Setting Things Right

 

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Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.

Matthew 9:35

Jesus confused people.  I think it’s safe to say that.  Everywhere He walked, He left behind Him people scratching their heads and wondering about this man that was the carpenter’s son.

He came preaching a message that was quite different from what people anticipated, even people who were well versed in the writings of the Old Testament prophets.  He healed the sick even on Sabbath and He delivered  people from the torment of Satan which served to demonstrate his message.  His primary message was the kingdom of God being here and now  and the things that he did were evidences of what the kingdom of God looked like.

He didn’t come to overthrow the Roman Empire or abolish taxes.   He came to right what had been wronged in the garden of Eden. Adam and Eve had been given a kingdom to exercise authority upon and they chose instead to believe the lies of the serpent and rebel against the god who created them. Before we throw stones at them, we should ask ourselves if we have believed the lies of the devil. Have I believed that God is holding out on me, that His best is not enough for me, that I would rather do things my way then His?Have I believed that I am worthless, that I can never do anything good enough,  that I am not worthy of love? Have I accepted the doctor’s diagnosis to the point of believing this condition is not curable, that I will never be well?

If so, then I hope we can look at what Jesus said and demonstrated about the kingdom he was setting aright.  He healed the sick, he delivered people from satanic attacks and he preached a message of repentance and forgiveness.  Why? Because simply overthrowing the Roman Empire might temporarily set captives free, but only Jesus could permanently set captives free.

Why would setting captives free matter so much to Jesus?  Because it matters so much to our Father in heaven.  Jesus came to do the will of His Father.  Jesus came in love and because of love and all that He did demonstrated that love to a hurting and broken world.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10

 

Father, thank You for sending Jesus to show us Your heart.  What love You have demonstrated in making a way for us to be set free.  When the thief comes to steal and kill and destroy, remind us of Your love for us.  Whisper Your truth in our hearts so that we may be set free to love You in return.  Let Your kingdom come, let Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Amen. 

 

Pic credit:  kingdomcitizens.org

 

 

 

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Lottery Ticket

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The school where I work is holding their annual plastic drive. Families bring in plastic trash and the classroom with the highest weight of recyclable plastic wins.  The school in the district with the highest weight wins. Last year, our school won and the kids would like to win again.

I brought in a large bag (4 feet tall by 2 1/2 feet wide) stuffed with plastic.  All of the kids wanted to take that to their class but only one bag so, in an effort to be fair, we decided on lottery tickets. I put kid’s names on tickets and placed them in a bowl and drew out one lucky winner.  Kids that did not hear their name called were disappointed for themselves but happy for the winner.  Probably slightly more disappointed for themselves. These are elementary aged children! We, as adults, would never act that way! Right?

I recently shared with a friend that God had healed me of fibromyalgia.  He has been in pain for years and has had countless surgeries and still not completely healed. I hoped to encourage him to not give up on God.

All he said was, “lucky you”.

Then he added, “congratulations”.

I wanted to say this wasn’t a lottery. Healing doesn’t depend on luck. God promises that what He has done for one, He will do for all. He is no respecter of persons. But he had that closed off look people get when they don’t want to hear any more.

I understand giving up on God. My healing didn’t come after one prayer, or one time of being anointed with oil, or one week of confessing healing scriptures. This blog is testimony to the time I have spent waiting on a healing and the posts only cover four years. I lived with chronic pain for over 22 years and then one day, the pain was gone. I can’t explain that but I know luck deserves no credit whatsoever.

I remember all too well hearing testimonies of people being healed and feeling sad for myself because I wasn’t. I didn’t credit this to luck as much to thinking I had done something wrong. Didn’t have enough faith or something like that. Maybe I waivered in my faith too much or didn’t confess enough.

There was a tremendous amount of torment in waiting for a healing that didn’t seem to be coming. And so I gave up. I gave up blogging and searching for answers. I gave up confessing scriptures and seeking God for a healing.

I never gave up believing, however, that God is a healer and that healing is the children’s bread. I simply gave up letting that quest dominate my prayer life and my thinking.

And one day I realized I hadn’t taken any pain meds in quite a while.

I couldn’t remember the last time I couldn’t sleep because of pain.

The pain that had been a part of my life 24/7 was gone.

That’s not luck, that’s God!

Abba Father, thank You.  Thank You for touching my body and bringing the long awaited healing. I praise You for not forgetting about me or giving up on me or turning Your back on me.  For those who are waiting on a healing, Lord, I ask that You touch them in a palpable way, remind them of Your love and grace and mercy.  And please, let Your healing flow to them.  In Jesus’ name, amen.  

 

 

 

 

pic credit:  clipartfest

 

In The Presence Of My Enemies

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“Thou dost prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies”.

Psalm 23: 5

I  wonder what good food would do for me in the presence of my enemies. Am I going to pelt my enemies with spaghetti and meatballs?  Do I poke their eyes out with bread sticks? This part of Psalm 23 didn’t really make sense to me and I would ordinarily skim right past.

