Category: <span>thoughts by Laura Rath</span>

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To act bravely is to meet or face something with courage; to act with courage is to make the choice to proceed with confidence, despite fear, adversity, intimidation, or feeling uncomfortable or judged.

Being brave doesn’t mean the threat is gone, it means we don’t let it stop us.

Having courage doesn’t mean the next step will be easy, it means we move forward anyway.

Following Jesus means we can draw from His unending strength and courage, and not try to rely on the amount of courage we can muster up ourselves.

When God told Joshua to be strong and courageous as he led the Israelites, He planned for Joshua to rely on Him. If Joshua had decided that he was brave enough without God, the Israelites never would have made it to the Promised Land.

Joshua was brave because He trusted God.

Just like Joshua, God makes us brave not because of who we are, but because of who He is.

6 Scripture Verses for When You Need to Be Brave

Joshua 1:9 NIV

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT

So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

Psalm 27:13-14 NLT

Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

Psalm 31:24 VOICE

Be strong, and live courageously, all of you who set your hope in the Eternal!

Daniel 10:18-19 MEV

Then again, the one having the appearance of a man came and touched me, and he strengthened me. He said, “O man, greatly beloved, do not fear. Peace be unto you. Be strong and courageous!” When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”

2 Chronicles 15:7 NLT

But as for you, be strong and courageous, for your work will be rewarded.”

By Laura Rath
Used by Permission

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Jesus is Always There!
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I’ve been thinking a lot about trust and waiting on God…about how His answers to prayers often come in ways I didn’t expect or ask for, and how sometimes He answers long after the time frame I’ve requested.

When I’m in one of life’s valleys, I have to cling to my faith and trust in God.

I have to hold tight to what I know to be true.

God hears me. He sees me. He is with me. And He is carrying me through the trials when I can’t even see the next step to take.

“The Lord has heard my plea; The Lord will answer my prayer.Psalm 6:9 NLT

In God’s perfect timing, I opened my Bible to this verse today. It’s what I’ve been reminding myself of over and over lately.

I need to praise God first, before I can see answers to my prayers, because I know that He is at work.

The solutions I think of may not be how God answers my prayers. I have to ask myself—will I only see His hand if it’s in the way I’m looking for? Or will I let go of my ideas and wait to see God’s plan unfold?

While I’m waiting, God is still with me. He strengthens me when I’m at my weakest. He guides me when I can’t see straight. He reminds me that He is at work when I start to panic. Again.

Trusting God isn’t easy. Trust develops over time.

As I walk through the desert, I learn to lean on Him more and to look for His presence every day. When the desert stretches on for what seems like way too long, my trust in Him grows stronger. It grows deeper and keeps me grounded.

Trusting God with my heart, soul, and mind gives me strength and peace that does not come from myself.  He calms my fears in ways I can’t achieve on my own.

Faith and trust in God doesn’t mean smooth sailing through life. It means I don’t have to try to navigate on my own. It means I don’t have to have it all figured out. And it means it’s okay when my plans don’t work out, because I realized it was better to go with whatever God has planned.

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” Isaiah 43:2 NLT

God’s promise to you and to me…He will be with us. No matter what we walk though. No matter what we’ve done.

When we believe God’s promises are for us, we know the Truth we can depend on.

Truth that stands the test of time.

By Laura Rath
Used by Permission


Would you like to have a relationship with Christ? If you want to know Him  you can start today by committing and submitting your life to him. You can start this with a simple prayer:

Lord, thank You for dying so we can be set free from all of guilt and sin — no matter how big or small.  Your blood has erased all of our sin. Thank You so much! Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to you and ask you to come in as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be. Amen

If you prayed today and asked Jesus Christ to come into your life and take control, we would love to hear from you. Some helpful internet links will be sent to you and we can also connect you with an email mentor if you’d like that. Your choice. But we’d still love to hear from you.


If you prayed this prayer we would love to hear from you . If you would like to know God deeper we can connect you with an email mentor and/or send you some great links.


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• Eternal Love
• Fully Surrender to the Lord

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Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”  Psalm 46:10 ESV

I woke up this morning with this verse going through my mind.

I wonder if sometimes we breeze over this verse. Be still, and know that I am God. In our world today, be still makes us think of doing nothing, but ‘doing nothing’ hardly seems accurate here.

