Faith · Inspiration · Life Hacks · Spiritual

Chasing Joy

“…for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)

This world can be a difficult place some times; and during certain seasons of our lives, maybe more often than not. I’ve found myself moving down some good old paths as well as starting new things. I love new beginnings. But I realize new beginnings can be difficult too. New beginnings are even more difficult when you’re navigating them alone.

It’s not that I want to exclude people. In fact, I think, now more than ever, I’ve become more inclusive. But at the same time, I’ve learnt to be completely cool with being by myself. We won’t always have the pleasure of other people’s company especially the pleasure of the company of like minds. And some times, we wish, only wish, someone else would physically come alongside us on our journey. At least I feel that way.

Sometimes, I think, in the middle of all this, we have to chase joy. Joy can be elusive. We have to actively look for joy in the Lord, because the joy of the Lord is where our strength lies.It’s not an easy thing to do. Some days we just want to drown in the pool of our self pity. It’s much easier – less tasking.

Joy requires a little bit more energy than self pity, but its reward  is so worth it. There are some dark days, when the only thoughts that come are thoughts of failure, loneliness, confusion, worthlessness, but joy is always so near if we would only reach out just a little bit.

It usually takes one painful step to get to joy. It takes looking away from all the ugly, closing your ears to the heartless voices and looking up. Just one act and then another. It begins with lifting up your head, your eyes shifting their gaze. Then you utter one word and then another. God… Lord… Father.

Father, help me. Help me. I trust You. I choose You. Help me, I have no strength of my own. Your joy is my strength. Thank You for joy. Thank You for making my life so beautiful. Thank You for never leaving me or abandoning me. I’m so glad You think of me. And You love me, and You’re with me. I cannot be brought down because You lift me up. I can never be ashamed because it is Your face that shines on me! Hallelujah! God is with me now!

So one first move, and then another. Look to Jehovah and give thanks. Thanksgiving is a wonderful expression of our faith in an amazing, unchangeable God (who is Love, by the way). So chase joy; don’t let it slip away. Chase joy in God; He is never far away from His family.

And finally, you can be a part of God’s family by calling on the Name of His Son, the Lord Jesus, who has already paid the price for your sins. Is sin a dirty word? Yes, but perfect to ascribe to us. No one, not one is righteous. We have all sinned and fallen short of His glory. Call on the Lord and discover the joy of the Lord as your strength! Choose God; choose joy.

You can comment or email me directly if you have any questions about this call to God’s family. You can comment or email anyway!  😀 I pray that you will know God’s joy, love and mercy in Jesus Name. And so it will be.

Bible Studies · Faith · Inspiration · Life Hacks · Spiritual

The Twenty-Third Psalm

The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing.

Go on…

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

Wow. If I’m sheep lying down in the only food I want to eat, and surrounded by it, then that’s where I want to be.

He leads me beside quiet waters.

Again, really feeling this whole sheep with Shepherd thing.

He refreshes my soul.

Sounds like heaven: A soul refreshed. It’s like being in bliss. Like someone diving into cold streams after walking days in the desert. That’s what this reminds me of. And instead of dryness, dust and sand, there’s peace and quiet music, nature welcoming, coolness and a refreshing of the soul. ‘So good it gets all the way to your soul’ kind of experience.

He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.

He does the guiding. I never have to worry that I missed a turn – if I’m the sheep in this story. There are so many possible wrong turns and paths leading to nowhere or much worse than nowhere. But that’s not my problem. I get to go on the right paths. For his name’s sake? Does this mean if He can’t get me on the right path, then “he” has failed? But does the Shepherd ever fail? This is all theory; if I was guiding and I couldn’t guide you right, then it’s on me. But He’s God, and He never fails. I can fail if I’m doing the leading. I don’t want that responsibility – not when God’s offering to guide me!

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.

Valleys are usually dark. So dark, I can’t see. Fear feeds on my fears. What wolf-like creature could be lurking in the dark? No. I don’t fear because my Shepherd is with me. He must be Super Shepherd. Is there an “SS” embroidered on his cape?

Your rod and staff, they comfort me.

Every now and then when I’m walking through the valley, I feel your touch. Your staff gently redirecting me. No, not there. Left. Go left.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Now the Psalmist is talking about himself as a human. No longer his sheep form.😊 David, a man after God’s heart, anointed to be king! People after his life and his rightful throne. How audacious that he would be dining and drinking to his fill in the presence of those who seek his end! Because God Himself decides.

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.

