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Never lose hope

June 8, 2016

Lamentations verse and picSteadfast. The dictionary describes this word as meaning: resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering. Couple that with love and you have a resolute unwavering love that NEVER ceases.

I don’t know about you, but even in your closest relationships, have you ever known that kind of love? Love that NEVER ceases? Not even for a second?

All of us fail. We fail the people we love the most sometimes. But Jeremiah, who wrote these words saw God’s love as never failing, never ceasing, resolute, immovable.

Jeremiah also saw a lot of bad stuff in his day. He isn’t called the weeping prophet for nothing. He saw his people falling deeper and deeper into sin and no matter what he said, they just wouldn’t listen to him. He was rejected for telling them the truth. And he watched them pay the consequences when they were taken into captivity by a foreign nation.

Jeremiah verse and picAnd yet…Jeremiah knew Adonai Elohim. He knew that even though God gave the people the consequences of their sin – they got what they deserved because they wouldn’t heed the warnings and repent – yet even then Jeremiah had hope. Why?

Because He knew God’s love was ceaseless and His mercies would never come to an end. Even in judgment, God still loved His people. Even in discipline, He had mercy in mind. Even in some of Israel’s darkest days, Jeremiah knew there was still reason to hope because He knew the One who offered it. Whose love and mercy demanded hope.

And really, who among us can experience the ceaseless unwavering love of God and taste his endless mercy and not have reason to hope that He can take care of the rest? He can keep His promises. He can answer our prayers. He loves us that much!

We may be looking around us and seeing a lot of the kinds of things Jeremiah saw in his day and we can feel like the world is a pretty bleak place, can’t we?

But God. Never forget that God is bigger than the bleakness.

Jeremiah “called to mind” – he didn’t forget – he remembered all of the ways God loved, and all of the mercies God had shown in times past and he knew, HE KNEW God could handle the tough now. He remembered and the memories brought hope.

Beloved, I don’t know what you are facing tonight, but may you recall, may you purposely remember the love and mercy of God that He has shown you in times past. Remember and realize that if He could do it before, He can do it again. Your struggles are never too great for His mercy. Your fears are never too big for His love.

It is always, always right to hope in Him.

Be blessed tonight.
Selah~
#liveloveprayhope #neverlosehope #ceaslessunwaveringloveofgod #unendingmercyofoursavinglordjesus

by jill at 8:40 am in

Where do you hide your hope?

June 7, 2016

Psalm 33 hope verse and picLast week on Facebook I asked the question, “Which is worse, physical pain or emotional pain?” I sensed that most of the answers came from places of deep pain and overwhelmingly agreed that emotional pain is worse.

I would agree.

We can wear smiles and seem happy to people looking at us on the outside, but we are the only ones besides God who knows what is going on inside of us.

I read a comment today in a book on trust that said in essence that when we meet Jesus, he will not be looking at us for our accomplishments but for our scars. We are all deeply wounded at some level in our souls. That’s why Jesus came. To heal those wounds.

Which brings me to verses I want to share with you this week – verses that reflect hope. God’s love and our hope in Him go hand in hand. If not for His great love, where would be our hope? If His nail-scarred hands are not a sign of His love, what is?
Hope can be a fragile or sturdy thing, partly because we have to know where we are placing that hope. If I hope without reason, blindly believing all will turn out okay in the end, that is not the same as hope with certainty. Trust in God is assurance of what we hope for, it is evidence for what is real but unseen.

MI Sky verseDo you have that kind of hope? Can you say with certainty, that despite what may come, you know God can be trusted? That He is worthy of our hope because He loves us more than we can fathom?

Sometimes in our broken world it is hard to see God’s love. Randy and I were discussing that tonight and I will admit, there are no easy answers to how evil and suffering and God’s love all somehow fit together. Job experienced all of these things, and in the end, he still clung to hope in his Creator, the Almighty God because he admitted that God was way beyond his understanding.

And yet he knew that one day he would see God and that his Redeemer would stand on the earth. And this was hundreds of years before Jesus came.

Truth has no timetable. God’s love and purpose is the same as it has always been. We cry out today for understanding the same way the Psalmists did long ago.

