Category: <span>thoughts by Marilyn Ehle</span>

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“(Jesus) withdrew to a region near the wilderness…where he stayed with his disciples”.  John 11:54

It was an unintended typographical error with unexpected meaning. In describing a daily period of prayer and Bible reading, the author meant to type “quiet time,” but a crucial letter in the first word was omitted. Quiet Time became Quit Time.

In our sound and activity-infested world, how often our moments with God become only another project on the day’s list, something to “check off” when completed. Into what should be hallowed space and time, we bring scattered thoughts, our personal directory of prayer requests, and the scheduled reading of chapters and verses. Instead of quitting the world around us (and thus becoming quiet), we have merely increased the activity, and perhaps given ourselves a false sense of having truly been with Jesus.

When opposition to His life and ministry was taking on the visible dimension of death, Jesus followed a well-established pattern: he withdrew from the chaos. He retreated into a place where He could be with His friends and sense the presence of His Father. Instead of facing his accusers before the appointed time, he quit. And became quiet.

Becoming quiet is not easy. It takes practice and discipline to repeatedly bow before the Lord. Thoughts of the day’s schedule creep—and sometimes barge—into the space where we are meeting with God. One friend said that instead of seeing such scattered thoughts as enemies (or evidence of spiritual immaturity), she allows them into her mind and lays them before God as prayer thoughts. Laundry is on the list? Thank God for the supply of soap and hot water and pray for those who have no water at all. The question of what shall be prepared for supper becomes gratitude for daily bread and petition for children who have no food.

With our practice and God’s grace, we find ourselves quitting our busy world and becoming quiet in His presence.

Lord, I desperately need to consistently quit the hectic schedule of my life and enter into your quietness. Thank you for your Holy Spirit who takes my weak desire and puny actions and transforms them into gifts to lay at your feet.

by Marilyn Ehle
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Jesus saw two boats … He got into one … they let down their nets … they caught such a large number of fish their nets began to break.”  Luke 5:1-11

What is it you are afraid to give God? Your career? children? business? finances?

Peter was fascinated by Jesus. Perhaps this was the long-awaited Messiah. He certainly taught with authority and performed miracles. But then one day Jesus stepped into one of Peter’s precious boats, the tools of his livelihood, symbols of his success in the community, means for providing for his family.

Not only did Jesus commandeer Peter’s boat, but He had the audacity to give Peter fishing advice: “Put out into deep water and let down the nets.” Peter responded just as we might have: “Jesus, I know you’re good at what you do, and I’m quite willing to follow you in religious ways, but after all I’m the expert at fishing.”

I’m sure Peter let out a sigh of resignation before saying, “But since you say so, I will let down the nets.”  What followed was a fisherman’s dream: a catch larger than anything Peter and his fisherman brothers had ever seen.

Jesus knew Peter needed to learn that when we give God our boats, our careers, children, business, finances He will bless and lead us on to fulfillment we never dreamed possible. Jesus had a far brighter future for Peter than mere fishing. He just needed a boat.

Master, help us give up our boats which are really only symbols of our own accomplishment. Help us trust you with all that we have and are and then expectantly wait for all that you wish to do in and through us.

By Marilyn Ehle
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Pressing Your Reset Button

Feelings, Forgiveness and Peace | by Dr. Muriel Larson

The Power of Forgiveness | by Dr. Henry Brandt

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“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in.”  Revelation 3:20

A picture I vividly recall from my childhood days in church displayed a large wooden door surrounded by green vines with a robed figure of Jesus standing outside. His hand is raised, obviously ready to knock. An important feature of the door is that there is no handle on the outside, indicating that it can only be opened from the inside. The message behind the painting is that Jesus waits outside our lives until we are ready to invite Him in into our lives.

But this morning I read these words, written in form and language far more common to our grandparent’s ears than to our modern ears: “I bless thee for that knocking at my heart’s door that warns me of thy waiting presence.”

I wonder how many times during the day Jesus gently knocks to warn me of his waiting presence? Not a warning that danger is imminent (though that may be true), but to warn in the sense of putting me on the alert, giving me notice that he is ready to give counsel or send some special message of his love.

Today we more often hear the loud ring of a doorbell, not a gentle knock. Doorbells can be intrusive; knocks can easily be ignored. I need to listen carefully for the gentle knocks on the door of my heart. I don’t want to miss his presence.

Jesus, thank you for consistently, insistently knocking at the door of my life. Help me tune my ears so that I don’t miss even a whisper of your message.

