Worry – What Does It Get You?

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“And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span?” Luke 12:25 (NASB)

 

 

Worry / Anxiety—Both of these words evoke a sense of unrest about something important to us. And so the scripture tells us it can’t add time to our life … in fact, it takes time from us. Think about what is bothering you at this very moment. Whether it’s a relationship that has gone awry, a financial problem, an issue at work, an extremely ill child – or any other event in your life that has caused your heart to beat a little faster when you think of it, time is passing that cannot be retrieved.

For example, in the process of building our third home, my husband and I knew to expect a certain number of problems and the anxiety that went with them. As those issues arose, it was easy to jump from A to Z and imagine that what existed then, would always be. To further complicate the problem, we had no control over when and how the problem would be resolved. Our only hope was to communicate with the builder and trust him to fix it.

Except, that is not at all the only thing we can do. We can also communicate with the Father … about our house, our family, our health, the state of our nation, our finances, our faith … and the list goes on. We have the awesome privilege to go to Him with all of our problems. 1 Peter 5:6–7 (NASB) tells us, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”

We must practice taking our cares to Him, because when we lose control of the outcome, though we know we need help from One greater than ourselves, it does not come naturally to “cast all our anxiety on Him.” When I was a young Christian, I thought God only wanted me to bring Him the really BIG problems. After all, He was busy running the world. He couldn’t possibly care about the little things. But after the experiences of raising children and grandchildren, all the while trying to maintain a healthy relationship with my husband, nurturing extended family and friends, and most importantly, growing in my faith through studying His Word, my view of “who God is” changed.

You see, our view of God determines how we relate to Him. The measure of our faith in Him to both care and guide us in all things is directly proportionate to our knowledge of who He is. The more we learn of Him through His Word, the more we realize just how much we can trust Him. Jeremiah 32:17 (NIV): “Ah Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you!” When we really “get” that, it dramatically changes our ability to “let go and let God.”

So, next time you feel like this little guy …

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“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6–7 (NASB)

#GiveItAllToGod

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fear or Faith?

United States of America Supreme Court Building

I admit to you—fear has crept into my body as an unwelcome guest during the past couple of weeks. As much as I have prayed and asked God to reveal His Truth on the character of Brett Kavanaugh and his accusers, I have been afraid of just what that revelation might look like. Humbly, I submit my own imperfections.

I’m studying the book of Joshua right now with a group of women in my old neighborhood. Remember Joshua? He was the leader God chose after Moses died to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land, just west of the River Jordan. We all know about how God parted the Red Sea when Moses led the people out of Egyptian slavery. Did you know God did it again at the Jordan River when the children of those same Israelites crossed into the Promised Land? The waters “stood in a heap” as the people crossed over. And do you know that what should have taken 11 days to get to the Promised Land took 40 years of wandering because of their disobedience?

The lesson today covered the “what if’s” in our lives …

  • What if … on my marital status
  • What if … on my career
  • What if … on my health
  • What if … on my financial status
  • What if … on my children and grandchildren
  • What if … on how I use my time
  • What if … on the future of America

All of these shared common anxieties provide ample opportunities for worry. You may notice they all have the word “my” in front of them (this is the paraphrased/plus list I came up with from the lesson). Except for the last one. Those of you who have studied Biblical history and the downfall of nations have reason to be concerned about America.

Our nation which was founded on Judaeo-Christian principles has cowered too long to those whose compass of final authority is set on something other than God’s Authority. This scripture from today’s lesson hit me with such force this morning, I was compelled to put down my study book and write.

1 Timothy 6:3-5:  “If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth.”

Along with much of the nation, I saw a man brutalized and labeled “guilty” without any evidence to back up the claims. Those pointing the finger at him were willing to destroy his life without any sense of human decency—as long as their agenda was promoted. Do you know what God calls this kind of behavior? PRIDE. And what does God’s Word say about what follows? Pride goes before a fall.

I couldn’t help but think of one of my life verses, and how it applies to this moment in history: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” But you said, “We will not walk in it.” Jeremiah 6:16. The Supreme Court decision is a crossroads for America, and I wonder how many dissenters may have stood at the crossroads, looked in fear that their causes would be erased, and said, “we will not walk where the good way is.”

