Category Archives: Word in Me Today

Finding Joy in the Midst of Everything Else

Jesus never told his disciples that this life would be easy if only we would follow Him. In fact, He said just the opposite. “In this world, you will have trouble,” he told his friends, as is recorded in John 16:33. “But take heart, I have overcome the world. ” Our peace does not come from our situation, thank God. If it did, we would be on one crazy roller coaster of emotions each day. I have faced more sadness than I have felt I can bear during the past year-and-a-half. Two beloved members of my family are critically ill, fighting for their lives. I’ve had days where I could barely force myself to get out of bed and go to work. After the months and months of tears, I’m crying happy tears today because our daughter and son-in-law have been matched with a birth mom, and we are going to have a newborn baby girl join our family around Christmas time! The emotional highs and lows of daily life are dizzying! Praise God, he is never changing, because everything else around us ALWAYS is!

 But our peace, our rootedness, comes from knowing that Jesus has overcome the troubles in this life, and that God, our Father who loves us without end, rejoices over us. Let me say it again, HE never changes. We fall, we get dirty, we wallow in fear and self-pity, we sin, we doubt, we lose faith, we get back up and try again, sometimes only to fall again, and yet God does not tell us this is the last time He will help us.   Zephaniah 3:17 tells us, “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you, in His love, He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Can you imagine what the voice of the Lord singing must sound like? Go ahead, take a moment and meditate on that. Let that thought fill your mind and heart.  What would it sound like to hear God singing? We know his voice is powerful, like the sound of mighty waters (Rev 14:2), and we know that he whispers (1 Kings 19:12), but what does his singing sound like? Here’s a theory….

Our home is surrounded by trees, and in the spring and summer, I have beautiful shade gardens full of birds. On days when my heart is sad, and sometimes when it is bursting with joy, I take my guitar outside and do what I love to do most, sing. Sometimes when I sing, little birds come and sing near me, on branches right above me!  I’ve wondered, is that little bird bringing the voice of the Lord to sing over me?  I don’t really have a scriptural answer for that. We are told in Psalms 66:4, “All the earth worships You and sings praises to You. They sing praise to Your name.” Wow! ALL the earth is singing praise to God! But does he use those little creatures to bless us straight from his throne? I think he does. He sent the ravens to feed Elijah. I think it is entirely possible that he sends the birds to rejoice over us with his song. What burdens are you carrying today, friend? Let God rejoice over you with singing. Listen for his voice telling you how much he loves you. Be at peace, knowing that Jesus has overcome this world with all of its hardships and trials, and your Father, the Mighty Warrior who literally slays the dragon, sings over you with rejoicing. I would love to hear from you about what you would like prayer for, or how you know in your heart when the Lord sings over you. Feel free to leave your comments below! 

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Peace…Be Still

The Word in Me Today: Peace




Photo by Karen Mitchell Smith of TopShelfPhotos



All right, I confess. I’m a worrier. The “what ifs” and the “maybes” and the “I should haves” sometimes start ringing in my mind around 4 AM. I try not to worry, and I know I shouldn’t worry, but it happens. By the time I actually get out of bed, I’ve usually started an action plan. And somehow that plan almost always involves me fixing my own problems.

But that’s not what God has called us to do.  In Mark 4:35-39 we see an interesting account of Jesus and his disciples. The scripture says, “That day, when evening came, he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’ Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down, and it was completely calm.

He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’

They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!’”

If the disciples had taken matters into their own hands, abandoned ship perhaps, they would have drowned. Instead, they stayed in the boat with Jesus and asked Him to do something to help them. Even though their faith was very young, and they had not known Jesus long yet, they instinctively knew He could change their situation. And He did. Jesus commanded the storm to stop.

In Phillipians 4:6, Paul says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

The disciples made their petition known to Jesus, and He acted on their behalf.

But My Problems are SO Big!

