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Be Strong All Who Hope in God Ps 31


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Hope Radiates In The Dark

Be Strong All Who Hope in God Ps 31

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: You don’t give up.” ~Anne Lamott http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Christianity/2009/01/Hope-Quotes-from-Christian-Leaders.aspx?p=2

Unexpected storms often knock us flat and the testing of faith can leave us exhausted. Our will to persevere may even be hindered. This is when the hand of God will appear to lift us out of our dark waters. All we have to do is cry out His name. He is the very definition of hope.

The Lord takes pleasure in all who hope and trust in His mercy. He waits for His creation to cry out to Him. He longs to show us mighty love and strength. However, we can’t give up and surrender all hope if we want to receive His assistance.

“The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, 
in those who hope in His mercy.” Psalm 147:11 (NKJV)

Hope is born in the dark. Like a lighthouse calling out to a lost ship at sea, hope will bring you through your personal storm. It will encourage and guide you to safety. Hope is found in the arms of God.

“Be of good courage, 
and He shall strengthen your heart,
 all you who hope in the Lord.”  Psalm 31:24 (NKJV)

When you are met with spiritual roadblocks don’t forget to call out for God’s help. He will bind all your confusion and guide you through each obstacle. His provisions will be incredible. Any lost hope will be restored when you witness the faithfulness of God.

Unfortunately, loosing hope in God means you have lost some measure of faith in His ability to sustain you. Have you lost sight of who created you and the universe? Do you doubt His ability to work things out and enable you to carry on in life?

Why not give God the benefit of the doubt and trust that your circumstances are for good and not for evil? In some way He is creating good fruit from your circumstances, though pain may be His watering can in your situation. We are promised in Romans 8:28 (NKJV) that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Dear One, I know suffering and I know heartache. None of my sorrows have been easy but they have served me well. Through the furnace of affliction God allows His children to share in the sufferings of Christ. Our spiritual transformation and refinement will always produce a deeper measure of spiritual fruit. Are we not called to be more and more like Christ?

Therefore, ask yourself this question. Do you want to live as an alien in this world, as a foreigner in a land that is not your eternal home? If so, then accept the storm you are riding out as a gift from your Father. He sent it because He loves you. It should remind you that your greater hope waits for you in heaven.

God did not spare His own Son the suffering of the cross. It was for our benefit that Jesus became man, died, and rose again. God sent Jesus to redeem us and has exalted Him in the heavens. He is our Victor and blessed Mediator.

Take your burdens to Jesus and pour out your heart. He is the Savior of the world and our only hope. Ask Him to be your guiding light as you attempt to stand and move forward through your storm. Your struggle will have an end but His love for you is never-ending.

To persevere is to ascend the mountaintop of God. It is a necessary trait, a requirement if we wish to see the face of God. 

 “But I will hope continually,
 and will praise You yet more and more.”  Psalm 71:14 (NKJV)

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
 and in His Word I do hope.”   Psalm 130:5 (NKJV)

“Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer”  Romans 12:12 (NKJV)

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13 (NIV)


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DEAD TO SIN

By Neil Anderson

 banner_secondary_who i am in christ

January 19
 
Romans 6:11, 12 
Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts
 
Sin is the condition into which all descendants of fallen Adam are born (Romans 5:12). Sin is living our lives independently of God. It’s the result of being deceived by Satan to believe that meaning and purpose in life may be achieved apart from a personal relationship with, and obedience to, the Creator of life (Deuteronomy 30:19, 20; 1 John 5:12). In the non-Christian, sin permeates the old nature, dominates the old self, and perpetuates the deeds of the flesh. Satan is at the heart of all sin (1 John 3:8). He deceives people into believing a lie and counsels them to rebel against God.
 
When you received Christ you died to sin and its power to dominate you was broken. Satan and sin have not died; they are still strong and appealing. But you no longer have to sin because you are dead to sin and alive to God in Christ (Romans 6:11). You are not dead to sin because you consider it so; you consider it so because it is so. In Christ you have already died to sin.
 
