Do Not Worry – No, Really, Do Not Worry

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Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.

Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.

Are you not much more valuable than they?  

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Matthew 6:25-27

I could be a professional worrier. I used to have an odd believe that crept up on me unawares, I believed that if I worried about something enough, it couldn’t happen.  Odd, I know. When my oldest daughter began driving, I worried about her getting in a wreck because of the roads being bad (Montana ice and snow roads) and I worried that she would drink and drive and I worried that someone else would drink and drive and an accident would occur and on and on. Seemed to be no shortage of things I could worry about regarding her driving. There was something addicting and oddly comforting about worrying. Surely those things couldn’t happen because I worried about them enough.

When her car became airborne and hit a power pole several feet up in the air, none of those reasons were the cause. A neighbor chose to check his mail by parking on the wrong side of the road and when my daughter came around the turn, she saw headlights in what she thought was the other lane. She drove to the right of them, right into a power pole.

My worrying had accomplished nothing. Even in my wildest worrying imaginings, I couldn’t have come up with this scenario. I’d like to say I learned my lesson about worrying, about what a waste of time it is, but alas, I didn’t.  My worrying had no power to prevent anything. Worry only stole from me. Worry stole my peace and my ability to enjoy the present moment. Worry gave me nothing in return.

“When God tells us in the Bible not to worry,

it isn’t a suggestion.  It’s a command.

Worry and/or anxiety is specifically mentioned twenty-five times in the New Testament alone as something we should avoid.”  

Joanna Weaver

Apparently God takes this “Do not worry” command seriously and understands our propensity we humans have towards worrying.

Maybe one antidote to worrying is found in this verse in the question – “are you not much more valuable than they?”

 The more I believe in God’s love for me, the more I can trust in His care for me.  

I am more valuable than the birds in the air and He feeds them. He will feed me.

He watches over them. He will watch over me.

 He created them and designed them to be unique.

 He created me and designed me to be unique.

He hasn’t turned his back on the birds. He won’t turn His back on me.

Heavenly Father, how gracious You are. You know me intimately. You know the minutes, OK the hours, I spend worrying when I could be talking to You. You have proven Your love to me over and over again. Please forgive me for the times I allow worry to preoccupy my mind and my time and my affections. Thank You that my life is in Your hands and You lovingly watch over me and mine.  You are truly  a good God.  Amen.

 

System Of Inequality and Divine Healing?!

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 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

3 John 2:2

I have been in hot pursuit of divine healing for upwards of twenty years. Healing is promised in the Bible and numerous verses can attest to that fact. I have read them and memorized them and confessed them and put my trust in them and still I am not healed. My pursuit continues.

I read this verse a while back. No doubt familiar to those in search of divine healing  – every book on the subject I have read has included it. But this day, I saw the promise differently.

Instead of seeing it as an iron clad promise of healing, I saw it as an algebraic equation. Weird, right? It struck me as a system of inequalities. On one side of the equation are the variables of prospering and being in good health. On the other side would be the variable of our soul which is our mind, our will and our emotions. Three variables on one side and two on the other.

The question becomes what symbol is between the two sides. Is it an equal sign or not equal, greater than, less than?

My desire to be free of physical pain has so occupied my quest for divine healing that I never even considered the other variables that combine to make my health, holistically speaking.

I simply didn’t care so much about the others; I wanted to live free of physical pain. But God, in His wisdom, knows how much I need all of these variables to be healed if I am going to live the life abundant that has been promised. He is a holistic healer.

I have had to relinquish my ideas about how my healing would manifest and give God permission to heal other areas of my life, even if that means I continue to live with chronic pain while He balances out the equation.

What about you? Are you in need of healing?  I would love to pray for you and join my faith with yours for your healing.

If you have a testimony of how God has healed you, I would love to share it here with others who need encouragement.  

pic credit: pinterest.com

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.

Swinging Bridge

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Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

When I was 24 years old, I had three children under the age of 5. I was living in Montana miles and miles removed from my family in Texas. My husband, their father, was seldom home and not very helpful when he was home. I felt alone; I was alone. I had this recurring dream.  In this dream, I was trying to cross a swinging bridge with my three daughters. The bridge was high above rapidly moving water, water that would sweep us away in minutes should we fall, and the bridge swayed and seemed very unstable. I was trying desperately to figure out how I was supposed to get three kids across to safety when I only had two arms. I would wake shaking and terrified and overwhelmed. It wouldn’t take a dream specialist to interpret that dream.  In my waking hours, I was alone, I was overwhelmed and I was terrified. And more than once, I would question, how on earth, am I going to take care of these three kids by myself?

