Articles for Encouragement

Instead of Fear, Choose Faith in God’s Promises

This is a picture of the Bible with a crown of thorns making a shadow of a heart symbolizing God's promises.

Fear is natural, and in many cases, it’s a good thing. As children, we were taught to fear hot stoves and the middle of the street for our own good. But while fear can be a motivating factor to be careful and wise in our dealings, it can also cause torment if we allow it to dwell. Scientist Karl Albrecht Ph.D. tells us that there are five basic fears from which all others emanate. These are universal to all humans, and they go hand in hand with our basic needs. But while our flesh might be prone to react to certain information with distress, the Bible tells us over a hundred times not to fear. Instead, God assures us that He will take care of us, be with us, and guide us if we will just live in right relationship with Him. Instead of fear, we can choose faith in God’s promises instead.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

Psalm 27:1

Here are the five kinds of fears and God’s promises that speak to them. Keep this list handy and pray these scriptures in belief.

1. Fear of Physical Damage or Pain

Pain, by definition, hurts. It’s an unpleasant sensation that lets us know that something is wrong so that we can fix it before more damage is done. We all want to be healthy and whole. We want all of our physical needs met like food, water, shelter, and sleep. But when one or more of these needs are threatened, whether real or imagined, this can cause fear.

Fear of Not Having Enough

God knows we have physical needs. He didn’t drag the people of Israel out of Egypt to let them starve in the desert. He supplied them with food from the sky and water from a rock. His presence went with them to guide them on their journey. He made a way when there was no way for them, and He hasn’t changed in His ability or willingness to take care of His people. Psalm 37:25 says “I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread.” When we look at our lives, we can see that He has always provided for us in the past. We can trust the same from Him in the future.

MATTHEW 6:31-33 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear? For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

MATTHEW 7:9-11Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”

PHILIPPIANS 4:6-7 “Be anxious for nothing, 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 minds through Christ Jesus.”

MARK 11:24  – “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

PHILIPPIANS 4:19 – “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

Fear of Sickness or Fatigue

Being a child of God doesn’t mean that we will never get sick. Sometimes we will be kept from illness, but other times God will use it for His own purposes. Romans 8:28 tells us that “And we know that all things work together for the good to those who love God and to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Maybe illness is what is necessary to get us into the presence of those who need to be told about salvation. Maybe going through pain is how we will be humbled enough to understand and comfort others in their trials. Or, maybe He will heal us for His glory. In any case, whether He keeps us from it or is with us through it, no pain is wasted with God.

PSALM 91:10-12 – “No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.”

2 CORINTHIANS 1:3-4 – “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

JAMES 5:14-15 – “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”

ISAIAH 40:29 – “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.”

ISAIAH 40:31 – “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

2. Fear of Death

Fear of Physical Death

Life is precious. It’s a basic instinct in all of us to act in our own best interest to preserve ourselves and the lives of others. This fear keeps us from risky behavior, but it can also cause terrible stress and strain when we feel that our physical safety is threatened. Of course, trusting in God doesn’t mean that we will never die. Job 13:15 says, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him….” It just means that God will not allow us to be taken out before HE chooses the time for us to go. Men and even the devil have no power over us while God still has a purpose for us on earth.

PSALM 56:11 “In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”

ISAIAH 54:17 – “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me,” says the Lord.

PSALM 5:11 – “But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You.”

Fear of Losing Salvation

As Christians, we know death is not the end. To be absent with the body is to be present with the Lord. But, when the devil can’t make us fear losing this life, he can try to make us fear going into the next. The fear of eternal death or losing our salvation is a favorite ploy of the enemy to cause mistrust in God. Yes, we must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling and do our best to listen to God and obey Him. But the idea that we are on the edge of hell with every thought or action is a lie from the pit. God is the author and the finisher of our faith. He promises to keep us if we will but hope to the end in Him.

JUDE 24 – “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.”

 PHILIPPIANS 1:6 –  “…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

1 JOHN 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

JOHN 14:3 – “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

JOHN 10:28And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”

PSALM 121:7-8 – “The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.”

