Debra Joy’s Blog

RISE and Be HEALED

Posted by on Apr 11, 2014 in blog, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Hospital BedShare

Are you or someone you love having health problems? If so, put your trust in Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross for you. (See Isaiah 53:4-5)

Increase your faith by meditating on God’s Word. Keep the following Scriptures in front of you and meditate on them throughout the day and night. Believe what God says!

My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words. Don’t lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body.—Proverbs 4:20-22 (NLT)

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.—1 Chronicles 16:34 (NKJV)

Jesus said … “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).”—John 10:10 (AMP)

Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God [as if with leprosy]. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.—Isaiah 53:4-5 (AMP)

But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.—Isaiah 53:5 (NLT)

… who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.—1 Peter 2:24 (NKJV)

“Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress. He sent out His word and healed them, snatching them from the door of death.—Psalm 107:19-20 (NLT)

For He will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease.—Psalm 91:3 (NLT)

“…I am the Lord who heals you.”— Exodus 15:26 (NKJV)

“I will give you back your health and heal your wounds,” says the Lord.— Jeremiah 30:17 (NLT)

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases.— Psalm 103:2–3 (NKJV)

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.— Matthew 4:23 (NKJV)

When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “He Himself took our infirmities and bore [our] sicknesses.”—Matthew 8:16–17 (NKJV)

Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them [the] lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them.—Matthew 15:30 (NKJV)

When the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them.— Luke 4:40

And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed [them] all.— Luke 6:19 (NKJV)

Doo-Doo Happens

Posted by on Feb 13, 2014 in blog, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Debra Joy's 'little family' on their recent ski trip to WV

Last week my “little family” went snow-skiing in West Virginia. A couple of days before leaving on their trip, my daughter Joy asked me if I would take care of their three dogs, two cats, and eighteen chickens while they were away. Here is this week’s story …

After agreeing to take care of the animals I reminded Joy that I would need the kitty litter box for the cats, Mittens and Spunk. Joy replied: “Mama, you don’t have to worry about Spunk needing a litter box because he prefers roaming the fields behind the house to staying inside the house. Basically Spunk will show up when he wants something to eat or drink and then he’s off again. Now Mittens is the homebody. She’ll want to stay in the house the whole time we’re away. But mama, Mittens doesn’t need a litter box. She’ll ‘meow’ to let you know when she needs to go outside.”

Joy then explained how Mittens has different ‘meows’ and that her meow for ‘needing to go outside to be excused’ is different from her meow ‘for something to eat’. When I asked how I would know the difference between the ‘meows’ Joy assured me that I would know. Sure enough, Joy was right. After the first day of animal-sitting I was able to distinguish the differences in Mittens’ meows.

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday went by without a single hitch. I was thrilled with how well all the animals were doing. And as for Mittens … about the only thing she did was sleep on the sofa, eat, drink milk, and then head back to the sofa for more sleep.

Sunday morning arrives and I’m excited that my “little family” will be home by mid-afternoon. After cuddling with Mittens for a few minutes … I let her outside to ‘be excused’. Then I went to the bathroom to take a shower before heading off to church.

With my clothes and prescription-strength eyeglasses removed and placed on the counter, I stepped inside the bathtub. Keep in mind that without corrective lenses, I’m as blind as a bat. While turning on the faucet and adjusting the water temperature I noticed what looked to be a wadded up, dark-colored washcloth on the bottom of the tub, near the drain. Thinking that I must have accidentally dropped my washcloth from an earlier shower … I reached down and grabbed the ‘wad’. As soon as my fingers grabbed the ‘wad’ I recoiled in horror and let out a scream—for it was a ‘wad’ of cat doo-doo! I about broke my neck getting out of the tub … and when I finally got the doo-doo off my hands and fingers … I text a message to my daughter telling her exactly what HER cat had done! She text a message back to me … I text a message back to her … and back and forth the text messages flew. In one of Joy’s messages she text; “Bless Mittens’ little heart. She must have mistaken the bathtub for the toilet.” What? Never did Joy say anything to me about the cat using a toilet! Never, ever!

In the meantime I’ve got a big ‘wad’ of cat doo-doo in my bathtub that’s got to be removed. Then the bathtub has to be scrubbed clean before I can take a shower and now I’m really going to be late for church. Definitely too late to sing with the praise and worship team. So quickly, I text a message to John, the praise and worship leader, to let him know that something ‘totally unexpected’ had happened and that I wouldn’t be able to sing with the team but that I’d be there in time to teach the youth group.

Yes, with the doo-doo, the cleaning task, knowing that I was going to be late, and everything else seemingly going wrong … I was sorely tempted to stay home and not go to church. But the more I thought about it, the more I knew that I couldn’t let doo-doo do me in. The fact of the matter is, in life, doo-doo happens. I’m not immune to it and neither are you. My question to you is … when doo-doo shows up in your home, in your life, what do you do?

Do you allow the stinking doo-doo (fear, betrayal, lies, rejection, addiction, anger, feelings of inferiority, unforgiveness, whatever the doo-doo might be) to remain in your life? Do you give up on your hopes, your dreams, and what you know to be God’s purpose and plans for your life … just because of some doo-doo? If so, you need to have a heart-to-heart talk with God and the sooner the better. Frankly speaking, you must not allow doo-doo’s stench to permeate your thoughts and your mind.

For some of you that will mean that you stop cuddling with the doo-doo.

You say you’re weak. I say, tell me something new. The truth is we’re all weak in one way or another. Usually we’re weak in a multiple of ways. But guess what? God isn’t weak. He never has been and never will be. God Almighty’s strength is mightier than any filthy, stinking doo-doo in Satan’s arsenal. And don’t you ever forget it. So rise up! Call on the name of God, surrender your life fully to Him, and watch as He removes and cleans the doo-doo from your life.

