World of SIN

He also tells us, in Revelation 3:21 "To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne."  Go back and substitute YOUR name where the words "TO HIM" are.  "To Tammi, who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with ME on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on His throne." 

Take heart, dear friends.  In this world, this world filled with sinful, fallen mankind, we will have trouble.  It's just inevitable.  But because HE OVERCAME every single sin that mankind is capable of committing, (and will commit) we too can overcome our storms ~ the storms that are either caused by others' sinful natures, our own sinful mistakes OR they are sent by our Father, Who, motivated by His love for us, sends them in order to purify us.

God allows these storms to strengthen us, and "agitate" us--- like the washing machine.  If it weren't for that agitator, the clothes would just sit in that soapy water, and soak.  They have to be agitated in order for the grime and dirt to be "knocked loose." 

God knows what He is doing.  He knows what He is after when He allows these storms and trials to come, sometimes one right after another. . . but He has promised that they will not overtake us.  

Father, Thank You so much for encouraging my heart in the midst of the Storms of Life.  And when I look at the initials of those three words, I see S.O.L.  That reminds me of the "Standards of Learning" that our children have to take at the end of each school year.  What am I learning in the midst of my storms of life?  Am I making the grade?  Am I becoming more like Your dear Son?  Or is there a lesson that You have to keep bringing me to, because I just do not learn the lesson?  What could it be that I am missing?  Please open my eyes, through the power of Your Holy Spirit.  Thank You for Your patience, Your long suffering, and tender loving care.  And for Your Faithfulness. 
In Jesus' Name...Amen.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  Isaiah 43:2

August 11, 2011

Lessons from the 'Midst of Trouble'

"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me.  You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies and Your right hand will save me."   Psalm 138:7

This was the verse God led me to write down on an index card for today.  As soon as I saw it I thought, "Uh oh.  In the midst of trouble...?  That doesn't sound good.  Will there ever be a day when I do not have to walk in the midst of trouble on this earth?" 

As I reflect on the events of the day, yes, I can see how God is good, and His Word was just what I'd need.  He was good to have given me that scripture to cling to throughout the day.  A few things He has pointed out to me from that scripture are:

Though I am "walking in the midst of trouble...."  Sometimes we feel like we're surrounded by trouble, and this word "trouble" means "Affliction, distress, adversity, anguish, tribulation."   It's very difficult and exhausting to STAND UP, much less WALK in the midst of affliction, distress, anguish, tribulation and adversity, isn't it?  But here we see God has promised that even though we are walking in the midst of trouble, HE will revive us.  He will revive our exhausted spirit as we strive to keep walking with Him, even in our storms. 

What if our storms are caused by an enemy that could be compared to a fire breathing dragon?  An angry person whose behavior is irrational?  God says He will stretch out His hand against the wrath of our enemies.  I noticed something in this verse though.  It doesn't say He will stretch out His hand against our enemies, but instead, against their wrath. . their anger. . .the fire that they are spewing out.  Psalm 76:10 says  Surely the wrath of man shall praise you: the remainder of wrath shall you restrain.  God can use even the very wrath and anger of man to bring Himself glory.  "...the sins of the wicked are made an occasion for the display of the divine perfections in maintaining law; in the administering of justice; in preserving order. But there is another sense, also, in which the wrath of man is made the occasion for glorifying God. It is, that since there is such wrath, or since there are such wicked purposes, God makes use of that wrath, or of those wicked purposes, as he does of the powers of nature - of pestilence, disease, and storms, as instruments to accomplish his own designs, or to bring about great results...." (Barnes' Notes on the Bible

And it's good to note that He says, "The remainder of that wrath He will refrain."  The leftovers that He doesn't use for His glory, well, He'll just bind it up...and the wrath of our enemies can do us no harm.  It's like having a barking dog on a short chain.  The dog can snarl and bark for ever how long it wants to, but as long as it's bound by that chain, it can do us no harm, providing we are not within its reach.

And the last part of today's verse:  His right hand will save us.  What a picture!  Who is seated at the Father's right hand?  None other than our Savior-- Jesus!   So God wants us to understand that He will spare no expense or strength to save (deliver) us from our enemy.  And He has SPARED NO expense, because He gave us His Son, Who gave His life as the payment for OUR SIN.  Jesus saves!  AND He will deliver you and me from whatever our enemy spews out at us each day. 

