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Because he loves me

About this post: We want to stay connected! This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals for this season. Read them, share them, and pray that they bring God's peace and love to our communities. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text ZPCDevo to 317.768.0600. We welcome your comments and questions each day. 

About the author: Pamela and her husband, David, have been grateful to be a part of ZPC's congregation for approximately 15 years. Both love being a part of the Great Banquet community and being involved in a variety of ways musically. Pamela is also involved with Revive and Restore women's ministries. 

Today's Scripture: Psalm 91

I wrote this devotional two days before beginning our couch concerts (weekly live concerts on Facebook where family and friends can gather virtually). God has been drawing us closer to him during this time and we have been bathing our concerts in prayer—that they would be glorifying to God and that they would bring his hope, encouragement, peace, and joy to the attendees as we gather and have fun together. While I still struggle occasionally, I can honestly say that the below reflects one of my most difficult days during this time. I felt that someone needed to hear this today.

As I sit in tears at my keyboard, I can only shake my head and pray and simply say, “God, I need you. I just need you.” I am a whirl of emotions. I am helpless to the next slam of fear and grief. I don’t understand how I’m feeling…or how one moment I can be so strong, so peace-filled, so full of joy…and the next moment reduced to tears and despair. I can’t explain it. I just know where to run when it happens.

The sun is out today. Walking in blessed sunshine, waving at neighbors from afar, seeing a cat lazing in a window, basking in the rays, fill me with such joy. Then returning home, a young lady sat on our steps in our foyer surfing on her phone. There’s no way to climb the steps without brushing by her. Not six feet, let alone one. Just like that, the joy and feeling of freedom was gone. Unbidden, concern, stress, and fear invaded again.

When God really wants to emphasize something to me, he does it three times. So glad for a God who understands that sometimes saying something once doesn’t cut it. In the last few days, He has given me Psalm 91 three different times. I can’t help but feel that is what I am to share with you.

It talks of pestilence and plagues, of darkness and flying arrows, of terror and disaster. To be honest, I was afraid of this scripture. I can’t reassure and say we won’t be touched by the terrible, difficult things around us. I love God, I believe in him and his healing, in his saving abilities. But being a child of God does not mean we will be saved from all things. It does mean he will be there beside us and will walk us through whatever confronts us.

I realized with Psalm 91 that I have to change my focus. I don’t need to be looking at the plague, the terror, the darkness. I need to center my focus on our one true God. Psalm 91 shows that He is our refuge, our shield, our rescuer, our protector, our satisfier, our savior. He has us. He has this. None of this took him by surprise and he has never lost control. He is our Savior and Lord and his eyes are upon us.

When you are overcome, bask in this truth in Psalm 91:14-16: "Because he loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him; for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation."

God loves you deeply, desperately. You are not alone.

Activity:

Psalm 91 is rich with many encouraging phrases. Before reading it again, ask God to touch your heart with a certain verse, one that he means specifically for you. As you read Psalm 91, pay attention to what verse really sticks out to you, which one shines. Take that verse and write it down. Write it on a post-it note, color it, paint it if you want, then place it in one or many places in your home where you can be reminded of God’s great, great love just for you.

Prayer:

Holy Father,
These times are scary. So much unknown, so many what ifs. Thank You that You are our God who cares, that You are involved in every tiny detail of our life, and that we are not alone. You did not leave us to fend for ourselves. You are still on the throne. In all of this uncertainty, we can run to You. We don’t have to have the answers. We just need to run to You. Forgive us that our trust is shallow and that our struggle is deep. Help us to feel Your presence, comfort and guidance in many amazing ways.
Amen

From Anxiety to Consolation and Joy

About this post: We want to stay connected! This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals for this season. Read them, share them, and pray that they bring God's peace and love to our communities. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text ZPCDevo to 317.768.0600. We welcome your comments and questions each day. 

About the author: Jenni and her husband Scott have been ZPCers for  more than 13 years. They have a high school aged daughter, a son in middle school, and twin boys in elementary school. 

Today's Scripture: Psalm 94

“When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ your love, O LORD, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.”     Psalm 94:17-18

I do not consider myself to be an overly anxious person or a worrier. I generally tend not to lose much sleep over things once I’ve prayed about them and talked myself through their worst-case scenarios. But, at the start of this COVID-19 “lockdown,” I found myself becoming anxious. I wasn’t so much worried about anyone in my home contracting this potentially-deadly virus; we had no pre-existing conditions, don’t fall into the “at risk” age bracket, and would likely make it through the virus itself unscathed. Rather than being anxious about the impact of the virus itself on our family, my thoughts—and anxieties—became focused on flattening the curve for the safety of others, “homeschooling” my four kids, and obtaining groceries for our family of six.