“He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out from the bog and the mire, and set my feet on a hard, firm path, and steadied me as I walked along.”—Psalm 40:2 (TLB)

 

Try Not To Lose Heart

Posted by on Feb 8, 2014 in blog, Uncategorized | 0 comments

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Weinee (B.B.) on 'snow watch'. It wasn't just humans who were waiting and watching for the snow.

Weinee (B.B.) on ‘snow watch’.
It wasn’t just humans who were waiting and watching for the snow
.

 

“Okay, I’m tired of waiting to see snow. Each time I look outside it is sleet and ice. Yucky. I wanted to see some beautiful white flakes, not ice that causes accidents! Sweet dreams… I think I will take a nap.”

“Well kids, Snow-maggedon 2014 has been quite disappointing. So far, no snow, just ice. Sigh…”

“Giving up on snow. I’m going to sleep.”

Comments of frustration and impatience like the ones above and hundreds more flooded the ‘New Feed’ of my Facebook account this past Tuesday. Certainly it was easy for me to understand these expressions of exasperation. Especially since with the passing of every snow-free hour … I too … became more and more skeptical of the weather reports.

For a great number of eastern North Carolinians, just a simple mention of a snow dusting is a cause for celebration. So you can imagine the excitement level that was generated when weather reports indicated historic snowfall levels for eastern NC. For more than a week snow had been forecasted for my ‘neck of the woods’ yet when the highly anticipated ‘snow day’ arrived, not a single snowflake fell in the morning hours. By the time late afternoon came and went, and still there was no sign of snow, people began venting their feelings of disappointment on Facebook. Others took to Facebook to ‘blame’ local weathermen for the ‘no show’ snow.

While I did refrain from posting negative comments … I didn’t refrain from having negative and skeptical thoughts regarding the ‘promised snow’. That is, not until the Holy Spirit reminded me of the following verse in God’s Word; “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”—Galatians 6:9

“If we do not lose heart” … hmmm. There’s a lot that can be said about that phrase. Actually there’s a lot that can be said about the entire scripture. And for sure, I could write several stories on just this one scripture. But instead, I’ll simply say: Don’t ever give up on those things you’re believing for.

Don’t Give Up (On The Brink Of A Miracle)
by Mike Adkins

(Chorus)
Don’t give up on the brink of a miracle
Don’t give in, God is still on the throne
Don’t give up, on the brink of a miracle
Don’t give up, remember you’re not alone

When Satan would have you look
At the trials of life that surround you
And he tries to appear, and bring doubt and fear all around you
Don’t look with the eye, or listen with your ear,
Just cry out to God, He is always near
In your darkest hour, your miracle is here!

The devil is a thief, and he sends those troubles to confound you
And he lies and says, “This time, there’s no way you can find to make it thru”
Remember God’s true Word, the battle is the Lord’s
Don’t give in to fear, think on things that are pure
Praise the Lord, your miracle is here!

So did it ever snow in my ‘neck of the woods’? You bet it did! Around 1:30 AM Wednesday I turned on the outside flood lights to take a look and behold, beautiful white snowflakes were falling! When it was all over and done with … we measured 4 to 5 inches of snow in our yard, which was more than plenty for everyone to play in.

 

“But Jesus looked at them and said, With men this is impossible, but all things are possible with God.”—Matthew 19:26 (AMP)

I know that You can do all things, and that no thought or purpose of Yours can be restrained or thwarted.”—Job 42:2 (AMP)

“Alas, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! There is nothing too hard or too wonderful for You.”—Jeremiah 32:17 (AMP)

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is there anything too hard for Me?”—Jeremiah 32:27 (AMP)

“Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”—Isaiah 1:18 (AMP)

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Anne Graham Lotz Reveals Her Heart for the Wounded

Posted by on Feb 6, 2014 in blog | 0 comments

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Anne Graham Lotz with her father Evangelist Billy Graham.

Anne Graham Lotz with her father Evangelist Billy Graham. Anne reveals her heart In her recently published book, “Wounded by God’s People“.

Wounded cover image[1]This week I’m tickled pink to introduce a very special guest to you. Her name is Anne Graham Lotz and she’s the founder and president of AnGel Ministries. If I were to list everything Anne’s accomplished thus far in her life … the list would be very, very, long. So quickly I’ll mention just a few of her accomplishments. Anne Graham Lotz has spoken on seven continents, and in more than twenty foreign countries, proclaiming the Word of God in arenas, churches, seminaries, and prisons. She is also the award-winning author of ten books, including The Magnificent Obsession, Expecting to See Jesus, and Fixing My Eyes on Jesus.

Anne Graham Lotz is the real thing. Her love and concern for people’s well-being, especially their spiritual welfare is genuine. When I heard about Anne’s newest book; Wounded by God’s People … I knew that I had to invite her to share her story with you. So without further ado … here’s Anne Graham Lotz. Listen closely to Anne’s words. It’s time for healing of past wounds.

Debra Joy: Anne, on page sixteen of your new book Wounded by God’s People, you wrote: “I have decided to break the silence. As I reflect on the wounds that have been inflicted intentionally and unintentionally on me and on others, I feel it’s time to say something. It’s time to put this on the table and call out the “sin that’s in the camp.””

At what point did you decide to call out the “sin that’s in the camp”? Was it a new or fresh wound that caused you to speak out? An accumulation of wounds? Or was it other people you had seen wounded?

Anne: (Really when the Lord put this book on my heart …) I wrote The Magnificent Obsession, which is a book on the life of Abraham. And my magnificent obsession is to know God as Abraham did. In a relationship God would defined as a friendship. In writing that book of course, Hagar is a little sub-story. But when I finished writing Abraham’s life I couldn’t get Hagar off my mind. She just stood out to me. So I went back and did a bible study on her life. And it’s amazing how her life’s story, as brief as it is in Scripture, is just packed full of lessons and so I just felt that God put it on my heart to write her story, in a separate book. To actually make it a book. And as I got into it…at first I was going to write it on the wounded. You know. Then I just couldn’t help but see in her story, there’s a pattern where she’s wounded and then she retaliates and wounds. And then she’s wounded back, and then she wounds back, and then she runs away. There’s a cycle. There’s a rotation there. I learned so much as I began to delve into her story.

