I am increasing in weakness…and that is good! I used to be really strong for a woman. I grew up carrying heavy loads in our family greenhouse and grew strong from heavy physical labor. I have also been told throughout my life that I can do anything and become anything. I am finding out that is not true…and that is good! I continually hear from society that it is all up to me to make something of myself—that I am the master of my own life. As I grow older, wiser and weaker, it is such a relief to know that my strength is failing. How freeing it is to realize how very weak I really am. The crazy thing is the weaker I realize I am, the more I realize I need Your strength.
I wouldn’t exist without You; I would never have been born except for You. I could never breathe or live without You. Even when I was young and thought I was so strong; even when I didn’t fully realize how much I need You—You were my strength. Lord, You knit my cells and DNA together to form me out of nothing at all. You linked a nervous system to my muscles and told them to move me. You fired off brain cells and began my physical life that included the ability to think and choose for myself. You placed me in a world which was totally created by You for me to have a safe, lush, lovely world surrounded by everything I could possibly need, including other people to love. Forgive me for thinking I could ever live independently from You!
You have allowed me to face challenges in my life that have threatened to overwhelm me because there seemed no way out or no way I could handle the burden. How I thank You for those times when I have realized my weakness. That is when I have experienced Your strength! I need not try to prove my strength to You or anyone else. You made me and know I am weak. You created me to need You. You designed me to be strong as I yield my life to Jesus. Then His unseen strength flows with a powerful force to overcome anything that comes up. I truly enjoy being weak and letting Your strength flow in and through me! I am weak and You are strong! You are my strength!
“And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord, and may please him in every way, bearing the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power. according to His glorious might so you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of the light.” Colossians 1:11-12
“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.”
Your Prayer Prompt-
Lord, help me see my weakness with out You so I can submit to Your strength through Jesus…
One time in my early twenties, I was going through what seemed like more than my share of some pretty intense trials which seemed to have no way out. I needed to talk to my dad; so I went to find him where I could almost always find him—at the end of a water hose watering plants in one of the back commercial growing greenhouses. I was in luck because that meant no customers and his undivided attention. He listened with compassion as I poured out my heart. Then he told me I needed to go home and read the book of James from the Bible. So I did. I read through part of the second verse… “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds…” I was so mad that I closed the Bible! How could I count these intense situations I was going through as joy!? It took me many more trials and turning to You, Lord, to realize I could truly consider my trials joy…
When I first began facing all these adult trials, I thought no one else in the world ever had to face so much hardship. Since that time, I have discovered that this life is filled with trials of many kinds, and every single person faces their own unique testing and obstacles. Little did I know those first trials I faced were nothing compared to some of the trials to come. I finally read the rest of the book of James—including the rest of that sentence I closed the book on earlier. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Lord, I’m so glad I am not in my twenties any more. Yet now I truly can count each and every trial I have gone through as joy. Each challenge has shown me how weak I am and how much I need You. Each trial has drawn me closer to You because I knew I could not get through it on my own. Every time, I have learned that Your ways are far better than my most brilliant ideas. My faith in You has grown through having to trust You. You have developed perseverance in me and I have learned to stop and consider any new trial joy because I know You will work out things far better than I ever could! It is a joy to persevere through this life with You, Lord! I will persevere all the way until I finish this race and You come get me!
“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial. Because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3
“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” Romans 5:3-5
Your Prayer Prompt-
Lord, what past and current trials can I consider joy?…
photo by my brother Rodd Moesel
Many people are enduring multiple storms right now. There seems to be a path that just keeps pounding the same areas over and over with tornados, hail and flooding. The pictures and videos of entire Oklahoma towns and farms under water along with homes destroyed by tornados are difficult to see. I am so grateful that most of the tornados are small and do not stay on the ground for long. There is more severe weather predicted today. These series of storms remind me of all the storms I have endured in my life.
When I was a young mom, we moved into a single-wide mobile home out in the middle of a pasture with no trees to block the wind. About a week after we had moved in, everyone was sound asleep when I was wakened by a powerful gust front that was blowing our little home with such force that I knew the next gust would literally blow it apart. I didn’t have time to wake my husband lying next to me or my two small children at the far end of our vulnerable home. All I could do was cry, “Jesus!” You immediately calmed the wind so there was not even a breath of it blowing. It was a calm beyond any calm I had ever known. I will never forget You calmed the wind for me! Everyone else slept through it.