Their behavior during and after the 2016 election coupled with this latest abuse before the 2018 mid-term election have awakened a sleeping giant. The conservative minds and hearts of this nation (whether Democrat, Republican or Independent) are standing up with a fervor matched only by what the world witnessed in 2016 when we elected a non-politico (who needed neither money nor fame) to work for us, We the People.

After only a few lines of writing, a news flash lit up my iPhone saying the Senate had voted 51-49 to move ahead with the confirmation of Kavanaugh on Saturday. I later watched as Senator Susan Collins comprehensively explained why she would confidently vote for Brett Kavanaugh, answering every fear with judicial facts.

Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to a seat on the highest court in our land is unlike any other … with more debate, investigation and underhanded schemes than any in our nation’s history, truth has prevailed. But, this is not a time for boasting … remember what is written in 1 Corinthians 1:31— “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.” This Supreme Court confirmation should give all God-fearing Americans reason to rejoice as we witness His Sovereignty in protecting and raising up one of His own. It gives me renewed resolve to have hope for America.

Let Freedom Ring

United States of America Supreme Court Building

First Fruits ♥ The Heart of Easter

“Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When you come into the land which I give you, and reap the harvest thereof, then you shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest unto the priest; And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you; on the morrow after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.”  Leviticus 23:10-11

It occurred to me today as I was planning to offer First Fruits at a special rate for Easter … that I may have wrongly assumed all of you who have heard of or read my devotional book entitled First Fruits understand the meaning of the title? For some, I am sure you understand generally that “first fruits” might have something to do with giving the first fruits of your labor. Maybe you heard a sermon on tithing, or possibly have even seen “first fruits” in one of the more inconspicuous verses of the Old Testament, (as in Leviticus 23:10-11 quoted above). Or, as in the New Testament where James 1:18 states that “He chose to give us birth through the Word of Truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all He created.”

Some may have a copy of First Fruits, but maybe you never read the “Introduction to First Fruits.” So, today – on this Sunday before Palm Sunday – I want to make sure all of you have the opportunity to learn the importance of First Fruits as a concept.

The First Fruits Feast was always the Sunday following the week of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, held in the spring each year. This day has eventually become known as Easter among Christians. But what many do not realize is that the name Easter was derived from the Babylonian pagan goddess of fertility, “Ishtar.” Zola Levitt (a Jewish convert to Christianity) explained that “we miss a very important Biblical truth by not using the term ‘First Fruits’ as the name of this feast (Easter Day), because “first” implies a second, a third, and so on, and that is the real meaning of the feast. We do not merely celebrate the resurrection of the Lord on First Fruits (Easter), on which it indeed occurred, but even more so, the resurrection of the entire Church!”

In 1 Corinthians 15:23 (KJV) Paul states “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” Zola continued, “Jesus celebrated the Sunday of the week of His crucifixion by rising from the dead. It was not some other day He chose but the very day of First Fruits … Jesus even presented His proper First Fruits offering to the Father. Graves were opened and dead people rose and were seen after His resurrection in Jerusalem. [Matthew 27:53 (KJV)]. First Fruits was the last of the feasts that The Lord was seen personally fulfilling on earth.”

First Fruits, therefore, represents not only our gifts to God, but more importantly, His First Fruits Gift to us in the person of Jesus Christ—He is the Hope of our own resurrection!

It is my deep desire to share God’s Word through First Fruits to all who are seeking to develop a strong relationship with Jesus Christ. If you would like a copy of First Fruits for yourself or others, please use the link http://susanbutlerlive.com and click on STORE, then at the bottom, click Order Online, then click on the First Fruits EASTER picture to get the special price of $10 per copy (normally $20) – now through April 1, EASTER 2018.

 

God’s Best as we celebrate Christ’s Resurrection!

Susan Butler

MEMORIES

 

Mom is staying with me for a month, our time almost up. She’ll be 93 in January … time marches on, whether we like it or not. My Dad left for Heaven on Thanksgiving weekend five years ago at 88. He loved Mom with a pure heart; he wrote her poems on special occasions like Mother’s Day and anniversaries. Dad loved to surprise her because she has always been such an audacious receiver. There is no one more fun to give to than Mom, where each gift is the best thing she’s ever gotten; each meal the best she’s ever eaten! His smile was the widest when he was pleasing her. He was a good husband. He was a good father.