And then I saw it reflected in my own life … my own life’s experiences. As I started to write the book so many things came to my mind that I had forgotten that I had actually experienced healing from.  But God brought them back to my mind as examples; small humorous ones, and big hurtful ones … and things that I had never forgotten. But there were so many, unusually so, that I felt God had given it to me, or given them to me to use … to help other people. Because the research today shows that the majority of people who are in church, who have left church … have left because, somebody in church hurt them. You know you just don’t want to go back there. And they don’t. And they leave church and a lot of them leave God. They’re what I call, a believer in exile. Twice in my life, I’ve been a believer in exile. Twice I’ve left the church. Different churches, but left and for a year was outside the church because of the pain that had been inflicted on me. So I understand that side of it.

But then as I got in to writing the book, I thought you know it’s not just that I’ve just been wounded, but the Lord showed me that I’d also been a wounder. I hadn’t intentionally done it. But I’ve wounded people. So I had to deal with that. As I looked at that in my own life and then I see the research that shows that there’s millions of people out there who have a faith in God but they don’t go to church for that reason. And then I started bumping into some of them. People who are in ministry, you’d recognize their names I expect, if I gave them to you. But they’re not in church because they’ve been so hurt. And I thought you know this is something that needs to be pulled out. And I didn’t want it to be just hurts, because everybody is hurt in one way or the other, but those specifically who have been hurt by Christians. Not just had your feelings hurt but been betrayed, rejected or slandered; lied to. People spin things about you to move you out of the inner circle. And it really is distressing to me, to watch it being done. Not only to me, but to other people, in God’s name. And that’s what I can’t … that’s what I couldn’t take, and I just decided to pull it out and talk about it. But to try to talk about it in a way that’s … that I do it in humility and with love because God loves both. He loves the wounded and He loves the wounder. So I don’t want to turn either one of them off. I want to draw both of them back to God first, and then back into the church, when the timing is right.

Debra Joy: You spoke of being put out of the inner circle. What is it that causes the church … the people of the church … to do that?  It seems almost like it’s a form of punishment, or control. What do you think it is?

Anne:  I think control is one thing. I think in some places it can be jealousy. I don’t know what the answer is. But I believe underneath it all is the devil himself who would seek to divide us, and set us on each other, and get us so hurt that we splinter and fracture. And then he’s weakened us. At this particular stage in history when I believe Jesus is soon to come back … and we need to be strong and united to reach the world for Christ. And instead, we’re all hurting each other. I just don’t want to be a part of it. So for myself, I want to be very careful that I don’t wound other people.

Debra Joy: Well, since you mentioned it, let me ask you. Do you believe the signs are pointing to the soon return of Jesus Christ?

Anne: Yes. I know it. I have no doubt about it. In fact my book before this one was, Expecting to See Jesus, which takes the signs of the times and Matthew 24 and matches them up with what’s going on and then how to respond to that. But yes, I believe with all my heart that He will come in my generation, if I live out my natural lifetime. I believe He’ll come in my generation and I based that on Matthew 24 and what’s going on in the world. Jesus said you can’t know the day or the hour but He did not say you can’t know the generation. He didn’t even say you can’t know the month or the year. He gave us signs to watch for so that we wouldn’t be caught like a thief in the night. You take the signs that Jesus gave, and the rest of them in the Scripture, and you line them up, and they match with what’s happening today in an incredible way. It’s really incredible. And I think we may go through a time of enormous persecution and hardship first. I believe we’ll be taken to heaven before the tribulation, the great tribulation, but that doesn’t mean America’s not going to suffer God’s judgment … which I think has begun.

Debra Joy: Do you think that we will see a time here in America of martyrs for Christ?

Anne: Well I think we probably already have. I think you can be martyred in ways besides being beheaded. It can be the loss of a job, or the loss of a promotion, or being ostracized by a community. Just increasingly they’re coming against preachers to say what they can and can’t preach, because they say some things are hate speech. So it’s just … I don’t know. I see the persecution coming very fast. But whether it leads to that, I don’t know. But whatever, I think we need to be strongly grounded in the Word. We need to know what we believe, why we believe it, and we need to be ready to share what we believe with others in such a way that they’ll believe too. That they’ll want to know Jesus.

Debra Joy:  On page eighteen of your book, you wrote: “So I refuse to let religious phonies destroy my heart for the One who loves me and draws close to me when I am wounded. I refuse to be robbed of life’s greatest treasure—a personal, permanent, passionate relationship with God through faith in Jesus.”

Anne: And you know how they rob us is when we’re hurt we can descend into unforgiveness and bitterness and resentment, and anger. And we get mired in the muck of that kind of emotion. And what happens is its like drinking poison, hoping the other person will die. We think if we forgive them then they’ll get by with it. So we’re going to withhold our forgiveness to hold them accountable and it doesn’t work that way. Unforgiveness is a form of vengeance. And our vengeance is never satisfied. We can never hurt them enough to pay them back for the way they’ve hurt us. And if you try, then they’re going to hurt you back, you’ll hurt them back, you’ll just be in this cycle. So I feel like the way they destroy us, if we’ll … if we’ll let them, is that we sit in the pain, and we nurse the pain. And we give way to our resentment, anger, bitterness and unforgiveness. So we get warped on the inside. We become less of what God wants us to be, and what we have to do, is to acknowledge the pain. We have to make the decision to forgive them. We have to carry out our forgiveness, our decision, by an act of kindness. Something we would do for them that is sacrificial in nature. And then whether they respond or not, whether they reconcile or not, that doesn’t make any difference. We have to then move on to embrace what God’s got for us. Knowing that in the end He’s going to set it right. God keeps the books. He’s going to sort things out. And He will hold them accountable, and in this life too, because you reap what you sow.