By Marilyn Ehle
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God Listens to Us

Hearing God’s Voice

Eagerly Watch – a story about eagerly watching for how God answers a prayer

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“I do not seek my own will, but the will of him who sent me.” John 5:30

Jean Fleming calls it “the focused life.” A Quaker teacher Thomas Kelly refers to being “organized by a single, mastering Life within us….an integrated life.” E. Stanley Jones says it is a “a sense of wholeness.” The world whirls beneath and around us and we feel ourselves being ripped apart by needs at home and on the job. Conflicts with colleagues cloud our judgment. Economic uncertainty sends us into the world of “what ifs.”

While Jesus lived in a time and place that to us seems less complicated and harried, He had similar pressures. How could He live three short years training a group of followers who never seemed to “get it”, but at the end of that period say with grace and confidence, “I have finished the work You gave me to do.”

I believe He confidently knew Himself, His goals, His focus. He walked purposefully into each day, training His followers, healing the sick, establishing His Kingdom, yet always ready to hug small children and cook breakfast on the beach.

Father, help me carefully center myself in You and thus arrange all the priorities of life around that center. Help me be aware of You in the rushing whirlwind of schedule as well as in the softness of a baby’s cheek.

By Marilyn Ehle
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Continuous Partial Attention Is your prayer time undistracted?

Should I Pray Every Day? 

Hailing the Chief

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“The man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day. The Lord God called “Where are you?”  Genesis 3:8-9

God’s first recorded question is one that rings down through the ages: “Where are you?” Because of a false or incomplete understanding of God, many people hear that question with dread, as if God lurks in the darkness seeking to ‘find us out’ in order to punish or – at the very least – to intrude.

But what if we put those words in God’s mouth from a different perspective? What if we see him going for a walk in the cool evening hours desiring companionship with his loved ones? Wanting his beloved children to join him while together they stoop to see a new bud on the rosebush or a fully ripened peach on the tree? Or perhaps he wants a quiet conversation about the events of the day? Or stands ready to lovingly hear how discouraged we are about the job, our families, or difficult circumstances of life?

This question is full of poignant meaning. The God of the universe who created us in his image quietly asks his children, “Where are you? ” Will we be like Adam and Eve who hid in shame from their loving Father, or will we be like the child Samuel who responded, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

Father, thank you for seeking me out in love. Teach me more about being quiet before you so I can hear your questions.In Jesus name, amen.

Question: Have you sensed God asking, ‘where are you?’

By Marilyn Ehle
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We Plan – God Directs

To Whom Are You Listening?

Practicing the presence of God


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Two hikers, bone weary from trudging toward the peak of a majestic mountain, pause when one says, “I think we’re on the wrong path; we’ve stopped making progress. Maybe it’s time to turn back.” Instead of agreeing with her companion, instead of berating her fellow hiker with condemnation and shame, she simply says, “Let’s rest for a while and study the map.”

Walking the Christian path is much like climbing a mountain. Vistas ahead are breathtaking, companions along the way encourage, unexpected bubbling streams refresh. But the way is long and often fraught with danger.

When the way is long, when we doubt that God is leading—when we doubt that God cares—it’s time to rest awhile and study the map, God’s words from the Bible. Past experiences of God’s faithfulness, knowledge of God’s will and way will not always eliminate doubt. Faith is almost sure to waver as we climb the mountain, but God’s promise to “never leave nor forsake” is like a cup of cold water as we traverse through thorns that leave us bloody, blinding lightning and soul searing thunder, gnashing teeth of wild animals called despair.

After misunderstanding from friends and family, after the never-ending neediness of people, after heart rending grief, Jesus says to his weary friends,

“Come with me to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31).

Whatever thorny path you now travel, whatever doubt plagues your soul, whatever mountain peak is unseen through the clouds, Jesus’ invitation can be heard: “Sit down on the path with me and get some rest.”

Lord, I’m weary. Are you listening to my cry? Do you care? I need your comfort, please fill me again with your endurance and strength. Thank you that you are a God of mercy and grace.

By Marilyn Ehle
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Importance of Knowing God
I Want to Know Him
The Christian and the Bible – do you believe it is the infallible truth?


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“In the world you will have trouble…” John 16:33

How easily we’ve bought into the philosophy that the comfortable life is the normal Christian life “In the world you will have trouble” are not words regularly cited in a list of Blessed Promises of Faith. It seems such an unlikely, unlovely promise. We are astonished when illness cripples, when earthquakes shake our foundations, when teenagers stray.

I’m always fascinated by the account of Jesus inviting His disciples into a boat with a stated purpose: “Let us go over to the other side“—then falling asleep in the bow as winds roar and waves surge. Why did his friends doubt His purpose in the midst of the storm?