 1 PETER 1:4“…to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.”

1 JOHN 2:25 And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life.”

3. Fear of Losing Control

Feeling helpless in any given situation can lead to fear. We don’t want to lose our freedom. Whether it’s a physical freedom to move around or a mental freedom to think and speak the way we see fit, we want the power to choose to act in ways that make a meaningful difference in our situations. In addition, having choices to make with unknown outcomes can bring fear and even panic into our hearts if we wallow in the “what-ifs” instead of bringing our troubles to God and asking for Him to guide us.

The key here is to understand who is in charge of our lives; either we are, or God is. There can only be one Captain of our ship. As Christians, we are simply not our own. We have been bought with a price, and God now calls the shots. We can have confidence that even when it feels like things are spiraling out of control, nothing surprises God. He hears us when we call, He guides us, and He will work on our behalf if we will but trust in Him.

PROVERBS 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

JAMES 4:7Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

JAMES 1:5 – If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

PSALM 34:17 – “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.”

PSALM 50:15 – “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”

PSALM 1:3 – “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.”

4. Fear of Separation

We all want to be loved and accepted. Fear comes when we consider the possibility that we will be rejected, unwanted, abandoned, or separated from those we love. We need connections to family and intimacy in love and friendship. One of the greatest fears that the devil tries to create in Christians is the fear that God will abandon us, that we will be left to face this life alone. But the devil is a liar. God will be with us and will even watch over our families for us.

ISAIAH 41:10 – “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

ISAIAH 41:13 – “For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’”

DEUTERONOMY 31:8 – “And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with youHe will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”

DEUTERONOMY 4:29 – “But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

JOSHUA 1:9 – “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

 PSALM 23:4 – “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

ISAIAH 49:25 – “Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible be delivered; forI will contend with him who contends with you, and I will save your children.”

5. Fear of Disapproval

Our identity as a person matters. We all want to be thought of as lovable, capable, and worthy. When faced with humiliation and shame, our sense of self is threatened. For Christians, we want to feel that we matter to God’s work and to God Himself. God goes to great lengths in His word to assure us that He loves us and values us as His precious children. Even if and when other people turn their backs on us, God never will.

MATTHEW 10:31 – “Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

JEREMIAH 29:11 – “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

PSALM 9:9-10 – “The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.  And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.

Fear is the Opposite of Faith

 “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”

1 John 4:18

God is a good Father who watches out for His children and wants what is best in every situation even if we don’t understand at the time. Someone once counted 3,573 of God’s promises in the Bible for His children. And, unlike people, when God says something, He means it. Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” 

Over and over again, the Bible tells us not to fear. God is with us and for us, and He is always in control. That doesn’t mean that as Christians we won’t experience pain and even death (at least the physical kind). But it does mean that God sees us and will answer when we call. In many cases God has and will deliver us from troubles. We are not our own, and we all have jobs to do for the kingdom. While He still has a use for us, He will keep us alive and safe. But even if He doesn’t, He will be with us to comfort us the whole time, and He will use every bit of pain and discomfort for our good and His glory. 

The remedy for fear is in understanding and trusting in the promises of God. God will take care of us, comfort us, keep us, fight for us, love us, and be with us no matter what happens to us in this life. We can trust God’s promises and choose faith instead of fear.

Check out this song by Addison Road. I have been listening to it all week, and it goes along perfectly with this blog: Hope Now.

If you like articles about God’s promises, try Standing on the Promises of God . It is about a situation at school that taught me to stand against the devil and praise God’s name. Or, try Three Simple Instructions from God to Us in which God shows me a lesson from Hebrews 3-4. Please make sure to subscribe via email in the upper right hand corner. Also, check out my YouTube channel in which I read the blogs out loud. I also have a playlist of hymns from my church.

Articles for Encouragement

A Message of Hope in a Time of Great Trial

This week, like I often do, I was asking God to speak to me. He does that once in a while, and it thrills me every time. Sometimes I will get a word or phrase that will turn out to be what the pastor is preaching that Sunday morning. Sometimes, it’s a message that will show up in my Bible passage later that day. And sometimes it’s a dream that brings encouragement or correction. This time was different, though. I woke up Wednesday morning in the middle of night to use the bathroom, and I again asked God to speak to me. When I got back into bed, four words popped into my head. I immediately recognized them as the title and chorus to a rock song from the 1970’s. After looking at the lyrics, I believe that God was giving me a message of hope for His children during a time of great judgement and trial.

