Frustration, Faithfulness, and God’s Timing + CD Giveaway

One of the unique differences between Christian artists and the majority of other musicians is openness about the muse for music. Christian art is about testifying to the God who is, glorifying Him through song.

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The story behind Kari Jobe’s new album The Garden is a real life example of the reason for the hope she has in Jesus. In the title track, Jobe describes the desperation she felt when her sisters’ infant James Ivy arrived stillborn. Jobe was pregnant at the same time. The loss bore all the tragedy of shared dreams shattered and hope falling limp before the Lord.

But God.

In His perfect timing, He brought healing and revived hope for Jobe when months later a garden at her new home began to bloom. It had looked a mess, and she wasn’t sure what it would produce. She discovered, climbing up with fresh life, ivy.

Her reflection resounds in the title track lyrics: “For this moment you planned ahead that I would see your faithfulness…”

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My friend Lois recently wrote about her own experience with God planning ahead for her when she received a birthday lost in the mail months late- but God timed it right when she needed it.

Another friend, Christine, wrote of reaching just the right person in customer service. God’s timing of the call resulted in conversation leading to a personal connection through which she can share the reason for her hope.

Still another friend told me how she was frustrated with the difficulty of locating and entering a food pantry to drop off bags of rolls. She arrived just in time to witness a man sadly turned away because the available bread racks were empty. Handing him the bread, she was able to tell him God loved him with the full conviction of knowing God had timed their visits so they would meet.

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Our Lord goes before us (Deut 31:8.)

Into the garden in the spring. Into the mail system’s mess to delay cards. Into the customer service queue to connect people. Into the food pantry where a man in need of bread and the bread of life could be handed both at once.

The hope and awe bound up in recognizing God’s profound faithfulness are themes throughout Jobe’s CD. Direct praise is cultivated through “I Will Sing.” Stories of His inexplicable faithfulness ring out through “Miracles.” Awe resulting in drawing nearer to the Lord is represented through “Closer to Your Heart.”

Whether we’re waiting for the Lord to reawaken our hearts or reflecting on the majesty of God, we can be certain He is faithful. He who began the good work will complete it. He’s planned ahead. He’s gone before us and made a way.

The narrow road leads us to the abundant expanse of God’s glory. Praise be to our faithful God!


Interested in winning a copy of the CD? Comment on this post before 5pm EST of Friday, Feburary 10th!

You can also purchase a copy by clicking here.

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification. Only residents of continental U.S and Canada

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope, #DreamTogetherLinkup, #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #LiveFreeThursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

I’d love for you to guest post on First and Second! Especially for an upcoming series…more here.

 

Word of the Week: Pleasing

A useful tool for getting ahead, building a great reputation, and driving yourself nuts, pleasing others is a temptation.

Personally, I have been facing this temptation rather obviously. The recent struggle has required me to either strive to please a certain person or act according to what God says is right. I’m reaping some very frustrating consequences due to not pleasing said person.

Yet I’m glad for this, thanking the Lord even in the unpleasant.

Galatians 1:10 challenges you and I:

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Broken down…

Step 1: Trying

Trying to please people starts with striving and intending. It begins in our hearts when we shape our thoughts in pursuit of getting the approval or acceptance of others.

Step 2: To Please

Biblos.com defines the action:

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Pleasing someone requires action (or inaction) in accordance with that person’s wishes. It is acting as they would like you to. Just as a servant would do.

Step 3: People

The first two steps happen in order; we strive to please. It’s this last bit where we make a clearer choice.

Choosing “people” isn’t the better option. “People” means not God.

Our striving, working, and serving are all to be unto the Lord. That is what is best for us and what brings Him glory.

Just as money and God cannot both be our masters, other people and God cannot both be those we submit to. Other people and God have far too many competing purposes, directions, and methods for us to obey both simultaneously. His way ultimately wins out in the end.

