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

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Letting Go

By Pat

I have been having a mighty struggle during the past week with anger, resentment, bitterness, and even feelings of hatred. Someone has caused my husband and me great hardship and financial loss because of a very stupid and inconsiderate act. We are now dealing with how to resolve the problem, and once again worrying about an unexpected lump of money we will have to come up with. And this is not the first time we have had to clean up after this person. Most likely it will not be the last. My feelings are justified. I have a right to feel furious, worried, angry and resentful. But do I have permission?

In James 1:20, James says, "for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires." And he is right. God created us to take His light into the world no matter what our current circumstances might be. We were not given terms and conditions; no disclaimer on how we distribute our forgiveness. I am holding onto my ugly feelings, in part, because I don't want to let this person "off the hook" and make her think she has won and all is well. I want to have the upper hand. And it's wrong. I know it's wrong, and therefore I carry the additional burden of guilt for feeling this way. Boy, that Satan. He certainly knows our Achilles heels, doesn't he?

But Jesus is stronger than Satan, and He will not let me go through this alone. I know I must let go of this, and that the only way I can is with the help of mighty God. I must replace these feelings I have with kindness and forgiveness, and that doesn't mean when I'm good and ready. It means NOW. I must release my righteous indignation. I must be willing to let go of my desire to win, remembering that the only winner in all of this should be God, because when I am obedient to Him He wins. That's all that matters. This is NOT about me.

And so, the only thing I can do, the only weapon I can utilize, is prayer. I have been praying for the hardness in my heart to be softened and the anger to dissipate. I have been praying for God to help me as I wrestle with Satan, and I already feel the changes happening. I have given it to God. I have asked the One who has forgiven me to help me to forgive also. I am letting go. I have decided that pleasing God is more important than harboring my ugly feelings, no matter how justified I might think they are. I have only myself  and my own actions to answer for when I stand at the judgment throne, and I want to have the Lord smile at me, not shake His finger. It's hard. But it's worth it. After all, if forgiveness was good enough for Jesus even as He was crucified, it's good enough for me. God said it, I believe it, that settles it!

"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven."  (Matthew 18:21-22)

Pat is a good friend who is passionate about her faith and her family. She works from home supporting a family business, and loves to read, write and garden when she can, and spends every spare moment with her grandkids.


Don't Worry!

By Pat

Another winter is here, and although we have been blessed with a mild one so far, it's far from over. I have a good friend who detests cold weather, and especially snow, and she watches the weather forecasts each day, practically holding her breath, just to make sure no winter storms are headed her way. She frets and fusses from November till March, and though the occasional snow storm does come her way, she gets very little snow. So in the end, all of her worrying and waiting has been, for the most part, for nothing, and all she has really done is to rob each day of the joy it might have held. Her days are wasted and she has failed to see the lovely parts of the winter season.

I have also ruined many days of my life worrying, mostly about things that never happen. I think we have all been guilty of that. As soon as the dark clouds of life begin to roll in, we start worrying, and in so doing, we weaken ourselves and find that we are unprepared for the actual storm if and when it does hit. We forget that sometimes storm clouds blow the other way, or even dissipate and so we worry, usually needlessly.

Instead of anticipating problems that may never happen and hiding from the storms of tomorrow, we need to prepare ourselves so that, no matter what comes our way, we're ready. We need to put tomorrow out of our heads and rejoice in today, remembering that most of what we waste our time worrying about never happens anyway. If we live our lives in a proactive way, we need never fear tomorrow. We need not worry if, instead of infesting our heads with concerns, we fill them with Jesus. Pray and praise, find pleasure in each day, each moment. And be grateful. Use your spare time to further your walk with God. Trust Him. The One who holds you now will hold you always, so why worry? Stock up for your storms with Jesus, and you will always be prepared. Don't worry!

"Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" (Matthew 6:27)..."Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:34)

Pat is a good friend who is passionate about her faith and her family. She works from home supporting a family business, and loves to read, write and garden when she can, and spends every spare moment with her grandkids.


Fair Weather Fans

By Pat

Have you ever known a sports fan who was crazy about their team... unless they're playing badly? I do. I know people who absolutely love their baseball or football team, and follow the games religiously. But when things turn sour and the team isn't doing so well, they desert them, sometimes for a different team, and sometimes just until their luck turns and they become a winning team again. These people are called "fair weather fans."

