Strength + Light Blog
Does God see?
It's tempting to wonder if God sees. It feels like there are so many reasons to doubt that God is looking down on His creation.
Pandemic. Natural disasters. Death. Sorrow. Pain. Sickness. Failing marriages. Abuse. Hunger.
In the psalms, David cried out, "You have seen, O LORD; be not silent! O Lord, be not far from me!"
If anyone could doubt that God was watching, it would be David. He was a fuitigve, homeless, running. The person he should have been able to trust--his father in law--was constantly trying to kill him.
But David still knew that God had seen it all. And God later delivered David from Saul, giving him the kingdom.
One of the Hebrew names for God is El Roi. Translated, it means the God who sees me.
Sometimes, in days of darkest pain, just the knowledge that God knows and He sees is such a comfort. He sees. He is putting all our tears in a bottle. And He is looking out for His children.
The name El Roi comes from the account of Hagar in the Bible. Like David, she too had been abondened by the person she should have been able to trust. She and her son were cast into the wilderness. When they almost died, the Lord brought her help.
She went on to praise the Lord and call Him El Roi, the God who had seen her. During her darkest days, God had seen her suffering and come to help her.
Like David and Hagar, we too can know that God sees us. In our darkest days, He is still there. His plan, though we may not understand, is perfect.
Which of the names of God bring you comfort?
1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
9 Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.
One of our shirts here at Juliet Rose Boutique says "He Restores My Soul."
I've been thinking of what that means.
We cannot restore ourselves. We have a need in our lives that no one can fill but the One who made us. Scripture says that, apart from Him, we can do nothing. Every aspect of restoration is made through Him.
Here are the first few thoughts that came to my mind when I was dwelling on Christ restoring us.
- He restores us by His blood. When we accept the work done on the cross and become His child, He restores that love relationship with himself we were created for.
- He restores our soul by the peace He gives. There have been turbulent times in my life that all should have been unsettled in my heart, but God gave perfect peace just when I needed it.
- He restores our soul by refocusing it upon the only thing that gives us hope--Himself. When we worship Him or dwell on His word, we are restores by remembrances of His holiness, grace, love, and the sacrifice He paid for our redemption. This restores us in the midst of a crazy, sinful world.
Take a moment to read through some Psalms and be reminded of the restoration God gave David during his troubled times. You will find some encouragement for yourself, as well.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
As a mom, holidays and family traditions are very important to me. And I do most of the planning to make said holiday traditions happen.
I have been racking my brain to figure out what faith-based, family-friendly ideas I could come up with. Pinterest has some good ideas to offer (and you can even check our Saint Patrick's Day board!)
Saint Patrick was a Christian missionary to Ireland. He is known as the patron saint of Ireland, called "Apostle of Ireland." He is credited with converting the Irish to Christianity.
I love celebrating missions...and learning about other cultures is so much fun! And any holiday is basically an excuse to have a celebration! I am a toddler mom, so many of these ideas I came up with won't apply for us this year. But I still wanted to share them with you!
Be sure to share YOUR ideas in the comments! We want to read them all!
- Cook an authentic Irish meal. If y'all hate corned beef, consider Irish stew or smoked salmon.
- Eat a green breakfast! When I was younger, my mom made us a meal of green pancakes and green scrambled eggs.
- Check out some books on Saint Patrick. Whether you buy new or go to the library, do some family or individual reading on Saint Patrick. His life is a fascinating one and definitely worth putting a little research into.
- Dance to Irish music! If you have kids, let them pop balloons by sitting them to Irish music. Maybe even teach them a little Irish dance if you are gifted in that area.
- Make rainbow cupcakes! Maybe even have a little trail of those gold-foiled chocolate coins leading to the rainbow cupcakes.
- Go to church. I met a lady who lived most of her life in Ireland and she told me it is customary to go to church. If your church holds a service, go!
- Support a missionary. In honor of the missionary saint of Ireland, make a donation to a missionary. Or you could do your own mission work by handing out church flyers, tracts, serving at a rescue mission, or doing community volunteer work.
Please share YOUR family's traditions for Saint Patrick's Day!
Looking back on a long week can be exhausting.
If you're anything like me, looking back on all that was done during the past week can also be a bit of a challenge--since so much of it is a blur! But I still like to look back and consider what our family did right and what we could do better. In fact, we have a family meeting to do just that.