The words were “Ridin’ the Storm Out,” and the song was published by REO Speedwagon in 1973. Before I looked up the song, those were the only four words I actually knew. I hadn’t heard the song itself for probably well over twenty years. The story behind the song was that the band was touring in Colorado when they decided to play a trick on their manager by pretending to get lost. It started snowing really hard, and they ended up getting lost for real in the Rocky Mountains. It turned into a dangerous situation in which they had to ride out the storm.

When I looked at the lyrics, a few things jumped out at me right away as symbols. The rest came little by little and piece by piece as I prayed about it this week.

“Ridin’ the storm out, waitin’ for the thaw out On a full moon night in the Rocky Mountain winter”

The Rocky Mountains are at a higher altitude than the cities nearby. With deep snow and high winds, the weather can get dangerous very quickly. I thought of this as the Christian life. We are closer to God, but as such we not only fight the regular storms and trials of life in a fallen world, but we are battle our flesh and specific attacks of the enemy. We are all waiting for the day when Jesus will come back to fully vanquish the devil and all his storms. A full moon is just a reflection of the sun. As Christians, we reflect the Son of God. We are lights in a dark world.

“My wine bottle’s low, watching for the snow”

Wine symbolizes a few things in the Bible. The first thing that comes to mind is the “new wine” that is the symbol of the New Covenant with Jesus. But wine has another meaning as well. It is paired with judgement and God’s wrath in Jeremiah 25:15 where it says, “For thus says the Lord God of Israel to me: ‘Take this wine cup of fury from My hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send you, to drink it.'” I believe this is speaking of a time in which will God pour out His judgement on nations. As Christians, we are already looking for it because the watchmen have been warning us for a long time that it is coming. Many countries, especially America, will be judged for turning their backs on God.

“Thinkin’ about what I’ve been missin’ in the city And I’m not missin’ a thing”

The city represents the world. The storms don’t hit the city as hard as in the mountains. For some people without Christ, they have easy lives and only have to think of themselves and their own needs. But as Christians, we constantly fight the flesh, bringing every thought into subjection. We are striving to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. We also fight the enemy who wants to wear us out and cause us to stumble.

Once we are saved out of the world, we are not to turn back. We are not to be envious of those who seem to “get away with” doing things the easy way. Also, during a time of judgement, some of the old comforts of life will be taken from us to achieve God’s purposes. We are not to spend our time wishing for those days to return but we are to be about our Father’s business.

“Watchin’ the full moon crossing the range Ridin’ the storm out Ridin’ the storm out”

God is our refuge and our fortress. When storms blow in, He is our shelter. He will be with us in times of trouble no matter where we go. But there will be an end to the storms, and those who endure to the end shall be saved. It’s just a matter of riding out the tough times until the end.

“My lady’s beside me, she’s there to guide me She says that alone we’ve finally found home”

These were the first lines to jump out at me as symbols. I immediately thought of the Holy Spirit who guides the children of God. This thought brings great comfort to me as I reflect on the idea that He is always with me, guiding me, even when I don’t realize it. While we are here on earth, we have a constant companion and Comforter, a little taste of what forever will be like when we get to our true home with Jesus.

“The wind outside is frightening”

Life can get tough, and when judgement does hit in is fullness, we could see some very frightening things. Wind can be noisy. It can knock things over and make the doors and windows rattle. But inside the comfort of a mountain cabin, the wind can do little more than make you shiver with gratitude that you are inside and warm. When we are under God’s feathers, we have the ultimate comfort in knowing that He is in control, and nothing happens without His permission. All things work toward the good of those who love the Lord and are the called according to His purpose. We might go through some terrible things, but God has a plan, and we will never be alone.

“But it’s kinder than the lightning life in the city”

Whatever we see and experience as children of God, it will always be better than living a life without Him. Here, that life is empty and characterized by vanity. In eternity, for the soul without Jesus, there is only eternal pain.

“It’s a hard life to live but it gives back what you give.”