Start on the winning side. Begin with the trying to please God. Sometimes (often!) He asks us to do things that will also please other people. It’s lovely. Just be prepared to make the choice when called upon.

As I can attest far too well at the moment: choosing God over man is always worth it, but man doesn’t tend to react well. Thankful the Lord approves, gives grace, and can even work in those “others” who are displeased with me.

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #SittingAmongFriends, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

WordoftheWeek: Satisfy

To have enough. What a mind-boggling concept. We live our days on “more,” not “enough.”

Our time is spent seeking more time. Our appetites are never appeased for long. Our work earns what it takes to get by- but never enough to meet all of our needs and desires.

We are the unsatisfied. And often, we’re proud of that fact. Accomplishing more and gaining more earn us praise and make us successful in this world.

But Scripture says this:

“Why spend money on what is not bread,

and your labor on what does not satisfy?”

Isaiah 55:2

We prefer to seek and seek and seek. To spend and gain. It’s no surprise, though, that this prodding toward satisfaction is found in the same chapter as the well-known word from God that His way is not our way. That His way is higher than ours.

Our way, our focus on “more,” is ever-changing and expanding. But God’s is complete. Whole. Contented. Full.

His way -His self- is enough.

You can breathe that sigh of relief now.

“Praise the Lord, my soul…who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Psalm 103:5

Satisfy is a beautiful word.

In this verse Michele shared in her earlier post about memorizing the mind of God, we’re reminded of what satisfaction accomplishes: renewal and praise.

Yes, that’s right. Satisfaction accomplishes something.

Without satisfaction, we’re in the loop of “more.” We’re trapped in a cycle. But satisfaction says “enough.” Calls us full, and marks the completion of something.

Satisfaction means that what was intended has been fulfilled.

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That fullness gives glory to the Lord. It shows the fullness of His plans and demonstrates His faithfulness.

When we are satisfied, we admit that the Lord is all that He says He is and give Him the ultimate praise: that there is none other and nothing more. That He is the standard, the good, and the end we seek.

Satisfaction proclaims that our God is indeed perfect.

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Another mind-boggling concept, I know. But praise Him!

For being so complex, the truth is quite simple: Why spend on that which can’t satisfy? Praise the Lord: He does satisfy. To find what is enough and complete, look no further than to Him.

This post is being shared on:
#WomenWithIntention, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

When Loneliness is a Blessing -The Word Works Series

Writing on her blog Fearfully Made Mom, Abby reveres the Lord and His workmanship in her words and life. Sharing stories and thoughts that many of us encounter in daily our lives, Abby is quick to point straight to the truth we need to hear. Listening in gladly today!
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I remember the first time we drove through this small town tucked into hills of Western Maryland. It was a cold, rainy day and a heavy fog hung over us like a blanket.

As we made our way across the overpass and I looked down at the place I would later call home, I thought, “Oh God, what have I done?” My husband and I were going to be living here in a few months, and I had agreed to the move here sight unseen.

I looked out my window and I thought about the friends we’d be leaving, the church where we’d thrived, and the snowy peaks outside our doorstep in Utah. Had we gone crazy? On what planet did we decide this was a good idea, to pick our family up and move cross country for the second time in five years?

And yet, in late January during one of the coldest winters on record, that is exactly what we did.

After living with my in-laws for a few months while looking for a house, we finally found a place to raise our growing family. We were expecting our second son, and I was eager get active in the community. But the more we tried to fit, to find a church family and make friends, the more elusive our desires became.

I wondered if we’d heard God wrong. Even though we’d prayed fervently before making the move, I couldn’t help thinking we’d made a mistake. What I didn’t realize was that even in the midst of my grief, God was working.

God can use some of our loneliest seasons to draw us closer to Him.

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As we push back against the isolation and wonder where He is, He’s whispering, “I’m right here, my love. Come and sit with me a while. Everything you need is right here.”

During those months where I grieved the life we’d lost in Utah, God drew me to his side and comforted me like no friend ever could.

