A New Start

 

images

If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land;

Isaiah 1: 19

When the Israelites first came out of the wilderness, before they entered the Promised Land, they encamped at Gilgal.  It was a stopping off place for the Israelites. They were no longer in the wilderness where they had been for the last forty years, but they weren’t in possession of the promised land either.

The forty years leading up to this time in Gilgal had probably been marked by frustration ( when God when?) and unanswered questions (why God why?) and may have left them wondering if they would ever get out of the wilderness. Ever feel that way? You thought you were headed somewhere but it has taken so long to get there that you have given up hope?

These Israelites  were born in and grew up in the wilderness. They didn’t learn about faith from their fathers, they didn’t learn about fighting or even hunting. Basically, their skills for survival were limited. Their skills for taking possession of enemy owned land, even less.

But God brought them to Gilgal where He rolled away the reproach of Israel, all the shame and dishonor that came from being slaves rolled off leaving them better prepared to start afresh in a new life, one they could barely imagine.

It is easy to think when we go through a wilderness time, that our live will never be good again. That we will never get out of this, never have another chance and nothing about our life will amount to anything. That this time spent in the wilderness is such a waste. But that is not the message of Gilgal.

As God cleaned up the people and began preparing them to start a new life, I picture him looking over their resumes for transferable skills that would be useful in the promise land.

First, He would see that they know how to grumble and complain.

Second, He would see that they know how to set up and take down tents.

Third, He would see that they know how to gather manna.

Not terribly useful skills for their new adventure, but then He saw it:   they know how to wander; they had walked in the wilderness for forty years.

And so, He came up with a battle plan to take their first city – Jericho.

All these Israelites had to do was walk around the city with their mouth shut until God said to let loose the battle cry! These men knew how to walk and God saw a way to use that to lead them to victory.

God would do the rest.

They did what they could do, God did what only He could do and they took possession of their first city in the new land! They were willing and obedient and God used them to take possession of Jericho.

If you are in the wilderness, don’t lose hope. God isn’t angry with you nor has He abandoned you or forgotten you. He can take what seems like waste and use it to lead you to the victory you may have given up hope of every seeing.

It’s a new year and this could be your year to take hold of what God has planned for you! Hang in there!

 

 

pic credit: relentless.taketheinterview.com

Advertisements

Day Planner

images7IYAEDL2

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, but just because I can, doesn’t mean I should. Saying no is a healthy thing.  It’s also a relatively uncomfortable thing to do. So much emphasis is put on getting stuff done. Day planners promise fulfilled days if we can just get organized. Our lives will run so much better if we only learn to plan every minute, every hour of our day and check and double check to make sure we are on track. Ugh!

I don’t know about you, but I like blank pages in my day planner. I don’t get many of those, but I like them just the same. I read yesterday that a very successful CEO of some company puts two things on his day as priority. He writes them down the night before. He suggested the readers might be more successful in reaching goals if we followed suit. It might be good advice. Two things, how hard is that?

Then today, at prayer group, the discussion came up of making time in our lives for committed, regular prayer. Of course, we could all think of how difficult that might be. Then we brainstormed ways to be gentle on ourselves and move in the direction of committed prayer time. It occurred to me that, perhaps, on our list of two items to be done the next day, prayer could be one of them. It could be a couple of minutes, we could be aided by prayers written by other people, we could just sing our prayers, light a candle and whisper our heart to God without the pretense of our words being so important that we trip over them. He knows what’s going on in our hearts. Prayer could be as simple as sitting quietly and allowing a little bit of His peace to infuse my life. We got these ideas from a book on prayer by Richard Foster.

Saying no to some events, even worthwhile ones, may be awkward, but it’s ok. We don’t have to have our minutes scheduled out to be productive, worthwhile people. God accepts us as we are, even on days when the day planner has blank pages.

Father, my life is so full sometimes, there is no room for You. I am not telling You anything You don’t already know. I think that in the busyness of my day, in the productivity of my day, I will find value, but You and I both know that I won’t. I have already been given value by You. So much value that You sent Your son Jesus to take my sins, to right the wrongs of my life, to bring meaning to my life, to lead me back to You – my source of value and worth. Thank You and please forgive me for the times I am just too busy to sit at Your feet. Help me with this commitment to prayer, help me make the time. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

The Puppy and the Peanut Butter

IMG_3326

“Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.”   
     Voltaire

As I write this, our Goldendoodle puppy Sadie is persistently attempting to clean the insides of an empty peanut butter jar. She has the top part really clean but hasn’t figured out how to get her face and tongue far enough down to clean the bottom.  She has been working on this for over half an hour! She has gotten the label all the way off and has bent back the edges of the plastic jar enough to get her face further down, but there is still peanut butter to be had.  Watching her determination is funny and heartwarming and sometimes, makes me think that maybe she isn’t all that smart.  Or maybe she’s smart enough to know that persistence pays off. Even if to others it looks like a lost cause.

