Stop, and Be Still

Does it ever feel like the world is crashing in on you? Or at least, YOUR world? Whether you are so far behind with your deadlines at work, or you have so many things to do around the house and you simply cannot catch up, OR you are in trouble and you just do not know what to do. Being the age that I am 😳, I have been through all of this, and so much more! So I definitely understand. Whenever I feel this way, there is one verse that always seems to stand out, and helps me TREMENDOUSLY! I will speak this verse, several times to myself, in fact. I will go to a room, close the door, and begin to meditate on the Lord, getting STILL before Him.

“Be still and know that I am God.”

Psalm 46:10

During these times, I have to keep reminding myself that whatever fight I am in, I don’t need to do anything BUT be still, and let HIM do the fighting. The battle is the Lord’s, not mine. To be still and not do anything when I am feeling desperate, or anxious, is very difficult. Because if I react based on what I feel, I’m gonna to lose! Sometimes the battles are big, and I am unable to settle down. I have to call upon the Lord. He is the only one who can remove fear from my heart, because perfect love casts away fear.

The battles on the outside may not come to an end anytime soon, but the one inside of me WILL end in His presence. As He works on my behalf, He gives me peace that passes ALL understanding. I am still before Him, He will take control of what I cannot.

~ Tracy

https://www.tracyvillatoro.com

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Jeremiah 29:11

When I saw today’s verse of the day, I smiled so big, inside and out!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

This particular scripture has been drilled in me, over and over again, by the Holy Spirit. He has dissected this in so many different ways, emphasized every word differently each time. The Lord and I have had long discussions over this verse. It has simply been an amazing time of learning, receiving revelations about things, and then experiencing His peace, like a blanket!

I wish I could audibly read this verse for you to hear, first emphasizing the letter “I” both times. Hey, I can! In a sense, anyway, lol. Stop right here and read OUT LOUD the above verse, and OVER EMPHASIZE the letters “I”……..

Did this verse mean anything different to you this time around? The Lord is saying that HE knows the plans that HE has for you! These are HIS plans, NOT ours. This is why prosperity, protection, hope, and a good future is able to come to pass, because HIS plans ALWAYS succeed.

The second half of the verse, I like to emphasize the word “not”. Yes, He is going to prosper me. Everyone always connects this verse with prosperity and having a good future, and that is absolutely correct. However, many people miss the fact that He also said that He would NOT harm us. His plans are not to harm us. I know you must be thinking, ‘Of course He won’t hurt us!’ But let’s take this a little deeper. One day when I was discussing this with the Lord, He spoke to me and said, “There are so many people who are afraid of dying. They are afraid of death. Some of them are worried about the actual process of going to heaven. “Is it going to hurt? What will happen during my transition? Is it going to be scary during my transition?” My plans do not include My harming you. If I am NOT going to harm you, then that also includes not causing harm or scaring you during your transition, but making it peaceful and wonderful!”

Lastly, He speaks about giving us ‘hope and a future.’ Everyone understands that this means He wants to give us hope here on Earth, as well as a “good” future. AND He wants to tell us to not worry, that we have the hope of Jesus established in our hearts. We will one day have a “good” future in Heaven. Our ultimate goal in life should be to aim and strive towards Heaven. That is where all of us (Christians) are heading in the end. Some sooner than others. You just never know. But, I do not have to worry about any of it, because it will be a WONDERFUL trip!!

~ Tracy

https://www.tracyvillatoro.com

A.S.K.

It has been a long past few weeks, i.e., very busy with filming music, being a wife, trying to keep up with house cleaning, etc. Oh, and cleaning out my closet, cleaning off the top of my big dresser and inside all its drawers 😂 ! My daily time with the Lord has been slacking for a long time, that’s for sure! I feel the need to become closer to the Lord, to have more wisdom, and more humility. I feel Him tugging…HARD, and I find myself longing and yearning to run to Him. 

A.S.K. – I just love this short acronym! Most of us know it: Ask, Seek, Knock. 

Matthew 7:7–8, “Continue to ASK, and God will give to you. Continue to SEARCH, and you will find. Continue to KNOCK, and the door will open for you. Yes, whoever continues to ASK will receive. Whoever continues to LOOK will find. And whoever continues to KNOCK will have the door open for them.” (ERV)

Yes, I know this verse all too well. But DOING this, is another thing! Yes Lord, I see all those “continue’s” in the verse above. I Ask, Seek, and Knock. But “continuing”, and being disciplined about studying every day? Well…I have to admit I have not always done so.