Today was one of those gray, lazy Saturdays. I had nothing on my agenda (which was just fine with me), but Mom had different plans. The breakfast room wall of silver was a pestering presence this morning (photo below). Macular degeneration has dimmed her eyes, but she can still see pretty shiny things, and to her dismay, the silver was not shiny enough.

This wall of silver is a memory wall. As we shined the pieces, we talked about who gave me what piece, some I regretfully admit I can’t even remember—wedding gifts from 49 years ago. Others more recently acquired were gifts from friends and family for this small new home we now enjoy. Still, other things are from a trip to France we took fourteen years ago with my childhood friend and her husband. Time is marching.

The trip began in Paris, and then we drove south for several days, staying in small towns such as Avignon. The provincial atmosphere was so different from the bright lights of Paris. We stayed in small villages, Aix de Provence being one, where we found a flea market. Two carving sets on the left and right of the wall in the photograph are from that market. We wondered what type of family might have owned them and used them for family dinners; we wondered why they were sold and not carefully tucked away for future generations.

The very center piece of the silver wall arrangement is a shadow box displaying five pins. These pins are actually silver coat-of-arms insignias from different provinces of France: Cannes, Nice, Marseilles, Aix de Provence and the fifth is the fleur-de-lis emblem representing the country of France. They were also for sale at the flea market, haphazardly dropped into a little cardboard box. As I studied each pin, I was excited to discover such a find, and at a very reasonable rate. After I returned home, the idea of a shadow box seemed to be the perfect resting spot for these pins. In another smaller box on the mantel, there is a turn-of-the-20th-century silver chain coin purse—all these treasures from a simple flea market on Cezanne in Aix.

This talk of France, and the repetition of the pronunciation of Aix de Provence to Mom several times—took her back to the trip she and Dad made to Paris long before C.J. and I went. Mom was an artist, so Dad wanted to take her to The Louvre (on a U.S. postal employee’s salary). Oh, how she loved that trip. It was not a gastronomic feast that she remembered, but a feast for the eyes which still captivated her thoughts.

Dad bought a book on the French language so they could at least learn a few phrases for their trip. She mused how much fun it had been to learn and how they laughed as they tried to carry on a conversation in French. When they returned home, Dad enrolled in a French class at the community college. She said he came home one day telling her how pretty the professor was, “that French teacher,” and Mom retorted, “get on outta here; I bet she was ugly as a mud fence!” She, of course, was laughing as she told me—I can just see them bantering back and forth.

All the talk about France and enjoying our newly-shined silver pieces prompted Mom to ask why I never used them for serving dinner to friends. That led me to wonder why I never used the silverware I was given when we were married.  When we opened the silver cloths from the safe, to my amazement, there were pieces I did not remember. As we inspected each piece, we found two patterns. I had totally forgotten that we inherited C.J.’s mom’s silver when she passed away. What a treasure!

So, this Thanksgiving, as my son and daughter and families gather for the great feast, we will be using C.J.’s mom’s silver. It was my Mom who helped me remember that we need to bring out the finest for our friends and families, and that even these “things” which we are instructed not to “lay up as treasures on this earth” can still be beautiful reminders of the important people in our lives. They can be the stimulus for new memories just like mine, made on a gray, lazy Saturday.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you are surrounded by those you love. I hope you make new memories, and that they will resurface at just the right time when you need them the most.

Time is Fleeting

Make Memories Now

 Rest—We are Happier When We Are Refreshed

Nourish Body and Soul

 Engage Others with Smiles and Laughter

Give Graciously

 Love Extravagantly

Be Thankful

God’s Best,

Susan

Woman in the Rain

She was standing in the rain at a bus stop this morning. The rain was hard and steady—large cold drops with air temperature at 44°. She was not dressed for inclement weather, with only a sweater and long skirt made of thin fabric. No umbrella. No Scarf. No protection.

Odd, the things we remember from a passing glance. I had just finished my 6:30 a.m. cardiac rehab when I saw her as I turned on to Plano Parkway. The stream of traffic prevented me from making a sudden stop. Frustrated, I found a Marriott a block down the street, turned in to stop and search for my umbrella. I mused, she might not want a ride from a stranger, but an umbrella she might accept.

