Friday, January 12, 2018

Hope in the Face of Anxiety

Excerpt from "Words of Hope"

Do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything,
by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.
And the peace of God,
which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds
in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

Early this morning my husband and I received an urgent phone call from our son. “I need you to pray NOW, Mom.” My heart sank as I put the phone on speaker so his dad could hear. Police. Student. Accusation. Information. Our children. The longer he spoke, the more anxious I became. He and a team of adults, students, and our grandchildren held a kid’s camp for a church several states away and were ready to start home when the trouble arose. “Please call your prayer warriors, gotta go, call later, bye!” 

My husband and I immediately prayed then began petitioning others to pray urgently for God’s intervention. After an extremely long hour—it felt like three—and acknowledgement from a myriad of pray-ers confirming their petitions to God on behalf of the mission team, our son sent a text informing us they would soon start home although the situation was not yet fully resolved.

After praising and thanking God for His speedy answer and blessing, extending my gratitude to all who prayed, and deep breathing for a few moments, I sat down to write. My title and Scripture for this chapter, chosen weeks ago, reminded me once again of God’s perfect timing. There is Hope in the Face of Anxiety.

The Apostle Paul began Philippians 4:6 with these words, “Do not be anxious about anything…” I cannot honestly tell you that I earned an A on that portion of the test today. I definitely exhibited signs of concern and anxiety. But praise God for the remainder of that verse, “but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Can you imagine the seemingly impossible task of never being anxious about anything? So, what do we do with our anxious moments—times of stress—legitimate concerns?

Pray—Petition God. Make a request. Ask for help.
Be Thankful
Praise God

Turn your worry into prayer. Worry Less—Pray More! When you “present your requests to God,” be specific. Yes, He already knows, but remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:7, “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Be persistent in your pursuit of God. Do not give up. He is not running from you. Psalm 139 tells us there is no place we can go where God is not already there. When anxiety makes your stomach roll and your knees weak, run to God not from Him.

What will happen when you do that? Philippians 4:7 says, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” That is your hope in times of anxiety. God’s peace guarding your heart and mind! Shielding your heart from the enemy.

We have lots of cattle ranches in Texas. As you drive along the highways, you often find areas where there is no fence across a driveway to keep the cattle inside the ranch, but rather a series of metal tubes spaced a few inches apart and buried in the ground with only the top of the tubes showing. Cattle will not cross the cattle guards. I like to think of God’s peace doing the same thing for your heart and mine. Peace places a protective guard around your heart making it more difficult for satan’s fiery darts to penetrate.

So, the next time you face anxiety, remember the HOPE! Present your requests to God and allow His peace that—exceeds, surpasses, goes beyond—transcends all understanding to “guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” He is your hope in the face of anxiety

©Joyce Powell
Words of Hope-2016

Sunday, January 7, 2018

What Good is Prayer

Devote yourselves to prayer, being
watchful and thankful.
        Colossians 4:2  NIV 

I urge, then, first of all, that requests,
prayers, intercession and thanksgiving
be made for everyone.
         1 Timothy 2:1  NIV 

     E.M. Bounds said, “Prayer should not be regarded as a duty which must be performed, but rather as a privilege to be enjoyed, a rare delight that is always revealing some new beauty.”

     In his letter to the church at Colosse, Paul admonished his brothers and sisters in Christ to devote themselves to prayer. The Greek word for devote conveys the meaning to join, to give attention to, be faithful to, to spend much time together.

     Prayer is not a solitary action. Although we often talk about being alone in prayer, it is always alone with God, the two of us spending time together discussing faith, friends, family, life… As we worship, we can feel His presence. As we confess our sin, we can realize His forgiveness. As we bring our requests to God, we recognize our dependence upon God and become thankful for His goodness, mercy, love, and grace. As we wait and listen for Him to speak, He teaches us and pulls us into a relationship with Him.

     Prayer draws us close to God. Prayer is our place of power as God hears and answers. Often the change most wrought by prayer is in me as God carefully shapes and forms me into the likeness of Christ.