I have been through hundreds of raging storms since that time long ago—some weather-related; others were financial, fire, suicide, health, life and death, relationship-related… As amazing as the time You calmed that dangerous wind for me long ago, it has been even more amazing how You have given me Your incredible peace through the midst of short outbursts or long-enduring turbulent storms which seem to never end.
It is a peace that comes from knowing You are with me—no matter what—through beautiful calm days and every kind of storm. Lord, I pray those in the storms see that You are with them.
“A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was in danger of being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke Him (Jesus) up, saying ‘Master, Master, we’re going to drown!’ He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided and all was calm. ‘Where is your faith?’ He asked His disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, ‘Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him.’” Luke 8:23-25
“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and He guided them to their desired haven.” Psalm 127:28-30
“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
Your Prayer Prompt-
Heavenly Father, help me to call to You in this storm I’m facing…
Recently, my family experienced a family misunderstanding which went to a whole new level. I was fully aware of the attack and at once began praying. I also asked others to pray with me (without divulging many details). I was amazed how many people responded by asking for prayers for their own family divisions. Someone told me that they had never seen any family act like this. I was immediately reminded that as soon as You created marriage and family, the fighting began.
I also remembered that our enemy is not flesh and blood but the spiritual powers of darkness. Satan prowls around waiting for the right opening. He knows that family can hurt us more than anyone else. That’s why his favorite target is marriage, families and churches. He also knows those entities are Your design for love’s strongest ties. If he can whisper, “He always hurts you this way!”… “She always loves them best.”… “They will never understand you.”… “They don’t love you or they wouldn’t hurt you this way.”… or one of his thousand other flaming arrows that hit where it can do real damage—if we let it.
Father, I refuse to let the enemy’s attack fool me. I will fight back with love and prayer and forgiveness. You always win the fight when we hold our hands up in prayer to You through the battle. Even when I need others to pray with me; when I need them to help me hold my arms up in prayer through the conflict—keep me from telling too much about the details of the attack. Forgive me when I fall prey to the enemy’s scheme and begin to believe the family member is my enemy. I will not fall for that! I love my family and will fight for them. I love You! I am trusting You to fight this battle for me and my family. That is why I am focusing on You and not the attack.
Through this particular battle, I have been reminded how far You will go to save Your precious family—Your beloved children. You sent Jesus, who was completely innocent, to take all our blame and shame and hurtful sin against You. While we were still sinning against You, Jesus quietly and willingly went to the cross for us. He didn’t tell us we were wrong. He didn’t try to tell how right He was. He was spit on, accused, slandered, misunderstood, denied and rejected by the very ones He so dearly loved. He was left alone. In His death. The enemy thought he won. Yet Jesus gave His very life and was resurrected so we could spend all eternity experiencing the depth of Your love. Your love always prevails!
“Looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured the hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” Hebrews 12:2-3
“If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” Romans 8:31
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
Your Prayer Prompt-
Father, who do I think my enemy is? Who is my true enemy?
Heavenly Father, Surrender may seem like an action of defeat to the world, but I am learning that it can be the very moment of victory! Most of the time, defeat is pictured as someone who is beat down and helpless in battle and there is no way out so they must raise a little white flag in hopes that the enemy will be merciful. I am trying to surrender before I get so beat down and hopeless—trying to fight battles on my own that You never designed me for. I have definitely lost those battles I tried to take on with my own strength.
Many times, I have found myself down in the trenches with attacks drilling me from every direction. There was no way out until I held up my little white flag and surrendered –not to the enemy—but to You, my Savior. It is so freeing to discover the peace and joy that comes from not trying to handle things my own way but by surrendering to You. You are always ready to lift me up and renew me. You always have a plan that far exceeds my own silly little schemes. I have always been awed by how You turn the battle completely around when I surrender to You, Lord.