It would be years before I would know the comfort of this verse. Years before I came to know that I wasn’t alone and didn’t need to be terrified.  I don’t know how He does it, but God has a hand available for all His children to keep them from being swept away by life. I love this promise. I love the image it paints in my mind – a father, a loving father reaching out his hand to hold mine for as long as I need him to.  I am much older than 24 now and I don’t have 3 young daughters to raise anymore, but still, at times, I find that life can be overwhelming but I know that  when I feel alone I have only to reach out and the bridge doesn’t sway quite so much and the waters don’t seem so threatening. If I hang on to His hand, I can cross to safety.

Whatever the trial, whatever the bridge you or I need to cross, we are not alone. The God who promised His hand to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, promises His hand to you and to me. We don’t need to fear or look anxiously look about. We only need to extend our hand to hand God has offered us.

Once again, I come to You, hand extended. Would you stabilized me again? Thank You for being my God, my Father, my Protector, my Comforter, my Peace, my Help. Thank You for always being there, for always reaching out to me, for always strengthening me. When fear tries to tell me otherwise, would You please remind me of this verse and Your love?  Thank You for being all these things and more to my precious three daughters, help them to come to know that they are not alone.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

picture credit: bkdunn.com

Not This Mountain- Again?!

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When Pharoah let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter.

For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt’

Exodus 13:17

I have been told it could have been a 10 day journey at the most, leaving Egypt and heading to the Promised Land.  But it ended up taking 40 years. The only reason I can see is that their thinking had to change and it took a very long time for that to happen. They had to have time to learn God’s ways and to learn to trust in His word.  God knew that taking them too quickly through the wilderness would only cause great fear and perhaps they would retreat when they encountered opposition.

I wonder how many of the 14 years I have been in pain were only because I couldn’t get my thinking to line up with God’s. Would this journey have been reduced to something measured in days or months instead of years?

When I was 19, I was diagnosed with arthritis. Not knowing any better, I accepted that diagnosis and didn’t spend time expecting it to go away. Even after becoming a Christian and learning about divine healing and having received some miraculous healings in my life, I still didn’t address the arthritis as something that had no place in my life. It was so much a part of my life and I just thought I would live with it as I had always done. Kind of a captive mentality.  I see it differently now.

The purpose of leading the Israelites out of Egypt wasn’t just to get them out, it was to get them in. In to all the promises God had laid out for them, hence, the Promised Land. It isn’t enough to leave a captive situation we must also learn to walk in the freedom, all the freedom God has for us. Freedom His Son, Jesus paid for.  Arthritis is a form of captivity, one God never intended for me to live in, but to come out of that captivity, I have to have a new mindset about it. I have to see the promises of God as they pertain to disease and joint deterioration and such. I have to reject that diagnosis given me so many years ago and embrace a new diagnosis – one given by God, that Jesus paid it all, took it all, and arthritis is among the all that I have been freed from.

Father God, I am ashamed of how long I have just accepted this captivity. I have wandered in the wilderness for so long, not realizing that it may very well be my mindset keeping me there. How I long to enter Your Promised Land, to be set free from the pain and limitations of arthritis. Help me to line my thinking up with Yours and to speak words that line up with Yours, help my unbelief and help me to inherit the promises You have provided for me. I ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Girdled Tree

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I have never had to have a tree removed; I don’t need to, I have a puppy who has destroyed three already.  They were young and she was young and I hoped they would outgrow her but that wasn’t the case.  It was pretty easy to determine that the tree was dead. The leaves were gone and the branches chewed off. I have heard though of a method for killing off invasive or unwanted trees called girdling.  Girdling is done by stripping off a band of bark from the tree. This removes the part of the tree that transports sugars necessary for growth basically stopping its food supply. The tree dies over a period of time. It won’t, however, look dead for all of  this time frame. There will be evidence of life for a while. But because it has been girdled, it is easy to picture the tree as dead in spite of evidence to the contrary. It time, the evidence of death will be obvious.  Sighted evidence will line up with faith that the tree is indeed dead.

Believing I am healed in the midst of evidence to the contrary is much like watching that tree only in reverse.  It requires that I look beyond the evidence.  I have to look at what is not seen. What I can see with my eyes is not the whole story. I have to see with eyes of faith. See my knees bending properly, see my neck and shoulders moving freely, see my hands and fingers functioning unhindered.  I have to see life where there seems to be death. One day, sighted evidence will line up with faith that I am healed, if I keep believing.

