By: Carole L. Haines
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power… For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:10+12)
Sometimes the struggle against flesh and blood is one we have within ourselves. It is a struggle with our will, our ways, our plans.
I have found the need to come to the end of myself. All the striving needed to stop. The fighting and clawing to find my own way in the world.
Have you ever seen a bird or bee trapped inside the screening of a porch? They flit and flutter, busy and buzzing trying to find their own way out. Then, exhausted, they fall to the ground and crawl right out underneath that screen.
All the panic, all the worry, all the struggling to find their own way out, and the way was right there all the time. We can be like that bird or bee. We exhaust ourselves with our own ways, our own plans. Then we come to the end of ourselves and we fall to our knees before the Lord and yield to His Sovereign Plan and Will for our lives.
We crawl out from underneath all our own ideas and find to freedom in Sweet, Glorious Surrender to the Father who loves us, the Savior who prays for us and gave up everything to buy our redemption, and the Holy Spirit who leads us into all truth.
As we contemplate the high price paid for our Freedom in America and celebrate with our family and friends; Let’s remember that Greater Freedom in Christ, paid for with His Blood. Let us fall to our knees in Surrender to His Good, Pleasing and Perfect will.
Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
photo taken by: Bruce Nevin Haines
by: Carole L. Haines
O Lord be gracious to us; we have waited for You.
Be our strength every morning,
Our salvation also in the time of distress.
The Lord is exalted, for He dwells on high;
He has filled Zion with justice and righteousness.
And He will be the stability of your times,
A wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge;
The fear of the Lord is his treasure.
(Isaiah 33: 2,5-6)
The Lord is the same every single morning when we wake up, no matter what is going on in the world or in our own lives. The Lord is our strength every morning unfailingly. He never wavers, never changes. He is always in control. God is the only One who can inhabit the concepts of “Never” and “Always” at the same time. This unchangeableness about God gives great hope to us in this time of widespread Instability. Lamentations 3 puts it this way:
“This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.
The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.”
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.
It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the Lord.” (vs. 21-26)
We live in a time garnished with great instability. But we can rely completely on God’s unchanging faithfulness. The Word stability, in this context, means “firmness, fidelity, faithfulness and security.” When we step out into this uncertain world every morning, God is our stability, our faithfulness and our security. One of the greatest illusions in the soul of man is the sense that he has control over anything. God is the One in control, and when you take the time to know Him intimately, you find He is completely trustworthy. He is described in the two Scriptures above as “stable, faithful, compassionate, our portion, our salvation, exalted, strong and gracious. When I venture out into the world’s instability, I am completely sure of God’s Stability. This gives me great hope. “This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope…” Recall these aspects of God’s character to mind often and with great conviction. Let them bring forth hope in you as you step outside today. God truly is The Stability of our TImes.
A Guest Blog By: Christine Laporte
“Do not grow tired of doing good, because at just the right time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up”. Galatians 6:9
Even when living as incomplete and hurting people we can still be an inspiration and motivator to others who are suffering. When I see a person who is obviously in a great amount of pain, not only am I cheering for them and praying their situation will improve, I’m also looking to see who the Lord has placed in their life to help them.
I admit it’s difficult to watch someone day in and day out abuse their body, mind and spirit by either drinking themselves into oblivion, spending money they don’t have, binge eating or sleeping half the day away. Still, this is the way some of us cope and if we don’t have God believing, praying and persistent people to help us, the road back to restoration is an awful challenge.
Does the Lord want us to be “that person” and risk getting involved in administering aide to the unbeliever or saint gone astray? What if we ourselves are experiencing current trials? Can we really be a benefit to them or will we pull them down by our own current plight?
In 1 Corinthians 1:3-5 we read the following:
“Praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ”.
How redeeming is that? Even though we suffer, we can receive God’s comfort and then pour it into someone else’s life. Yes, the Lord makes a deposit of hope into our situation “so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God”. It seems by reading this verse that the Lord expects us to help those who are hurting. I don’t see here where we have to be completely healed or out of our own pain. We receive from God and give to others.
If a brother or sister in Christ is combating a life dominating sin or if they’ve fallen back into old patterns of behavior, here too we can be an instrument of restoration in the person’s life.
