The enemy I battle most is Discouragement. I know better than to give that rascal a toehold in my life. But it slips in subtly, whispering hopelessness, just like long ago. Remember how the Israelites responded to Moses when he came to lead them out of bondage in Egypt.

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country…‘Therefore, say to the Israelites:

I am the Lord and

I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.

I will free you from being slaves to them, and

I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.

I will take you as my own people, and

I will be your God….

I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

I will give it to you as a possession.

I am the Lord.’

“Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and cruel bondage” (Exodus 6:1, 6-9 NIV).

Despite those I wills, discouragement ruled.

But the Lord didn’t change his plan. After a series of plagues, his people left Egypt for the land he’d promised, a land flowing with milk and honey.

Moses sent scouts to explore the land, and it was everything they could have dreamed. But only Joshua and Caleb believed they could move forward and inhabit the land. The other ten gave a negative report about giants in the land, discouraging the hearts of the people and filling them with fear. Instead of taking possession of their inheritance, they wandered in the wilderness for forty years, until all of the men twenty years of age and older had died because they didn’t wholly follow the Lord (Numbers 32:11).

What a sad story illustrating the power of discouragement.

All the more reason to guard our mind and heart against this mighty weapon wielded by the enemy of our souls.

Remember the Lord’s promise to Joshua when he assumed leadership, “…Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9 NIV).

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host, and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s secretary of Christian Authors Network and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and Christian Women in Media Association. Visit www.diannebarker.com.

 

 

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“I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving…” (Psalm 116:17).

From this verse I get the impression we offer thanksgiving with difficulty or under hardship—because we should do it, not necessarily because we want to do it.

Early in my walk with the Lord, my expression of thanks depended on my circumstances. When favorable, my heart overflowed with gratitude and praise. I found it easy to rejoice and thank the Lord.

I offered thanksgiving as a reward for his being good to me and withheld it if I thought he hadn’t treated me fairly. Then I read “in every thing give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

In everything? That’s expecting a lot. So I gave thanks as a formality, with great effort, begrudgingly.

Reading those beautiful hymns of praise, the Psalms, I saw how others handled this.

Those writers offered thanks and praise to God in spite of circumstances, with gratitude for his marvelous works in the past and confidence in his promises for the future. They praised him for his very nature—he is good, gracious, righteous, merciful, slow to anger, rich in compassion and forgiveness.

If that weren’t enough, they praised him simply because he deserved it. The Lord God is worthy of honor and exaltation.

Regardless of my circumstances, he is still good, gracious, righteous, merciful, slow to anger, rich in compassion and forgiveness–and so worthy of honor and exaltation.

Giving thanks is a decision. And sometimes it’s a sacrifice. Even so…

“My heart, is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise” (Psalm 57:7).

(Adapted from Cabbages and Kings—Reflections on Living Abundantly in Christ)

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host, and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s secretary of Christian Authors Network and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and Christian Women in Media Association. Visit www.diannebarker.com.

 

 

 

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Have you felt bogged down…stuck…frozen in a place you’d rather not be? What led you here? Who’s idea was it to follow this path? Was it your plan or did the Lord send you? Was it your dream or his?

When feeling stuck, those questions bring clarity.

If the Lord sent me—if this is a dream he put in my heart—then he’s with me in this place…and I can trust him to show me what’s next.

The life of Moses encourages me.

Remember the burning-bush encounter? God initiated that whole bringing-my-people-out-of-slavery-in-Egypt thing. That was an overwhelming assignment, especially considering Moses wasn’t the most popular man in Egypt. He’d fled for his life after impulsively murdering an Egyptian for mistreating a fellow Hebrew.

After hiding out forty years in the wilderness, Moses heard the Lord speak in a flaming bush, assigning him a huge mission: “…I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

Moses said, “Who am I, that I should go…?”

God said, “I will be with you.”

“What if they do not believe me or listen to me?” God gave him miraculous signs to convince the people.

Moses objected that he was “slow of speech and tongue.” The Lord said, “Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”

Moses ran out of excuses. “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.”

Have you ever had that conversation? Lord, it’s too big! I’m inadequate. Send somebody else!

God allowed Moses’ brother Aaron to go with him and promised, “I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do.”

Take time to read the full account beginning in Exodus 3. Notice how God repeatedly assured Moses he wasn’t doing this on his own: say to the Israelites…go to Pharaoh and say to him…

Moses had one responsibility: to follow instruction. God told him what to say and what to do. Moses just obeyed, and God took care of everything else.

It was God’s idea!

Early on, Moses asked the Lord what to tell the Israelites if they asked who sent him. God told him to say, “I AM has sent me to you.” Simple meaning: I am everything you need.

When he sends us, we can go confidently because it’s his idea and he’s everything we need.

Decision is the cure for stuck. “I will go in the strength of the Lord God: I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only” (Psalm 71:16).

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host, and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s secretary of Christian Authors Network and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and Christian Women in Media Association. Visit www.diannebarker.com.

 

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“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26).

This morning I awoke to the sweet sound of birdsong. The feathered creatures seemed to be singing their praise for a new day, for sunshine just breaking through the darkness, for an ample food supply.

I wonder…am I as grateful for these and a multitude of other blessings?

The cheery chorus reminded me these little ones diligently pursue their sole responsibility—being the best winged-creatures they can be. They do not appear to worry about anything.

They don’t fret about position, problems, or power. They show no anxiety over relationships, no remorse over past failures, and no fear over what lies ahead.

We can learn much from these happy singers, just trusting God for every need.

Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31).

Our Lord cares for even these delicate creations. Yet he considers me of more value than many sparrows.

That certainly builds my self-esteem!

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host, and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s secretary of Christian Authors Network and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and Christian Women in Media Association. Visit www.diannebarker.com.

 

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I didn’t see it with my own eyes but I heard about it. The Israelites faced a desperate circumstance—the Red Sea before them and the Egyptian army behind them. No way out! Then the Lord sent a strong east wind causing the water to pile up like walls making a path, and turning mud into dry ground for that massive throng to cross. When the army pursued, the waters returned to normal flow and swallowed the Egyptians (Exodus 14).

I didn’t see it with my own eyes but I heard about it. After the Israelites had wandered in the wilderness forty years because of their unbelief, the Lord said it was time to take possession of the land he’d promised them. How would they cross the Jordan River? Again he caused the water to rise in a heap, and they crossed the Jordan—at flood stage—on dry ground (Joshua 3:9-17).

I didn’t see it with my own eyes but I heard about it. The Israelites used a baffling strategy—marching around the city of Jericho once for six days and on the seventh day, as the Lord commanded, they marched seven times, blowing trumpets and shouting. The walls tumbled and the Israelites conquered the city (Joshua 6:1-21).

I didn’t see it with my own eyes but I heard about it. As the Israelites fought for the land they would inherit, Joshua asked the Lord to let the sun stand still while the nation battled the Amorites. “The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day” (Joshua 10:1-14).

What’s your desperate circumstance? Do you wonder if it’s too difficult for the Lord?

He often reminded his people, “You have seen with your own eyes all that the Lord your God has done” (see Deuteronomy).

Don’t forget what you’ve seen with your own eyes…or what you’ve heard about. The Lord has a reputation for doing the impossible.

“Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you” (Jeremiah 32:17).

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host, and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s secretary of Christian Authors Network and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and Christian Women in Media Association. Visit www.diannebarker.com.

 

 

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