The Hebrew word raphah (raw-faw‘) means to release or let go; refrain from or let alone;  to relax or wait for.  Making yourself ‘let go’ of something is hardly doing nothing. Letting go can be hard work.

Children often struggle against their parents, thinking they know what’s best and wanting to do everything themselves. As a parent, I remember all the times I wanted to cry out, “Stop struggling! Let me help you!” Or when I explained, “I know you don’t agree or understand, but you just have to trust me on this.”

Don’t we do the same as adults? We want what we want, and we want it now! We want to understand. We ask When? Why? and How?

I imagine if we stopped struggling and trying to comprehend everything, we might hear Him say, Stop striving and worrying. Let Me be God. I know you don’t understand why or how…you just have to trust Me with this.

It’s not easy, but it is freeing. God is on His throne, no matter what happens, personally or nationally. And for that, I am forever thankful.

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness and delight;
Come before His presence with joyful singing.
Know and fully recognize with gratitude that the Lord Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, not we ourselves [and we are His].
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with a song of thanksgiving
And His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, bless and praise His name.
For the Lord is good;
His mercy and loving kindness are everlasting,
His faithfulness [endures] to all generations.
Psalm 100 AMP

Dear Father in Heaven, thank you for your everlasting love, truth, and mercy. Please help us to remember that no matter what happens, You are in control. You are on Your throne. May we learn to be still, let go of all we’re struggling to hold on to and worrying about, and let You be God. In Jesus’ sweet name we pray, Amen.

By Laura Rath
Used by Permission

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•   A Bible Study on Waiting on God
My Search for Inner Peace – by Eva Reinhart

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I was so angry last week I wanted to yell. But…with yelling usually comes saying things I shouldn’t. (I kind of know this from experience.) So, before I went huffing and puffing into the next room, I prayed.

I asked God to hold my tongue and not let me say what I was thinking. And then I asked Him to help me calm down and diffuse the emotions that were overcoming me.

I didn’t always know to do this, to ask God to keep me from speaking. And even though I know it now, I still don’t always want to pray first because it means thinking first and speaking second.

Or maybe not speaking at all.

A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” Proverbs15:1 NLT

My words were going to be harsh. Anger does that. It makes us act in ugly ways. But, we can learn to control it…if we want to.

God created us with emotions, and anger is a human emotion. It’s not a sin to be angry, but how we act while angry can be sinful.

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.Ephesians4:26-27 ESV

Acting and speaking out of anger fuels the fire in a disagreement. It keeps it going back and forth, and no one wins. Except the enemy. Satan loves it when we give him an easy way in, and uncontrolled anger is an open door.

Whatever I was angry about last week was not worth it. I stayed where I was until I felt calmer. I was still angry, but not like I had been. I believe God answered my prayer by keeping me still and my voice silent. It’s a prayer I’m trying to pray more often.

A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted.” Proverbs12:16 NLT

By Laura Rath
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Disappointment, discouragement, fear, daily struggles…some days take everything we have.

When we rely only on our own strength and what we have to give, we quickly become worn out and discouraged.

But when we turn to God for His strength and replenishment, we are able to keep moving forward. We are able to keep giving to our family and friends. We are able to keep hoping, not because of what we can see, but because of Who we know God is.

Psalm 105:4 NLT
Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him.
God’s strength is available to us when we seek His presence in our daily lives.

Isaiah 58:11 NLT
The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.”
God supplies the living water we need. When I get busy and don’t make time to spend with God and in His Word, I find myself parched and desperately in need of His restoring and strengthening. But, when I sit and rest with Him I feel nourished. He guides and gives strength, but if we don’t pay attention, we can miss it.

Psalm 46:1 NIV
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
God, in all His power, is with us ready to protect and save. He strengthens us day-by-day to withstand trouble, to wait, and to persevere.

Philippians 4:13 CEV
Christ gives me the strength to face anything.
Whatever comes our way, whatever God calls us to do, we can handle it because Christ empowers us through His strength.

Isaiah 41:10 NLT
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

No matter what we face, God promises to be with us. He offers us comfort, reassurance, encouragement, and His support. Is there anything better?

By Laura Rath
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A few weeks ago, fear crept in and wanted control of my days. Maybe you know the feeling—when you realize you’re worried about how-will-I and all the what-ifs for today, tomorrow, and 10 years from now.