In our faith walk, it's very tempting to be a fair weather fan. We think God is just awesome when things are going our way, blessings abound and all is right with the world. We are God's biggest cheerleaders, his number one fans! We pray and praise and worship whole-heartedly. But life has a funny way of turning the tables on us, and we can suddenly find our happiness and well-being challenged. And God often becomes the scapegoat. It's His fault. We become angry with Him, and feel deserted. We find ourselves going through the motions in our spiritual walk, and we pray through clenched teeth. We falter and fumble until, once again, we see things improving in our lives. We are, at those times, fair weather fans.

When things aren't going so well and we are faced with difficulties and struggles, it's more important than ever to keep cheering for God, remembering He never promised us that life would be a continual party. We must pray harder, love stronger, worship with whole hearts and trust that God is at work, no matter what is going on. We must remember to find a way to glorify God every day, in every circumstance, and cling to the hope of better days and stronger faith. We must stay on God's team, no matter what.

"I tell you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble; but take heart! I have overcome the world!" (John 16:33)

Pat is a good friend who is passionate about her faith and her family. She works from home supporting a family business, and loves to read, write and garden when she can, and spends every spare moment with her grandkids.


Fill Me Up, Lord

By Pat

In 2 Kings 4:1-6, we read about the widow who needed money to pay her late husband's creditor, who was coming to take her two sons as slaves to repay the debt that was owed. Elisha instructed her to collect as many empty jars as she could and fill them with the oil she had left so that she could sell them and repay the debt, so she gathered up as many jars as she could from her neighbors. The small amount of oil she had flowed and filled all the jars, and when they had all been filled, she told her son to bring another one, but he said there were no more. It was then that the oil stopped flowing.

God was willing to continue filling as many jars as the woman could provide, just as He fills our empty hearts and souls with His blessings and provisions. But when we stop offering our emptiness to Him, He stops and waits for our empty jars to be held out to Him again. God's mercies are endless, and His love is overflowing, if only we continue asking Him to fill us up!

We sometimes hold ourselves back from God when things are not going well...we feel that God is distant and not listening anyway, so what's the use? We retreat, and find it difficult to even pray at times, but it's at those times we need to seek God even more diligently and ask him to fill us again. And we also sometimes withhold ourselves when all is well and our jars already seem to be filled. We wait, and we forget to keep those jars held out to God until we need something again. We forget that God knows what we need and is ready to give it to us, whether in times of want or times of plenty, and it's at those times that we need to thank God for what he has blessed us with and seek even more, so that we can complete the work He has for us.

No matter what's going on in our lives, we must never limit God's ability to fill us with His blessings by failing to hold up our empty jars for Him to fill. God loves to give us the good things He has for us. We need only offer our empty jars to Him, every moment of every day!

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who seeks finds, and to him who knocks the door will be opened." (Matthew 7:7-8)

Pat is a good friend who is passionate about her faith and her family. She works from home supporting a family business, and loves to read, write and garden when she can, and spends every spare moment with her grandkids.


Child's Play

By Sarah (Living Between the Lines)

This Christmas, I got—um, shall we say, drafted—to assist with a children’s Christmas program. This particular church only has about 15 children and they’re all below the age of six. A single, childless lady in her twenties volunteered to direct the program and found a play that was age-appropriate for these children. And she has spent the last several weeks herding cats attempting to direct this play. She got all of the parents to agree to help direct traffic to the stage, and on the stage. And she recruited another young childless friend of hers to help with the sets and costumes. And then, because nobody else would, she began learning lines so that she could also—in addition to directing—be the narrator of the play.

This woman was quite possibly the bravest—or most naïve—woman I have ever met.

Because I don’t regularly attend this church, I missed all of this pre-program fun. I missed the practices and the costume-making and the set-building. I just knew I needed to be there at 10:00 on that Sunday morning, to assist. By 10:03, I was ready to jump ship!

When I walked into the dressing room at 10:00, there were 15 children and at least as many adults. The oldest boy—wearing his costume—was standing on one side of the room bellowing, “WEE! WEE! WEE! WEE! WEE! WEE! WEE! WEE! WEE!” When I finally left the room twenty-five minutes later, he still hadn’t stopped. Both of his parents had been in the room and neither said anything to him.

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