 Debra Joy: Anne what do you hope God will accomplish through your book, Wounded by God’s People?

Anne Graham Lotz

Anne Graham Lotz

 Anne: I’m hoping that a lot of people who read it will begin a healing journey. And it is a journey. There are steps to take which I lay out in the book. And that they would not turn away from God because God’s people hurt them. That they’ll get back in a church fellowship. The first concern is that they would come back to God in a warm, close relationship if they have somehow lost it, or that’s been damaged. That they would know that God loves them, and then that they’d begin the healing process. You can move past that. Actually every time we’re wounded, we have to start that journey again. But you just get quicker at it. And it is a journey. And then for people who are wounders, as I wrote the book I was aware of one person who had hurt me greatly. It was amazing what she did to me. It was cruel. It was out of the blue. It was devastating. It caught me so by surprise. And as I thought about it, I couldn’t get over the shock. Finally, I asked the Lord; “Was it something I did to provoke that? What have I done to her that made her do that to me?” And as unpleasant as it was, I had to look at that … very honestly. And I thought God revealed to me something … or an attitude in my life that I’d had towards her that must have rubbed her raw. I didn’t know it at the time, I wouldn’t have done it deliberately, but … but I think it was there. I don’t think it was equal to what she did to me, but that’s the way wounding is. You know I can do something that’s not that bad, but then she’s going to hit me back harder, and vice versa, until you just get in a cycle and it gets worse and worse. So I had to go before the Lord and confess that sin. I reached out to her. She has said that she’s forgiven me but the relationship … we’re not in contact and there’s no real warm reconciliation. But it’s been dealt with the best that I know how to deal with it. I think until she comes to me and admits and confesses what she did … then it probably won’t ever be right. But at least I’ve done what I can do.

 

Debra Joy: On page eighty-six you wrote a statement that is so powerful. You wrote, “God loved Hagar as much as He loved Abraham!” Can you comment on this?

Anne: I’d love too. Because that’s one of the things … I just pray that God will get this into the hands of Arabs and Muslims, because they’re the descendants of Hagar and Ishmael. And the descendants of Abraham and Sarah and Isaac, that’s the line of promise. That’s the line through which Jesus came. And so without perhaps intending to, Jews and Christians can act superior or make Arabs and Muslims feel inferior. And they’re not. God loved Hagar and Ishmael as much as He loved Sarah and Isaac. But God had a different plan and purpose for them. His plan and purpose for Isaac was to be the child of promise. And then through him and Abraham’s family to bring the ceremonies, sacrifices … Old Testament; the fleshy line for Jesus. But it was in order to win the world that is represented by Hagar and Ishmael. It was God’s great love for Hagar and Ishmael that caused Him to raise up Isaac and the descendants, in order to provide Jesus. So to say that God loves one more than the other, it’s not right. His purpose for them was different. But even in that generation, when Hagar was thrown out and God met her and told her what to do, and that she would be the mother of nations. She got up. She took Ishmael by the hand and she embraced God’s purpose for her. She went out and got a wife for Ishmael. Which, you know she was wanting descendants. She was claiming God’s promise that she would be the mother of nations. And she has become that. All Arabs and Muslims … even though they don’t directly descend from her, they claim that. They look at Hagar, Ishmael, and Abraham as being their greater parents. So Hagar became the mother of nations. God has poured out His blessing on those people in the resources they’ve been given. They are very interesting, gifted, intelligent people, who need to know that God loves them. His purpose for them was different than it was for Isaac and his descendants, but every bit as valid. And God has given them Jesus. He used Isaac’s family in order to give Jesus to the people represented by Hagar and Ishmael. I just hope that in some way God will use my book to draw people to Himself, who have felt like they’ve been shoved out into the periphery. When God is saying; “No, I love you. I have a purpose for your life and I want you to know me in a personal relationship.”

 

This interview originally appeared in Debra Joy’s column on September 27, 2013

Debra Joy’s Q & A with Joyce Meyer

Posted by on Jan 30, 2014 in blog | 0 comments

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Joyce Meyer & Dave

Since the first day God called Joyce Meyer into the ministry, she’s had the full support of her husband, Dave Meyer.   Together, they are a powerful team for the LORD!

 

Her distinctive voice and throaty laugh is recognizable around the world. Her goal is “To reach every nation, every city, every day with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”    Joyce Meyer is a woman whom God has established as one of the world’s leading Bible teachers. Her television and radio show; Enjoying Everyday Life is broadcast worldwide to a potential audience of 4.5 billion people and more than twelve million have been distributed around the world.

Debra Joy: In the early years of your ministry did you ever feel like giving up? Why didn’t you if your answer is “yes”? How did you continue moving forward?

Joyce Meyer: The very beginning days of my ministry were exciting days, but they were quickly followed by very difficult days. I had moments when I wanted to give up, and it was hard to have such a huge vision and what I thought were only small opportunities to minister. But it was God’s plan for me to start by doing little things, like leading a home Bible study with about 20 people. And I needed that. It was a character-building time for me, which was so important to prepare me for what was ahead as the ministry grew. It was during those days that I learned how to really trust God to provide everything we needed. At that time I quit my full-time job so I could take time to study the Word more so our income was cut down significantly. I remember believing God back then for socks and underwear or money to pay for a new tire or fix the refrigerator. Now we are able to believe God to provide for the ministry we’re doing literally around the world.

Debra Joy: How do you unwind from the pressures of overseeing an international ministry?

Joyce Meyer: I have learned that it’s very important to find a healthy balance with work and rest, and when I’m recharging, I do things that are fun for me, like shopping, relaxing at home and watching a good clean movie or spending time with family and friends.

Debra Joy: Please don’t take offense but years ago, when I first saw you on TV, I was somewhat shocked at your “bold and loud” appearance. Do you consider yourself “prim and proper”? If your answer is “No” would you want to be “prim and proper”? Why or why not?