This last line really stuck with me. The gate is narrow and the way is difficult that leads to life. During a time of judgement and maybe even persecution, we aren’t only going to be able to think of ourselves and our own needs – or even those of just our immediate family. We will need to be listening for God’s voice and doing His will during a time when people will be scared and looking for answers. We will all be held responsible for what we do with our time here on earth and rewarded for all the works that stand in eternity.

Putting It All Together

If you follow biblical precedent at all, you know that many countries, including America, are due for some very hard times as God pours out judgement on nations that have forgotten Him and His ways. But there is, here, a message of hope in that judgement. God will always be with His children, and He will guide us when we keep our eyes focused on Him. We must obey His voice even when things get tough, but with His help, we will all be able to ride out the storms until Jesus calls us home.

If you are in a storm right now, here is a gospel song that might help. It’s called “Ride Out Your Storm, Turn to Jesus.” It has a similar message of hope for better days with an assurance that Jesus is with you in hard times.

If you like analogies, try It’s Not the Machine That Makes Us Clean. It compares aspects of the Christian life to a dishwasher. Or, try Three Reasons We Can’t Stop Trying to Save the Lost. It’s an analogy of the Parable of the Starfish.

Like to read more from Evangelical Christian sisters who “tell it messy, true, and wonderful because we are His”? Check out Telling Hearts.

Articles for Encouragement

Standing on the Promises of God

This is the view from my desk in my classroom.
The view from my desk.

Just ask anybody: spiritual warfare is intensifying. The devil knows his time is short, and he is seeking to wear out the saints. Now, we know that greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world. We know that. But when an attack comes at us full force, it can help to have a plan of action ready to go. An incident I had this week in my classroom involving disappearing and moving objects taught me the very best way to combat the worry, stress, and confusion the devil tries to bring: standing on the promises of God.

I teach in a public high school. At the beginning of the school year, I consecrated my classroom to the Lord. I asked for His protection and peace. And, I took a stand against any enemy spirits that might have wandered in over the summer with the various cleaning crews that came and went. As a general practice, I pray over my classroom often. Any time there is any kind of incident or strife in my classroom, I anoint again with oil. 

Disappearing and Moving Papers

The incident happened on a regular Thursday during the last block of the day. I had two kids come in to make up a test for me while my regular eighth-period was having class. I have two versions of the test, one green and one blue. The girl finished her green test, and I grabbed the answer keys out of the drawer where I keep them. At first I started to use the blue one, but I realized her test was green, so I put the blue one back in my drawer. I graded her test and put it into the gradebook. I thought I put the green key in the drawer with the blue one. A few minutes later, the boy finished his blue test, so I went to grab the key out of the drawer. The drawer was empty. Neither key was inside.

I started looking everywhere. As a teacher with lots of papers and a lifestyle of constant multi-tasking, sometimes I stack papers and put them in places they shouldn’t be. I looked in all my drawers as well as the drawers for the graded work where I put the tests when I’m done grading them. No keys. Frustrated but still thinking there was a rational explanation, I contacted another teacher on my team and asked to use her keys to make new ones. She brought them over, and I hole punched a new set. All the while, I was alternating playing the audio book for the novel we are reading and discussing it with the kids in my eighth-period. 

I used my friend’s key to grade the boy’s blue test. Then I put her two keys in that same top drawer where I always keep my keys. I put my new ones on top (I still had to finish taping them.) Later, I went to get my friend’s keys out, and they were NOT in the drawer. I started my search of drawers once again. I found them in the drawer below along with another, smaller key that had been “floating” in my top drawer. Needless to say I was quite freaked out. Either I was losing track of my actions, or something or someone was messing with me. I was standing there the whole time. No kid could have snagged the keys from my desk, much less moved them from desk drawer to desk drawer. Something was going on.

Searching for Answers But Finding More Questions

I spent the whole drive home praying and asking God to show me what He wanted me to see. After all, nothing happens to His children without His say-so. Did I have an open door that needed to be addressed? Was He trying to teach me a lesson? Did my run-in with the mouthy girl during fifth-period allow permission for the enemy to attack me? Were her words of anger when she realized I called her parents somehow responsible, either directly or indirectly?

