Bethany's BlogWords of Encouragement

When Hope Rises

When Jesus died on the cross and his body was taken down to be buried, there was a feeling of despair that spread through out his friends. This is not what they expected. In their minds they envisoned Him on the throne, not the cross. How could it have gone so wrong? The Pharisee's gloated in the tragic death, believing that they had finally put a stop to the disruption that Jesus brought. Finally, they could get back to normal. The disciples were deeply grieved and afraid. They clustered together to discuss all that had taken place, and they were at a loss as to what to do next. They had just spent the last three years with Jesus, following him, believing in His words, and now he was dead! All the hope that had surrounded them was gone, replaced with despair. The day following his death was a day of tears.

When Sunday morning rolled around and Mary went to the tomb, only to find it empty, she must have been somewhat confused. How could this happen? Where was he? Who did this? When she was told by the angels that He was alive, her world became alive as well.  I've tried to imagine what this would be like as the truth soaks in and hope rises.

On Saturday, everyone believed a lie. They believed he was gone and it was hopeless. 

On Saturday they felt afraid as they clustered themselves away, trapped in pain, confusion, and despair.

On Saturday they had so many questions, doubts, and tears, hope was gone.

And then it was Sunday.

Mary saw him, but she didn't know it was him until he tenderly spoke to her. The pain of Saturday was no longer an issue, for all her hope was alive, vibrant, and standing in front of her. She realized that she had believed a lie, and now truth was there to give her freedom.

The disciples had the same experience. They ran to see if the tomb was really empty, and yes, indeed it was! They were full of wonderment, questions, and excitement. They still clustered together all of them talking at once, letting logic tell them that someone had stolen the body. But then, Jesus joined them. He walked right in and asked for food. He crushed all doubt, fear, pain, and despair. He gave them truth, so the lies they were believing could no longer thrive. He gave them hope.

This is what we have too, HOPE. When we fall into the trap of lies it feels the same way as the disciples felt. So much pain, despair, hoplessness. When we bring it to Jesus and hear him speak to our pain, He crushes the lies.  It may look different than we imagine, we may have a struggle believing that he is actually truth, but when it happens we have incredible and complete freedom from the tomb. 

When hope rises, we are able to run and tell others. When hope rises the fear and lies are crushed. When hope rises there is peace.

Praying today that this Easter brings you great hope!

 

 

Celebrate Today

 

 

 

It’s the beginning of April, and the Coronavirus is running rampant throughout our country and world. When I look out our window the sun is shining, melting the patches of snow that remain in our front yard. Everything looks pretty normal except for the eerie hush that surrounds our neighborhood.  Most of our neighbors are hunkered down inside their homes. Events in our town have all been cancelled. Restaurants are closed.  There’s a sense of curiosity, dread, wonderment, fear, peace, hope, all mixed up in the air. Nobody really knows what will happen next, except God. 

I know that God knows and for me that brings a sense of peace and hope. Still, it also brings questions. What is going to happen? What is my part and God’s part? How can I keep my family safe?  I’ve asked myself all these questions. God does whisper back to me in His familiar comforting voice, “I am your safety, peace, hope, and comfort. I will give you wisdom. I will renew all that is lost, and there will be great celebration!”

We need all of these things right now. I like feeling safe. I want continued peace, hope and comfort. I enjoy renewal and celebration.

God does not stop there. In His tenderness He challenges me to see the renewal in every day and to celebrate during the crisis.

“My soul dissolves because of grief; renew and strengthen me according to [the promises] of your word.” Psalms 119:28 AMP

There is grief in times of crisis, yet we can celebrate our God who renews and strengthens us in all the ways that bring peace and hope.  God is our storehouse of strength and hope, and we can go to Him each time we seek renewal.

“And I will say to my soul, “soul, you have many good things stored up, [enough] for many years; rest and relax, eat, drink and be merry (celebrate continually)…”Luke 12:19 AMP

If you have times of asking what there is to celebrate in the middle of crisis, let me share with you what I have found. 

Life. Celebrate every breath you are given. 

Life. Celebrate the truth that God renewed You at the Cross, and there is nothing on this earth that has power over your soul.

Life. Celebrate the people that you love. Each day recognize the amazing gift of who they are.

Life. Celebrate the rebirth of Spring green leaves. Celebrate the blossoms that pop with color. Celebrate the sun that is beginning to warm the earth. 

Life. Even in a crisis there is life. Even in pain, loss, and weariness He will offer strength and hope. Even when it feels impossible. 

Celebrate who He is.

