Tag Archives: Struggle

2 Kings 22-23; Psalm 73; 2 Corinthians 5

23But I am always with you.

You have held my hand.

24You guide me with your advice.

And later you will receive me in honor.

25I have no one in heaven but you.

I want nothing on earth besides you.

26My mind and my body may become weak.

But God is my strength.

He is mine forever.

27Those who are far from God will die.

You destroy those who are unfaithful.

28But I am close to God, and that is good.

The Lord God is my protection.

I will tell all that you have done. Psalm 73:23-28

I’m going to be completely honest. I’m really struggling right now. My life is in a tough spot and the situation is less than ideal for our family. The physical and emotional toll that having our family separated and strewn across the world is frustrating and difficult for all of us.

On the surface, to the ones looking into the window of our life, the answers seem simple and no brainer. Without understanding the nuances of our circumstances, judgements are made, advice is given. The pressure of so many expectations and the stress of not living up to any of them has got me second guessing almost everything.

Except for God.

It doesn’t matter that I can’t see God with my natural eyes, I trust that He is there guiding my steps, holding me by the hand in the journey, in the ups and downs, in the struggle. He’s the still small voice that leads me in my walk, encouraging me to keep up the good fight no matter how difficult it is.

My mind and body feel weak, exhausted from not sleeping well for way too many nights in a row, having too much on my shoulders that drains the life out of me, and not experiencing enough moments of joy.

But God is my strength. He protects me. He provides for me, He gives me rest and peace.

The key is remembering, in the hard moments, to crawl up on His lap, nestle into His arms, and stay close to His heart.

Yesappa, I need a hug today. I need You extra close today. I need Your strength. I need Your love. I need Your grace. And, I need an extra measure of peace today. In Jesus’ name. Amen

 

Blessings – Julie

 

International Children’s Bible, Copyright © 2015 by Tommy Nelson™, a Division of Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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Filed under 2 Kings, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms

Lamentations 1-2, Hebrews 7

A crumpled mess of her … Jerusalem. Lamentations opens with despair and heartache. Peeling back curtains of time to look through its window–dismal and broken. She sits like a widow and slave, tears down her face, uncomforted, betrayed.  She lies in the gutter with no one to lift her out.

He wove my sins into ropes
to hitch me to a yoke of captivity.
The Lord sapped my strength and turned me over to my enemies;
I am helpless in their hands. Lamentations 1:14 NLT

God hates sin.

Your prophets have said
so many foolish things, false to the core.
They did not save you from exile
by pointing out your sins.
Instead, they painted false pictures,
filling you with false hope. Lamentations 2:14 NLT

When it gets personal, I think of times I painted lovely excuses around my sin, false hope of my justification. So self-deceived, I mourned and wailed without a clue as to the why of punishment.

A favorite verse whispered to me among the vines, in Hebrews 12:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

I read more …

After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said,

“My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and don’t give up when he corrects you.
For the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.” Hebrews 12:1-6

Hebrews 12 is full of great encouragement and caution: be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking.

Lord, I chased after the approval of man. Cheap idols I once admired, you crashed and shattered. After enough tears and searching, you showed me my heart and I finally understood, seeing past the colorful cover-up of my own deception. Today I can live free from that sin–because I see it for what it was, those ropes that bound me. I don’t want to live deceived. Lord, may I always listen for your voice.

Courtney (66books365)

From the archives. Originally published November 8, 2012.

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, ESV Through the Bible in a Year

1 Samuel 3; Romans 3; Jeremiah 41; Luke 10

While Jesus and his followers were traveling, Jesus went into a town. A woman named Martha let Jesus stay at her house. Martha had a sister named Mary, who was sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to him teach. But Martha was busy with all the work to be done. She went in and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me alone to do all the work? Tell her to help me.”

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things. Only one thing is important. Mary has chosen the better thing, and it will never be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 (NCV)

I’ve always been like Martha, responsible, given to hospitality, with an understanding that life happens and certain duties need to be done. But, I’ve always wanted to be more like Mary, one who sits at Jesus’ feet, focused only on Him, blinded to the ‘things’ of life.

When I went to ministry school, it was one of the hardest struggles I had to work through, especially since, as a student, I was part of the team that cleaned up after church and after conferences. More often than not, my responsible side took over and while many of the other students were still spending time with God, I was cleaning up urine off of the toilets in the bathrooms, seething with jealousy.

When I came to India as a long-term missionary, it was still a problem I struggled with. My (now) husband worshipped the Lord all the time, serving the people by bringing the Word to them, introducing them to Jesus or presenting them with a new teaching, all in Tamil, a foreign language I still don’t fully understand. Meanwhile, I was ‘stuck’ doing house work, administration for his ministry outreaches, and sitting for 3-4 hours on Sunday not being able to understand anything that was being said during the church service, not being able to experience corporate prayer or worship in a way that moved my heart.

As a mother, I am experiencing this issue yet again. When all I want to be doing is entering into His presence, praying, worshipping, reading the Word, there are so many duties to be done. And this time, there are two little lives that are depending on my actions for their survival, two little beings who don’t understand Mommy’s need to get away with the Lord, to drink Living Water to quench my thirst.

Obviously still in process with this whole Martha/Mary battle waging war within me, I have come to some realizations that have helped me relax in the midst of my progression:

1)      Sometimes listening to God is more about learning to recognize His voice calling me in the midst. More often than not, His voice is the still, small voice I am not quite sure I even heard (1 Kings 19:11-13). Samuel didn’t even understand that it was God speaking to him. Only when Eli explained who was calling him in the night, did he know how to respond. Only when he identified God’s voice was he able to listen to what God had to say to him.