“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted”. Gal. 6:1
According to readers.com, to restore gently means “that the Church is not arrogant or inconsiderate when dealing with a public sin, they seek to restore the person to fellowship without humiliating the person who was caught by sin”.
Yes, there is also a warning here to be careful so we are not pulled into the sin too, and that is another reason for being in close, daily contact with the Lord, listening to the Holy Spirit.
About a month ago my youngest daughter and I visited her sister and her fiance in Northern Virginia. It’s about a hour and a half drive but we really enjoy it. After lunch we visited a restoration store where rooms were filled with new, gently used and antique home goods. Seeing the unique items and pondering they might be used again on our own homes was fun. I believe we shouldn’t just throw out older or used items, but instead donate them, modify them or gently store them for another time.
It kind of reminds me of how we, as people, are not “throw aways”. God can and does restore us, heal us and work through us to accomplish His work here on earth. Even more, we can help others fulfill the purpose the Lord created them for as we participate in their “comeback” story.
By: Carole L. Haines
“But as for me, I would seek God,
And I would place my cause before God;
Who does great and unsearchable things,
Wonders without number.
“He gives rain on the earth
And sends water on the fields,
So that He sets on high those who are lowly,
And those who mourn are lifted to safety.
I woke up this morning feeling a bit gloomy. Perhaps it’s the cloudy weather, or just being exhausted readjusting back to full time work with my Sweet K-5’s at the Center where I work. Sometimes I feel as useless as a tiny speck of dust being blown around by the wind. How can my small life be one that encourages others? How can I possibly affect the world around me for good, for God and His Purposes? As I was pondering this, God reminded me of how dust particles are absolutely necessary for cloud and rain formation.
Clouds are created when water vapor, an invisible gas, turns into liquid water droplets. These water droplets form on tiny particles, like dust, that are floating in the air. .Apr 23, 2020 climatekids.nasa.gov
Clouds are made of water droplets. Within a cloud, water droplets condense onto one another, causing the droplets to grow. When these water droplets get too heavy to stay suspended in the cloud, they fall to Earth as rain. (SciJinks)
I am but a speck of dust, but with God’s power and inspiration, I can become part of a cloud that grows heavy with His love and mercy. When that cloud becomes saturated, I become a refreshing raindrop watering somebody else’s life. A Word of Encouragement when they are having a hard day. A smile, my laughter can bring another, a sense of worth and joy in a world that can be so judgmental, harsh and unkind.
I am but a speck of dust, but with God filling me with His Word and His Light, I can become a refreshing Summer Rain on a hot day in someone’s life. I can be that water that encourages a seed in another, to begin to open and grow.
Our God is so good, so powerful, so amazing to be able to use any one of us. We are each a particle of dust together becoming a huge cloud, heavy with His refreshing water of life, pouring down upon a dry and thirsty land. Rest in Him, Precious Believers in Christ. He is using you, making you His rain upon the world.
By: Carole L. Haines
Oowee! God is putting the squeeze on me, boy, I can tell you that! But it is a good squeeze, because I’ve been through it many times and His intentions are always to squeeze out the flesh so there is more room for Himself and His transformative power in my life. It all began about a month ago with Bible Gateway’s Visual Verse of the Day:
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.
I have been praying for a deeper walk, more transformation into the likeness of Christ. This was God’s answer to me. He put the finger on my tendency to be critical and whiny. Notice about that it says SO THAT YOU MAY BECOME. That was God’s shout out to me.
Carole, do you want to become blameless and pure?
Do you want to be a child of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation?
Do you want to shine among them like a star in the sky?
Well, Yeah God! Of course I do!
Well Carole, here’s your marching orders: start becoming aware of the 5 W’s and an H in the complaints department.
What are you complaining about?
Why are you grumbling?
Where does this start in your mind?
When are you most likely to fall into this pattern?
Who are you complaining about?
How is this even helpful?
All this complaining, whining, arguing, judging is only serving to damage your heart, not purify it.. Then I open up my beloved Devotion today MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST by Oswald Chambers: and here is what he had to say on the matter:
Stop having a measuring stick for other people. There is always at least one more fact, which we know nothing about, in every person’s situation. The first thing God does is to give us a thorough spiritual cleaning. After that, there is no possibility of pride remaining in us. I have never met a person I could despair of, or lose all hope for, after discerning what lies in me apart from the grace of God.
