Conntecting the Dots

Finding Courage and Strength Through Songs of Praise

Finding courage and strength through songs of praise became a living reality to me during a  time when I felt emotionally and physically depleted. I filled my home with worship music during those difficult days, but I also basked in the beauty of worship songs sung in church every Sunday morning. The sound of six hundred voices singing praises lifted my spirits. I’d worn weariness like a cloak, but songs of praise made that cloak fall away.

David found courage and strength through songs of praise in desperate times, too.


King Saul’s jealousy toward him had turned public. He was forced to flee for his life when soldiers came to his house to kill him. He cried to God for intervention and to show no mercy to those wanting to end his life. In the middle of that drama, he wrote, “But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress.” (Psalm 59:16 ESV)

David faced enemies from without and from within. We sense despair, fear, and perhaps even a touch of panic in his voice. (Psalm 59) But his tone changed when he turned his focus from his enemies to his God. “You are my strength; I wait for you to rescue me, for you, O God, are my fortress. In his unfailing love, my God will stand with me. He will let me look down in triumph on all my enemies,” he wrote. (Psalm 59:9-10)

Considering the circumstances, I suspect David’s emotions didn’t feel like singing a celebratory song. But David refused to let emotions control him. In the midst of a literal life-threatening situation, he declared truth about the character of God, and by doing so, spoke life-giving truth over himself.


Finding Courage and Strength Through Songs of Praise

The truths David declared in song are timeless.

First, God is powerful. Creation came into being at the sound of His voice. He speaks, and storms are silenced. He commands the dead to rise, and they obey. He heals the leper and makes the blind to see. He split the Red Sea so His people could pass through on dry ground. Nothing is impossible for Almighty God. No circumstances we face are too much for Him to undo or redo.

Second, God is filled with lovingkindness. The same word used in Psalm 18:25 is translated as “faithful.” – “To the faithful you show yourself faithful.” And He does so to the thousandth generation of those who love Him. He reveals His lovingkindness to us through His goodness and mercy that follow us all the days of our lives. He clothes and feeds us, grants us wisdom, gives us direction, disciplines us when needed, and fills us with peace because He is, by nature, love.

Third, God is our refuge. Some Bible versions say He is our stronghold. This implies a retreat where we hide and find shelter from the storm that blows around us. It also suggests a secure height like a cliff or other inaccessible place. The psalmist used the same description in Psalm 62:2—”He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.” When the enemy of our soul seeks to ambush us, we find our security in the Lord as our safe place.

When David felt distressed, he looked back at times when he’d experienced the truths he now declared.


That’s a great practice for us to incorporate. When distressing circumstances surround us, let’s adopt his practice. Let’s look back and recall the times we’ve experienced God’s power and lovingkindness and shelter over us. He came to our rescue then, and He’ll do it again because His nature never changes.

The truths about who God is give us every reason to begin and end each day with a song of joy in our heart. We might be surrounded by enemies without and within, but as for us, we will not buckle to fear because God is there for us. He is powerful, filled with lovingkindness, and ready to be our refuge.


Enjoy one of my favorite worship songs — Battle Belongs by Phil Wickham.


Know you are loved,


Finding Calm in the Midst of Chaos

Finding calm in the midst of chaos is hard to do sometimes. When I’m in a tough situation, my thoughts tend to flit from one thing to another, bouncing between what’s happened, what could happen, and what needs to happen. In order to respond to the challenge well, I have to continually bring my thoughts back to a safe place where peace and clarity reign.

I find encouragement in knowing I’m not the only person who has to do this. The psalmist did it, too. Psalm 57:7 is one example of how he did so. He wrote, “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.”

Theologians believe David wrote these words while hiding in a cave, possibly when King Saul was hunting him.

The chapter opens with David asking twice for God to have mercy on him. He confesses that his trust is in God alone and that he chooses to find refuge under His wings from the calamity he faces. Then he describes his desperate situation to God using three visuals. finding calm in the midst of chaos

First, the psalmist says he’s among lions. It seems he felt that his enemies were much stronger than him and ready to pounce on and devour him. Second, he says he lies among men who have been set on fire. Fire is an element that consumes everything in its path. From this, it appears that he feels helpless to escape unscathed. Third, he refers to men’s words about him as military equipment – swords, spears, and arrows. Men were out to kill his reputation.