Joyce Meyer: My style has changed some over the years and I’m more relaxed or casual in some ways with the way I dress when I teach. I want people in our audience to see me as someone they can relate to, and we have found that for some people, wearing jeans instead of a suit helps them get the message I’m sharing, instead of getting distracted by the way I look. I like the changes too. And I still like big earrings and shiny jewelry like I used to wear all the time.

Debra Joy: Are you happy?

Joyce Meyer: Absolutely. Now that doesn’t mean I feel happy all the time, but I can honestly say I really enjoy my daily life. I didn’t used to feel this way, but God helped me understand that liking myself and enjoying my life is His will for me – it’s part of what Jesus died for me to have in this life. And I want everything He has for me!
A lot of times in my teaching I share this truth with people and encourage them to get it because there are so many Christians who are not happy and don’t like themselves or their life. When we live like this, we’re missing out on so much God has for us. And we can’t expect the people around us who don’t know God to want what we have if we aren’t living with His peace and joy.

Debra Joy: Do you regret anything?

Joyce Meyer: I don’t live with regret at this stage of my life, but I have had to let go of things I didn’t understand at times and just trust God. I still do.
For example, when I was a young girl, praying for God to make my dad stop abusing me and He didn’t, I didn’t understand why I had to go through it. But now that I can see how God is using what I went through to help so many other people have hope and believe they can be what God really created them to be, I am just glad that my pain from the past – which I don’t live with at all anymore – is making a huge difference in helping others get the healing and restoration they desperately need from God. I will always be incredibly amazed by God’s love for us and His power to completely restore anyone, no matter what they’ve been through.

Debra Joy: What is an area in your life that God is still working on?

Joyce Meyer: There are different things God gives me correction on or speaks to me about at different times but an issue I deal with a lot is keeping my priorities straight. I used to be a workaholic and didn’t feel good about myself unless I was doing something “productive.” But it was such an unhealthy way to live, and I never enjoyed anything I was doing. It also made me sick. So when God got ahold of my heart and showed me the changes I needed to make, I took it seriously and have learned how to manage my time better, only make commitments to do what God wants me to do, and spend time alone with Him every day. I don’t get it perfectly right all the time, but when my priorities start to get out of order, I straighten them out again and keep going.

Debra Joy: Some people feel like they have failed God their entire life. Do you have any words for that person?

Joyce Meyer: It’s so important for us to know the truth about how much God loves us and that it’s never hopeless when we give our lives to Him. And He always wants us. He gave His only Son for us, so how can we believe God would reject us or not use us if we will really give Him our lives?

No one is perfect or does everything right all the time. But God isn’t expecting you to be perfect – He wants you to have a perfect heart toward Him, which means you are seeking Him, doing your part to grow up spiritually by spending time with Him every day in prayer and studying the Word, and doing your best to obey what you know He’s asking you to do.
His mercies are new every morning and to me, this means we get a fresh start every day. So when we’re discouraged by the past, we need to pray about it, give it to God, and trust Him to help us move forward in His plan for us today.

Debra Joy: There are many families in this area that have loved ones addicted to drugs. Do you have any advice for those families?

Joyce Meyer: I can relate to this from personal experience because my brother had a serious problem with drugs and it ultimately destroyed his life.

More than anything, you need to pray for them. Only God can really get ahold of a person’s heart and change their life – but they have to want it and let Him do it. When God puts something in your heart to do for them, do it. But if He’s not leading you to take care of them or reach out to them, don’t think you can fix them on your own.
Look up scriptures to pray over them, like Ephesians 1:17-19, which is a prayer for them to have a spirit of wisdom and revelation knowledge in Christ Jesus so their eyes can be opened and they can have understanding of the truth about God’s power that can set them free. And Ephesians 3:19 is a great prayer for them to experience God’s love and be filled with His presence.

God can give you peace while you’re walking through this, but you have to remember to put your faith and trust in Him. All things are possible with God when we trust Him, but each person has to make their own choice to give Him control of their life.

This article originally appeared in Debra Joy’s column on July 27, 2011

Q & A with Dr. Charles Stanley

Posted by on Jan 23, 2014 in blog, Uncategorized | 0 comments

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Dr. Charles F. Stanley

Dr. Charles F. Stanley

Dr. Charles Stanley is the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Atlanta and the founder of In Touch Ministries. For many years Dr. Stanley has steadfastly focused on accomplishing the work God assigned to him. As a result, Dr. Stanley has reached multitudes with the Good News about God’s love. As a New York Times best-selling author, Dr. Stanley has written more than 50 books. His teachings and writings, especially those about the Holy Spirit have had a tremendous impact on my own personal walk with God.

Debra Joy: Dr. Stanley, it’s evident by the fruit you bear and the many good works that you and your ministry does, that you’re doing a lot of things ‘right’. Therefore, I’m curious to know how you start your day and I know those who read this interview will also find it of great interest.

Dr. Stanley: A long time ago, I learned that there is no better start to the morning than getting on my knees, opening God’s Word, and committing my day to Him. Many times I will read the following portion of Psalm 119, “I am Your servant; give me understanding, that I may know Your testimonies. It is time for the LORD to act…Therefore I love Your commandments above gold, yes, above fine gold. Therefore I esteem right all Your precepts concerning everything, I hate every false way…Establish my footsteps in Your word, and do not let my iniquity have dominion over me” (vv.125-128,133). It reminds me that I belong to the Father, I need Him, He is the One that guides my footsteps, and He keeps my heart clean from sin.

That’s who He is—He wants to lead us, empower us, and show us life at its very best. So it’s very important that we begin our days with Him. When we do, He energizes us physically, directs our thinking, and keeps us from getting distracted. Therefore, I would encourage everyone to start the day with intimate communion with the Father—surrendering their lives to Him hour by hour and minute by minute. And proclaiming they belong to Him completely.

