Just For The One

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 They arrived on the other side of the sea in the country of the Gerasenes. As Jesus got out of the boat, a madman from the cemetery came up to him. He lived there among the tombs and graves. No one could restrain him—he couldn’t be chained, couldn’t be tied down. He had been tied up many times with chains and ropes, but he broke the chains, snapped the ropes. No one was strong enough to tame him. Night and day, he roamed through the graves and the hills, screaming out and slashing himself with sharp stones.

Mark 5: 1 -5

Doesn’t sound like much of a life. Probably a lot less of a life than this man imagined for himself. Much less than his parents imagined for him.  According to the story, much less than God imagined for him.

How do we know this?  Before Jesus and His disciples arrived on the other side of the sea, they had to cross that sea. They encountered a storm.  Jesus stilled the storm and they continued their journey.  They could have turned back, postponed the journey, left it for another day, but they didn’t. They pressed on.

Arriving on the shore, they were met by this man. He isn’t described in a very flattering way. Probably most of us, encountering him, would move away quickly.

Let someone else help him.

I have enough to do without adding this man to my list.

Besides, he probably deserved this. Probably chose to continue in behaviors that led him here. Probably walked away from family and treatment and help and now was only reaping the fruit of those decisions.

Just walk on by.

Not only did Jesus not just walk on by, but as we read on, we discover that as soon as this man was delivered of the legion of demons that tormented him, Jesus and His disciples got back in the boat and sailed back across the sea.

There was no one else and nothing else on their agenda that day besides delivering that man of the demons. The Bible doesn’t tell us of anyone else healed over on that side of the sea on that particular day.

Not all, not the many, not everyone who came to Him.

Just this one man.

This one man we could so easily pass by.

Jesus went out of His way to heal, just this one man.

Which raises this question in my mind – what wouldn’t He do for me?  For just me? What lengths would He go to to touch me, heal me, deliver me?

Since He is no respecter of persons, what He did for this man He will do for me.

And you.

I am so humbled when I think of You going out of Your way to touch my life. If I were the only one, You would have still gone to that cross on my behalf. Even now, there isn’t a storm that can keep You from me. No journey You wouldn’t undertake to set me free.  Thank You Jesus. Thank You for pursuing me when no one else would. When nothing of my life appeared worth the effort, You made that effort anyway. Thank You.  Amen.

 

pic credit: youtube.com

 

 

 

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Does He Even Have a Name?

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As he (Jesus) stepped out onto land, a madman from town met him; he was a victim of demons. He hadn’t worn clothes for a long time, nor lived at home; he lived in the cemetery.

Luke 8:27

He was somebody before the demons victimized him. We aren’t told his name or what his life was like. But I would like to humanize him if possible. I suspect he was a man of significance; a significance he didn’t even recognize. Oh, it might not have been financial, though it could have been. Maybe it was influence; maybe he was a man that people respected, looked up to, enjoyed knowing. Maybe he had a wife and kids and a nice livelihood that enabled him to provide for them. We aren’t told these things.

Whatever his life was, it wasn’t anymore. Whatever his influence may have been, it was no more. The Bible tells us that he had so many demons tormenting him that they were referred to as Legion (Legion being 6000 Roman soldiers). So either Satan had a lot of unemployed demons just hanging out or this man’s significance had alerted Satan that something needed to be done to stop him.

So the torment began. The Bibles says that in the early stages of this torment, the townspeople could restrain him. This implies to me that he must have tried repeatedly to remain in the town he called home among the people he knew but he was dangerous to them and they sent him out – repeatedly. At some point, he was no longer able to be restrained because of his strength but it reads like he settled into the tombs and no longer attempted to go home.

And there he was when Jesus showed up. This man who had lost everything had finally succumbed to the voices that played in his head – the ones that said – it’s pointless, you will never be ok again, you will never be among your friends again, your old life is gone, you will never be loved again, never have any influence again and as for significance – forget that.

But I think there was an ember of hope in him. He was naked, he was miserable, he was cutting, but he didn’t commit suicide. Something in him wanted to live, wanted to believe that there was hope for him and when Jesus came into his path, that ember of hope fanned into a flame. And Jesus delivered him from his tormentors!  Epic win! Certainly not the biggest epic win Jesus would bring about but a noteworthy and life restoring one.