But recently, I saw this verse differently. The table He has prepared is laden with everything I have inherited through Christ – every spiritual blessing, every physical blessing, every weapon I will ever need, every provision I will ever need. All there – laid out for me. When I am in the presence of my enemies there I will find my weapon. The God who spoke this world into existence and created the many species and ecosystems and gave each exactly what they needed not only for survival but also to work in relation to other ecosystems for mutual survival, prepared a table for us! An orderly, lavishly decorated table with everything we have need of in the face of enemies.

When the enemy of fear comes against me, all I have to do is look at the table prepared before me and find what God has provided to combat fear – peace, truth, the spirit of power and a sound mind.

When the enemy of pain or sickness comes against me, I can find on this table the healing Christ paid for on the cross.

When the enemy of worry comes against me,  there on the table lays the  peace that passes all understanding.

When the enemy of rejection comes against me, I browse the table until I find the adoption papers that assure me that I am His.

 

All these and more are piled to overflowing on this banquet prepared by the Lord. And all I have to do is believe and feast on His provision.

 

 

picture credit: weddingbuffet.net

 

God’s Economy

 

 

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Years ago, when I lived in Montana, I had a wonderful gelding named Apache. The whole family loved that horse. Anyone could ride him; he was totally trustworthy. I especially liked taking him out on short jaunts in the woods. Fearless, smart and oh, how he loved to run, but there was one thing he would not do. He would not jump over anything. No, not ever, which most of the time was fine. But sometimes, in the woods, when a tree had fallen across the trail it would have been nice if he would have just jumped it. But alas, he would not.

One day, I came across a fallen log in our path. Way too big for him to step over and no way to go around the log. I sure didn’t want to turn around and go home and he sure didn’t want to jump it. I got off and studied the situation. I got behind him and pushed him on his rump. He glanced back and me and switched me with his tail. Out of frustration, I kicked the log and, to my surprise, the formidable roadblock  just caved in.

Dust flew upward and pieces of bark fell downward. Where the log had crumbled, I noticed tiny evidences of life. Intrigued, I bent down for a closer look. The log which had appeared to be dead, totally useless, too rotten for even good firewood, concealed underneath it an entirely new ecosystem. The sprouts were white from lack of sun exposure and unidentifiable to me.

At the time of this trail ride, I had just ended a 23 year marriage to a man who preferred drinking to sobriety, other women to me and being gone from home more than being at home. I spent a lot of days kicking myself for what I called wasted years.

But, while I studied this undergrowth, the Holy Spirit spoke these words to me, “In God’s economy, there is no such thing as waste.”

Hope blew across me like a gentle breeze.

What wonderful news this is when we are going through a time of limitations. A time when we say no more often than we are able to say yes. Ever feel like this time of being sick or being in pain or hanging onto a relationship that destroys your life is such a waste? I certainly have. Then I remember this story and I am comforted to know that God doesn’t call those times a waste. He is able to bring new life out of old and even in the midst of our waiting and wondering, He is able to use us and our seemingly wasted years for our  ultimate good and His incredible glory. That’s good news, isn’t it?

 

pic credit:  Diane Reid

 

Cast Your Cares

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Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.

1 Peter 5:7, AMP

Nothing takes God by surprise.  Nothing. Life takes me by surprise often. I make my plans, set my goals and wham – a diagnosis, a new pain, an unexpected expense, a relationship turns sour – and I am surprised.At my age, I should no longer get surprised. Life happens and sometimes, it is more of a kick in the gut than a stroll on the beach.

Even so, none of this surprises God.

Reeling from the news can send me in two different directions. I can flip out and rant and rave and stress out and lose sleep.  Or I can cast my cares on the God who saw the storm coming and has already mapped out a plan.

Ever gone fishing?  There is prep work to be done, getting the right size line and hook on the right size pole for the fish and picking the spot and the time of day and the bait. But once that hook is cast out into the water, the results are out of your hands. Not much to do but wait at this point. I am not a fisher-woman primarily because I hate waiting (and I am not too wild about cleaning fish).

When the bad news comes, there is only so much I can do and then I have to leave the rest in God’s hands.

What might this look like? For me, it means making a conscious decision to control my racing thoughts. Purposing to focus on God’s promises (one is all I need) instead of the evidence surrounding me isn’t always easy.  It requires a discipline that doesn’t come natural for me. Far more natural is for me to give into to worry and stress.

This verse tells us that God watches over me, over you,  in love. He cares for us affectionately. Nothing about our life escapes His notice and while we are trying to figure it all out, He is behind the scenes working it all out for us because of His great love and concern for us.

Worrying says, “No thanks God, I’d rather do this myself”.

Dr. Phil would say, “how’s that working for you?”

Two choices – cast my cares or keep them – I get to choose.

How about you?  Done any casting lately?

If you would like prayer, I would be happy to pray with and for you, let me know. K?