Debra Joy: Dr. Stanley, I’ve got a feeling you already know what my next question is. But I’ll go ahead and ask you anyway. How do you end your day?

Dr. Stanley: I end my day much like I begin it—on my knees in prayer. There is an immense benefit to reading God’s Word before you go to bed at night, and asking the Father to work His truth into your life as you sleep. You invite Him to work on your subconscious mind—reprogramming your thinking, setting you free from sin, and reminding you of His unfailing presence.

In fact, whenever I face a challenge and sense fear rising up in me, I write my concern on a three by five card, add a promise or principle from God’s Word, and lay it on my night table. Then, right before I go to sleep, I read the card. I do this because the Holy Spirit works through our subconscious minds. He helps us to trust the Father. And so instead of fretting over my troubles, the last thing I think when I go to sleep is, “Lord, I’m trusting You to do just as You said.” And usually I go right to sleep.

Debra Joy: Sir, with all respect I ask you this next question. Would you please explain your reasons for kneeling when you pray?

Dr. Stanley: I have always felt that there is something powerful about kneeling before the throne of grace because it acknowledges who God is as the Sovereign of the universe. I know sometimes people can’t kneel because of physical infirmities or what have you. But being on your knees before God isn’t just a physical stance. It is an attitude of the heart in which you humbly recognize that He is in absolute control of all that concerns you and has good plans for your life. You want to know and obey Him. And you realize that He will always lead you to make the greatest impact and experience the greatest success no matter what you’re facing.

Debra Joy: Dr. Stanley, The Wonderful Spirit Filled Life is one of my personal favorites out of the more than fifty books you have written. In your opinion, how vital is the Holy Spirit to a person living a Christian life?

Dr. Stanley: The Holy Spirit is absolutely essential. In fact, there is no way to live the Christian life apart from the power of the Holy Spirit—it’s impossible. We live in fleshly bodies, in a world that’s full of sin, wickedness, and sensuality. We are constantly bombarded by worldly messages that work against the new life we’ve been given in Christ. So how could we possibly live the Christian life on our own? It would be like a bride dressing in her pure, spotless, white wedding gown and going down into a coal mine. There’s no way she could come out clean.

This is why we need the Holy Spirit to guide, enable, and empower us. He constantly lives the life of Jesus in us—reminding us of what He taught, bringing us back to the truth of Scripture, helping us to die to the old self, and glorifying God in our bodies. He is the One who accomplishes things through us. Our responsibility is simply to yield to Him moment-by-moment, day-by-day.

Debra Joy: Dr. Stanley, I’ve observed that oftentimes Christians as well as pastors are not as comfortable talking about the Holy Spirit as they are when talking about God or Jesus. Do you care to share any comments on this?

Dr. Stanley: I believe some of the reticence on the part of people to talk about the Holy Spirit is because of the excesses of some denominations and Christian groups that put their complete focus on Him. I recall the first time I preached a message about the Holy Spirit at an associational meeting of pastors. When I finished, an elderly pastor walked up to me and said, “Charles, if I had preached about the Holy Spirit like that a few years ago, they would have thrown me out.”

Many pastors have been so focused on avoiding over-emphasis on the Person of the Holy Spirit, that they miss teaching about Him altogether. Because of this, there is a lack of understanding in the church about who the Holy Spirit really is. People are confused about His role in our lives and how we interact with Him. But He is our Teacher, Guide, Helper, Counselor, Advocate, and our guarantee of redemption (Eph. 4:30). He is God’s own Spirit and He is certainly worthy of our attention, praise, and adoration.

Debra Joy: Dr Stanley, what would you say to the person who does not believe in God?

Dr. Stanley: It always breaks my heart when I meet someone who doesn’t realize there is a loving, heavenly Father who has given everything to have a relationship with them. Of course, we have the testimony of creation that God exists. Romans 1:20 tells us, “Since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”

But what I will often do is ask what they think about murder or rape because normally people—whether they believe in God or not—acknowledge that these actions are immoral. Then I ask them, “Why do you believe these behaviors are wrong?” Again, they will generally admit that their conscience recognizes these activities as violations of an individual’s personhood. However, when I ask them why most people in societies worldwide are born with the same sense of right and wrong, regardless of culture, they usually cannot pinpoint a reason.

This is when I tell them that our consciences are evident of God’s presence. He programs our consciences with that sense of right and wrong to help us know we need Him. When we ignore our consciences—when we do what we know is immoral or wicked—we become aware of our sinfulness and realize there is a standard that we’ve violated. Everyone experiences guilt, regret, and feelings of worthlessness. These are all indications of our need to have our sins forgiven and to be restored in our relationship with our heavenly Father. And, of course, there is only one way to do that, which is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ on Calvary.

Debra Joy: How about to the person who doesn’t believe in “hell”? Is there anything you’d like to say to that person?

Dr. Stanley: Many people who say they don’t believe in a real or literal hell use the argument that God is love and that mentions of hell in Scripture are merely figurative. It is true that the Father loves us so much that He provided salvation for us through faith in Christ. But the Lord is also just and holy, and many times people do not realize how serious and deadly sin truly is. Habakkuk 1:13 tells us, the Lord’s “eyes are too pure to…look on wickedness.” Sin separates us from His righteous presence. That is why it required the ultimate sacrifice—Jesus death on the cross—to pay our sin debt in full. But if a person does not believe in the truth of Scripture or the gift of salvation He’s given us, it doesn’t matter whether he or she believes in hell or not—they’re going there. They are separated from God’s presence forever—the very definition of hell.

Debra Joy: Dr. Stanley, how do you handle people who revile or persecute you?

