God Never Leaves

woman reading the bible in the darkness

 

Have you ever felt like God has left you? You can’t feel His presence anymore? Well I have. And I learned a few truths. God in His Word promises to never leave us or forsake us. He also promises that He will be with us always, and that He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

So when we feel alone and can’t feel Him with us, who is the one that changed?? This is when we start to focus on our circumstances, our problems, or worries. All we have to do is whisper His name and remember His promises and we will feel His presence. He never left. We let ourselves believe a lie that our circumstance or problem or worry was bigger than our God. We let a lie hide God’s truth.

So remember, we serve a Big God and His promises are truth. And when you feel alone or lost, just whisper His name and open your heart; remember His truths. He is always there, He never changes. He loves you!!

Robbin Weinhardt is a Part-Time Dining Room Hostess and a Women of Character graduate. She is married to Ray Weinhardt, who works in our kitchen and is a Colony of Mercy Graduate.

No Pity…

Nailed hand on cross

 

I was recently listening to a message by Dr. Michael Krueger, and he referenced that God did not withhold His wrath from His Son.  Unlike a parent who holds back what the child deserves, God did not hold back anything. God did not go easy on His own Son, on our behalf.  God exhausted His wrath on Jesus at the Cross.

These thoughts came to mind when I was reading Ezekiel last week.

God sent Ezekiel to the people of Israel, “And he said to me, ‘Son of man, I send you to the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against me.  They and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day. The descendants also are impudent and stubborn; I send you to them…And you shall speak my words to them, whether they hear or refuse to hear, for they are a rebellious house.’” Ezekiel 2:3-7 (excerpts)

God was exacting His punishment on Israel for their rebellion against Him.  “I will spend my fury upon them…my eye will not spare you, nor will I have pity, but I will punish you for your ways, while your abominations are in your midst…I will soon pour out my wrath upon you, and spend my anger against you, and judge you according to your ways, and I will punish you according to your ways, while your abominations are in you midst. Then you will know that I am the LORD, who strikes…As for me, my eye will not spare, nor will I have pity, I will bring their deeds upon their heads.”

And we deserve nothing less, for apart from Christ, we too are a rebellious people and our sin deserves God’s wrath and punishment.  But Christ took that punishment on our behalf. At the Cross, the Father spent His fury upon Him, His eye did not spare Him, nor did He have pity, He punished Jesus for OUR ways, and OUR abominations.  The Father poured out His wrath upon His Son, He spent His anger against Him, and judged Christ according to OUR ways.  His eye did not spare nor did He have pity – He poured out His wrath for OUR deeds on Christ’s head.

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief… Isaiah 53:4-5; Isaiah 53:10

Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. Romans 5:9

For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ…1 Thessalonians 5:9

Declaring Glory (song)

My God poured out His vengeance great
Like floods released with crushing weight,
But Jesus drank that fury dry
And now God’s wrath is satisfied.
O, glorious thought, How can it be?
My King has no wrath left for me![i]

© 2015 Declaring Glory – all rights reserved

Oh, how grateful I am.

Blessings,

Diane

[i] Music by Dave Mincy; Words by Joe Henson III

Diane Hunt serves part-time on the staff of America’s Keswick providing ministry support from her home in North Carolina. She is also a biblical counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at dhunt@americaskeswick.org.

 

Out or Through

Girl reading the Bible in the library cafe.

 

Sometimes we need to pray “get me out” prayers. But sometimes we need to pray “get me through” prayers. And we need the discernment to know when to pray what. ~ Mark Batterson

Bill Welte has challenged our staff and ministry friends to read Mark Batterson’s book “Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge.”  The quote above struck me very early in the book. Our natural inclination when faced with a difficulty is to ask for God to remove it or get us out of the situation. Whether it be an illness, a financial burden, a relational difficulty – you name, we want out of it.

