Bible Verses on Giving and Helping Others

  • Proverbs 11:25 ESV
    Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
        and one who waters will himself be watered.
  • Proverbs 19:17 ESV
    Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord,
        and he will repay him for his deed.
  • Matthew 6:1-4 ESV

    Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

    “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

  • Matthew 25:35-40 ESV
    For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’
  • Luke 6:38 ESV
    give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
  • 2 Corinthians 9:7 ESV
    Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
  • 2 Corinthians 9:11 ESV
    You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.
  • Philippians 2:4 ESV
    Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
  • Hebrews 13:16 ESV
    Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
  • James 1:27 ESV
     Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
  • James 2:14-17 ESV
    What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good[a] is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
  • 1 John 3:17 ESV
    But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?

Peace and the heart of Christmas

This Christmas, we are celebrating with not just one, but two new kittens in our family.

Every  morning I check to see what they got into during the night.  Which ornament, which light strand, which bit of garland, which wise man have  they pulled down or knocked down.

I have stopped one kitten from climbing up the middle of our Christmas tree on several occasions and rescued this same kitten when his claws got stuck to the garland and lights strung over a door.  He was hanging from them like a mountain climber repelling off a mountain.

Wrapping paper is their favorite closely followed by empty boxes and ornament hooks that they’ve detached from the ornaments they’ve knocked to the ground.

Oh, Christmas is a wonder of excitement to these two little guys and they are certainly keeping me on my toes.

They are also prodding my heart about something:

The purpose of Christmas, the very heart of God’s heart in sending His Son, is peace.  It is RECONCILIATION.

We adopted our new kittens from the Humane Society.  They apparently had been dropped off at the shelter together.  They spent time in a cage together there before spending the next several weeks of their lives on display at a pet store in a different cage—still together.

We kept going to the pet store for supplies for our other animals and seeing these two playful kittens.  Why weren’t they getting adopted?

Finally, we decided we needed to be their family only to learn as we signed our name to the adoption papers that others had been interested in taking one of the kittens, but never both of them.  Until us.

That was what the Humane Society had been looking for the whole time, a family who wanted to keep the kittens together since they’d never been apart.

And we see this at work in these little guys.  The very first week we brought them home, they were getting bolder, adventuring into new places around our house.

Then we heard the crying.  It was the saddest, quickest succession of meows we had ever heard, not  a hurt cry, but a deeply sad cry.  One lone kitten walked by, meowing as he searched from room to room for the other kitten.

Even now, after almost four months with us, if one kitten can’t find the other kitten, we hear the crying and we watch the searching.

I’ve been meditating this Christmas season on God’s heart for Christmas, the lengths He went through to reach us and bring us back to Him.  His divine plan initiated in the Garden of Eden was this:  the moment we chose sin, He made provision for grace.  He began preparing the world for its Savior, Jesus Christ, to bring reconciliation.

Then the appointed time came, after waiting and waiting, after anticipation and heartbreak, after God’s faithfulness despite His people’s unfaithfulness.

Jesus was born, a tiny helpless baby born to a poor,  seemingly insignificant couple in the lowest of circumstances—surrounded by animals, hay, and the scent of a barn.

The angels rang out the Good News:

“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased” (Luke 2:14 NASB)

The prophet Isaiah had promised that He would be the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

Peace.

Jesus brought peace, and Jesus is still bringing that yet-to-be-attained peace.  

He brought us peace with God.  Paul says Jesus was God’s gift of reconciliation to the world:

And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation ( 2 Corinthians 5:18-29 NLT)

We were divided from God, cut off from His presence.  Sin disrupted our relationship with Him, but grace bridged the gap.   Through Jesus, we can be at peace with God.

So He sends us to bring that peace to others:

Paul tells us that God brought us peace, so we now bring peace.  We are ambassadors to the world, carrying the message and ministry of reconciliation so that others can be made right with God.

And He commissions us as peacemakers:

Jesus’s heart is for peace:  Peace between us and God, peace between us and others.  He says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9 NASB).

Peace is the heart of our Prince of Peace.
Is it mine? 

Peace is the fruit I bear when the Spirit is at work within me. 
Am I bearing this fruit?

Peace-making is a sure sign that I am His Child.
Can others see His heart for peace in me?