Jesus’ words to his astonished friends after the storm subsides speak not only to their predicament but to our own in the midst of life’s upheavals. “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” These men were accomplished fisherman who knew that ferocious storms frequently exploded on the Sea of Galilee. Did they think that if Jesus was in the boat with them, no storm would dare descend?

We fall victim to that same way of thinking. If we’re obedient to Christ’s commands, if we live moral lives, if we’re involved in Christian ministry, surely we will escape the storms of poverty, terror, disease, divorce. Jesus’ own life is ample proof that not only will we experience storms, but that He provides all necessary means for us to survive, even flourish, in those calamitous events. His unlikely promise—“in this world you will have trouble”—is followed by words that break into our hearts like a glorious, breathtaking sunrise: “Take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Translators use a variety of words to describe Jesus’ words in the midst of Galilee’s storm: Take heart. Take courage. Cheer up. Have confidence. Keep up your courage. Each phrase presumes action on our parts. He calms storms. We trust him.

No storm is so fierce, so disastrous, so apparently meaningless that Jesus leaves us alone to cope with its realities. He is in the boat with us, and He provides the overcoming power to not just cope, but reach the other side.

Think about Jesus’ words, “Why are you so afraid?” Try to answer that question as honestly as possible; trace your fears back to their source. Then open your hands as a symbol of releasing those fears to the God who says, “Take heart! I have overcome (those fears).”

Father, I am so often afraid of people or events or my what-might-happen thoughts. Help me not only turn my fears over to you, but begin to anticipate those fears and ward them off by trusting you.

By Marilyn Ehle
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When our children were small, we took a mini-holiday in a small travel trailer on the United States southern border. Mexico was so close and the opportunity to visit such a beautiful country was too good to pass up so my husband looked for a spot on the side of the road to unhook the trailer before crossing the border. But without signs to warn us, the wide road quickly narrowed into a dead end gravel lane with small children laughingly pointing at these obviously uninformed Americans.

During this current crisis, many recognize they are in a dead-end situation. A chosen path to success has led to an unintended destination. Strict maintenance of good health has proved ineffective. Assured income whether from secure employment or solid investments has either dwindled or evaporated. Now what?

While scientists scramble for a vaccine to prevent deadly Covid-19, no doctor, psychologist, sociologist or well-intentioned expert can offer a life without peril. One story compares human efforts of self- protection to building a house on sand. When storms come, when plague threatens, houses—and lives—need solid foundations.

If we had invited a knowledgeable guide to ride along with us, our excursion into Mexico would have been without a dead end. But who can we trust during this current crisis—and the many that will follow? Who is a guide with power, knowledge and love? Who offers not a panacea but presence?

To a people who faced plague and peril, who trembled with fear as they contemplated unseen enemies, God said:

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread…for it is Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.  (Deuteronomy 31:6)

The road will still be rough and bystanders may even point fingers or mock at the peace that calms your soul, but God’s promise is sure. You can walk the Covid road knowing the peace that is absolutely beyond understanding. It’s God’s sure promise.

By Marilyn Ehle
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Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.”  Luke 23:56

Only Luke, a New Testament author known to include minute details, offers a glimpse into life on the day after Jesus’ crucifixion and the day before His resurrection. I have often thought that the weather on the Saturday before Easter should always be gray and gloomy, atmospheric conditions matching what must have been the emotions of Jesus’ friends and family. In addition to grief, they obviously were bewildered because Luke also records a conversation two had as they walked away from Jerusalem, away from the scene of broken hearts: “…we had hoped that He was the one who was going to redeem Israel…”

I, too, have known the heavy weight of grief, a weight that causes the body to slump into mindless sleep only to awaken in the dark hours, in those first moments, denying the reality of death, then almost immediately becoming aware of all that has happened. But I also have discovered the comfort of “obedience to the commandment”… By faith in the One who loves me, I laid my anxiety at His feet, I thanked Him for His sovereignty and presence, I prayed for myself and the weeping others, and then…

The peace of God, which transcends all understanding…”

put a guard on my heart and mind so that I could go about the dailyness of life. The women prepared spices and perfumes; I prepared meals and made beds. In a few short hours those women would experience the joy of the resurrection. One day I, too, will fully experience that joy.