Now, I admit, “anxious” might not be the best way to describe my feelings about homeschooling. Perhaps a more accurate descriptor of my feelings would be “entirely opposed to,” because I’d learned shortly after having my first child that I’d rather have my toenails removed one by one than be a stay-at-home mom—let alone a homeschooling mom of four. (If I could hire someone to teach them all via Zoom for the duration of this quarantine, I’d gladly do it—any takers?) Even if it wasn’t causing the anxiety, let’s just say that my new job as “teacher” wasn’t doing anything to ease my COVID-19-induced angst.

The grocery situation, however? It was legitimately stressing me out. While our new shelter-in-place rules allowed us to leave home to obtain groceries, we were being also strongly encouraged to stay home—which meant scheduling our groceries for curbside pick-up or having them delivered. Early on, scheduling those pickups/deliveries was quite a feat—I’d spend an hours online throwing things in my cart only to find out upon checkout that the next available delivery/pickup slot was five days out and the grocery was actually out of 25% of the items I’d placed in my cart. My one actual trip into the grocery store to purchase things myself didn’t make me feel any better; some sections of the grocery were empty of food entirely, and while I’d found most of what I needed, I felt germy and uncomfortable the entire time I was there and for hours afterward. I soon found myself praying about groceries, sharing my grocery stress with my husband and friends, and actually losing sleep about groceries. What if I couldn’t get what I needed, and we actually (gasp!) ran out of milk or had to resort to using Kleenex as toilet paper? What if my 14 year-old son ate all the food before the next delivery or pick-up slot opened up??? As the psalmist says in 94:18, I found my feet slipping.

But something else began happening, too. As I reminded myself that God was in control and he wasn’t going to let my family starve (even if there was no ground beef or canned corn to be had at the grocery store, I could still have a restaurant meal delivered or picked up at the drop of a hat, for goodness’ sake!), I found myself becoming increasingly thankful and content.

Sure, this time has been stressful. But I’ve been overwhelmed by the blessings that have come as a result of our being locked down. For the first time in years, our evenings and weekends have not been consumed with kids’ sports. Carpool time has been replaced with board games and watching movies with our kids, trips to the neighborhood pond for fishing, long walks and bike rides, staying up late to watch Netflix with my husband, and dinners together every night. I’ve had extra time with my daughter, Emma, a senior in high school whose competitive dance schedule historically made it such that we only saw her one or two nights per week (oh, how I’m cherishing this extra time with her before she leaves us for college!). Pandemic-induced travel bans meant that I didn’t have to go on the “senior spring break” trip to Mexico that I’d been dreading. My older and younger kids have been PLAYING TOGETHER, and I haven’t had to wear makeup, dry my hair, or put on “real clothes” in over six weeks!

As part of my daily devotional time each morning, I’ve been journaling my prayer requests anxieties over the past several weeks. I’ve also been listing the blessings I’ve noticed as a result of this lockdown…and the joys far outweigh my anxieties. I’d even go so far as to say that the contentment and joy have quashed the anxieties.

My husband has told me on several occasions over the past few weeks, “Jenni, you’re the most content shelter-in-place person I’ve ever met,” and I’d say perhaps this is true, for “When anxiety was great within me, (His) consolation brought joy to my soul.”

ACTIVITY:

Journal or make a list of your anxieties and give them over to God in prayer. Make a similar list of all the blessings you’ve noticed over the past several weeks and praise God for them!

PRAYER:

Lord,
Thank you for supporting us in difficult times, when we feel we are slipping. Thank you for not only holding us steady in the midst of uncertainty, but going so far as to console us and bring us joy! We pray for all those who are suffering right now: those who have lost loved ones—whether due to COVID or other injury or illness; those who are sick; those who are alone due to a lack of visitors and those who want to visit their loved ones, but can’t; those who have lost jobs or significant income; and for those healthcare workers who are on the front lines caring for the sick. Lord, we pray that they feel your presence and that, through you, they are able to find joy in the midst of pain.
Amen

Posted by Jenni Nolan with 1 Comments

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