I didn’t get any answers on the drive. When I got home, I went to get into my pajamas like I always do, and I noticed that the two or three lights left in the chandelier in my bedroom were out. The room was completely dark. I didn’t think anything about it until I went to my bathroom and saw that two of the four lights in my bathroom were out as well. Now the darkness felt coordinated.

Requesting Prayer

So I put out some requests for advice and prayer. First, I talked to my pastor and his wife. They assured me that the missing keys problem was probably just a mistake in stacking that the enemy was using to cause confusion, self-doubt, and distress. They acknowledged the lights were probably a direct attack and prayed for me to have peace and protection. I also talked to several close Christian friends online who have had supernatural experiences involving objects being moved and removed. 

A brother in Christ told me about a mutual friend and sister in Christ who was having trouble with objects being taken out of other children’s backpacks and being placed into her daughter’s bag (to frame her for stealing). A sister told me about a time when she went to turn the light on in the basement, but it was out. On closer inspection, the bulbs were laying on the ground, fully intact, directly below the fixture. She had been alone in the house at the time. Another sister told me about a recent incident that involved brain fog and flickering lights. Both of them stopped after a warfare prayer.

The Solution Was to Stand

In any case, no matter if some entity had moved my papers or simply used mis-stacked papers to upset me, the burned bulbs and the feeling of confusion, stress, and worry pointed to a real attack. So, when I got to my prayer closet that night, I had a heartfelt talk with God. I told Him that I knew that I was His child and that I have authority over entities that would seek to torment me.

The Bible says that I don’t have to fear because He is with me, and I believe that He will strengthen me and uphold me with His righteous right hand. I trust Him to be my protection, and I was going to stand on those promises. I played the song “Standing on the Promises of God” and then read my passages in the Old and New Testaments right at my bookmarks like I always do. 

After I finished, I had the idea to read Psalm 37. There were the words from my prayer: “Trust in the Lord…does not forsake His saints…They are preserved forever, But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in the time of trouble. And the Lord shall help them and deliver them; He shall deliver them from the wicked, And save them, Because they trust in Him.” I fully believe that God uses His Word to speak to us just at the right time. I was encouraged and relieved. He had heard my prayer and confirmed my thoughts were from Him. Whatever had happened, He was in charge and on top of the whole situation.

He is With Us in Our Praise

Then a song popped into my mind to play before I left my closet. It’s my new favorite song and a song that praises and thanks God. “When I Think About the Lord” has the most amazing chorus: “Hallelujah, thank you Jesus. Lord You’re worthy of all the glory and all the honor, and all the praise. It makes me want to shout!” The Bible says that the Lord inhabits the praises of His people. When I worshipped the Lord, I could feel His presence with me. As I went to bed, I was not afraid, and I slept soundly until the next day. That next morning, I spent a few minutes re-sanctifying my classroom, and I had a super day.

Warfare is bound to happen, and as we get closer and closer to Jesus’ return, it will more than likely increase in scope and frequency. But when those attacks come, whether physical or mental, we must remember our position in Christ. The enemy is more powerful than we are, but he is nothing in the face of our God. So the next time you are under attack, remember to take authority in Jesus’ name, praise Him with your whole heart, and keep standing on the promises of God..

Check Out These Other Posts

If you like articles about spiritual warfare, try Spiritual Warfare: A Defeated Foe  in which God gives me a visual about the devil’s eventual demise. If you like more stories about school, try God Knows Even When You Don’t — So Pray in which prayers take care of a graffiti problem on campus.

Or, Check out my YouTube Channel where I will read all my posts to you while you do something else.

Articles for Encouragement

God Knows Even When You Don’t – So Pray!

Three public restroom stalls with green writing that says "Jesus Loves You" represents the place I prayed a prayer for a stranger only God knows.

As Christians, we pray every day. We just do. We pray for ourselves, our families, and our fellow Christians, as well as a variety of other people and situations that present themselves in our lives each day. God knows us and guides us, many times by those very prayers. So, when something happened at the school where I teach a couple of weeks ago that made me feel helpless in and of myself, I did the only thing I knew to do. I prayed. And that prayer made a difference for a stranger I may never know beyond the name I gave to her when I spoke to God: “Green Marker Girl.”