Paul goes on to say that we are not to use our bodies as instruments of unrighteousness (verse 13). If we do, we allow sin to rule in our mortal bodies. For example, it is virtually impossible for someone to commit a sexual sin and not use his body as an instrument of unrighteousness, allowing sin to rule. Ask the Lord to reveal to your mind how you have wrongly used your body, especially sexually. Renounce that wrong use and then submit your body to God as a living sacrifice. It is your responsibility not to let “sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts” (Romans 6:12).
 
Prayer: Loving Lord, I know that sin’s power over me has been broken. Help me live today in the light of that truth by renouncing sin and submitting my body to You.


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Oh My!! How things have changed.

Well it’s summer time in good old Australia and with the temperatures way above 40 deg C, sweaty and hot days are the norm.

Made me think as I turned on the air conditioner just how times have changed and I began to reminisce to myself about the past.

Doesn’t seem that long ago that air conditioners/central heating & cooling were a dream for the future – sort of like a scifi film of some distant future time made up of dreams and wishes.

With oscillating fans trying at least to keep the hot air moving, the family together in a hot little room with the west-facing windows heavily shaded and shut tightly to stop the hot sun from making the ‘furnace’ even hotter.

And bedtime! what can one say?? – laying on top of the sheets waiting for the fan at last to make it’s slow revolution across your sweaty body so you could at least catch a breath of some sort of moving air and to cool the pooling sweat particles.

As kids we would talk mum into putting on the sprinkler and run back and forth around the yard like made things squirting each other with water pistols and buckets of water.

The beach Oh! the beach –  heaven awaited us! Into the car, of course minus the air conditioning and with wind down windows and all vents open we at least hoped to catch a breath of hot air as the car struggled with the family on board to get to our destination.

Once arrived, there was the run across the tarred road that almost burned the soles off your bare feet and that was even before reaching the scorching sand. Then the dash down to the water to jump in and spend the next hour or so before turning blue with cold.

The cold didn’t last long before struggling back to the car to perch with bare legs and back on the blazing hot vinyl seats of dads old Holden for the journey back home where you were just as hot if not hotter than you were before the whole adventure started.

Back to the fan and a cold drink and then all hang out for the ‘southerly buster’ to come and cool things down to everyone’s relief.

Things are so different now – with a flick of the switch we can have instant cooling/warming. Swimming pools in the backyard and air conditioned cars all go to make life that little bit more comfortable.

As a Christian I have changed too! Again, I look back over the years to where I have come from and where I have been through my Christian walk and must admit I am gobsmacked with the change that God has made in my life.

Like the wind-down windows and the oscillating fans, things were so different way back then – God to me was this BIG person way out there wielding a gigantic stick and making me do the ‘right’ thing and if I didn’t there were all sorts of threats and punishments just waiting to be dished out.

I often thought that I would be somehow ‘cut-off’ from God if I stepped out of line too often and if I crossed the invisible line of His patience and make all hell (literally) break out.

Like the Israelites of long ago who were so influenced by those nations round about them I too was influenced by my distortion of God. My vision of God was one of Him being cruel, vengeful and uncaring but actually He demonstrates that He is the very opposite.

If you, like me are anxious about your thoughts, ideas, feelings and desires that so often seem to lure you away from God’s plan for your life, then like the Israelites, God can and will cut-off and do away with those hurtful and wicked thoughts that pervade your mind.

You are NOT in danger of being completely cut-off or condemned in judgement, instead God applies forgiveness when needed and through His mercy and Grace and use of amazing ‘spiritual surgery’ removes those feelings of hopelessness and despair.

So if like me you have been thinking of God as uncaring and cruel, I hope this new understanding about Him removes much of your dread about this seemingly vengeful God. He is our Shepherd who leads, feeds and protects us.

