A new hope rising

Do you ever feel like you wake up in the morning and get slapped in the face by the world?

That was me earlier today. So many things hit me that it was clearly an attack from the evil one—the one who seeks to keep me in chains of hopelessness and despair.

Some of the issues racing through my mind were minor concerns in the grand scheme of life. I thought about how I’ve been alienating myself from my social media feeds. (What’s wrong with me that I don’t enjoy FaceBook like everyone else?) Financial concerns entered my mind. I’ll need an updated laptop soon. (How/when will I feel secure at dedicating funds to this before the device completely fails?)

First-world problems, right? My shallowness surrounding me makes my heart sick.

Yet other thoughts are like venomous arrows targeting my deepest fears, dragging me down a downcast path.

I pray for those living in suppressed and controlled countries; for the innocents in war-torn regions of the world; for changed hearts in corrupt world leaders; for the safety and security of my family; for the brokenness in this world to be healed.

But in the next moment—and praise God—his Spirit spoke to me, like a waves upon a perfectly calm, sandy beach. It’s difficult to explain, but when I turned my heart toward his loving kindness, I felt my heavy burdens lifted up. Thankfulness consumed me for all he’s provided me and the full life and promises he’s laid out before me.

My day was transformed from darkness into light. I was filled once again with hope.

For he’s breaking the chains of despair and captivity in my life, day by day, through small moments and big changes, his grace continues to work in my life.

Today’s prayer:

Lord God, thank you for working in my life. I can feel your presence as you help me take each thought captive to you. More and more I want this living water. I surrender my reproach again; replace all that I am with all that you are, with your ways of compassion, thankfulness, and everlasting joy. Transform these anxious thoughts into a vision of your endless blessing and provision; a treasure in heaven that is beyond any worth in this world. I trust you with my life.

But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 

2 Corinthians 3:16-18

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Galatians 5:25

He says, "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, 
I will be exalted in the earth.” 
Psalms 46:10

The battle before me

Photo by Akil Mazumder on Pexels.com

Sometimes I feel as though I’m still living in 2020. Do you ever get that feeling?

I’ve thought about this a lot lately, but what I haven’t thought about as much is how to get out of this mentality. 

A close friend recently forwarded me a podcast from The Grove that streams live from Passion City Church in Atlanta, Georgia. The November 15, 2021, podcast (Remember Lot’s Wife) featured Christine Caine, a well-known Bible teacher, author, and activist from Australia. Caine describes a place many of us find ourselves still in—reminiscing for our lives of “normalcy” in 2019. It’s like we’ve gotten spiritually and emotionally “stuck” in the pre-pandemic world and before the unleashing of the global reset.

Listening to this podcast inspired me to think through and petition God in greater detail about how “stuck” I’ve really been. I’ve realized that the battle around me is not about what I’ve missed or how our basic freedoms were stripped away these last couple of precious years. 

The real battle before me is not about the tragedy of isolation, or loss, or censorship on a global scale, or cancel culture, or missed celebrations and gatherings.

The battle before me is for my soul. 

This plain truth lies ensconced before me. It’s unveiled my unbelief, my iniquities, and despondency of living in such a world of overwhelm. 

But here’s another truth. I know our God has a plan and a purpose for me, always, in all times. And this has prompted a tighter stronghold on he who holds our times in his hands. 

More than ever, I need to trust him and dig deeper into that which saves, heals, and springs up confident expectation. Like a plant weathered by the rain turns to the vibrant sun. He is always working. He is always doing a new thing.

Thank you, God, for your Word today.

Because you are with me, I will not look back. I will refuse to get stuck in 2020 and 2021. I can do this in your name, in your strength, and in your divine providence.

Search me, God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any iniquity in me,

and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-34

God is within her, she will not fall;

God will help her at break of day.

Psalm 46:5

But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD,

whose confidence is in him.

They will be like a tree planted by the water

that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when heat comes;

its leaves are always green.

It has no worries in a year of drought

and never fails to bear fruit.

Jeremiah 17:7-9

A Christmas-time Prayer

God, we remember you and we praise you in this special season. For you are our strength; you are our song. You are our portion; you are our cup.

In a world of corruption and deception and heartbreak and pain, your presence shines a brilliant light of hope and healing. Now we can truly see your joy radiating throughout the earth.