David knew chaos up close and personal.

He felt helpless, alone, weary from distress, and no doubt, afraid. But at this point he reeled his thoughts in and brought them back to a place that offered calm in the midst of chaos. Perhaps he’d been sitting in the cave’s cold, dark shadows but now he comes to the entrance…to the light…and he looks up toward the heavens. As he does so, he bursts into praise.

David declares to God that his heart is fixed. Nowadays we refer to our heart as being the centre of our emotions. We love from our heart. But it meant more in the original Hebrew language. It meant the centre of thought processes and reasoning as well. So David is declaring to God that the centre of his thought processes and reasoning are fixed on Him—not on the visuals—the lions, the fire, and the military weapons all bent on destroying him.

That word “fixed” in some Bible versions reads as “confident” or “steadfast” or even “prepared.” In the original language, it meant to stand erect. No wavering. No leaning. The fact that David said it twice—“My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed,”—shows his absolute determination to keep his thoughts where they needed to be so he could stand firm and not waver when in that tough situation, hiding in a cave.

Here’s something that brings so much hope – when David fixes his heart on God, he sees far beyond the cave. By faith, he envisions himself thanking God among the people and singing praise among the nations.

A cave is a dark, confined and sometimes smelly space, but from that place David praises God for His unfailing love that reaches as high as the heavens and for His faithfulness that reaches to the skies. He doesn’t wait until he leaves the cave, until he’s so far removed that it’s only a distant memory. He praises there, on the spot, and he’s able to do so because he fixes his heart on God.

Life leads all of us to caves at some time or other.

We may wake up in the cave of a medical diagnosis that upends us. We might land in the cave of betrayal, or financial hardship, or unfulfilled expectations. When life leads us into a cold, lonely, shadowed place, let’s remember David’s example. He was there not for any fault of his own but because God allowed it for some reason.

How easy it would have been for David to blame God or question God’s intent toward him. Instead, he poured out his heart to the Lord and then acknowledged his trust in Him. Fixing his heart on God’s character—namely His unfailing love and faithfulness—filled David with confidence, courage, and hope for a good outcome under God’s control.

No matter what hard situation we face, let’s fix our heart on God and praise Him there. Fixing our heart on God leads us to a safe place, a place where peace and clarity reign, a place where we find calm in the midst of chaos.

May I pray for you today? “God, we praise You today for Your unfailing love that’s as high as the heavens and for Your faithfulness that reaches the clouds. It’s easy to praise You in this way when things are going well, but not so much when we end up in a cave. Please remind us then that the truth of who You are never changes. You are worthy of all our praise no matter what our circumstances look like. Help us fix our hearts on You, for that’s when we find calm in the chaos. In Jesus’ name, amen.

If you or someone you love is in the midst of chaos today, pick up a copy of the award-winning Finding Hope in Crisis: Devotions for Calm in Chaos. The book’s 90 daily meditations will remind you of God’s presence and promises and will help lead you to a place of peace, clarity, and calm. Available wherever Christian books are sold.


finding hope amidst crisis

Encouraging Words for When You Face a Test

Tests make me nervous. In fact, I remember lying in fourth grade to skip writing a math test. I’d been sick with the flu for several days prior, and on the day of my return to school, the teacher plunked a math test on my desk. I took one look at it, felt the fear of failure sweep over me, and knew escape was my only option if I hoped to survive elementary school.

“I think I’m going to throw up,” I told the teacher. No joke.

“You’d better run to the bathroom, then,” she said. I dashed down the hall, locked myself in a bathroom stall, and then wondered what to do next.

A minute or two later, I heard the door open and my teacher’s voice say, “Grace, are you okay? I’ve asked the principal to take you home because you’re probably not over the flu yet.”