Bible Verses for the Times We are Overwhelmed

  • Exodus 33:14 NASB
    And He said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.”
  • Psalm 18:1-2 NASB
    “I love You, O Lord, my strength.”
    The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
    My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge;
    My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
  • Psalm 28:7 NASB
    The Lord is my strength and my shield;
    My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped;
    Therefore my heart exults,
    And with my song I shall thank Him.
  • Psalm 61:1-4 NASB
    Hear my cry, O God;
    Give heed to my prayer.
    From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint;
    Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
    For You have been a refuge for me,
    A tower of strength against the enemy.
    Let me [well in Your tent forever;
    Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings. 
  • Psalm  91:1-2 NASB
    He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
    I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
    My God, in whom I trust!”
  • Psalm 118: 5-7 CSB
    I called to the Lord in distress;
    the Lord answered me
    and put me in a spacious place.
    The Lord is for me; I will not be afraid.
    What can a mere mortal do to me?
    The Lord is my helper,
    Therefore, I will look in triumph on those who hate me.
  • Psalm 121:1-2 NASB
    I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
    From where shall my help come?
    My help comes from the Lord,
    Who made heaven and earth.
  • Proverbs 18:10 NASB
    The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
    The righteous runs into it and is [a]safe.
  • Isaiah 26:3-4 NASB
    “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace,
    Because he trusts in You.
    “Trust in the Lord forever,
    For in God the Lordwe have an everlasting Rock.
  • Isaiah 40:31 NASB
    Yet those who wait for the Lord
    Will gain new strength;
    They will mount up with wings like eagles,
    They will run and not get tired,
    They will walk and not become weary.
  • Isaiah 41:10 NASB
    ‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
    Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
    I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
    Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
  • Isaiah 43:1-2 NASB
    But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob,
    And He who formed you, O Israel,
    “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name; you are Mine!
    “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
    When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
    Nor will the flame burn you.
  • Nahum 1:7 NASB
    The Lord is good,
    A stronghold in the day of trouble,
    And He knows those who take refuge in Him.
  • Zechariah 4:6 NASB
     Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.
  • Matthew 11:28 NASB
    “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NASB
    we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
  • 2 Timothy 1:7 CSB
    For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power,love, and sound judgment.
  • James 5:11 CSB
    See, we count as blessed those who have endured. You have heard of Job’s endurance and have seen the outcome that the Lord brought about—the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

There was evening and there was morning

My son is holding me to a very strict Christmas decorating regimen this year and I  am not meeting his deadlines.

But, he’s five and excited, so I don’t fret too much.  I want the house decorated,  too, and I understand all the anticipation and expectation.

Normally, I am a weekend-after Thanksgiving decorator when it comes  to Christmas.

But this year,  some family traveling changed our routine a bit.  I wasn’t even home to start decking the halls until Sunday afternoon and by then I was already behind my son’s schedule.

Why in the world was our tree not up the moment Thanksgiving ended?  That’s what he wanted to  know.

Perhaps he expected little Christmas decorating elves to apply themselves to the task while we were away.  In fact, that’d be a sweet surprise for me,  too!

Alas, no elves strung the lights or hung the stockings and garland.  So, that meant working away bit by bit, light strand by light strand with one consistent periodic interruption from my taskmaster 5-year-old:   “Are the lights up yet?  Where are the lights?  When will the lights be done?”

What  my son doesn’t fully understand is this is all a process: The cleaning up of Thanksgiving decorations, the unpacking of Christmas decorations, putting the tree up and pulling out the ladder to decorate outside, checking light strands and replacing burnt out bulbs, untangling garland, finding extension cords and plugging everything in.

It’s not a snap my fingers and voila kind of  thing.  It’s working away, little by little, with patience until there is light and beauty and Christmas.

And this is the way, isn’t it?  Most  of the time we just want the light and we want the light now.  We tire easily of delays, of waiting, of tension or difficulty.

Giving up on hope feels easier than continuing to look for redemption.

Here’s the truth built  into the very structure of creation, though, and this is what we fight against, but this is what is nevertheless true:

First there is evening.  Then there is morning.

First there is the waiting.  Then there is the sunrise.

First there is dark.  Then there is light.

First there is the resting in the Lord.  Then there is His miraculous provision of sun, of light, of hope fulfilled, of redemption and of His glory.