Part of looking back brings up the uncomfortable truth that we may not have prioritized our time with God as much as we want to.
There are so many tips and ideas out there for accomplishing time with God. Mine are simple, but they may help someone!
Here they are!
- Read to your child(ren). I find that I have more incentive to read the Bible if I am reading it to my toddler. I keep it short--just a few verses or a chapter. But he likes to be read to, I get a few minutes with the Word, and we both walk away the better for it.
- Make a goal to help you prioritize your reading. Perhaps it's reading through a certain book a week or month.
- Find a Bible reading plan. My church offers one, but I am actually doing the one in my 2020 planner because it is simpler and more doable for me. Find a plan that works for you. If you're like me, you may need days to catch up, but you'll still be roughly on plan.
- Don't idolize "quiet" time. That may or may not happen. The candle, the Instagram worthy coffee cup, the blanket or fireplace...those don't make for a more spiritual reading session. They are nice to have but not necessary. I have gotten quite a lot out of sessions with a baby on my lap, dogs barking in the next room, and my coffee anything but Instagram worthy.
- Consider reading with your spouse, sibling, roommate. My husband reads to me every night. That way, if I am behind on my personal reading, I still get a few words of Scripture before bed. Doing it as a couple is super nice, too. It's never long or drawn out, but it is just enough for us to have a few words of Scripture to calm us and help us put our thoughts in the right direction before sleep.
Do you have any special tips?e Please share! We would love to hear them all.
Share in the Comments!
I have been struck lately by how confused we often seem to get about our duty as Christians.
It's so easy to forget the simple things, to get lost in the great debates about the so many issues pressing Christians today.
Have you ever felt this way? That, perhaps, in our mad rush to figure everything out, we have actually forgotten the most important things?
It's so good to be reminded of what God says is so important for His chosen children to remember, to do, to be.
Colossians 3:12 says, "Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience."
Compassion hearts. Not just to those who are easy to love or just certain groups, but toward everyone.
Kindness. Not to just those who agree with us but to everyone. We never know what people are going through. We never know what brave smiles and cheerful words are hiding a very lost, hurting, broken spirit. We never know if those who seem to be doing the most good in the world are actually the ones aching from loneliness and wanting just once for someone to do good by them.
Humility. Not considering ourselves but considering others. Rejoicing when they are lifted up, even if we are forgotten or ignored.
Meekness. Remembering others. Remembering that we do not always have to prove a point or even defend ourselves if it will stir up ungodly anger. That sometimes being right at the top of our voice is actually wrong. Striving for godly peace rather than allowing ourselves to be carried away with the wrath of man that, as James says, does not produce the righteousness of God.
Patience. Bearing with one another in love. Biting our tongue on a loved one's bad day and showing the same grace we would want to be shown. Not losing our temper at the broken china or muddy footprints.
We are called to be set apart. While the world is aflame with angry words, hot tempers, mindless accusations, and screams of division, we are to be the peace, the love, the grace that shows the world we are different.
We are the chosen ones.
I had an experience this past week that reminded me how much we as Christians need daily reminders of how to show Christ's love. We can be very cynical, very harsh, very critical.
We all fall so short.
We all need to remember what it is to love like Christ loved.
I am sharing 1 Corinthians 13 here today because I need to reread it. And I am sure you may wish to read it, too.
Romantics, like myself, tend to see this as the month of love. It is not only Valentine's Day month, but it happens to be my anniversary month.
You might say February is one of my favorite times of year for hearts, flowers, chocolate, cards, and putting all the extra effort into showing my hubby I love him.
But our husband or boyfriend or _____ (you fill in the bank) are not the only ones we need to show love to. As the body of Christ, we are commanded to show love to all.
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” - John 13:34-35
While we are to show love year round, February is a fun time to go out of our way to show extra love to those around us.
I compiled a short list of ideas to show love in tangible ways to others.
- Gather the kiddos and supply them with craft paper, stickers, glitter (if you dare), glue, and scissors to make homemade valentine's for the elderly. This could be grandparents, the senior citizens class at church, maybe shut-ins at the nursing homes. Deliver the valentines in person.
- Make cookies for the neighbors, whether by yourself or with the kids. Chocolate chip cookies really are a love language. Leave in a basket at their door or maybe take this opportunity to get to know them better.
- Get involved in a volunteer project that benefits the community. Love serves.