Sure enough, the principal drove me home and handed me over to my mother. Somehow, I managed to fool her, too. I must have been one very desperate child to go to that extent to avoid taking a test.

Academic tests can be stressful, but they’re necessary to see how well we’re learning the lessons we need to know. Sometimes our heavenly Father presents us with tests of a different sort but for the same purpose.

Encouraging words for when you face a test

Take the Israelites, for example. Exodus 16:4 says, “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Look, I’m going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow my instructions.’”

Every morning, the flaky substance called manna appeared on the ground. And every morning, the people gathered as much as their households needed for that day. Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over. And those who gathered a little had enough. Each family had just what it needed. (Exodus 16:7-8)

What was the lesson God wanted His children to learn?


To trust His care and ability to provide for their needs. It looked as though they understood and were headed for a passing grade. But then came the test. “Do not keep any of it until morning,” said Moses.

Some students passed. Others failed because they picked up more than they needed and stashed it overnight. When they woke up and went to retrieve their breakfast, they discovered a big, fat “F” on their test paper. The stored-up manna was full of maggots and had a terrible smell.

The test results revealed that, in the deepest part of their hearts, the people didn’t fully trust God to provide for their needs. Thankfully the failing grade made an impact and influenced them to change their ways: “After this the people gathered the food morning by morning, each family according to its need” (Exodus 16:21). They’d seen God provide faithfully in the past, and they knew they could trust Him for the future.

As a missionary living on faith support, God tests me regularly in this regard.


Do I trust Him to meet our financial needs? Just when I feel as though I’ve mastered this lesson, a major financial need arises: the car breaks down, our boat-home needs repairs, or a molar breaks.

My human nature wants to rush out to find a “real job.” But then I remember that God promises to provide for our needs. I can choose to rely on my own efforts, or I can do things God’s way and trust Him to keep His word. My response determines my grade. Will I pass or will I fail and have to relearn the lesson?

Tests come in a variety of forms.


God asks us to trust Him with our kids’ well-being. He asks us to trust Him with a recent medical diagnosis. He asks us to trust Him for wisdom in knowing how to respond to a difficult relationship.

Those spiritual-type tests might make us nervous, and we might try to work around them or run away from them, but life experience tells us that going to such extremes never works well. Instead, we can be honest with Jesus about how we feel, and we can hang onto His promises.


Here are some encouraging words for when you face a test:

  • “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:2 NIV)
  • “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Paslm 46:1 NIV)
  • “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” (Isaiah 43:2 NIV)

No one I know relishes taking a test—least of all me—but they reveal areas in our lives where we need to learn and grow. Let’s remember that God allows tests in our lives, but He always sits with us so long as we’re in that place.


If you’re taking a test right now, then you might find this song by Kristene DiMarco a blessing.

Has God tested you recently? If so, how? What encouraging words did He send your way?


5 Reminders About God’s Love for Us

We can all use a few reminders now and again about God’s love for us, yes? That’s because our human minds have a hard time grasping its reality and actually believing it. Most of what we know about love is based on what we’ve experienced, and those experiences aren’t always the best teachers.

Valentine’s Day in fourth grade is one example.

That was the year I had an over-sized crush on brown-eyed, freckle-faced Freddy. So did all the other girls in my class. Poor Freddy. While the other boys played tetherball and baseball during recess, he dashed ‘round and ‘round the school yard like a rabbit chased by a pack of giggling girls.

I knew the competition was fierce for Freddy’s affection, but I figured I’d won the contest when he handed me a Valentine that read, “I’m not clowning around. I love you.” My bubble burst a few seconds later when my best friend whispered, “Look at my Valentine from Freddy!” I could scarcely believe my eyes. “I’m not clowning around. I love you,” it said.

Freddy’s mom must have purchased a multi-pack of the thing, because every girl in the class received the same message. It was the boy’s undoing. The fourth-grade females’ feelings for freckle-faced Freddy fizzled on February 14th. (Say THAT while munching on a mouthful of dry crackers!)


I’m afraid Freddy knew nothing about true love.