Just remember though, we've got to keep walking. :o)

Father, I needed this verse today.  Thank You for this lesson from Your Word.  Apply this Word to my heart like an ointment, that will heal and strengthen me.  Thank You for Your precious promises!  I claim this one tonight, and pray for my fellow sisters and brothers out there who may be walking in the midst of trouble.  Stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of our enemy, who is Satan... and we thank You for the promise that Jesus, Who is at Your right hand, will deliver us!  In His name I pray, Amen.

August 8, 2011

Food for Thought

This morning I felt led to write two verses on 3x5 cards.  Just wanted to share them with you too.  Little did I know just how much they would mean to my heart at the end of the day. 

Be ye doers of the Word, not just hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22  Ironic how easy it was for me to read the following words of wisdom found in Proverbs this morning and think "Wow, that's good advice."  But the first time someone did a "wrong against me," how quickly my flesh became offended, hurt, wanted to defend or fight back.   I  had completely forgotten the Word of Advice the LORD had given to me this morning. 

Now that I look back, I can see myself, as a little child running to my Heavenly Father ~ not seeking "to tattle," but to find His wisdom while trying to swallow the lump in my throat, and have Him dry my eyes.  In the midst of my prayer, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the two verses He led me to write on those cards many hours ago at the start of my day.  And He also reminded me of just how unlovely I am apart from Him.  That's when I found the ground to be level at the foot of the cross.

Hope these will bless you too:

A wise person is P A T I E N T .  He will be HONORED if he IGNORES a wrong done against him.  Proverbs 19:11 

From this, we can gather a promise from GOD.  God has promised to honor us if we ignore a wrong done against us.  How can we do this?  Oh...I'm so glad you asked! :o)  God is able to make all grace abound to us.  II Cor. 9:8  And sometimes that's exactly what it's going to take: GOD's grace!

Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.  Proverbs 17:1

Feeling slighted?  It would be wise to patiently ignore this offense, and gracefully "take the dry crust given to us"  while remaining peaceful and quiet instead of demanding to be heard and having an over-abundance of material things.

Thank You, Father, for loving me, and for prompting me to come to YOU in my time of need. How easy it would be to pick up the phone and call a friend and "V E N T," but this is not what You want.  You want us to come to You just as soon as we feel the need, just like a child would run to its mother when it falls down and gets hurt.  We should just automatically RUN TO YOU in our time of need, so that You can make all grace abound to us.
Thank You for your patience with me. . and this is an understatement!  In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen.

August 4, 2011

Confidence in Prayer

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:   And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.  I John 5:14-15


Just wanted to share a little note or "formula" that I jotted down to add to my 3 by 5 cards of special verses.  It has to do with the verses above.

CONFIDENCE       IN HIM                    ASK
*No doubts               *through Jesus only             *According to His will
                               *nothing that I can do
                                 on my own  

                               HE HEARS US

We will have the things we have asked for, as long as the above mentioned conditions are met.  Have confidence, that leaves absolutely NO ROOM for doubt in GOD!   Realize that you and I must come to our Heavenly Father through Jesus.  Imagine us being wrapped up in Jesus, and we can boldly come to God because of Jesus' redemption power surrounding us.  We are "hidden" in Christ. (Colossians 3:3) Ask according to HIS will, knowing that whatever we ask will be granted along the lines of HIS perfect will.  How does our petition fit in with His will?  We may not know, but we DO KNOW that HE does, and He WILL answer it according to His perfect will

What confidence do we have?  That He doesn't see US in our sinful nature when we pray; but our Father sees His Son, Jesus, for we are hidden in Him.  He sees the suffering and redemptive work accomplished by Jesus' shed blood, and He will answer our petition according to His will.  Jesus came to give us life, and that more abundantly. (John 10:10)  And whatever we are petitioning our Father for will be worked out for our good and His glory. (Romans 8:28)

We know that HE HEARS US. (Micah 7:7)  And as I John 5:15 says, we know that we will have the things we have asked Him for...for His answer will always line up with His perfect will.

No matter what, we can not lose. 

The key is, confidence in and through Christ Jesus, and praying according to His will. . . believing He will hear us and answer our petitions according to His will.

Be encouraged!  Do you have anything that you need to pray about?  Have confidence in HIM!

Thank You, Father, that we can have confidence--that means have NO DOUBT, in YOU.  You will never fail!  Not one Word of Yours has ever failed, and it never will, for YOU never change!  Thank YOU!  Father, we just praise You for the power You've so graciously given us in prayer, by and through Christ Jesus. 
We pray in His name, Amen.