Dr. Stanley: Whenever I’ve had to face conflict throughout my life, I’ve found that fighting my battles on my knees is the most powerful thing I can do. Instead of confronting my antagonists or trying to defend myself against them, I’ve trusted God to vindicate me. This is because people are not our enemies—sin is. And only the Father knows what is really fueling people’s opposition towards us. We cannot possibly judge their motives or know what it is that has triggered the feelings of hostility in them, but God does. So when we trust and obey Him in times of adversity, not only does He help us be victorious in them, but He will also redeem those who oppose us. I can say from personal experience that He has proven Himself absolutely faithful every time, regardless of how difficult the battle or how seemingly insurmountable the conflict.

Debra Joy: I’m sure there must have been times…especially in the early years of your ministry when you might have felt like giving up. Yet you didn’t. Year after year, you’ve continually moved forward. Dr. Stanley, has there indeed been a time when you felt like throwing in the towel? If so, how did you continue moving forward in what God assigned you to do?

Dr. Stanley: There have been several times I’ve thought about giving up—when I neither knew how to proceed or even if God really wanted me to continue on in ministry. I remember a particularly difficult season during my senior year at the University of Richmond. It was finals week and I had received a fifty on one exam and a seventy-five on another. Everything was going wrong. It almost felt as if God had completely walked out on me.

So I prayed, “Father, I’ve got to be absolutely sure about Your will for me. I’ve prayed, asked, pleaded, begged, and fasted. I’ve done everything I know to do. God, please show me what to do.” As He always does, the Father answered my prayers and confirmed that I was to persevere on His path for my life. He enabled me to keep moving forward.

We should never give up on God because He never gives up on us. But we cannot endure in the Christian life if we’re not walking in an intimate relationship with Him. He energizes and equips us for the work, and keeps us going when difficulties arise.

Debra Joy: Dr. Stanley I have one final question. What would you say to the person who says, “I’ve failed God.”?

Dr. Stanley: That is the very reason some people don’t put their faith in Christ. They feel as if they have to somehow earn their salvation or be good enough to deserve a relationship with God. In that case, I would say, we all fail God, we all sin, and none of us can earn our salvation. That is exactly the reason Jesus died on the cross—to forgive our sins and restore our relationship to the Father. It is never something we can merit or achieve on our own. We must accept it as His gift to us by faith. And Romans 10:9 promises, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
But at times, believers will feel this way. Perhaps they were never taught their salvation is secure. Or maybe they have tapes in their minds—persistent messages from people in their past who have berated them, put them down, and made them feel worthless. Regardless of the cause of their feelings of failure, they don’t realize their true identity as a child of the living God.

The truth is, every person must have a sense of belonging, worthiness, and competency to be emotionally whole. This is because through belonging we feel acceptance; through worthiness we feel loved; through competence we feel secure. But only the Father can fully meet these three essential needs. Unless a person is willing to allow God to heal them, their injuries will follow them all their life. They must choose to move past the negative messages others have communicated to them and spend time with Him—learning how He sees them.

So to those who feel like failures I would say: Your needs can only fully be met through a personal relationship with God through His Son Jesus. Your heavenly Father wants you to feel loved, accepted, and eternally secure in Him. No matter how you’ve been treated, what others thought you were worth, or who rejected you—God still loves you. So love Him, spend time with Him, and believe what He says about you. He wants to heal the wounds of the past and give you an unshakeable foundation for life. And if you will surrender fully to Him, He will use you in ways you would never have dreamed.

Check out Dr. Stanley’s Bible studies, 30 Life Principles and Article Archive, all available for free by visiting his website at www.intouch.org.

Originally published in Debra Joy’s column; Have I Got a Story to Share with You! August 2012

Hands of Protection

Posted by on Jan 9, 2014 in blog, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Mine and my mother’s hands. Photo taken while mother prayed on New Year’s Eve 12-31-13.

 

Around ten o’clock this past New Year’s Eve night my mother and I decided to have prayer together to mark the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014. Taking our seats around the dining room table, we agreed that mother would begin the prayer and I would close it. After reaching out and joining our hands together, mother began praying. At some point during mama’s prayer, I opened my eyes and was immediately transfixed by the sight of mine and mama’s hands clasped together.

I really don’t know how to explain it other than to say, that in my heart, I knew that I had to have a photo of my mama’s hand clasped with mine in prayer. So without saying a word, and with minimal movement, I picked up my cell phone and took two snapshots of our clasped hands while mama continued praying. After taking the photos I closed my eyes and returned my full attention to God and to our prayer.

Though taking snapshots may not sound like the ‘spiritual’ thing to do during prayer, I’m so very thankful ‘the moment was captured’ on film. You see there are some things that are priceless … and for me, the two photos of my seventy-nine-year-old mama’s hand holding mine during actual prayer is something I will treasure for the remainder of my life.

After closing our prayer, my attention went back to the photos and while looking at them I was reminded of the American spiritual, “He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands”. Do you remember the song? It goes like this …

He’s got the whole world in His hands

He’s got the whole world in His hands

He’s got the whole world in His hands

He’s got the whole world in His hands.

 

Hand Holding Earth by Watcharakun (www.freedigitalphotos.net)

 

The remaining verses include:

He’s got the wind and the rain in His hands (Repeat 2 more times)

He’s got the whole world in His hands.

 

He’s got the itty bitty baby in His hands (Repeat 2 more times)

He’s got the whole world in His hands.

 

He’s got you and me brother in His hands (Repeat 2 more times)

He’s got the whole world in His hands.

 

He’s got you and me sister in His hands (Repeat 2 more times)

He’s got the whole world in His hands.

 

He’s got the whole world in His hands (Repeat 2 more times)

He’s got the whole world in His hands.

Truly we’re living in perilous times. While it’s impossible to predict with one-hundred percent accuracy the things which await us in 2014, many people believe it will be a year of far-reaching changes. Yet regardless of what the New Year brings … for the ‘sons and daughters of God’ there’s no need to be anxious or fearful, because there is good news. And that good news is that the present and future of every person in God’s family is safe and secure in God’s hands.

