Rebecca Duvall

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Hope

31 HopeI’m thankful for the hope I receive through my faith in Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.

 

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead ~ 1 Peter 1:3

I’m confident in the strength, wisdom and power I receive daily from the Holy Spirit, which was given to me by Jesus, through the gift given to the world by God. I know I cannot do the things I do, such as write, speak, love and live with passion, on my own. It’s only with the guidance, wisdom, courage and strength given to me through the Holy Spirit by Jesus that’s allowed by God.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. ~ Hebrews 11:1

I cannot see these things being given to me, but I am sure I am receiving these gifts by God, because there is no one else able to give such gifts to another.

My belief, my hope, is that every circumstance, whether good or bad, will be used for good by God. There is a silver lining to every situation, even if we can’t see or understand it. We must trust God, who is Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent-all powerful, all knowing and everywhere.

31 Romans 12-12

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank You for the hope we have through Your Son, Jesus, who You sent for us. I pray You would open the eyes and heart of those who don’t understand what the death of Your Son on the cross means, so they may truly grasp the love You have for them, Amen.

Holy Spirit

13 courageI’m thankful for the Holy Spirit. God is so amazing! He knows I have a difficult time remembering what it is I’m suppose to do, so I have the Holy Spirit to help me out. All believers in Christ have received the Holy Spirit! I’m thankful the Holy Spirit not only helps me, it teaches me. It speaks to me, like a gentle soft loving voice deep within.

13 John 14-26

To me, the Holy Spirit is like a warm fuzzy blanket I get to carry around with me on the inside, where know one can disturb the comfort it brings me. How would you describe the Holy Spirit within you?

Just as it says in Romans 15:13, the Holy Spirit brings us hope. When we listen to the wisdom and guidance given by the Holy Spirit within, we will receive joy and peace, which leads to hope. Hope that all things will work out just as God plans and all He plans is good.

I’m thankful for the strength, courage and confidence I’ve received from the Holy Spirit. How has the Holy Spirit helped you this holiday season?

rom15-13

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for sending each who believes in Your Son, Jesus, a helper, the Holy Spirit. Lord I pray we would always look within for it’s guidance and wisdom, Amen.

Advent

advent candles 2I must confess, in the past, I have not payed much attention to the lighting of the advent candles on the Sunday’s leading up to Christmas, which is called the advent season. This year, however, I have payed close attention to what was being said during the lighting of the candles.

At the church we attend, Covenant Community Church, a different family or group of people participate in the lighting of the candle or candles each week.

The 1st candle is purple and is the Candle of Hope. We can have hope because God is faithful and will keep the promises he made to us. Our hope comes from God.

And again, Isaiah says, “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations;
 in him the Gentiles will hope.” May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~ Romans 15:12-13

I’m in awe of God and how much he loves us. He not only sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to die for us, but He also gives to all believers of Jesus the gift of the Holy Spirit, which will not only guide and direct us, but also enable us in all we are called to do. Hallelujah!

The 2nd candle is purple and is the Candle of Peace. God kept His promise of a Savior who would be born in Bethlehem. Help us to be ready to welcome You, O’God!

As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:

“ A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all people will see God’s salvation.’” ~ Luke 3:4-6

I’m extremely grateful for the sacrifice Jesus made for me, and for you, so we could have direct access to God.

The 3rd candle is pink and is the Candle of Joy. It’s because of the hope we have in Jesus and the peace only He can bring to us we can experience true joy.

…and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

An there were shepherds living out in the fields nerby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on the earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” ~ Luke 2:7-15

The more I know Jesus, the more my heart is opened to see those around me, as it is filled with a deep desire to help them as Jesus helps me.

The 4th candle is purple and is the Candle of Love. God sent his only Son to earth to save us, because he loves us!

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. ~ John 3: 16-17

As I’ve said before, John 3:16 is the first scripture I ever learned. I believed it before I understood it. That’s the wonderful thing about God. He helps us to understand Him and His will for us. We must simply seek Him.

The 5th candle is white and is the Christ Candle. The white candle reminds us that Jesus is the spotless lamb of God, sent to wash away our sins! His birth was for his death, his death was for our birth!

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” ~ John 1:29

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” ~ John 3:1-8

Isn’t that beautiful? Jesus’ purpose of becoming flesh here on earth was to die for us so we could be reborn. This helps me trust and believe, even more, God’s almighty plan and timing of it all.