Neither did I, nor did the other girls in the class. Call us fickle. Freddy fell off our emotional radar as fast as ice cream melts on a sizzling summer day, and we all moved on to better-looking ventures.

Time has passed, and thankfully I’ve learned a few things about true love since then. But the most important lessons come from Scripture and direct my heart into the love of my heavenly Father.


5 Reminders About God's Love for You

Friend, some days are so hard that we might wonder whether God has turned His back on us.

If someone we trust betrays us, we might transfer our subsequent feelings of hurt and mistrust onto the Lord and then doubt His intent and faithfulness toward us. We might have days when we barely love ourselves, so we fall into believing the lie that says God can’t love us either.


If you’ve ever questioned God’s love for you, then here are five truths to remind you that yes, He loves you more than words can say.


God’s love surrounds us:

Psalm 32:10 – Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the LORD. (NIV)


God’s love is measureless:

Psalm 36:5-7 – Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies… How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. (NIV)


God’s love is stronger than any force that exists:

Romans 8:38-39 – For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


God’s love sustains us:

Lamentations 3:22 – Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. (NIV)


God’s love is sacrificial and life-giving:

John 3:16 — For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (NIV)

Write these Scriptures where you’ll see them often. Memorize them and meditate on them. Turn them into thanksgiving prayers. Let them sink deep into your heart and call them to mind on hard days.

The truth is—God loves you. You are precious to Him. He will never leave you.

Know you are loved,


You and Your Unique Gifts Make a Difference

You matter, my friend. You might feel as though you have little to offer or don’t make a difference, but don’t believe that for a moment. You are unique. You are gifted. You are one-of-a-kind. And the Body of Christ, also called the family of God, needs you.

Think about it this way: Our physical bodies are creative masterpieces. We have teeny parts invisible to the naked eye—cells and neurons and DNA. We have major organs—the brain, heart, liver, and kidneys. We have parts obvious to all—our eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and limbs.

God created every part of our physical bodies to serve a specific purpose.

Imagine what life might look like if suddenly our ears or eyes quit working. Imagine the challenges we’d face if we suffered a brain trauma or spinal cord injury. Imagine the impact on our health is our kidneys or liver stopped functioning.

God created every part of us for a specific purpose, and every part is necessary for the body to function well. So it is with the Body of Christ. Every part, or person, plays a necessary role, and the Body’s well-being depends on it.

God equipped some people as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11). He created some as exhorters to encourage others to lead victorious Christian lives. He made some to give generously from their time and resources, others to lead, some to lend a hand in practical ways, and others to show compassion (Romans 12:3-8).

you and your unique gifts make a difference

We’re all uniquely gifted and not by accident.

Every member of Christ’s Body benefits when we discover, develop, and use our gifts. But the opposite is also true: the Body suffers when we fail to use them.

We might hesitate to exercise our gifts because we believe that we have nothing to contribute. We might fear failure or become overly concerned about what others think of us. We might fall into the comparison trap by looking with envy at others’ giftedness.

Let’s remember that Jesus is the Head of the Body and our role is to align ourselves with His purposes.


He wants every part of His Body to contribute to its growth and health. No matter what role we play, our participation is important and makes a difference.

Every member of Christ’s Body matters. You matter, friend. So together let’s joyfully do our part to keep His Body healthy and strong.

“He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” (Ephesians 4:16NLT)

Based on Romans Romans 12:3-8, what is your unique role(s) in helping Christ’s Body to function well? I’ll start: I believe my role is to exhort—to encourage others to lead a victorious Christian life. Your turn!


How Does God’s Goodness Pursue Us?

How does God’s goodness pursue us? Here’s one example: An acquaintance of mine had attended a conference in Istanbul. He’s a committed follower of Jesus, yet discouragement had set in, and he’d begun feeling distanced from God. When the conference ended, he stayed in the city to visit the sites for a few days. One afternoon, he sat in a coffee shop next to a window. Imagine his surprise when a Christian co-worker who attended the same conference happened to walk by and see him. The co-worker immediately joined him in the shop, and their impromptu get-together turned into a much-needed time of spiritual encouragement for my acquaintance.