So yes, God has brought me a fair way in my walk with Him. Every day is a new adventure. Every day His Spirit guides and directs the paths I take and fills me anew with His love and understanding.

Unfortunately I still wander off the path – Of course I do – BUT He is there ready to drag me back and make me the New Creation I know he has planned for my life.


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All I Need for Christmas is Jesus

Photo Credit: outreach.com

Photo Credit: outreach.com

I simply cannot explain these feelings that have been welling up in my soul lately as we approach Christmas. While Jesus is the reason for the season, like a flower blooming petal after petal, a swarming of love and adoration for Christ has covered me like an abundance of sweet honey reserved just for the best. Jesus Christ is our best. He is the greatest gift we could ever receive. Not just for Christmas, but for all time.

All I need for Christmas is Jesus.

Teaching my children why we celebrate Christmas is very important. While decorating for the holidays, giving and receiving gifts comes with tradition, the main focus is on Christ and His coming to earth in the form of man. (starting off as a baby of course). Lately I have being drawing closer to Him asking that my eyes be opened like never before and that my ears be tentative to my surroundings. Having a little talk with Jesus is like chicken noodle soup for the soul. That’s just my opinion.

I remember some years ago that I would become overwhelmed with the Christmas season approaching. It was more emotional than physical. I would become saddened and somewhat lethargic. I say this because my eyes were set on the wrong things and I was always “thirsty”.

I’m not one to do the Christmas shopping in my house for the most part. Thankfully it has always been my husband because no one would get anything most likely had it been left up to me to go out in the chaos and mass of people rushing, shoving, cursing and just flat-out been mean-spirited. Plus, I don’t have that kind of patience. Having 5 babies back to back kept me busy so it just became easier for my dear husband to do. I digress but for a moment!

My thoughts always went back to my childhood. While I had a pretty decent life growing up, I always felt something missing.

Jesus wasn’t there. 

Feeling confused and happy at the same time was just weird. Plain old strange and yet I managed to get through another holiday season. I could not wait for the holidays to pass.

Recently, my heart was on a couple of senior citizens who were in need of some items that they needed. It was an article I caught in the newspaper that came from the aid of the Salvation Army. I told my husband about it and that I wanted to sponsor the people’s needs. While my eyes glazed over the many people young and old with a wish list, I wondered even more about those lost. The lost who needed Jesus; the very One who is our ever-present help, comfort and aid.

I began to cry. Not just because some cannot afford material needs and wants, but that many go lacking without a Savior.How often we walk daily without Him. As Christians and sinners alike ,but first as human beings, we find ourselves at times trying to do things on our own. We try to make things happen within our own power and might. We fix our eyes on higher prizes and treasures beyond our means. Some are just desires to want, want,want. Fleshly things. Things that will pass. Treasures that will not go with us on a U-Haul when we leave this old world.

Getting caught up over-shopping and over-spending will give anyone a headache and then possible regret for debt than may take a while to pay off when we “rob Peter to pay Paul”. That’s a saying I got from my Mom. Maybe you’ve heard of it before.

Nevertheless, we need peace and true joy. It can only be found in Christ Jesus. He will make us whole. He can satisfy our deepest needs. Will you invite Him into your life? Will you  allow God to direct your life, your finances, your will, wants and your plans that they will align with His?

While I am not attempting to take away your joy of shopping for your friends and loved ones, I just want to provide you with the opportunity to receive the greatest gift of all this year as we bring 2013 to a close. Health may have fallen, bills may be behind and loved ones may have turned their backs on you but know that there is a risen Savior who is waiting to receive you today.

I want to share with you a song I heard on the radio yesterday. I don’t drive much if I can help it but when I do, I tend to listen to uplifting music to carry me throughout my day. This song about had me in tears. No matter what we are going through, we must know that we cannot do anything in this life without the Lord no matter how hard we try. I know for myself that I cannot walk without Him holding my hand. This song has become one of my favorite and it lingers within me to the point of praise.