It’s not always easy to go about the daily rituals when the heart is heavy, Lord, but I thank you for the balm those rituals bring to sorrowing souls. Thank you for being a God of the daily. I love you.

by Marilyn Ehle
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“…he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said  through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.” Matthew 2:23

What did it mean for Jesus to be a Nazarene? Some believe that the term “Jesus of Nazareth” is a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, but I wonder if that title was primarily used to describe the humanity and the humble background of Jesus? When Philip excitedly told his friend about Jesus, Nathaniel’s response was similar to what everyone in the area thought: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

What is it like to live forever with people either expecting too much from you or not enough? Perhaps your education, profession, travels have taken you far from your hometown. When you return to family and friends of your childhood, do you find the “fit” not quite what you anticipated? You are not who you were. Circumstances and people have changed you. There is a strangely uncomfortable feeling; you love the people and places of your past but it’s not “you” anymore.

Transfer that experience to Jesus. He was the Creator God. Now he prays in the gardens he created. He and the Father and the Spirit knew perfect harmony. Now he hears squabbling in his family and among his disciples. His walked in the beauty of heaven. Now he travels the road to Calvary.

So how did he do it? He couldn’t shed the reputation of Nazareth but he didn’t let it define him. When his family called him demented, he simply told a story of profound truth. He knew who he was and why he had come and so, while he was always alert to his surroundings and people, he stayed true to his calling and purpose. John records the perfect example of this: Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, wrapped a towel around his waist…he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet… The Nazarene, the Son of God, the King of the Universe fulfilling his calling.

Have you experienced family situations such as are described above? What is your immediate reaction when friends or family do not appreciate your experiences? How might your reactions change if you remembered that Jesus, too, experienced such misunderstanding?

by Marilyn Ehle
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“.. in quietness and trust shall be your strength …the Lord longs to be gracious to you.. Blessed are all who wait for Him.” Isaiah 30:15, 18

We all want strength to face both the small and greater issues facing us daily.

Whether it is stretching diminishing resources, dealing with the newly independent two-year-old, facing (and loving!) a tempestuous teenager or ironing out relational difficulties in the workplace, we find ourselves in need of physical, emotional and spiritual strength. The problem is that we too often look for the strength in places that simply do not have the sufficiency to supply.

Four young men were taken captive by a powerful enemy king. They resolved to remain faithful to their God in spite of living in a culture totally foreign to their deepest beliefs. The king saw their commitment as defiance and a danger to his authority so he ordered they be ‘bound and thrown into the blazing furnace.’

As we read with imagination about the testing of Daniel and his friends in the blazing furnace, we shudder to think of the searing heat and licking flames. We read nothing of resistance or screams, only the absolute amazement of the king when he sees them ‘unbound and unharmed’. He shouts for them to come out and ultimately acknowledges that the God of these young men has power far beyond anything he imagined.

Isaiah the prophet reminds us that strength is found in quietness and trust. In his book The Way of the Heart, Henri Nouwen writes,

‘Solitude is the furnace of transformation.’

Daniel and his friends walked in quietness and trust long before they faced the furnace. No doubt they experienced solitude when taken far from their own family and culture and from that solitude learned to trust in the one true God.

While no one wants a furnace experience, we would do well to prepare daily ‘in solitude’ for whatever challenges may lie ahead.

Father, for many reasons it is easier to be busy than to be quiet. Help me learn to be quiet with you. Feed my soul in solitude and waiting so I can be blessed and be a blessing.

What ‘furnaces experiences‘ have you had?

How did you find strength within them? How does solitude prepare you for daily life?

By Marilyn Ehle
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… “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”  Philippians 4:6-7

It hits us with an almost paralyzing thud: corona virus, national emergency, airports, schools, churches closed, store shelves empty, hospital beds at a premium. How does a follower of Jesus live well in the midst of the crisis? We have memorized and quoted scripture’s “fear nots,” but in the dark hours of the night or when mesmerized by media, we realized that the words have not walked the journey from head to heart.

We in the Western world are now living in the reality of what our brothers and sisters face daily: distress, deprivation, denial. We, like they, are called to live sacrificially so others can heal, prosper, and find peace with God.

Walter Brueggemann writes about Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus:

Jesus says to him: “You’ve got to start over! You’ve got to be reborn… You’ve got to become as vulnerable and innocent and dependent as a little child. You’ve got to forego your social position, your achievements, your wealth, your reputation. You’ve got to let go of all the things that make you self-sufficient and that alienate you from the wonder of the gift of God. Start over in vulnerability, in innocence, and in dependence…

During these days when fear threatens, Brueggemann’s words take on special meaning. Perhaps every time we wash our hands—as prescribed!—we acknowledge that before God we are vulnerable and dependent. Truly,

our help comes from the Lord

and, in that truth, we dwell in peace and reach out to our fearful neighbors.