Disturbing Messages

I teach in a public high school in the DFW area. The school is well run, and the problems that come up on campus are dealt with swiftly in order to stop a snowball effect that can and does happen when discipline is ignored in schools. Restrooms are cleaned regularly, and stalls have always been kept pristine – until two weeks ago. It started with one stall in the girls’ restroom in my hall. The words were disgusting and written in green marker on the door of the stall I usually use. The next time I came in and used a different one, I noticed the same green writing. There was another dirty message about sexual activities done to a certain boy on campus. 

I called down to the office and left a message for the school secretary to have someone come upstairs and clean the walls. The four letter word used is pretty common to teens, but some of the other words this girl was writing might be “educating” some of the young freshmen who also use the facilities. The secretary was out, though, so nothing was done. By the next day, every stall I went into had green writing. After school, I talked to the night janitor myself. I specifically asked him to clean the stalls, and he did. 

No End in Sight

For a few hours the next day, the walls were clean and perfect once again. And then they weren’t. Green Marker Girl had struck again. This time, the writing came with smears of bodily fluids and messages of activities done there producing said mess. I was disgusted and distraught. Cleaning the stalls didn’t work. Cameras are not allowed inside the restrooms for good reason, and the cameras in the hall itself wouldn’t help catch someone who could come in with the marker hidden in a purse or backpack. There was really no way to stop this girl from writing on every stall, every day.

And then I thought a little more about Green Marker Girl herself. What must this girl’s life be like that she felt the need to do this? What demons must she have to prompt her to act out in a way that was so beyond normal behavior even for troubled teens? I had no idea who she was or even how to help, but God knows. So I prayed for her.

Prayers Make The Difference

I prayed for her to feel conviction, that God would impress upon her how wrong it was for her to be putting messages where other girls could be tainted by perversion. I also prayed that God would allow her to feel His love and peace, that she would know and understand that God loved her. Even if her situation was rough, I prayed she would think to turn to Him for comfort instead of acting out in such a way. Every time I came into the restroom, I would think of her and pray. The janitor cleaned the writing again that night. And then the writing stopped.

The stalls in my hall’s restroom have been graffiti-free this whole past week, but my prayers have continued. I keep praying for Green Marker Girl to know and feel the love of Jesus and for God to send people into her life to lead her closer to Him. I even pray that one day I might meet her as a sister in Christ in eternity.

We Are Never Helpless

Psalm 121 says that we should lift our eyes and look to the Lord for our help. He is the Maker of heaven and earth, and He is also actively involved in our lives. My personal prayer each and every day I walk into the school is for God to see me as one of His “guys on the ground” on my campus. Just like in Acts 18:10 when God told Paul that He had “many people in the city,” God knows where His people are, and I want Him to consider using me when He sees a need at my school. I want Him to send people and situations my way so I that can help others and bring glory to Him. 

We don’t have to know all the details in a given situation. Names are not important to a God who knows everything. We just have to pray to be in the right place at the right time for God to use us and to keep lifting people up to Him. We are never helpless. He is our help. And He can and does move on behalf of our prayers.

Interested in more articles about prayer? Check out Make God’s Will My Will: A New Way to Pray. It’s a “God wink” story that teaches a new way to pray to get what you want. Or, see God Answered the Prayer I Did Not Pray. In it, God teaches me a lesson about leaning on Him for strength.

Like to read more from Evangelical Christian sisters who “tell it messy, true, and wonderful because we are His”? Check out Telling Hearts.

Articles for Encouragement

Three Simple Instructions From God to Us

Three check marks indicating the 3 instructions from God in Hebrews 3-4: Listen, Obey, and Trust.

I don’t know about you, but I like things simple, and I love the bottom line. Recently, I was pondering the boundaries between Christ’s finished work on the cross and my own personal responsibility as a believer. After all, we can’t just get saved and then put our feet up on the couch and watch Netflix. There are some things that God requires us to do in order to show our faith and endure to the end, but what? The Bible holds instructions from God to us. In it, He reveals His will for our lives.