All we NEED for Christmas is Jesus Christ. If we trust God, He will provide all that we need and bless us with our wants. By His grace we have what we have. May we be thankful for the little and great. Be blessed one and all. You are loved, cherished and prayed for.

“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you  not of more value than they?” But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6: 26, 33 NKJV

To God be the glory now and forevermore,

Terra


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Lend Me Your Hope

By Neil Anderson

banner_secondary_who i am in christ

December 14

Romans 15:13 
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit
 
Lend me your hope for awhile, I seem to have mislaid mine.
 
Lost and hopeless feelings accompany me daily, pain and confusion are my companions.
 
I know not where to turn; looking ahead to future times does not bring forth images of renewed hope.
 
I see troubled times, pain-filled days, and more tragedy.
 
Lend me your hope for awhile, I seem to have mislaid mine.
 
Hold my hand and hug me; listen to all my ramblings, recovery seems so far distant.
 
The road to healing seems like a long and lonely one.
 
Lend me your hope for awhile, I seem to have mislaid mine.
 
Stand by me, offer me your presence, your heart and your love.
 
Acknowledge my pain, it is so real and ever present.
 
I am overwhelmed with sad and conflicting thoughts.
 
Lend me your hope for awhile; a time will come when I will heal, and I will share my renewal, hope, and love with others (adapted from the poem “Lend Me Your Hope,” author unknown).
 
The apostle Paul gives us the biblical basis for our comfort and hope: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).
 
Prayer: I praise You for hope, Lord. Help me be a source of hope in all my relationships and circumstances today.


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Hope

The word “hope” is often used casually in day-to-day conversation as a word which conveys a desire for something to happen in the future. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it this way, “To cherish a desire with anticipation, to desire with expectation of obtainment, to expect with confidence; trust.”

I would like to share a few words today of how this word “hope” has played a role in my own life!

I was thinking back the other day on my earlier life, particularly my teen-age years…awhile ago!! I have fond memories of many things, some not so pleasant, some wonderful…but sandwiched in between each memory is a little thing I can only define as “hope”. What made those years so special and poignant in my mind today is the fact I was looking forward with anticipation and hope to my adult life, where I “hoped” to fulfill all of my dreams and ambitions! I could hardly wait to get out of school, to begin my career, to get married, to start a family, on and on. I could see my music career blossom (I hoped!), my handsome husband and adorable children, my gorgeous home, lots of travel, lovely clothes, lots of money to spend, and on and on! Did all of my hopes materialize? Well, you probably know from your own life that rarely do things turn out the way you “hoped” they would! Did that mean I was a failure? Or did God perhaps have a slightly different plan in mind for my life than I had “hoped” for?

Sure, many of the things I “hoped” would happen certainly did, but not always in the way I had envisioned. Was my life a success? “Hopefully” in God’s eyes it has been. Certainly, in my mind, I have failed to achieve the great dreams of my youth. However, maybe a far more important goal has been reached; that of being a blessing to even one person who needed to receive a touch from the Lord; encouraging even one person in their walk with God; leading someone to Christ; blessing someone with the gift of music; teaching a young child to play an instrument or sing God’s praises! Did it always involve the big stage or worldwide adulation? Hardly! However, God, who is the final judge on success and achievement sees us all on a completely different scale than the world does. It is by His standards that I hope to someday be judged and hear Him say, “Well done, you good and faithful servant!”

