Taste and See

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Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

Psalm 34:8

Recently, in an effort to be more organized, I went through a large stack of cooking magazines.  I glanced at the recipes and, if they looked good to me, I tore out the pages and filed them in a recipe binder. I threw away more recipes than I collected but still I had more than I would probably ever make.

Recipes are good to have and fun to peruse but looking at them doesn’t tell the story.

The story comes in the tasting.

In order to taste them, I have to make them.

This means a trip to the grocery store and time to prepare the food.  Nothing overwhelming about that at all, but just saying, reading about a recipe and tasting the outcome are two different things.

This verse leads me to think that there is more to our relationship with God then simply reading the Bible, though that is a great beginning.  But if our relationship ends there, we have missed tasting and seeing that He is good.  At some point, we have to internalize what the Bible says. We need to meditate on His word, let it soak deep into our hearts and allow the words He wrote to replace the words others have written in our hearts about Him.

God gets a fair amount of bad press. If we based our opinion of God on what others say about Him, we might not decide He is all that good. He gets blamed for sickness and death, floods and famine.  Even fair minded individuals may say things like, “well God allowed me to be sick, allowed my child to die, allowed my finances to be in the toilet, etc… to teach me something.”

It becomes all to easy to think God is good – sometimes, maybe for some people.  But to believe He is good all the time, even when bad things happen, well, that’s often difficult. Years of tasting God through His word, through His faithfulness, through His continual presence in my life (even when I don’t sense His presence) have helped me to see that He is indeed good.  I didn’t come to that conclusion after one pass through the Bible; I came by it the hard way, through years of seeking and searching and dare I say, tasting.

I don’t always get my prayers answered the way I think they should be. I was in constant physical pain for 22 years now and believed for my healing all that time and I, will be honest, often wondered if God is really good. If He was really good, why was I still in pain?

But the more time I spend in His word and in fellowship with other believers, the more convinced I am that He is indeed, good whether I am healed or not. He has healed me of fibromyalgia but I am still waiting on healing from arthritis.  Why one and not the other I don’t know but this I do know – God is good all the time!

Forgive me Father, for the times when I have doubted Your goodness.  Forgive me for questioning Your goodness when my prayers did not get answered the way I wanted.  I know You are a good God and a gracious, loving Father. Thank You for not giving up on me and for not turning away from me.  Help me to come to You, to feed on Your word, to seek Your presence, Your peace and Your goodness, especially when I don’t feel like doing so.  Amen. 

 

pic credit:  abelappleacres.com

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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

 

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.

 

Gardening… Again?

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“The seed cast on good earth is the person who hears and takes in the News,

and then produces a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.”  *

Matthew 13:23

 Gardening season is upon us here in the Pacific Northwest. Neighbors are out working up their soil and planting seedlings. And so am I. I don’t have a green thumb but I try almost every year. I think I will learn from my mistakes; this year I will do better. I have discovered that I am really good at starting things and pretty bad at seeing things through to completion. I imagine the harvest; the juicy ripe tomatoes, the cucumbers turned pickles, the fresh strawberries. Problem is that between the planting of the seed and the harvesting of the seed, there is a season that I call work. There’s pruning, weeding, watering, fertilizing, pest control, etc…  and in the heat of the summer, egads, I would rather be at the river.

God’s word is likened to a seed. A seed that needs to be planted, weeded, and watered to grow and produce the harvest in our lives that make our lives meaningful. Whatever laws we may be able to skirt around, we can’t skirt around the law of seed-time and harvest time. The problem comes when we fail to realize that between those two times, there is a season that is easy to overlook. The season of weeding and pruning and watering. I can’t read the Bible once and put it back on the shelf like I can other books and simply move on to the next book and have the seeds that were planted while reading it come to harvest. I water these seeds by the daily reading of the Bible.

I can purpose  now to water the seed of God’s word in my life daily but daily I have to make the decision all over again to do just that.

A decision that is simple to make but simple also to not make.

I know because I have been guilty of not making that decision numerous times. Then I wonder why peace and joy seem so difficult to find. If I want the harvest that comes from the seed of God’s word, I have to tend to it. It’s that simple. That means I may have to turn off my phone or computer or tv for a little bit. I may have to say no to some things in order to say yes to this thing.

