Devotionals About Childhood Memories Discouragement & Hope

By Marsha Iddings
Copyright 2008 Sufficient Grace Publishing

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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from the King James Version of the Bible. ©2009 by Marsha Iddings Published by Sufficient Grace Publishing Printed in the United States of America All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.

Marsha Iddings Email: truthsetsfree@clarkston.com

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Devotional Stories About Childhood Memories of Living in the Old Mansion at 1801 Eldridge Ave., Bellingham, WA

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The Old Mansion of My Childhood
Matthew 7:24-26 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. When I was a child my dad bought a big old abandoned mansion that sat on a cliff over-looking the bay in Bellingham, WA. He got it real cheap. I remember we all thought he had taken leave of his mind when we saw it. It had an ugly gray/brown paint that was peeling and weathered. The roof was covered with moss. The insides looked as if the previous occupants had left in a huge hurry. Stuff was strewn all over the floor in some rooms and everything was covered with a layer of dust. It looked like a haunted house. My dad removed 15 utility trailer loads of stuff and took it to the dump before he could even begin to make the place livable. When we moved in I remember the kitchen sagged something awful. You could set a ball at one end of the room and it would roll down the floor to the other end of the room without even having to push it. The house sat on a sandstone foundation that was crumbling beneath it. I remember my dad spent hours jacking the house up so he could remove the sandstone and replace it with cement block. One of the results of the sandstone foundation was that as the foundation crumbled, the house would shift and the plaster walls would crack and crumble. Of course it didn't help any that the trains below the cliff would switch cars and the banging around that resulted from that would also help to crumble the foundation and walls. I remember one night we were eating dinner when suddenly over head we heard a tremendous crash. Upon investigation we discovered all the plaster had fallen off the walls and ceiling of the closet upstairs! Oh the joys of living in a mansion with a crumbling foundation. This illustration brings home what Jesus was saying in the verses above. When we read and hear what Jesus says in the Bible, but we fail to put it into practice, we are like the house built on sand. When the assaults of the world come against us we will crumble and fall. To withstand the assaults of the world, the flesh and the Devil, we MUST have a solid Biblical foundation. How is your foundation? Is it a solid one built on the Word of God or is it a sandstone one built on the changing doctrines and teachings of this world?

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More Old Mansion Memories
Psalm 77:11 I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I've been in a reflective mood lately. Last week I wrote about the old mansion I lived in part of my growing up years. That old place holds many memories for me.

When I was in my last two years of high school, it was just my mom and dad and I rattling around in the big old house like peas in a churn. I had the choice of what bedroom I wanted to sleep in by that time. I chose the room that I told you about in my last devotional. Remember? It was the one where all the plaster fell off the closet walls and ceiling. My dad had completely fixed the closet and room up. He put up new sheet rock and it was painted a bright peachy/orange color. I liked this room because of it's brightness and it had a window that over-looked Bellingham Bay. I loved the bay.

My favorite time of year was the fall season. It would be chilly in the mornings and a thick layer of fog would blanket the area. It was so cozy to snuggle down in the covers and listen to the deep rhythmic blasts of the fog horns on the ships that were coming and going. I'd finally get up and make my way down stairs to the kitchen and the smell of coffee would greet me. I don't like to drink coffee, but I love to smell it. There was something comforting about getting up and smelling the coffee. Maybe it was because I knew my Mom and Dad would be there at the kitchen table if there was coffee brewing on the stove. These are the things good memories are made of and God has blessed me with many. The Psalmist says he will remember the works of the Lord and His wonders of old (Psalm 77:11). In the passage right above this verse the Psalmist is in the pit of depression. Then he says, "This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High." When things got tough, he refused to stay in the pit. He dusted himself off and began to recount all the blessings God has given him in the past. It's healthy to remember the good times of years gone by and thank God for them. Thinking on these happier times can help boost your spirits. The Apostle Paul says, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." (Philippians 4:8) Do you have a happy memory that you can think on and thank God for today?