May prayer for us today ~ Father God, we thank you for the precious gift of your son Jesus, whose birth we will celebrate on Christmas. I pray each and everyone across the world will experience hope, peace, joy and love that only comes from You, Amen.

The Blessing In Pneumonia

parting red seaI can’t stop thinking about my BSF group discussions last week and how God directed the Israelites out of Egypt and to the Red Sea. I am in awe of God’s great power. He took them the long way around because he knew coming upon a war would be too much for them and they would run back (Exodus 13:17-18). He knew each of them that well. To think God knows me, and you, that well, and will go out of the way for each of us, because He wants, and knows, what’s best for us. This is so beautiful.

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle.   ~ Exodus 13:17-18

Earlier this year my husband found out his body had started rejecting his new kidney. The doctors tried a new experimental drug for this situation, IVIG, to help stop his body from rejecting and ultimately destroying the kidney. IVIG is known to create antibodies that the body should be making. The doctors were hoping the extra antibodies created would help fight off the foreign antigens brought over with the new kidney and then there would be no reason for his body to reject it. This two-day procedure was attempted twice with little then no help.

The doctors then decided to try an additional medication called Rituxan. This drug attaches to certain blood cells, from the immune system, and kills them. The hope is that this drug, along with the IVIG, will help my husband’s body fight off and kill the foreign antigens causing all the ruckus in his body.

(This is completely off topic, but all of this talk about the immune system and killing the foreign antigens made me think of the movie Innerspace.  Here’s the trailer.  It gave me a good laugh. I hope it makes you laugh as well. If I could, I would go in and make peace between the antigens and antibodies fighting in my husbands body.)

 

OK….back to the topic at hand…..

While we were waiting for the Rituxan to be scheduled, my husband came down with pneumonia. This is something that happens to him at least once a year. After the doctors realized this, they decided to put off the kidney rejection meds until six weeks after finishing the medication for his pneumonia. At the time, this was very annoying. This was set to happen at the very beginning of our summer break, and now it was looking like it was going to happen right in the middle of it. We couldn’t plan anything in the beginning of the summer because my husband was sick. We couldn’t plan anything later because he would probably be sick from the new medications. We were all disappointed because we would be stuck at home all summer.

The beginning of the summer was indeed, rocky. Having my husband sick and the kids stuck at home was not a fun thing to deal with. But, after the first few weeks, once my husband started feeling better, we had a wonderful time together simply hanging out. We stayed up late watching movies, laughing and acting crazy, then enjoyed sleeping in and hanging out again. There were a few day trips and shopping excursions, but mostly just hanging out. This was the first time EVER that I didn’t want the kids to go back to school. We had an amazing time bonding as a family over the summer break.

Once the kids did go back to school, we started getting frustrated with the doctors. All we seemed to hear was “we’re working on it and we’ll schedule it soon”. The waiting was so hard. Not knowing what you can and can’t commit to or plan is extremely frustrating. We wanted to get the new kidney rejection meds scheduled and done sooner rather than later. We wanted to get on the other side of it.miracles happen

Thankfully, God knows what’s coming and how we will deal with it. He knows how much we can take and what’s the best way for us to go about it. If my husband did have the new medications at the beginning of the school year, it probably would have been too much for me to handle. Remember, the beginning of the school year was already very chaotic for me. I can’t imagine having my husband sick from meds to deal with on top of everything else. God led us the way that was best for us.

We recently got word from the doctors that my husband has been scheduled for the Rituxan treatment on November 4th. The IVIG treatment, which will be two weeks after the Rituxan, has been scheduled for November 18th and 19th as well. I truly believe this has all been scheduled in God’s timing. What I thought was a pain in my side, my husband’s pneumonia, turned out to be an amazing blessing by God. Time to bond as a family and time to adjust to a rough start to the school year. He leads us on the path that is best for us, which is not always the easiest and shortest. Praise God!

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for loving and caring for us in an individual and intimate way. I pray we praise you while in the midst of our waiting and uncertain times, knowing you are there leading us through it, Amen.

 

 

God Speaks Life

Denise-MistichDenise Mistich is my guest blogger for today and she is sharing her encouraging story of overcoming depression, something most, if not all, of us have dealt with in some form or another. Wherever you may be today, I hope God speaks to you through this story so you may feel His presence and see His mighty hand at work in your life.

I am fortunate my depression is now just a memory. A memory painful enough to want to forget, yet fuel that keeps me going.