Jesus, fully God and fully human, understood with his man’s mind and his God’s heart that his followers struggled with anxiety. Not only was there the occasional storm in their lives, but they lived in a difficult time when taxes were high and a pagan culture ruled them. And Jesus knew that by choosing to follow Him, his people would suffer the wrath of  Rome. Yet he told them to consider the lilies of the field, and said, “If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans [Romans] run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Peace Replaces Anxiety

Jesus gave his followers, and gives to us, something to replace worry. In John 14:27 He said, “”Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”

If peace could be bottled and sold on store shelves, it would be a priceless commodity. But it isn’t something that is offered by this world, and it cannot be obtained. Peace is something to be attained. And there is only one way to attain lasting peace. In a world where the rules change almost daily, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. And forever! The peace that comes in knowing the Savior cannot be purchased. It can’t be learned. It can’t be manufactured and bottled and sold. It is a gift from God that comes to us when we learn to take our anxieties to the cross and, with thanksgiving,  leave them there.

I believe we have trouble doing this because we are used to the peace the world gives. The world’s peace is transitory, ever changing and very much circumstantial. Did you get a raise at your job? That peace of mind  is good only for as long as your company doesn’t start layoffs. Did you finish that difficult project you had been so worried about? The peace and relief you feel will  last only until the next project comes along. We have trained ourselves to find peace and comfort in things the world gives, but in the back of our mind, in the dark hours of the morning, there is that nagging knowledge that at any moment, whatever we are taking comfort in can be ripped from our grasp.

On the contrary, Jesus gives peace that is eternal. When the winds blow or the earth shakes or the lay offs come, Jesus Christ still holds your hand. When we learn to stay in the boat and wait for Jesus to act, His peace stills our storm. His name is a strong tower; the righteous run into it, and they are saved. His word is a two-edged sword. His resurrection power quickens your mortal body. If God is for us, who can be against us?

It Can Work For You!

Over and over God’s word speaks peace to us, but we have to seek it. Where do we find it? We can’t find peace in the USA Today over coffee, but we can find it in the living Word of God over coffee…or lunch…or on break from work…or before bed. Whenever the world is threatening your peace, His word is there, and it doesn’t change like the nightly prime-time channel line-up. God’s peace is everlasting, His kingdom has no end, and it doesn’t suffer economic downtimes. God is not out there on a thousand hillsides to see if he owns less cattle than before! His Word endures forever. That, beloved of God, is true peace.

In Isaiah 30:15, God says, ” In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” Just prior to that verse, in Chapter 28, verse 16 b, He says “One who trusts will not panic.” What an amazing promise! Here God is referring to the coming of Christ, the foundation stone in Zion. One who trusts that Rock, “WILL NOT panic.”

Finally, in Proverbs 14:30 it says, “A tranquil mind gives life to the flesh.”

I encourage you to find a quiet place today and let the peace of God wash over you. His peace is unending, like the waves of the ocean. Find your strength in quietness and confidence, and stay in the boat with Jesus.


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Hope Sings



The Word in Me Today: Hope











Photo by Karen Mitchell Smith of TopShelfPhotos



Emily Dickinson wrote :

“Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul,

And sings the tune without the words,

And never stops at all.”

Solomon, in Proverbs 13. 12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart grow sick.”

Without hope, people become depressed, see only darkness, lose perspective, and become physically ill. Some even take their own lives out of desperation. But hope is one of the greatest gifts God has given us.

The word hope is used in the Bible (KJV version) 126 times – 68 times in the Old Testament and 58 times in the New Testament.

Look at these verses as examples:

“….Christ in you the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13

“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.” II Thessalonians 2:16-17

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

“For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth.” Psalm 71:5

Out of those verses, my personal favorite is Hebrews 11:1.  God wants us to live by faith and not by what we see. So we hope for that which we don’t see, and we trust in God’s provision for our needs. An Old Testament story in I Kings 17: 7-16 illustrates this precept.