Back in the car, I rushed to find the street just north and parallel, made the loop and came back to the bus stop … she was gone. Perhaps the bus was behind me the first time and picked her up; perhaps another individual offered her a ride; perhaps she lived close by and went back home. In a pit of sadness, all I could do was lift her up to the One who cares for us more than any other. I prayed that she would be protected against illness from this event. I prayed for her to get dry clothes. I prayed for her boss not to be mad at her. I prayed for her comfort.

What’s the point of this? The parable of “The Woman at the Well” came to mind immediately. I rushed home to look it up, and read John 4:7-42 to refresh my memory, and to see what I was supposed to learn from this.

Basically, the story is about a Samaritan woman drawing water at a well, when Jesus asked her to draw some for Him. She questioned why He (a Jew) was speaking to her since Jews had no dealings with Samaritans. He told her if she knew with Whom she was speaking, she would have asked Him for “living water.” He explained that everyone who drank of the well water would thirst again, but those that drank of the water He gave would never thirst—that the water He gave would become in them a “well of water springing up to eternal life.”

“But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

This morning, the woman in the rain needed anything but water! I believe God led me to this passage because:

1) He wants us to help with the physical needs of those around us, certainly. Most of us are willing and eager to help when we see a need, right?

2) But what about sharing this “living water” Jesus speaks of? Are we willing to share that? Are we willing to step out of our comfort zone and let them know that it is Jesus who causes us to be concerned with not only their physical needs, but their spiritual needs as well?

If you know the Savior, join me in asking God to give us the courage and the opportunities to engage in Living Water Rescues.

God’s Best,

Susan

Special Half-Price Offer on FIRST FRUITS $10 for the Next 10 Days!

 

First Fruits 365-Day Devotional – Limited Half-Price Sale of $10!

For those of you who have a copy of First Fruits, you know that my purpose for writing First Fruits was and is to help individuals understand God’s Word and ENCOURAGE them to develop a love relationship with Jesus Christ.

Through much prayer over the last several months about getting First Fruits “out of the dark and into the light” (from storage facility to the hands of God’s people)—the catalyst was a refreshing story I was told this morning (below). I want to offer all who read this Facebook post a copy of First Fruits for $10 (normally $24.99). Each copy will be signed by me! 😊 This sale will extend to the end of October 2017, as long as printed copies remain available. Shipping charges will apply at a discounted rate of $3 per book (U.S.).

Ordering can be accomplished two ways:

  • Order online at susanbutlerlive.com. You may order the number of books you want and pay by debit/credit card. Shipping charges will be added if you prefer to have them shipped.
  • You may also use Facebook private message to send me your name, address, phone and number of books you want to order. When I receive the order, and If you are in the DFW area, you are welcome to pick them up from me in Frisco to avoid shipping. Payment can be made at time of pickup (cash, check or credit card).

First Fruits is 480 pages in length, with a short explanation of each day’s scripture, written in the first person of God.  In addition to the 365 days of scripture, the perpetual calendar devotional book is broken into 52 weekly precept categories introducing the topic for each week. For those times when you need a specific scripture to encourage/instruct/comfort you or those you love, First Fruits is a reference book to find that perfect message to meet the need of the moment.

Now, for today’s story … My sister, Bonnie Walker, lives in San Antonio and has been ministering to women in her church (Summit Christian Center) for over four years. Bonnie has been my strong advocate during the writing and distribution phases of First Fruits. She gives copies to every woman in the Bible studies she leads, one of whom shared her recent experience with the book.

Renee is a new member of a night-time women’s group which Bonnie leads. Her full-time job is driving for Uber. She explained that she keeps her copy of First Fruits in her vehicle so that she can read it between trips. One day recently, a woman she was Ubering began to speak aloud some scripture. Renee assumed the woman was reading her own Bible, until the woman began to exclaim that she loved the book and asked where she might get a copy. Renee told her there should be information on the back cover. When she saw the retail price of $24.99, she sounded disappointed and said she just couldn’t afford it.

That is when Renee, led by the Spirit, offered the woman her copy of First Fruits. She said the woman was overjoyed and kept thanking her. She said she had been praying for a devotional book, and that this was the answer to her prayer!

I was reminded of something similar which happened to me one day at the gym, when a man who was lifting weights nearby overheard my conversation with two women I had just met. I was signing copies of First Fruits for them, and he asked what we were talking about. I explained, and then ran back to my car for another copy—for he had been praying for just such a book for his wife! They had recently moved from Chicago and knew virtually no one.

