Let the Lord Renew Your Strength

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint”—Isaiah 40:31 (ESV).

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In the past, I led an active lifestyle, running and exercising to stay fit. Next month, I’m facing knee replacement surgery.

I can’t experience the thrill of a runner’s high anymore. When my running days were over, I was forced to race walk. Now, I walk with a sturdy stick to help me navigate through my neighborhood. Osteoarthritis has set in because of the breakdown of joint cartilage, limiting my movements and causing pain.

When you’re used to being physically active and can no longer enjoy those things you have in the past, you have to adapt. There are days when I climb stiffly out of bed. I find the aging of my temporal body hard to accept.

After all, age is just a number.

One recent morning, I felt sorry for myself, silently lamenting my limitations. Then, I opened the shades covering the back door to my deck where I spied four squirrels chasing each other on the railing. Watching their playful antics, I was filled with joy. After a good laugh, I realized how blessed I am.

What Does Hope Do for Mankind?

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have”—1 Peter 3:15 (NIV).

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The three of us clasped hands and bowed our heads. We were standing in the middle of a discount department store aisle, praying for an employee who was battling brain cancer. Covering the lower half of her face was a protective mask to ward off the threat of germs.

My friend, Sonya, knew the employee and introduced us. As the woman’s story unfolded, I learned it wasn’t her first battle with cancer. Her fighting spirit drew me in as did her positive attitude.

The best growth comes through persevering through trials.

As we continued shopping, we struck up a conversation with another store employee who had beat cancer. She shared her amazing story of healing. Placed on hospice, her only hope was divine intervention. Prayers were answered and this amazing woman is, indeed, a walking miracle.

Both women have placed their hope in God. Hope. What does it look like? For me, hope shines brightest when I’m at my lowest.

Hope is the word I recently chose to study in the scriptures. Each morning, after I read my daily devotional, I turn to the concordance in the back of my Women of Faith Bible and look up verses referencing hope. One of my favorites is Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

What Kind of Inheritance Will You Leave?

“A man in a crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to give me my share of what our father left us when he died.’”—Luke 12:13(CEV).

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Many families have been destroyed after a loved one passes on, leaving a material inheritance behind. A better legacy to leave behind is a spiritual one. While we usually associate the word “inheritance” with material possessions, a spiritual legacy cannot be measured.

A spiritual inheritance is passed on during our lifetime through godly words, actions and prayers. However, as stewards of a spiritual legacy, we have to develop our own spiritual lives first.

If we have a desire for the Lord, it becomes contagious.

As a mother and grandmother, I’m seeing the fruits of my own spiritual growth and prayers. Recently, I drove over four hours one way to experience the joy of my two oldest grandchildren’s decision to follow Christ. Although they received the Christian sacrament of baptism when they were younger, they didn’t fully understand the implication. Cheyenne, 12, and Brennan, 11, chose to celebrate their decision to receive Christ as their Savior and Lord once again by being baptized through full immersion.

Is Jesus Enough for You?

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”—Romans 8:28(NIV).

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For too many years, I lived a “take no-risks” life. I was living what most would call the American Dream with a nice house, a husband and two children in rural Oklahoma. Life, although not always easy, was comfortable and predictable.

Although I knew of God, I wasn’t intimately acquainted with Him. I’d attended church and Sunday school off and on throughout my lifetime. My relationship with the church was on-again/off-again, sitting in a cushion-lined pew. I volunteered to help with children’s ministries but that was the extent of my commitment.

I wasn’t expecting to see so much human suffering.

It wasn’t until my 28-year marriage ended 15 years ago that I began searching for something—someone—to fill the void. Since that October afternoon in 2001 when I asked God for direction in my life, my journey has led me back to the body of Christ and on adventures I never dreamed of: mission trips outside this country and a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. More importantly, it led me into the arms of Jesus, the One who loves me more than life itself.