Elijah and The Widow of Zarephath

Elijah, the prophet, was hiding from King Ahab, whom he had angered when he brought a word of judgment from God. Elijah now moved from place to place in the desert as God directed him, and the Lord had told him to seek out a certain widow, whom God planned to touch in a great way, in the town of Zarephath.

When Elijah found the widow, he discovered she and her son were starving and down to their last meal. The prophet asked the widow to prepare a little cake for him, and she said, “As your God lives, I have nothing baked. Only a little handful of meal in a jar and a little jug of oil. I am even now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for my son and me, so that we may eat it and die.”

This woman’s heart had grown sick! She was powerless to save her son, not to mention herself. She had exhausted all of her own resources and was down to the last ingredients in her pantry. We don’t see the woman’s back-story, but no doubt she had tried everything to sustain herself and her child.  Most likely she had begged for food. Maybe stolen for food, even.  But a famine gripped the land, and there was no food to be had.

Elijah saw this woman’s need, but he knew that if she were obedient to God, He would fulfill that need abundantly. So he told her to prepare the food anyway, and that God would not allow her meal or oil to run dry until rain came upon the land and there was food again. And this little widow, even though she was not one of the covenant children of Israel, made a decision to hope in Elijah’s words…in Elijah’s God. She prepared the food for him, and God fulfilled His word to her. She had food that lasted through the whole famine; her jars did not run dry!

What Can We Learn from the Widow’s Story?

Obedience Births Hope: The widow obeyed God without question, even though she did not know Him. She was not one of the children of Israel, but a worshipper of pagan gods. Notice that she says to Elijah, “as YOUR God lives…” She doesn’t identify herself in any way with Jehovah. Yet, she hoped in what she did not see. She obeyed God’s directive and she hoped in His promise!

God Rewards Obedience: 1Samuel 15:22 tells us that obedience is better than sacrifice. In the Old Testament culture, a yearly sacrifice for atonement was necessary. In fact is was demanded by God. Yet, here He says that He desires obedience even more.  Elijah looked at the woman’s need and knew that if he obeyed God in asking her for food, God would bless her and reveal himself to her. Elijah had just come out of the desert where ravens had brought him food. He had seen God deliver on His promises over and over. But he asked this little widow, who did not know Jehovah, to hope in something she had never seen. She did, and God rewarded her obedience.

God Uses the Little that We Have: What do you think would have happened if the widow had refused Elijah’s request? I think God would have found someone else in need to bless, and that lady would have sadly buried her own child and died of starvation and a broken heart.

How many times have you heard someone say, “If I just had more money, I’d give to missionaries.” Or “If I had a bigger house, I would hold a Bible study.” Maybe you’ve even said it yourself. God doesn’t need you to have more money or a bigger house so He can use you. He doesn’t want your “if onlies.” He wants to use what you have now, if you offer it to him with an obedient and humble heart. If he wants you to have a bigger house, He will provide it, but not doing the thing you know you’re called to do because of your circumstances, would be the same thing as the Widow of Zarephath refusing Elijah. God gives us circumstances to create hope, and then when we trust him, he fulfills our hope.

It Can Work for You!
As you look at your life circumstances today, are you filled with hope? Does it perch in your soul and sing to you? Or is your soul dry, down to the last meal and oil, in danger of drying up and starving. Sometimes the burdens of life become so heavy, that we feel we can’t get our hopes up one more time. I’ve been there, too. I encourage you to get up again. Reach down deep and pull that hope to the surface. Give it to God, even if your hands are shaking as you do. Dare to hope. Dare to believe that God is who He says He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek him.

What is He asking you to do today that you feel is beyond your capacity? Do it anyway. Trust that He will increase your resources as you pour them out to Him. Hope for what you don’t see.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”


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Come! Step Out onto the Water!

Photo by Karen Mitchell Smith of TopShelfPhotos

With the quickening of the night breezes, the wind shifted and increased until a small fishing vessel pitched and yawed with every punishing wave. The boatmen were exhausted from working all day, and now they had to use the last of their strength to keep the boat from being swamped.  The men must have grumbled. “Why has the master asked us to set out at night after we worked all day?” one might have said.