Surely! All the days of my life?! I’m going to try to let that sink in.

And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Forever and ever. And ever. The hope after now. After this broken world. We get to be with Him. Lord, friend, lover of our souls. Everything.

This psalm is cool. I could be the sheep. Sign me up. What are the qualifications for the role? Dumb? Helpless? Dependent? Trusting? Seems pretty simple to me. Except those are not words I’d use to describe myself. Maybe God wants me to be that with Him.

If I acknowledge that I really don’t know what’s best and He does; that I can’t do anything without Him; that I completely trust His judgement, then maybe I’ll fit the role of sheep.

When Christ judges at the end of the world, He says He’ll separate mankind into two groups: The sheep and the goats.

Sheep may not sound so desirable but how about goat?! Sheep sounds pretty good to me. How about you? Sheep or goat?😃 Which do you want to be?

Peace!

P.S. The Psalm is Psalm 23:1-6 (the whole chapter), NIV version.

Bible Studies · Faith · Inspiration · Life Hacks · Spiritual

Tag! I’m It.

 Not my ministry, not my work, not my relationship or marriage, not the movie I want to make, not the help I want to give, not the things I know, not the ideas I come up with, not all my good intentions.

It’s like we’re in a game of Tag, and God says to us “Tag! I’m it.” That’s not how the game is played we say. “It’s tag you’re it, so I’M it.” We say. Duh, God.

“An idol is whatever you look at and say in your heart of hearts, ‘If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.” – Dannah Gresh and Dr. Juli Slattery (Pulling Back the Shades)
I said this quote over and over to myself before writing this post. My striving was exposed for what it was. I felt like I was watching a movie of my life plus the bloopers! I have made good things idols along the way. Some I recognized , and others I didn’t until now.

Can God fully and truly satisfy us minus all the other “good” things that we just must have? All the logical things that we just must have – that we are certain we need? Could we truly be satisfied?

The truth is I don’t have all the answers right now. But I hope to have the answers I need soon. My eyes feel like they’ve been opened. I had no idea that they were closed.

I’ve thought about Joseph. God gave him an amazing dream (two actually, but they were pointing to the same thing), but it took thirteen whole years experience what God had showed him long before. The dream was good – great even. I imagine what torture it could have been for Joseph if that’s all he thought about while being a slave and subsequently, a prisoner for a crime he didn’t commit?

How about Abraham? Father Abraham. God says to papa AB, “I’m going to give you a son. Like from your actual body.” He waits twenty-five years with his wife Sarah before that would ever happen. If all he ever thought about was having that child, what torture it would have been to wait without a set date? God didn’t tell him when. Not until a year before anyway.
God didn’t always tell people exactly when. Not Noah. Not David. He still doesn’t always tell us now. Wouldn’t it be torture if that’s all we thought about? When our God-given dreams would come true?

God doesn’t want us to look to any thing to fill us up. Even good things – especially good things – can become idols. God wants us to look to Him. He wants to be IT.

If I was really honest with myself, I would say that I would love to know what that’s like: A life of God completely satisfying.

I want to be full today. Always. Never wanting for anything. Come rain or sunshine. Through storms and stillness. To be truly full. Not ok. Not just ok.

I don’t want to strive anymore. I don’t want to push and claw through life. To have and have. I want my identity to be completely in Christ. My value, my significance, my happiness and joy, my peace, my hope, my adventures.

I know in my heart that the answer lies in saying, “Ok, God, Father…I give up. You be IT. Have it your way. I don’t like surprises but fine. Why don’t You decide where we’re going today? Why don’t You decide our activities today? You want me to go where?! Ok..? OK! I can do that. Do what?! Uhm..no problem. Wait? Err..sure. Anything You say is fine with me. I trust You with my life. You already gave me Yours. I’ve got absolutely everything to gain and nothing to lose if I realize that I’m not even mine.”

OK GOD. YESSS. I’M DOWN WITH WHATEVER. Yes, Lord, whatSOever.

Your turn.
 

Dreams and the Future · Faith · Inspiration · Life Hacks · Spiritual

An Invitation to Fear

I wrote that heading to get your attention; I would much prefer to title this post, “An Invitation to Trust.”


Anyway…

We are constantly being spoken at, being pushed and pulled from all sides. Life with it’s devilish gifts makes us offers of multiple dimensions, hard to ignore. Loudest above all the noise of the throng is the invitation to fear, often written in the elaborate ink of fact, and possible fact.