And maybe we will be granted eyes to see and know. And maybe we won’t. But we can do as the ancients did who trusted the Lord. We can hang onto hope. Because whether we understand Him or not in our finite ability to grasp truth, if we have been to the dark places with Him, we know – we KNOW – God can be trusted.

Never stop hoping.
Selah~
‪#‎liveloveprayhope‬ ‪#‎ourhopeisingod‬ ‪#‎evidenceofthingshopedfor‬ ‪#‎neverlosehope

by jill at 10:46 am in

June 2016 Christian Fiction Releases

June 6, 2016

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

Sweet Dreams by Cecelia Dowdy — A single mom trying to distance herself and her two year old daughter from their dysfunctional family is torn when she falls for a grieving baker dealing with his own family struggles. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

In Love and War by Miralee Ferrell, Kimberly Rose Johnson, Debby Mayne, and Trish Perry — In this collection, four couples have to decide whether to fight or find love. A gift shop clerk at a fancy resort fights to redeem her reputation with her high-school crush turned new boss. To save her fledgling business, a landscape artist competes in a design competition against two handsome men–her ex- fiancé and her one-time best friend. An ad agent disapproves of the new playboy working at her Washington, D.C. agency, until they’re forced to work together on a campaign and she finds herself falling for him. A man starts a new restaurant in the town where his childhood sweetheart owns a diner, and the sparks that fly aren’t just competitive ones.

Sea Rose Lane by Irene Hannon — After a devastating layoff, attorney Eric Nash heads back to the town where he grew up–only to discover that his childhood home is being transformed into a bed & breakfast. Instead of plotting his next career move in peace, he’s constantly distracted by noise, chaos–and BJ Stevens, the attractive but prickly blonde architect and construction chief who’s invaded the house with her motley crew. As for BJ, her client’s son might be handsome, but after a disastrous romance, dating isn’t high on her agenda. Yet when they join forces to create a program for Hope Harbor seniors, might they also find healing, hope, and a new beginning themselves? (Contemporary Romance from Revell [Baker])

A Love to Treasure by Kimberly Rose Johnson — While on vacation an amateur sleuth follows left by her deceased grandmother, and ends up working with a local police officer to solve several mysterious burglaries. (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

Almost Like Being in Love by Beth K. Vogt — Caron Hollister goes on vacation to Colorado and ends up working as a home stager for her ex-boyfriend, a realtor participating in the Colorado Springs Tour of Homes. But she can’t let herself fall for him when she’s already won an all-expenses paid destination wedding for her and her current boyfriend—who hasn’t proposed to her yet. (Contemporary Romance from Howard [Simon & Schuster])

General Fiction:

Sapphire Secrets by Dawn V. Cahill — Twins Livy and DeeDee McCreary open a dance studio in honor of their late mother, whom they lost when they were six. Problem is, Livy remembers nothing of the day her mother died. The more she questions her family about that awful day, the more she suspects she’s been lied to all her life. While she’s seeking answers to what really happened, she keeps crossing paths with handsome engineer Scott Lorenzo, who compels her to question the New Age philosophy she was raised on. What if there is a personal God out there who cares about her? Before Livy can discover answers, a brutal accident interrupts her search. Can she find the strength to keep on with her quest, even if it means losing the two people dearest to her–her twin, and the man she loves? (General, Independently Published)

Close to Home by Deborah Raney — Bree Cordel Whitman is a Whitman by marriage, but sometimes she forgets she wasn’t born into Grant and Audrey’s family. Her late husband, Timothy Whitman, gave his life for his country on a windblown hill in Afghanistan. Bree has let the love of Tim’s family keep her ties to him strong–in the same way she keeps Tim’s memory alive for them. But it’s been almost five years, and she can’t hang onto the past forever. Fighting the guilt she feels for wanting to love again, she can’t help her dreams about a tall, dark, and handsome man–a man who is not her Tim. How can she accept the flirtations from Drew Brooks without throwing the Whitman family back into grieving? And how can Drew compete with the ghost of a hero and the hero’s very alive family who seem to hold some spell over the woman who shares their name . . . a woman he might just love? (General from Abingdon Press)

Historical Literary:

Like a River from Its Course by Kelli Stuart — An epic novel exposing the ugliness of war and the beauty of hope through the eyes of four people. Maria Ivanovna is only fourteen when the bombing begins and not much older when she is forced into work at a German labor camp. She must fight to survive and to make her way back to her beloved Ukraine. Ivan Kyrilovich is falsely mistaken for a Jew and lined up with 34,000 other men, women, and children who are to be shot at the edge of Babi Yar, the “killing ditch.” He survives, but not without devastating consequences. Luda is sixteen when German soldiers attack her. Now pregnant with the child of the enemy, she is abandoned by her father, alone, and in pain. She must learn to trust family and friends again and find her own strength in order to discover the redemption that awaits. Frederick Hermann is sure in his knowledge that the Führer’s plans for domination are right and just. He is driven to succeed by a desire to please a demanding father and by his own blind faith in the ideals of Nazism. (Historical Literary from Kregel Publications)

Historical Romance:

A Nanny for Keeps by Janet Lee Barton — With no teaching positions open, Georgia Marshall agrees to become the temporary nanny for the two little girls next door. She soon becomes enamored of the precocious children and their distant widowed father, but the nobleman is out of her reach. Tyler Walker swore he’d never again give his heart away. He refuses to allow this arrangement with the pretty teacher to become permanent…no matter how much he wants Georgia by his side–forever. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The 12 Brides of Summer Collection by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, Margaret Brownley, Amanda Cabot, Mary Connealy, Susan Page Davis, Miralee Ferrell, Pam Hillman, Maureen Lang, Amy Lillard, Vickie McDonough, Davalynn Spencer, and Michelle Ule — Meet 12 adventurous Victorian era women–a beekeeper who is afraid of bees, a music teacher whose dog has dug up a treasure, a baker who enters a faux courtship, and six more–along with the men they encounter while making summertime memories. Will these loves sown during summer be strengthened by faith and able to endure a lifetime? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Ringmaster’s Wife by Kristy Cambron — Lady Rosamund Easling boards a ship to America as a last adventure before her arranged marriage. There, the twenties are roaring, and the rich and famous gather at opulent, Gatsby-esque parties. The Jazz Age has arrived, and with it, the golden era of the American circus, whose queen is none other than the enigmatic Mable Ringling. When Rosamund’s path crosses with Mable’s and the Ringlings’ glittering world, she makes the life-altering decision to leave behind a comfortable future of estates and propriety, choosing instead the nomadic life of a trick rider in the Ringling Brothers’ circus. (Historical Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])

Saving the Marquise’s Granddaughter by Carrie Fancett Pagels — After her Huguenot father is arrested, aristocrat Suzanne Richelieu escapes Versailles. Handsome German peasant, Johan Rousch, risks his life to bring her to the safety of his family’s farm in the Palatinate duchy, but when Suzanne’s brother and the French army arrive with a warning that they plan to burn the area, she and Johan are forced to flee. With no money or options, both become indentured servants in exchange for safe passage to Philadelphia. Suzanne falls gravely ill aboard ship and marries Johan, only to survive with no memory of the wedding–a reality made worse when Johan spots the “priest” who married them working as a surveyor and later in Quaker cleric garb. Are their wedding vows valid? When Suzanne’s former fiancé arrives in port, planning to abduct her, Johan must save her again-but can he do so before Suzanne is lost to him forever? (Historical Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

Young Adult:

No Pizza Delivery? by Grace Marshall — Ruth Deloach’s world is sent spinning when she finds out she is going to be ripped from America’s Dairyland to live in the embarrassingly small tourist town of Sainte Genevieve, Missouri. The blow is slightly lessened by the news that her father wants to start a horse ranch, but how enjoyable will it really be to live where there is no pizza delivery and a revolving door to the public? A public with a different idea of how things are done and said. To add embarrassment to her frustration she finds she knows less about horses than she presumed. Maybe the handsome ranch hand her father hires can brighten things up, then again, maybe not. (Young Adult, Independently Published)

by jill at 8:45 pm in

The faith you carry now

May 23, 2016

290803_TheProphetessSmith_posts4One of my favorite passages of Scripture is 1 Corinthians 13. The whole chapter covers the subject of love, but verses 4-7 describe it in detail. I memorized this in my teens in the Living Bible paraphrase and it is still one of my favorite wordings:

Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong. It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out. If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.