But I find, more often than not, God doesn’t remove the difficulty or remove us from the situation. Rather, He uses it to continue the process of molding us to be more like Him – to teach us, to sand off our rough edges, to remove the dross from our lives so the silver can shine through. But He never abandons us in these tough times.  He’s not one to throw us in the deep end to force us to learn to swim. No, whatever the burden, whatever the difficult circumstance – He is right there with us, walking beside us. Sometimes holding a hand, sometimes picking us up and carrying us, sometimes just giving the word of encouragement we need to keep going.

“Get me out” brings instant relief, but doesn’t really benefit us in the long term. Nothing is learned, nothing is gained, in simply having the difficulty removed.

Paul the apostle experienced this himself. In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 he says, “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

If God chose to allow Paul to remain “in” the circumstance, why should I experience less? I have so much more to gain by walking “through” with Him.

So, how are you praying today? Get me out…or get me through?

Ruth Schmidt

Ruth Schmidt has worked at America’s Keswick since 1985. She currently serves as Administrative Assistant to Bill Welte.

 

Our Spiritual GPS

Navigation

 

I was excited the first time I used my GPS.  I was excited because it was going to get me where I needed to go.  How does it work?  You put in the destination and it tells you which roads to follow and where to turn.  When you make a wrong turn, or miss your turn, it recalculates and tells you how to get back on the correct road.

We may not always listen to it.  We may not even use it. We may think we know a better way.  Sometimes that works and other times we end up in a traffic jam or lost.  The first system I had surprised me by beeping.  I could not figure out why it beeped at me.  Then, I realized it was a warning because I was going over the speed limit.  That would never happen to you, right?

2 Timothy 3:16 says that the Bible is our spiritual navigation system (SNS.)  What is our destination?  Heaven, of course!  This verse tells us that Scripture is good for teaching us doctrine.  In other words, it tells us which road we are to travel.  Jesus is the only way to get there (John 14:6.)  Scripture also tells us when we are off the correct road.  It tells us the things we should not be doing, because they will take us off God’s path for us.  Then, it tells us how to get back on the correct road.  It tells us all the things we should be doing.  It gives us instruction and training in righteousness.  It tells us how to stay on God’s road.  The key is fixing our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12: 1,2.)

Mistakes and choices that we make may detour us.  But, when we veer off God’s road, we have the Holy Spirit who warns us and urges us to return to God’s way.  We may not listen.  We may think we know a better way, but that is when we get into trouble.  Only God’s way is the best way for us to go.  Are you using your spiritual navigation system?  Here is a beautiful hymn that tells us the best way to keep on God’s path, walk close to Jesus:

Just a Closer Walk with Thee

  1. I am weak, but Thou are strong: Jesus, keep me from all wrong;

I’ll be satisfied as long, as I walk, let me walk close to Thee.

  1. Thro’ this world of toils and snares, if I falter, Lord, who cares?

Who with me my burden shares? None but Thee, dear Lord, none but Thee.

  1. When my feeble life is o’er, time for me will be no more;

Guide me gently, safely o’er to Thy kingdom shore, to Thy shore.

Refrain:

Just a closer walk with Thee, Grant it Jesus, is my plea,

Daily walking close to Thee, let it be, dear Lord, let it be.

Text and Music:  Traditional Folk Song

 

Written by Denise Zambrano: Denise loves to teach the Bible and sing. She teaches a women’s Bible study and a high school Sunday School class.  Along with her daughter, Linda, she is an advocate at A Baby’s Breath (a crisis pregnancy center). She loves being a grandmother to Tim, Becky, Alexander and William (who is with Jesus).  She was a missionary with Radio Station HCJB in Quito, Ecuador for 35 years.

 

 

Not-So-Graceful Ice Princess

man helping women to rise up on skating rink

Have you ever tried to take up a new hobby that you were “sure” you could get the hang of, but you soon realized you couldn’t? If so, did you leave that “new hobby” feeling frustrated and defeated? The other day, my friend and I decided to try to go ice skating, and though I’d never even stepped foot in a skating rink before, I was sure I could easily get the hang of this new sport. HA!!!! I probably ate the ice about 20 times, and every time I fell, someone would come to me and ask if I was okay… which was just embarrassing! I was incredibly frustrated, and the entire time I was “skating”, I was holding on to the side of the ice rink.