The days and nights I spent in “the dark cloud” seemed endless. I was almost catatonic. My eyes were open, but I could not see. When my friends and family spoke, I could not hear.

I had given up on God and decided Jesus was just a myth. So I had no life. Death was all around me, in me, constantly looming over my head. But, sadly for me at the time, never closing in. It pinned me down and breathed poison over me day and night, relentlessly torturing and taunting. I sat day, after long miserable day, hoping it would finish its work in one fatal blow, doing for me what I could not do for myself. (Thanks be to God.)

When medication, hospitalization, and counseling failed, I quit. I literally laid down to die. I didn’t pray to die, but certainly wished for death to come swiftly. I suppose this was my rock bottom.

I had reached the point where I was so dead on the inside the world to me was silent. Thinking back, I realize it was this silence that allowed me to hear God speak the following words.

“That’s enough.  Get up.  Come on, Get up.  Why are you crying?”

“Get up.  That’s enough.  Don’t you know there are people out there who love you?  What about your brothers?  They love you, dearly.  What about your father?  He loves you, too.”

“No, I’m not talking about your earthly father.  He will not always be there for you.  Where will you be when he dies?”

“I’m talking about your heavenly Father.  He has something better for you.  Now get up, wipe your tears.  You’ve punished yourself enough…”

As He spoke, I got up, dusted myself off and stood tall for the first time in months. Each word literally breathed life back into me and I simply said, “Ok.”

I have been up ever since. I struggled at times and still, depression wants to creep back in now and then. But I can see it coming and I remember it was my response to God’s spoken word that got me out of the darkness the first time. The very same, sustains me.

You see, I have come to realize this response was the last chance for me. I see now that my simple yes was the equivalent to Mary’s  “May it be done unto me according to thy word,” in The Gospel of Luke, Chapter 1. And just like Mary’s response, it would bring life or death, not only for me, but for those around me.

I believe God speaks to everyone.  The book of Hebrews tell us He sustains all things with His word.

It is not a question of whether or not He speaks, it is a question of listening and responding. We have to tune the world out, silence it completely and hear what He has to say. And not just once, but every day of our lives.

Listen for His spoken word, read His written word, and respond, “May it be done unto me according to thy word.”

Your mind will be renewed, your purpose will become clear and you will live to fulfill that purpose. Just look at what Mary brought into the world with this very same response.

Perhaps God is speaking to you now through this article. Or maybe He has spoken to you through a friend or a minister’s encouragement. However He speaks to you, listen, and respond well. You have two choices, life or death. Choose life.

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. ~ Deuteronomy 30:19-20

On September 18, 7pm EST, I will share more details about my story on The Healing Room radio show.  Dr. Janiece C. Andrews and Margery Phelps will share their stories as well. Together, we will give you some very simple steps to take to begin your healing journey. In the meantime, take some baby steps toward recovery. (Link to radio show:  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cwa-radio)

When you are depressed, a long list of things to do doesn’t really work. Here are three simple things you can do today that will get you started on your healing journey:

  • Tune the world out for a minimum of 15 minutes today and seek God’s presence. (Do not think about yourself, think about Him.) If you don’t hear anything directly, hang on. It will come.
  • Think of one person you love more than yourself. Perhaps this is someone you haven’t even met. But this someone needs you. Put that person’s feelings in front of your own and cling to life for their benefit.
  • Choose to believe God has a plan and purpose for your life. As He literally said to me, “I’ve got something better for you.”

Denise Davidson Mistich is now an ordained minister and author of Christian books. You can learn more about her ministry on www.spiritual-health-source.com and www.tellmeaboutgod.org. Her book, The Upside Down Heart, is coming soon.

 

Calm To Chaos

calendarThis year was the first time ever I didn’t want the school year to start. I know it sounds crazy, but we have had the most wonderful summer. We didn’t go anywhere fancy like Disneyland, Hawaii or even on our yearly summer trip to Tahoe. We just stayed home and hung out. We had many late nights watching movies followed by many late starts to the day. There was a little shopping here and there, but mainly staying home and connecting as a family. It was a calm summer and I wasn’t bored once! Usually, I can’t sit still and need to be working on something.

Since school has started, we are now on day 17 (not that I’m counting or anything 😀 ), it’s been one chaotic situation after another. I tell you, when it rains, it can most definitely pour! It feels like the kids have been in school for months! Usually, when school starts we slip immediately into a routine. Not this time. I haven’t had two days the same yet. Each day has brought something chaotic, unexpected and unwanted into my day. My calendar is continually changing and I feel like I’m lost in a maze!