I think that sometimes of my pursuit of healing. Why not just give up and accept that this is what it is and move one?  I would bet that to others that my determination may at times seems odd and, at times, may seem heartwarming, and maybe at other times, it just seems like, well, maybe she just isn’t all that smart. To me, though, there is something bigger at stake than getting the last bite of peanut butter. My healing, your healing is worth pursuing. It has been paid for and the price was high: Jesus taking all our diseases on the cross with Him to put an end to their destruction in our lives.

God made it clear in scriptures that Jesus came to do the will of God and Jesus went about healing all. ALL.  I am sure that sometimes, these people who came were to Jesus looking for healing were viewed as odd. I mean, who tears a hole in a roof to let someone down into the house on a pallet? That’s major league cutting in line, not to mention just plain odd. But they persisted and the man was healed. If I had been willing to say enough is enough and move on when we were believing for our son John, I am not so sure he’d be here today. I can’t help but wonder what other miracles I have missed because I was unwilling to persist to the end.  I don’t want to quit believing for my healing any more than Sadie wants to give up on that last bit of peanut butter, regardless of how it looks to others (and myself at times).

Jesus, You know the struggles I have had with faith, how it waxes and wanes, how some days faith comes easy and others, not so easy. Help me to be steady, to be persistent to the end when I see this promise of Yours manifested in my life. I’m not resting in my ability to believe, but resting in the faithfulness of Your love, Your character and Your word.  Thank You for bringing our promised son, John into our lives when it seemed impossible, and thank You for this healing You bring into my life even when, at times, it seems impossible. Forever Your humble follower, I thank You. Amen.

Holistically Speaking

 

Holistic medicine is not new. Plato said, “The great error in the treatment of the human body is that physicians are ignorant of the whole. For the part can never be well unless the whole is well”.  Plato was a Greek philosopher and a scientist and his findings date back to several hundred years before Christ came.

According to Quaker theologian Richard Foster, “ancient Hebrews saw persons as a unity, and they found it unthinkable to minister to the body without ministering to the spirit and vice versa”. This I found in Dr. Reginald Cherry’s book Healing Prayer.

I find this fascinating. I remember when doctors looked at you oddly if you mentioned prayer and got real nervous if you thought your physical and emotional symptoms could be connected. I remember being dismissed and regarded as odd. Things have changed, thankfully and it is possible to find doctors who know the wisdom in treating the whole person.

It wasn’t always this way, physicians long ago knew the value of holistic treatment. When  Jesus walked on the earth and ministered healing to the people, they would have understood the concept of holistic healing. They would understand that Jesus isn’t just talking about just spiritual healing when the word “sozo” was used for the word salvation. He was  a holistic healer healing people who were accustomed to being treated holistically. The word sozo is translated saved (Mark 16:16) but also used as healed when the demon possessed man was set free (Luke 8 :36) and whole when the lepers were healed (Luke 17:19).

We are coming back to this place in our society of recognizing the importance of holistic healing but I wonder if we are arriving there in the church. When we hear the word salvation does it quickly make us think of physical healing, deliverance, and wholeness or do we only think of spiritual rebirth? Jesus didn’t separate them in His ministry but somewhere along the way, we, the church did and how many people have not been healed simply because they didn’t know it was God’s will to heal their body and their mind and their heart and deliver them from all forms of bondage?  Jesus touched every part of brokenness in the people He ministered to and He probably wouldn’t have been considered a good healer by that culture had He only looked at one aspect of their brokenness. I suspect that part of what drew the thousands was the belief that He was a great healer and they would leave His presence changed. Do we believe that?

Lord, when I think of all that Your salvation includes I am humbled and blessed and overwhelmed. Forgive me I pray, for any and all times I have limited the Limitless One of Israel by thinking that physical healing was a lesser agenda and not a part of the whole. Thank You for revealing our Father’s will in all that You did when You walked among the people. Walk among us today, touch us today like You did then, bring Your healing to broken people, help us to see Your salvation as the holistic treatment You paid for it to be. And when people are healed and delivered and set right, may You get the glory and the honor. In Your saving name, I ask. Amen.

 

The Power of Words

 

untitled (2)

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.  Proverbs 18:21

We have been created in the image of God.  God who said “Light be” and there was light.  His words have creative power.  Being created in His image means that our words have creative power also.

My co-worker has been vocally stressing about spring for weeks now.  She keeps saying it’s supposed to be the worst allergy season ever and she just knows she is going to be sick a lot.  And you know what? She probably is going to be sick because she spoke that into existence.

Listen to people and you will hear all kinds of death being spoken into their existence.  Things that don’t seem like that big of a deal like my co-worker’s lamentations about allergies.  But our words have power.  They either speak death or they speak life.