IF I am wanting to be closer to Him, if I want Him to give me wisdom, then obviously I have to start asking, seeking, and knocking, every single day. 

Meditating is the basis of my relationship with Him. Meditation sharpens my perception and clarifies my direction. I have read the entire Bible, but one single scripture from the Lord on the day that I need it, THAT is what convicts me, and keeps me in line with the Lord. This is why I need to meditate on His Word DAY and NIGHT. 

Joshua 1:8, “Always remember what is written in that book of the law. Speak about that book and study it day and night. Then you can be sure to obey what is written there. If you do this, you will be wise and successful in everything you do.” (ERV)

“Thank You, dear Lord, for today’s study. Thank You for Your presence here. Oh Father, I come to you in Jesus’ name, and I first ask that You please forgive me of all my sins. Please forgive me for not coming to You every single morning and night. Lord, I ask for Wisdom, Humility, and to have a Closer Relationship with You. I know You want me to have all these things. I thank You for Your mercy…AND for Your patience!! I love You!”

~ ŦɌⱭƇƳ

https://www.tracyvillatoro.com

Does My Life Matter?

Have you ever felt like your life didn’t matter? That no matter what you did, no one could care less? Does anyone truly even care? Or are they all just putting on an act?

When my mom died recently, I felt as though I would never be able to regroup again. I knew she was near the end of her life. We all knew, as she had been severely ill for many years. But yet, I was still completely unprepared when the time came that she passed away. There were those that seemed like it hardly affected them at all. All I know is that I felt all alone, and could not see a way out.

A friend reached out to me recently. Perfect timing! They shared the following with me, and I know it will encourage you, just as it did me:

“I just want you to know I have been holding you in my heart all week, and have been praying everything is going good with you. 

I understand what you are going through. I had a big disconnect from God when my mom died. I even told Him that I wasn’t speaking to Him for awhile! I couldn’t pray, no matter how hard I tried. So I would fill the tub with water, having nothing out but my nose and mouth. Then I would start naming my blessings. And that’s the best I could do for awhile. Don’t despair. God understands your pain. And He’s like earthly fathers. He knows you’ll be back some day soon. He still has His hand on you.

Nothing is ever the same again once your mom is gone. Moms are the glue that hold families together.

Enough time hasn’t passed for you to process it all. God is gracious in that He only allows us to experience the magnitude of loss in small doses. Otherwise, it would crush us to death.”

These words came at a time when I needed it most. “God is gracious in that He only allows us to experience the magnitude of loss in small doses.” Wow! That was good!

I could quote so many verses right now, about how much the Lord loves me, how great His mercy is, etc. Most of us already know all those verses. But having someone reach out to you the very second that you need it, is SO powerful! And yes, this person only reached out because it was the divine timing of our Lord!! He uses people to encourage us when we are in our darkest times.

Is there anyone in your circle of friends or family that is going through a hard time? You may not even realize they are. Give it some serious thought. It may just be that God is wanting you to show some kindness, and give encouragement, and a listening ear.

This is a thank you to that person. You know who you are!

~ ŦɌⱭƇƳ

What Is the Key To Life?

Son, listen to me. Do what I say, and you will live a long time. I am teaching you about wisdom and guiding you on the right path. As you walk on it, you will not step into a trap. Even if you run, you will not trip and fall. Always remember this teaching. Don’t forget it. It is the key to life, so guard it well.

Proverbs 4:10-13 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Proverbs%204:10-13&version=ERV

The Message words it this way:

Proverbs 4:10 – “Dear friend, take my advice; it will add years to your life. I’m writing out clear directions to Wisdom Way, I’m drawing a map to Righteous Road. I don’t want you ending up in blind alleys, or wasting time making wrong turns. Hold tight to good advice; don’t relax your grip. Guard it well—your life is at stake! Don’t take Wicked Bypass; don’t so much as set foot on that road. Stay clear of it; give it a wide berth. Make a detour and be on your way.”

HOW To Live a Pure Life

According to Psalm 15:1-5 (ERV), in order to live a PURE life, to do what is right, and to speak truth from one’s heart, means:

  1. Don’t say bad things about others.
    • Don’t do things to hurt your neighbors
    • Don’t tell shameful things about those closest to your neighbors
  2. Hate those who fail to please God, and honor those who respect the Lord.
    • If you make a promise to your neighbor, then do what you promised.
  3. If you loan money to someone, do not charge them interest.
  4. Refuse to testify against an innocent person, even if someone offers them money to do it.

WHOEVER lives like this, the Lord says they will ALWAYS stand strong!

This seems like such a simple, short list to live by in order to live a pure life in God’s eyes. And in reality, it really is short and simple. Sometimes, if not more often than not, we make things WAY too complicated and difficult.

What is the blessing that comes from living a pure life?

Matthew 5:8 – “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (ERV)

Matthew 5:8 – “Your blessed when you get your inside world – your mind and heart – put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.” (The Message)

If you are blessed, aren’t you happy? Pure in heart people don’t allow anything bad into their hearts that would make them unhappy, for example, a heart full of unthankfulness, unbelief and wrong suspicions about others. However, a person with a pure heart has good thoughts about others, such as, thoughts of being grateful, and how they can bless others.

Psalm 119:9 – “How can a young person live a pure life? By obeying Your Word.”

I love the way The Message puts Psalm 15…

God, who gets invited to dinner at your place? How do we get on your guest list?

“Walk straight, act right, tell the truth.

“Don’t hurt your friend, don’t blame your neighbor; despise the despicable.

“Keep your word even when it costs you, make an honest living, never take a bribe.

“You’ll never get blacklisted if you live like this.”

 

~ Tracy

Let It Go!

I was 14, I had just gotten my first guitar, and this was the first song I wrote.

Psalm 138:8 is my favorite verse: “The Lord will perfect that which concerns me. Thy mercy, oh Lord, endures forever!” Even at 14, this verse meant a lot to me. And now, years later, it means even more.

You know, there is nothing that you go through that the Lord cannot take care of for you. Everything that concerns you, the Lord wants to take off your shoulders and take care of it. The issue isn’t whether or not He can, or will. The issue is whether or not you’re going to leave it in His hands and walk away from it. 

As the movie “Frozen” says, “Let It Go!”

~ Tracy Villatoro

The Misconception That Life is Hard

We’ve all heard it…”Life is so hard!” Not only have I heard it, but I’ve also said it. However, in actuality, LIFE is not hard. What’s hard is DEATH. From the time we are born, we are dying. Correct? The longer we live, the closer we get to a physical death.

When people cry and complain that life is hard, what they’re really saying is that fighting against “death” is hard. There are many happy moments in all of our lives: falling in love, getting married, having children, doing and succeeding at what God has called us to do, and on and on. Then there are those moments that are seemingly so unbearable, being a care giver of a loved one that is soon to die, going through a divorce, loving your children so much and not being able to help them because they won’t heed your advice, which has been achieved only by experience, watching your child being deployed overseas to defend our country, watching your parent deteriorate day by day, being torn down by those that “supposedly” love you, being told how bad of a person you are, and the list goes on and is different for each and every person.

So what does a person do? The first thing we, as Christians, must do, is:

1 Peter 5:7 – “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”

We have to learn to let things go! My favorite verse is Psalm 138:8 – “The Lord will perfect that which concerns me.” Only He knows what is the answer to the issues that truly concern me. What I think is the answer is not the answer! Only He has the answer.

Something else that is imperative is to stop tearing others down. Sometimes all we care about is to “prove” ourselves. We’d rather be right, or should I say, make it appear we are right, rather than strive for peace, instead of turmoil. Who really cares if we are right if it means being hurt constantly? I’d rather have peace than be right!

Romans 14:19 – “So let’s try as hard as we can to do what will bing peace. Let’s do whatever will help each other grow stronger in faith.”

Are we truly trying to help “others” be better? How selfish of a people we are! The Lord Jesus came to serve others. Why do we think we shouldn’t do the same?

There is a scripture that is considered the “golden rule”. Maybe we should heed what the Lord says:

Matthew 7:12 – “Do for others what you would want them to do for you.”

 

“Feelings of Heaviness”

Do any of you feel like a blanket of darkness is covering you? Like you are so deep in struggles, troubles, loneliness, helplessness, depression, feelings of hurt, grief? These feelings come to everyone at one time or another. Having someone tell you, “Everything is going to be ok. Just trust in the Lord.”, is not something you want to hear.

