A Refuge of Hope for the Struggling Soul

A Refuge of Hope for the Struggling Soul

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Melissa W

Melissa is an Okie with a Texas heart. She is a wife and a mother of four. After having taught in the classroom for 8 years, she now happily finds herself as a stay-at-home mom. In any spare time, she enjoys leisure reading and also enjoys writing on her blog (chroniclesofakeeper.com). Out of all the little adventures of life - her greatest joy is found in her relationship with God. Walking in His grace, living in His peace and resting in His redemption is something she is very passionate about sharing with others.
Melissa W
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To understand Him is to understand hope. To understand His gift of mercy is to understand His gift of grace. To understand our continued state of rescue is to understand our place of refuge. 

Abide.

Lately, nothing soothes my heart and mind more than the moments where I find myself sitting still and abiding with my Lord. There, I draw comfort and strength. I focus on Him and who He is as Father, Son, and Spirit. In the place of full abiding is where I can breathe Him in, refreshing and perfectly good.

Abide in His refuge.

Who He is completely captures me. Though I should want to recoil in shame, I am nonetheless drawn into His presence fully aware of the grace and mercy covering me. The very essence of my continued rescue is found in those moments when I rest in Him, and the exceptional standard of hope that is found in Him is given during these moments. Words from the Psalmist come to mind as I recall the image of refuge, a refuge found in those moments of abiding.

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.

Psalm 46:1-3

Abide in His Dwelling Place

The Throne Room of Heaven, the Holy of Holies. It is a place to where I move beyond seeking escape. It is a place where I can come to Him and it is intimate, beautiful, and holy. Holding fast to Jesus, I can enter His presence with reverence and with rest. This combination of feelings produces an attitude which depicts the place of His dwelling. Here grace envelops me all the more, so wherever sin has tempted and tried…sin finds full defeat.

Abide in the Rescuer

Through the God-Son, there is no manner of sin that was not defeated through His perfection, through His death, and through His resurrection. So, in all the ways fleshly desires hound us and in all the way sin’s aroma seeks to draw us in, we can hold fast to the knowledge of a Rescuer who felt the same temptations and conquered them.  His accomplishments over–not just the very nature of sin, but as well as its enticing, tempting ways–are a victory we can claim. This continued state of rescue is what heals, strengthens, humbles, and produces an immense sense of awe.

“Therefore, since we have such a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Hebrews 4:14-16

 

Abide in Jesus

Maybe, like me, you sometimes feel the heaviness of struggle. Perhaps you empathize with Paul when he said, “For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” There is hope. For the believer, hold firmly to Him. Approach the throne of grace with the confidence you have as one who has been redeemed by, and through, Jesus Christ. He is our help and our refuge in time of need, in time of temptation and struggle. His grace binds us to Him completely. Hold on to that and find rest in Him. While on this side of heaven we are not free from temptation, but we are free from its chains–through Christ alone. Abide in Him, for in Christ our holiness is found.

 Teach my song to rise to YouWhen temptation comes my wayAnd when I cannot stand I'll fall on YouJesus, You're my hope and stay.Lord I Need You (Matt Maher)
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God Did Not Create Me For This…

God Did Not Create Me For This…

Laura P

Hello. I grew up traveling the world as a military brat. I ultimately felt God's pull to Oklahoma Christian University where I met my husband. We now have 3 beautiful children and have settled in Mustang, Oklahoma.I am a homeschooling mom and with 3 kiddos it is a full time job! I am daily encouraged by God's great patience and grace in my life. In my free time I enjoy reading and crafting.
Laura P

What did God create you for?

Have you ever stopped to think about all the things that God did not intend for us in this life?  I feel like some days I am constantly reminded of these things.  Many evenings I will sit down and reflect back over my day.  What were my general feelings today?  What went right, and what didn’t?  Did I get things done?  And what did I put off or forget to do?  What habits do I need to start to make me feel more successful?  And on and on and on…

God gives us a full range of emotions to experience life to its very fullest.  In my mind I can be the most fulfilled if I’m feeling generally more positive than negative.  That’s my personal preference.  Some people are like a piece of metal.  When the heat is on they just bend and change to fit the temperature.  Some people are more like a piece of paper and they just burn up.  I’d like to think that I’m somewhere in the middle.  As a result of my military upbringing, I am a pretty flexible person, regardless of my personality.  However, having children and running my own household presents pressures and challenges that at times threaten to burn me up and leave behind a little pile of ashes.