“We fed 5,000 people today! Wasn’t that enough?” another possibly added.

Perhaps someone tried to still the grumbling and complaining, but the night wore on and the strain began to take its toll on the little company of men. As the long night entered the fourth watch, those last long hours before dawn, one of the men thought he saw someone walking toward the boat. Walking on top of the waves! Impossible! He surely rubbed his eyes and looked again, wanting to be sure before alerting the others. “Look! A ghost!” he cried. And the others trembled in fear with him and took up the cry of “ghost!”

But then, the Master spoke. “Take heart! It is I; do not be afraid!” And though the men saw Jesus with their eyes, they could not wrap their minds around the fact that He walked on water. No one could walk on water…..could they?

So Peter, always the pragmatist, called out to Him, “Lord, if it’s really you, command me to come to you on the water.” And with a quick gesture of his hand, Jesus said simply, “Come!”

Full of brash boldness as always, Peter jumped out of the boat and began walking toward Jesus. What did he feel in those moments?  “Look! I’m doing it!” he might have shouted as he stared intently into his Lord’s eyes.

But then the wind rose and the waves came up, and suddenly the man of faith looked not at Jesus, but at the tempest. Fear rose up in him and replaced his faith, and Peter cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately, the Word tells us –IMMEDIATELY, Jesus reached out his hand and rescued Peter.

You of little faith!” came Jesus’ rebuke. “Why did you doubt?”

And when the two men climbed into the boat, the storm stilled and the other disciples worshiped Jesus as the true Son of God.

There are so many lessons to be learned from this one little story!

  • Why did Jesus have the men push out to sea after such a long day? Maybe to show them, and us, that when you think you’ve done all you can do, He gives you strength to endure.
  • Why did Jesus wait so long to come to them? Why didn’t he come before the waves and wind became dangerous? We all want to be rescued before the storm starts. It’s human nature. But if we could all sit around on satin pillows, having our every wish and need fulfilled before we even ask, never facing anything difficult or sad or frightening in our lives, what type of people would be? Weak, ineffective and useless to the Kingdom of God, that’s what! It’s the constant battering of wind against trees that strengthen and harden them. Trees that are in dense forests where the wind does not reach them don’t put down deep roots, so they easily topple. God doesn’t want us to be easily toppled when Satan blows winds of adversity our way!
  • Why did Jesus ask Peter to join him? That one simple command from Jesus – “Come!” – speaks volumes. He is open to us. When we call to him, he is there. And He wants us to be effective for Him.  He didn’t say to Peter, “No, this special privilege is reserved for me only.” He said, “Come!” Jesus tells us that we can do all the things he did and even more, if we only have faith.  In John 14:12, He says, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” Does Jesus need us to walk on water? Probably not, but if we read this passage with a discerning mind, we will know that whatever he calls on us to do, no matter how difficult, He will enable us to complete the task.
  • Why did Peter Fall? The answer is so simple. He took his eyes off the source of his strength and looked at the circumstances instead. Satan will always magnify the circumstances in our minds if we allow him to. When the waves threaten us, and the stormy winds blow in our relationships or finances or health, looking at the storm will only increase the fear. When I was a child and was afraid of a storm, my mother would get me to play cards with her or do something else to take my mind off the situation. Before I knew it, the storm was over!  As long as Peter’s mind was off the situation, as long as he  looked to Jesus, the author and finisher of his faith, he could stay above the waves. But one look at what the enemy was throwing his way, and his faith went  down in one mighty gulp of fear.

And while Jesus did rebuke Peter for his lack of faith, mercifully, He also reached out his hand to keep Peter from drowning.  Jesus wants us to have faith. To look at Him and not to the right or left, but only at Him. Yet he knows we are human, and that we succumb to our fears. So while he gently calls us out for not holding onto our faith, His hand is reaching out in deliverance at the same time.