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The Hole Under the Old Mansion
Romans 11:33-36 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. It wasn't until after we had moved from the old mansion that my father told us that under it he had found a hole. It was maybe less than the size of a man-hole cover. He said he had shined a flashlight down the hole but the light just disappeared. It never hit on anything to reflect it back. He also dropped some rocks down the hole to see if he could hear them hit bottom, but he could never hear them hit the bottom. He knew it would freak my mother out to know there was a hole like this under the house, so he never told anyone about it until we had moved. There were many old mining tunnels under Bellingham that were not used anymore and my father surmised that perhaps this was an air shaft for a deep mine tunnel. We will probably never know for sure. The Scripture says, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" The Apostle Paul seems almost overcome by the thought of the wisdom and knowledge of God. That hole under the old mansion didn't seem to have a bottom to it. It just seemed to go on and on, deeper and deeper with no end. This is how rich God's wisdom and knowledge is. There is no end to it. It is so deep that we can't even begin to understand it. I suspect that this is why there are some concepts in the Bible such as the Trinity and God's sovereignty that are hard for us mere humans to understand. His ways are just past finding out. We have to be very careful that when we come to the Bible and find teachings that don't make sense to us that we don't twist it up in order to make human sense out if. We need to let God be God and realize that there are some things that we just are not going to understand this side of heaven. God is just too big for us to comprehend. This brings much comfort to me to know that my God is this great. I can trust Him because He knows the beginning from the end and He knows the purposes He has in mind for my life. The more I study the Bible the bigger God becomes to me. Worship at His feet. "For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen."

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Hide and Seek in the Old Mansion
Proverbs 15:3 The eyes of the LORD are in e very place, beholding the evil and the good.

One of the fun things about living in a big old mansion is the endless possibilities for hide and seek. What made it even more fun was playing hide and seek with our German Shepherd. Someone would make Queen sit and stay while I would run and hide somewhere. I usually found a place deep in a closet. Then I'd shout, "OK!" They would let go of the dog and say, "Go find her, Queen!" Off she'd run sniffing here and there until her nose finally led her to my hiding spot. Of course, the anticipation of her cold wet nose in my face always brought great squeals of laughter and screaming when at last she found me. It was difficult to hide from Queen. German Shepherd's have extremely good noses and can sniff out anything it seems. I guess that is why they are so good as police dogs. However, it is impossible to hide from God. He sees everything. The Bible even says He knows our thoughts. The book of Job says, "Behold, I know your thoughts, and the devices which ye wrongfully imagine against me." (Job 21:27) And David says, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts". (Psalm 139:23)

We might think we are hiding things from God, but we are not. He knows every idle thought of our heart. God doesn't play hide and seek games. Like David, it's best to come clean with God. He is there ready to forgive us when we come to Him in true repentance.

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Spying on People in the Old Mansion
Proverbs 5:21 For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings. Proverbs 15:3 ¶ The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. I was a typical little sister. Being four years younger than my sister, she was bringing home boys after her dates. Of course I was supposed to be in bed by that time. But I would sneak into the upstairs bathroom, open the window and watch what was going on in the kitchen by looking at the reflection in the neighbor's window. Later as she was saying good-bye to her date in the big hallway down stairs, I would sneak out in the upstairs hallway and peek over the banister to watch them down below. Another one of my spying tactics was the air vent in my bedroom floor. Those old turn of the century houses didn't have central heating ducts. Instead they had a vent in the floor that could be opened to let heat up from downstairs. This vent worked well as a spot to spy on who was down in the living room. So occasionally, I would lay down on the floor and look through the vent and listen to the activities going on below. To my sister's credit, she never did anything worthy of tattling to my parents about. I wouldn't have tattled anyway because I would have gotten myself in trouble for spying! (Now I am telling all my secrets!) There is One who sees all that we do. No, He is not spying on us. He has plainly told us in His Word that he sees all we do. It's no secret. He ponders our path. Is it a path that honors Him? He sees the good and the evil. God not only sees what we do, but He also sees what is in our hearts. Jeremiah 17:10 I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.(KJV) Our outward actions may deceive man into thinking we are upright, holy people, but what is in our hearts? Eventually, what is in our hearts will be revealed. What is the condition of yours?