Fear of the unknown and how-will-this-work-out is formidable. It has the power to affect everything from our moods and how we treat our families, to the decisions we make.

Fortunately, I realized it quickly…well, after an email chat with a friend who pointed it out. Then, it was suddenly clear. Fear for tomorrow (and all the tomorrows after that) was manipulating me in unproductive ways.

As soon as I knew fear had a grip on me, I turned to God. I reminded myself that God goes before me. Things will often get harder before they get better, but I know if He leads me down a rugged path, He will be there to help me.

As I felt my anxiety start to ease, I turned to Scripture. I reread my favorite verses that calm me down, and I searched for verses on fear that I was less familiar with.

I don’t always know which verse will make my heart sigh with relief, but God does. He knows what I need to hear and precisely when I need to hear it.

And sometimes, I just need to be reminded of His calming presence…

At once, Jesus said to them, “Don’t worry! I am Jesus. Don’t be afraid.”
Matthew14:27 CEV

Here are 8 more Scripture verses to turn to when fear starts to creep in.

Psalm 56:3 NLT {Trust}
“But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.”

Isaiah 41:10 NLT {Strength}
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.  Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

Deuteronomy 31:8 NLT{Not alone}
Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

Daniel 10:19 NLT {Strength}
Don’t be afraid,” he said, “for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!” As he spoke these words to me, I suddenly felt stronger and said to him, “Please speak to me, my lord, for you have strengthened me.”

John 14:26-27 CEV {Peace}
But the Holy Spirit will come and help you, because the Father will send the Spirit to take my place. The Spirit will teach you everything and will remind you of what I said while I was with you. I give you peace, the kind of peace that only I can give. It isn’t like the peace that this world can give. So don’t be worried or afraid.”

Psalm 23:4 NLT {Comfort}
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.”

Joshua 1:9 NLT {Not Alone}
This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Acts 2:25-26 CEV {Hope}
What David said are really the words of Jesus, “I always see the Lord near me, and I will not be afraid with him at my right side. Because of this, my heart will be glad, my words will be joyful, and I will live in hope.”

What Scripture verses do you turn to when you find yourself feeling afraid?

By Laura Rath
Used by Permission


If you have never surrendered your life to Christ, and would like to know Him in the way the author does,  you can start today. Simply say this prayer and your journey with Christ will begin:

Prayer

Lord Jesus, I want to trust you from now on. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of my life. Make me be the person You want me to be. Thank you for enabling me to trust you in these uncertain times. Amen.

Another Sample Prayer:

Dear God, today I bring you my life, my hopes, my dreams, my deepest yearnings … You know me intimately. You knew me even before I was formed in the womb. You called me into this world to do good and live the life I was uniquely and specifically created for. I ask for Courage and Wisdom to live this life–the life of my dreams. Show me where to start and help me be open to hearing your Voice today. I ask for a greater consciousness of your Presence, today and every day of my life. Amen.


If you prayed this prayer we would love to hear from you . If you would like to know God deeper we can connect you with an email mentor and/or send you some great links.


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Some situations feel like a never-ending circle. 

I go around and around never getting anywhere. But still, I feel like there must be something I can do. So, I keep trying. And I keep getting nowhere.

One situation has been going on for years. I’ve been praying. I’ve been searching Scripture. I’ve been having frank conversations with God, asking Him to show me what to do. I’ve wondered if I’m praying for the wrong outcome. And some days, I don’t even know what to pray for. I simply think Please help us Jesus over and over.

As a mom, I want to be able to fix this. I want to make it all better so we can all move forward. But, despite all of my research, trying different resources, and putting everything I have into it, it appears that I can’t. I’m left feeling frustrated and discouraged.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. John 16:33 (NLT)

Many trials and sorrows. Isn’t that the truth? Some go on for so long I start to wonder if there is any hope for change.

Some days I might be tempted to answer no. I can only do so much and if nothing I’ve done has worked by now, change looks like a slim chance.

The good news is—I can only do so much, but God can do So. Much. More.

I don’t know when and I don’t know how, but I know that He can. And He will. It may not look the way I expect, but that doesn’t mean He’s not at work.

