My Journey/Week 8

I’ve recently been contacted by the radiation oncologist’s office. My 1st appointment is set for this week. Part of me is ready to get radiation treatment over with. The other part of me doesn’t want to do it at all.

Yes, I’m still struggling with the thoughts of radiation side effects. But I’m also struggling with the idea of the return of breast cancer or possibly other cancers.

I notice that the more I focus on the negative circumstances or the “what ifs,” fear creeps in. But when I focus on the Lord, His power, and all that He has done, the light of faith disperses the darkness of fear.

There is a constant battle going on in our mouth, mind, emotions, and heart; it’s fear vs faith. The battle starts when we take our eyes off of the Lord and put them on our negative circumstances.

If you have a nice camera you may have a setting for blurred background. It’s called the aperture priority mode. You would set your camera to that mode, do some adjustments to the lens, then, keeping the subject closer to you than to the background, zoom in on your subject and take the photo.

When we stay close to the Lord and keep our focus on Him, zooming in on His character and His attributes, everything else will become blurred in the background.

Peter wanted to walk on the water with Jesus during a storm so Jesus invited him to do so. Peter, full of faith in Jesus and His abilities, got out of the boat and walked on the water. Then Peter became distracted by the storm and began to sink. He cried out to Jesus for help and Jesus rescued him. [Matthew 14:22-32]

As long as Peter kept his focus on Jesus, the storm was blurred in the background and was of no concern to him. But the instant Peter transferred his focus from Jesus to the storm, Jesus became blurred in the background. Peter went from faith to fear as soon as he took his eyes off of Jesus.

That’s exactly what I’ve been doing; focusing on the storm of breast cancer and all that comes with it. As a result, I’ve been sinking in fear and not walking in faith. The negative circumstances are in focus while Jesus is blurred in the background.

Keeping our focus on the Lord doesn’t come naturally. After all, the storm is loud, scary, and a natural attention-getter. We have to make a decision to focus on the Lord and then do all that it takes to stay focused on Him.

What does keeping our focus on the Lord look like? It looks like constantly putting God’s word in our eyes, mouth, ears, and heart.

Romans 10:17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.

Faith comes from hearing the message about Christ. What is the message about Christ?

He has forgiven our sins, He has made us righteous, He has set us free from a life of slavery to sin, He has given us eternal life, He has healed us; spirit, soul, and body, He is interceding for us, He has sent His Holy Spirit to reside within us. The list goes on and on. The good news is, all we have to do is accept all that Christ has done for us. It’s a gift!

We can hear this message spoken to us and we can speak it to ourselves. As we do the light of faith will disperse the darkness of fear.

What storm are you going through today? Are you sinking in fear or walking in faith? What are you focusing on? The storm or the one who can rescue you and calm the storm?

Get to know God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Get to know them,  their character, and their attributes. Your faith in them will grow. As you zoom in on them and their abilities, everything else will blur in the background.

Psalm 56:3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

~Patrice Maguire

Prayer for salvation: Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Journey/Week 6

Every summer I make a to-do list. I’m a planner and I’m task-oriented so to-do lists are a must for me.

My to-do list consists of things I’d like to accomplish between June and September. Needless to say, not many things on my list have been completed since I found out about my breast cancer on May 30, 2019.

Some of the things on my list are: paint the laundry room, launch new children’s book, relocate wall photos, and clean out files. Funny thing is, as many times as I look at that list, I can’t find breast cancer anywhere on it. Go figure!

No one plans a health crisis or any crisis. It’s as if the crisis has a mind of its own. It just pops into our lives unannounced and unwanted.

I’m in a healing/waiting period at this stage of my breast cancer journey. I don’t know when radiation treatment will begin. And from what I understand the worst side effect of radiation treatment is low energy. Great! More tiredness!

In preparation for the impending low energy, I would like to get as many things marked off my to-do list as possible before treatment begins. I realize I may not get the entire list completed by the time I’d like to, so I’ve added one more thing to my to-do list; stay calm and trust God.

Over the years, as I’ve experienced life with God, I’ve come to realize that He is in control and that His plan and timing is perfect. That realization is so freeing and gives me so much peace.

Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in You.

I wonder if Job was a list maker. He had a lot of responsibilities; a lot of things and people to keep up with. He may have had a daily to-do list lying around.

Job was just going about his daily life and tasks when out of nowhere crisis hit; unannounced and unwanted.

Job lost his livelihood, his servants, children, and his health. To make matters worse, he had no support from his wife and friends. He was going through a horrible crisis. I can’t even imagine what he must have suffered.

What Job does in the midst of his devastating health and life crisis is amazing. He trusts God! He realizes that God is in control and is sovereign. He refuses to turn his back on Him. As a matter of fact, his faith and knowledge of God grow.

Job 42:5 tells us what Job gained from his crisis; “My ears had heard of You but now my eyes have seen You.” For Job, God had gone from being “God” to “My God.” Job had come to know God on a much higher level than he had before.

I know that I am not going through anything close to what Job went through, but just the same, I want to gain from this health crisis the same thing Job did. I want to know God on a higher level as I trust Him in the midst of my crisis; I want my faith and knowledge of Him to grow.

Jeremiah 17:7 But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him.

What unannounced and unwanted crisis has hit you or your family? God sees you! He cares about what you are going through. Will you cry out to Him for help?

Will you trust that He is in control of all things and that He is sovereign? Will you trust that His plan and timing is perfect?

While you are waiting for God to answer your prayers in His way and His timing, will you allow your crisis to take your relationship with Him to a whole new level; to a place where you can go from calling Him “God” to “My God?”

Psalm 31:14 But I trust in You, Lord; I say, “You are my God.”

~Patrice Maguire

Prayer for salvation: Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Journey/Week 4

Last week I underwent a lumpectomy leaving me scarred and in pain. Just one more scar to add to my life-collection of scars.

I have acquired a lot of scars in my lifetime; as I’m sure most of you have. Some are a result of bringing life into the world and some to save my own life. Others are a result of repairing damaged body parts. And still, others are scars on my heart, emotions, and memory that only God can see.

Do you sometimes hear a song and think to yourself, “Wow! This really speaks to me and my current situation.” In this case, the song I am referring to is Scars, by I Am They.

One chorus goes like this: So I’m thankful for the scars – ‘Cause without them I wouldn’t know Your heart – And I know they’ll always tell of who You are – So forever I am thankful for the scars

It’s uncommon to be thankful for scars. They aren’t exactly a pretty sight. Being thankful for scars goes against all human logic. Plus, there is pain associated with scars. No one wants to be reminded of the pain.

Each seen or unseen scar is evidence that we have lived. The pain and scars are part of life. They come with the territory.

Hardships in this life will do one of two things; draw us closer to God or further away from Him.

I have learned from personal experience that when I view my painful circumstances and scars from a godly perspective my faith, joy, and character grows and I become a better person.

But when I blame God and become angry with Him for allowing the circumstances that result in pain; I become bitter and turn away from Him.

During difficult times, we have to remember that God is sovereign and that He knows what He is doing. He knows the end from the beginning. And He sees the positive results of our pain that we cannot yet see (Isaiah 46:10).

God allows our pain and suffering as an opportunity for us to run to Him, to know Him better, and to trust Him more. In reality, He is the only one that can help us get through it and make us better on the other side of it.

We can become better instead of bitter.

James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Though it’s hard to do, we can remain joyful as we look forward to the spiritual growth and maturity that results from pain and suffering.

It’s not if we suffer. We will all suffer in this life. But it’s about how we suffer that counts. That’s what makes all the difference in becoming better or bitter.

Back to the song I mentioned earlier. There is another chorus that goes like this: I’m thankful for Your scars – ‘Cause without them I wouldn’t know Your heart – And with my life, I’ll tell of who You are – So forever I am thankful

We will never know the suffering Jesus suffered. He still bears the scars of His suffering. He endured the pain of the scourging and the cross in our place. He did it all so we can be in relationship with Him for eternity.

Hebrews 12:2 Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus’ scars are a reminder of His love for us and the relationship He desires with us. Those scars reveal His heart for His Father and for us. And the only way we can say thank you for all that He has done for us is to live a life that glorifies Him.

When we embrace the pain and suffering God has allowed in our lives with a good attitude we are living a life of gratitude that glorifies Him and points others to Him.

Do you have scars that remind you of your suffering and pain? Have you allowed those scars to make you better or bitter? Do you blame God for your pain or do you run to Him for the help and the comfort that He alone provides in the midst of pain?

Will you allow your scars to be exposed in order to help others, encourage others, and glorify God?