So – in the quote above – what does forgetting any doubt have to do with love? Or the faith you carry now? Faith is seen in always believing the best of the one you love. Forgetting the past is written between the lines where it says, “will hardly even notice when others do it wrong.” Other versions say that love “keeps no record of wrongs.” (Remember that this is a description of God’s love for us. When we show love’s characteristics, we are showing the world what God’s love looks like.)

Right now I’m keeping a food journal – a record of what I eat each day. I’m not doing this to lose weight, though that would be a nice benefit if it happens. I’m doing this to make sure I stick to the diet that might help me find what foods my body is reacting to. Trust me when I say that forgetting about chocolate or black tea is NOT easy! I miss these friends and it’s only been a few days since we parted ways. But right now it is a good thing for me to forget them (and many other things) in order to perhaps, hopefully heal my body.

In a similar way if we were to keep a gratitude journal or a record of things gone right instead of things gone wrong, we would find it a lot easier to let go of grudges. We wouldn’t harbor envy or jealousy or feel superior to others when things are going our way. We would not grow irritated and impatient and would meet meanness with kindness. We would forget the things that are behind, the things done against us in the past. We would forget our own foolish errors in judgment. We could bring our sins to God and let Him put them behind Him.

Did you know that He puts our sins so far apart that they can never meet again? As east never meets west, so far has He removed our transgressions against Him. If we ask Him to.

God is in the business of forgetting because He longs for reconciliation. We talk about love, but He is love. We cannot have true love apart from God because God is love’s source. And love seeks to forgive and forget and move on to do the things He made for us to do.

He has placed us in this time. Our one life here has a valuable purpose. But we aren’t going to discover that purpose unless we trust Him to show us how. Faith works itself out in love. Love is patient and kind and unlike my food journal, doesn’t keep a written account of things done against us. That’s not to say that we can never journal our hurts, but we’re not supposed to keep the record as an accusatory statement against someone. Write it down to let it go. And sometimes it’s a good idea to shred the record in that final act of forgiveness. To help us forget the past and let faith and love carry us on to do the next thing God puts in our path.

That was part of how I imagined Deborah encouraging Barak before the coming war with the terrorists in their land, because Deborah knew Barak was going to need all the faith and trust in God he possessed to win the day. He needed to forget his past failures and terrible hurts. He had to be willing to let faith carry him. 

May that same faith carry you tonight. Be blessed.

Selah~

#theprophetess #livelovepray

Above all – guard your heart

May 22, 2016

Guard Heart verse and picOn our latest trip to Oregon we went to the Columbia Gorge and walked up and down the trails to see different waterfalls. There is something refreshing about water, isn’t there? Whether we are drinking it in or watching it wind its way through lush forest or fall from the heights of a cliff, water gives the feeling of life.

And in that scenario, it makes perfect sense for Solomon to equate our hearts to a wellspring. From the well, people drew water to let them live, but in that day, wells needed guarding. If you go back to Abraham’s time, he dug many wells – at least one of which was stolen from him. By the time Isaac came along, the Philistines had filled in more of the wells and stopped their use.

So Isaac dug new wells and herders from another culture or town argued with him about the wells, so Isaac moved on again and kept digging until he finally found water that he could claim as his. God had made a place for him. You can bet Isaac probably guarded those final wells, to keep them safe for his flocks.

IMG_7399In the same way, Solomon is saying, “guard your heart” – don’t let it be stopped up or argued over. Your heart is yours and it belongs to the one you give it to. God longs to fill our hearts with Himself, with His love, but even then, if we aren’t careful, aren’t aware of deceit and lies, we can be taken captive by wily people, by a wily enemy.

So God tells us to guard our hearts as though they were springs of living water. (My paraphrase.) Our hearts are the wellspring of life. As water is life to our bodies, so our hearts are life to our souls.

So how do we guard our hearts? Put watchmen around them as though we were guarding an ancient well? Or perhaps better yet, keep in touch with the One who made our hearts and trust Him to keep watch over them. Go to Him with our questions. Be skeptical when we hear things that go against what we know deep down is true.

Our enemy, like many people in this world, is a deceiver. And trust me, it is very easy to get caught up in his lies. We are not immune even as believers in Jesus. We must guard what God has entrusted to us. Our faith. Our hope. Our trust. Our hearts.

Selah~

by jill at 5:09 pm in ,