If you’re tired and troubled today, read this


Sometimes I make bible reading and spending time with God so complicated

I think I need a journal and quiet.

Or I think that I won’t understand what I read so I need a concordance, or a bible study, or a daily devotional, or a group of people to help me understand. 

And the more tired and troubled I am the harder I try to reach God with my actions.

Yesterday as I scrolled through twitter my eyes paused to read this: 

And I really liked that.

It was so simple. 

I googled Psalm 40 and I read it once. 

Then I read it again – like a prayer for this time.

I remembered that God bends to listen even when I can barely raise my voice to speak his name.



So today, if you're feeling tired and troubled I encourage you to read this, and if that isn't enough use David's words to find your own voice to speak to the one who made you:  

Psalm 40 (The Voice)
For the worship leader. A song of David.
I waited a long time for the Eternal;
    He finally knelt down to hear me.
    He listened to my weak and whispered cry.
He reached down and drew me
    from the deep, dark hole where I was stranded, mired in the muck and clay.
    With a gentle hand, He pulled me out
To set me down safely on a warm rock;
    He held me until I was steady enough to continue the journey again.
As if that were not enough,
    because of Him my mind is clearing up.
Now I have a new song to sing—
    a song of praise to the One who saved me.
Because of what He’s done, many people will see
    and come to trust in the Eternal.
Surely those who trust the Eternal—
    who don’t trust in proud, powerful people
Or in people who care little for reality, chasing false gods—
    surely they are happy, as I have become.
You have done so many wonderful things,
    had so many tender thoughts toward us, Eternal my God,
    that go on and on, ever increasing.
Who can compare with You?
Sacrifices and offerings are not what You want,
    but You’ve opened my ears, and now I understand.
Burnt offerings and sin offerings
    are not what please You.
So I said, “See, I have come to do Your will,
    as it is inscribed of me in the scroll.
I am pleased to live how You want, my God.
    Your law is etched into my heart and my soul.”
I have encouraged Your people with the message of righteousness,
    in Your great assembly (look and see),
I haven’t kept quiet about these things;
    You know this, Eternal One.
10 
I have not kept Your righteousness to myself, sealed up in the secret places of my heart;
    instead, I boldly tell others how You save and how loyal You are.
I haven’t been shy to talk about Your love, nor have I been afraid to tell Your truth
    before the great assembly of Your people.
11 
Please, Eternal One, don’t hold back
    Your kind ways from me.
I need Your strong love and truth
    to stand watch over me and keep me from harm.
12 
Right now I can’t see because I am surrounded by troubles;
    my sins and shortcomings have caught up to me,
    so I am swimming in darkness.
Like the hairs on my head, there are too many to count,
    so my heart deserts me.
13 
O Eternal One, please rescue me.
    O Eternal One, hurry; I need Your help.
14 
May those who are trying to destroy me
    be humiliated and ashamed instead;
May those who want to ruin my reputation
    be cut off and embarrassed.
15 
May those who try to catch me off guard,
    those who look at me and say, “Aha, we’ve trapped you,
    be caught in their own shame instead.
16 
But may all who look for You
    discover true joy and happiness in You;
May those who cherish how You save them
    always say, “O Eternal One, You are great and are first in our hearts.”
17 
Meanwhile, I am empty and need so much,
    but I know the Lord is thinking of me.
You are my help; only You can save me, my True God.
    Please hurry.

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A prayer for when you feel overwhelmed by the week ahead


We're looking at the week ahead and we're feeling anxious about how we're going to make it to Friday in one piece. 

There is so much going on, so much that we can't control, so much that could go wrong. 

We've been waking up at night thinking about all the balls we're juggling and how we can keep them in the air. 

We've realised that we can't, we can't do this week without you, Lord.

God, we need you to be a part of everything we do this week.

Every morning as we dress buckle the belt of truth around our waists. Help us to face every situation with integrity, honour and kind words on our lips. Make us the kind of people who are quick to own up to our mistakes and take responsibility for choices we make. 

In times of conflict may we be an instrument of your peace. Give us the courage to speak life into hopeless situations and the wisdom to know when to remain silent. 

Remind us that with you by our sides we cannot lose. You will not hesitate to put everything on the line for us. You've already shown that when you sent Jesus to change our lives forever.  

Thank you that no matter what we face this week, we can do so knowing that there is nothing so overwhelming that you will be separated from us. 

Just knowing that right at this moment the one who died for us - who gave his life for us - is in the presence of God sticking up for us makes us feel like we can make it through this week. 

Pour your grace upon us this week.

Amen. 

* I often base prayers on scripture. This prayer is partly my own words and partly a paraphrase of Ephesians 6:10-24 and Romans 8:31-39.