So Samuel went and lay down in bed. The Lord came and stood there and called as he had before, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel said, “Speak, Lord. I am your servant and I am listening.” 1 Samuel 3:10 (NCV)

2)       In life there are certain things that have to be done – even the Bible says there is a time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) The key is remembering that everything I do, whether it be feeding my family or washing mountains of laundry, even changing diapers and cleaning the bathroom, is able to be done as if I am doing it for the Lord Himself, doing those things as an act of worship to Him (Colossians 3:23-24; 1 Corinthians 10:31).

3)      There are only so many hours in a day, days in a year, years in a life. When it comes down to it, evaluating my priorities every day, accomplishing what really needs to be done and releasing the unrealistic pressures of trying to be a Wonder Woman, is crucial. Letting go of the ‘to do’ list allows me to be free from the burden and the worry. Seeking God’s Kingdom and His Righteousness enables me to achieve more in the day than I thought was even possible (Matthew 6:25-34).

I’ve come to the conclusion that really it boils down to my attitude. I can choose to be like Martha, a woman who has a chip on her shoulder, only seeing the overwhelming amount of work she ‘has’ to do all by herself; a woman who writes things on her list just so she can cross them off. I can choose to be like Mary, a woman who spends all of her time in front of the Lord, basking in His Glory and His Love, but accomplishing nothing of the tasks required for life, oblivious to everything and everyone else around her. Or, I can choose to be myself, a woman who has a full duty roster and yet seeks to offer my whole life as a living sacrifice that is pleasing to the Lord (Romans12:1-2), not looking to the right or to the left in comparison or in envy.

It is this new way of thinking that I strive for…even more than a cleaned kitchen or ironed clothes or bathed, fully dressed children.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Filed under 1 Samuel, 66 Books, Jeremiah, Luke, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Romans

Exodus 2; Luke 5; Job 19; 1 Corinthians 6

Now a man from the family of Levi married a woman who was also from the family of Levi. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw how wonderful the baby was, she hid him for three months. But after three months she was not able to hide the baby any longer, so she got a basket made of reeds and covered it with tar so that it would float. She put the baby in the basket. Then she put the basket among the tall stalks of grass at the edge of the Nile River. The baby’s sister stood a short distance away to see what would happen to him. Exodus 2:1-4 (NCV)

 

When Jesus had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Take the boat into deep water, and put your nets in the water to catch some fish.”

Simon answered, “Master, we worked hard all night trying to catch fish, and we caught nothing. But you say to put the nets in the water, so I will.” When the fishermen did as Jesus told them, they caught so many fish that the nets began to break. They called to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They came and filled both boats so full that they were almost sinking. Luke 5:4-7 (NCV)

Just then, some men were carrying on a mat a man who was paralyzed. They tried to bring him in and put him down before Jesus. But because there were so many people there, they could not find a way in. So they went up on the roof and lowered the man on his mat through the ceiling into the middle of the crowd right before Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” Luke5:18-20 (NCV)

The first sermon I ever preached was about faith. It was a message about the need to stop trusting what we see around us, the fear, the uncertainty of the world, the discouragement of circumstances, and put all confidence on God. It was about putting a foot out into the unknown, into what is not seen or understood, and taking a leap of faith.

There was a time in my life not so long ago where I moved in that place of faith almost effortlessly. I took each moment by moment ready to do anything I felt Holy Spirit leading me to do, whether it made sense to me or not. Even though flickers of doubt or worry might flit across my mind, the strength of my faith in that time squashed those notions like mosquitos.

I took giant leaps of faith, some of which lead me to walk away from the life I had dreamed for myself, attend ministry school in a different state, and eventually move to the other side of the planet to reach out to the lost in India. It has been more than I could imagine.

But, I’ll be honest.

Recently, I have been struggling with faith; not with my faith in God, but in my faith that I will be able to rise above my frustrations, my situations in life. I’ve been struggling with the doubts that I have about who I really am in Christ and whether He really does have a good future planned for me (Jeremiah 29:11). http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=jer%2029:11&version=NCV

In my weakness, I have pondered all the things one thinks about went the enemy is trying to win on the battlefield. I’ll admit that I have listened to the lies whispered in my ear. I can say that I have felt very defeated, especially in the areas of joy, hope, and peace.

As much as I am able, amidst the demands of life with two small children, I read and study the Bible, I pray, and I worship the King. I realize that all I am able to do is hold on tight to what I believe to be the truth, whether I am feeling it or not. I grasp onto the knowledge that the conditions of my life are much better than many of the circumstances of the people of the Bible.

I know that my Defender lives,
and in the end he will stand upon the earth.
Even after my skin has been destroyed,
in my flesh I will see God.

I will see him myself;
I will see him with my very own eyes.
How my heart wants that to happen!
 Job 19:25-27(NCV)

It is very interesting to me that as I am writing, I am remembering promises that God spoke in the Bible and remembering that they will not come back to Him void. I am remembering that truths that He has whispered to me with His still, small voice. And, I keep hearing the words to the song “My Redeemer Lives.”

…you were washed clean. You were made holy, and you were made right with God in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.  1 Corinthians 6:11 (NCV)

I might not be in the same place as before. My leaps of faith may look more like hops. But, if nothing else, I can hold on to the truth that He will never leave me nor forsake me because I am His, washed in His blood that was shed at Calvary.

I know that I can’t do any of it by myself, but I can trust that He will help me when I ask.

Yesappa, Help me! Amen.

Blessings – Julie, Vadipatti, India (written in the U.S.A.)

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Filed under 1 Corinthians, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Exodus, Job, Luke, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament