In the Arms of Our Father {DWITW 365}
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As I sit here writing this, I am in tears. I recently lost a friend I loved just as a sister. She was young, only 31. She had fought cancer three times over the last ten years. I try to remain strong and resilient, putting on a fake face of “normalcy” so that people don’t see how sad I truly am. But today, I am losing that battle. My pastor sent me a text asking me how I was doing, and that was all it took to bring me to tears. She has been gone just over a month now. We met at church, so he had officiated her funeral. He loved her as deeply too, just as so many others. So, I know he is sad as well. But he reminded me of her largest goal in life - to love people and reach souls.

Let me explain a bit about my dear friend, Leslie. She was closer to God than she was to me. She spent her life in prayer, worship, and reading all about who He was. Her entire life was built around ensuring she was living the life He wanted her to live. To know Leslie was to know the love of God. It oozed out of her like lava, melting the hearts of the hardest souls. We told her the day before she passed that we believed she broke Facebook because every single person we knew was posting prayer requests for her. Even people who had never met her were inundated with her Jesus’ aroma because of the number of prayer requests shared for her miracle healing. Her viewing was one of the largest I have ever seen. Even in her passing, God saved souls right in the middle of her funeral. When I grow up, I want to be like Leslie -a beautiful sweet spirit who loved God like He held her in his arms each night and kissed her forehead while whispering “well done, precious daughter, well done.”

We have thought on your steadfast love, O God,
in the midst of your temple.
-Psalm 48:9

Now I know we are to get our direction from God. I believe wholeheartedly in His love and wisdom for us. But we can also learn from the people God places in our path. This happened in Scripture too! For instance, in 2 Chronicles 29, King Hezekiah purifies the priests in order to hold Passover. He knew it was necessary to obey God’s commands to present a pure sacrifice. After having been away from God under the rule of King Ahaz, Hezekiah was trying to work toward bringing the people back to holy reunion with the God who loved them. And the result was that his obedience changed the course of history for generations to come!

Further in this week’s reading, we see the writers of Psalm 48 discuss God’s unfailing love. In verse 3, they remind us of God’s strength as he defends Mount Zion. This reminds me of how I, foolishly, allow my fears to guide my sails at times. This is unnecessary on my end, and it only causes me headache and heartache. But if I were I to trust God, allow for His defense of my life, and therefore not steer away from His plan for me, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, I would be protected.

Later in the Psalm, in verses 9-13 specifically, the Sons of Korah remind us to praise God for the unfailing love that offers us shelter. In song, they command us to walk through life declaring God’s goodness during the trials that will come. In this, I am instantly reminded of Leslie and her ability to praise God during the worst moments of her cancer trial. She never allowed the cancer to beat her; instead she proclaimed that she was a winner either way. She knew that she would either dance in earthly streets singing the praises of a miraculous healing, or that she would dance in the streets of Heaven with her earthly father and her Heavenly Father.

And in His goodness, He is creating a community of people to lead all of us to hearts that look more like His.

Life is a precious balance of ups and downs. We are always experiencing moments of love, joy, grief, despair... and countless other emotions. However, we are fortunate that in Christ, God protects, defends, loves and holds us in His powerful hands. Because of this truth, we can rest easy knowing He fills our lives with people to help guide us; and sometimes we are the guide for others along the journey. And in His goodness, He is creating a community of people to lead all of us to hearts that look more like His. Our God loves us so deeply, and He has woven a fine web of silk attaching our hearts to others’ hearts within His glorious Kingdom.

So, for me, at this moment, that is a truly bittersweet thought. I am still grieving the loss of one of my dearest friends; yet I can see her smiling face, as she sings and dances with our Heavenly Father. And I know she is not sad for one second. She is exactly where she was created to be - in the arms of her Father.

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Sonya Gentry wants to live in a world where being kind and loving means that when we encounter a need or brokenness, we say yes first and think about it second. This would be a world where walking with Jesus means trying to act like Jesus through loving, relevant acts of service; where Christians put their hands and feet in the dirty situations of the world in order to show people God’s love and grace; where we understand that comfort zones are meant to be broken because people need us to show up and be be the best portrayal of God’s love we can be. When she's not working, you can find her being silly with friends and family, playing games with her nephews, volunteering for various organizations and events with her church, or relaxing with a movie.