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The Cliff Behind the Old Mansion
Matthew 14:23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. During my growing up years when we lived in the old mansion on the cliff, my place of solitude was half way down the cliff behind our old house. There was an old tree stump there that served as a place for me to sit. I spent a lot of time on my stump, day dreaming, watching the trains go by, enjoying the bay and waving to the engineers and the men who rode the caboose. I often took my Bible and journal down there with me and would spend time communing with God there. Except for the trains that passed by, it was usually a peaceful, quiet place to sit and think and pray. I usually climbed back up the cliff feeling refreshed and more relaxed. Jesus often refreshed Himself from the busyness of the day by going off alone to pray. He said, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) We are to follow His example. If we don't, we run the risk of burning out. This is advice that I need, because I have trouble taking time out these days. Life is so full of activity and worries that it is almost overwhelming at times. Jesus doesn't just say, "If you want to, come unto me and I will give you rest." He says, "Come and I will give you rest." It looks to me like it is a command to obey. When we are overworked and overwrought with life, we are commanded to come to Jesus for rest. When we obey Him, He will give us rest. Looking at it more as a command to obey, puts a new perspective on the importance of setting aside time for spiritual refreshment and rest. This is why the Sabbath was instituted as one of the creation ordinances. When God completed His work of creation, He rested on the seventh day. Genesis 2:2-3 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made. We are to follow His example and rest one day out seven, focusing our attention on worship and spiritual refreshment. One of the commandments is, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." (Exodus 20:8) Do you have a place where you can go to refocus yourself on Christ, pray and rest? Do you do this regularly? This is a challenge for me, so I am sure it must be a challenge for many others as well. Let's commit together to come to Jesus regularly for rest and see how it affects our lives over time.

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Earthquake in the Old Mansion
Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. Jude 1:3 ¶ Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. Below the cliff that the old house sat on were the railroad tracks. All day and through the night at various times the trains would rumble by or switch cars below. All this activity would shake the old house. We became so accustomed to the noise and the shaking that it never fazed us. The noise and shaking just went together. However, if we had company that didn't know about the trains and the noise and shaking that went on they would nearly come out of their seats in panic thinking we were having an earthquake or something had exploded. We got to know the "good" noise and shaking so well that when there was noise without shaking or shaking without noise we paid attention. So it was in the middle of the night when I was awakened out of a sound sleep by the shaking of the house without any noise to go with it. It was a different kind of shaking, more like a rocking motion. I knew instantly that something was wrong. I flew out of bed to my parent's room to find my dad standing, looking out the window. I imagine he was trying to figure out what we should do. All I knew was I was scared out of my wits and wanted to be near my mom and dad. None of us slept well the rest of the night. Three of us in a standard double bed with me clinging to the outside edge of it all night, didn't make for a restful time. We got to know the noise and shaking that were normal so well that when the earthquake shook us we instantly knew something was wrong. The parallel to be seen is this: As Christians we are to study the Bible and get to know it so well that when doctrine, worldviews, humanistic teaching, etc. comes along that contradicts it we are instantly aware. Are you like the Bereans talked about in the verse out of Acts above? Are you searching the Scriptures daily? We can not contend for the faith if we do not know what the faith is. My challenge to you is to dig into the Bible and get to know it so well that you can identify the counterfeit easily when it comes along.

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Heidi, the Gentle Giant
Psalm 103:8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. When I was growing up we had a big Great Dane named Heidi. She was 140 pounds and on her hind feet stood taller than my dad. I have many fond memories of Heidi. I remember one night my dad told her to go outside and go potty before bed. She didn't want to go out. He had to use a gruff voice with her. She finally went, but unwillingly. She stomped her feet all the way through the back porch. My dad wouldn't have believed it if he hadn't seen it with his own eyes. We lived on a busy street. My sister and I got a small stool and put it out on the sidewalk and coaxed Heidi to sit on it. What a sight it was! 140 pounds of dog perched on a small stool. You should have seen the looks on people's faces as they passed by. We ended up with a traffic jam in front of our house that day. Heidi was a protector. My parents were selling a house on private contract and the buyer would come to make his payment each month. He was a scary sort of character, and my mother was afraid of him. He suggested one day that she run away with him. So, when he came to the door to make his payment, my mother would take Heidi with her. Heidi apparently sensed my mother's fear of this man. One day when he reached out to hand her his check, Heidi just put her big mouth around the man's hand. She never bit down and didn't hurt the man, but it was as if she was just warning him that he better not try anything or she would take him down. Heidi didn't like confusion. If we pretended we were arguing she would get between us and separate us to stop the argument. There was a particular game called Pit that is a noisy trading game with a lot of yelling. Whenever we had a group of friends over to play Pit we had to put Heidi outside. She would not let us play the game. She'd get right in the middle of it so we couldn't play. Heidi was a gentle giant. She was very gentle with small children. One day we had company and they had a toddler. Heidi was laying on the floor and this toddler was climbing all over her. Heidi was very patient with the child. Then the child picked up Heidi's tail and bit it hard enough to make the dog yip. Yet, Heidi never attempted to snap at or bite the child when the child hurt her. I think this illustrates how our Lord is with us. We often do things that displease Him, yet, the Scripture says he is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. Our Great Dane could have bitten the man's hand off. She could have done great harm to the child that bit her tail. Yet, she held back. God could easily destroy us for our sin, but He chooses to hold back showing mercy and restraining His anger toward our sin. His mercy isn't a stamp of approval of our sin. It's because of His great mercy that He is restraining His anger, giving us time to repent of our sin. Thank Him today for His mercy and grace and come in repentance to Him.