Fears of many sizes: big fears, small fears, medium sized fears. 

Are they valid? Absolutely. Are they fact. Yes indeed. People die for no good reason. Lives are wasted everyday. I’m forced to believe in the futility of life. But…

But what is my hope? What did God say about me, and what does He still say?

“All the promises of God are yes and amen in Christ Jesus.” 1 Corinthians 1:20

“And I will be with you always to the close of age.” – Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:20)

I’m constantly tempted to fear. And who am I in the face of the tsunami of life, hitting again and again everything that I am and have, and everything I care about?

I am the Beloved of God, surrounded by the surest promises. Kept by the Lord. Shielded by His Spirit. Given every resource of heaven to make me victorious. “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” -Psalm 27:1

“[I] will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at [my] side, ten thousand at [my] right hand, but it will not come near [me].”‭‭ -Psalm‬ ‭91:5-7‬ ‭

And then I hear the voice of God sending out to me an invitation to trust. To believe in Him who made all things and in whom all things consist. The One that says “I am the Lord, is there anything too hard for me?” The God that calls me His own. The One who sent to die in my place, His only begotten Son. The One who loves me and gave Himself for me. 


He has made promises. We are not alone. Fear not. Fear NOT; words He says to us in His word so many times. And He still says now.

Jesus said, “Have faith in God.”- (Mark 11:22) Put your confidence in Him. Steadfastly trust in Him. Hold on to Him. Let go to Him. Ask Him and don’t give up asking. Seek Him. Hold on to His promises. Hold on to His word. Don’t let go.

Bible Studies · Faith · Inspiration · Spiritual

The God of All Comfort

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” -(2 Corinthians 1:3,4)
These verses of scripture are the reason I blog at Hope’s Diaries. I was reading the book of Second Corinthians in the New Testament and saw this verse in a new light. I realized that it captured my intentions – my hope for this blog.
The thing is, I often read other blogs from many amazing people. I must confess that I feel insecure sometimes about my blog because I find that they are so direct about their experiences in ways I wonder if I have failed to be.
I don’t have the “say it as it is” flair that I have seen in a few others, but my heart is all for the seeking reader out there. My heart is for you.
I’m constantly learning, and I hope, also improving. And I want to be able to give my very best to those who need it, so that somehow, my love would intersect with your need and create a kind of magic.
I myself have received and do receive comfort from God. I’ve seen darkness and known love. I’ve known hopelessness and heard the Voice of hope calling out to me with an indescribable love and devotion.
I can say that I love God, but I can say more certainly that He loves me. That He loves you.
Whatever doubts or questions or troubles, God is the answer. But my hope and prayer is that you’ll know Him. The real God and not the stuff of men’s imaginations. That you’ll know love and peace. May the God of ALL comfort give you comfort.
So please let’s go this journey together. We don’t have to be alone. If you need more honesty or more anything or less anything, let me know. Shoot me an email! Leave a comment! I’ll value it. I’ll appreciate it. And I hope I’ll also act on it for your benefit and mine.😊
And finally, thank you. Thank you for reading. Thank you for following Hope’s Diaries. You are loved!cropped-image12.jpgIMG_3545

Bible Studies · Faith · Inspiration · Life Hacks · Spiritual

The Waiting And Following Faith

IMG_3811Our lives are constantly revolving around things-the elements. Sometimes we find ourselves clawing and scratching, desperate to get whatever it is we think we want the most. We never really get it as one day leads into the next. We get things however, and we aren’t satisfied.
For us it is an outrageous proposition that we choose peace. We want peace but we do not choose it. We want everything.
Is my dream life a possibility? Could I really dare to choose less? Less when everyone says more? For me it is no longer an option as I have only one master, Jesus the Christ.
Wanting many things and everything is natural, but there’s a deep desire at the very core of my being, and that desire is the Person of God. I want to know Him and I want to be with Him and then truly be like Him.
He calls us every day to the extraordinary in the ordinary. He dares us to see with the eyes of our spirit and to really want what’s beneath the surface. This requires trust and faith; a daily surrender of ourselves to our known God in the face of the unknown.
I want many things but I have a Great Father and Shepherd of my soul who knows what I need. I must pause when He says pause and move when He says move. I must because He knows – He really knows. He is the author and finisher of our faith.
It takes a whole lot of faith to slow down in our fast paced world. It takes a lot  of energy to swim against the current. But without faith it is impossible to please God. So faith it is!
God opens doors we do not always anticipate and we have this urge in our spirits to walk through. Then we should even when we don’t know what’s on the other side. Some other times God keeps doors shut and we feel like we are waiting forever. We aren’t.
In these times, there is a way to wait. There are ways we can be faithful to God when we feel like not much is happening. Whatever it is we find to do, we should do with all our hearts no matter how small. This is the time to notice our neighbor and to know our neighbor so that we can love our neighbor.  This is when we can pray. This is when we can show kindness and ultimately have the opportunity to share the good news of our salvation. This is when we should cling to God’s word and know it. When we know it, we’ll know God and we’ll know ourselves in Him.
So don’t waste the wait. Don’t rush the time. Don’t panic or fret. Don’t look around but look up! Let us choose each day to follow. Let us choose because that’s what it means to be followers – our choice and the daily giving of ourselves to God.
Surrender. Wait. Trust. Wait. Trust. Surrender. And amen!