 

 

pic credit:  first-nature.com

 

 

A Special Secret

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I have learned the secret of contentment in every situation  

Philippians 4: 12

Paul didn’t have a particularly easy life. It may not have gone the way he planned. Maybe he thought following Christ would make his life easier. I mean, don’t we think that at times?  Paul was in jail as he wrote this letter, facing probable death if he wasn’t released. He could have twiddled his thumbs, he could have slept the day away, complained, grumbled, started riots or felt sorry for himself or gotten angry at God and indignant about the things he was going through because after all, he was doing this stuff for Christ.

But he didn’t. He wrote letters to the people he wasn’t able to hang out with, people that for all he knew, he would never see again. He had no way of knowing that those letters would be read today, cherished today as a large part of the New Testament.

We all go through times where our life isn’t what we thought it would be. Oh, we may never be imprisoned for our faith, but let’s be honest, somewhere between Once Upon A Time and they lived happily ever after, things can go horrible awry.

So what do we do when we find ourselves stuck in place that wasn’t our choice, didn’t fit the trajectory we had for a life?  We have choices of what to do while waiting for the way out.

Paul tells us he discovered a secret. A secret that got him through shipwrecks, beatings, and imprisonments. A secret he wasn’t born knowing; it had to be learned in the ups and downs of life, but one that sustained him through the good and bad. He learned the secret of contentment.  Contentment may be defined as being more than ok on the inside in spite of what is taking place on the inside. Having peace and rest in me regardless of the turmoil outside of me. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?

It behooves us then to know this secret and fortunately for us, he shares that secret with us:

 “for I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power”  

Philippians 4: 13

The best part about this is I don’t have to do this myself; I don’t have to conjure up contentment. I don’t have to fake it til I make it. I just turn my eyes to Jesus, the One who lives in me, the One who gives me strength and power to carry on contentedly, knowing that the ultimate outcome of this present situation is in His hands, in His timing and will ultimately be for my good and His glory.

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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.

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Borrowed Prayer

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Lord, I submit myself to You.

I realize that parenting a child in the way You would have me to is beyond my human abilities.

I know I need You to help me.

I want to partner with You and partake of Your gifts of

wisdom,

discernment,

revelation,

and guidance.

I also need Your strength and patience, along with a generous portion of Your love flowing through me.

Teach me how to love the way You love.

Where I need to be healed, delivered, changed, matured, or made whole, I invite You to do that in me.

Help me to walk in righteousness and integrity before You.

Teach me your ways, enable me to obey Your commandments and do only what is pleasing in Your sight.

May the beauty of Your Spirit be so evident in me that I will be a godly role model.

Give me the communication, teaching, and nurturing skills that I must have.

Make me the parent You want me to be and teach me how to pray and truly intercede for the life of this child.

Lord, You said in Your Word, “Whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive” (Matthew 21:22).

In Jesus’ name I ask that You will increase my faith to believe for all the things You’ve put on my heart to pray for concerning this child.

Amen. *

 

I struggle with prayer lately. I know I should pray. I want to pray. I need to pray. I am even part of a prayer team, but I don’t pray, not really.  I know that nowhere on earth do my words have the power to bring about what I hope, to fix what is broken, to right what is wrong, except in prayer.  But still, I don’t pray. The words just don’t come. Tears come, but not words. So I am borrowing words from others until mine flow as easily as my tears.

 

* copied from turnbacktogod.com

The End From The Beginning

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I make known the end from the beginning…

Isaiah 46:10

I breed dogs. People that are considering adopting a puppy ask the same questions – what about genetic testing?  What kind of health guarantee do you offer? What if they get this disease or that one?  What they are looking for are reassurances that this puppy won’t become a financial or emotional burden to them over the next 15 years. I do the best I can to weed out these possibilities but I can’t really guarantee that no disease will befall their dog; I can’t see the end from the beginning.

But this verse in Isaiah tells us that God does. He knows how things will play out; there are no surprise endings for Him.

If we possessed that power, how much easier would major decisions become – do I marry this person, is this the right time to have a child, should I leave this job, start this business, should I have this surgery, etc.  But we don’t have that power; we can’t see the end from the beginning.

This makes me marvel all the more about God. On the day, some thirty years ago, when I asked Jesus to come into my life and into my heart, I didn’t know what I was getting into. But He did. He knew the times my love for Him would burn passionately and the times it would only smolder. He knew that my affections towards Him would wax and wane. He knew the times I would be so angry at Him that I couldn’t talk to Him for days and weeks and even months.  He knew the times I would grieve His Holy Spirit, the times I would hurt another child of His, the times I would hurt myself, and yet, He came in. He willingly entered into a relationship with me knowing He would be hurt, neglected and misunderstood. 

I don’t understand that kind of love. I marvel at that. He knew me, not just the now me, but the all the way into the future me, the past me, the me you don’t get to see, the me I’d rather not see and still He said yes at my invitation.

Jesus, I am humbled at the thought of Your response to my invitation. Knowing what You know about me, you still chose to come and live in me. What can I say to a love like that? Thank You, thank You, thank You  and please, please, please help me to be a place where You are pleased to dwell. Help me to be a habitation fit for a King, a Saviour or the very best friend a person could ever ask for. Thank You for loving me in spite of my unworthiness. Amen.