- Have a hot chocolate bar for your family some evening! Assemble bowls of peppermints, mini marshmallows, cinnamon, whipped cream, and whatever toppings your family loves. Take a moment to tell your family how much you love them and that the hot chocolate is to remind them that love is sweet. If you live alone, find a friend or neighbor to do this with.
- Love is kind. Kindness is love in action. Purpose to do a kind thing for someone that the Lord lays on your heart. Whatever it is is up to you!
Do you have any ideas for showing love in action? Please share!
A lot of people are experiencing great sorrow, disappointment, or loss right now.
My social media feeds are full of grief.
Hearts are heavy. Bills are many. We never seem to get enough sleep or feel that what we have accomplished is "enough".
Burdened hearts and busy schedules don't leave much time for rest.
I'll admit it--I went to church yesterday hoping my pastor would provide some inspiration for today's blog post. And he surely did. We're beginning a new series on Ruth.
And if there is anyone who understood grief, loss, and hardship, it would be Naomi and Ruth.
They lost it all. Home, spouse, children. For Naomi, maybe even a bit of her faith, too.
But, as my pastor pointed out, there is an underlying theme in the book of Ruth, spoken by Boaz himself:
"The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust."
Ruth had come to trust in Jehovah and knew that she could trust herself in the safety of his sheltering wings. She had lost much, but her heart was given to the care of the Father who wanted to protect and love her.
Ruth isn't the only place God talks about having wings with which to shelter us.
Jesus speaks in Matthew about longing to gather his people under his wings like a mother hen with her chicks.
The Psalms speak of being protected under God's wings and finding refuge.
It all creates a beautiful picture of who our Father God is: a loving, protecting God who longs to keep his children safe, warm, loved under his outstretched wings. It is a comforting image to me, imagining God as stretching out himself to shelter us from the storms of life.
I think we often forget that God is our Father, a good, perfect Father who longs to gather us to himself and comfort our heavy hearts.
Back to the story of Ruth, I think we all know how the story turns out. God cared for Naomi and Ruth through a godly man named Boaz. This man became a picture of Christ as he became a kinsman redeemer to Ruth. Per the laws of the day, he gave her and Naomi a child to remember their dead by.
That child became the grandfather of King David and was in the line of Christ.
Just as Boaz redeemed the line of Elimelek, so Jesus redeemed us, his people. The God of Naomi and Ruth is our God, too. The same God who cared for them also cares for us.
I hope that, today, weary hearts can find peace under the comforting, protective wings of our Father God. Take a moment just to rest in the knowledge that he loves you.
Ever have a bad day?
Who am I kidding? Of course you have. I have, you have, we all have. Bad days come--days that tempt us with unbelief. Days that whisper cunning little lies that we are rejected, forgotten, or unloved.
If we are not careful, we will believe and act upon those whispered lies. After all, it's easier to allow the lies to warp our thinking than to remember and speak truth over ourselves.
"...God doesn't love me."
"...I am forgotten."
"...if I were loved, this would not be happening."
It's during times like these that we need to be reminded of God's promises.
Deuteronomy 7:9 says, "Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps His covenant of loving devotion for a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments."
He is our faithful God.
The God who keeps his promises, who stands by his children, who remembers us with loving mercy even on the days we are unfaithful with our disbelief and disobedience.
2 Timothy 2:13 says, "If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself."
God's very nature is faithful. The book of Ephesians specifically talks about who we are in Him because of his faithfulness. We're called, adopted, predestined, loved, redeemed.
Those things don't change because of a bad day. In fact, the bad days remind us just how much we need the truth of the gospel...the truth that says that our righteousness is because of Him and only Him. Our worth is not in what we do, but what He has already done.
However, it takes a battle plan to remember His goodness--his faithfulness--and reject the lies of the enemy.
Here are 5 ways you can purpose to remember His goodness.
- Write down your prayer requests. Follow up by recording when God answers prayer!
- Make a list of 10 ways God has been faithful in your life.
- Look up at least one verse that talks about God's goodness or his faithfulness.
- Turn on praise music that specifically praises God for who he is and what he has done.
- Thank God for at least 5 promises that are unconditionally yours in Christ. (Ephesians is a great place to look up those promises.)
Fight back against the whispered lies and remember that God is who he says he is. Remember that he is faithful...and he is good.