Faith · Inspiration · Spiritual

The Time Thing

Things DO get clearer with time. We do need time in order to discover certain things – like purpose. I’m learning new things about myself because time and what events it allows have given me the opportunity. This is why patience and understanding are important.

Life has forced me to see things differently. I, like Jesus, am learning patience through the things I suffer. Like Joseph – so I can have the wisdom he had to make the right decisions for an empire. Like Moses who would learn restraint after forty years. Like Hannah who would understand the most important things. Like Abraham, so he understood the sovereignty of God – that God and His promises were bigger than he was. 

Again, like Joseph. Joseph had dreams. God Himself gave him the dreams. His first introduction to slavery must have stunned him and left him stunned for years until he understood the sovereignty of God – that the God who gave him the dreams was able to bring them to pass ALL BY HIMSELF. What Joseph, Moses, Abraham, Jesus, had to do was be FAITHFUL. God was God all by Himself.

Thank You LORD.

  

Dreams and the Future · Faith · Inspiration · Life Hacks · Spiritual

The Pause.

I haven’t posted anything in a while, but I just wanted to say hello. 😊 This isn’t going to be my usual blog post. I’m writing more for myself these days than for a wider audience. It’s important to me to take out this time, because I’m going through a lot of changes and processes that require my full attention. 

In the mean time, I hope that you also aren’t doing anything or taking any steps BECAUSE you are afraid. Patience will be our best asset and our most important virtue through the tough times presently or ahead. 

I’m not exactly where I want to be, but God knows that I am on the way. I will pause. I will breathe. I will smile, and I will hope and lift up my hands in surrender and expectation of the precious revelation of God, our Father. I believe.

Please join me in this time. Let us offer prayers for one another. May the LORD bless you and cause His face to shine upon you. AND May you know how high and deep and wide and long is the love of God in Christ Jesus. May you know this unfailing persistent love that surpasses understanding so that you will be filled with all the fullness of God. Amen. (Ephesians 3:18,19 paraphrased)

Have an awesome week. We’re in this together and He will never abandon us!

  

Bible Studies · Dreams and the Future · Faith · Inspiration · Spiritual

Lessons On Purpose

  
It turns out that this following God thing is the only way.

There’s no special calling or purpose apart from Him. How we do the things that please God is to walk with Him. He created us for relationship and now we can communicate freely. He can speak to us and we can listen. We can speak to Him and He will listen.

There’s no doing good apart from Him. There’s no accomplishing anything without Him. The Lord Jesus said: “Apart from Me, you can do nothing.” It couldn’t be clearer than that. ONLY ONE THING IS NEEDFUL, Jesus said. I choose that good part. Amazing. 😊

Thank you LORD!

Bible Studies · Faith · Inspiration · Spiritual

Certain Truths

I believe that at this time God is calling me into a new way of life. Whereas, previously, I was building the Tower of Babel, now, He wants me on the ground. He wants me to till, to plant, to water and to wait patiently for the harvest!

God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is steady foundation that I can lean on. God is truth – there is no falseness in Him. He is light – in Him there is no darkness at all.

My Heavenly Father wants me to know that some things are certain: God, His love and His Word which is unshakeable truth.

I’ve been called to worship Him in spirit and in truth, in simple child-like faith, without ambition and without worry.

So many things look different to me now, and I’m rediscovering who God made me to be. By this I mean that He is opening my eyes to every needless weight my soul has borne so I can be as free as a bird to serve Him.

It’s all new to me. I fear stumbling, but God reminds me that some things are certain. God is unshakeable truth. God IS and that’s all that matters!

Amen.

Thank you LORD!