Genesis 1 peals out  this reminder like  a relentless echo, every single day of creation ends in the same way:

“And there was evening and there was morning” (Genesis 1:5 NASB).

Every day, God’s acts of creation ended the same:   Evening.  Morning.

Never the other way around.  Never the light first, the glory first, the joy first,  the fulfillment first.  Always the investment of walking and waiting through the dark of night until  God delivers with the morning dawn.

And He does deliver.  So, we have that  consistent assurance in creation itself that yes, this is darkness right now and it is hard to have faith, yes it looks  bleak, it’s heartbreaking and difficult,  yes you are weary and maybe frightened to your very core or overwhelmed because you simply cannot see….

But this:  “There was morning.”

There  will be morning.

Eugene Peterson describes this as “victory of God’s light.”

He said:

God’s day is not complete  until light shines again, penetrating the darkness and dispersing the shadows.  The creative action of God is light, which encloses and limits a temporary darkness…The shadows are there–night descends upon life–and there is that which seems to defy God, to disturb his order and his purpose: sickness, death,  trouble, and sorrow. But it does not have the last word:  ‘And there  was morning, one day.’ (Every Step an Arrival)

We have the promise also that even when we feel blind and abandoned in the dark places, God sees through.  Before we can ever see Him, He sees us—He always sees us.

The Psalmist said:

“Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You” (Psalm 139:12 NASB)

I read this explanation  in Barnes’s notes on the Bible:

” things appear dark to us–disappointment, bereavement, trouble, care, losses; but all is light to God.”

It’s all light to Him.

So, maybe I can hold on through the process.  Maybe I can cling a little harder to hope.  Maybe I can wait a little longer before giving up,  before despairing, before looking for an easier way.

Because this isn’t dark to Him.  And because at the end of this, at the end of all of this evening….there will be morning.  There will be light again.

Bible Verses for when you need God’s Light

  • Psalm 27:1 ESV
    The Lord is my light and my salvation;
        whom shall I fear?
    The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
        of whom shall I be afraid?
  • Psalm 119:105 ESV
    Your word is a lamp to my feet
        and a light to my path.
  • Psalm 119:130 ESV
    The unfolding of your words gives light;
        it imparts understanding to the simple.
  • Ecclesiastes 2:13 ESV
    Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness.
  • Isaiah 60:1 ESV
    Arise, shine, for your light has come,
        and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
  • Matthew 4:16 ESV
    the people dwelling in darkness
        have seen a great light,
    and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
        on them a light has dawned.”
  • Matthew 5:14 ESV
    You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
  • Matthew 5:16 ESV
    In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that[a] they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
  • Luke 11:34-35 ESV
    Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness.35 Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness.
  • John 1:5 ESV
    The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
  • John 8:12 ESV
    Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
  • John 9:5 ESV
    As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
  • John 12:35
    So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer.Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going.
  • Romans 13:12 ESV
    The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:3-6 ESV
    And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
  • Ephesians 5:13-14 ESV
    But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible,14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
    “Awake, O sleeper,
        and arise from the dead,
    and Christ will shine on you.”
  • James 1:7 ESV
    Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
  • 1 Peter 2:9 ESV
    But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
  • 1 John 1:7 ESV
    But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
  • Revelation 21:23 ESV
    And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.

Bible Verses and a Prayer for Thanksgiving

  • 1 Chronicles 16:34 NIV
    Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
        his love endures forever.
  • 1 Chronicles 29:13 NASB
     Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name.
  • Psalm 7:17 NIVI will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness;
        I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.
  • Psalm 9:1 NASB
    I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart;thanks1
    I will tell of all Your wonders.
  • Psalm 28:7 NASB
    The Lord is my strength and my shield;
    My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped;
    Therefore my heart exults,
    And with my song I shall thank Him.
  • Psalm 30:12 NASB
    That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent.
    Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.
  • Psalm 69:30 NASB
    I will praise the name of God with song
    And magnify Him with thanksgiving.
  • Psalm 75:1 NASB
    We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks,
    For Your name is near;
    Men declare Your wondrous works.
  • Psalm 86:12 NASB
    I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart,
    And will glorify Your name forever
  • Psalm 95:2-3 (NIV)
    Let us come before him with thanksgivingthanks2