About halfway through my skating experience, one guy said to me “You’re never going to learn if you keep holding on.” I jokingly told him that I was just trying to leave with all of my bones intact (I was actually partly serious.) He countered with these wise words: “When you hold on, you’re leaning backwards and that’s the reason you can’t stay upright. You’re unbalanced. You need to bend your knees, lean forward, and keep your focus forward. The reason you’re falling is because you’re holding on.”

I have to admit, when he said that I was a little annoyed at first. After all, I had just fallen about 2 dozen times on the ice – once right in front of him! The more I thought about it, though, I realized he was probably right and he was probably (definitely) a lot more knowledgeable than I was in this area. I also knew there was probably a Victory Call in there somewhere…

In your Christian walk, are you holding on to something that is consequently causing you to stumble? Are you trying to hold on to “justified” sin? Control? Bitterness? Anger? “Close” friendships with people who aren’t walking with the Lord? Whatever it may be, may I encourage you to leave it at the feet of Jesus and put your focus forward?

Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left. Keep your foot from evil. – Proverbs 4:25-27

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:13-14

“The reason you’re falling is because you’re holding on. You’re unbalanced. Keep your focus forward.” He didn’t realize that what he was saying to me would have a “spiritual” impact, but it’s not something I’ll forget anytime soon. In your spiritual life, is your focus forward, or are you holding on and leaning back? If it’s the latter, I want to encourage you to “Let Go and Let God.” It may be uncomfortable, it may be scary, and you may stumble a couple of times… but God’s got you. He won’t let you fall, and He will help you back up.

The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand. – Psalm 37:23-24

Erin Culleny serves as a Marketing Assistant and Staff Writer. She loves encouraging women through her Victory Calls and finds such joy in praying for her sisters in Christ. Her favorite activities include reading her Bible, encouraging others with scripture, buying new makeup, buying dresses, and eating at the Cheesecake Factory… In that order!

 

 

 

Be Still and Just Wait

Depressed young woman crying

 

Have you ever had a time in your life when you were so hurt and frustrated and angry all at the same time that you just cried hard and wanted to scream? Well, I had a day like that not too long ago.  I didn’t know what to do, so I cried and sobbed and screamed and asked God why? When will it get better? When will He intervene? When will I stop hurting? And after all the crying and yelling stopped, because I was tired, I just sat in silence. God met me right there, He heard me and just listened to all I had to say. And I’m not sure when or how, but the hurt and the pain and the anger went away and there was peace and joy.

I’ve found that when I come to Father with all that I’m feeling and I’m completely honest, He is faithful and heals me and fills me with the gift of forgiveness. I was able to talk calmly and with love to the person who hurt and frustrated me. And God was there, too. Helping us both to talk it through and move on from there.

So when you are at your wit’s end, talk to the One who knows you best – your Father – and give it all to Him. He can take it and He wants to help. There is nothing better than feeling the Father’s love and comfort when you are hurting. I pray this helps you when you feel alone, hurt and frustrated. God bless

Robbin Weinhardt is a Part-Time Dining Room Hostess and a Women of Character graduate. She is married to Ray Weinhardt, who works in our kitchen and is a Colony of Mercy Graduate.

 

 

How to Think About Suffering

Depressed woman sitting on a chair in dark room at home. Lonly , sad, emotion concept.

Is it possible to think that Jesus suffered easily? By that I mean, because Jesus was fully God and Man, was it somehow easier for Him to suffer? Our eyes are upon Christ, the Cross and His suffering this week. We can forget or quickly gloss over His conflict to submit to the Father’s will. He knew what was waiting for Him. He requested that if there were any other way, could it be so? Yet the Father did not remove the cup of suffering from Jesus. Luke 22:42 tells us that Jesus not only requested another way but submitted to the Father’s will regarding His suffering. “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Turmoil existed but so did submission and obedience.