     Prayer is a delight. It is like wiggling your toes in an icy spring on a hot summer day. It is like a drink of fresh cool water after an extended walk on a dusty trail. It is like the first glimpse of spring flowers after a long gray winter or first sight of a loved one not seen in years.

     Prayer humbles your heart before God and energizes you for the day’s journey. Time spent with God reassures you that you can make it through the trials of life, joyfully. Through prayer, you find the peace that passes all understanding. Through prayer, your disappointments become an assurance from God that He is working all things out for your good.

     Prayer allows you and me the privilege of a glimpse through that heavenly portal into the throne room of God—into the place where God’s glory shines too bright for our human eyes—“a rare delight that is always revealing some new beauty.”

     What good is prayer?

© Joyce Powell

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Glory to God in the Highest

Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace, good
will toward men.
Luke 2:14 KJV

This morning I am reminded of a night many years ago as our quartet practiced:

"How could I boast of anything I've ever seen or done?
How could I dare to claim as mine the victories God has won?
Where would I be had God not brought me gently to this place?
I'm here to say I'm nothing but a sinner saved by grace."

Tears fell like a babbling brook after a spring rain as my mind flashed to the 400 years of God's silence from Malachi to Matthew. The Jewish people awaited the promised Messiah. They heard nothing. Finally, God spoke; first through an angel announcing to Mary the coming of the long-awaited Messiah and then to the shepherds, "today the Christ is born."

Not only did God once again speak to his people, but He spoke through the Living Word, Emmanuel, God With Us, Christ in us the hope of glory. And, I wondered where would we be had God continued to be silent. We have had, through history, the opportunity to see the darkness when God does not speak and now we see the Light of the World in Jesus.

Anything good in my life, anything well done or prosperous, and anything that glorifies the Father comes because God gently brought His amazing grace to the world for me. The same is true for you sweet friend. We are all the same in God's eyes- sinner walking in darkness or sinner saved by grace walking in the Light. The Light is available to all.

Today I simply give Him glory for great things He has done.

© Joyce Powell

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Life in the Little Things

So whether you eat or drink or whatever
you do, do it all for the glory of God.
                       I Corinthians 10:31 NIV 

     Speaking of the shallow and the profound, Oswald Chambers wrote: “Determinedly take no one seriously but God, and the first person you find you have to leave severely alone as being the greatest fraud you have ever known, is yourself.”

     Fraud! Cheater! Imposter! These words speak to the motive of my heart. I used to think this verse related only to my actions, but was recently made aware that this verse penetrates to the marrow of my spiritual bones—not only what I do but what I think.
     What do I think when my plans for the day are interrupted by someone else’s need? What do I think when I have made plans for money saved then someone presents a need I feel I must meet? What do I think when the mundane of daily life interferes with my plans for doing big things for God?

     The record of the life of Christ on earth is the ultimate example of grace in the midst of the ordinary everyday common events of life. Christ was born into the ordinary, chose the ordinary to be His disciples and ministered most often to the common ordinary people met along His way—yet He is God!

     Therefore, it is in the ordinary—not the great things I desire to do for God— where He reveals the motives of my heart. If I learn to live with Christ-like motives in the little things, then when and if God allows me to step out into the deep with Him, I will be able to look in my mirror without the fear of seeing an imposter.

     The motive of my heart should always be—Lord, it is all about you and not about me. Today I pray that God will shake His children like a dust-filled blanket reminding each of us to check our motives as we go about doing the ordinary to the glory of God.

©Joyce Powell 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Happy New Year

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid
or terrified because of them, for the LORD
your God goes with you; he will never leave
you nor forsake you.
                           Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV    

Moses completed the challenge to the Israelites to choose—life and prosperity or death and destruction. He then proceeded to tell them which to choose: “Now choose life, so that you and your children may live…for the LORD is your life…” (Deut 30:19)

Next he addressed the gathering of Israelites to pass his leadership position to Joshua. I’m old, tired, worn out and used up and, by the way, the LORD told me that I will not cross the Jordan. But do not worry, God himself will cross over ahead of you, destroy the nations in your way, and send Joshua before you.