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Bicycle Built for Two
Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. My mom and dad were able to purchase an old bicycle built for two when I was middle school age. My friends and I had great fun peddling around on that. Sometimes my friend and I would ride the tandem to school together and we really enjoyed that. Both people needed to put forth effort to peddle. If one got lazy and didn't do anything then the person who was peddling had to work extra hard at it. It wasn't fair to them because they were carrying the weight of both people. If you were the person in the back you had to trust that the person in front was going to steer the thing right and not go crashing into something. I remember a trip that was taken down Mt. Baker. My dad had loaded all the bikes of our church youth group into a utility trailer and taken all the youth up to the end of the road as far up Mt. Baker as you could drive. Then everyone unloaded their bikes and rode down the mountain. I can't remember who was on the tandem, but I do remember the person who was on the back talking about how scared they were hurling down the mountain at top speeds and not being in control of the steering. They had to trust the person up front. It sounded a little hair-raising. The Christian life can be like riding a bicycle built for two. In the realm of the church, we are to encourage our Christian brothers and sisters in their faith and Christian walk. When we all work together, each person putting in the effort to peddle to the best of their ability, much can be accomplished for God. But when someone sluffs off, it sucks energy from others. Granted, once in a while we need a little break and when we see someone who is struggling we can offer to peddle for them for a bit until they recover. This too is part of encouraging one another. There is also another parallel I see here. God is the One up front steering the bike. We are on the back peddling along. God expects us to work at our Christian growth and sanctification. We aren't supposed to just sit back and let God do all the peddling. We have to participate. There is yet one more thing I can see in this illustration. Sometimes God steers our bike down winding, steep paths and we get all upset thinking He is going to crash us. Even Paul felt like this sometimes. 2 Corinthians 1:8 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. 9 Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, But did you see that last line? He felt like he had the sentence of death in him...it felt like God was going to steer the bike off the edge of a rocky cliff to his death below! How often have I felt this way in my life!? How often have you felt like this too? We want to jump up to the front of the bike and take the steering wheel because we are sure we can steer the bike better. But Paul ends the verse by saying, "...that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead...". Can you trust God with the steering wheel of your bike?

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A Devotional Series On Remembering
(Overcoming Discouragement)

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Remember God’s Purpose for Things We Can Not Change
Part 1 on Discouragement