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 I think it comes down to this: what kind of harvest do I really want in my life?

 

* this from Jesus

pic credit 1: biblefunforkids.org

pic credit 2: familylifewinners.com

 

 

 

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…

All Increase of Life

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…the seed is the word of God.

Luke 8:11

My seedlings are coming up. I planted kale, lettuce and tomatoes. I’ll have cucumbers and spinach before I’m done. I am always fascinated by seeds. How they grow (even with me). There’s a determination in them to grow to fruition – to produce what they promise. Jesus told a parable about seeds and sowing and harvesting seeds. He ended by explaining that the seed in the parable is the Word of God.

Seed is peculiar, I can leave it in the bag unopened, stuffed away in a drawer and it remains the same. But once I have opened it and planted it, something amazing happens. New life springs up. It’s an amazing phenomenon, actually.

God’s word is like that. I can leave it alone, file it away and forget all about it or I can plant it like seeds. I need a harvest of healing in my life in my family members’ lives and I can’t expect a harvest where no seed has been planted. God’s word on healing needs to be planted, settled in my heart. I can’t just think I know, I can’t just hope it’s His will to heal, I must know for myself, that it is God’s will to heal, everyone, all, the many and my family and me. I need His word, His seed planted in the soil of my heart, not just once, but daily.

Notes I have scrawled in my Bible for this parable read like this:

Word – seed – the source of all saving life and growth possibilities transmitted from the Father to mankind.

All increase of life within His love comes by His word as human response gives place for His blessing.

I wish I knew who said that, but I don’t, probably notes I took years ago at Bible school. Could you use an increase of life in your body, your relationships, your finances, your heart?  I know I could. Whoever wrote this knew that God’s word can bring life only where we give place for it, only where we give response to it.   His blessings are the harvest of the seed of His word. Is it planted in you?

Heavenly Father, I  thank You for the seed – Your word and the life it has produced in me. Thank You for the life it will produce in me and the harvest of Your blessings I will see as Your word brings forth fruit in my life and in my family members’ lives.  Be my gardener, till the stony ground of my heart, gently water seed that has been planted in me and watch over it, I pray to perform it in my life and the lives of those I love. I ask in the name of Your gracious Son, Jesus. Amen.

Who You Gonna Call?

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People with their minds set on you,
    you keep completely whole,
Steady on their feet,
    because they keep at it and don’t quit.
Depend on God and keep at it
    because in the Lord God you have a sure thing.

Isaiah 26:3

Test and wait and more tests and more waiting. Then trying to read the doctor’s report and make sense of it. Then, of course, there’s Google and the neighbor next door, and the man at work, and the latest report on the news. Everyone has a report; everyone has an opinion, almost everyone knows someone, who knows someone who had this disease and, well, died. Cancer, there, I’ve said it.  My husband is waiting for more tests, having completed the biopsy and read the results, the doctor’s recommendation now is a full-body Cat scan and full-body MRI. Meanwhile, he’s listening to other reports as well. Reports abound everywhere.

It reminds me of when I was pregnant and everyone had a pregnancy story to tell. Some were even encouraging! Most, however, were not. Most were of the things that went wrong, some horribly wrong. They produced fear in me. I finally had to ask people to not tell me their less than ideal ending stories. My husband will hopefully get to that point also. So far, though, the stories have all had not-so-great endings and he is mulling these over in his mind.

I tried to remind him this morning that there is only one report that matters; only one story that is worth dwelling on and that story is the one written by God. This verse reminds us that even in the midst of a multitude of reports, we have to choose which to listen to, and only those who keep their minds set on God will be completely whole. We are to depend on God and not quit depending upon Him.  Disease doesn’t take a vacation and neither should we in our purposeful, intentional setting our minds on God.  Reports don’t stop coming; people are all too eager to share their stories, but we can decide what report to dwell on. In God we have a sure thing. That’s helpful to remember in the midst of testing and waiting.

Father, Yours, is the only report that matters. Thank You, that in the midst of the waiting and the other reports, You are aware of us and what is going on here and Your report prevails. Please surround us with Your peace, help us to keep our minds set on You and to remain steady. Thank You, that in You, we have a sure thing. Thank You for a report that lines up with Your will and Your word.  Amen.

picture credit: flicker.com

He Breathed The Word

The LORD merely spoke,

and the heavens were created.

