Bethany's BlogWords of Encouragement

When we Cannot See

Now faith brings our hopes into reality and becomes the foundation needed to acquire the things we long for. It is the evidence required to prove what is still unseen. This testimony of faith is what   previous generations were commended for. Faith empowers us to see that the universe was created and beautifully coordinated by the power of God's words! He spoke and the invisible realm gave birth to all that is seen.

Hebrews 11:1-3

Do you sometimes long for more? I mean deep hope that the dreams inside your heart will turn into your reality? Are some of those dreams so deeply buried that your minds eye even has difficulty seeing them, the unseen dreams of who you are? I do. I think that sometimes we bury our hopes and dreams in secret little places of the heart, places that only God can see, and then we wait. They become the foundation of our life, the push that keeps us going on the rough days, and the joy that sparks us into walking forward. Walking forward in unseen dreams can feel like walking on a tightrope with crazy high heels, yet without that action, there is no hope of reaching the dream. Each step is a step closer to the reality of purpose.

I feel like I've walked that rope a lot, and in my conversations with others, they have too. It's scary, sometimes. What if I fall? Or, what if the dream that is deep inside never becomes my reality? How can I know that God will truely empower me to see the beauty and power of His Words when it feels like I am hanging in the balance? I've asked myself these questions many times, and maybe you have too.

The verse above says that generations before us lived in faith and they were commended for it. Further on, we get to read about that faith. Enoch is one example, because of his faith, he went straight to heaven to be with God. There was nothing inbetween, no death.  "For before he was translated to the heavenly realm his life had become a pleasure to God."  In Genesis 5:22 we read this: "Enoch walked with God..." It does not say that Enoch served diligently in the church, or that Enoch went throughout the earth to be a missionary, or whatever...He simply walked with God. And, on one of those walks "he was not [found among men], because God took him [away to be home with Him]. Please don't interpret my words as encouragement to stop serving in some way! I'm just pointing out that considering all the things that could've been mentioned about Enoch, the thing that was mentioned was his ability to walk with God and the pleasure it produced. God and Enoch were in relationship, they sought to know each other. It was a priority, and because Enoch loved walking with God so much, and God with Enoch, he got a fastpass to heaven. Wow! This is an example of faith that is a little hard to relate to, for me at least. I love to walk with God, I have conversations with Him all the time, I'm still on earth. But, do I have to be? Is there enough faith for me to get that fastpass too? 

There are others with this unrelenting faith. Noah, who on faith, built the ark because he had received revelation in his heart that God would flood the earth. Noah had never seen a flood, he had to have faith that God would keep his word, even in the midst of mockery and condemnation. He believed in the dream of a new earth and he lived accordingly.

And then there's Abraham who is famous for his faith. He was living in his familiar country, doing his own thing when God deposited something new and different in his heart. Abraham believed it was God speaking to him to move in a radical way, so he packed up his stuff and moved toward the promise of new territory, all on faith that he would arrive even though he had no clue where he was going! This is astounding really. I've asked myself if I could just pick up and leave my home and family on the sheer faith and belief in my heart that God was asking me to go to a place I did not know?  Could you? It's not just the picking up and moving part that stands out though; it's the clear fact that Abraham believed he would be the father of nations, and he was! He was an old man, and Sarah his wife was a very old woman, yet the baby they had hoped and dreamed for deep within their hearts did become a reality to them. 

The Bible tells us that these amazing hero's of the faith died still clinging to their faith, believing on their death beds that the dreams inside their hearts would be a reality because God said so. They hadn't received everything promised to them in their lifetime, but they understood that legacy trumps our time on earth, and they clung to faith for their legacy. Faith in God, faith in the unseen dreams, enabled them to live and belong to another realm. Whoa!

Hebrews 11 continues on with many stories of faith. Moses, Rahab, Gideon, and so on. Really incredible stories of faith, the kind of stories I want for my reality. Faith that the dreams in my heart are dreams God put there and with every step I take He is making them my reality. 

What do you want?

 

When The Door Opens

 

 

"Then I will set on his shoulder the key of the house of David; when he opens no one will shut, when he shuts no one will open."

Isaiah 22:22

So, I had a dream that I found intriguing. It was about Noah and the ark. I don't think about Noah very often, I do think about the promise God gave to him, the one that promises He will never flood the whole earth again, never. We have a promise to live in hope and salvation.

Back to the dream. I saw the ark on a high mountain. The door to the ark swung open and there was Noah, looking up to the blue sky. God's voice rumbled through out the entire earth, but He was directly talking to Noah. "I have opened the doors, go into the new earth and live in promise." 

Noah, on the other hand, was cautious. He had just spent many days cooped up in the ark, his family being his only company. Never in his lifetime had he seen anything like this experience; it was new, scary, envigorating, challenging....So, Noah slowly stepped out. The realization of change, new beginnings, and life overwhelmed him. But, God made it clear to him, in my dream, that He is the One that closed the door, and now He is the One opening the door. It was good to step forward.

I woke up thinking about my own experience with isolation, and the world as a whole---everyone has experienced a form of isolation due to Covid-19. All our doors closed, and we kept to ourselves in our homes. Now, doors are opening. In my community, almost all the doors are open and life "looks" pretty normal. Even with that, there is an awareness. We have all been impacted in one way or another by the closed doors. Some of us have walked out of the open door with great caution, others with joy and a new conviction. There's a lot of opinions flying around about what our next steps should be, and a lot of different realities for different groups of people. Even with all of this, the doors are open and we have to make a choice. Do we step out into the somewhat unkown, or do we stay in and close the door a little longer? There is risk either way. 