Genesis 30:1 And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die. We all get discouraged at times. This is when we need to step back, and take a hard look at what is causing us to be discouraged. In the verse above we see that Rachel became discouraged because she was resenting a situation that she had no power to change. She envied her sister's ability to bare children. I think about how often I have found myself in a circumstance where I have no power to change what is happening. I have even been in this same situation where I was unable to have children for a period of eight years. I became very discouraged during that time, but as I began to learn to trust God with it, I see where it was for my spiritual good. Perhaps you are in a difficult situation in your life right now. Something that we need to do in these circumstances is to figure out what is changeable and what is not. What can you do about the situation? What can you not change? Do what you can do to make things better, but realize God is allowing the non-changeable things in your life for His good purposes. Trust Him with those things that can't be changed and rest in His Providence, knowing that He has your spiritual good in mind as well as the good of those around you who are watching. Dear Father, Sometimes we don't understand why You allow things into our lives that we have no control over. Help us to trust you with the unchangeable things in our lives. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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Remember God's Resources When Faced With Giants
Part 2 on Discouragement Numbers 13:33-14:1 And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight. And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. Did you notice what the people said? "We were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight." The children of Israel were looking at their own resources compared to the giants of the land and they became discouraged. They forgot to take into account God's resources. Do you have "giants" in your land that threaten you with ruin? Perhaps your giants come in the form of illness, fatigue, bills, parenting difficulties, home school difficulties, or some other form. Whatever overwhelms you could be considered your "giants". These things make you feel small and inadequate. When you look at your resources compared to these giants, it's easy to get discouraged. The giants I deal with involve my health and the health of family members, extra responsibilities and the home education of my children. When I compare my strength and resources to the possible demands of these things it seems like more than I can handle. However, God’s resources to meet these giants are more than adequate. We need to remember to take into account God's resources when we are faced with giants in our lives. We need to keep our eyes focused on God's resources and power or we will get discouraged. Dear Father, You are the all-powerful, all-mighty God. Your resources are more than adequate for my difficulties and trials. Your Word says that those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength...I've experienced this more than once in my life and I pray you would help me to remember this when I am getting discouraged. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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Remember God’s Provision and Promises
Part 3 on Discouragement
Numbers 21:4-5 And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. Here we see the Children of Israel becoming discouraged because the way was difficult. They have forgotten God's promises to provide for them and to bring them into the Promised Land. They have also forgotten how God provided for them in the past. He parted the Red Sea for them. He drowned the pursuing Egyptians in the Red Sea. He provided water from the rock and manna and quail to eat. When I get discouraged I have usually forgotten how God has provided for me in the past. I have also forgotten His promises to care for me now and in the future. Sometimes I am dissatisfied with how He is taking care of me in the present, because it's not how I expected to be taken care of. Many times God provides what I need but not what I want. I think this was the problem with the Children of Israel. They got what they needed but not what they wanted and they became discouraged. When discouragement sets in, look back and see how God has provided for you in the past, then look forward into His Word and rest in God's promises for the future. Dear Father, We are often near-sighted when it comes to Your promises and we are blind when it comes to seeing Your past provisions. Give us sight that we might see these things. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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Remember God’s Character and Attributes
Part 4 on Discouragement 1 Samuel 30:6 And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God. David became discouraged because those he cared about rejected him, turned against him and talked of stoning him. He talks about an experience like this in the Psalms. “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me." (Psalm 41:9) Have you ever experienced misunderstanding or rejection from those you care about? It's not a fun place to be and it can cause great discouragement. The good news is that David didn't let that discouragement keep him down. The Scripture says he encouraged himself in the Lord his God. We see evidence of this all through the Psalms. Psalm 42:5, 7-8 says, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life." David focused on God's lovingkindness here and throughout the Psalms we see him focusing on the character of God in times of discouragement. As you read your Bible make a list of the references that show God's attributes and character. I have about three pages of them in my journal and find it a great encouragement to read through these when I am struggling with discouragement. I've learned that no matter how bad my circumstances are, God is still good because He does not change. Nahum 1:7 The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him. Malachi 3:6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. Encourage yourself in the Lord today. Start that journal listing God's attributes and character so you will have it ready when you need it. Dear Father, You sent Jesus to suffer the greatest misunderstanding and rejection there was as He died on the cross in our place for our sin. Help us to never take that for granted and to remember this when we are misunderstood and rejected by those we care about. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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Remember to Wait on the Lord's Timing
Part 5 on Discouragement 1 Kings 19:2-4 Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. We see Elijah running for his life into the wilderness. There is no indication that God had told him to run. Elijah was physically and emotionally exhausted and it seems he just made the decision based on how he felt. He became so discouraged he asked God to just take his life. When you find yourself discouraged, see if maybe you are just physically and emotionally exhausted for some reason. What stresses are happening in your life that may be contributing to your burn-out? Is there something you can do to ease the stress? We find that God allowed Elijah to rest and then encouraged him to eat and drink some water. 1 Kings 19:5-6 And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. It is important during times of stress and discouragement that we make sure we get adequate rest, nourishment and water. It was fear and discouragement that sent Elijah running for his life to the wilderness. We need to be sure that we are not making major decisions based on fear, doubt or discouragement. It is important that we wait on the Lord's time. Dear Father, We are fragile beings at best. Help us to remember to wait first of all on Your timing and secondly, to make sure we are taking care of our bodies so that we can be at our best to combat discouragement when it comes out way. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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Remember God is Good and Right
Part 6 on Discouragement Job 10:1, 3 My soul is weary of my life; I will leave my complaint upon myself; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. Is it good unto thee that thou shouldest oppress, that thou shouldest despise the work of thine hands, and shine upon the counsel of the wicked? When we think of the trials that Job had to endure, we can scarcely blame him for getting discouraged. But as we look at his complaint, we see a hint of reasoning that God is not fair in what He is allowing Job to go through. I know I have felt like that at times and I suspect there are times when we perhaps have all felt that way to some degree, but just have not verbalized it. When we think that God is not being fair with us, we doubt his goodness and righteousness. The Bible says that God is good and righteous. Nahum 1:7 The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him. Psalm 145:17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works. Regardless of how the circumstance seems to us, to fight discouragement, we must trust that God is good and right. We may not understand it this side of heaven, but one day it will all be clear to us. 1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. Dear Father, You are good and right in all that You do. Give us eyes to see this when difficult times come upon us. Help us to hang on to this truth that we might not become discouraged in our difficult times. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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Remember that Set-Backs are God's Opportunities
Part 7 on Discouragement Nehemiah 2:2-3 Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid, and said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire? Nehemiah was discouraged because he wanted to see the rebuilding of Jerusalem, yet it was not happening. Instead it seemed to be falling into further ruin and disrepair. The work was going backwards instead of forward. Do you ever feel like this? I know I have. Sometimes it seems my efforts to keep the house and property up go in reverse as my time is limited and my physical reserves don't seem to go very far. I find myself feeling discouraged with my efforts at home schooling when I look at other home school families and see all they are accomplishing compared to what we have done. There are also the physical set-backs that slow us down from time to time. God had a plan and He used Nehemiah to organize the people to rebuild the wall. Once the wall was rebuilt they found the law of God and gathered all the people to hear it read and to give thanks to God. Nehemiah 9:3 says, "And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the LORD their God one fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God." What seemed like a big setback to Nehemiah turned out to be a big blessing as God helped him and the people to rebuild the wall and then renew their commitment to God through the reading of the law of God. Remember that set-backs are opportunities for God to show His faithfulness and power in our lives. Nehemiah only wanted to rebuild the wall, but God used this to bring a renewed commitment to Himself among his people. Next time you have a set-back, look forward to how God will use this to show His faithfulness and power in your life. Dear Father, It seems that difficulties are Your specialty. You delight to show your power and faithfulness through the seemingly impossible situations of our lives. Help us to not be discouraged, but to be expectantly waiting and watching for You to work. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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A Devotional Series On Hope