Don’t allow your pain and scars to stay hidden. Put them in the Lord’s hands and watch Him do amazing things with them.

Isaiah 61:3 God will provide for those who grieve-to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.

~Patrice Maguire

Prayer for salvation: Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seemingly Impossible Situations

I have a friend who is battling cancer. She has been fighting this disease for over a year. Since she has started treatment she has had one good report after another about cancer decreasing in her body. We have been praising God and rejoicing with her all along the way. When she first started this fight against cancer, the Lord gave her a scripture.

Isaiah 41:10-13 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. All who rage against you (in this case cancer) will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you (cancer) will be as nothing and perish. Though you search for your enemies (cancer), you will not find them. Those who wage war against you (cancer) will be as nothing at all. For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you.

Today she received a different report from her doctors following her latest CT scan. The scan showed that the disease has increased. She is disappointed but not distracted from the word that God gave her in the beginning. She is praising God that she is more than a conqueror through Christ who strengthens her (Romans 8:37). And she is praising the Lord because she knows that the battle is not her’s but it is God’s (2Chronicles 20:15). I don’t know about you but I am encouraged by her faith.

What are you battling today? Is it a health issue? Is it an addiction? Is it a temptation? Or are you battling discouragement and disappointment? Maybe the battle isn’t yours. Maybe you are standing in the gap for a family member or a friend who is struggling in life and doesn’t know what to do. Be encouraged today! God has a word for you.

There have been several instances in my life where I have faced seemingly impossible situations. The Lord always gives me His word to strengthen and encourage me. And it’s always specific to my situation. He will do the same for you. When you seek Him you will find Him. Matthew 7:7.”Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

The scripture I sent to my friend this morning was Exodus 14:13-15. It is a scripture that the Lord has given me in several situations. Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the Israelites to move on.”

The Israelites were in a seemingly impossible situation; Pharaoh and his army were coming after them on one side and the Sea was on the other side. They were literally between a rock and a hard place. They had no place to go? There seemed to be no hope. But God! God is the God of the impossible. When all hope seems lost and your enemies are closing in on you that is a recipe for a miracle. Ephesians 3:20 says that God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. Now that’s my God and that’s your God!

So be encouraged today and don’t give up! Be bold and courageous! Seek God! Seek His word for your situation. Believe His word for your situation. Even when things seem hopeless, keep believing. God is fighting your battles!

~Patrice Maguire

 

 

Thoughts from a Higher Perspective

 

Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a

new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness (II Peter 3:13).

 

There is no doubt that we live in a stressful world today. Tune in to a local newscast, and virtually every day the top news story will bring us awful news: a fire, a robbery, a murder, perhaps a political scandal.

 

Such headlines can cause despair if we’re not careful to stay focused on our salvation and what lies ahead for us as believers!

 

I have a friend who occasionally wore a T-shirt which said something like this: “Christian work: the pay ain’t much, but the retirement program is out of this world!”

 

So what will we enjoy when we get to heaven?

 

Certain things will NOT be there: no temple, no sun, no moon, no shut gates, no liars or any sin, no curse, no night, no tears, no death, no sorrow, no pain (all these are listed in Revelation 21 and 22)!

 

The Word tells us “the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4)!

 

There will be sights that will be wonderful: a pure river of water, foundations made of precious stones, the tree of life, pearly gates, renewal of relationships with those who have gone on before us, and—most of all—we “shall see His face” (Revelation 22:4; see also I John 3:2)!

 

These great truths are often pointed out to us, but (as modern advertising often emphasizes) wait, THERE’S MORE!

 

Consider these factors:

 

  1. We will be able to explore the “new heaven.” Think of the power and creativity of God in creating the earth we presently live in; now try to ponder how magnificent an entirely new universe will be! No doubt every star and planet will be beautiful, and be sure that none of them will be exactly alike!

 

  1. It is clear to many that God likes to surprise His children, much like a spouse likes to surprise a mate or a parent likes to surprise a child.

 

Because God is so creative, so powerful, and so loving, try to imagine what lies ahead!

 

In I Corinthians 13:13 we are told: “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” Because love is the greatest and eternally enduring virtue,

I am convinced that God will want to surprise us every hundred million years (hey, heaven is forever!) with a new revelation, a mind-boggling surprise, which reminds us just how much He loves us!

 

And the surprises will never end!

 

These thoughts were presented by John Rataczak, Ph.D.

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