Jesus overcame the world, so how could He not be able to handle this? Our situation feels huge to me. Overwhelming and heartbreaking at times. He knows that and He’s not insensitive to my feelings. Maybe that’s why Jesus reminds us that we can have peace through Him.

Though He warned us life would be far from easy, He promised us peace. Not because of anything we can do, but through Him. 

Through Jesus, there is peace. We can take heart, be courageous, confident, undaunted, and filled with joy because Jesus has overcome the world. John 16:33 (AMP)

If my hope rests on what I can do, I will be sorely disappointed. When my hope rests in Him, I feel comfort and peace.

Waiting on what God will do is not easy. But neither is waiting to see if I can come up with any workable solutions.

But, where waiting on myself makes me worried, afraid, and filled with anxiety, waiting on God allows me to breathe.

It’s a choice, and I choose to wait on God and let my hope rest in Him.

What do you choose?

Hold on to the
One Whose
Promises will never be
Empty.

By Laura Rath
Used by Permission

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There are two things I’ve been telling myself a lot lately…

* You’re stronger than you feel.
* You don’t have to have everything figured out right now.

I’ve never really had a mantra, but maybe now I do because I can tell you these two sentences have helped me breathe a little easier.

Not because of anything I’ve tried to do, but because of what I know God can do.

On those really rough days when I feel like everything might cave in on me, I remind myself that how I feel can’t always be trusted.

How I feel and what I know to be true don’t always line up.

I might feel weak, but I know God is strong.

When I feel defeated, I know God is never defeated.

He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.” Isaiah 40:28b-29 NLT

I’m stronger than I feel because God’s strength never runs out.

How I feel depends on what I can see and what I know, but God knows what I don’t. He’s not surprised by events or taken off guard. He knows what’s coming next. He sees it all.

I’m stronger than I feel because God is in control. Every day. All the time. Which means I don’t have to have it all figured out. And what a relief that is because no matter how hard I try, I just can’t.

But God can. He is in the details. No matter how big or small, God knows every bit of His plans.

When I don’t see any possible way, God knows the way.

What looks impossible to me is never impossible for God.

He weaves all the details of life together in ways we can’t imagine or understand. But in ways that astound us and leave us in awe.

I don’t have to have everything figured out before I take the next step because God does have it figured out. He knows where He’s leading me. I just have to follow.

I’m stronger than I feel because God is stronger than I could ever be. And I don’t have to figure it all out because He already has it figured out. Down to the very last detail.

His plan. His way. And His peace that passes all understanding.

The Lord gives his people strength.
The Lord blesses them with peace.
Psalms 29:11 NLT

By Laura Rath
used by Permission

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I rarely watch daytime television, but every six months when I go to the dentist The Price is Right is already showing on the screen above the patient chair. Since I don’t know what else is on and I don’t want to flip channels and extend my appointment, I leave it.

Whenever I see it, I wonder once again if excessive amounts of caffeine are required before the show begins to induce the level of excitement (screaming and jumping around) exhibited by the audience—and especially the contestants. Last week, one woman even looked as if she might hyperventilate.

But as I watched, I had a new thought…what if we started our days with even just an ounce of that energy? Not the jumping around and screaming so much, but the enthusiasm to see what might happen.

What would that look like?

* A positive outlook of what the day might bring.

* The desire to see what God has planned for us.

* The willingness to step up, out of our comfort zones, to follow where God leads.

What is the Good News?  You have been forgiven! – stirred the same excitement as You could win a brand new car!

Whether it’s the anticipation of the game or the longing to hear your name called, The Price is Right has been around for a long time.

But, the new life we have in Jesus has been around much longer and it will never end. There will never be a change in hosts, and we don’t have to wait around hoping to be called up to the stage.

And…we don’t have to work to earn a prize because Jesus has already done the work. He has already been the sacrifice. He has already given us the way back to God.

Once and for all, Jesus has conquered sin and death. He calls us to Him every day and God’s love and grace can’t be taken away.

Winning on a game show and earning our five minutes of fame might be fun and exciting, and that’s okay. But, what Jesus gives is joyful and everlasting.

He’s there when the days are not fun and fame is a burden.

He’s with us when we don’t think we can walk through the hardest of situations.

He doesn’t leave us when we make bad choices and hurt ourselves and others.

And He doesn’t walk away or shoo us off stage when we don’t have the correct answers and we don’t know what to do next.

And that’s something to look forward to every day.