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7 bible verses for tough times


In the Bible I keep next to my bed there are 7 pink post-it's that stick out between the pages.

I remember placing each of them there in the days after Xylon's first cancer diagnosis. In my fear and dread of the future I put these little reminders in my bible so I could easily find reminders of God being for me on the days when I couldn't feel him near me.


I love The Message bible. There is something about the way Eugene Peterson writes that opens up the word of God for me so I'm sharing this version here but I know that no matter what bible version you enjoy God can still speak to you through these verse in tough times.


1. Psalm 23:6

Your beauty and love chase after me
every day of my life.I’m back home in the house of God
for the rest of my life.
Read my devotional on this verse here

2. Isaiah 30:18

But God’s not finished. He’s waiting around to be gracious to you.
    He’s gathering strength to show mercy to you.
God takes the time to do everything right—everything.
    Those who wait around for him are the lucky ones.

Read my devotional on this verse here

3. Lamentations 3:22-27

God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
    his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
    How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
    He’s all I’ve got left.

God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits
to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope
quietly hope for help from God.
It’s a good thing when you’re young
to stick it out through the hard times.
Read my devotional on verse 25 here

4. Zephaniah 3:16-17
Jerusalem will be told:
    “Don’t be afraid.
Dear Zion,
    don’t despair.
Your God is present among you,
    a strong Warrior there to save you.
Happy to have you back, he’ll calm you with his love
    and delight you with his songs.
 

Read a devotional on this verse here

5. Romans 8:31-39

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:
They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.
None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.
Read my devotional on this verse here
6. Ephesians 3:20
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
Read my devotional on this verse here
7. 1 John 3:18-20
My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.
Read my devotional on this verse here

What are the Bible verses that get you through tough times?

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When you long for beauty, remember this

  
Your beauty and love chase after me
every day of my life.
Psalm 23:6 (MSG)

The evenings have been far from perfect lately. 

Winter has been beating back summer with wind and rain and temperatures that leave me watching my breath hover in the air as I exhale. The trees have left their leaves on the ground like discarded clothes from a grand party.

The last few evenings I’ve been pulling on a jacket and taking our dog for walks in the field below our house. He runs around like he has never had a walk before. 

On each walk, I pause on a mound that allows the farmland in the distance to come into view. If I time it right I can see the sun falling behind the rolling hills. The sky streaked with oranges, pinks, purples, blues. 

I’ve stood and watched this beauty each evening, the sunset God is painting for me, the sunset he puts there just to remind me that his beauty and love will never stop chasing after me. 

I’ve a cousin who teaches her kids to remember every time they see a sunset that God’s love for them will never change.

I remember passing many evenings with Xylon in hospital. The rooms he was put in almost always afforded me a view of the sunsetting, and gave me a moment of beauty each evening to remember God loves me. God’s love and beauty found me in one of the ugliest places. 


Life can have so many ugly, hard moments, but I’ve found God’s beauty and love pursue me in all of them. 

Many days I need this reminder:
God's beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. (<- tweet this)

Some times God’s love and beauty look like a sunset, sometimes gift from a friend, or time with a loved one. But they are there, chasing you every day of your life.

How have you seen God’s beauty and love chasing you?

P.S. I don't often use my own photos on the blog but this time I thought I'd share a few photos from the spot were I stop to stand and stare and God's beauty and love chasing me. That is our dog, Oliver, looking back at you in the top pic.

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Welcome! 
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How to pray when you feel afraid

How to pray when you feel afraid

When my husband Xylon was diagnosed with cancer there was so much I didn’t know. 

We had never imagined we would spend our first two wedding anniversaries fighting for our marriage in oncology wards, while he received chemotherapy and then a bone marrow transplant. 

Maybe the biggest thing I didn’t know was about how the fear of cancer never leaves

How even after the Oncologist tells you they can find no sign of cancer, the creeping anxiety remains. Or how the smallest thing can set the fear off, a cold, the stomach flu, pins and needles. Common ailments that we all get, but when my husband has them it’s a fight not to succumb to the fear that the cancer is back. 

This battle with fear isn’t isolated to cancer; it’s just that for us it is where it rears its head most at the moment. In the past I have had to fight the fear of losing my job, of not finding a job, of a family member dying in a car accident, a family member dying, of speaking in public, of failing…I think you get the idea.

I have become rather systematic now when I feel fear.

Instead of letting it overtake me I start fighting it. The Bible says in 2 Timothy 1:7, God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Any time I feel fear sneaking in, I remind myself that fear is not from God, that God is love, and that there is no fear in love (1 John 4:18) and then I fight fear with these 5 actions that I'm sharing over at iBelieve.com today.


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Welcome! 
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