Redeeming the Night Watches

Insomnia

We’ve all been there… 2 AM staring at the ceiling.

Sometimes it is because our spirits are restless or worried.  Sometimes it is because we had that last cup of coffee later than we should have. Or maybe, just maybe, the enemy is at work calling to mind all the ill-advised, foolish or sinful things we have ever done. The enemy does his best work in the dark.  Perhaps it is none of those and we are lying awake for no apparent reason.

There are a few things we can do to redeem the night watches as we lay awake.

  1. Meditate upon the Lord. Consider His attributes and character. This will naturally lead to praise and worship.  My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night… Psalm 63:5-6
  2. Rehearse Scripture – practice the Scripture you are currently memorizing, or recall favorite verses. I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words. My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise. Psalm 119:147-148
  3. Pray – pray for others. There probably also are others lying awake, unable to sleep because of family issues or a recent death of a loved one.  Serve them with your prayers, then go one step further and send them a text or note, or give them a call the next day.

Maybe we will fall back asleep faster, maybe we won’t, but either way we will have redeemed that time, making the most of every moment of wakefulness. Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16 NIV

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.

 

God’s Promises Never Change

Trust in God sign

 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)

God will give us peace and He will guard our hearts and minds as we live in Christ Jesus (Emphasis mine.)

There have been many times in my life that I’ve experienced more than I can handle.

Does God give us more than we can handle? Yes, He does! God will give us more than we can handle: always for the purpose to bring us to a place in our lives to depend upon Him, to grow deeper in our faith in Christ Jesus. During a crisis in my family, I had so many “what ifs” or “this could happen” or “that could happen” moments that my emotions were running wild with crazy thoughts, and they were downright worrisome.   You may know these kinds of thoughts that can tantalize your mind and weaken your heart.  Well, because I had more than I could handle, I closed my eyes and begged God.  No, I yelled, “I need your help NOW; I can’t do this!” God retrieved from my memory just one promise at a time “He is my Refuge” and then “He is my Shepherd”, “He will never leave me”, “He is keeping watch”…….

Do you ever feel abandoned by God? Our emotions change, but God’s promises never change – He will never leave us or abandon us (Deut. 31:8 emphasis mine).  Emotions are not reliable, but God is always Reliable, Dependable, Trustworthy….. – He is God: the Creator of the universe, so with that said, “He can always be depended on and trusted with whatever comes into our lives.”  Our lives can change at any given moment, so keep His promises hidden in your heart.

God’s promises will replace our worries with His peace.

  • God will make known to us the path of life; He will fill us with joy in His presence (Psalm 16:11)
  • He is my Shepherd (Psalm 23:1)
  • He will guide us in His truth and teach us (Psalm 25:4,5)
  • He is my refuge; my fortress, my God in whom I trust (Psalm 91:1,2)
  • Though I walk in the midst of trouble, He preserves our life (Psalm 138:7)
  • His love endures forever (Psalm 138:8)

When life becomes overwhelming and it’s more than you can handle, pray and ask God to show you His Promises in His Word! The Psalms have always been my go-to, especially when life gets overbearing.

Blessings,

Pat Spies

Pat Spies is a Servant of the Lord and a friend of America’s Keswick.

Shhh – Please Keep this Between us!

Finger on lips - silent gesture

My sister in law is PREGNANT!!! Ahh – I’ve been waiting for MONTHS to share that news, and now that she’s posted it on Facebook and made it public, I can shout from the rooftops! My brother and his wife are expecting, and I’m going to be an aunt (the fun aunt!) It feels so good knowing that I don’t have to keep that secret anymore.

I’m so glad that my brother and sister-in-law trusted me with that secret. One of the things I find most important in relationships is loyalty, and I try very hard to choose my friendships based (in part) on that characteristic. For example, I know that if I tell my mentor or pastor something in confidence, it will never escape their lips and they will never “spill the beans” to someone else. They’re super trustworthy. However, we’ve also all been in those situations where someone has gossiped or shared private information about us that we didn’t want spread around. After that happens, hard talks have had to take place and in certain cases, it really damages relationships. Even when there’s reconciliation, it’s almost always hard to fully trust that person again.

