Are you leaning on the ONE who cares?

Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”– 1 Peter 5:6-7

When I was younger, I relied on my parents. Later on in life, I relied on others until they proved untrustworthy. For too many years, I relied on myself. Then, God showed me I could always depend on Him. I like this acronym:

frogF  ully

R  ely

O  n

G  od

Is it hard for you to rely on others? What about God? Do you have a hard time relying on Him? Why or why not?

Begin Day 2 of your journaling journey with the following prayer starter:

Dear Abba Father,

I want to completely trust and rely on You for everything in my life. I know you care for me. I am counting on You to show me how to rely on you fully.

Faith Step: Whom have you relied on in the past? Other people? Yourself? Consider what steps of faith God is asking you to take today to learn how to rely on Him fully. Read and memorize Proverbs 3:5-6. Write it down on several index cards and post them around your house.

 

Are YOU a prisoner?

Be kind and compassionate to one another,forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” — Ephesians 4:32 (NIV).

Are you harboring a grudge? Angry with someone? Is bitterness holding you back from enjoying life? For years, I carried around bitterness and hurt. Until I learned to forgive, I was not free. I like this anonymous quote:

chainsbroken“When I forgave, I set a prisoner free. Then I realized the prisoner was me.”

Dear Father,

I want to forgive those who have hurt me. I want to forgive myself for poor choices in the past. Please show me how to do this, Father.

 

Faith Step: Learn to forgive. Journal about those things that have led to your bitterness and anger. Now choose to forgive. Pour out your heart to the One who knows you better than you know yourself.

 

Where is God on your priority list?

“Come near to God and he will come near to you”–James 4:8(NIV)

journalingWhere is God on your priority list? If you were to rate your relationship with Him on a scale of 1-10, like a daily to-do-list, would He be at the top or closer to the bottom?

Did you know that spending time with your Heavenly Father is the best relationship you will ever develop? When you spend time with Him on a daily basis, the more your other relationships will improve.

How do I know? Because I’ve been spending quality time with my Abba Father every morning for almost 13 years. Not only have I found peace within, but I’ve made peace with those whom I needed to forgive, including myself. More importantly, I am on the path to becoming the person God created me to be?

Never let a day pass without spending time with your Creator. This simple practice will change your life forever.

Begin your Day 1 journal entry with the following:

Dear Abba Father,

I want to know you better. Please teach me what I need to learn in order to draw closer to You.

(Sit quietly and listen for that still, small voice leading you on a new journey to know Him better. Then pour out your heart to him on the lined pages of your journal.)

Faith Step: Choose to put God above all else each day by getting up earlier, if necessary, to read the Bible and journal your prayers to Him. What would you like to say to Him today? What is He saying to you?

Are you ready to take the challenge?

“…let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”  Hebrews 10:22

walkingwithjesusCan you imagine what it would be like to sit down and have a one-on-one conversation with your Savior? Can you picture yourself sitting together on a carpet of clover near a small mountain river? No one is around to interrupt your dialogue. The only sounds are of the water as it flows on its course downstream, the occasional rustling of the grass as a forest creature timidly checks out the intrusion in his world and the call of a bird seeking its mate.

What would you discuss? What questions would you have? What would He ask you? How long would He be able to spend time with you before He had to move on?

One of the hymns I recall from my childhood is “In the Garden,” by Charles Austin Miles. The refrain dances through my mind when I think about spending time with Him.

And He walks with me,
And He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there;
None other has ever known.

It is a joy to spend time with my Savior. Although I cannot physically walk through the garden or sit by a stream to talk with Him, through prayer journaling, I have found a way to draw closer to Him.

A Time & Season for Everything

“There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens”—Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV)

While I was taking down and putting away Christmas decorations, I decided to rearrange my living room. I hadn’t relocated some of the furniture—except to dust—since I moved into my current residence in June 2007. As I moved things around, including the décor, I would stop and assess the room as a whole, trying to determine if the new spot was as pleasing as the previous one.

My revamping didn’t stop there. Inspired by the transformation of my living room, I began to purge my closets, drawers and rooms of those things taking up too much space. I packed items in a box to donate to our church garage sale for missions. Clothing I hadn’t worn in a year was designated to a pile to give away to those I knew could use and appreciate them.

As I continued my mission of cleaning, tossing and rearranging, I discovered greeting cards given to me on different occasions by friends and family. I sorted through them, keeping the ones with special messages so I could return in the future to reread them and soak up their encouragement.

photoBy now, several days into the New Year, most people have already made their resolutions while others chose not to make any or have already given up. Those who have stuck with it, including the ones who have resolved to get in shape, will probably need encouragement somewhere along the way this year.

True Freedom is Found in Christ

“Truly I am your servant, Lord; I serve you just as my mother did; you have freed me from my chains” Psalm 116:16 NIV.

As I read my Bible and wrote in my prayer journal this morning–the day we celebrate the independence of our nation–tears of joy flowed as I recognized the greatest freedom one can ever achieve, the freedom found in Christ.

Why was I crying? For too many years, I was a slave to other people’s opinions, my own perfectionism and a desire to please others. But, Jesus set me free. John 8:36 says,So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

freedom

Recently, I came across “15 Things to Give Up if You Want to be Happy.” I wanted to share them with my readers.

Your Love Letter to God

 

Letters-To-God

Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment” Matthew 22:37 (NIV).

 Can you recall the last time you received a handwritten personal letter in your mailbox? I can’t.

Over lunch recently, a friend and I were discussing the lost art of letter writing. My friend commented on a box of letters written by her mother over the years. While the letters were not filled with anything important, they were a chronicle of what was going on in her parents’ lives at the time. “My mother wrote things that were not earth-shattering but a sharing of their lives,” she says. “When I go back and reread them occasionally, the words bring back such wonderful memories.”

Like me, my friend misses going to the mailbox to retrieve something besides a bill or junk mail, and maybe an occasional card. While some might complain about the price of a postage stamp, I think the cost is minimal compared to the thrill of someone taking the time to pen their thoughts on paper, place it an envelope and drop it in the mail. Although first class letters recently increased by a penny to 46 cents, I still think it’s a bargain.

In an age of cell phones, text messaging and e-mails, the longtime practice of writing letters to family and friends is becoming a thing of the past. Then, along came Twitter and those who tweet learned to express themselves in 140 characters—not words—or less.

Before the age of social media, people wrote genuine letters to their loved ones. Think of the history contained on the inked pages that document someone’s life. What of the letters written home to loved ones from the battlefields of war? I am sure the recipients treasured them, especially if their soldier never returned home.

When teaching high school, I would often receive a note, letter or card from one of my students or a fellow teacher. Although I have been retired from education since 2005, I still have those handwritten missives in a yellow file folder.

Deuteronomy 6:5-6 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heartand with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.”

Do you really love God with all your heart, with all your soul and all your strength? If you do, do you spend quality time with Him each day? When we love someone, we seek to spend time with that person as much as possible.

I begin each day reading the Bible and writing a love letter to God in my prayer journal. Since I started journaling 11 years ago, my intimacy with the Lord has grown. I now address Him in my journal as “Dear Abba Father.”

I challenge you to put God first in your life. Spend time with Him each morning. Write a personal love letter to your Heavenly Father. He loves to hear from His children.

Do you spend time with Your Heavenly Father each morning? Have you tried prayer journaling? If so, please feel free to share your experiences with me in the comment section below.