From My Utmost for His Highest Updated Edition
Okay, My Precious king Jesus, I am listening. Thank You for loving me so much that You are wanting to, able to, and victorious in changing my heart. I’ve seen you do it in the past in other areas and I know You can bring me out of this muck and mire into which I have meandered. Life’s been hard, Lord and I ventured off the pathway of Your vision, purpose and focus for myself. I live to do Your Will and I hear you calling for change in me in this area. I hear You, My King, I yield to You, My Lord. And Holy Spirit, I’m going to need all the Help you can pour through me to remove this stubborn tendency by the root. Amen.
by: Carole L. Haines
Taking a journey deep into my own heart has been one of the scariest things I have had to do. After all, the Bible tells us:
“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
Yet the lord has shown me this is only half the story. As I have been called to face my inner self, with all its selfishness, fear and the like, God has had to hold my hand and show me that the only way out is through. I had to see these things so I would know I couldn’t change myself. I would never venture into your own heart without holding the hand of God. But the only way out of our destructive patterns and choices, is to go through them with God. The other half of the “heart” story was shown to me in the Book of 1 John.
Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We will know by this that we are of the truth and will assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. (1 John 3:18-20)
I have given the whole passage for context, but they key verse about the heart I have italicized. God is greater than our heart and knows all things. Since God is greater than my desperately sick heart, I don’t need to be afraid to journey there and see it with His Guidance and Mercy. The heart must be examined by God and we must look at what He shows us. The only way out is through, and we should never try to go through this journey alone. We need to walk with a few close companions who are also holding God’s hand and journeying through their own heart.
God desires to set us free from all that keeps us from fully receiving His love. He desires to fill us up with His love so that we can spill out all over the world, this wonderful Love of God. But the journey cannot be completed without a trek through our own heart and this trek is scary. If you have sensed that your heart is in need of some major God-surgery, but are afraid to venture there alone, good! You shouldn’t venture there alone. The heart is desperately sick but God is greater than our heart and already knows what lies there to be discovered. Take His hand and walk the journey with Him. Joy and freedom await on the other side. I know, I am walking that path right now and finding tremendous peace and freedom through facing myself with God.
Self-Protection: A prison of our own making
By: Carole L. Haines
Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.
God woke me up super early this morning, 4 a.m. It’s my longest work– day this week, so I fought Him a bit on it. But by 4:20 I was up and in the shower. I have several devotionals I use to start my day. I don’t read them all but let Him direct me and then delete the rest. The one He had me in this morning took me deep into a place of needed healing in my life.
“Let Paul’s teaching fill you with a deep, transformative longing to wholeheartedly pursue the life God intends for you. Ask God to help you see yourself as he sees you, to see the grace he’s placed upon your life by the blood of Jesus so that you might walk more fully in the power and anointing of the Spirit. Open your heart to God and let him do a mighty work in you. He is near to you, ready to mold and shape you into a disciple filled with and fueled by his incredible love.”
(Craig Denison, First 15)
Tears began to flow down my face as I made this quote into a prayer. I have suffered through a lot of rejection and misunderstanding in my life. For the person who suffers rejection often in their life, it is a deep hurt, a festering wound that doesn’t seem to want to heal. This is a horrible place from which to live one’s life, but it is nonetheless very real for a lot of people. Rejection leads us into the realm of self-hatred, especially if rejection has begun at a very young age. We constantly doubt ourselves and wonder what is wrong with us. For me, this is the case. I distinctly remember the incident as a child and emotional injury it caused, which I won’t share here. The point is that all healing can only come from one true source, God’s love and acceptance. We can be instruments of healing or harm in each other’s lives, based on how much we allow God’s love to permeate and rule every motivation in our life.
Rejection causes us to withdraw and try to self-protect. But self-protection becomes a prison of our own making, and soon we do not know how to get out. That’s the life I chose, based on that initial childhood wound. Only God can bring the kind of healing needed to a heart imprisoned by rejection from others, which often leads to rejection of self. Jesus Himself was “despised and rejected on men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. (Isaiah 53:3)
Jesus shows us the way to handle rejection in a right and godly way, It’s two-fold:
1) “But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man. (John 2:24-25)
2)“While being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.” (1 Peter 2:23)
The word “entrusting” is only used these two times in all of Scripture. It is defined as a complete giving over of ourselves to someone. Jesus shows us that we must never give ourselves completely over to people, they fail, we fail. Even when we don’t intentionally do this, it happens because we are sinners.