So, how does “hope” play into my life now that I am older and have much of it to look back on? I look to the Psalmist David, who said in Psalm 37:25, “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.” (ESV) In Psalm 42:5 he says, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.” (ESV)

Even as we get older (and we are all on that path!) we should never give up on “hope”, which is really trust in God! Hope for the future; hope for our nation; hope for our children and grandchildren; hope that the ministry God has destined for us to fulfill will be brought forth in our lifetime; hope for abundance in every area of our lives, spiritual as well as material! Hopelessness brings despair, which leads to despondency. At this time of year many people are deeply lonely as the holiday season conjures up old, painful memories. Some even resort to taking their own lives during this time, listening to Satan’s lies that there is no hope for them and therefore they should end the misery they are feeling. Some have chronic pain and health concerns in their physical bodies that make them want to give up and “throw in the towel”, so to speak. Today, I would like to encourage everyone who feels a sense of hopelessness in their lives to look up and let God bring you into joy and victory through His Word and your praise and worship to Him! Proverbs 10:28 says,, “The hope of the righteous brings joy….” (ESV) and Paul writes in Romans 12:12, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” (ESV)

Should we lose hope as we grow older and realize that some of our dreams did not transpire and our lives turned out quite differently than we anticipated? Absolutely not! We need to continue to hope for the future, realizing that if we had received everything we thought we wanted, our lives would probably be a big mess in many ways! Our Sovereign God knows best what (and who) we need in our lives, and even as we look backward with fond memories, being careful not to “live in the past”, we can also look ahead to even better days, days of fulfillment of God’s promises to us, our children and grandchildren, rewarding days filled with the benefits of a life lived for the Lord and confidence achieved through valuable lessons learned!

Perhaps you are waiting on God for the fulfillment of a dream or the ability to carry out the ministry you believe He has called you to! Perhaps you are waiting for that special someone to love, one who will become your spouse! Never give up hope….God has a timing for all things as you trust Him! Just give your circumstances to God and watch Him work as you leave them in His hands! By way of personal testimony, I became a widow over seven years ago when God called my husband home after he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. I really never knew what loneliness was until I was forced to come home to an empty house night after night. Even though I looked for love and found some romantic relationships during this time, I did not find my “Mr. Right” immediately. When I had all but given up hope of ever finding my “life’s companion”, God brought my wonderful husband to me and we have been happily married for almost three years now! He knew just the right person was there for me and He knew the right time for us to meet! So, never give up hope!

What does all of this have to do with music? Well, I would start singing songs about “hope” to the Lord….you might start with the old hymn, “The Solid Rock”, which says, ”My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness!” Never lose HOPE, and don’t forget that FAITH goes along with hope!!


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The Ultimate Reality

By Neil Anderson

 banner_secondary_who i am in christ

November 6
 
Hebrews 11:3 
By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of the things which are visible.
 
Hope is not wishful thinking. Hope is the present assurance of some future good: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Biblical faith is not a preference for what we would like to see, but a conviction that what is unseen is real. Biblical faith enables us to see the reality of the spiritual world we presently live in, with the assurance of heaven. Only with that kind of faith can we say with Paul, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).
 
According to Scripture, the invisible world is more real than the visible world (Hebrews 11:3). The ultimate reality is spiritual, not physical. God is a spirit. Every physical thing we see is only temporal and passing away (2 Corinthians 4:18).
 
When Jesus appeared to the frightened band of disciples after His resurrection, He showed them both His hands and His side. Later the disciples informed Thomas of what they had seen, but he responded, “Unless I shall see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). Thomas was determined to walk by sight, not by faith. The only thing that was real to Thomas was what he could see.
 
Eight days later Jesus appeared again and said to Thomas, “Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing” (John 20:27). Thomas responded, “My Lord and my God!” (verse 28). Then Jesus blessed those of us who believe without seeing: “Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed” (verse 29).
 
The object of our faith is not the tangible reality of this physical world. The object of our faith is the invisible God and His revealed Word.
 
Prayer: Lord, You are the ultimate reality. I choose to evaluate everything in my life in the light of Your Word.


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In the Father’s Shadow

Billy Graham

Yesterday, I was watching the Today show. They were interviewing Franklin Graham, Billy Graham’s son. He was actually there because Billy, who will be 95 on his birthday in November, is releasing a new book. It’s filled with new thoughts from this great evangelist. Unable to do interviews himself, Franklin went in his father’s place.