I believe God boiled this particular issue down for me into three clear steps when I was reading Hebrews 3-4 one night in my prayer closet, and this comforts me immensely. Life is complicated, but as hard as things get sometimes and as weak as I can be, if I can just follow these three instructions from God I will know that I’m doing His will. All we really need to do is to listen, obey, and trust. 

We Must Listen

Paul begins Hebrews 3 by addressing the brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling. True, he is talking to Hebrew believers of that time, but he’s also talking to you and me. He tells us what the Holy Spirit says. It starts with “Today, if we will hear His voice.” God’s sheep hear His voice. That’s the mark of a child of God. When we hear Him speak to us, we know we are His. But as anyone who is a parent knows, it’s not enough that our children hear us speak to them. We want them to listen to what we are saying and understand the message behind the words. As God’s children, we must be sensitive to the times when He talks to us. We must be diligent to pray until we understand clearly what He is saying and follow the instructions from God

We Must Obey

Next, the Holy Spirit draws a parallel between the exodus of ancient Israel and now. He says, “Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways.’” Moses took the children of Israel out of Egypt and into the wilderness. Jesus Christ took us out of Satan’s kingdom and into His own. While on earth, we are basically in the wilderness. This is our “day of trial” since we haven’t hit the Promised Land, or Heaven, just yet.

As partakers of the Holy Spirit, we are the temple of God on earth. He speaks to us, and we listen to Him. Then comes the hard part sometimes: we have to obey what He is telling us to do. Even when it’s inconvenient, even when it doesn’t fit with our idea of what should be happening in our lives, and even when we just flat out don’t want to do it, we must be open and willing to obey God simply because God knows best. Otherwise, the consequence is a hardening of our hearts. We will be less able to hear Him the next time and further away from the path where we need to be.

We Must Trust

The last part of the Holy Spirit’s message is scary. “So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’” The vast majority of children of Israel never entered the Promised Land because they didn’t trust in God to supply their needs. They took one look at the giants inhabiting the land of Canaan and decided that the wilderness wasn’t such a bad place to be after all. Only Joshua and Caleb, the two who believed God would give them the victory, were alive to see the day when God would lead their children into the land flowing with milk and honey. The rest perished in the wilderness in judgement for their unbelief.

Our belief is now the very thing that will get us to our Promised Land, an eternity with our Lord and Savior. We must have faith in His finished work on the cross, His blood shed for us and our transgressions. But we can’t just trust that He saved us. We also have to trust that He will supply our needs in our wilderness here on earth. He provides for His own, and we are commanded to cast our cares upon Him for He cares for us. That faith and trust in Him then becomes a resting of sorts.

Hebrews 4:11 says “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.” Diligence is careful and persistent effort. It takes some doing to consistently redirect our thoughts away from ourselves and our problems and onto the one who holds our lives in His hands. We rest IN Him now, and one day we will rest WITH Him in eternity.

A Confirmation of the Lesson

While they aren’t always simple to achieve, those three little words are easy to remember. About a month after I believe God gave me this lesson, I found myself pondering yet again. This time, I was wondering about my “job” on earth. Was I doing enough for God? Was I making a big enough impact for the Kingdom? Am I pleasing to the Father? Then those three words popped into my mind again. So, I asked myself: “Was I following the instructions from God that He gave me?”

To the best of my ability, yes, I believe I was. A few minutes later, I opened my Bible app on my phone for my morning verses. There I was in Hebrews 3 again. God was confirming the lesson right on time just the way He often seems to do. God DOES speak to His children. And, when He does, we just need to listen to His voice, obey His instructions, and trust His provision for both our lives and our hereafter.

If you like to look at scripture, try Twinkly Trash: A Closer Look at Job . In it, we see a special lesson about what God thinks is true treasure. Like to read more from Evangelical Christian sisters who “tell it messy, true, and wonderful because we are His”? Check out Telling Hearts.

Articles for Encouragement

Hope For Lost Loved Ones: God’s Mercy in Trials

A sign of hope pointing forward and despair pointing behind. We can have hope for our lost loved ones when we trust in God's great mercy.