Proverbs 11:13 – A gossip betrays confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.

Proverbs 20:6 – Many a man proclaims his own loyalty, but who can find a trustworthy man?

Proverbs 21:23 – Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.

Ephesians 4:29 – Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

There are also many cases in which Jesus was insistent that His disciples or people that He had healed not share of the miracles that they witnessed (Matthew 9:30, Mark 5:43, or Mark 1:43-44 are great examples of this.)

Of course, there are instances where you should not keep secrets, like if someone is in danger or if there is sin involved. However, those aren’t the types of secrets I’m talking about. One website (www.inspiration.org) posted this advice: “In your life, seek to be trustworthy. Cultivate a reputation for faithfulness, both to other believers and the world.” I want to be a Christian that other people are comfortable talking to and sharing hard topics with, one that people can trust – fully trust. I want to be real, genuine, loyal, loving and faithful because my God is real, genuine, loyal, loving and faithful. My goal is to be a good representative for Christ, because that’s what He has called me to do – what He’s called all of us to do, in fact. Let’s take that seriously!

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!

 

Perfect Timing

Vintage Retro Alarm Clock

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;  a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;  a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

As I was getting ready to go to work I looked at the time on my Fitbit.  I glanced at my bedroom clock. There was a two minute discrepancy. I went to the kitchen and looked at my kitchen clock which was three minutes faster than my bedroom clock. As I got in my car and compared the time on my Fitbit to the clock in my car I was now leaving two minutes earlier than I had thought. So, what time is it really?

If you find yourself in a time of difficulty, waiting or wanting, remember to know that God’s timing is perfect. It is easy to say that when everything is going smoothly.  When things are well with our world a few minutes is no big deal. But when things are hard a few minutes can feel like an eternity.  Wherever we are, God has perfectly timed the situation we find ourselves in today. How easy it is for me to want to jump out of and ahead of any given situation and not process through it to gain God’s perspective and allow His working in my heart to be complete.

Unfortunately, I can demand my own timing, fighting for the quick and easy way. I have found that God rarely does the quick or easy. When I think I should call it a day, God says “stay awhile.” When I want to say I am finished, God says “not yet.”  I know this may shock you, as it has me, but God’s timing is not our timing. When will I learn that lesson?? It really is time for me to once again trust that God’s timing will be perfect. His perfect timing can be seen most clearly when you and I look back and see how God has worked in the past. But we will often look forward and speculate about what is yet to come.  Rarely, and perhaps with the most difficulty, do we actually remain in the moment. This is where God has us. His timing has perfectly placed us in the here and now.

As I write, the clock in my office is ticking loudly. Each second is counted; the hands of the clock continue to move forward bringing me one more tick closer to an unknown future. Let’s be brave today and allow His timing to move us towards His purposes in all things. We can trust our futures because we can trust His perfect timing.

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.

 

Seeing Things in a Whole New Way

Slim blonde-year-old portrait of a beautiful woman in the marine vest

 

Every Monday I have the blessing of babysitting two of our grandchildren.  The older of the two, age 4, goes to pre-school until 11:30 am.  The younger two-year-old and I go to Story Hour during that time.  At story hour the little ones all enjoy Pete the Cat books.  One of the books is titled, Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses.  The story is about a great pair of blue glasses.  If you are grumpy and put on the blue sunglasses, you can see your world in a whole new way.  Suddenly you are no longer grumpy and you notice: “The birds are singing.  The sky is bright. The sun is shinning.  I’m feeling ALRIGHT.”

Whenever this book is read, it makes me thankful that when the Lord looks at me He looks at me through the blood of Jesus.  It sure makes me look very different.  Suddenly I’m alright, even righteous. WOW!!