Then Moses added His encouragement to be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or terrified because the LORD your God goes with you. He will not leave you. He will not forsake you.

After all these centuries, in this new year, we too face the same challenge as the Israelites: life and prosperity or death and destruction. I encourage you to choose life—for the LORD is your life.

This year you may, like the Israelites, wander in the desert. You may fear tomorrow and what it might bring. You may, like Job, face loss beyond your imagination. You may, like Daniel, be thrown into a den of lions for your steadfast unwavering obedience as you follow God. You may be ostracized by friends and family or face a dreaded disease. Or, this may be the best year of your life. This may be the year the LORD pours out His blessings so that you are unable to contain them. This may be the year of renewed relationships and forgiveness for past offenses.

The good news is that it does not matter what this year may hold for you or me because our God, the LORD, goes with us. So rather than walk in fear of the bad things that may happen, choose instead to live each day of 2018 expecting great things from God. Expect God to work in your life. Watch as He shows up at the least expected moment in the most unexpected way. See Him provide for your needs. Hear Him as He whispers your name and calls you into life-changing and exciting places. Expect good things from God!

Be strong and courageous and fear not for the LORD goes with you! 

© Joyce Powell

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Merry Christmas

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth
in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David,
because he belonged to the house and line of David.
He went there to register with Mary, who was
pledged to be married to him and was expecting a
child. While they were there, the time came for the
baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn,
a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in
a manger, because there was no room for them in
the inn.
                                               Luke 2:1-7 NIV

     Two thousand years ago, in the midst of the hustle and bustle of census taking in a small town called Bethlehem, a child was born. As His cry rang out in the darkness and His mother, Mary, swaddled him pulling Him close to her breast, the citizenry of Bethlehem hurried and scurried through the obligatory motions of fulfilling the decree of Caesar Augustus; come and be counted.

     Shepherds in a field received a personal invitation to come and see the baby that was born in Bethlehem. An angel of the Lord and a company of the heavenly host sang out to the glory of God. The shepherds left their sheep to seek out this Lamb of God born on that night.

     Upon seeing the child, they left and spread the word of this baby and all that had happened. “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)

     Two millennia later, we have the same opportunity as the shepherds. Today, we know the full story. This baby born of a young virgin girl is the Savior. Like the shepherds 
we each hold a personal invitation to “come and see.”  It is written in red. “For God so loved the world that he gave his One and Only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

     Like the heavenly host, we too can sing out to the glory of God. And like the shepherds, we have the opportunity to spread the word about this baby and all that we have experienced since accepting His invitation to believe.

     And like Mary, we can hold Him close to our hearts, treasuring all that He has done and compelling others to come and see.

     My prayer for you this Christmas is that you believe in the One and Only Son of God. He is the reason for our celebration. He is the light that shines in the darkness. He is the voice calling out in the wilderness. He is Jesus Christ the Messiah, and He longs for you to know Him. Come and be counted.

     Merry Christmas!

© Joyce Powell 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Sing for The Savior Has Come

And suddenly there was with
the angel a multitude of the
Heavenly host praising God,
and saying, Glory to God in
the highest, and on earth
peace, good will toward men.
                 Luke 2:13-14 KJV

Christmas is a time for singing. The Savior has come!
The First Noel the Angel Did Say
Angels We Have Heard on High
Joy to the World! The Lord is Come
O Come, All Ye Faithful
There’s a Song in the Air
Hail, Thou Long-expected Jesus
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
Silent Night, Holy Night
Good Christian Men, Rejoice
O Little Town of Bethlehem
Angels, from the Realms of Glory
Away in a Manger
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing 

     Be blessed today by remembering the songs of the Christmas season. They sing of a Savior who is born, Christ the King! Let your heart rejoice as you remember the Redeemer! He came to rescue, ransom and redeem! He is Prince of Peace, Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Today let us sing it in our homes, on our streets, in our churches and around the world. The Savior has come! His name is JESUS!

© Joyce Powell