The First Fruits gifts to these three strangers was a perfect example and reminder to me of the purpose of God’s assignment to write the book. It’s not about me—it’s about spreading His Light, the love and knowledge of Jesus Christ, and what He desires from each individual. There are people all around us who are just waiting for someone to care.

So, if you have friends and family who might like one for a gift—or you want to minister to those you meet with a Word from the Lord—get several copies of First Fruits at this very special rate. You may discover, as my sister and I have, that people are thirsty for a drink from the Savior.

God’s Best,

Susan Butler

susan@susanbutlerlive.com

Website: susanbutlerlive.com

Facebook PM – Susan Butler Live

214-724-9078

When Life is Scary

My husband is a fisherman. As a young boy and teenager, he fished the lakes and streams of Louisiana. Some of the best bass I’ve ever eaten came from those waters. Then, after we married and moved to Texas, he began fishing the shallows of Aransas Pass in South Texas, as well as the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Nowadays, the lakes of Texoma (where Texas and Oklahoma meet) are home to him.

When C.J. was young, his daddy was his fishing guide. He knew where the little honey holes were that cloaked the bass and brim in the murky lake water. Some days were successful and some not so much. Either way, treasured memories unfold as C.J. remembers their time together on the water.

Those honey holes are a bit harder to find on Texoma, so C.J. employs the expertise of a fishing guide. He’s been using the same guide service for almost twenty years, and there is a level of trust with these guides—that they will have a full tank of gasoline for the properly maintained boat, state-of-the-art fishing gear and depth finders, fresh bait, lots of comradery, and life preservers for that rare flip into the drink. Whether fishing the shallows or the deep waters, my husband feels secure with his guide.

I’ve been pondering the similarity between a fishing guide and our Fisher of Men. What was my level of trust last week when fear clutched me with a death grip? I learned some things about myself, and about human nature in general. The most obvious “enlightenment” is that we can talk about the faith we have in our powerful, omnipotent God all day long, but when we are forced to face a life and death moment, how strong are we really? How strong was I?

Let me take you back with me a few weeks. I’ve had a condition called gastritis (reflux) for several years. The main symptom is a burning sensation in the area of my sternum (breastbone). It is exacerbated by strenuous exercise. Over the last 14 months in the gym, I have learned to gage my cycling, etc. to the extent of the burn I can tolerate.

A couple of months ago, that “voice” inside began to nudge me to get to the doctor. I was having the burn more often, even when not working out. I went to see my gastroenterologist who set up an endoscopy, but told me he thought I should see a cardiologist. Serendipitously, no Providentially, it was also time for my quarterly blood work, so I went to my primary care doctor for that. A low pulse and an off-handed remark of chest pain during exercise led to an EKG, which prompted a directive to get to a cardiologist pronto. (I’m giving you these details as a warning to the female readers. It’s a proven statistic that we “mature women” are prone to ignore symptoms).

After another EKG and a stress echo using resting and post-exercise sonography (which I failed miserably), the cardiologist scheduled a Cardiac Cath. I was assured that I would be asleep (which ended up being false) and that if they found any arterial blockage, the Dr. would insert a stent during the procedure to open up the artery.

Two events immediately came to mind on the drive home:

  • Years ago, we went to Louisiana to visit our long-time friend who is a cardiologist. George is usually upbeat, but this weekend he seemed down. When I asked what was going on, he told me he lost his first patient that week during a Cardiac Cath. It’s rare, but it does happen.
  • C.J.’s brother died suddenly the morning after he had a stent put in his heart just a few years ago.

You’ve heard the phrase and probably experienced “having ice water pour through your veins?” Yes? Well, that was my body’s reaction to the Cardiac Cath. news!

After writing First Fruits, I made the proclamation to the Lord that I was ready for Him to take me Home if He so desired, now that I had finished His assignment. Time passed. I was still alive and breathing (to my consternation)—until He made it clear to me one day that He had more for me to do. Hard stuff. I’m writing another book about the “hard stuff,” but that story is for another time.

Fast forward to last Tuesday, October 3rd. In the week prior to the procedure, I had experienced a full week of chest pain and anxiety, all the while praying and claiming scripture on fear and faith. I had many prayer warriors in the turtle huddle (a reference to warriors who used their shields in a turtle formation close together to avoid the flaming arrows of the enemy). Finally, after all the praying and meditation on God’s Word, I was blessed with peace about 36 hours before the Cardiac Cath.