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Hope--#1 of a Series
Heb 11:1 ¶ Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. I recently got a tee shirt for my birthday that has printed on the front, "HOPE...it's a choice" and on the back it says, "My illness is invisible but my HOPE shines through". It is promoting National Invisible Illness Awareness Week the second week in September. This has spurred me on to think about hope, and what my hope is. I plan to do a short series of devotionals over the next few weeks on hope. Many times I have let circumstances get me down and my hope has not shined through. I struggle with this constantly because my nature is to be melancholy. My hope (no pun intended) is that this shirt will help me to remember that even though my circumstances might not be good I can still let hope shine through and encourage others by it. The Bible says that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Faith springs from hope. When the Bible talks about hope it is talking about certainty, not just an "I hope so" kind of thing that may or may not happen. Philippians 3:20-21 says, "For our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself." One day God will change our broken down diseased bodies to be like his glorious body. This is one of the things that is not yet seen, but which I earnestly hope for. It is a certainty. It will happen. God promised it. When circumstances are hard, try to remember that it won't always be this way. There is an end...a glorious end for God's people and there is HOPE! Dear Father, I thank You that You have given me hope for the future that no man or circumstance can take away. Help me to let my hope shine through the tough times of my life. Amen

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Hope--#2 In a Series
Titus 2:11-14 ¶ For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. As I was thinking about hope again this week, I was reminded of an old hymn. "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' Name." In this verse we have the whole reason for our hope. Christ gave himself for us to redeem us from the curse of sin. It was the grace of God that brought salvation through Christ. It is the grace of God that saves us, not our own righteous works. God's grace teaches us to live righteously as a result of what God does in our hearts through salvation. Salvation is by grace and good works are the outward fruit of what God has already done in us. God helps us along on this road to righteous living. The verses above says that Christ gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity, but we often overlook the part that says, "...and purify unto himself a peculiar people...". The Bible speaks of the purifying of silver and gold: Zechariah 13:9 And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God. Did you see the part where God says He will bring them through the fire? Purification is a painful process. It can take place when we go through trials of various kinds. Just like the impurities of the silver and gold that come to the surface and can then be removed when the metal is heated by the fire, so God takes us through the fire of trials so that the impurities of our lives can come to the surface and be dealt with. As we go through this purification process we need to remember that we have a blessed hope to look forward to in the future... the glorious return of God and our Saviour Jesus! Dear Father, These are wonderful truths to meditate on. Give us grace as we are purified here on earth and patience as we wait for Your blessed return. Amen.