The end of last week I snapped! I felt completely overwhelmed and inadequate for what was needed of me. My instinct was to run. Run far far away. This was the kind of overwhelmed feeling that ‘calgon’ couldn’t even fix.

It was the night before BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) training. This is going to be my second year as a group leader. I was literally freaking out! I told myself there was no way I could take on this kind of responsibility this year. There were too many things going on and to many unknowns. I called the BSF teaching leader and told her I couldn’t do it. I had to quit.

She listened to me explain my situation and give her all the reasons why I couldn’t continue to be a leader. She then tried to help me look outside the box at the situation in a couple different ways. That wasn’t helping. It only caused more panic. Then she began to ask me questions.

  • “Did you pray at the end of last year whether or not God wanted you to be a leader again?” My reply “Yes”
  • “What do you believe God’s answer was?” My reply “Yes, I had a very strong desire to be a BSF leader again.”
  • “Do you believe God knew about everything that was going to happen once school started?” My reply “Yes”
  • “Do you think God would have given you that desire if He didn’t want you to be a leader again?” My reply “No”

As I was being asked these questions, I realized I had expected to figure out and deal with each of these chaotic situations on my own. I knew God was there, but I wasn’t looking to Him for any answers. I was acting as if I alone had to work out my schedule, as well as everyone else’s. I assumed everyone around me had expectations of me that I didn’t think I could live up to.keep calm

I then began to remember all of the amazing things God did for me during the previous BSF year. He always gave me special pockets of time to get my study done even when I complained that I didn’t see how I would get it done because I was to busy. But that’s the key; I talked to God about it. Well, not really talk, more like complain and whine. But still, I communicated to God what I was going through and looked to him for the answers. This time I kept it all in my head and tried to figure it out myself. Why, you may ask. Well, I’m not sure, but I do feel like a stupid idiot for letting myself get all worked up about it.

Thankfully, by the end of the conversation I had with my BSF teaching leader I realized I needed to bring God back into the mix. I had some how forgotten to include Him in my chaos. I can’t tell you that things magically got better over night. There are still some chaotic things going on in my life. What I can tell you is, I feel calmer and at peace in the midst of my chaos.

I’d like to leave you with one of my favorite verses in the Bible, Romans 12:12, as our prayer for today, which God has reminded me of recently.

Be joyful in hope (Believe God is there in the midst of your chaos)

Be patient in affliction (Trust God in His timing)

Be faithful in prayer (Always talk to God)

JoyfulPatientFaithful 2

Faith and Hope

By Robert Duvall

faith hope loveFaith and hope are two words that we hear frequently when we are faced with serious challenges. There have been many times in my own life when I have lost my faith and given up on hope. I have taken a hard look back at times when those two words meant nothing to me. Friends and family with nothing but good intentions tried to encourage me during or after a traumatic event with faith and hope and what they said fell on deaf ears. Everyone experiences hard times, health issues, abusive and failed relationships, loss of a family member or friend, financial troubles just to name a few.

For me it was mostly anger and pain that kept me from turning to God to help me through my darkest hours. That’s when my faith was at its lowest, if I had any at all. I also had no hope. It all seemed to me like such a waste of time. I was blinded by anger, hopelessness, anxiety, depression and fear. I know that during those times I treated my family as if they were to blame for what I was going through.

Over a period of 5 years I had suffered 2 heart attacks, near fatal pancreatitis, a stroke and complete kidney failure. To top it off, I was forced to medically retire from my law enforcement career which I had served over 25 years. But one night I had enough. At 3 am I went to my downstairs living room, got down on my knees and gave it all to God. I promised that I would be a better husband to my wife and a better father to my children. I promised that I would rely on Him to get me through this. I stopped the pity party and worked on being positive and faithful. I now had hope.

Things didn’t change overnight but they did improve and continue to get better. I will be plagued with medical issues all my life. I just recently found out that the kidney my wife donated to me to save my life is now in rejection. I will soon have to endure chemotherapy. But my faith is strong and I have renewed hope.

2 corinthians 5 7 walk by faith

Nothing that is good comes easy. Lessons that are painful are the ones you remember. Prayer is so powerful and it does work. Don’t let anything take away your faith and hope. Give it over to God, completely.

My prayer for us today ~ Lord, thank you for the trails you have placed in our lives. I pray Lord that we look for you in the trials of our lives to see the blessings and help that you alone can give, Amen.

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