Christ’s example of suffering leaves us many examples to follow. 1 Peter 4:1-2 says, “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.”  Because Christ suffered, He instructs us to first think of suffering as He did. How we think about suffering is key. Do you feel punished? Do you think it is unfair that you suffer? When we can put aside our feelings and understand that suffering affects everyone in different ways and at different times, we can begin to think of suffering as a tool. We are taught, strengthened, comforted and grounded in our faith in ways that would not have happened if we did not suffer. We learn to submit, obey, and die to ourselves in ways we would never have if not for suffering. We can draw near to the Cross knowing that our Savior has suffered, sympathizes with our own suffering and is working in us His perfect will. As you and I face suffering and trials of many kinds, we can leave behind our answers to the problems we face and seek and trust the perfect will of our heavenly Father.

If we could only see how it all would work out, we would do better in our suffering. What we see will not lead us to greater faith or a deeper understanding of Jesus Christ. It is only in becoming like Christ that you and I will be able to face our suffering with grace and truth.

Blessings,

Kathy

Kathy Withers is on staff at America’s Keswick and serves as Director of Partner Care. Kathy has been married to her husband Dave for 30 years. They have two adult children. Kathy is active in her local Church and teaches a Bible Study for women. Her passion is to encourage women to deepen their walk with Jesus Christ by finding and living out the truths of God’s Word.

 

 

 

 

 

Our Redeemer

Ruth--Naomi Talks with Ruth

 

This morning I had the blessing of reading and processing the book of Ruth with my husband Glenn.  It is a small book of the Bible that contains a powerful message.  I would encourage you to read the book of Ruth and enjoy the blessings in it.

For today, I want to reflect with you about one part, the Kingsman-Redeemer.  You see Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law, was a widow living in Moab.  Her son had married Ruth, a young Moabite.  Naomi’s two sons died and so she invited Ruth along with her other son’s wife to leave her and return to their family.  One leaves, but Ruth refuses saying, “Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God.” (Ruth 1:16 NKJ)

Ruth’s statement was a commitment to leave her nation, her religion and her gods behind and to make Naomi’s nation her nation and Naomi’s God her God.  At that point Ruth’s destiny was marked for blessing, although I do not believe she was fully aware of that.  She loved her mother-in-law and was concerned for her.  She was willing to give up all to care for Naomi and stand with her.  As they return to the Bethlehem, the Jewish Law of Redemption began to go into operation.  Ruth, a widow, would now be introduced to what Jewish law allowed if a widow welcomed it.  The inheritance of her husband could be purchased by her Kingsman-Redeemer.  Boaz knew the law, followed the law and he would marry Ruth who made known that she would welcome him.  Boaz became Ruth’s Kingsman-Redeemer, establishing the inheritance of her dead husband to be passed down to her sons. Ruth marries Boaz and from their line is born David and ultimately Jesus.

Boaz was Ruth’s Kingsman-Redeemer, and this a picture of our Kingsman-Redeemer, Jesus.  You see, Jesus is just waiting for us to invite Him to be our Kingsman-Redeemer.  He paid the price to redeem our destiny, to restore our life, to set us free from death and shift us into life.  If you have not yet done so, today is a good day to choose to lay down all that makes you… you.  Would you shift trying to “fix” your life your way?  Would you allow Jesus to be your Kingsman-Redeemer?  Glenn and I will be forever grateful that we made a choice to lay down our lives and turn everything over to the Lordship of Jesus. Sometimes we try and take control again but quickly are reminded that apart from Him we can do nothing that will last.  I assure you Jesus is an amazing Kingsman-Redeemer.

Let me close with this wonderful truth: “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!”  (Deuteronomy 30:19; NLT)

Blessings,

Patricia Wenzel

Patricia Wenzel is the founder and director of a state-wide prayer ministry, PRAY New Jersey Inc., since 2002.  The ministry is committed to praying for and blessing those serving in authority positions in our state, particularly in government.  The ministry is also committed to equipping the saints to pray for those serving in government.  The vision and ministry is guided by the Word of God, in particular, 1 Tim. 2:1-4 and Is. 61:11.  Pat is thankful for the ministry of America’s Keswick.  She graduated from Women of Character in July 2008.