Regardless of the torment,

regardless of the length of time the torment has plagued you,

regardless of what you may have lost because of the torment,

Jesus is greater! 

The battle isn’t over until Jesus says it’s over!

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Lost at Sea!

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“Awake now, he told the wind to pipe down and said to the sea, “Quiet! Settle down!”

The wind ran out of breath; the sea became smooth as glass.

Jesus reprimanded the disciples: “Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith at all?”

Mark 4:39

Some of the kids I work with, I have worked with for over two years. Long enough, I would think, to prove my character about certain issues, to know whether I actually mean it when I say something, whether I will actually follow through with the consequences.  It usually plays out like this: I tell them to do something – clean up your area and come to group. That’s simple, right? And they hear that daily, sometimes twice a day.  But invariably, there are those who won’t do what I said.  I believe they question did I really mean what I said.  Not that they come up and say, “did you really mean that”. No, they are much more subtle than that; they just pretend they didn’t know I said it or that I meant them or that I meant now.   Then they are surprised when consequences are realized.  They simply failed to take me at my word to deliver the goods or the consequences that are promised.

I think that the disciples in the boat with Jesus had spent enough time around Him to know His character and whether or not He could back up His words, but when the storm came up, they freaked.  The storm is raging, Jesus is in the boat and they are freaking out. I would be too, I am pretty sure. I love this part – at His word, the wind ran out of breath (oh, that I could say words that immediately stop a child’s ranting!) and the sea became smooth as glass. Would that I could silence the storms around me with just my words.

Then came the stinging consequence of the disciples lack of faith. Jesus turns His words, His powerful, wind stopping, sea calming words on His beloved disciples.  “Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith at all?”  If, in the middle of a storm, I could hear His voice, I feel certain He would be saying the same things to me, the same things I would say to the kids who fail to take me at my word. “What more can I do to prove to you that I am here for you? How many times can I say the same thing over and over and over again  before you actually start to believe me?”

I am not different than the kids I work with. I should be; I am older, more mature, wiser, been around the block more, had more opportunities to see God at work in my life, but in the final analysis, I am no more a believer than they.  When the storms come, all I know about Jesus seems to fly out into the wind to be caught up in the storm and carried away. When the calm comes and I see Jesus in my life again, I am ashamed of my lack of faith.  And I purpose to do better next time and hope that I will see Jesus in the midst of the storm.

How do you handle storms? I would love to hear from you.

pic credit: yokum1…

Foregone Conclusion?

Chloe and pups

 

Puppies were born last night, 9 of them. Puppy number 6 was different from the beginning. He was tiny, about 1/3 the size of the others and clearly underdeveloped. Dogs can conceive puppies several days apart and this is what apparently had happened. His litter mates were ready to be born, but he was not. Ready or not, he arrived.

I looked him over and found no defects, he is perfectly formed, just days younger than would have been better for him at birth. I reasoned out what to do. From my experiences, this dog did not have a very good chance of survival. Odds were, mom would reject pup and pup would not have nursing reflexes. Both of which meant that I would be feeding the pup and keeping it warm for who know how long. I don’t mind doing that; I just have never been successful at that. After many hours of heart-breaking attempts, the pup would simply slip away. I considered that it might be better for the pup, if I accept that now and find a way to humanely end his ordeal.

This was my thinking until the Holy Spirit interrupted my thoughts with this verse:

 And you shall again obey the Lord, and observe all His commandments which I command you today. Then the Lord your God will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand…

Deuteronomy 30:8

This promise assures me that as I obey and follow God (which thankfully because of Jesus, I don’t have to do perfectly), I can expect God to prosper the work of my hand.

I decided to put my hand to the puppy in faith that God would keep His word. I spoke words of life and healing over him, I warmed him up, dried him off, offered him formula and encouraged him to nurse. None of those things, in themselves, offered much hope, but it was all I knew to do while trusting God to do what I couldn’t.

I seriously didn’t expect that puppy to make it through the night, (oh me of little faith!), but he did. He prospered. He is still small, he is still underdeveloped but mom has not rejected him, she has carefully encouraged him to nurse and he has! When he wanders away from the warmth of the litter, she draws him back with her kisses (or licks)  Praise God!