What are the chances of this happening, really? More than 15 million people live in metro Istanbul, and there are too many coffee shops to count. There’s no way this was a coincidental crossing of paths. It was a beautiful picture of God’s goodness, a real-life demonstration of Psalm 23:1 in action.

How Does the Shepherd Care for His Sheep?

Psalm 23:1 says, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” In the verses preceding it, the writer describes a shepherd’s goodness toward his sheep in taking responsibility for their well-being. For instance, the shepherd goes before his flock to clear the path of anything harmful and to watch for wild animals looking for lunch. He treats them for pests, and he deals with friction within the flock so the animals can rest properly. He ensures they have clean drinking water. He searches for them when they stray, and he rescues and carries the injured back to safety.

Just as a wise and experienced shepherd cares well for his sheep, so the Lord cares for His children. He takes responsibility for our well-being, and each of the actions He takes evidence His goodness in our lives.

how does God's goodness pursue us?

Within Scripture, the word “goodness” can be likened to the word “grace.”

God, in His goodness or grace, gives us what we don’t deserve. Think about this for a moment within the context of Psalm 23: There’s a reason Scripture likens us to sheep. These woolly creatures aren’t exactly the smartest animals on the farm. Neither are we as smart or self-sufficient as we might like to think. Sometimes we do things that are just plain dumb. We ignore the Lord our Shepherd, stray onto a path that seems right in our own eyes, and cause self-inflicted pain. Sometimes we get angry at God and blame Him for what’s happened. And how does He respond?

The Lord our Shepherd could just wash His hands of us, but He doesn’t do that. In His goodness, He gives us what we don’t deserve. He exercises patience toward us. He disciplines us to bring us to our senses so we can once again flourish. He sends His Holy Spirit to convict us, He forgives us when we confess our sin, He gives us another chance, and He uses our hard-earned lesson for His glory. It’s amazing, really.

It’s also amazing to realize God’s goodness toward us displayed in countless ways every day.

There are the obvious things like food and a roof over our heads. But let’s not forget the things like our ability to take our next breath and then the next and the next. Let’s recognize His goodness to us in giving us ears and the ability to hear a baby giggle and birds sing and worship music sung. Let’s acknowledge His goodness in giving us eyes to see the dawn break across the sky and the look of delight on a child’s face when discovering the spots on a ladybug’s back. In His goodness, He gives us strength to face difficulties and the power to persevere on the days when we feel like giving up.

God’s goodness follows us in ways too many to count. So does His mercy. Let’s compare the two:

Goodness is God giving us what we don’t deserve. Mercy is God not giving us what we deserve. Every time we think a judgmental or lustful or envious thought, we sin against His holiness. Every time we complain or gossip or refuse to heed the Holy Spirit’s nudges, we do the same. There’s no way we can measure up to God’s standard of holiness. As a result, we deserve death, but when we place our faith in Jesus for forgiveness and salvation, God gives us life instead.

It’s easy for us to be mindful and appreciative of God’s goodness and mercy toward us when everything is going well. It’s not as easy when we land in a hard place.

But the truth remains—His goodness and mercy are with us even when we suffer a tragedy or when life takes an unexpected and disappointing detour. They accompany us even on the days we don’t feel like getting out of bed, on the days we feel unloved, and on the days we lose sight of hope. Surely God’s goodness and mercy follow us all the days—all the days—of our life, no matter whether they’re good or bad because He can turn bad to good.

My friend in Istanbul experienced the goodness of God in a sweet and special way. The Lord, his Shepherd, took responsibility for his well-being. He knew that this fellow was discouraged so He sent a friend to talk and pray with him when he needed it most. Such is the character of our good, good Shepherd. He knows our needs and takes responsibility for us. Let’s keep our eyes open so we don’t miss the ways in which He fulfills His responsibility toward us.

How have you experienced God’s goodness recently? Feel free to leave a comment. I love hearing your responses, and other readers benefit, too.