And there is still much more to say of his unfailing love for us! For through the blood of Jesus we have heard the powerful declaration, “You are now righteous in my sight.” And because of the sacrifice of Jesus, you will never experience the wrath of God. Rom. 5:9 (TPT)

Yet look at you now! Everything is new! Although you were once distant and far away from God, now you have been brought delightfully close to him through the sacred blood of Jesus—you have actually been united to Christ!  Eph. 2:13 (TPT)

And now we are brothers and sisters in God’s family because of the blood of Jesus, and he welcomes us to come right into the most holy sanctuary in the heavenly realm—boldly and with no hesitation.  Heb. 10:19 (TPT)

But if we keep living in the pure light that surrounds him, we share unbroken fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, continually cleanses us from all sin.        1 John 1:7 (TPT)

Whenever you are feeling grumpy, perhaps you might remember these verses and give thanks for the Father’s red glasses and the blood of Jesus……it will change your day……everything will be alright.

Blessings,

Patricia

Rev. 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.

 

 

Oh, Yeah

Praying woman.

We all have seasons of trial, difficulty and suffering. Sometimes they are brief seasons and sometimes long.  Pain has a way of narrowing our focus; we naturally get tunnel vision to the point that often all we think about or see is the problem, the circumstance, or the trial. Everything in life gets filtered through the grid of our trial.

I’ve been a counselor a long time and I have seen this over and over again in the lives of others; I’ve seen it in my own life, too.

Recently, a friend posted this Tozer quote on Facebook. It is a great reminder. When I read it my immediate response was “Oh, yeah!”

“When I understand that everything happening to me is to make me more Christlike it resolves a great deal of anxiety.”  A.W. Tozer

The truth of this statement shatters our tunnel vision and gives grander perspective and value to our circumstance.  It shifts our focus from the pain to the redemptive purposes of God within our trial. It reminds us that in the midst of our circumstance God is at work and though we may not see it happening, He is in the process of conforming us to the image of Jesus Christ.  Father is redeeming that trial in our life for good.

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers Romans 8:29.

When we take a moment to consider the life transforming work of God in our life through the suffering, it reduces anxiety and brings calming peace because we are reminded it is not for naught.  We are being made more like Jesus. As we embrace that truth we hold less tightly to the trial.  It shifts our focus from our trial to the beauty of God’s work in our life.

…To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness Isaiah 61:1-3.

May we pursue a growing desire to be more like Jesus.

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.

Resting in God’s Arms

Woman Relaxing In Swimming Pool Water. Summer Holidays Vacation.

 

Do you like to swim?  I love it!  I try to go swimming every Tuesday.  It’s a great time to think and pray.  At the end of a swim the other week, I was enjoying floating on my back and thinking.  It reminded me of one of my favorite verses from the Bible, Isaiah 41:10.  God promises to uphold us with His righteous right hand.  He holds us up just like the water does.

The key to floating is relaxing.  If we struggle, we sink. It is the same with our relationship with God.  In the same verse God says, “Do not fear, do not anxiously look around you.”  How can we relax and not fear and not be anxious?  Because God says, “I am with you, I am your God, I will strengthen you, I will help you, and I will hold you up.”  Wow! What great promises these are for us!  He is Almighty God and can do everything He promises.

There is a beautiful hymn that I love to sing. Here are the first two verses:

Jesus! I am resting, resting
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,
And Thy beauty fills my soul,
For, by Thy transforming power,
Thou hast made me whole.

Jesus! I am resting, resting
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.

Oh, how great Thy loving kindness,
Vaster, broader than the sea:
Oh, how marvelous Thy goodness,
Lavished all on me!
Yes, I rest in Thee, Beloved,
Know what wealth of grace is Thine,
Know Thy certainty of promise,
And have made it mine. 

If you can, look up the hymn and read the rest of the verses, along with the music.  They will speak to your heart.  You can feel yourself relaxing and floating in His arms as you sing this hymn.

We have a choice.  Will we struggle in His arms by being fearful and anxious?  Or, will we rest in who He is and in His promises?

Hymn: Jesus, I am Resting, Resting by Jean Sophia Pigott  and James Mountain.

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.

 

 

Reining It In

Shocked and frightened woman

It started out well enough, with a nice leisurely horseback ride with my sisters on a Canadian vacation as young adults, but as we came out of the woods, suddenly my previously docile horse took off in a full gallop.  I was not prepared for his reckless abandon as I hung on for dear life, certain mine would end abruptly.  I can’t say for sure that I wasn’t screaming.  As hard as I tried I could not rein in the horse’s sheer power and determination to return to the barn!