There is hope for lost loved ones when we understand God’s great mercy. Like most everyone in these last days, I have unsaved loved ones, friends, and acquaintances whom I pray for daily. Still, they remain hostile to the God and dead in their sins. They are blind to the bleak future ahead of them that we see all too clearly. For so many of them, I have been praying for so long. It was starting to feel like nothing was happening or would ever happen to change their stony hearts. Then one day I read the story of King Manasseh of Judah. I realized that all my loved ones needed was a “Manasseh moment,” and God’s great mercy would handle the rest.

King Manasseh’s Idolatry

King Manasseh of Judah was a wicked, idolatrous man. We find him in 2 Kings 21:1-18 and 2 Chronicles 33:1-19. He was the son of Hezekiah, one of the very few kings in the Old Testament who “did what was right in the sight of the Lord.” Manasseh knew better. Hezekiah was obedient to God. He tore down the high places where people sacrificed animals and even people to demon gods, but Manasseh built them up again. Instead of worshiping God, Manasseh erected altars for Baal and Ashtorah and served them. He put statues/carved images of them inside the temple Solomon had built to honor God. He even sacrificed his own son as a burnt offering to Molech, another demonic idol.

According to Jewish history, he also had the prophet Isaiah cut in two because he didn’t like what he prophesied from the Lord (as alluded to in Matthew 24:51). He also practiced witchcraft, consulted mediums to talk to the dead, and encouraged his people to do likewise. Manasseh “shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another.” God warned Manasseh and the people through His prophets, as He always does, but they didn’t listen. “So the Lord brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria. They took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon” (2 Chronicles 33:11).

He Repents In Times of Trial

“Bad king gets justice” might have been the moral of the story here, but God wasn’t finished with Manasseh just yet. This next part is what gives me such great hope for those I know and love. See, when Manasseh was in distress, when he had nothing left but leg irons and a hunk of floor in Babylon, he remembered God. He cried out to Him for favor, and humbled himself before the Lord. The Bible doesn’t record what was said in that prayer, saying only that it was “written in the book of the kings of Israel.” But, you can find it in the Apocrypha of the King James Bible or online with a quick search.

Scholars may debate the authenticity and quibble about phrases that are more metaphor than literally biblical, but it’s worth looking into if you have the time. Here are the phrases that speak to me. “But you offer me, the sinner, the chance to change my heart and life… In me you’ll show how kind You are. Although I’m not worthy, You’ll save me according to Your great mercy.” God offers chances, and He saves, not because we are worthy, but because He is merciful. That is why there is hope for our lost loved ones too.

God Restores His Life

God did save Manasseh, both his soul and his life. He gave him back his kingdom, and “Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God.” No empty confession, Manasseh’s words of humble repentance and submission to God went straight to his heart. His first order of business when he was back as king was taking down all the demonic altars and high places in Judah. He restored worship of God alone and told Judah to serve God. Unfortunately, Judah had some bad habits by then. The city would be judged again, but Manasseh himself had truly turned to God.

The final words of that apocryphal “Prayer of Manasseh” are these. “I will praise You continuously all the days of my life, because all of heaven’s forces praise You, and the glory is Yours forever and always. Amen.” His life had been changed forever. In a moment of affliction, he humbled himself before God, and God heard him and received him to Himself.

God Can Restore Our Lost Loved Ones Too

Only God knows if Judah’s sins of idolatry came anywhere close to that of the current day United States. What we do know is that God’s watchmen have been warning us for quite some time. Judgement is on its way. There will be a time of hardship. Starbucks may be closed, Netflix and Facebook may be offline, and food and water may become as valuable as gold. Our loved ones will be in distress. Now is the time to talk to your people about the Lord’s great compassion. Pray for them to have a “Manasseh moment,” a moment in time when they cry out to the Lord and humble themselves in genuine repentance to the Lord. The Bible shows us clearly that there is hope for lost loved ones. He hears and saves – not for them or even for us, but – because of His great kindness and mercy.

Interested in more articles about prayer? Check out Make God’s Will My Will: A New Way to Pray. It’s a “God wink” story that teaches a new way to pray to get what you want. 

Like to read more from Evangelical Christian sisters who “tell it messy, true, and wonderful because we are His”? Check out Telling Hearts.