It’s just as easy to say, “By God’s grace, I will make it through this allergy season with no symptoms in my body”.

I caught myself saying quietly to myself “wow, this hurts” every time I took a step.  Well, it did hurt.  But when I took stock of what I was saying, I change my words to “I am healed”  with every step I took.  And do you know what?  The pain lessened drastically.

What words are you speaking over your life?

Whatever words you are speaking, you will eat the fruit of those words.  Purpose to speak words that bring a harvest of good fruit for yourself and others. Purpose to speak words that line up with the word of God.

Father God, thank You that I have been created in Your image.  What an awesome thought that is and tremendous responsibility.  Thank you for the grace to be mindful of my words; nudge me when I am speaking death and help me to remember that it’s just as easy to speak words of life.  Help me to put a guard over my mouth that my words line up with Yours.  Amen.

Do you need healing?  I would love to pray for and with you, please let me know.

Do you have a healing testimony?  I would love to hear it and share it with others.

reprinted from my blog  godhappenings.wordpress.com

Qualifying Pain

Ever feel like your pain – be it emotional, physical, relational or any other pain – is too small to bother God with?  I certainly have and I have heard others make comments like that.  Sounds humble doesn’t it?  The comment is usually backed up with acknowledging others who are so much worse off.  Let them go the altar; they need it more. The problem is that, though it sounds humble, that kind of thinking isn’t humble, in all likelihood that may be pride.  That thought could be roughly translated – I can handle this myself. Perhaps  it can also be translated – I don’t think God cares about the “little” details of my life.  It could also be translated – God may not be able to help those who need it more if I ask Him to help me.

Doesn’t sound quite so humble any more.

God cares about your pain.  He cares about mine.  And none of His caring for us limits the care He can give to all the hurting people all around the world.  Our pain doesn’t have to register 7.6 on the Richter scale to get His attention.

Remember the story of the sparrows Jesus told?

He said, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?  Yet not one of them is forgotten by God”.  He goes on to say, “Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows”.  Luke 12: 6-7

The Message Bible puts it like this  “What’s the price of two or three pet canaries? Some loose change, right? But God never overlooks a single one. And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries.”

Bully talk allows us to talk ourselves out of meeting God at the altar and we should be able to recognize that those thoughts come from the father of lies and not from God.

You are worth so much that God sent His one and only Son, Jesus to pay for your healing, your deliverance, your peace of mind.  Don’t qualify pain.  Yours doesn’t have to be greater than someone else’s to matter to God.  I don’t have a father’s heart, but I do have a mother’s heart and I can tell you that anything, regardless of relative size, that hurts my children, hurts me.  I would move heaven and earth to heal their hurts.  Of course, I can’t, but the good news is that God who could move heaven and earth, did so on their behalf, on your behalf, on my behalf.

Qualifying our pain limits God.

Father in heaven,  thank You for keeping such a close watch on me and my loved ones.  Thank you that every pain of ours is noticed by You and You stand ready to heal us.  Your love for us is hard to comprehend, help us to embrace that love more freely and forgive us for the times we would limit You in our lives.  Amen.

The Blame Game

“Rabbi,” His disciples asked Him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”  “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.”   John 9: 2-3

The disciples here were caught up in who sinned because of a belief that sin was passed on from parents to kids and even that babies could sin before birth.  It was no doubt a sincere question but it wasn’t really the main point of this encounter.  Jesus showed them a higher purpose; He demonstrated the power of God by healing this man.  I wonder how many times in our lives Jesus has been available to demonstrate the power of God and we have been too busy pointing fingers to notice.

Everybody sins, we all know that, but not all sickness, pain and suffering are brought on by sin.  We live in a fallen and very toxic world and we have a very real enemy seeking to destroy our lives.  All of which can contribute to disease and sicknesses.  Jesus came to set us free from the effects of original sin in any and every way that they present themselves and that means healing us of all our diseases.

Questioning why this disease, sickness, illness happened, who sinned, or what did I do or failed to do, what should I have done or not done is a blame game that we don’t need to play.  Jesus didn’t.  He saw the need and healed the man. His behavior was consistent with who He is.  Our Healer.  He paid a tremendous price for our healing; it is a gift, one we can’t earn and one we can’t lose.  It isn’t based on my worthiness, or yours, but on His worthiness and His character.   And He is the same yesterday, today and forever, Our God who heals us.

Jesus, when I think of Your goodness and mercy towards me, I am humbled and so very grateful.  Thank You for loving me enough to pay for my healing and for the forgiveness of my sins.  How incredibly thoughtful and gracious You are towards me.  For the times I have judged myself and others because of disease or sickness, please forgive me.  Please open my eyes to see the times You are present to heal and demonstrate the power of God.  Amen.