This is the picture that came to mind as I was thinking about my tongue recently.  It is easier to keep the tongue in check than to give it freedom and then have to rein it in.

If I allow myself the fleshly freedom to speak whatever comes to mind, whether it is kind or not, helpful or not, godly or not, the mere desire to change will not be enough to result in lasting change.  I desired to stop that horse! But he was not having it.

To rein in the tongue requires more than simply the desire or simply being silent.  Without heart change, silence will only last so long.  No, it requires repentance, humility, heart change and yes, a moment by moment choice to restrain my tongue, not saying everything that comes to mind. When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent Proverbs 10:19.

As a daughter of the King, we have a high calling to represent Him well.   Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen Ephesians 4:29 (NIV). Perhaps if we always keep kingdom purposes in mind we will be more inclined to think twice before we speak.  The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer Proverbs 15:28.

May we rein in a galloping tongue and purpose to bless, nourish and empower with our words.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eats its fruits…Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body…Lips of knowledge are a precious jewel…A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. Proverbs 18:21; 16:24; 20:15; 25:11

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.

 

It’s GREAT to be the Street Sweeper!

Student sweeping dried leafs on the floor in school.

“If two angels were sent down from heaven,–one to conduct an empire, and the other to sweep a street,–they would feel no inclination to change employments.”  – John Newton
Isn’t the above quote so beautiful? I read it two or three times; the message makes me so… happy! The thought of the angels being content, no matter how big or how small their job might seem to others brings, me such joy. It reminds me of that old ’90s show “Touched By an Angel.” It’s so cheesy, but one of my personal favorites. I loved how the angels were happy doing God’s work, and no matter how “difficult” or “unimportant” it might have seemed at the time, they were content in doing the Lord’s will and experienced blessings because of it.

Sometimes believers might feel tempted to look at other Christians who have more direct involvement in ministry and think that they are being used more by God, or that they have more potential. We may, for example, look at powerful speakers or missionaries in third-world countries and think “they lead so many to Christ every single day, what’s my significance?”

Girlfriend! You are so, so, so valuable and precious and significant to God, just as valuable and precious and significant as those you might think are doing “more” kingdom work for God. You are being used.

If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not a part of the body? And if the ear should say “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be?  But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.  And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.  Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles?  Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?  But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.” – 1 Corinthians 12:12-31

You are so highly-favored in the eyes of Christ, whether your ministry is missions in Africa or at home and in the office. Next time you feel tempted to feel down on yourself because you seem to be “sweeping the streets” while others are “conducting an empire,” remember that it’s not your work, it’s God’s work. He wants to work IN you and THROUGH you. Instead, rejoice that the Lord is using you, and rejoice with your brothers and sisters in Christ whose ministries are continuously producing fruit (1 Corinthians 12:26.) We’re all running the same race, after all.

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!

 

 

And You Are Still…

Mixed race African American girl female young woman athlete runner teenager in golden sunset or sunrise arms raised celebrating in field of yellow flowers

And You Are Still…[i]

Although life takes dips and turns,

You are still God ~ Genesis 1:1

When unexpected news comes,

You are still good ~ Psalm 25:8

When temptation threatens,

You are still the Overcomer ~ John 16:33

When dark clouds rush in,

You are still sovereign ~ Psalm 47:8

When a new born baby arrives,

You are still the giver of life ~ Psalm 139:13-16

When doubts hover,

You are still the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords ~ 1 Timothy 6:15

When questions press,

You still have answers ~ James 1:5

When a loved one dies,

You are still the Victor ~ 1 Corinthians 15:55

When blessings come,

You are still the Giver ~ James 1:17

No matter what…You are still

God

Just

True

Holy

Omniscient Omnipotent Omnipresent

Sovereign Everlasting Almighty

Pure

Kind

Good

Infinite

Eternal

Worthy

Gracious

Generous

You are still…

 

Blessings,

Diane

[i] I recently heard the song “You are still Holy” by Kari Jobe and Klaus K. The words were simple yet profound and the idea of the song is what prompts this Victory Call.

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.