Kristin Welch, author and Pastor’s wife, also lived a comfortable life in a Houston suburb. In her book, “Rhinestone Jesus,” she writes, “…for most of my pew sitting years, I ignored something very important. I was full of faith, but I wasn’t obedient. I could quote scripture and talk about all my blessings, but I couldn’t show you my faith in action.”

Ten Ways to Pray Simply

“But she knelt before him and said, ‘Lord, help me’”— Matthew 15:25 (CEB).

Prayer

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Have you ever uttered a simple prayer like the one in Matthew 15:25? I have. In this scripture, Jesus is approached by a Canaanite woman. After telling Jesus about her daughter who is possessed by a demon, the disciples try to push her away from Him. Jesus waits in silence until she utters a three-word prayer that motivates Him into action.

Prayer, for some, is a mystery and a challenge. We let busyness and problems crowd out time with Jesus when He wants us to recognize our need for Him each day. Have your priorities overshadowed the need to seek Him in prayer?

British pastor Charles Spurgeon once said, “…True prayer is measured by weight, not by length. A single groan before God may have more fullness of prayer in it than a fine oration of great length.”

If you’re at a loss for words, just pray, “Lord, help me.”

We can utter a simple prayer of only one sentence and God will answer, not by how eloquently we pray but by how much faith we pray with. Remember what Jesus told the disciples about faith in Matthew 17:20?  “For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Why Are You a Christian?

“We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand through him, and we boast in the hope of God’s glory”— Romans 5:2(CEB).

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Why are you a Christian? Is it because your parents are Christians? Is it because of the church you attended as a child?

I began to ask myself these questions after I was confronted by a nonbeliever on a social media site. He said, “I bet you were raised by Christian parents who made you go to church.”

Actually, although my parents were raised as Christians, they had drifted away from their faith. They didn’t attend church by the time my sister and I were born. However, when my parents purchased a house in a new subdivision in Louisiana, my sister and I, alone, began to attend a small church down the block, along with other neighborhood children. Looking back as an adult, I know it was part of God’s plan. I don’t believe in coincidences.

I believe in an Almighty Creator of heaven and earth.

I’ve shared before that I drifted away from the church many times over a 40-year period. It wasn’t until I was almost 50 that I became aware of the difference between religion and relationship—a relationship with our Heavenly Father through His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.

So, let me ask you, “Why are you a Christian?” If I were to answer that question, I would first share the wonderful things that God has done for me, in me and through me since I answered His calling on my life.

Prejudice is a learned trait

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”— Ephesians 2:10(NIV).

 

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His neon orange bathing trunks were easy to spot. I was glad. Otherwise, I would have had a difficult time keeping up with my almost 7-year-old grandson at a crowded outdoor swimming pool recently.

Sitting at poolside in a lounge chair reading, I could spot Cash anywhere within the confines of the chain link surrounding the water park area. Since he doesn’t live in this community, and was only visiting me for the week to attend VBS, he didn’t know any other children. However, he had made friends with two boys, cousins, who were also from another town and visiting relatives. During the hour and a half we were at the pool, I kept watch on Cash and his friends.

During a break from my reading, I noticed the three boys were visiting with two girls, both in wheelchairs. I sat, watching and waiting, until everyone was ordered out of the pool because of an approaching storm. Gathering up my things, I approached the boys, who were still conversing with the two handicapped girls. What I learned from the girls’ mother gladdened this grandmother’s heart.

Prejudice is a learned trait.

She posted the following, along with a photo of the three boys and her daughters, on Facebook:

“So today we went to the pool. I try very hard to help my girls feel just like all kids. To be honest, it’s so hard somedays (most days). Just to get to the pool is a lot for them. My girls have great attitudes about most things, but sometimes, when they watch kids their age play, I see that wanting and that loneliness (in them) to play with other kids. Most time, kids warm up to them. Today was just one of those days when we met some wonderful kids. These boys came up to us and wanted to buy them a snack from the snack bar, which was very thoughtful. But the best part is when we got back in the pool, they played with Grace and Dee—just played like kids, splashing them and helping them. It was wonderful to just watch for a few hours. Spina Bifida wasn’t there. Just some kids making summer memories.”