Just a Few Energizing Verses for Every Day

Deuteronomy 31:8 NLT
Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

Psalm 16:11 NLT
“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.

Psalm 91:1 NLT
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”

Isaiah 40:31 NLT
“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

Luke 7:48,50 NLT
Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”
And Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.””

John 3:16-17 NIV
 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Philippians 2:13 NLT
For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”

Philippians 4:13 NKJV
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

By Laura Rath
Used by Permission

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Years ago, I was in an office conversation with co-workers laughing over the fact that no matter how many times we proof a document, it seems a typo or error will be found just after the e-mail has been sent or 1,000 copies have been printed.

I always wonder what mistake I’ll be remembered for,” someone remarked. Light-heartedly, I said, “We are not defined by our mistakes.

But, as I walked away I kept thinking about it. Isn’t that something we all need to be reminded of?

Our mistakes do not define us.

Yes, some mistakes are big and are remembered for quite a while.

But they do not define us.

Define means to describe, detail, or to state the meaning of. (dictionary.com)

We can describe our mistakes, but our mistakes do not describe us.

The enemy will try to tell us otherwise. He will tell us that our mistakes are who we are.

You can’t do that; you’ll mess it up, you always do. You’ll never get it right. You’re such a mess.

Remember what you did last week? That’s who you are. That’s what everyone thinks of you.

But God trumps the enemy every time, and He says we are not defined by our mistakes.

God does not describe us by our failures…or our successes—and that’s freeing because God’s love is not dependent on what we do, or fail to do. We are loved by God, not because we are perfect, but because we are His.

He knows we will make mistakes. And from those mistakes comes growth. Our successes and failures may help shape us, but they are not our identity.

We are who God says we are. And God identifies us as His own—Chosen.  Forgiven.  Loved.  Redeemed.

I may make a real whopper of a mistake, one that takes some fixing and apologizing for. But it’s not who I am. And when my co-worker makes a mistake, it’s not who she is.

Remembering this reminds me of grace. The grace God gives. The grace I ask for from others. And the grace I want to extend to those around me.

Our mistakes do not define us. God defines us—as His own loved and cherished children.

But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1 NLT

By Laura Rath
Used by Permission

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I remember as a child waiting in anticipation for my birthday or for Christmas to arrive. Time moved slowly and the waiting dragged on forever.

As an adult, that time moves much more quickly. It seems like Christmas is around the corner again before last year’s gifts are put away. And waiting for birthdays isn’t quite as exciting anymore.

Waiting for the calendar page to turn—that’s not so hard. Until time ends, one month will flow into the next, guaranteed.

But waiting on God is hard. Some days it feels impossible. And other days it takes me right to my knees in tears and frustration.

Perhaps you’re waiting on God too…

…for physical healing.

…for employment.

…for a child to come home.

…for a relationship to be restored.

…for a loved one to come to faith.

Whatever it might be, there will be days when waiting on God is just too hard.

Days when I think I cannot do it one more day. I can’t wait patiently without worry and fear. And on those days, peace gets edged out. In its place are anxiousness, nausea, headaches, tears, depression, anger, and despair.

Despair that feels like hitting bottom, where there’s no place deeper to go—because with despair comes hopelessness.

Hopelessness covers the world in darkness, but not completely. Never completely.
Because the darkness can never extinguish the Light.

I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark.John 12:46 NLT

Jesus came into this world to show us the Light—His Light that never dims. It never goes out.

We may become blinded to it at times, but it’s there, shining like a beacon—a symbol of hope leading us back to Him.

For where there is Light, there is hope. Always hope.

On the days when the waiting feels like too much—there is hope.

Hope for a better tomorrow.

Hope that what we’re anticipating and waiting for is right around the corner.

Hope that soon God will reveal His plans for us.

Hope because God is in the wait with us—strengthening and comforting—bringing rest to the weary and calm to the panicked—picking us up when we hit the ground in despair.

Waiting for the seasons to change becomes methodical. Waiting on God never does.

We may not know what’s coming next, but God does. Our waiting and our future is in His hands.
His safe, strong, and more than capable hands.

By Laura Rath
Used by Permission

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thoughts by Laura Rath Thoughts by Women

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Have you ever really messed up?

Maybe it was a mistake or a poor choice, but it was something so big you didn’t see a way to come back from it. I imagine we all have.