Now, the procedure did not go exactly as I had thought. First, I got the “nervous pee syndrome” when they rolled me down the corridor to the operating room, so they unhooked me to use a restroom across the hall. I was then instructed to “just walk across the hall to the operating room, and use the foot stool to just hop up onto the operating table.” Does that strike anyone besides me as a little weird??

I’m lying there, eagerly awaiting my twilight cocktail. The surgeon is deciding whether he will be able to insert the catheter into my wrist or groin. Still waiting, eyes closed. I’m told to be very still, and then I feel the catheter being inserted into my wrist. (They lied! I was very explicit about wanting to be fast asleep for all this). Okay, not too bad—still waiting to drift off.

Guys, it never happens. I hear which music they decide to listen to, the “4,000 Hep” announcement two different times, Dr. talking, etc. Finally, I tell them I’m still awake and can hear everything they are saying. The Dr. tells me to lie still and expect some pain as they place the stent. Huh? I heard them mention “balloon,” but it didn’t register at the time. To be honest, the pain only lasted about 10-15 seconds, so the drugs they gave me at least helped minimize what I felt. But it was still SCARY!

Back to my fishing analogy. In thinking about the guide’s responsibility, it boils down to being prepared, knowledgeable and taking care of all the needs of the customer. How does that compare to the Fisherman we know as Jesus? Is He prepared for anything we send His way? Check. Does He know everything—including how to solve any problem we have? Check. Will He take care of us through any storm life hurls at us? Check. HE IS ABLE.

I used the concept of a “Rainy Day Faith Fund” in a radio broadcast several months ago. The idea is that if we are exercising our faith by studying God’s Word and developing a relationship with God through prayer, then when the trial comes unexpectedly (as big trials usually do), we can utilize those reserves of faith for times of testing.

A couple of years ago, I took a Bible study called “The Armor of God” by Priscilla Shirer (same study that taught me about the turtle formation). We were encouraged to write out Ephesians 6:10-19 on index cards provided in the book. I did that, and with some effort memorized those verses. The cards became so handy that I wrote out more of my “go to” scriptures on them. Guess what I just about wore out in the days leading up to the Cardiac Cath? My Faith Fund came into play, both in my prayer life and with those scripture cards. I was armed and ready for battle!

You see, the battle becomes a tug-of-war in our minds between whether or not God’s will is to answer our request in the way we want it answered. We know He can do anything—the question is will He?! … I bet all you believers out there are nodding as you read this! It is interesting to me that there are so many verses in the Bible on fear and faith. Here are just a few:

  • For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. II Timothy 1:7
  • Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusts in Thee. Isaiah 26:3
  • The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. Exodus 14:14
  • But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back. But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved. Hebrews 10:38-39
  • Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. II Thessalonians 3:16

What I realized anew is that God provided so many scriptures on faith and fear, not because we would read them once and apply them to our lives permanently; but that we would need to refer back to them over and over. He knew we would continue to need encouragement whether we are in the shallows or the deep parts of life. How comforted I am by that knowledge! I’ll close with this thought:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:38-39

 

God’s Best,

Susan Butler

PROTECTION

When I was a little girl, I was fortunate to have a mother and father who protected me from the harsh things of the world. They fed and clothed me, gave me a home, educated me and loved me consistently and well. I never really thought about their protection, but I certainly benefited from it. In the same way, during most of my adult life, I seldom stopped to think about the outside forces at work to keep me from harm. The realization of God’s protection over us may come when we land safely in another country, when the tornado strikes close enough to feel the vibration and experience the darkness, or when we pass a deadly crash, knowing it could have been us. For me, it has been a gradual awareness of the reality of God’s presence in every area of my life.

Proverbs 30:5 (TLB) tells us that “every word of God proves true. He defends all who come to him for protection.” We sing songs of praise and worship that speak of God as our Defender and Protector, so why is it that we forget to thank Him daily for defending us against unseen forces?

         GEEZ LOUISE!

When the driver next to us is texting and driving 70 mph, just making it home can be cause for praise!

So how do we find this deep assurance of God’s protection? As always, look in His Word. Proverbs 19:23 (TLB) has a promise you can count on: “Reverence for God gives life, happiness and protection from harm.” The word reverence has to do with a profound adoration and respect for another. If I say I revere God, but my lifestyle proves disrespectful to His Word, I fool only myself. God wants what is best for us, and we can obtain the best when we honor Him with obedience.