Let me ask you this. Is any human being perfect? Of course not. So WHY do we put our trust in someone when we KNOW there is not one perfect human being? Ludicrous when you think about it, isn’t it? So what DO we do?? Well, there is only ONE person that we know IS perfect. Yes, that’s right, the Lord. But that shouldn’t be said so meaninglessly, with no significance, with no importance. The Lord God created the Heavens and the earth! He MADE the earth! That should mean something! Maybe I have gone down a rabbit trail, but what I am simply trying to say is it’s absolutely ridiculous to think that we can put our trust in another human being, that there is anyone but the Lord that can help us. Wouldn’t you agree? There is also no “thing” that can help you: not alcohol, not drugs, not sex, nothing! When all that wears off, all those feelings of heaviness rushes right back.

There are so many verses in the Bible that come to mind:

  • Isaiah 12:2 – “God is my savior; I will trust Him and not be afraid.”
  • Isaiah 41:10 – “Fear not, for I am with you.”
  • Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.”
  • Deuteronomy 31:6 – “Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic.”

These are all wonderful Scriptures! But there is one Scripture that helps me more than any other:

Psalm 46:10 – “Be STILL, and KNOW that I am God!”

There is simply something about that verse that is so comforting to me. If I can make myself still, and simply, and completely, make my mind and heart stop it’s madness, and force it to focus on Him alone, that is when His peace appears.

When you find yourself within that spirit of heaviness, or if you are in it right now, stop what you are doing. Go to your quiet place, be it your bedroom, your bathroom, or as funny as it seems, your closet. Get away from all distractions, close your eyes, and picture the Lord on His throne, right smack in front of you. Many times I simply say, “Jesus.” Or I say, “Lord, please speak to me. I need to hear from You.” I guarantee you, if you are truly sincere and are truly listening, He will speak to you. His presence WILL embrace you.

Now…close your eyes…say His name…ask Him to talk to you…wait, and don’t leave until He speaks.

“The Power of Singing To the Lord!”

My husband, Gian, and I did our devotion this morning on Psalm 71. Such great Words from the Lord in this chapter!

Psalm 71:2 – “You always do what is right.”

No matter who may be attacking us, the Lord is our salvation and deliverance!

Psalm 71:7 – “You are my source and strength, so I have been an example to others.”

He is our source for everything! We need to be an example of His goodness to everyone.

Psalm 71:9 – “Don’t throw me away just because I am old.”

It doesn’t matter how old I am, praise God!

Psalm 71:15-16 -“I will tell people how good You are. I will tell about all the times You saved me – too many times to count. I will tell about Your greatness, my Lord God. I will talk only about You and Your goodness.”

He has saved us from so many things, there are just too many times to even count. Our talk and speech must be always telling about His greatness.

Psalm 71:18 -“I must tell the next generation about Your power and greatness.”

If we don’t tell our children, grandchildren, about the Lord, who will? Even if they do not want to listen, tell them anyway! Doing this can and will change their future!

Psalm 71:23-24 – “I will SHOUT for joy, singing songs of praise to You for saving me. My tongue will sing about Your goodness all the time, because those who wanted to kill me have been defeated and disgraced.”

So many people do not feel that SHOUTING, and SINGING songs of praise to the Lord, is that important, or needed. Even the Scriptures say that the Lord shouts for joy! When we declare His word, it’s powerful. But singing is twice as powerful! Why is that?

Acts 16:25 says that Paul and Silas were in prison, simply because they were sharing the gospel. How did they get out of prison? By singing!

Acts 16:26 – “Suddenly there was an earthquake so strong that it SHOOK the foundation of the jail. ALL the doors of the jail opened, and the chains on all the prisoners FELL OFF!”

How many of you sing when you feel imprisoned? Of course we don’t “feel” like being joyful and singing, but look what the power of singing does!

Begin singing and shouting to the Lord today, and watch those chains fall off!

Psalm 67:5-6 – “Let the peoples praise You, oh God; Let all the peoples praise You. THEN the earth shall yield her increase; God, our own God, shall bless us.”

Psalm 34:11 – “Worship God if you want the best; worship OPEN doors to all His goodness!”

~ ŦɌⱭƇƳ