How Does a Yearly Focus Word Help Us Grow?

how does a focus word help you grow


A yearly focus word is a great tool to help us grow in our faith journey. One year, my word was “joy.” It reminded me to reframe the way I viewed difficulties. I learned to see them not as hindrances but as opportunities to experience God’s presence and promises in new ways.

Another year, my word was “listen.” It encouraged me to keep an ear open for the Holy Spirit’s whispers during the course of the day. It also prompted me to listen more intentionally to other people—to minimize distractions and truly hear the heart behind the words they were speaking.

In 2022, my word was “guard,” and it was ideal. Last year was one of the most difficult I’ve ever experienced. So much loss. So much pain. My focus word helped me guard my heart from sinking into despair and succumbing to anger over circumstances for which there were no easy answers. It helped me guard my tongue from speaking words that were not helpful. It even reminded me that God’s promises surround me, standing like a guard around my heart to protect me from the enemy’s fiery darts.

This year’s word, I believe, is “restore.”


“Restore” is a hope-filled word defined as “a bringing back to a former position or condition.” In some cases, the object restored comes back stronger than before and receives new purpose.

After last year’s onslaught of loss and disappointment, I welcome restoration. What will that look like? I have no clue, but I’m trusting the Good Shepherd to fulfill His role mentioned in Psalm 23:3 – “He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” (ESV)

The Bible contains 136 references to God’s restorative work and tells many stories of lives and relationships healed. I would love to spend a day away to dig deep and discover what each of those 136 references say about “restore.”


For now, though, here are three Scriptures that have already encouraged me:

  • 1 Peter 5:10– “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”
  • Mark 8:25 – “Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.”
  • Isaiah 43:18-19 – “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

God is up to something good, and I wait with anticipation to see what He wants to do.

Do you ask God to give you a focus word at the start of a new year? If so, what’s your word for 2023? Leave a comment, okay? I’d love to know, and your comment might inspire and encourage another reader.

#bgbg2  #oneword  #restore

Celebrating the Light at Christmas

celebrating the light at Christmas

It happened every year at this time when our kids were still living at home. We’d pull our fake tree from its box, assemble it branch by branch, and prop it in its stand. Next, we’d untangle several strands of teeny colored lights and plug them into a nearby socket. That’s when the fun began.

“Hey, Dad, nothing’s happening,” one of the kids would call. “Why won’t the lights turn on?”

Dad came to the rescue. “A bulb has burned out,” he’d say. “We’ll have to figure out which one’s dead and replace it.”

And so the search began. One by one, we tested the tiny twinklers until we found and replaced the culprit. The entire string lit up that instant. Amazing the power of one mini-light.

I find Christmas tree lights pleasing to the eye and soothing to the soul. I also find them representative of life. Here’s how:

I have reasonable expectations about what the family Christmas should look like, but nothing turns out the way I’d hoped. Poof! Disappointment turns the lights off.

I’m feeling okay about myself until someone misjudges my motives and character. Poof! Anger and hurt turn the lights off.

I’m content with my circumstances until someone tells me about the latest holiday she took. Poof! Envy turns the lights off.

Disappointment. Anger. Hurt. Envy. Fear. Doubt. Loneliness. Unforgiveness. They’re all capable of turning out the lights, metaphorically speaking.

So what should we do? Remove the culprit and replace it with the Light that changes everything.

Jesus is that Light.

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NIV)

This season brings a mish-mash of emotions. Some of them are positive; others not so much. If something happens to switch off your sparkle, ask the Holy Spirit to show you the culprit. Are you disappointed that circumstances didn’t turn out as you hoped? Did you take offense at someone’s thoughtless remark? Are you feeling desperately lonely for the loved one whose chair sits empty at the table this year?

Take a few minutes and sit in the glow of your Christmas tree lights. Tell Jesus how you feel. Rest assured He cares. Give Him every hurt, every disappointment, every lonely place, and He will restore the light in your life.


Take a few minutes, too, to listen to “Light of the World” by Lauren Daigle, and be blessed.

May this season be filled with peace, with joy, and a renewed sense of wonder as you celebrate Jesus, the Light of the world and of your heart.