This caused me to wonder how many times, I have been willing to give up on something, thinking that I can see the writing on the wall, I know where this is headed, I may as well bail now? This marriage is over, this child will not respond to me, these bills will never be paid, this career will never take off, I will always be alone, I will never be free of this addiction, why bother any more?

That puppy would have slipped away had the Holy Spirit not reminded me that it is God’s will to prosper what we put our hand to. Did you put your hand to raising that child?  Then expect him to prosper. Did you put your hand to that marriage? Then expect it to prosper. It’s never a foregone conclusion, not when God has the last say.

Thank You, Jesus for making it possible for me to come into the promises of God by Your righteousness and not my own. I am so grateful for Your willingness to do that for me. I know in the grand scheme of things, that this little puppy is just that – a tiny, little puppy and yet, the You prospered him! If you would do that for this tiny little puppy, what wouldn’t you do for me? Help me to remember this when I am tempted to throw in the towel. Help me to keep putting my hand to what You have given me, in faith believing that You will prosper what I hold dear. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Name to Face

 

Look at the sky and see.
    Who created these things?
    Who brings out the stars one by one?
        He calls them all by name.
    Because of the greatness of his might and the strength of his power,
    not one of them is missing.

Isaiah 40:26

 

Taking care of kids involves a lot of paperwork. One piece is our Name to Face sheet. On this we put the name of each child who is attending. Then every time we take them from one room to another or from inside to outside or vice versa, we are to call out each name, hear them say “here” or see their face, and check them off. It takes time but keeps us from losing a child. In my defense, though, I ‘d like to say that I never lost a child even without the list! But that’s not the point.

God created the stars and He named them one by one. He knows the names of the stars! Every single one! Astronomers estimate over 100,000 million stars in the Milky Way alone. How many can you name?  Me, not very many, maybe only one – the North Star, but He knows them all. And not one is missing. He must have His own Name to Face sheet for the stars.

If God would take such great pains to keep stars in place and know them by name and prevent even one from being missing, wouldn’t He do the same, if not more, for His children who are the crown jewel of His creation?  He has engraved our names upon His hand and numbered the hairs of our head. We are far more important to Him than the stars and yet look at how He cares for them.

Whatever the difficulty you face right now or the trial you may be going through, God isn’t unaware. You are not Missing in Action. He knows where you are and what you are going through and He knows the exact date it will be over; the very moment when your deliverance, your breakthrough, your healing comes through. It isn’t planned for our timetable but for His and while I don’t understand that at times and wish He would move on my timetable, He is faithful and not one of His children will come up missing or in lack or want. That’s good news, isn’t it?

Jesus, You are Lord of all creation, even me. The stars tell a story of Your intimate knowledge of my life and my comings and goings. Not once have You forsaken me or forgot about me or lost me. I am Yours and You faithfully, lovingly keep watch over me. Thank You that I am recorded on Your Name to Face sheet and in Your Lamb’s book of Life. Thank You for hanging on to me even when I fail to hang on to You. Especially when I fail to hang on to You. Have Your way in my life and in my heart and in my family, I ask in Your powerful name. Amen.

 

picture credit: anyasgarden

Unlimited Asking

The best way to be sure your prayer is answered… is to pray! 

God challenges you to do unlimited asking. 

To the one in need of salvation, He says, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37)

To the one in need of healing, He says, “I will come and heal him” (Matthew 8:7)

To the one tormented by fear or dogged by failure, He says,”Come unto me…and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28)

To the one who is slave to habit, He says, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36)

Are you expecting an answer?

If you expect the Lord to do wonderful things for you, He will.

Believe it, and you will find, as I have, that prayer is one of the most wonderful experiences ever known.

This excerpt on prayer was written by Oral Roberts in his book Oral Roberts Answers Questions About …PRAYER.