F.F. Bosworth writes, “The process of faith which brings the healing is a far greater blessing than the healing itself.

…When we have learned the process of faith for receiving healing,

we have learned how to receive everything else God promises us in His word”.

I believe he is right. Putting our faith in God’s promises is not manipulating God, it is trusting God. It is taking Him at His word and not letting go until we see the manifestation of what we are believing for take place.  Can you see what you are believing for in the midst of evidence that says forget it? Can you continue to see past the evidence to the trustworthy promises of God?

Too many times, I have a hard time seeing beyond the evidence. I can count the years I have waited and hoped and prayed and still not seen the healing and I consider giving up. Forgive me, for placing more faith in evidence than I do in Your word. You purchased my healing, You prophesized my healing, You promised my healing, You provided for my healing, what tremendous love is that? Thank You for caring so much about me and doing so much for me. When I am tempted to look for evidence, would You nudge me back to Your word? I ask in Your trustworthy name Jesus. Amen.

Picture credit: wikipedia

 

Full Moon

God’s Message, from the God who lights up the day with sun and
    brightens the night with moon and stars,
Who whips the ocean into a billowy froth,
    whose name is God-of-the-Angel-Armies:

 “If this ordered cosmos ever fell to pieces,
    fell into chaos before me”—God’s Decree—
“Then and only then might Israel fall apart
    and disappear as a nation before me.”

Jeremiah 31:35-36

Last Friday night, there was full moon. We watched it rise, starting out huge and yellow as it made its way up the night sky, getting smaller and whiter in appearance. I was reminded of this verse. It tells me of God’s faithfulness to His people. If the moon rose in the wrong place, or the sun refused to set or the stars collided and fell, we would have cause to doubt God’s faithfulness. I haven’t seen that happen, have you?

If God can keep the “ordered cosmos” from falling to pieces, if He can keep the nation Israel from falling apart and disappearing as a nation, then surely He can keep His promises to me.  And to you.  How about these promises?

He gives power to the weak
and strength to the powerless.
Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:29-31

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord.“They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,

for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 

Matthew 11:28-29

As beautiful a sight as the full moon is, to me, what is more beautiful is the faithfulness of God it points to.  God has great and wonderful promises for us. Promises He stands behind and promises we can stand upon.  Need healing? Rest? Are you weary and burdened? Does your future look dim, are you weak and powerless?

His promises cover our weaknesses. We can trust in them and every time the moon rises and the sun sets at their appointed time, we can be reminded of His faithfulness to His word.

Your ordered cosmos is a beautiful sight to see and such a wonderful reminder that You stand by Your word and You hold all things in the palms of Your hands. I need the reminder of the full moon because sometimes, I forget that You are in control. How often do I try to take that control back? Forgive me, help me lay my burdens down and rest in the knowledge that You and only You can make something beautiful out of my life. Thank You for the good plans You have for my life. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

 

The Ugly “P” Word!

Recently at work, during our read aloud time, I read Diary of a Wimpy Kid – The Ugly Truth  by Jeff Kinney to a group of elementary children.  The story is about a boy named Greg who is in middle school and having to go through the classes on puberty.  His mother adds to his embarrassment by giving him a book to read about puberty.  The kids loved the book but every time I read the word puberty, they would wrinkle up their faces and say yuck!  We started calling it the ugly “P” word.  It became our private joke.

patienceIt reminded me of times when I had issues with another ugly “P” word – patience.  UGH!  I would have to say patience was not a strong suit of mine when I first started on this journey with Jesus.  I’m not saying it is a strong suit now, but I don’t cringe at the word and want to run from it like I used to.

While waiting on God’s promise of healing to manifest in my life I have encountered moments (many) where patience needs to do its perfect work.  I want to be healed right now or yesterday or three years ago, but here I am – waiting and learning more about patience and how hard it is.  What about you?  Are you being taught patience through something you are going through right now?  Does it feel like patience is an ugly “P” word?

One of the most difficult aspects of waiting, I think, is to continue believing for the promise to be fulfilled.  In my case, that is healing, it may be different in yours.  Waiting stinks.  Romans 1:17 says the just shall live by his faith.  So if I am to live by faith, then giving up isn’t an option.  Building my faith is, however, and I can do that by looking at the character of Jesus and His words and determining that regardless of how long it takes for this promise to be fulfilled in my life, God is faithfully working behind the scenes to bring it to pass.