Psalm 91:1–2 (TLB) says “We live within the shadow of the Almighty, sheltered by the God who is above all gods. This I declare, that he alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I am trusting him.” Visualize being in the shadow of Almighty God as you go about your day at work, at home with your children, or traveling to foreign lands. Just think, the same awesome God—who made heaven and earth and you—has your back. No matter where you go, He is there.

God’s Best to you!

PRAISE

I was involved this morning in an unusual time of praise. Our church celebrated the 25th anniversary of the man God chose to lead our church away from loss and despair, and toward the liberating road to revival and renewal. We praised Pastor Jack Graham and reminisced through video and testimonials about the growth of the church under his leadership. We thanked him for not only staying the course, but pointing us toward God’s plan for the future of our church.

Had this been the leader of a corporation or the commander of our armed forces, the focus would have been on the individual and all of his rightly-deserved accomplishments. Yet, in the instance of this celebration, the focus was not only directed at our pastor, but on our God who led him to us, gave him the vision for our future and inspires him still to move us onward and upward.

When praise is directed at the One who makes all things possible, it is true praise indeed. “For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised.” Psalm 96:4a (KJV) “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O Most High.” Psalm 92:1 (KJV) “Oh that men would praise the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men.” Psalm 107:8 (KJV)

Our choir sings a song entitled “Total Praise,” made famous by The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. The lyrics are taken from Psalm 121 beginning:

“Lord, I will lift mine eyes to the hills,

knowing my help is coming from you.

 Your peace you give me in time of the storm.

You are the source of my strength.

 You are the strength of my life.

I lift my hands in total praise to you.”

The song concludes with a series of Amen’s that cascade and crescendo in a waterfall of praise. I have made a habit of starting each day by listening to this song, because it places me in a position of praise from which I can begin to worship the Most High God.

Praise comes from the Spirit of God in you. The more you reflect on God’s power in your life, the more likely you are to thank Him and praise Him for His goodness, His direction, His mercy, His provision, His faithfulness.

God inhabits the praise of His people (Psalm 22:3) – scripture tells us He is enthroned on the hearts of those who love Him. So praise Him on the good days, and even more on the days that deliver challenges. Practice thanksgiving to experience the rewards of peace and expectancy. Witness your own metamorphosis from ordinary to extraordinary!

God’s best to you!

WITNESS

Have you ever been asked to give testimony in a court trial? If you witnessed a crime or a car accident, you may have been asked to give an accounting of the event from your perspective. Your testimony serves an important role in our legal system to provide truth about what was seen and heard.

In the world of Christianity, Creation itself is a powerful witness. Our faith has been built up through the testimony of Old Testament prophets as well as New Testament Disciples of Christ. It is through their experiences that we have come to know the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. However, the Bible tells us in Romans 1:20 (NLT) that we have no excuse for denying who God is—even if we don’t have access to His Word: “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”

Someone recently shared that she didn’t like to hear people claim healing from God because it made all the others who had not been healed feel badly. That is a compassionate view, yet over and over the Bible tells us we are to shout aloud the good things God has done for us. According to Psalm 71:23 (NIV), “My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you—I whom you have delivered.” When we experience God’s mercy and grace, praise should be a natural response.

Susan Butler and Bonnie Walker

I am blessed to have a sister who has left an indelible mark on my life through her testimony. Before Bonnie left for college, she went on a mission trip to California, and was asked to give her testimony at church when she returned. Stepping up to the podium, she held her arms up like a ballerina and slowly turned a full circle. Facing the congregation again, she proclaimed that she might not look different on the outside, but that she had been changed on the inside. She went on to tell how the Lord had worked in her life on the trip; and she continues to witness concerning His grace and glory in her life. Her desire is for others to be drawn to Christ through her life … and they are.

Who has made a spiritual impact upon your life? Are you giving testimony to God’s grace in you? We are to be bold like Paul when he said, “For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scripture says, ‘It is through faith that a righteous person has life.’” Romans 1:16–17 (NLT)

Pray for opportunities to share your faith. God promises in Isaiah 55:11 (NIV), “So is my word that goes out of my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” God always honors our requests to share His Word and His Ways.

God’s Best,

Susan