Perseverance, not Exhaustion and Defeat

James 1:4 says, “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  Sometimes it seems as though perseverance for the sake of perseverance alone is the only thing I’ve got left.  But God does not want us to feel downtrodden and hopeless.  It is not His will for us to be exhausted and defeated by the day.
Isaiah 55-8-11New International Version
I love this whole chapter of Isaiah.  The Lord is really encouraging His people and giving them comfort.  God knows that our journey here on earth will not be easy.  There are going to be bad days and tantrums.  There is going to be spilled milk on the carpet and sand in their hair, dirty dishes and floors and toilets.  I often dwell on and worry about these things and that was never God’s intent. God created me for more than my to-do list!

Letting Go and Letting God

I’m going to make a list for myself of what I am intentionally going to try and let go. Perhaps, this list will be helpful to you as well.

This week I will work to let go of the following:

  • Distress over my housekeeping imperfections
  • Incessant worrying about my children’s (insert your worry here)
  • Frustration at other people because of (for me it’s their driving!)
  • Jealousy over someone else’s blessings, calling, or opportunities
  • Fixation with my idea of how everything should be

Considering I’m going to work on these for the next week, it’s a pretty long list; however, these are the things that God has revealed to me recently.  Some of these things are issues I grapple with frequently while others are rather infrequent.  I feel that each of these are relevant to God’s will for my life, and that these things are holding me back from other things God has for me in my life.

I pledge this week to work towards laying these concerns at the feet of Jesus and clothing myself in things that are pure, holy, and right.

Here are my really great reasons to work on this list. I’d like to make more room for these things!

my reasons

Will you take this pledge with me?  

If you’d like to, please share your list with us so we can be praying along with you about what God can take from you to make more room for Him!

Slowing Down the Hurried Heart

Slowing Down the Hurried Heart

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Melissa W

Melissa is an Okie with a Texas heart. She is a wife and a mother of four. After having taught in the classroom for 8 years, she now happily finds herself as a stay-at-home mom. In any spare time, she enjoys leisure reading and also enjoys writing on her blog (chroniclesofakeeper.com). Out of all the little adventures of life - her greatest joy is found in her relationship with God. Walking in His grace, living in His peace and resting in His redemption is something she is very passionate about sharing with others.
Melissa W
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Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD. – Psalm 27:14

My son is always begging me to take him to the Science Museum. For months he has been asking if we could go to the science museum. Month after month, he pleaded his case.

The morning finally arrived. As he headed to his room to dress for the day, I casually said over my shoulder, “Oh, by the way, we are going to the science museum today.”

My announcement thrilled him. I could see the excitement and anticipation in his eyes throughout the morning and on the drive to the museum. His heart, I imagine, was racing with expectancy the whole way.

His fun-filled, delightful day at the museum was everything he hoped it would be and more. He explored and soaked in everything he possibly could.

His day of fun and goodness was largely connected to his obedience and patience.

I did not unleash him into the museum to explore everything on his own. I set parameters for him. As I gained trust in his obedience, his parameters grew. When he was ready to explore beyond his parameters, (usually after some reminders) he was patient to wait until we could move there together. He was able to see and do so much more, because he chose to trust me and my plans for him.

A heart of hurriedness and disobedience would have resulted in a much different experience for him. It might have left him leaving the museum earlier or not being able to see as many exhibits. It would have probably robbed him of the joy that was to be found in all the discoveries.  A heart bent to his own will and desires would have been disastrous and left him disappointed and wanting.

Here is where I would like to draw the parallel.

Sometimes, God opens doors for us. In his infinite goodness and wisdom, He leads us on various roads and to various places. The problem lies when our hurried, impatient hearts drift away from Him and to our own desires the moment those doors open. We begin to step out of the parameters He has set before us. Beginning to explore and make decisions on our own, we unleash ourselves from His divine plan. Somewhere along the way, we forget to trust in our good Father. We forget that He works everything for our good and His glory.

Think of the story of Saul.

His hurried heart led to his disobedience. It led to him losing his place as king. God wanted a king whose heart delighted in Him and sought His own to reign over His people. He needed a heart that was patient, a heart that would obey.

I want to experience everything God has perfectly planned for me. I have often been the one whose heart was hurried. And somewhere along the way, I stop seeking guidance from the One who lays my path. I have lived the disappointments that come when I step out of His parameters and do things on my own. My heart is prone to wander and needs rescuing every day.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.