The process of waiting and building and rebuilding our faith has a purpose and that is to prepare us for the promises of God to come to pass in our lives.

What to do while waiting?  Practice gratitude, read Psalms, enjoy a sunset, read a good book, play a game with a friend, watch your favorite TV show, take a friend to lunch, etc.  Find ways to make waiting less of a chore and more of a relaxed way of life.  Practice savoring the moment, one moment at a time.  Fight against discouragement.  Speak words of life over yourself and others and keep your eyes on Jesus – the Author and the Finisher of your faith, of my faith.

Father in heaven, like the song says, I want to know that redemption wins. I want to know the struggle ends.  And I would like to see that NOW.  Forgive me for my impatience and as I look to You will You perfect my faith?  I know that Your plans and purposes for my life are perfected in Your ways and in Your times but patience doesn’t come easy to me.  Help me find ways to wait patiently with grace and trust and joy.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.


Watch Those Promises

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Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my Word to perform it”.  Jeremiah 1:12

God doesn’t give His word lightly.  He doesn’t make promises and then change His mind.  I have learned the hard way how difficult it can be to keep promises.  My son reminds me from time to time of promises I’ve made that have slipped my mind.  They don’t slip his mind, let me tell you.  He definitely watches over my word to see me perform it.  I am held accountable for what I promised and I have learned not to make promises anymore but to just say, we will see when the time comes.  That drives him nuts, but it keeps me out of trouble.

God’s memory functions better than mine; He remembers His promises.  He actually watches over His word to see it come to life in us, to produce what He sent it to produce in the appropriate time.  Somewhere it is written that we need to put God in remembrance of His word but I think it is more likely that we need to put ourselves in remembrance of what He has spoken.  That’s where memorizing and confessing scriptures can help us.   Here are just a few of His many promises:

Proverbs 1:33
“But whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.

Psalms 46:1
 GOD is our refuge and strength, and ever present help in trouble.

John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

The joy of the Lord is my strength.  Nehemiah 8:10

Greater is He that is in me than He that is in the world.  I John 4:4

Goodness and mercy follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  Psalm 23

I, the Lord, am your Healer.  Exodus 15:26

Whatever you may be going through right now, I encourage you to find what God says about it.  Let His word sink deeply into your heart and meditate on it.  He is watching over it to perform it in your life, to help you through the times you’d rather not have to go through.  Pick a promise that speaks to you, that touches you deep in your heart and hold on to it, knowing that the God who spoke it meant it, He can be trusted to keep His word.

Faithful God, how I love Your word.  It is my meditation all throughout the day.  Thank You for watching over Your word to perform it in my live and in the lives of my loved ones.  You are so gracious and kind and merciful to even consider me and my needs.  Like a child believing his parents’ promises, I am believing Yours.  I trust You with the timing of them coming to pass in my life.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Focus

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I used to take tons of photographs in the days before digital cameras.  This meant finishing out the roll of film, taking it somewhere to be developed and waiting the allotted time and going back to get them.  I would grab the package and eagerly open it to see my pictures for the first time.  Some were disappointing and others were great.  One thing I would notice though from time to time is that people’s heads were cut off in my pictures.  I was so busy looking at their faces that I failed to look and see how their faces fit in the camera.  I ruined a number of pictures that way.  Digital cameras help me see my mistakes so much faster and I like that.  But still I make mistakes and forget that the camera sees what I forget to look at.  With cameras, what I focus on is what will develop and that’s not necessarily the same as what I want to have developed.

Focus means to direct one’s attention to something.  We focus on things throughout our day.  Things we purpose to focus on and things that just intrude into our field of vision.  Regardless of whether these things are there by default or design, our focus can determine what will develop in our lives.

What are you focusing on?   Pain, prescriptions, symptoms,  bills stacking up, the doctor’s report?  Or are you focusing on the promises and character of God?

I can’t always control what comes into my field of vision, but I can purpose to focus on what I want to see developed in my life.  For me, that is the character of God, the promises of God, including healing, the peace of God, the joy of God.  Those can’t develop in my life if I don’t focus on them.

Father, when my focus needs adjusting, would you nudge me?  Would you whisper in my ear, get my attention off of the things that take my eyes off You and Your goodness?  Please develop in me what You planned and purposed for me from before the foundations of the world as I train my eyes on You.  Amen.