As I listened to Franklin and his two minute interview, I thought about what it must be like for him living in his father’s shadow. There were questions asked about Billy’s health. There were inquiries into his quality of life and mental state. The interviewer, when the opportunity arose, always asked about Franklin’s father. Franklin graciously answered his questions but always returned to the gospel. He must have explained God’s love and Christ’s sacrifice three or four times in that short two minutes. It was amazing.

Franklin never once during this interview spoke of himself or his ministry. Each and every word spoken was about his earthly father and his heavenly Father. He used ever opportunity presented to speak of the gospel. I don’t know how many millions of people were watching, but I know they heard about Jesus’ love for them. They learned that God would stop at nothing to have a relationship with them. They were told the reason they were here on this earth.

The bible says, “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” (2 Tim. 4:2 NASB) That is exactly what Franklin was doing. I imagine he prayed about this interview. And I imagine asked for the right words. God answered that prayer.

I guess I admire men like Billy and Franklin Graham. They have spent their lives sharing the gospel. They have come under scrutiny on many occasions. People have tried to trap them and present them with opportunities to sin and they have resisted. Their mission is clear. Share Jesus. And they do just that.

I don’t know if Franklin has lived in his father’s shadow but I do know that both he and Billy have lived in the Shadow of their Father in heaven. I would say that’s a perfect place to live.


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What’s His Name?

Collinson,_Holy_Family

Holy Family (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

The other day, our son told us about his day. He said his teacher talked about Christmas sharing it as her favorite holiday. She then held up a picture. “It was a picture of Mary and what’s his name and Jesus,” Jonah said. We all laughed. What’s his name?

I guess Joseph is somewhat forgettable. There is no mention of him after he and Mary find Jesus teaching in the Temple when Jesus was twelve. The Bible doesn’t offer any explanation as to what happened to him. The evidence of his death comes when Jesus tells John, “Here is your mother.” (John 19:27 NIV) Since Jesus was the oldest son and responsible for Mary, He asks John to take care of her. Even as He was dying, He was thinking of someone other than Himself. That’s our Savior!

Does the absence of Joseph make him unnecessary? Hardly! I think Joseph had an extreme effect on Jesus. We forget that God spoke to Joseph through an angel on more than one occasion. This was not common in those days. There were only a chosen few who heard from God. Three times the angel appeared warning and guiding Joseph. Since this was not common, we can surmise that Joseph’s faith was increased. He was chosen by God to raise His son and I believe God chose Joseph because He knew Joseph’s heart.

Investing in the lives of others rarely gives us fame and fortune. We don’t get praise or admiration. In fact, it often causes us pain and heartache. Spending time loving the unloved may not give us much but it gives someone else the opportunity to experience Jesus. Ministering to others is not about how it makes us feel but how it helps someone else. It points them to God. And that’s okay with me. I’d rather be “What’s his name?” so God’s name can be known.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Gal. 6:9 NIV)


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What Doesn’t Kill Me Makes Me Stronger

cherylz1961:

Dear Ones,
This story is NOT too good to be true. We serve a God of miracles and hope. I pray we all step out in faith when we hear God’s call to pray and act!

Originally posted on Odessa Gillespie Black:

My daughter often jokes and says, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, Mama. Don’t get mad, get pumped.” But I remember to days back in 2004 and I wonder how we made it through. To date, you all don’t know much about me. That’s my fault. I haven’t shared.

In 2004, my husband became ill and eventually went into a coma. The doctors told us many people hold the misconception that we can come to them and they can “fix it.” That wasn’t true for my husband. No one knew how he’d gotten ill or what to do to “fix him.” That puts a wife in a very helpless situation.

In July of 2004, Brant went into the hospital with respiratory symptoms that acted much like the flu. He was put on life support and within ten days came home. He had lost around 30 pounds and this made…

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