Robert Robinson (Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing)

Prayer for an Unhurried Heart

I pray for a heart of obedience. I also pray for an unhurried heart…a heart in tune with His. In every place He takes me, I want to walk there with Him. I want to enjoy the fullness of the life He has called me to, and I want to wait for Him in those moments where He asks me to wait. I pray that the worldly things which push me to hurry will not blind me to His sovereign plans.

May we all earnestly seek His direction and wait patiently for His leading. In all the places we are led to, may we always stay vigilant in keeping our heart’s desire after His. In the pursuit of kingdom work, let us not forget to seek and wait for the direction of the King.

A man must not stop listening any more than praying when he rises from his knees. No one questions the need of times of formal address to God, but few admit in any practical way the need of quiet waiting upon God, gazing into His face, feeling for His hand, listening for His voice.

 Charles H. Brent

Experiencing the Psalms: Growing Your Prayer Life

Experiencing the Psalms: Growing Your Prayer Life

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Melissa W

Melissa is an Okie with a Texas heart. She is a wife and a mother of four. After having taught in the classroom for 8 years, she now happily finds herself as a stay-at-home mom. In any spare time, she enjoys leisure reading and also enjoys writing on her blog (chroniclesofakeeper.com). Out of all the little adventures of life - her greatest joy is found in her relationship with God. Walking in His grace, living in His peace and resting in His redemption is something she is very passionate about sharing with others.
Melissa W
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“The more deeply we grow into the psalms and the more often we pray them as our own, the more simple and rich will our prayer become.”

― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Sometimes there are moments when life consumes and your heart feels gagged in the ability to lift up any words in prayer. Sometimes the clouds of our life overshadow us and we can’t find the words to say to Him. At other times, we have plenty to say and are experiencing a rich and beautiful time with Him. No matter where you are in your prayer life, meditating on His word through the Psalms offers us a deep and divine place to experience Him.

His words of truth and goodness bring forth life. Here is a Psalm that has been on my heart lately. I wrote down some of the words and thoughts that came to me as I meditated on this Psalm.

i-will-exalt-you-lord-for-you-rescued-me-you-refused-to-let-my-enemies-triumph-over-me-psalm-30-1

Psalm 30

I will exalt you, LORD, for you rescued me. You refused to let my enemies triumph over me.

Psalm 30:1

 I seek to be in a posture of worship and gratitude to the One who rescued. May the fullness of that rescue be felt deep as it resonates in and through my worship.

O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you restored my health.

Psalm 30:2

I acknowledge that in my worst moment of depravity and soul-marring sickness, He heard my cry; He redeemed and restored.

You brought me up from the grave, O LORD. You kept me from falling into the pit of death.

Psalm 30:3

I can see the place of certain and eternal death that I was cascading fully into. I can see how He reached down and brought me up to a place of beauty and life for eternity.

Sing to the LORD, all you godly ones! Praise his holy name.

Psalm 30:4

I have placed my hope and trust in Him–may my words and thoughts echo the awe of a now-rescued soul.

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Psalm 30:5

Where His holiness demanded separation, He provided a way that those who are His find His love and mercy…forever. His covenant of grace is fully extended to me. In a fallen and broken world, where sin roams freely, a sovereign Lord binds my redeemed heart to His. My sorrow experienced here on earth is comforted by the hope I have in the eternal place of joy to come.

———————

Challenge yourself.

Choose a psalm to read and pray daily, for a week or a month. Let the words draw you closer to Him. Let the words grow your understanding and knowledge of who He is.

choose-a-psalm-to-read-and-pray-daily-for-a-week-or-a-month-let-the-words-draw-you-closer-to-him-let-the-words-grow-your-understanding-and-knowledge-of-who-he-is-1

“The delightful study of the Psalms has yielded me boundless profit and ever-growing pleasure; common gratitude constrains me to communicate to others a portion of the benefit, with the prayer that it may induce them to search further for themselves.”

― Charles Spurgeon, preface to The Treasury of David

 

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Rise Up, O You Sleeper, Awake! — The Audacity To Be A Godly Woman

Rise Up, O You Sleeper, Awake! — The Audacity To Be A Godly Woman

Elizabeth P

I am a recovering Army brat who loves to travel and start new adventures. My handsome husband and I met at Oklahoma Christian University and he whisked me away to Kansas. So, I bought some ruby red high heels and made Topeka my home. I have a rough and rowdy Princess 4-year-old girl, amazing twin boys (almost 3) and a newborn baby girl who all make every day an adventure. We are grateful to be part of an amazing church in Topeka who regularly challenges and encourages our whole family. I have been both a full-time working mom and a stay-at-home-mom and/or both at the same time at one point or another. I am constantly seeking God’s wisdom on “balancing it all” and following His plan for my life, not mine.
Elizabeth P

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My husband is Superdad. He sent me away for a weekend with my mom to Beth Moore’s Living Proof Live Simulcast in Wichita last year.