It’s funny how many times I have sung one of my favorite songs, “I Surrender All.” I really mean it when I say it. I believe I am surrendering it all to You. My hands are raised as I lift it all up to You. The burden becomes light as I trust You to take whatever it is and have Your own way. What joy there is in knowing who my King is, and the power He holds over anything I can possibly face. Yet, over and over I find myself surrendering a new area in my life (or even at times the same area again and again.) At different times, I have surrendered my dear family members and friends one at a time to You, my health, someone else’s health, finances, work, pride, writing, earthly stability, my future, hurts, mistakes, misunderstandings…The list goes on and on.
Here I am again today, surrendering to You and trusting Your infinite love for me and others. Let Your will be done.
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10
“Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck.” Psalm 69:1
Father, what do I need to surrender to You today?
I know elections can bring out the passion in people on all sides—no matter how they vote. Here it is the day after the elections and You are still God! You still reign. You have your eternal plans which last long after any man-made promises or schemes are forgotten. It is good for people to listen to candidates and make their choices for who they believe will make the best leader. It is wise to study questions on the ballot and make choices. With all the ugly fighting and hurtful words that fly around in the heat of an election, it is wise to be humble as both the winner and the loser. The vote is counted. The results are in. Now we need to live in peace with the choices which have been made.
My four and five year old grandkids play on a soccer team. They know how to have fun playing, enjoy one another and the game, and relish in the cheering on the sidelines. They also know how to show respect while winning and losing. The parents from both teams make a human tunnel for both teams to go through while giving high fives for a great game. The day is not ended upon whether or not they win or lose. How nice it would be if there was no name calling, ugly rumors spread, hatred for those on the opposing team… how much more respect could we have for one another if candidates and their supporters kept their passion for their beliefs, and not let that passion turn ugly and personal toward their opponents. What if we had respect for those who believe another way would work better? What if we loved those who disagree with us and us with them?
Father, our enemy is not flesh and blood (Whether it is family, a spouse, ex-spouse, co-workers, neighbors, political parties, or anyone else with skin on.) Our enemy is the one who likes to stir up hatred, division, disagreements. It is good to have passion for what we believe. It is better to have love for those who do not believe as we do. Lord, I love You passionately. Yet that passion means nothing if I don’t love others. And You tell me to love others—especially those who appear to be my enemies. Yes, it is the day after another election—and You still call on us to love others.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6:10-13
“But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in Heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as Your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:44-48
“Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice, or the Lord will see and disapprove and turn His wrath away from him.” Proverbs 24:17-18
Father, show me how I can love and pray for those who disagree with me…
Real relationships are a struggle. It takes a lot of work to truly try to get to know the other person’s inner soul and for them to understand who you really are. The struggle happens no matter what the relationship is- husband/wife, parent/child, siblings, friends, neighbors, coworkers, fellow believers, teacher/student, boss/employee…the list goes on. Time, energy, patience, kindness and understanding are all parts of building love relationships with those around us. It is a two-way street, but we only have power over our part of the relationship. Yet, our part with Jesus in it covers more than we can imagine.
At times, it may seem easier to have a pleasant short “relationship” with strangers because it doesn’t involve the struggle of going deeper. But it’s worth the struggle to go deeper—to love those who are a part of our daily life in a deeper more eternal way. I’ve been going through a struggle lately that has involved several relationships. Each of those was important enough for me to wrestle through. I have been bringing them to You, Lord. And as always, You help me through my growing pains.
When I explained to You how I’ve been working so hard to love them but they don’t seem to understand me, You gently showed me how I can understand them more. When I whined that no one understands me, You tenderly reminded me that You “get me” better than I even understand myself. You pointed out that it was just as important to share my soul with them as to understand theirs. When I complained that it seemed as though they didn’t even want to try to know me better, You didn’t say anything…
Your silence reverberated in my soul. How often do I truly try to get to know You better—to understand You—to get to know Your heart? How often does it seem like a one-sided relationship to You, Lord? You do all the giving and the loving, and we just want more. Father, it is worth the struggle to me to go deeper in my relationship with You. It is worth it to discover more of Your heart by reading Your word, by spending more time just listening to You, by keeping my eyes open to see Your glory all around, by thanking You for Your indescribable love and blessings, by worshiping and praising You in and out of church, by writing and singing to You, by learning from You, by following Your lead every single day. You gave Your all when You sent Jesus to die and rise again for us. There was no way we could ever have eternal life with You or even begin to understand You without You giving everything. It may take a struggle on my part to keep seeking to know and love You more deeply but it is so worth it.