Instead, when Jesus was rejected, He kept entrusting, and only completely giving Himself over, to Him who judges righteously, Our Father in Heaven. This is where freedom has begun for me from the wounds of rejection and the Prison of self-Protection. Following the pattern of my Lord laid out in Scripture, is leading to tremendous freedom and peace. If you have suffered under rejection and built a prison of self-protection around yourself, follow the Pattern of Jesus and He will heal you and lead you out into a glorious freedom.
By: Carole L. Haines
For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore, I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. (Romans 16:19-20)
I was confused and hurt by something a Sister in Christ said to me. I knew her well enough to realize that it was probably just my misunderstanding. But we have an enemy, satan, who loves to twist what others say to us and accuse them to us. He is called, Satan, the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10). Jesus speaks of our enemy this way:
” He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)
Our enemy is prowling about, seeking to cause disunity in any way he can. He tried to confuse me, but I emailed my friend, as I have often done with others in the past, and put the misunderstanding out there. I exposed what satan was trying to do and I just loved her response.
“Thanks for bringing this matter to me and clearing the misunderstanding so we could squish satan. He has no place here.”
Amen, Sister, he has no place here. Not in my mind, not in our relationships with each other. Let us not be ignorant of the enemy’s desire to twist our words to each other. Let us not be ignorant of the way he lies to us about God, as he did to Eve in the Garden. Let us not be ignorant of his lies about ourselves and who we really are now in Jesus. It was such a blessing to work this out with my friend, privately and perfectly. God is so good to give us the directions, guidance and power to walk in healthy relationships with one another. Let us come boldly to His throne of grace, let us tread gently, yet honestly in each other’s garden of life. God is doing beautiful things in all our lives. Let us work with him, as the Scripture says above, to soon crush satan underneath our feet.
*I do not use a capital “s” in satan’s name because I refuse to capitalize the name of this great enemy of the Body of Christ. Just my little protest against his evil work.
Photo by Tama66 (Pixabay)
The Steps That Lead To Nowhere
by Carole L. Haines
Our family just loves to visit abandoned places. There are a few really interesting ones near our home. Our son is especially into this, so we go on hikes with him to see these places. He studies up on the history of the places and tells us about them as we explore. It’s intriguing to visit where others have trod long ago. You can almost hear the echoes of voices calling from room to room; it’s like the walls are aching with stories to tell. The places seem to brighten when we walk in, as if glad someone has remembered them and has come to wander awhile.
One of the most interesting places we visited was fenced off, which was good because the area is an old missile site. As we peered through the fence, we…
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by: Carole L. Haines
My husband and I were on a trip out to the wilds of Maryland and West Virginia yesterday. As we came out of one of the valleys, I could see the Wind Turbines lined up on the Mountains in long rows. I love how we are moving toward Solar and Wind Power as a society. I am simply fascinated by Wind Power. Some people may find them intrusive on the landscape, but I think They are Beautiful and Graceful. Bruce said, “Well, it’s like you can See the Wind!” That’s it, that is why. Through these windmills I can actually see the movement of wind. Jesus Speaks of the wind in this way:
“The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)
Every time the Wind blows and catches me with a fragrance or cools my skin on a hot day, I think of God. God is so mysterious, as is His wind and the workings of His Spirit. but when we see the trees move and sway and when we see the windmills spin, we can see the activity of God. I love how nature shows us God’s character. The Mighty Mountains stand as sentinels proclaiming His Eternal Constancy. The Ocean waves make clear His Mighty Power. The rains reveal to us his grace and provision. The Seasons tell us He is faithful, and the wind whispers His wonderful mysterious Truth. Spending lots of time with God in nature is one way we can get to know His personality.
“God has infinite treasures to give us. Why should we be satisfied with a brief moment of worship? With such meager devotion, we restrain the flow of God’s abundant grace. If God can find a soul filled with a lively faith. He pours His grace into it in a torrent that, having found an open channel, gushes out exuberantly.”
(Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God)
As you go throughout your day, or drive along the way; may God bless you with His presence. May You see His beauty in the flowers, His majesty in the trees. His kindness in the gently flowing waters of a stream. May you feel the Kiss of His Spirit in the workings of the Wind.