I love the expression “unlimited asking”. Prayer is not something that interrupts God’s day. It isn’t something that He grows tired of hearing. He beckons us to prayer to ask so that we might receive. I love that prayer is something we can all do and that Jesus responds to our prayers. Our words don’t have to be perfect, our posture doesn’t have to be a prescribed position. Prayer is really pretty simple – ask and believe. So the question becomes – are you in need? Did you pray? Did you keep on coming to Jesus, and keep on praying and keep on asking and keep on believing? I know I am guilty of praying earnestly for a time and then moving on. Then, of course, I wonder why I don’t see more answers to prayer than I do.

A friend of mine and I have purposed to get up a half hour early and pray each morning. We are believing that not only will God answer our prayers because He is a prayer answering God, but that He will also redeem that time and we won’t miss that half hour of sleep.  So far, so good. Finding time to pray is something that doesn’t happen unless we make it happen. Care to join us? You can even stay in your pajamas and in your bed, and He still hears, isn’t that good?

Lord, I come to You in need. In need of healing and rest and freedom from busyness. I love that You hear my prayers, that You solicit my prayers, that You respond to my prayers and act on my prayers. You are so merciful and gracious to me. Help me and my friend as we purpose to rise early to seek Your face. Would You meet with us and lead us to pray for what is on Your heart each morning. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of bringing Your kingdom to my corner of the world. Love You, Amen.

picture credit: aheartforthehome.com

A Change of Perspective

Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance.

The Lord be with you all!

II Thessalonians 3:16

Yesterday, two young Jehovah’s Witnesses came to my door. They asked the question, “what would you change if you could change one thing about this world?”  I answered that I would change people’s perception of God, which in turn would change their perception of themselves. The story comes to mind of Gideon.

Gideon lived in turbulent times. For seven years, the Midianite invasions left them stripped of crops and livestock and Israel was starving. They cried out to God to help them. Then the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon as he was hiding in order to thresh his wheat. Then He addressed Gideon as, “you mighty man of valor”. He continued to tell him that God was sending him to rescue Israel from the Midianites. Gideon’s first response is much like mine would have been. What me? How? Really?! But I’m…just…so…me?!

Clearly God saw Gideon differently than Gideon saw himself. Of course, God has the ability to see the ending of the story before we even see the beginning of it. But more than that, God promised Gideon that He would be with him. Then God changes Gideon’s perception of God. He reveals Himself as Jehovah Shalom – THE LORD IS PEACE. Curious isn’t it that He didn’t reveal Himself as God –  “The Great Midianite Conqueror” or God –  “The Mighty Warrior”. No, He revealed Himself as peace.

I think God knew that whatever the circumstance, whatever we are facing, no matter how awful or overwhelming it can be, the one real thing each of us needs is peace. Not peace as in the absence of war, or peace as the absence of stress or conflict, but peace as in the Prince of Peace abiding with us and in us, giving of Himself so that we can give of ourselves.

Jehovah Shalom led Gideon and his team to victory in part because Gideon’s perspective of His God and himself were changed. A nation was preserved. I wonder what could happen in our lives and our small part of the world if we could see God as He presents Himself in His word and see ourselves as He sees us and tells us about in His word. What kind of victory and healing and deliverance could that bring to our world?

Lord, all too often, I feel like Gideon, wondering how on earth am I going to do the things You have placed before me. Things that seem monumental at times and totally out of my comfort zone. Thank You for being my peace, for giving me peace in every circumstance.  Help me to see myself the way You do, to rise up like Gideon and do all that You have called me to do, knowing that You, Jehovah Shalom go with me. Thank You Jesus.

Genetics

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being,

Hebrews 1:3

My daughter is trying to pin her bad memory on me.  Says it’s genetics. She offered eye-witness accounts to support her case, but I can’t remember what they are. Genetics are funny things. Try as I might when breeding dogs to understand them, there is always a pup or two that seems to come from nowhere and leave me scratching my head.

Jesus is the exact representation of God, it’s hard for me to imagine that that was strictly a genetic thing. There had to be more to that duplication than just genes. However it came about, to look at Jesus is to see God.

So what do we see when we see Jesus?

Someone who was moved with compassion and went about healing all who were sick and oppressed of the devil.

Not once in scriptures, did He cause a storm to rise up but we do see Him calming one.

We don’t see Him putting sickness on anyone, we see Him taking it away. 

We don’t see Him condemning people, we see Him dining with sinners.