Spiritual Nourishment

I don’t know about any of the other moms of little kids out there, but I’m drained. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mommy, but I’ll tell you it seems to take every ounce of everything I have to give–every day. In the best way of course!

Spiritual nourishment during this season of life can be especially hard if Sundays are spent nursing babies, wrangling young kids during the service, or being distracted by an active toddler who may or may not have escaped down the aisle while you are trying to worship Jesus. Right.

Sometimes, it’s even hard to get out the door to Bible Study. I find myself seriously craving some meaningful corporate worship with fellow believers. Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s not all about “me getting fed,” but let’s be honest, in this season it seems like I’ve got an appetite for spiritual food and I’m just still hungry all the time.

Church Camp for Women

Anyway, I cannot tell you how grateful I was that my husband encouraged me to go to this conference. Praise the Lord, seriously!  If you get a chance to do something like this such as Women of Faith or a Living Proof event or Abundance, etc., please go! Do it.

This was Mommy church camp and I loved every minute. Walking in, you could absolutely tell the Holy Spirit was there and He was ready to work.

It would take me longer than I have room to write here to talk about everything Beth discussed this weekend and how the Lord worked in my heart. However, I want to highlight the point that set the theme and struck a chord that has echoed in my heart all day.

Audacity

These are days that require audacity in our faith. Beth defined audacity as “intrepid boldness, disregard of normal restraints.” It is not an absence of apprehension, but it is a courage found only in Christ. Audacity in Christ means we must be characterized by boldness for Him because our witness as individuals, and as an entire Church, is at stake. We should not be afraid because our birthright is in Christ and we are secure that He has won the war.

As a woman of God, a daughter of Christ, we must not give up our “birthright” flippantly to this world for things that seem to satisfy us in our lives.  Just as Esau gave up his birthright to his brother Jacob for stew (Genesis 25: 19-34), we often have contempt for our Jesus just because we are exhausted, we are depleted, and we are vulnerable to a certain flippancy or impatience that comes with allowing our focus to be distracted from what really matters.

What’s your stew?

Beth asked us all: “What’s your stew?”

What might you be allowing to satisfy your desires instead of Jesus? What might be your focus “right now” instead of waiting on the Lord? Or what is taking precedence in your daily life over Christ? Are you tired or stuck in a routine that does not include prayer and meditating on the Word?

We have so many idols in this culture. I read 2 Tim 3:1 and I think of the world in which we live. The thing is that Satan looks for the vulnerable and seeks a foothold.

1 Peter 5:8 (NIV) says, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Romans 1: 16-18 (ESV) tells us, For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”

Rise Up, O You Sleeper!

Rise Up O You Sleeper AwakeLadies, we must not be asleep! We must be alert and ready as ones who are adopted in Christ to have the audacity to serve the living God as He has called us. Boldness is at stake in our own lives, in our nation, and in our world.  Have the audacity to be fervent in your prayers, dedicated to your relationship with Christ, in love with our Savior, bold in sharing the truth and in glorifying Him through the way you live your life.

Scriptures remind us, especially in Psalm 39 and in 1 Peter 1 and Isaiah 40 that our time on this earth is short. Our only real legacy is what we do to further the Kingdom of God. That might look as simple as bringing someone (your children, friends, family, or strangers) to know the Lord or as big as a ministry like Beth Moore’s. Whatever that looks like in your life, be audacious in your faith and be bold for Christ every day. Ask God to show you how you can use your day to be audacious for Him. Pray fervently and be in His word.