Jesus’ disciple, Peter, might have wondered the same thing. On the night Jesus was arrested, Peter denied knowing Him, not once, not twice, but three times. That’s a big thing to come back from and Peter probably didn’t see a way for that to happen.

But although Jesus knew Peter would deny Him, He also knew something Peter probably didn’t know about himself. Jesus knew Peter’s potential and who Peter would become. And Jesus knows the same about us.

Jesus doesn’t just know who we are now, but who we can become through Him.

Jesus knows we’re going to fail and make major mistakes, but He also knows these are opportunities for growth in our faith, and in who we are becoming. Jesus knows our potential.
Jesus knew Peter would mess up by denying Him, and yet, he told Peter,
So I will call you Peter, which means “a rock.” On this rock I will build my church, and death itself will not have any power over it. Matthew 16:18 CEV
Wow. Jesus knew Peter would be the foundation of His church, even while he knew the mistakes Peter would make.
Peter came back from his betrayal. Not because of something he did, but because of who God is.

The women went into the tomb, and on the right side they saw a young man in a white robe sitting there. They were alarmed. The man said, “Don’t be alarmed! You are looking for Jesus from Nazareth, who was nailed to a cross. God has raised him to life, and he isn’t here. You can see the place where they put his body. Now go and tell his disciples, and especially Peter, that he will go ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you.” Mark 16:5-7 CEV

Especially Peter. He wanted Peter to know that He had not turned away from him. Peter’s betrayal was not too much to come back from.

Perhaps God is whispering to you today, especially you.
What choices or mistakes are keeping you from Jesus?
God’s forgiveness covers anything we think is just too much. He knows our hearts and hears our confessions. He knows us better than we know ourselves.
God knows who we are and who we can become through Him.

He knows our potential long before we see it in ourselves.

Think your mistakes disqualify you from work in God’s Kingdom? They didn’t for Peter and they don’t for you. Peter looked for Jesus and followed Him. Peter’s mistakes became his testimony of Jesus’ death and resurrection. His story was part of God’s story.

And, whether we realize it yet or not, our stories are all part of God’s love story.

How do you feel when you think about your potential? Does that feeling change knowing that God already knows what your potential is with Him?

By Laura Rath
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I don’t know what you might be dealing with this week, but I know several people who are feeling under attack from the enemy.

“Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armour so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil”  Ephesians 6:10-11 NLT

Fortunately, we also have a Source of super strength—God. He provides what we need when we need it.

In the book of Ephesians, Paul reminds us of this. Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.

Not by our own might, but through God’s. God’s strength. God’s power. For us.

Put on all of God’s armour so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.

We don’t have to go to extreme measures and different sources to acquire the strength and weapons we need. God provides what we need to stand strong against the lies of the enemy. We just have to be willing to turn to Him, and ready to don the protection He offers.

Scripture spells out each piece of the armour God provides.

“Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armour so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armour of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:13-17 NLT

Stand your ground against the enemy with:

The belt of truth – the truth of God’s Word and who God is. Knowing the truth helps us identify and see through the enemy’s lies.

The body armour of God’s righteousness – through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are made right with God. Satan will try everything he can to make us believe nothing can make us right with God, and that is a lie. Nothing can undo what Jesus has already done for us.

Shoes of peace that comes from the Good News – reliable footwear is essential for all soldiers to advance and engage. For us to advance the Kingdom of God and engage in spiritual warfare, we wear the Good News of the victory of Jesus Christ over sin and death for all time. The Good News of Jesus gives us life and enables us to share this Good News wherever we are.

The shield of faith – our faith in Jesus Christ is the shield that protects us from everything the devil throws at us. The flaming arrows of Satan’s lies cannot penetrate strong faith that rests solely in our Lord—in His truth and righteousness.

The helmet of salvation – the knowledge of our salvation through Jesus Christ protects us from believing the lies of the devil.

And finally…

The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God – our only offensive weapon against the evil of this world. The Holy Spirit, who lives in every believer, works for us and through us, enabling us to share the Word of God with others. One by one, building a strong offense against the enemy.

By Laura Rath
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I will praise you every day; yes, I will praise you forever.”
Psalm 145:2 NLT

Several years ago, my word for the year was Praise. To be honest, I wasn’t thrilled about the word when the year started. Praise felt like a really big word for when really big things happened—which wasn’t every day. So, what was I supposed to do with the word the rest of the year?