We see Him feeding the hungry,

ministering to the outcast,

raising people from the dead,

embracing children and clearing the temple of hypocrisy.

And what did He say? He said He only does what He sees His father doing or what His father tells Him to do. So all of these things must be God’s will expressed to His Son and then through His Son to us. People want to pin famine and floods and pestilence and such on God. Even insurance companies call floods and storms “acts of God” but I don’t see eye-witness accounts of these in Jesus’s life to support those theories.

Jesus healed people. Those with relationships with Him and those without. Jesus healed because it is part of what His Father, our Father sent Him to do.

How easy it is to blame You when things go bad. Please forgive me for times when I have done that. Times when I still do. I know You are not the giver of pain and disease and that You came to set us free from those things and yet sometimes, I doubt that. Sometimes, when the pain seems to be winning, I lose sight of all that You are and who You are. My Healer God, sent from heaven to put me right. Thank You Jesus for not giving up on me, especially when I am willing to hold You responsible for this pain not being gone. Help me to keep my eyes on You, the way You lived while on this earth.  In Your name, I ask. Amen.

God With You, God With Me

Emmanuel

Written by Bob McGee

Emmanuel, Emmanuel,

His name is called Emmanuel

God with us, revealed in us

His name is called Emmanuel.

P1060202This song reminds us of a promise of God.  The promise of His continual presence with us, in us, around us, for us.  That means everything He is is with us, with me, even now.  Last night was another sleepless night because of pain and when I got up to a beautiful Saturday, husband and son off fishing, I had so many wonderful ideas of what I could do with my free time.  But once again, pain redefined how I would spend my day.

I started to wallow in self-pity but then this song came to me.  God is with me.  How does that help me today when I am wracked with pain?  Just this – in the Old Testament, when the people of God were going out to do battle against their enemies, sometimes they sought the Lord and sometimes, they failed to do that.  When they had His presence with them, victory was theirs.  When they didn’t, well, they lost the battle.  Time and time again.

In the New Testament, whenever Jesus showed up on the scene, people were delivered from demonic possession and healed of ALL their diseases.  God with us bringing victory.  Jesus with us bringing healing.

Ok, so my plans were changed once again by pain I’d rather not have.  But it’s my choice whether I wallow in self-pity or meditate on the nearness of my Savior.  One brings me peace and one brings me anguish.  

So my new plan for today?  Spend time with my ever-present Savior, my Healer, my Friend.  My to do list will just have to wait. Today, I will just hang out, I will just be a child sitting on my Father’s lap.

Emmanuel, Can I just crawl up in Your lap today?  Will You just hold me?  I need to feel Your strong arms around me, lay my head against Your chest and hear Your heartbeat.  Pain has changed my plans once again, but as I sit with You,  will You redefine my day for me?   I need You; thank You for Your promise to always be with me.  In Jesus’s name, Amen.

Do you need healing?  Can I pray for you?  Please let me know.

reprinted from my blog  godhappenings.wordpress.com


					

Satan Fall Like Lightning

And He said to them, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning”  Luke 10:18

Jesus said this to the seventy He commissioned when they returned and shared their testimony of deliverances and healings.  I think it pleased Jesus more than we can comprehend to know that his disciples were victorious in pushing back the forces of darkness.  While they were out ministering the kingdom of God to hurting people, Jesus was watching a cosmic light show where Satan, the defeated foe that he is, was falling from heaven like lightning.  What a display that must have been!

We may not see these things in the spiritual realm but we can see from this passage that Jesus is delighted when His people are victorious over the enemy.  He paid a tremendous price for us to walk in victory over every work of the enemy – sin, sickness, disease, death and lack. He paid with His life.

I want to be someone who is victorious in pushing back the forces of darkness in my life and in the lives of others.  I want to see captives set free and people’s lives restored.  I like to think of the smile that was on Jesus’ face when He saw Satan fall and I want to be a part of bringing that smile to Jesus’ face.

Help me, Father, to be tenacious in my faith, my faith in the completed work of Jesus.  Help me to be moved with compassion towards hurting people and lost people enough that I will step out of my comfort zone and minister to them as You lead.  Thank You  that I am a child of the kingdom of God and that includes healing and deliverance from all that Satan would send my way. Amen.