Her favorite Scripture is John 15:16-17: “You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed and placed and purposefully planted you, so that you would go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit will remain and be lasting, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name [as My representative] He may give to you. This [is what] I command you: that you love and unselfishly seek the best for one another” (AMP).

Believe God Is With You {DWITW 365}
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Are you dreading something or living in fear? Are you terrified of the future? Often times life’s circumstances bring us to places of great trepidation and uncertainty. Although we are not being pursued by a great nation such as Judah was in Isaiah 7 and 8, in some ways the spiritual warfare that we face is as real and foreboding. When we succumb to the enemy’s devices by meditating on and analyzing all the ins and outs of a situation, we are fighting against the Lord and His great grace over our lives. So often we, like Judah, listen to the report of our enemies and not what God is saying. We feel as though we are being conquered or terrorized by something or someone in our lives. We falter in our faith because we have our eyes on ourselves as the solution, rendering us unable to stand against the wiles of the enemy. God reminds us in Isaiah 7:9 that unless we stand on Him, we will not be able to stand at all:

“If you do not stand firm in your faith, then you will not stand at all.”

How do we stand firm in our faith when we feel as though we are floundering? We grab hold of the Rock of our salvation! We anchor our hearts and minds on the One who condescended to our lowly estate in order that we may experience the power of His presence in our lives. We are ambassadors of Christ, made fit for royal service in our King’s great army. And yet, all too often we believe in the enemy’s strength more than in the power of our God - a God who moved heaven and earth to rescue us from darkness. God has ordained us and called us His own and we are to walk in newness of life. Many times that translates to laying down the old, worn path of worry, fear and anxiety and coming face to face with the living God, who by His mighty right arm has conquered all our foes! 1 Peter 2:9 confirms our position in His kingdom:

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

There is a high call on our lives to proclaim the excellencies of Christ to a people who do not yet know Him. How can we do that if we are in bondage to fear and dread? There is no reason to be afraid or filled with dread of the future because Jesus is our great hope and He is victorious! He rescued us out of darkness! What are we doing running back to Egypt, walking those old paths of sin that we died to? We have believed the report of men over God. We are so prone to wander back to the old ruins of our life before Christ, where we believed that we were sovereign over our own lives.

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
- Isaiah 7:14

Our culture spoon feeds us the demonic worldly ideology that we are to be independent and self sufficient. This ideology creates great barriers of unbelief that stand in the way of us viewing Christ as supreme in our lives. When we lose sight of God in our circumstances, we grow fearful and unbelief begins to propagate a whole host of lies in our minds. We are so quick to forget that God is with us. We must remind one another that we are not alone and we were never meant to do this alone but that God, in name and character, is with us. 

It was no coincidence that Isaiah was sent to prophesy to Judah immediately after he had seen the Lord (Isaiah 6). His assignment was to carry the true message that God IS with us to His people. They had believed the lie that their safety and security was dependent upon their own wits and strength, but God encouraged them with the hope of His condescension so that they would have faith and be able to stand in the face of great tribulation. Just the mention of His name, Immanuel, connotes a calming and quieting effect for God’s people. We have a peace that the world cannot offer, but we must continually remind one another that we are not alone. Jesus himself reminds us that we are not alone in John 14:25-29:

“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.” 

Jesus left the earth so that we could have access to Him 24/7! We must believe that He is with us and that knowledge will surely lead our hearts toward the path of peace. We must rejoice in the knowledge of this truth together, reminding one another daily so that our faith does not fail. It is essential to our daily lives that we walk in the mandate of Philippians 4:4-7 in order that our minds not be taken captive by the lie that we are on our own. We must believe that He is with us!

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.  The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, 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 understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
- Philippians 4:4-7

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 Karen Savage wants to live in a world where Christ is Glorified. When she's not serving her family, you can find her serving others. Her favorite Scripture is John 15:7-8 ESV.