Category Archives: Encouragement

Where are you Autumn?

Thanks to a local car commercial, we who live in Central Illinois will be saying much today…

It’s hot, Bob!

You have to live around here to understand…but if the surface of the sun has any kind of connotation for you, that’s what this week has been feeling to us here in Central Illinois.

The farmers out harvesting seem out of synch with weather that makes us wish the pools were still open.

For loved ones on the East Coast, though, as they wade through what used to be their streets and basements…it’s a different kind of struggle.

But still…too much.

And I am just going to say that for some sweet people I love, many are in a spiritual season of too much of the bad stuff and not enough of the good stuff and it’s hard.

Tensions keep heating up and it’s hot, Bob.

Or the waters are rising around your neck and you are just tired of dog-paddling every. single. day.

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There are seasons when we cry out to God and are being as still as we can be and yet … nothing.

We have confessed…and repented…and prayed…and spoken the Word boldly.

And yet, nothing.

The silence is deafening.

Our praise and worship seems to bounce off the ceiling and mock us as it lands around our tear stained faces.

The mess not only isn’t going away, it’s multiplying.

And we cry out…it isn’t fair.

It isn’t supposed to be this way.

But this, my dear friends, is when the rubber of the faith meets the hard road of the journey.

It’s a marathon friends.

Not a foot race.

He IS faithful.

He HAS NOT forsaken us.

He WILL do and accomplish and complete ALL that He has purposed to do in YOUR life and in the life of those you love.

Hang in there.

Be strong in Him.

You are loved <3

 

Monday musings <3

 

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Happy Monday!

We had a full weekend that just covered all the seasons of life. 

Prayers covered precious people who buried loved ones. Other prayers covered friends as they held vigil in waiting rooms for new grand babies to arrive. 

I survived the gamut of emotions watching the Packers and Viking’s game. 

There was a wedding thrown in and some sweet and bittersweet conversations with friends going through good and tough times. 

It was all the events of life rolled into a few days and I am hitting the ground running this sunny and hot Monday morning. 

So just a quick word of encouragement to start your day. 

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God speaks in themes and for the past week, just about every book, devotion or sermon has centered on Abram/Abraham. 

He was the topic of our pastor’s teaching yesterday morning and the portion of a book I marked up earlier in the week with hearts, exclamation points and much underlining. 

The part that jumped out at me and has meant the most comes from the description of God making a covenant with him. 

In Genesis 15: 9-21, God instructs Abram in what seems bizarre to us in 2018 PETA driven America. 

He tells him to gather a select group of animals – certain gender and age…and split them in half. They are to be laid in such a way that a pathway is open between the two halves. 

One of our class members shared this was the most serious of covenant’s because both parties would walk between those carcasses and symbolize their intent to keep the contract they were making. 

They were, in essence saying, may this be done to the one who breaks this covenant. 

But as we read the passage in Genesis, we see that only God passed through. 

It was God who made the fullness of the Promise, and God who keeps the promise…and when Israel…or any descendant of Abram…even an adopted daughter like yours truly here…breaks the covenant…it isn’t us who pays. 

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God paid with the death of His Son for our breaking of the covenant. 

When we look at the Cross, we see God paying our debt. 

To steal the words of a beautiful song…Amazing love…how can it be…that You would die for me? 

Be blessed with this truth today. 

NO matter where you go. 

NO matter what you do. 

If you are IN HIM…you are covered <3

For the long haul <3

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This week on the blog, I have been looking at a passage from Ezra that I came across in my daily reading through the Chronological Bible. 

In Chapter 7 of this book, Ezra has received the blessing of the pagan King Artaxerxes to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple. Ezra is given a letter of passage, provisions and the oomph to insure that the powers that be along the way also contribute to this band of people who are making their way back home. 

The focus of my thoughts though comes from the portion of Scripture found in Chapter 8, verses 21-23.

Because as Ezra and the people were ready to set out across around nine hundred miles…with women and children and elderly people…all they owned…he stopped, dropped and prayed. 

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He proclaimed a fast and cried out to God to protect them as they made their way.

They were toting a fair amount of gold, thanks to the King. 

They were vulnerable.

But they had been bold.

Ezra had told the King he didn’t need an army to go with him and the people. 

Apparently Ezra had boasted in God. 

And it wasn’t because he didn’t believe his God was able that he stopped. 

It was because as he and the people who had settled and made a life now stood with all they knew of their comfort zone behind them and the vast unknown before them, what they knew for sure was…they were vulnerable to attack. 

There were enemies along the way who had great interest in what they could pillage of their treasure and no interest at all in their well fare and safe passage.

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I am thinking this morning of some children I love dearly scattered across this vast country of ours. 

They carry a treasure of eternal value in their sweet little jars of clay. 

There is an enemy that desires nothing more than to sideline and strip them of it. 

He is powerful and crafty and has many agents working at his bidding. 

But I have boasted in my God. 

So this morning, I bend my knee to the God of heaven and I ask Him for safe passage for those I love as they cross the unknown turf of today and head toward the promise of tomorrow. 

Is the Bible relevant to us today?

Oh yes. 

It is indeed. 

Be blessed dear ones.

You are loved and your passage is being covered in prayer today <3 

Real fast…here are my thoughts for today <3

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On Monday I didn’t write because I was simply exhausted from too many days in a row of being on the go. 

I spent the extra time that morning reading the entire book of Esther and I loved every single word of it. 

Today I knew I wanted to write something, so I just read a shorter passage as I move on through finishing the Old Testament and guess what. 

I loved every single word of that too. 

And I came away with something to share, even though I only read a page and a half this time. 

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I love the Chronological Bible because it is putting the books of Scripture in time order and helps me gain new understanding as I am able to place God’s Word into the time frame of the history of His people. 

My reading today covered the miraculous and gracious letter of commendation and the equally miraculous and gracious gifting of provisions given to Ezra by King Artaxerxes. All of that amazing information is outlined in Ezra 7. 

How a pagan King wrote a letter of passage and gave a ton of material goods to Ezra so he could take a group of people back to Jerusalem and rebuild. 

How this King mentions the God of heaven so many times, you start to think you lost your place and are reading the same sentence over and over. 

And all of Chapter 7 is good stuff. 

However, my thought for today comes from his passage:

There by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask Him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. I was ashamed to ask the King for soldiers and horseman to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the King, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to Him, but His great anger is against all who forsake Him.” So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and He answered our prayers. 

Ezra 8:21-23

I have several thoughts about this as I read that familiar passage of Scripture. 

First of all, Ezra says that in order to humble themselves, they proclaimed a fast. 

Yesterday I used the passage from 2 Chronicles 7:14…If My people who are called by My Name will humble themselves….

I will put myself in the examining seat here and say that I do not often make the connection between “humbling myself” and “fasting.”

I think I get humbled when I trip up socially or spiritually. 

I can feel humbled when I complain about some small first world problem and then realize some people exist every single day without even the most basic of necessities. 

But to intentionally humble myself usually ends up with me being hypersensitive to trying to play down anything that is looking like a blessing…piously bowing my head and chirping about how grateful I am to God for all He has done…trying to point to others and to Him so the spotlight is off of me…and while all of those things are definitely good things…they are not what Scripture is suggesting is the means to humbling myself before God. 

Ezra …. proclaimed a fast…..so that…the people might humble themselves before their God. 

Not sing praise songs to feel His presence more….

Not lay everything out and dedicate it to God and ask Him to bless it….

No. 

Do without food so that they would be humbled before God. 

Let me tell you. 

That is hard to do. 

Right now we have a box of peaches that I believe God Himself sent to us from Heaven straight to the fruit section of our local Sam’s Club. 

We bought them on Sunday and I have had at least one every single day. 