We give to you everything that we are not, so that you can provide in us everything that you are, by the strength of your Word and the quietness of your Spirit.

For this is how you see us through your truth and light and grace.

Thank you for our blessings in this moment and for the promises you’ve placed in our hearts for what’s yet to come. Our times are in your hands.

In the praise and glory and honor of Jesus’ name—Amen.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:5)

LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
(Psalm 16:5) 

By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.
(Psalms 42:8)

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
(Col 3:15-17)

Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert. 
(Isaiah 43:18-19)

Choosing hope and joy in the midst of each moment

In every season, remember who you are.

When the world says you are a failure, that you’re contaminated and unworthy because you don’t think the same way as everyone else, remember that the truth you follow shines light in the darkness.

When our leaders, elected or unelected, technocrat or Hollywood idol, tell you that you’re making the wrong decisions and afflicting society; that your intent is malicious and your beliefs are baseless — remember your life’s purpose and the joy of His presence.

There was a circumstance a few years back where I felt the heavy burden of deception so plainly attempting to cover my life in darkness. Looking back, I didn’t do so well in handling it. I let the indignation of the situation overcome my spirit to an alarming degree. And it was a long and painful walk back to restore my self-worth and confidence and regain a sense of well-being and perspective.

Today, I face another choice between believing the lies of the world about who I am or standing strong in my faith. This time the consequences are even greater. I perceive many poisonous arrows from the evil one. The path before me is wary, imprecated in briars and thickets. In deep moments of doubt, the darkness attempts to overwhelm my soul. If I’m not watchful, I can easily feel defeated and weighed down in grief.

Todd Herman, a well-known conservative talkshow host calls today’s times a “time of choosing” and “the time in which God has chosen for us to live.” For me, this means I that I still have the power to decide to stand strong in my convictions, fearless and unabashed, and I can choose to believe I’m still a precious child of God, despite the fury all around me.

None of us would choose to go through a pandemic proffered by fear and fueled by corruption on a global scale. All I know to do is to cling even closer to the Word of God, profess my faith amidst my own brokenness, and apply the power of prayer to an increasingly depraved world. I heard well-known author and biblical teacher, Joyce Meyer of Joyce Meyer Ministries, recently say that “God is never more than one thought away.” This spoke to my heart, in this time of choosing.

My daily prayer continues for unwavering strength to walk closely with Him each day, choose life in every waking moment, and yield to the greater purpose for which he has planned for me. And to know that this is not the end, because grace and truth and light have no end.

My prayer for today

God, you protect me all day long. You fight off sharp arrows from the evil one attempting to destroy my thoughts. In faith, I look to you each morning. You lift me up and calm my heart. Even though I sense the darkness all around me, your light shines through, inextricably reaching the part in me that sings out to you. Thank you for this sweet day of life.

The LORD is my strength and my shield;

my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.

My heart leaps for joy,

and with my song I praise him.

Psalm 28:7-9

Let the serenity of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to tranquility. And be thankful.

Col 3:15-17

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have calmness. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

Remember not the former things,

nor consider the things of old.

Behold, I am doing a new thing;

now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

I will make a way in the wilderness

and rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43:18-19

Healing and recovery — from the perspective of seeing the forest through the trees

It was a distressing but not unexpected moment when I decided that I needed more help. I realized that my every-morning prayer time still needed something more, especially during a pandemic that so many powerful people around the world are determined to never end.

We’ve lived in a socialist-leaning state for quite a while, but now the impending totalitarianism was more real than ever before. Ruminating thoughts of decay and destruction of our democratic republic were weighing heavily upon my heart and mind. It was like witnessing the downfall inherent to our existence. I was falling into a pit of helplessness and isolation.

After a while, I knew I had to reach down, deep down to the very alive, palpitating roots of my soul, to resurrect the truth in all of this. The truth that the promises of Jesus Christ our Lord are real, and He’s the only truth that matters. His truth is the only one that will stand the test of a thousand times. Praise God.

As my spirit grows faint within me, I look to the one who knows my way. With a humble and contrite heart, I bend to the one who is high and lifted up.

-Based upon Psalms 142:3 and Isaiah 57:15

In my search for continued hope and inspiration, I heard about a book by Lysa Terkeurst called Seeing Beautiful Again published in 2021. Terkeurst is a well-known author in Christian circles and president of Proverbs 31 Ministries. She was recently featured on a podcast on The Christy Wright Show May 18, 2021 where she talked about her latest book and how she has trusted God through heartbreak while taking ownership and accountability in her life story. Just as significantly, she has continued to find the good within her life challenges along the way.