The enemy of your soul wants you to fear the unknown that lurks before us. He wants you to shrink back and lose faith in who God is. He wants you to believe that He has power over you. 

The enemy of your soul is dead wrong!

Lift up your hands in celebration, for today is the day to anticipate all that God will do in your life!

When You Need Courage

  

 

 

Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive fails and the fields produce no food, though the flock is cut off from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls, yet I will [choose to] rejoice in the Lord; I will [choose to] shout in exultation in the [victorious] God of my salvation! The Lord God is my strength [my source of courage, my invincible army]; He has made my feet [steady and sure] like hinds’ feet and makes me walk [forward with spiritual confidence] on my high places [of challenge and responsibility].

Habakkuk 3:17-19

God promises over and over in His Word that He will strengthen those that trust in Him. He promises to give us confidence that is as sure-footed as a deer, when we live in faith.

I will be the first to admit that I have worked through and still work through some serious doubts when it comes to God’s promises. The beauty of this process is that God is right there beside me as I question, wonder, doubt, and sometimes run around in circles. So far in life, He has brought me to a place of stronger faith and boldness, even though I can wallow in doubt. I’ve told myself numerous times that it would be much easier for me, and probably those around me, if I skipped the doubt, the questions, and sometimes fear and simply believe. Yet, it isn’t always that easy, is it? 

The days that I feel like the fruitless vine, or the fig tree without any blossoms, or a failure like the olive tree, I have discovered that if I voice it and still praise His name anyway, I truly am strengthened. Sometimes I am strengthened a lot, other times just a little, but every time, He is there.

When my courage falters, and I turn to praise Him, He lifts me up to walk in a sure-footed path. It can be slow, but it does happen.

We live in a world that bombards us with negative thoughts and bad news. We are surrounded with lies from the enemy every day. It can suck the strength right out of our hearts if we are not diligent in our focus on who God is and what He promises us. 

If I am not willing to get up from under the fruitless vine, or the withered fig tree and praise Him for all that He has said; it will be very challenging to see beyond the circumstances I am sitting in. When I choose to move, I will lead a movement. When I choose to trust, I will believe. When I choose to stand, I will lead in boldness. When I choose to rejoice, I will be victorious.

If discouragement covers your heart today, take heart! God sees and hears you and He will lift you out. He will bring you to places of great strength and faith when you are able to place your trust in His promises. Talk to Him about it and don’t be afraid to be real with Him. He listens. He knows. And, as you confide in Him, He certainly will make you walk forward with spiritual confidence. 

Share your story today of how God continues to walk alongside you, even though.

The Goodness of God

 

 

 

 

  

Bethel Music sings many songs that are fitting for this time. I especially love The Goodness of God. 

"I love you Lord, for your mercy never fails me. 

I've been held in Your hands from the moment that I wake up, until I lay my head, I will sing of the goodness of God.

Because all my life You have been faithful....Your goodness is running after me."

I asked myself after listening to this song "Am I thinking about the goodness of God more than the Covid-19 virus?" The answer? Not always. I have to intentionally counter the "what if's" with the goodness of God. Every day when I want to gather my entire family, protect them, run after them in desperate measures to keep them safe, I have to counter the thought with God running! Yes, He is running after them to keep them always in His care. He is an active living God, His mercy never ends. He is the safety we all seek. 

Oh my God! You are so very good all the time--even when I feel anxious, bored, lonely, afraid, or desperate. Always good! I have had previous times in my life that I have felt all of these and I did not fully understand the depth of God's great goodness. I did not understand who He is.

"The earth, O Lord, is full of Your lovingkindness and goodness; Teach me Your statues."

Psalms 119:64

Read that again. "The earth, O Lord, is full of Your lovingkindness and goodness."  The entire earth, is full of His goodness. We are part of that goodness. Our actions towards others, the thoughts that compel us to live in truth, the hope and light we carry---all goodness. His goodness. 

The song continues saying that all my life God has been so good---even during things like the coronavirus--God is so, so good.  "I love your voice You have led me through the fire and in darkest  night You are closer like no other. I've known You as a Father, I've known You as a Friend, and I have lived in the goodness of God, yeah, 'cause your goodness is running after, it's running after me."

Every. Single. Day.

I like to watch the news. I'm working on not watching it as often, because it challenges the truth of Who God is. In the midst of bad news I forget that He is running after me all day long. So, I replace the news with praise music, thoughts of hope, and images of my Gods amazing marathon abilities to tirelessly run after me. It is so, so good!

What do you need to do today to remember the goodness of God?

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