Know you are loved,


Surrounded by God’s Presence


You, my friend, are surrounded by God’s presence. Some days, your thoughts might tell you otherwise, but don’t believe them. Instead, hold onto the promise found in Psalm 125:2—”Just as the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, both now and forever.”

The Cambridge English dictionary defines surround as “to be everywhere around something.” Isn’t that beautiful as it relates to the Christian life? The Lord surrounds His people both now and forever. He is everywhere around us at all times.

The thought of being surrounded by God’s presence calms my fears for today and my worries about tomorrow.

When I feel afraid or under spiritual attack, I imagine myself encircled by an impenetrable shield. It covers and keeps me from dangers above and below and on every side. I am safe in that place. Nothing touches me there without my Protector giving it the go-ahead.

surrounded by God's presence

When suffering enters that space within the shield, does it mean Psalm 125:2 is no longer true? No. The promise remains true, but it assumes another form: When we suffer, God surrounds us with compassion and strength. If injustice touches us, God surrounds us with assurance that He is our Defender and will someday set everything right. When unfair criticism touches us, God surrounds us with wisdom and compassion for the person who levied the criticism.

This reality of being surrounded by God also helps me pray with greater confidence and expectation.

When Sailor-Man and I face major decisions, we ask God to surround us with His protection lest we head a direction contrary to His.

When I pray for my kids and grandkids, I ask God to surround them with His lovingkindness.

When I pray for you, my readers, I ask God to surround you with His compassion and tangible evidence of His presence with you.

This has been a most difficult year in many ways, and I’ve breathed countless personal sentence prayers using surround:

  • “Father, surround me with Your wisdom.”
  • “God, surround me with hope.”
  • “Lord, surround me with protection from the evil one.”

Praying the truth of Psalm 125:2 floods me with peace.  How about you? What are you facing today? Stand on the truth of God’s Word and pray: “God, surround me with Your _______.”

#Biblestudy   #ChristianDevotions  #Psalms #bgbg2

How to Remain Confident When We Feel Like Giving Up

How to Remain Confident When we Feel Like giving up

How can we remain confident when we feel like giving up? By ignoring the little voice that feeds us doom and gloom. You know how it goes….

Worry whispers that inflation is going to make it impossible for us to pay the bills and we’ll soon end up a homeless statistic.

Anxiety assures us that trying to resolve conflict in a difficult relationship is pointless. It will never improve, so why bother?

Fear says our kids and grandkids don’t stand a chance in a world dominated by threats of nuclear war heaped onto the reality of floods, famine, hurricanes, racism, euthanasia, and gender dysphoria.

That little inner voice seems bent on leading us to focus on all things bad. Listening to it leads us to a place of despair, but God’s plans for us include something much better than dwelling in the dark. He wants our perspective to be one filled with hope and characterized by confidence, and this happens when we listen to His voice, the voice of truth.


What Does the Voice of Truth Say?


“Light shines in the darkness for the godly,” wrote the psalmist. (Psalm 112:4 NLT) “They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the LORD to care for them. They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly” (Psalm 112:7-8).

An online dictionary defines “confident” as “the state of feeling certain about the truth of something.” As followers of Christ, we can feel certain that God’s promises are true because He cannot lie. (Hebrews 6:18)

Therefore, we can be confident that God will never leave us when the going gets rough. (Deuteronomy 31:8) He will always give us the wisdom we need when we ask for it (James 1:5) He will provide all our needs. (Philippians 4:19) He restores our broken hearts. (Isaiah 61:3) Someday He will wipe away our tears. (Revelation 21:4) And the list goes on.


On What is Our Confidence Based?


I like this quote by Roy Lessin: “Confidence is not based on you having all the resources needed to take care of yourself; confidence is based upon the truth that God is faithful.”

Confidence is based upon the truth that God is faithful. That’s the voice of truth, my friend.

Listening to the voice of doom and gloom makes us feel like giving up. But listening to the voice of truth leads us to a place of confident hope for a good outcome under God’s control.

#bgbg2 #hopeinGod