        and extol him with music and song.
    For the Lord is the great God,
        the great King above all gods.
  • Psalm 100:4 NIV
    Enter his gates with thanksgiving
        and his courts with praise;
        give thanks to him and praise his name.
  • Psalm 105:1 NASB
    Oh give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name;
    Make known His deeds among the peoples.
  • Psalm 106:1 NIV
    Praise the Lord.
    Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
        his love endures forever.
  • Psalm 107:1 NASB
    Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good,
    For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
  • Isaiah 12:4 ESV
    And you will say in that day:thanks4
    “Give thanks to the Lord,
        call upon his name,
    make known his deeds among the peoples,
    proclaim that his name is exalted.
  • Jeremiah 33:11 ESV
    the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voices of those who sing, as they bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord:“‘Give thanks to the Lord of hosts,   for the Lord is good,
        for his steadfast love endures forever!’
    For I will restore the fortunes of the land as at first, says the Lord.
  • 1 Corinthians 1:4-5 NIV
    I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge—
  • 2 Corinthians 4:15 NIV
    All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. 
  • 2 Corinthians 9:11-12 NIV
    You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.  This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.
  • 2 Corinthians 9:15 NASBthanks8
     Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
  • Ephesians 1:15-16 NIV
    For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people,  I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
  • Ephesians 5:20 NASB
    always giving thanks for all thingsin the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;
  • Philippians 4:6 NASB
    Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
  • Colossians 2:6-7 ESV
     Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him,  rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
  • Colossians 3:15-17 NASB
     Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanksthrough Him to God the Father.
  • Colossians 4:2 NASB
    Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NASB
     in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
  • 1 Timothy 4:4-5 NIV
    For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,  because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.thanks7
  • Philemon 1:4 NASB
    thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers
  • Hebrews 12:28-29 ESV
     Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,  for our God is a consuming fire.

 

 

thanksgiving-prayer

This is where we are

 

I’ve been sending kids to preschool now for nine years.  That’s four kids, three girls and one boy, all with different personalities and obviously different birth order.

I’ll tell you what’s the same .

Being the line leader is a big deal.

A really big deal.

I haven’t ever given birth to a child who apparently finds the end of the line satisfactory.

It’s not just line-leading that my kids love.  It’s also often been about prime seating spots around classroom tables or for morning circle time.

One of my daughters refused to  wear her jacket well into November during her preschool days.  We had a big to-do each morning as we headed out the door to preschool.  I insisted that it  was too cold to go jacket-less; she broke down into hysterics over wearing a jacket.  It took me several weeks to  root out the cause—hanging up her jacket in the morning slowed her down and meant someone else usually sat next to  her best friend at calendar time.  She’d rather freeze or come down with pneumonia rather than give up a place next to  her buddy.

And then there was another daughter who declined to take dance classes for three months because one little girl  always insisted on sitting on the triangle spot instead of taking turns.  After all, sitting on the circle was unsatisfactory.

Prime place, favorite positions, the perfect spot–we want to be where we want to be.

And then, sometimes,  God puts us down in a place we don’t want to be and it’s a stretch to our souls.  Maybe we  feel we could snap with the tension and the pull of the longing versus the reality.

Over there is where we want to be, but this is where we are, and that is hard.

It’s when prayers are  answered with a “no” or the hoped-for doors close in front of us or the one thing we hoped would never ever happen does happen.  It’s loss and grief and brokenness with deep disappointment underneath it  all.

What then?

Today, I re-read Psalm 23 and I remember what my Good Shepherd does:

He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake (Psalm 23:2-3 NASB).

The  Lord my Shepherd guides and leads me, but He isn’t always leading me where it’s cozy or comfy or always convenient.  Instead, He’s leading me in these paths of righteousness “for His name’s sake.”

He’s not working for my pleasure; He’s working for His glory, always for the glory of  His name.  And that means I might end up munching on some  lush grass and drinking down some  cool water. Or I could be walking on paths of righteousness  that are rockier than I’d like them to be or steep or shaded and deep in the valley.

I  have to trust Him, believe deeply and with full assurance that this path He has me on is for His glory and He will lead me where I need to go. He will restore me and refresh me with the meadows and the calm streams when I need them the most.

He will not abandon me.

But I also read this in Jennifer Rothschild’s study, Psalm 23:

I can be wrong even on the right path (p. 99).

