STRONGER

Pam Otto, GFC Lutz 

I was at the grocery store the other day unloading my cart and getting ready to pay, when one of the workers noticed my t-shirt. It said ‘STRONGER’. You might remember the dark green one from a previous Beautiful Conference? We chatted a bit and he teased me that I didn’t need any help with my overflowing grocery bags since I was ‘STRONGER’! We laughed a bit, shared a smile and I went on my way.

As I was driving home, I thought, “Huh, I don’t feel very strong today… in fact I feel a bit beat up, and maybe even kind of weak. What am I doing wearing a t-shirt that says STRONGER on it! That seems way more optimistic than what I was feeling…I mean, I wish I felt Stronger!” As I thought longer, I knew I wanted to be filled up, even overflowing with strength, kindness, joy, and anything else that we’d want to wear on the front of our t-shirts, but I just couldn’t get there. Some days, we just feel blah, or sad, or emotional, or in recent days of hardship and loss, maybe even numb. What about you? Have you ever been there?

My heart’s desire is to walk through the highs and lows of life with God’s amazing grace, a thankful heart and the fruit and strength that comes from knowing Him. Most days, that’s where I live, and you likely do as well. But there are moments, when we feel the weight of the world and sometimes it’s a challenge to feel the deep soul connection that strengthens us! This is no surprise to God…He even tells us in Isaiah that He will strengthen our frame! Isn’t that a win?
Check out this verse:

“The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” Isaiah 58:11

He promises that He will strengthen us! We get STRONGER when we lean on Him!

When in that space of needing strength, I often get encouraged when I both pay attention to God and what His word says, as well as listen to worship songs that repeat these truths. God always speaks words of life, words that bless, teach, correct and inspire! He is the answer to the stuck places in each of our lives.

The worship song that inspired me in my weak state recently is called “Yes and Amen” by Housefires. It comes from the verse in 2 Corinthians which says,

“For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.” 2 Cor. 1:20

No matter how many promises the Lord has made, we have an assurance that not one will ever fail.
I want to encourage you when you feel less than, overwhelmed or just plain weak, to dig into His Words and get your worship on! Here are the words to the song that lifted me out of my pit and reminded me of all we have in Jesus! Praying you let God’s word fill you up and strengthen your frame!

“Yes and Amen”- Housefires:
Father of kindness
You have poured out of grace
You have brought me out of darkness You have filled me with peace
Giver of mercy
You’re my help in time of need
Lord I can’t help but sing
Faithful you are
Faithful forever you will be
Faithful you are
All your promises are Yes and Amen All your promises and Yes and Amen
Beautiful Saviour
You have brought me here
You have pulled me from the ashes You have broken every curse Blessed Redeemer
You have set this captive free Lord, I can’t help but sing
Faithful you are
Faithful forever you will be
Faithful you are
All your promises are Yes and Amen I will rest in your promises
My confidence is Your faithfulness
I will rest in your promises
All your promises are Yes and Amen All your promises are Yes and Amen

 

Seasons of CHANGE

Lisa Tobias, GFC South Tampa 

My husband and I were staring at the increasingly lower numbers in our business
bank account. Despite all my efforts to think of creative ways to attract more
business, despite an investment into new marketing ideas, despite sleepless
nights praying and searching for another way, despite it all, my pilates studio was
failing after 20 years in business.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the
heavens: a time to search and a time to give up, ” Ecclesiastes 3:1,6 (NIV)

I was divinely led to this scripture the day after our 2021 Beautiful conference.
I walked into that conference feeling hopeless, defeated, and confused. Just a few
months prior the Holy Spirit prompted me to choose the word “Forward” as my
word for 2021, but now it seemed like my life was only going backward. My
business has been my pride and joy. It was my baby before I even had babies. It
defined my daily routine. But now I was having to make the difficult decision to
close my pilates studio and face the unknowns that would follow.

When I read that verse in Ecclesiastes it ushered in the presence of God and a
sense of peace that I had been missing. Tears of relief flowed down my face as I
heard God say “It’s ok. You ran your race with this.” I sensed God giving me
permission to let go of my business and that He had something new for me.

Thank goodness God’s word is still alive and active! Thank goodness we can
experience God’s presence! It is the antidote to feelings of anxiety and confusion.
Friends, if you are in the midst of change or transition I encourage you to fill your
time, and your mind, with God’s Truth. While most of us love the comfort of
routine and security, change is an inevitable part of life. We can depend on God
for strength, guidance, and constancy during times of transition. These seasons
of change can often be viewed as a gift from God to heighten, deepen, and widen
your personal relationship with him. Even if God allows uncomfortable
circumstances to happen, these situations may be just what was needed to shake
you up enough …

So that you finally come to the end of yourself.
So that you let go of pride or any other traps you may have fallen into.
So that you finally find complete dependence on Him alone.
THEN he can move you FORWARD into His perfect will for your life.

The Unshakable

Pastor Debbie Altman, Grace Family Church

Hi ladies! I just want to share with you my heart as of late…

We are living in unprecedented times.  I’ve been around for 63 years, and a Christian for 45 years now, and with all that is going on in the world, I feel more than ever that a “shaking” is happening.  I think of Hebrews 12:27 that says, “…all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain.”  NLT

So, the world is upside down, and then we have our own personal battles, griefs, longings, and fears. And what we are dealing with in the outside world is only intensifying what we are experiencing in our own private worlds.  I know I’m talking to all of us here, right?  My hand is raised!

As I open the pages of my Bible, I see the headlines of the news and the tragedies of people I love jumping off of the pages.  The Bible is real.  It is relevant.  It is timely.  It is warning us.  And it is reassuring us. We need to press into learning God’s Word like never before. We have to know the truth, we have to know Jesus.  He is shaking things and only the unshakeable things will remain. I feel an urgency, a longing, an excitement to know Him and the truth of His Words in the Bible like never before. I know that only Jesus is unshakeable.  The Bible says He is our Hiding Place, our Rock, our Shelter in the storm.  There is nowhere else to find what we need.  When we feel like flying apart, He is our Anchor.

And while I am hanging on to my unshakeable Jesus, I want to share that hope with so many out there who have never known how much He loves them and sees them, how much He wants to hold them close and give them a new way of living…a new way of thinking and believing and hoping.  We need to bring others along with us!  There is an urgency!

I want to leave you with a few Bible verses that I have been thinking upon these last months as I see so many things falling away and so many challenges coming.  I can say my words, but His Word is what will remain.  Breathe them in.  Soak them in.  Rest in them.

When my flesh and my heart fail, be my portion forever.  Ps 73:25-26

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup, you make my lot secure.  Ps 16:5

Your name and renown are the desire of my heart; my soul yearns for you in the night, and in the morning my spirit longs for you.  Isaiah 26:8-9

As the dear pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.  Ps 42:1

Let the light of your face shine upon me, O Lord, and that shall fill my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound.  Ps 4:6-7

O that my soul may thirst for you, and my body long for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water; that I may behold your power and your glory, as I have seen you in the sanctuary.  Your love is better than life.  Ps 63:1-3

Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in Him, for He shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves, rests between His shoulders.  Deuteronomy 33:12

If you do not know how to get to know about the Bible, please join us at Grace Family Church in one of our many Small Groups that will help you along the way.  There has never been a better time.  I love you all.

Pastor Debbie Altman