Ponder one of my new favorite songs:

Rise Up, O Sleeper, Awake by Andrew Peterson

An excerpt of the lyrics:

Rise up, O you sleeper, awake
The dawn is upon you
Rise up, O you sleeper, awake
He makes all things new
He makes all things new

The world was good
The world is fallen
The world will be redeemed

So hold on to the promise
The stories are true
That Jesus makes all things new
(The dawn is upon you)

 

The Spiritual Outsider

The Spiritual Outsider

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Melissa W

Melissa is an Okie with a Texas heart. She is a wife and a mother of four. After having taught in the classroom for 8 years, she now happily finds herself as a stay-at-home mom. In any spare time, she enjoys leisure reading and also enjoys writing on her blog (chroniclesofakeeper.com). Out of all the little adventures of life - her greatest joy is found in her relationship with God. Walking in His grace, living in His peace and resting in His redemption is something she is very passionate about sharing with others.
Melissa W
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There is this quest–a deep and passionate desire to truly know God. Because of this desire, we often find ourselves turning to those who offer us the deepest understanding and knowledge of who is God. Through books, sermons, podcasts, articles, blog posts, and conversations we seek to fulfill that longing. This quest we set out on, however, perhaps is leading us farther away from the very One our hearts are longing to know in the first place. It is almost as if, before we realize it, we find that we are living out our spiritual lives, as outsiders.

The spiritual outsider is the one who will hear and read about a great God who does great things, but will miss out on knowing Him due to a lifetime spent learning about Him. His magnificence and splendor is the very thing He is beckoning us to come and know, not just hear about and understand. He pursued and ransomed us, not just so we can sit back and learn what others have come to know about Him, but rather, so we can personally experience Him.

In His sovereignty and grace, there is a provision of many solid spiritual mentors for believers to gain godly perspective and insight. I am thankful for these men and women, many of whom have blessed my own spiritual walk with the Lord.  I read their words and listen to He pursued and ransomed us, not just so we can sit back and learn what others have come to know about Him, but rather, so we can personally experience Him.what they have to say, because I know they are His vessel and God is accomplishing His work through their lives. There is a great importance and value in the gift of teaching.

Who do we seek first?

I recently listened to a Francis Chan podcast, a very good message about The True Vine. Towards the end of the message, He quoted a friend of his who had made an observation concerning Christians, particularly American Christians. Chan quoted,

“They (believers) talk about Him (God) like an outsider, like an outsider looking in and observing Him, rather than having just been with Him.”

An outsider? Is there so large a group of people who spend the majority of their lives spiritually on the outside of their relationship with God? Is it possible that many are spiritually living as though on the outside of the tabernacle veil? Is it that we are more consumed by what others have to say about God rather than hearing from God Himself? When I look into my own heart and my own spiritual walk, I can’t say that I have much room to argue.

Here is where it hit home.

Chan goes on to quote his friend,

“I feel like the people in your country are happy to hear from Moses when they can actually walk up the mountain themselves and meet with Almighty God…but they aren’t interested. They just want to hear from Moses, they want to hear from you, Francis.”

I thought, If I graphed my time learning about God, the time spent listening to sermons and podcasts, and the time I spend reading articles and books, and compared it to the time I spent before the presence of the Great I AM…would I see that I, too, am an outsider? Do I find myself satisfied being connected to “Moses”, rather than connected directly to God? Do I get so distracted with hearing from others about God, that I forget that through Christ’s death and resurrection, I have access to walk up the mountain to God Himself?

There is so much more. Yes, God has divinely given people gifts, through the Spirit, to reveal who He is and He has given gifts to people to communicate His truth. His glory is being proclaimed, and that is so very good.

However, here is where we (I) need to realize that His very nature calls for so much more from us. He doesn’t want a satisfaction to be found in Moses, He wants satisfaction found in Him. I want my desire and my actions to reflect a deep want in knowing Him over knowing about HimWhen we move to the intimate space on the mountaintop and spend the time to know Him, we experience Him deeper and in a beautiful way. In the direct connection to Him, is where He reveals Himself to us.

His Spirit is whispering words of truth as He begins drawing us into the sacred space of that holy mountain. Do we turn our gaze to Holy of Holies and fall in awe of His wonder and grace? Do we sit on that mountaintop and meditate on His word? Do we still all other thoughts and voices as we center our hearts and mind on Him? I hope the answer, is yes.

And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. John 17:3

I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to Him in His death, so that I may somehow attain to the resurrection from the dead. Phillipians 3:1

The mountain may sometimes be a hard climb and it absolutely takes effort. But, don’t you think that when we are sitting at the top of that glorious mountain, in the throne room of grace, that it absolutely will be worth it? Is it not that much more fulfilling to know Him, than to just know about Him? 

But to enjoy him we must know him. Seeing is savoring. If he remains a blurry, vague fog, we may be intrigued for a season. But we will not be stunned with joy, as when the fog clears and you find yourself on the brink of some vast precipice.

– John Piper

the spiritual outsider

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