He breathed the word,

and all the stars were born.

He assigned the sea its boundaries

and locked the oceans in vast reservoirs.

Let the whole world fear the LORD,

and let everyone stand in awe of Him.

For when He spoke, the world began!

It appeared at His command.

Psalm 33:6-9

Faith is treating the Word of God as you would treat the Lord Jesus if he were personally present.

F.F. Bosworth

I’ll be honest here, sometimes, days go by and I haven’t picked up the Bible one time. There have also been weeks and months when that happened.  I can say I treasure the word of God, that I believe in the word of God, that I have been transformed by the word of God, that I have been healed by the word of God, but sometimes, it’s just easy to put it aside.  There, I’ve said it.

I think if I could really get my mind around the fact that the word of God should be treated the same way I would treat (hope to treat) Jesus were he personally present as Bosworth said, then I wouldn’t leave it sitting, unread.

“The Bible is far more than a doctrinal guidebook. God’s Word generates life, creates faith,

produces change, frightens the Devil,

causes miracles, heals hurts, builds character,

transforms circumstances,

imparts joy,

overcomes adversity,

defeats temptation,

infuses hope,

releases power,

cleanses our minds,

brings things into being,

and guarantees our future forever!

We cannot live without the Word of God!

Never take it for granted.

You should consider it as essential to your life as food.

Job said, “I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread”. 

Rick Warren

When all is said and done, God’s word will stand. When the doctors reports are conflicting, when words spoken to you in anger cut to the bone, when a loss is so great that words fail, God’s word will still prevail. I don’t know about you, but I can surely use a miracle right about now, actually more than one.  I could use joy and hope and the ability to overcome adversity and I could really use character building. And I can find these things in God’s word. He didn’t give it lightly, He hasn’t forgotten it, He didn’t speak it impulsively, He watches over His word to perform what it says in our lives. What an amazing gift!

Father, You have revealed Yourself to me in Your word and You have also revealed myself to me. I am lost without You; I need You every minute of every day, even if I don’t acknowledge that fact. I need Your word, thank You for giving it to me and standing behind it and causing it to have its perfect work accomplished in me. Forgive me for the times I have not treasured it like I should and help me to not take it for granted. I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Closer To My Goal!

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Today, September 28 marks 4 months into this year long journey of mine.  I purposed to write a devotion daily about divine healing, mainly because I am in need. Sometimes my faith needs bolstering and I thought this may be a way to keep me steady.

One third of the way to my goal!  I had no expectations going in as to what this would do for me or anyone else for that matter.  But I have learned some things that have proven very valuable in other areas of my life.

1.   God’s word is not going to jump up off my shelf and force me to read it.

2.    Waiting stinks.

3.    Writing a daily devotional is hard work.

4.    I have wanted to bag the whole thing more times than I can count.

5.    My faith is stronger but my healing hasn’t come.

On the plus side:

1.    I have grown closer to God as a result of this blog.

2.    My blood pressure is down to a healthy range without medication for the first time in years.

3.    I sleep more nights than I don’t, which is the reverse of what was going on in May when I started this.

4.    Words of encouragement fall more easily from my lips.

5.    Most days, my pain level is radically reduced from what it was (I still have bad days).

6.    I have learned not to offer pat answers to someone who is going through a trial.

7.    I laugh more, cry less, and feel more at peace than I have in years.

8.    I have learned there is no better medicine than the word of God.

9.    Prayers roll off my tongue more easily.

10.  Praise rises freely in my heart more often.

There’s probably more that escapes my mind right now.  It’s been worth it.  If this blog has blessed you in any way, I sure would like to hear from you.

Thank You Lord, for the journey this blog has been.  Thank You for the encouraging words I have received from others and the people You have allowed me to meet because of this blog.  It’s only You, isn’t it?  The measure of healing that has come into my life has only come because of You and Your word and Your faithfulness to Your word.  I can’t wait to see what the next eight months bring; following You is a journey I would not want to miss.  Thanks from the bottom of my heart, 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.