For me, I choose to walk through the door, mentally, emotionally, and sometimes physically.  There is so much I am not in control of, just like Noah with the rain. Noah was in control of his choices. He chose to obey God and build an ark, he chose to go into the ark, and then later walk out. He chose to believe God was with him the entire way. God is with me too, all the way through the door. And, whatever choice you make He is going to be there with you too. 

God has a way of opening doors with unknown information before us. The only way to thrive on the other side of the door is to have faith in His Soveriegnity. Just like Noah had faith.

"And God spoke to Noah, saying, 'Go out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives with you.'... Genesis 8:15

 

In God I Trust

 

 

 

In every battle, take faith as your wrap-around shield, for it is able to extinguish the blazing arrows coming at you from the evil one!

Ephesians 6:16 (TPT)

Have you felt like life is one battle after another?  Are there times that you literally think you can feel every single arrow as if it’s blazing through your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health? I totally have had days like this.  I’ve had days that have completely taken me down. In bed, in pain, disconnected.  

Embrace the power of salvation’s full deliverance, like a helmet to protect your thoughts from lies. And take the mighty razor-sharp Spirit-sword of the spoken Word of God.

Ephesians 6:17-18 (TPT)

It’s challenging to grasp the power of salvation’s full deliverance, when arrows are blazing through your being. How exactly does one “take faith as your wrap-around shield”? The dictionary tells me this about faith. Faith: confidence or trust in a person or thing. Belief that is not based on proof. Belief in God.

There are times that I struggle to believe. In those times I tell myself that even if I don’t believe, I will trust that God has it all figured out. When I’m hurting or feeling attacked from every angle, when I cannot see how it’s going to work out, I will choose to trust that God will come through. When He does come through, my belief will increase. 

Amazingly enough, God has come through every time, and I do believe more.  Yet, still, in tough situations I find myself questioning, and choosing to simply trust. I have to.

I will trust that I have the ability to live in strong faith and to wrap it completely around me as a shield. I will trust that even when I’m questioning whether the shield will protect me, God will come through with enough power to see me to the other side. I will trust that salvation’s full deliverance is all mine and will lead me into all truth, even on the days that the lies make more sense. I will trust that the Word of God extinguishes evil, even when it feels like I am standing in the midst of it and it’s very hard to believe. I will trust that the more I trust, the more I will believe!

God has a pretty good track record with His children. He has kindly walked along side me through numerous doubts and fears. He has gently challenged me to trust His goodness, and lovingly proven to me Who He is. He has not been exasperated, angry, impatient, unkind, or unloving towards me in my times of slow belief. He is simply there with me, growing me into an ever-present reason to believe!

What is your process in believing and trusting God?

Through the Torrent

The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, to guide, and to shield me], I shall not want. He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still and quiet waters. He refreshes and restores my soul (life); He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. 

Psalms 23:1-3

I've been thankful for opportunities to be out in nature and walk during this pandemic. In some states, the stay-at home orders are beginning to lift, and life will begin to ramp up with more busy moving about. It's been a long time for many of us to stay at home, a trying time to be without work and to have schedules so disrupted. For me, the time of reflection, hikes, and being with family has been good, and as things move toward opening I want to be able to hang on to those quiet spaces. I've been okay with the long days, the loss of time, the times reflection. 

For many it's been a fearful and frustrating time. I was thinking about the difference last evening as we walked by a very forceful river and waterfall.  It did not exude peace or safety at all, but commanded respect and distance.  Just like the pandemic. As I watched the water rush down the rocks and under the bridge I was standing on, I was very aware and thankful to not be in the water. The power of the river could take anything in its path, leaving nothing. 

How does someone feel at peace with that kind of force and danger? it's one thing to sit beside a bubbling creek, and quite another to be at a rivers edge. 

Standing on the bridge I considered both. God is both. Life is both. 

This pandemic has taken lives. It has forced its way into all our lives in one way or another. It has challenged peace, raised questions, stirred up turmoil. It has also slowed many of us down, opened new streams of communication, strengthened family ties, and challenged us to look at our priorities. It has given us time to rest. 

God absolutely does lead us beside still waters, He also allows us to experience the force of wild water. He is there in both cases offering peace. The stillness of our lives is an inner choice. A choice that is sometimes very difficult when their is an out of control force of power at the door. 

i have wondered what this pandemic is preparing us for, God promises to turn trials into triumph. The days ahead as we reopen will be challenging as well. We want to move on, and still dam up the force that threatens our borders. We  want to live in peace, and believe in safety. But, now many of us have a new awareness of unexpected waters. 

I have watched God lead my heart through many unexpected torrents, to places of celebrated calm. I have noticed that questions pop up every time, through it all, and God stills the angst I sometimes feel. I have witnessed Him calming the force of the rushing invasive power to a still calm peace within. His ability to protect the deepest needs do not waver through the unexpected torrents of turmoil.

Whatever is happening in your life today, and however you have experienced the unexpected wave of changes the last few weeks, my prayer for you is that you will know His peace through all of it.

 

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