And right after I eat one, I stare longingly at the remaining orbs of deliciousness and plan when I will be able to eat another. 

I think about them when I am away from them. 

And while I thank God for every bite of them, who do you think I am exalting in all of this?

Me

My wants. My appetites. My happiness. 

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So do you see that by denying myself the fulfillment of my need to eat one of those today, I would be intentionally humbling MYSELF before my God?

Powerful.

The peaches are not evil. 

My enjoyment of them is not wrong. 

But to be intentional about denying myself one by fasting today, would be to … by faith…obey a spiritual law. 

In fasting we ARE humbling ourselves before God. 

The example is clear in Scripture. 

There are so many other things I want to share about this so come on back tomorrow…that is enough for us to … wait for it…chew on today <3

 

Sometimes we need to name our fears so they lose their power <3

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I have been working around the house today and it has been a while people. 

One of those days where anything I do is helping the cause so I interspersed bouts of cleaning with more purging and also spent time going through some of those stacks of bulletins, napkins, envelope backs and receipts that perch on the edge of this computer desk. 

They contain sermon notes and thoughts that I have had or someone has said that I thought needed recording and so I spent some time transferring what still made sense into a notebook I keep of ideas on things to write about.

One of the scribbles had just some basic words…and for effect I will tell you I scrawled FEAR at the top of a small lime green square of paper and under it I numbered 1  through 5.

I should also tell you that the numbers actually included a 1/2 between items 1 and  2;

six fears seemingly were recorded…

but #1/2 and #5 are completely illegible…

which is typical of my handwriting…so they are lost forever. 

Although I feel strongly the word by #5 was “done” which is an odd way to end a list of fears but … we will never know.

This I do know. 

They all had to do with my anxieties leading up to our trip to Cuba and I am glad I took the time to write down my fears that day.

For two reason, really.… 

For one thing, I still remember they brought looming what-if fears down to the size of a post it note and I could face them and carry on. 

The other reason was I can look back from today and say none of them ever happened. 

Well, except ironically #5 because we did finish the trip. 

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So I thought I would share them with you today because maybe you have things coming up and you have some fears and when you see mine maybe you will feel a camaraderie or maybe you will think…wow…at least my fears aren’t lame like hers. 

Are you ready?

  1. I will forget something I wished I had packed
  2. I will lose my passport while I’m there
  3. I will have tummy issues
  4. I will do that weird thing I do when I am nervous and shut down and miss the whole experience of connecting with people and being a part of it all

So here I am on the other side.

And let me tell you….

While none of those things happened and I thank God with all that is in me, they are all legitimate fears because they are things that can and have happened to either me or someone else and the thought of experiencing even one of those was producing a fear in me that was undermining the whole process of preparing physically and spiritually for the journey. 

God tells us to cast all our anxieties on Him but I truly believe we need to take some time and nail down exactly what it is we are anxious about. 

Just a blanket throwing the “feeling” of anxiety on Him is kind of silly.

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Because when I wrote those items down (and I am pretty sure the day I compiled the list numbers 1/2 and 5 made perfect sense), I was focusing on some real possibilities of things that could ruin the trip for me. 

But as I faced them on paper, I could think through why I was concerned and talk to God about it and pray and then yes, cast the worry that was wrapping tight around each scenario on Him and ask for His help to do my best on my end and leave the rest in His hands. 

What is troubling you today? Perhaps you can take time to jot it down or voice it in a prayer and then ask God to show you your part and give the rest to Him. 

I am praying right now that the Lord will open your eyes and heart to be honest before Him and then as you list those fears, you will have wisdom to know how to pray and how to release them to Him.

I pray He will guide you in the practical steps you need to avoid pitfalls where you can, and peace to know that if your fears pan out…He is with you. He will get you through.

I pray you know He is already ahead of where He is leading you but He is also right there with you each step of the journey.

Blessings and have a good weekend <3