What I learned first is that Praise isn’t supposed to be saved for only the really big events or even what is visible to others.

Praise is meant for every day—the little, the ordinary, and what others might not be able to see.

Praise is when we honor God by acknowledging Him in everything we do. It’s looking for Him and His work, no matter if it’s a good day or a rotten day. Praise is thanking God in all situations, even when we don’t feel thankful.

Praise when I don’t feel thankful? Yes, because sometimes we have to practice giving praise before it feels natural.

For I cried out to him for help, praising him as I spoke.” Psalm 66:17 NLT

Our human nature doesn’t lead us to feel thankful when we’re walking in the valley, but that’s precisely when God can do His best work in us. The hard work of changing our hearts and bringing us closer to Him. And creating a desire in us to want to be closer to Him.

The next thing I learned about Praise is that it’s not just for after something happens.

Praise is also meant to be given before we see His work.

How do I know what to praise Him for if it hasn’t happened yet? Because God is always at work, even when we can’t see it or imagine what He might be working on.

Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.” Psalm 103:2 NLT

Praise Him for being who He is—our God and Savior who doesn’t change on a whim. He doesn’t change the rules. And His love for us doesn’t change because He’s having a bad day.

Praise Him because no matter what we’re going through, we can be sure He’s walking beside us. He leads the way before us and watches over us. Sometimes He stays quiet, but we can trust that He’s there.

In those times I desperately need to feel His presence, I ask Him to let me see Him. And then I look for Him even in the slightest way. It might be in in new flower buds, the lyrics of a song, an unexpected phone call or text from a friend, or in the way my day turns around through no power of my own.

My heart is confident in you, O God; my heart is confident. No wonder I can sing your praises!”  Psalm 57:7 NLT

That year, I learned to praise God for His presence, for His love and compassion, and because no matter what I regret doing today, tomorrow is a brand new start.

Praise Him because when we look for Him, we will see Him. And the more we see Him, the more we will look for Him.

By Laura Rath
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Not long ago, I was reminded again of the pain and heartache in the world.

It’s not that I’d forgotten exactly, but sometimes it’s there — everywhere you look. It becomes hard to miss and impossible to ignore.

That was a week I could see the struggle behind the smiles. I could read the heartache in written words. I could hear the pain in the tears.

Family members struggling.
Loved ones hurting.
Friends grieving.

Strained and broken relationships.
Physical and emotional pain.
Financial hardships.

Everyone has something to deal with, and while our struggles may be different, they are no less real. They are no less significant.

Often, one of the only things we can do for someone is to be there. To listen, without giving advice (unless asked) and to extend compassion, even when we don’t understand.

What else can we do?

3 Things We Can Do to Make a Difference in Someone’s Day

1) Smile
I wonder how often one person’s smile is the best part of someone else’s day. Something so small, and yet so big and important. So easy, but forgotten about when we get busy and rush through the day.

What if, regardless of our mood or how our day is going, we make an effort to smile more—with our families, co-workers, at the grocery store, the bank, the school—wherever we have the opportunity to make a difference? Your smile may be just what someone else needs today.

2) Reach Out
When someone is in your thoughts, let them know. God will bring someone to mind and place them in our hearts for a reason. He knows they need a kind word. They need to feel remembered. They need to know someone is thinking of, and praying for, them.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from a friend at just the right time. I want to be that friend to another. I’ll admit, I’m working on this one. I have a habit of putting off an email, thinking I’ll get to it later, and then forgetting. But I’m trying to be intentional about reaching out to others.

3) Pray
Something happens when we pray. We draw closer to the One who hears us and sees everything. He not only works in the lives of those we pray for, but He works in our lives.

Prayer changes us from the inside out, in ways we may not even be aware of. Perhaps you’ve been praying for someone, or for a situation, for so long and you’re ready to give up. I know the feeling. But, we can’t give up. Prayer matters! It makes a difference, even if we can’t see it.

We may never know if, or how, our prayers were answered for someone else’s life. But God knows, and that’s what matters.

How can you make a difference in someone’s day today?

But the fruit of the Spirit  is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control’
Galatians 5:22-23

By Laura Rath
Used by Permission

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