It Can Work for You!

What are you believing for today? Do you have the faith to get out of the boat, i.e. your comfort zone or security, and walk above the storm toward Jesus’ open hand? “Come!” he says. Come and see what I have for you. Come and see what you can do when you trust me. Tell Him your request, and listen for him to say “Come!”

(Story of Peter walking on the water with Jesus found in Matthew 14:22-23)

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When the Going Gets Tough….The Tough Start Praising!

Photo by Karen Mitchell Smith of TopShelfPhotos

I don’t remember a time that I wasn’t either singing or playing an instrument. And although I’ve sang and played a variety of music genres and instruments, at the center of my repertoire….at the center of my very being…is praise. I’ve made it through some of the hardest times in my life with praise! We live in tenuous times. Financially and politically, we as a nation, and as a church, are going through some of the hardest times many of us have seen in this country. Our tendency is to talk about it, gather at Starbuck’s and commiserate with our friends while we hash and rehash the problems over and over, but what does that accomplish? What should we do instead?

Get Praising!
I want you to know that when the going gets tough, the tough start praising! God ordained praise to help us overcome the challenges and obstacles that our enemy Satan, who goes about like a roaring lion, puts in our way everyday. It doesn’t matter which form your praise takes, as long as you are worshipping in spirit and truth. Praise can be sung, played, shouted and danced as we see throughout the Old and New Testament.
Where Did Praise Begin?
The Bible indicates in Ezekiel 28 that Lucifer, or Satan, was the chief musician of Heaven before he became jealous of God and aspired to be like Him. In verse 14, we are told that his “timbrels and pipes” were set in gold and created in his very workmanship, or being, on the day God created him. Imagine how beautiful Lucifer must have been! A timbrel is a tambourine and a pipe is a flute or woodwind instrument. Music was not something Lucifer created with an external instrument – he WAS the instrument! Apparently, he had the ability to make orchestral sounds within himself, and his body was at least partly made of gold. But Lucifer despised God and wanted to take his place, so he was cast to the earth because of his war against God. And when he hit the earth, a fire came out of Lucifer and consumed his beautiful form to ash, taking away the music that was meant from the beginning to glorify God.
Worship Overcomes the Enemy
How fitting it is then, that God uses worship music to overcome the enemy! His word teaches us that when we praise, He sets ambushes against the enemy. (II Chronicles 20:22.) It also tells us that God inhabits, or dwells, in the praises of his people. (Psalm 22:3) Now we already know that if God is for us, no one can be against us! So when we praise, we are inhabited by God himself, and the enemy doesn’t stand a chance.
When we praise God, He comes to our rescue!
Paul and Silas
Consider the story of Paul and Silas in prison. (Acts 16:16-25.) The two men had been beaten and abused for their ministry, then chained and thrown in prison. Verse 25 says that at about midnight they were praying and singing hymns to God, when an earthquake caused their chains to fall and the doors to swing open. Not only were they freed, but ALL the prisoners were freed, and the jailer and his family accepted Christ because of this act. At a time when most people would be singing Poor Poor Pitiful Me, these two men of God were praising, and God defeated the enemy’s plan in that moment! And not only did their praise affect their own circumstances, it brought freedom to those around them.
It Can Work for You!
Be assured that no matter how big the wall in your life is, no matter how tight the prison door is locked or the chains are wrapped around you, God inhabits your praise. God ascends to His throne amid your shouts of joy, and he sets ambushes for your enemy. If you have a heavy heart, or you’re facing obstacles you don’t feel you’ll ever overcome, I want you to have hope. GOD wants you to have hope! Worship God with all your heart. Throw your hands up in the air and shout your hallelujahs. Don’t look at the circumstance, but look at the Deliverer and thank him for his soon-coming rescue! Sing songs of praise and let faith rise up in you. Trust God that, just as he did with Paul and Silas, he will deliver you from your chains, too!


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