Lysa’s book had my undivided attention from the first page. Our circumstances may be different in terms of tough, seemingly unbearable times, but I could relate upon the Biblical precepts she was bringing forward in each circumstance.

In her book, Lysa’s style is from the perspective of one’s personal journal entries, and I love that. Like a good Sauvignon Blanc, she speaks a love language that is refreshing to my soul.

The book is divided into 50 devotionals that each capture a specific aspect of healing. I’m only on Chapter 15 but look forward to reading all of them. Lysa also embeds personal notes and prayers into the text for extra personalization and encouragement.

Seeing Beautiful Again is helping me see the forest through the trees. But you have to do your own work in your life — through prayer, petition, thanksgiving, and study — to unveil and dissect the things you need to work on. It can be gut-wrenching.

But thanks to His Word, I can see a brilliance before me that transcends all comprehension in the moment, a treasure to behold in your heart that helps you make it through the day.

This precious stone, this element of hope, gives me the foundation for which to place my future and my trust.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

Hebrews 10:23
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He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a new song in my heart, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.

Psalm 40:2-3

Faithfulness through creativity

Creativity is something I deeply value, and I love how the God of the Bible is creative — from creating the stars in the sky to creating new hearts in His followers.

Biblical teacher and best-selling author Beth Moore from Living Proof Ministries shared her thoughts about this concept in her Chasing Vines study published in 2020. To paraphrase, she reflected that God’s way — the playing out of His story — is through “creativity and order.”

This really spoke to me when I thought about how much I strive to be organized. But if I don’t get enough time to evenly imagine, pen my thoughts to paper, and take in all that’s been created, I’ll start to feel not only restless and unproductive, but downcast.

This is particularly evident when I get worn down, psychologically, physically, or emotionally, and the creative side of me is depleted. 

I wrote the following prayer during one of those times:

God, you are my artist — ever creative, forever imaginative.

You design a dainty primrose, painted in bold, vivid colors. You capture light in a perfect wave that calms my heart as it dwindles and gently unfolds where water meets sand. 

My canvas is looking a bit worn. Its edges have become frayed and several places look weary and tarnished. The colors are smudged and running together, clouding my vision to see hope in this story.

But I know you are a God of promises.

Lend me your pallet. Help me broadly brush over where the shades turn dreary or have faded to black.

Let the light shine on those areas that need to be brightened, and in stark contrast, may the picture they form be one of a vibrant life, walking along the path I know to be true, full in Spirit, and reflecting only your magnificence, your creativity, your perfection.

Through your grace and truth, fearless, bring me to my appointed goal.

Spiritual Fullness in Christ
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Colossians 2:6-7

God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.

Genesis 1:16

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 36:26

Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:

He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,

your vindication like the noonday sun.

Psalms 37:5-6

Bring me to my appointed goal.

Proverbs 3:6

Upholding my steps

As I begin my day, continued lockdowns and government suppression in my community once again lie before me.

I struggle to gain perspective. I wake up at night with stirring thoughts running through my mind. I reach for the cross around my neck and grasp it tightly, remembering who I am in Christ and the plans he has for me.

Calmness begins to take hold. I breathe deeply, fully in then releasing out several times. I focus my mind on his grace and everything he has done for me.

I pray for perseverance and strength. I pray for his truth to be revealed in this country, the world. I pray for hearts to be transformed.

Uphold my steps in Your paths, so that my footsteps may not slip.

Psalms 17:5 NKJV

This is a prayer I wrote during another challenging time. I’m so glad God put journaling and studying in my heart.

God, when my anger burns hotly, remind me that you are the only one who truly understands my heart and the only one who can save me from destructive, self-consuming thoughts. 

For as I turn to you, my cloak of indignation and defeat becomes one of capability, worthiness, strength, and contentment. 

In a moment of challenge, help me to know that you always provide a way out, as long as my focus remains on you.  

Reveal to me how this present circumstance and my perception of a broken, corrupt world is inconsequential compared to your insatiable desire for me to follow you.

I cannot comprehend everything that happens to me. Guide me to live this life in lockstep with your precepts, doing nothing in self-deception, cold-heartedness, or single-mindedness.