On the other hand … those who are not in God’s family should give serious consideration to establishing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Why with Jesus Christ? Because that’s the only way a person can become a member of God’s family. “Jesus said to him, I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by (through) Me.”—John 14:6 (Amp)

My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.–John 10:29

My hand laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand forth together.–Isaiah 48:13

 

 

 

 

‘In Step’ with God in 2014

Posted by on Jan 1, 2014 in blog | 0 comments

 

Logo 'Write Jesus Stories' drawn by Jairus Luke 10-13-13

‘Write Jesus Stories” pencil-sketched by Debra’s grandson.

 

Happy New Year! Because it’s a New Year, I’d like to proclaim a blessing over you and your loved ones. The blessing comes from Numbers 6:24-26. (Amp) May the Lord bless you and watch, guard, and keep you. May the Lord make His face to shine upon and enlighten you and be gracious (kind, merciful, and giving favor) to you. May the Lord lift up His [approving] countenance upon you and give you peace (tranquility of heart and life continually).

Recently, I asked God if I was doing what He wanted me to do with my life. Frankly speaking, I was somewhat surprised in how God chose to answer me. Instead of leading me to the Scriptures (as He usually does), God answered my question with a question of His own by asking; “What was the last thing I told you to do?” After prolonged and careful thought I replied: “Write stories.” And that was it. There was such definiteness and peace, that no further prayer was required over the matter.

A few days later, God showed me a vision (image) of a person’s hand holding a small wood cross. The cross was being held in the same manner that a pencil or pen would be held when writing. I believe the vision was God’s way of reiterating that I’m to continue writing ‘Jesus stories’. What sweet assurance! To explicitly know that after writing for almost four years, I’m still in accord with God’s plan, His will for my life.

How about you? Are you in harmony with God’s plans for your life? Not sure? Then get sure. Have a sincere talk with God. If you’re off track or out of step with God’s plans, He’ll tell you and He’ll gently lead you back onto the path He’s chosen for you.

There’s no better way to start the New Year than to know that you’re on the right road and in step with God’s plans … His will for your life. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”—Jeremiah 29:11

 

To prevent wasted years of 'going nowhere' we should ask God if we're on the right road for our lives.

To prevent wasted years of ‘going nowhere’ we should ask God if we’re on the right road for our lives.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”—Proverbs 3:5-6

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”—Psalm 119: 105

“And your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left”.—Isaiah 30:21

And His Name is Jesus

Posted by on Dec 25, 2013 in blog | 0 comments

For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given;

and the government shall be upon His shoulder,

and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor,

Mighty God, Everlasting Father [of Eternity], Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

Celebrating Christmas~JESUS!

Posted by on Dec 20, 2013 in blog | 0 comments

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CHRISTMAS! A special time set aside to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Jesus Christ, the Hope of all mankind. Jesus Christ, my personal Savior and yours too … if you’ve allowed Him in your heart.

I’m telling you I get all excited just thinking about Jesus Christ and what His love has done for me. The other night while driving to town I began thanking Jesus for ‘keeping me all together.’ I’ve made no secret that I was a hopeless and broken mess of a person before Jesus bathed my heart with His love and my mind with His peace. What a difference Jesus Christ has made in my life … and that’s why I want to tell the whole world if the stresses of life are ‘getting’ to you … cry out to Jesus. If you’re on the verge of losing your mind … cry out to Jesus. If you’re desperate for a change in your life … cry out to Jesus. No one else can do for you, what Jesus can do. And that’s the truth.

This Christmas, like millions of other families, my family will gather together to rejoice and celebrate the birth of Jesus. First, we’ll enjoy our traditional Christmas Eve dinner and afterwards we’ll gather together in the den for the highlight of our Christmas celebration. As usual, the children will sit in a semi-circle on the floor so that the adults can have the comfortable seats. After everyone has settled down, and a hush fills the room, a member of the family will stand and read the Christmas story from the Holy Scriptures. Then we’ll sing songs of praise and worship to God and have prayer. Celebrating Jesus with my family is by far the best part of my entire Christmas.

Next comes the children’s favorite part of the evening, the exchanging of gifts and games. And that’s when the good-natured competition between family members begins. (Laughing) Last Christmas the family divided up in teams to play the ‘Human Christmas Tree’ game. The game and rules are simple. The first family to design and decorate a ‘Human Christmas Tree’ wins. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed as much or as hard in my life! It was absolutely hilarious as the teams moved with lightening speed adorning their ‘trees’ with tin foil, ornaments, garland, and strings of working lights. I think it was probably the best game my family has ever played.

 

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It’s wonderful to have family to celebrate Christmas with. It’s also wonderful to know that even if you’re all alone …you can still celebrate Christmas. How uplifting it is to know that Jesus sees every person who celebrates Him and His birth. Whether the person celebrates Him with family or celebrates Him alone…Jesus is present and His love is the same for each.

Christ is The Light of Christmas

Christmas joy and lights aglow;
Christmas songs to warm and cheer
Excitement is on the children’s faces
As anticipation fills the air —

But for some, it can be lonely
When loved ones have passed away,
Memories are all that linger
As the years begin to fade

But Christ’s light should never dim;
It should ever shine out bright
Our ray of hope in this troubled world
Is our joy of eternal light

Christmas, when spent with Jesus,
Can warm our hurting hearts,
For as His light shines within us,
Its glow warms our deepest parts.

© By M.S.Lowndes

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.—Psalm 147:3

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.—Deuteronomy 31:6

When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.—Psalms 27:10

Trust in him at all times; [ye] people, pour out your heart before him: God [is] a refuge for us. Selah.—Psalm 62:8

Fear thou not; for I [am] with thee: be not dismayed; for I [am] thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.—Isaiah 41:10

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.—1 Peter 5:7 (KJV)

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were [our] faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.—Isaiah 53:3-4

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.—John 14:18

O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you.—Psalm 38:9

The star of Bethlehem shone when Christ was born. In the darkest nights, Christ’s love still shines the brightest. Wishing you a blessed and very Merry Christmas.—Debra Joy