He gave me an understanding of his Word which can only be gained by living it.

I remember coming across this verse in James during those first few months of transition into our new town.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,

whenever you face trials of many kinds…”

James 1:2 NIV

I used to look at verses like this one and think, “Seriously? That sounds really nice in theory, but how can it apply to my everyday?”

But the move changed me.  It took James words and put skin on them in a way I never expected.

After spending some lonely months in my recliner nursing my newborn, I saw that James wasn’t delivering some clichéd phrase to sound religious. He was speaking truth and life.

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I wasn’t happy about my situation, but I had joy. Because friends, joy goes so much deeper than being happy. It is knowing no matter what trials life brings, we cling to a hope which will withstand it all.

As God worked on my heart, he prepared a place we would later call our church home. He brought people to our doorstep who ministered to me in my sadness.

When a new spring dawned and buds formed on the trees outside our window, I knew our winter of isolation was over. And I thanked God for everything He taught me during the cold.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

13. BEHOLD: The Author and Editor

Oh, the stories that come with Christmas! Tales of wild festivities, hilarious memories, and sentimental moments. At Christmas we also face stories we’d rather not; disappointing and painful memories are often whispering in the background.

One story we also hear tells of Christ’s coming to earth to save us. This is the greatest story, and it’s true. Even better –the author is still at work.

“You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.”

Acts 3:15

Not just the author of your life story, or mine, our God is the one who created life. He is the one who overcomes it’s limits that we may live with Him forever. With just a word He gives this life, and with another, He takes it away. He came up with life, and He brought into being, and He sustains life as we know it.

With just a word, He also changes life as we don’t know it, too.

We all like to think that we plot out our paths. We try to select the themes for our Christmases, our homes, and our lives. “It’s my story” we say, and we only get to write it once. What we overlook is this fact: as the author, He gets to edit.

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.”

Proverbs 16:9

The greatest story, and the whole story, are written by the Hand of God.

Praise Him that for all the plot twists we wish weren’t there and all the corrections we try to make, His edits keep the story complete and perfect.

Behold, the Author whose edits to our contributions only make it better.

Behold, the Story with no plot holes, no errors, and no constraints.

Behold, the One who assures us that the story isn’t over and it won’t be.

This post is being shared on: #LifeGivingLinkup 

12. BEHOLD: His Sacrifice

Little babies are one of the most precious blessings to behold in this world. We look on them with awe and wonder –their little hands and feet. Their tiny personalities. The miracle of new life in so small and fragile a package.

When Christ became a baby, new life was not born. He had long existed –longer than any man. More powerful, more perfect, than we can fathom, He gave all of that up to be one of us, and one of us at our most vulnerable –newborn.

For that to happen, there were miracles, and there were many sacrifices.

Mary’s conception was miraculous –and required the sacrifice of her reputation at very least. For Joseph to take Mary as his wife and raise Jesus as a son was a sacrifice to his pride and likely very costly in a number of ways. God, meanwhile, was sacrificing His only son. We know that later, Jesus also sacrificed Himself for us.

“But when this priest (Jesus) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins,

he sat down at the right hand of God”

Hebrews 10:12

Our modern celebration of Christmas comes with sacrifice too. We give up money to support the needy, contribute to celebrations, and get gifts for loved ones. Our time is certainly sacrificed to a number of things. For some of us, our talents are offered up, too. But to what end?

That newborn savior brought with Him a new birth into eternal life, for you and for me.

In our sacrifices, we have a model to follow after. His example is one of humility. He gave up that which was rightfully His –His place and person in heaven- to become like the least of us.

His sacrifice was made not to the altar of man and man’s demands, but to the Lord who so loved us. Can we say the same of our sacrifices this Christmas? Are they made out of love for the Lord?

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise

–the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.”

Hebrews 13:15

Behold, His great name, always worthy of our praise.

Behold, the ultimate sacrifice that now allows us be living sacrifices.

Behold, new life by the newborn’s sacrifice.