Digging Up a Bad Foundation

Multiethnic diverse group of engineers or business partners at construction site, working together on building's blueprint, architect industry or teamwork concept

We were having a new house built back in 2000.  Every Sunday after church we drove by to check their progress, which seemed painstakingly slow. We were thrilled the week we drove by and saw the foundation had been poured. Yes! Progress!

A week or two later we stopped by only to find a back hoe in our yard digging up the foundation.  I was befuddled and asked my husband, “That’s not normal, is it?”

John approached one of the construction workers to find out what was going on.  As it turned out, the original foundation was dug and poured 6 inches left of where it should have been located.  SIX INCHES!!! You may think (as I did) – what’s the big deal?  But we were on small property lots and there was not much wiggle room for error.  Six inches made a difference.  I took their word for it.

After the foundation was dug up and re-poured and the house structure was built – I remember opening the back door and saw the framing for the back steps was off by 6 inches which looked rather silly; the step frame did not match up with the door! It was 6 inches left of the door.  I’m no construction worker but even I knew that wasn’t right. An error in the foundation effects everything built on that foundation.

What foundation are you building on?

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” Matthew 7:24-27 (underlining mine)

Jesus’ parable highlights the importance of building our foundation on the very Word of God, the Bible. Are we spending regular significant time in His Word?  Are we spending time gleaning wisdom from the Master Builder?

Don’t be fooled. Nothing compares to the Bible itself.  There are a lot of Bible-related resources available – devotional books, blogs, podcasts, etc. Many of them are excellent, but they are not God’s living, breathing Word. By all means, use them but may I encourage you to not neglect the reading of the Bible itself? Bible-related resources may be good or even better but the Bible is the best.  Don’t settle for good or better – hang in there for the best.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

If you are not currently reading God’s Word regularly, may I encourage you to start with 10 or 15 minutes a day?  Let your time expand as you fall more in love with Jesus and His Word.

Blessings,

Diane

Diane Hunt serves part-time on the staff of America’s Keswick providing ministry support from her home in North Carolina. She is also a biblical counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at dhunt@americaskeswick.org.

All Aboard!

Replica of the Ark Noah

 

 

Noah’s ark contained animals whose only qualification to get aboard was that no pair of species would be of the same kind. The fact that they were different is the only reason they were chosen. It was God’s purpose to multiply their distinct DNA in the new world.

The most righteous man alive was challenged to live with and care for this most diverse group of creatures ever to be assembled in one place, with no way of escape. Obviously, God miraculously calmed the creatures enough to sustain the journey, but how did Noah not punch a hole in the boat, throw some of these animals overboard, or just jump off and leave that Carnivorous Carnival Cruise Ship?!

(And how did Mrs. Noah cope? There were “creeping things” on that boat! I’m sad to admit it, but I would’ve bailed. I just don’t do snakes.)

When the Lord saves us, we too come together in Christ, our Ark of salvation. While it is still in our human DNA to “devour” each other, the Holy Spirit not only keeps us calm, but He puts a love in our hearts for each other and enables us to live together in peace.

And using Noah as an example, our God chooses to stick with us…on the seas, with the smell of sin in the air, nurturing us, caring for us, preparing a future for us, never to leave us or forsake us.

“Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained alive.” Genesis 7:23

What a God! What a Savior!

Carol

Carol Tirondola: Carol Tirondola is on staff with the Partner Care team at America’s Keswick. She and her best friend, Mario, have been married for 35 years. They have 2 sons and 2 daughters-in-law that they call their “BFFs.” They also have 7 precious gems called grandchildren. Her family has savored many memories of the heart made at Keswick over the last 35+ years and she is thrilled to serve on staff!