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Hope--#3 In a Series
Hebrews 6:19-20 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. In part two of this series on hope, I talked about the hope of salvation and the blessed hope of Christ's return. Our verse tells us that this hope is an anchor of the soul. This anchor reaches in behind the veil. In the Old Testament Jewish temple there was a heavy thick veil that separated the holy place from the Most holy place where God's presence dwelt. No one was allowed in this place except for the High Priest who went in there once a year to atone for the sins of the people. Hebrews 9:7 tells us: But into the second (Most Holy Place) went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: There was only one High Priest at a time. Another was not put into office until the one before died. When Christ came and made the supreme sacrifice for our sins on the cross and rose again from the dead, God made Him an High Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. God effectively abolished the need for earthly priests when He made Christ our High Priest for ever. Hebrews 7:24 says, But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. {or, which passeth not from one to another} At Christ's death the veil in the temple was torn in two. Matthew 27:50-51 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; Christ entered the Most Holy Place, offering up His own blood to atone for our sins. The veil was torn open making the way for us to come into God's presence through the righteousness of Christ. This should bring great comfort and hope to us as we meditate on these truths. The second, third and fourth verses of the old hymn, "The Solid Rock", says, "When darkness veils his lovely face, I rest upon unchanging grace; In every rough and stormy gale my anchor holds within the veil. His oath, his covenant, his blood support me in the whelming flood; When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my Hope and Stay.
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When I shall launch in world's unseen, O may I then be found in him; Dressed in his righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne." Dear Father, The words to the hymn says it all. It's Your unchanging grace that is my anchor through all the storms of life. I pray that my readers also have this anchor for their souls. Amen.

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Hope---#4 in a Series
Romans 5:1-5¶ Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. This whole passage of scripture is rich with hope! Because the grace of God justifies us through faith in Christ Jesus , we have hope and this hope will not disappoint us because it is all tied up in the love of God and His glory. We may go through tough times in our lives, but God will use these to produce patience, character (as the NKJV renders it) and hope in our lives. Perhaps you wonder, how can tough times produce hope? It has been said that the troubles of this life wean us off the pleasures of this world and point us toward God and heaven. If we can get our eyes off our earthly circumstances and focus them toward heavenly things...toward Christ, then we will have hope. When people can see that we have an eternal hope in spite of our circumstances, it will bring glory to God and we can rejoice. Hope looks to the future and keeps its eyes on the prize of the high calling of God. Philippians 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Richard Sibbes (1577-1635) was a great Puritan preacher. Here is what he says about hope: "Trust and hope are often taken in the same sense, though a distinction betwixt them hath sometimes its use. Faith looks to the word promising, hope the thing promised in the word; faith looks to the authority of the promiser, hope especially to the goodness of the promise, faith looks upon things as present, hope as to come hereafter. God as the first truth, is that which hope rests on. Trust or confidence is nothing else but the strength of hope. If the thing hoped for be deferred, then of necessity, it enforces waiting, and waiting is nothing else but hope and trust lengthened." Our hope rests in God. He is faithful. Press on! Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) Dear Father, You are faithful. We trust in Your promises. Our hope is in You. Amen.