She is clothed in strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.

Proverbs 31:25

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful, he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

1 Corinthians 10:13

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

2 Corinthians 3:17

Trust in the Lord, and do good.

Psalms 37:3a

Steep hills and dark valleys

Lord, our daily work in this generation is heavy- laden with a veil of darkness all around us, burdened by a thickness of lies and deception from an evil and destructive spirit who comes to steal, kill and destroy. An attempt to stir up rage and fury to defame and divide believers seeking your name.

But I know that you are greater than any destructive force and your truth lasts forever.

You comfort the downcast; you calm me and my soul breathes.

You are my strength, you are my song; my portion and my cup.

You lead me down a path that helps me grow closer to you, my vine.

You give me hope as I follow you to fulfill my purpose, an inexpressible joy that leads me to my heart’s desire.

You provide a shield of resilience when times are trying; your Word guards and protects me.

You know every tear that falls from a broken heart; every foreign thought that needs your strength to cast down.

Only you can restore me, calming the storm within.

You know the shadows that want to overcome my mind, those which dim the light and entice me down to a pit of hopelessness.

So, I take heart as I lift up your name, reflecting your light so that other may see.

My cup brims with blessing today, and surely tomorrow.

John 10:10
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Matthew 11:28-30
“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.”

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Psalms 16:5
LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you hold my lot.

Ephesians 6:10-11
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

Psalms 37:4
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalms 23:5-6
You prepare a table before mein the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

2 Corinthians 3:16-17
But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

2 Corinthians 7:6
But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus,…

A Prayer of Peripety

I was looking back through my prayer journals and came upon some notes I took while my small group focused on Beth Moore’s Esther Bible study. One of the main literary themes throughout Esther is the ‘reversal of events’ — in this case, a divine intervention that turned the tables of injustice, based on one woman’s integrity, faith, and valiancy.

Although the story of Esther took place in Persia around 480 B.C., its discourse is still relevant today. In our time, those considered conservative thinkers are targeted by the deep state to be silenced, supported by elitist censorship and the cancel culture of the ruling class. Yet as most Bible scholars would highlight, and if we are to learn anything from our main character’s predicament, the impending queen of the empire, it would be that our purpose is found within our current generation, or as the author profoundly puts it, “for such a time as this.”

For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Esther 4:14

So I come back to my prayer for a reversal of events that I wrote in my journal almost four years ago. One that has all the desperation and boldness that I would pray today. I can’t resist editing a bit, but here is the gist:

Lord, God, let us do more than just get through this unbelievably challenging time. I can see your plan and purpose shining through. I recognize it and reach out for it – – your transcendent joy.

Change our discouragement into hope, our confusion into purpose, tears into forgiveness, and anger into celebration. Take everything unworthy in our hearts and transform it into something incredibly beyond our imagination.

Putting our fears and the world’s untruths aside, thank you for locking my mind on your precepts; you are the author of the story of stories.

We wait on you; we put our hope in you. Like a grape seed planted waiting to be watered and touched by the sun. Hold me close to the vine.

Help us, in your strength only, to bring your kingdom come.

May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

2 Thessalonians 3:5

Going Forward in 2021

Thank you, God, for bringing the following verses to my mind as we start another year of the year of our Lord: Isaiah 43:18-19 and Psalms 31:14-18.

I’m excited to start the year with the Jesus Always devotional by Sarah Young given to me by one of my daughters. I have also started The Five Minute Journal by Intelligent Change, given to me by my other daughter, which is also something I’m sinking into.

However, I’m still making my way through The Reservoir weekday devotional, brought forward by Chris Hall, president of Renovare, and finishing up my Chasing Vines Bible study by Beth Moore!

There are also a few others that I won’t mention for now, but clearly I will have no absence of spiritual content.

And I will need every ounce of it this year.

“Remember not the former things,

nor consider the things of old.

Behold, I am doing a new thing;

now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

I will make a way in the wilderness

and rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43:18-19

But I trust in you, O LORD;

I say, “You are my God.”

My times are in your hand;

rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!

Make your face shine on your servant;

save me in your steadfast love!

O LORD, let me not be put to shame,

for I call upon you;

let the wicked be put to shame;

let them go silently to Sheol.

Let the lying lips be mute,

which speak insolently against the righteous

in pride and contempt.

Psalms 31:14-18