“However, as it is written: ‘No eye has seen, nor ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him’ but God has revealed it to us by His Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.” 1 Corinthians 2:9-12
“How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake I am still with You.” Psalm 139:17-18
“Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:12-13
Lord, I want to seek more of You…
I have rocked a lot of babies to sleep in my life—between my own, grandbabies, great grandbabies and who knows how many at work! I can usually rock almost any baby to sleep. I tell my co-workers that it’s either because I’m boring or calm. I’m not sure which. Some babies are naturally more laid back and easy to put to sleep. Others…well, it can be a real battle. Yet I almost always win!
The babies who fight against sleep need rest more than the others. The sleepier they are, the crankier they are. They squirm, cry, thrash around, hold their bodies rigid, arch their backs to get out of your arms…anything to stay awake. If their eyelids almost close from exhaustion, they immediately start moving to try to revive themselves. Yet, if I remain calm and think loving thoughts over them, sometimes quietly singing to them, and hold them gently yet firmly to calm them down, they sooner or later drift off to sleep. More than once, I’ve raised my hands in victory because I won the fight. It’s not so much that I am proud of winning—it’s that I know they need the rest. They (and everyone around) will be able to enjoy life so much better if they get a good rest!
Father, now that I have bragged on my ability to get babies to rest, I have to admit that I often thrash around when faced with an obstacle. I start fighting and frantically attempting to figure my way out. I squirm with worry or anxiety when what I really need to crawl up in Your lap and let You hold me until I can rest in Your care—until I can relax and trust You to handle whatever situation I am facing. I know You have to hold me really tight sometimes until I give up and surrender into Your sweet care. You know what I really need. Every time, I am finally still in Your arms, a sweet peace overwhelms me and I can rest in Your love and trust Your care for me.
Now, there are times when I stand up and try to lay those babies down in their cribs, they immediately start fighting again. Father, I’m so grateful that Your arms are big enough to keep holding me while You do everything else You do! The best place to be is in Your arms!
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
“”He who dwells in the shadow of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1
“He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul.” Psalm 23:2-3
Lord, hold me until I calm down and rest from…
For a long time, I have asked You to lead the weekly Bible Study growth group I facilitate. It’s always an adventure to watch how You lead. It never goes like I expect. I’m always surprised by the ways You teach all of us. The latest lesson You are leading us in has been through these “hawk attacks” as I go on my morning walks. There have been a series of attacks starting with a silent hawk zooming from behind with great power right on the top of my head! There has been a fair amount of fear try to keep me from walking as there have been more threats on sequential walks—but, Lord, I know You don’t want me to give in to fear.
So besides yelling at them and shaking my keys, this morning I pulled my long ponytail up and wore a straw hat. The huge birds were still out in full force all around me but I felt protected. As I walked past one scene of attack, there were four of them sitting high on the dead branches protruding high above the live part of the tree. Right as I walked past, a car drove by in the otherwise deserted street. I felt Your timing. They would not attack while something so large and powerful was there. As I passed by the first painful point of attack, there just happened to be four young people I had never seen walking together on the other side of the street. They passed by exactly at the very point of attack. They were talking about Jesus and said His name several times!
Father, thank You for the reminder that You are always with me protecting me. You won’t let anything through unless it is somehow for Your glory. All I need to do is be on alert for the attacks that are certain to come; be dressed in Your armor; overcome fear with the knowledge that You are with me; keep around other believers; and trust in Your protection, timing and angels; and use Jesus’ name to ward off the enemy. Help me to keep on walking with You (and to finish the lesson on “weapons and armor” that I didn’t know I was teaching—but You are leading for tonight! Just following Your lesson plan, Lord!)
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:10-18
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of suffering.” 1 Peter 5:8-9
Father, show me where I’m being attacked right now and help me stand in Jesus Christ…