It’s not just  trudging along that path of righteousness, begrudging, unhappy,  complaining,  maybe even bitter that makes me right with the Lord.   That may be obedience, but it’s not the obedience God desires—the yielded heart, the trust, the love.

My attitude matters.

Jennifer Rothschild says it this way:

We don’t control the path.  All we control is  our attitude and actions on the path.

So I grieve a little and Jesus understands.  He has compassion for me in the middle of the brokenness.  He is gracious and gentle as I lay down what I hoped for and what I prayed for.

I give it over to Him and I try to follow my Shepherd on this path of righteousness, this hard and rocky path, with a yielded and trusting heart instead of a begrudging or fearful one.

Because He is my Good Shepherd.  And He will  work out even the hardest seasons for the glory of His name.  And it  will be good.  And He will  refresh and renew.  That is who He is and this is what He does.

Giving up or Hanging on to Hope

Giving up can be a curious thing.  I mostly gave up, but not completely, not all the way.

I was talking myself out of hoping and was preaching to my own heart about being realistic and practical.

But at the same time, I couldn’t stop the impulse to search and check and try just one more time.

Our cat escaped from our house on October 31st.  It’s a mystery how he accomplished this feat.  He had once been a master of slipping out the backdoor, but he was younger then.  Now he is over 16 years old and he’s lost all his speed.

My kids and I talked it all through.  Did anyone leave the door open?  Who was the last person to  see him for sure and certain?  Did anyone glimpse him nosing around the door?

We couldn’t figure it out.  No one saw him near the door.  No one remembered the door being left open.  And, we reminded ourselves, he is old and slow.

So, I searched inside and outside for our cat.

I fretted and worried, waking in the night to flick on porch lights and see if he’s returned.  But my inside searches also continued in case he decided at some point  to hide away for a nap and didn’t wake up.   I checked the same closets three and four times and then walked out into the woods behind our house searching for a flash of orange fur.

I worried about not finding him and also worried about my kids finding him if he wasn’t alive.  I worried about what in the world he thought he was doing outside all by himself in the woods somewhere when it’s raining and it’s November and he has almost no teeth left and has a thyroid condition and, by the way, he’s an old cat so what are the chances he’s surviving this?

My kids cried before they went to school in the morning because he didn’t come home in the night.  Then they cried when they get off the bus because he didn’t make it home during the day either.

It was a 48-hour worry fest, the kind that lingers in your stomach so even when you’re not thinking about it, you’re feeling the sickness of it.

Then the phone rang while I was making dinner Friday night.  She was driving down the main road outside of our neighborhood and saw a cat sitting by the side of the road.

She called me,  turned her car around for a better look, and said, “Heather, this is your cat.”

I grabbed my keys.  Pulled dinner off the stove.  Told my kids I was heading out to find our cat and left.

Sure enough, there he was–our Oliver,  hanging out by the side of the road.  After a chase through brambles and woods and around a small creek (he apparently didn’t want to be caught), I held my cat, my old man cat with missing teeth and a thyroid condition—the one I thought couldn’t survive and I had almost given up on.

He’s a survivor, though, this fellow.  He’s a fighting, hanging-on kind of cat.

Maybe, too often, I’m not a fighting, hanging-on kind of woman of faith.

I can so easily get talked out of hoping, too easily convinced that what’s unlikely is actually impossible.

I’m more likely to make exit strategies than to throw down an anchor of hope in the middle of any shaky situation.

But as I ugly cry in my car that night after seeing my cat safely at home again, I feel the clear reminder:

God decides what is impossible or possible.

I read that phrase in my Bible Study Fellowship lesson earlier this year and it’s stuck with me.

Who am I to survey a situation and decide that giving up is the best plan?  That it’s a hopeless mess and too far gone for God to redeem, restore, revive, refresh,  renew or resurrect?

I read this in Isaiah and I linger over the vivid picture of how He brings life in the most unlikely places:

The wilderness and the dry land will be glad;
the desert will rejoice and blossom like a wildflower.
 It will blossom abundantly
and will also rejoice with joy and singing. (Isaiah 35:1-2 CSB). 

A dessert full of wildflowers, blooming with grand and unexpected abundance–that is God’s intention, that’s part of His promise for ultimate redemption.

And He can do this.  He will do this.