Eusebius, a bishop and historian of the early church wrote about Christians during the deadly plague:

All day long some of them [the Christians] tended to the dying and to their burial, countless numbers with no one to care for them.  Others gathered together from all parts of the city a multitude of those withered from famine and distributed bread to them all.

May it be true of us.

Father, thank you for the free offer of peace in the midst of both personal and global chaos. Grant me the wisdom and strength to walk in that peace so that others will be curious about you.

By Marilyn Ehle
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“whoever takes a humble place – becoming like this child – is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 18:4

Many years ago I taught a Sunday school class for young children called the Beginners Class. (Today they are known as preschoolers.)  I still recall their wide eyes and eager faces as I tried to make Bible stories come alive. With crayons clutched in small fingers, they coloured simple pictures to illustrate the day’s lesson. Their questions were simple and from the heart: “Will there be cowboys in heaven?”

I have followed Jesus over fifty years. I have learned much in my walk with him. Brilliant flashes of insight as well as torturous paths of struggle with truth have been my experience. But all along the way I have been – and continue to be – a beginner. God reveals a new discipline he asks me to practice, a new risk he lovingly dares me to take, a new truth he wants me to believe

As we grow toward spiritual maturity, as we are being transformed through the renewing of our minds and obedience to the whispers of the Holy Spirit, may we always have the fresh attitude of beginning. Again.

Thank you, Father, for not only accepting me by grace but also for giving me the  opportunity to begin again, amen.

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“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.” Exodus 14:13

The uncrossable sea growls in front of them, a tyrant’s roar rings in their ears, weapon-wielding soldiers bear down. Defeat and death are sure for the terrified Israelites. In spite of God championing their escape from the horrors of captivity, they lose courage, longing for that which had imprisoned them. “God, take us back to the familiar, to whips and hunger, to servitude. Anything’s better than dying here in the desert.”

Any skilled and experienced military general now encourages the people with a rousing speech and strategic battle plan. Later in their journey, God did indeed give detailed military instructions: “Circle the city seven times, blow your trumpets, take the city.” But now, at the beginning of the long journey, God says the impossible:

Don’t be afraid…stand firm…the Lord will fight for you…BE STILL.”

What sea faces you?

What tyrant is roaring? What enemies aim their arrows of discouragement, loss, and fear? Before God gives the command to move on, he asks that we be still. Stop long enough to gaze into God’s face. Stop in holy quiet to shut out the roar of the tempter who insidiously murmurs that God isn’t strong enough, isn’t loving enough, can’t possibly care for insignificant you. Stop long enough to hear God’s sure whisper,

I will fight for you.”

Often it’s only after those moments—or days—of stillness that we hear the next instruction: “Move on.” And when we’ve crossed the uncrossable sea, we, like one of the brave Israelite women will sing,

The Lord is my strength and defense… He is my God and I will praise him…

I confess, Lord, that the growling seas, tyrant’s’ roar, and enemy’s weapons either pull me into easy submission or a fighting stance in my own strength. Please help me keep my eyes on you and my ears tuned to your “Be still.”

By Marilyn Ehle
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“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him.”  Psalm 28:7

After a robbery my mother had a security system installed. I live far away and thought this was an excellent idea, providing both physical safety and emotional confidence. The company expert explained the system in great detail and left material describing its functions and operation on the table.

Just prior to exiting the house, a series of digits needs to be keyed in to a small panel to enable the system. Anyone who tried to enter illegally would immediately have their eardrums bombarded with a piercing sound that would deter the wrongdoer and also alert neighbors and passersby. The expert had also emphasized how important it was to follow the procedure for re-entering the house. My Mom needed to unlock the door and quickly—very quickly—key in the “disarm” button so the alarm would be deactivated.

What was intended to be something that eased my mother’s mind very quickly became a major irritant. While she remembered the exit strategy, entering was often more complicated. With arms full of groceries, mother would unlock the door and rush to answer the ringing phone. Within seconds the screaming blare of the system would shock not only the neighbors but send my panicked mother to the numbered panel where she promptly forgot which button to push.

We who are Christ-followers have a foolproof security system: God Himself. He promises to never leave or forsake us, to be with us wherever we go, to light the path ahead of us and surround us with His love. We experience that security not by pushing buttons but, says King David, by trusting in Him.

In quoting “the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel,” the prophet Isaiah records a phenomenal security promise:

In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.

But then four crucial and sobering words are added:

But you were unwilling.” (Isaiah 30:15)

We will not experience the fullness of God’s security system unless we are willing to return and rest.

Question: How are you doing with resting in God’s plan for your life?

How can you place more trust in Him today?

By Marilyn Ehle
Used by Permission

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thoughts by Marilyn Ehle Thoughts by Women