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Hope--#5 in a Series
1Peter 1:3- 5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. I've discovered that hope is a reoccurring theme throughout the Bible and especially in the Epistles. The hope we have in Christ is active and alive. It's not a dead hope. It's a "lively hope". Christ rose from the dead to give us hope beyond the grave. For those of us who have been saved by the grace and mercy of God, this is what keeps us going. God has promised us an inheritance that will not be lost to corruption. In fact, it's in heaven now, reserved just for us. Another thing that makes this hope a living hope is the fact that it is God's power that keeps us through faith unto salvation. Ephesians 2:8- 9 says, " For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." It's the grace of God through faith that saves us and it's the power of God that keeps us saved, not our own works. All of this is a gift from God. I am so thankful that it's not my own good works that saves me or keeps me saved because if it was I would be in a world of hurt. Isaiah 64:6 tells us, "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." And then in Romans 3:23 it says, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" My own righteous works are like filthy rags beside the holiness of God. There is no way I can even come close to doing enough to make myself worthy of His salvation because even my best works are tainted with sin. So, in light of this fact, that makes the hope I have in Christ a very "lively hope" because without God's gift of grace, faith and keeping power, I would be dead in trespasses and sins. Ephesians 2:1 "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;" How about you? What is your hope? Is it living or dead? Do you have the hope (certainty) of sins forgiven and a home in heaven? If not, I pray that God will bless you with the gift of faith in His dear Son so that you too can have this "lively hope". Dear Father, I am amazed at Your love for a sinner like me. I praise You for the hope that You have given me. Help me to walk in that hope even when circumstances are difficult. Amen.

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Hope--#6
1Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: In the next two devotionals I plan to take a look at the verse above. I see several things in this verse that we are to do. We are to 1.) sanctify the Lord God in our hearts 2.) be ready to give an answer for the hope that we have 3.) give that answer with meekness and fear. If we are putting Christ first in our hearts, as this verse commands us to do, eventually others will begin to ask us why we have hope. How does my life reflect Christ to others? How do my reactions to circumstances show others that my hope is in Christ? Talk is cheap. Reactions are deep. I have failed so many times. How often does someone ask me why I have hope? Remember, if you have failed, don't give up, just get up and start where you are. “Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.” (Psalm 37:24) In the last five devotions we have been exploring our hope and the reasons why we have hope. In review, one of the main reasons is that Christ gave himself for us to redeem us from the curse of sin. It was the grace of God that brought salvation through Christ. It is the grace of God that saves us, not our own righteous works. My own righteous works are as filthy rags. “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Isaiah 64:6) My own good works won't get me an inch closer to salvation. God's grace teaches us to live righteously as a result of what God does in our hearts through salvation. (Titus 2:11-14) Salvation is by grace and good works are the outward fruit of what God has already done in us. That gives me hope!

Is your hope shining through? In the next and last devotion in this series we will explore how we are to let our hope shine through.

Dear Father, We so often fail to let our hope shine through when we are in pain or circumstances are bad. Help us to not sorrow in the same way as those who have no hope, but to be able to lift our heads in hope in You in the midst of our pain.

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Hope--#7
1Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: In the last devotion we learned not only are we to give the reason for our hope, but we are to do it with meekness and fear. It says to “...be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you...” God will do the rest as you are faithful to give the reason of your hope to them. So often, we get caught up in the idea that we have to convince people to turn to Christ. The result is usually less than desirable when we try to do the Holy Spirit's work. Arguments and debates on theology and doctrine ensue and we become less than meek and fearful in our approach. I know. I've been there and done that. The idea of fear in our approach to sharing our hope with people intrigues me. The Greek word for fear here is phobos which means literally, “from a primary phebomai (to be put in fear); alarm or fright: --be afraid, + exceedingly, fear, terror.”(Strong’s Greek Lexicon) We know that we are not to be afraid of telling people where our hope lies. Acts 4:13,29,31 all speak of the boldness of the Apostles to speak the word of God. We know from this that our verse isn't telling us to be timid. I think the idea here may be two-fold. We are to fear their eternal condition and we are to be in fear of the holiness of the God we serve. Isaiah, at the realization of God's holiness said, "Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts." (Isaiah 6:5) Remembering the holiness of God, we need to use our words carefully, allowing God to guide us in what we say so we don't resort to saying things that are not needful. Colossians 4:5-6 tells us to “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. It's an awesome responsibility to live in such a way that our lives reflect the hope we have in Christ. Recently, there have been circumstances that have arisen in which I have shamefully, taken matters into my own hands instead of living out the hope I have in Christ. I am being convicted by God of the fact that my reactions often are less than holy and do not reflect hope in Christ. I leave you with this quote from Nancy Missler. "What we must understand is not what God is doing (why has He allowed this?), but what God expects from us." (emphasis mine) He expects us to put Him first in our hearts and be ready to give an answer for the hope we have as a result. Dear Father, I confess I have failed so many times in this. I pray that You will help me to do better in the future and thank You for Your forgiveness. Amen.

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