In the meantime, for those of us who fear and tremble with all the uncertainty of life in the here-and-now, Isaiah also says this:

Strengthen the weak hands,
steady the shaking knees!
Say to the cowardly:
Be strong; do not fear! (Isaiah 35:3-4 CSB). 

Take heart because God can do impossible things.

Simple Shoeboxes with a Big Impact

Over 10 years ago, I sat in church at the end of October.  That year,  I had decided not to pack any shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.

Sure, I loved it.   I love kids.  I love sharing the Gospel  with kids.

So, it was a perfect match.  You fill a shoebox with school supplies, toys, and hygiene items and Operation Christmas Child sends it around the world to a child who may never have had a Christmas present before.

Plus,  it opens up opportunities share the news about Jesus in communities where shoeboxes are distributed.

But that year, money was tight and it felt like I gave to  so many different things at the holidays.  Time to  narrow things down,  I had reasoned.

Then, they showed a video  during our church service with kids jumping up and down with joy just for getting a shoebox.  They celebrated over some matchbox cars and toothbrushes or a doll and some soap.

I cried.  Doing such a simple thing has such a big impact.  Pack a shoebox….bless a child…bless their family….bless their community….bless the world.

No way was I going to miss out on being a part of that!

This year, Samaritan’s Purse hopes to  send 12 million shoeboxes to children in need around the world and we can all participate.

NATIONAL COLLECTION WEEK THIS YEAR IS NOVEMBER 12-19.

That’s soon!

Our family likes to work all year long to collect crayons, pencils, soap, toothbrushes, and more so that we’re ready to pack those boxes each fall.

Some of you have also helped us gather supplies in order  to make some homemade items for our boxes.  I love making homemade items because they add a little  extra love to each box and I pray over every project as I make it, which helps to keep my focus on serving others.

HERE ARE SOME OF OUR FAVORITE PROJECTS FROM THE PAST FEW YEARS:

Here’s one of the things I love the most.   When we do these  projects with our kids, when we carry in bags full of crayons and stuffed animals to church for our packing party, when we gather around our kitchen table to pack a box, when we finish up those boxes and pause to pray for the kids who will receive them….we aren’t just blessing kids around the world.

We’re blessing our own children.

We’re teaching our kids that this world is so much bigger than us and there are people out there with overwhelming need.  We need  to be praying for them and we need to be rolling up our sleeves and reaching out to  help them in practical ways.

Some of the children who receive these boxes have never owned their own toothbrush; they’ve shared with all the kids in their orphanage.  They’ve never had their own toy.  They don’t have the pencils they need to go to school so they simply don’t go.  Or they might be wearing raggedy, ripped apart shoes that barely hold together.

We can bless them with a shoebox of gifts.

WOULD YOU CONSIDER PACKING SOME SHOEBOXES THIS YEAR FOR OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD?  HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN ORDER TO GET STARTED:

YOU CAN BEGIN BY LEARNING MORE ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION HERE, LIKE:

If you make a $9 donation online to cover the shipping for your box, you can even print off a label that lets you track it here!!  A few weeks after delivery, they’ll send you an email telling you what country your box was delivered to and some general information about the needs in that area.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, DON’T FORGET TO PRAY OVER EACH SHOEBOX YOU PACK!  PRAYER IS SO POWERFUL!

HERE ARE SOME OF MY FAVORITE OCC VIDEOS TO ENCOURAGE YOU AS YOU PACK.

Pack a shoebox with Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty

Matthew West shows the Great Lengths OCC goes to bring shoeboxes to kids around the world.

Scotty McCreery shows how to pack a shoebox.

TobyMac’s Christmas This Year OCC Video

Check out how excited this boy from Angola is to receive his shoebox!  This is my most favorite OCC video ever!

Bible Verses About Overcoming

  • John 1:5 ESV
    The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
  • John 16:33 ESV
     I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
  • Romans 8:37 ESV
    No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
  • Romans 12:21 ESV
     Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:57 ESV
    But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • 2  Peter 2:19-20 ESV
    They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves[h] of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.
  • 1 John 4:4 ESV
    Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
  • 1 John 5:4 ESV
     For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
  • 1 john 5:5 ESV
     Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
  • Revelation 3:11-12 ESV
    I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. 12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.
  • Revelation 3:21 ESV
    The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.