Monday, July 30, 2012

Teachable Moments

"Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it."  Proverbs 22:6

Yesterday we had a teachable life moment happen.   Only, I'm not entirely certain who was the recipient of the teaching.  *Smiles*

I was trying to get ahead on laundry over the weekend.  Usually, in a normal week, Abigail will come up to me and ask if I've washed something specific that she'd like to wear for dance, and nine out of ten times, I haven't gotten around to doing laundry yet.  Clever me, yesterday I thought I'd get her basket of laundry washed so they'd be ready to go.  So the laundry is done, her dance clothes are hanging on the line, drying, and they'll be ready when she asks for them on Monday.

And then Abigail goes to get ready for bed and asks where her laundry basket went.  I told her I washed her laundry and it was in the basement- only to discover that her basket had been holding clean clothes!  Clothes which I'd handed to her last week without much direction.  Her dirty clothes were still in a pile in her bedroom.  I'd washed a load of perfectly clean clothing.  I was not happy about that at all.

At that moment, we all got distracted before I could address this issue in one way or another.  We were watching the Olympics, bedtime preparation was going on, and other than being annoyed at not actually being ahead with the laundry, we all kind of forgot about it.  Or so I thought.

When I crawled into bed that night, I found a cute little note written by my daughter, apologizing for making me do unnecessary work, and I couldn't help but be moved by it.  She is just so incredibly thoughtful, and as I thought about the whole scenario, I realized that I may have been the one guilty of the mistake.

When I do the household laundry, I am the one who puts it away.  I fold it and put it away for the express purpose of knowing where absolutely everything is.  It just works better that way- that way when someone is looking for something specific, I recall exactly where I put it.  But last week I just was tired of putting laundry away.  I had a full basket of Abigail's clean laundry and simply handed it to her- I'm certain I didn't even give her direction.  Simply a "here is your clean clothes" and walked away.

So the lesson here is that I really should have given her direction.  I should have instructed her specifically to put the laundry away.  Now I know better in that regard for next time.

But more than that, last night I got a glimpse that we really are doing the right thing with raising our kids.  She really did feel badly that she'd caused unnecessary work for me, as evidenced by the note she left in my room.  In fact, I suspect she really felt badly about it.  She was embarrassed about it, and didn't want to discuss it at all- hence the little note. 

And that got me thinking about how I may approach God sometimes.  Like when I go some time without reading my Bible, I will get embarrassed about it, and I go to pick up the Bible and read it, but I feel so badly about not doing it for a few days or weeks that I find it difficult to pick back up where I left off.  I feel embarrassed, and the last thing I want is to open up my Bible and read something that will only make me feel worse about slacking off. 

And yet, when I found that little note from my daughter last night, I was so moved by it.  It was such a heartfelt apology, and I knew that this incident was going to be quickly forgotten.  There would be no more scolding on my part, and for me it was a done issue.

God is the exact same way.  When we may go a time without reading our Bible, or spending time in prayer, or spending that quiet time, we don't need to be embarrassed to re-approach our heavenly Father.  All we need to do is apologize for the time away and get right back into it.  God won't beat us over the head or drill into us how poorly we've done.  He's ready and waiting for us to pick right back up where we left off, and we have no reason to be afraid. 

That is an incredible life lesson that I've learned from a silly little incident with my own daughter.  I love it when God uses the everyday to teach us something rather remarkable.  We have a loving Father who doesn't want to beat into us the repercussions of yesterday's mistakes.  There may be consequences- yes, but we can deal with those and move on.  Abigail's consequence is that when she asks me later today if something is clean, the answer will be no, and she'll have to make a different choice.  I think she'll be okay with that, and will remember for next time.   And this whole experience will be something I remember for some time.  God just wants us to want to have that relationship with Him.  He doesn't want us to avoid that relationship because of embarrassment or fear.  He wants to help us let go of the wrongs from the past, and help us to focus on today and tomorrow.

Today is a fresh new day to begin anew.  Let's not waste that opportunity.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Gates and Doors

"Lift up your heads, O you gates!
Lift up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in."  Psalm 24:9

You are a door and a gate.  Crazy sounding, but it's true.  I clearly recall reading this verse once upon a time, and it made absolutely zero sense.  Zero.  Lift up your heads o you gates?  What on earth? How does a gate lift their heads?  

It wasn't until many years later that I was able to laugh at myself at the picture I'd created in my mind of gates and doors trying to lift their heads- like some Beauty and The Beast character.  This verse was talking about us. We are the gates and the doors.  

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me."  Revelation 3:20

Jesus isn't actually standing at a physical door.  I've seen zillions of pictures of Jesus knocking at a physical door, but the reality is, what Jesus is doing is knocking at our hearts.  He's knocking at our hearts, softening them and asking us to let Him in.  What a precious thought that is.  When we've let Jesus into our hearts, we've actually opened up a door to Him.  And that door is a door that has more than one purpose.  Yes, we've used it to let Jesus in, but what happens in the other direction?

We can use that same door to share Jesus with everyone around us.  By letting Jesus into our door, we've given Him authority to use us to share heaven with those around us. How cool is that!  Jesus dwells in us, that's a fact, but we're not meant to keep Him all to ourselves.  We're meant to share, and if we're open to it, the possibilities for sharing Jesus are limitless.

Look at the last line of the verse in Psalms. "And the King of Glory shall come in".  That gives me shivers!  The first part of this verse is telling us- the gates and the doors- to lift up our heads, to rise above our circumstances and keep our eyes on heavenly places.  And what happens when we do that?  The King of Glory comes in, basking our circumstances with heavenly goodness. 

When I think on this thought, that God can use me to bring a little bit of heaven to those around me, I just have so many incredible thoughts.  I think of Peter who would walk on the streets, and people would lay their sick on the street nearby, because they would be healed by simply touching his shadow.

"so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them."  Acts 5:15

That could never have happened unless Peter was willing to be that door to heaven.  I have no doubt that Peter's quiet time with God lasted hours upon hours.  Likely even days and weeks at a time.  And when Peter would emerge from that God time He would be so full of glory that even his shadow would carry heaven with it.

Peter may be an extreme example of a door and a gate, but what God will do for one man He will do for another, I think it's entirely possible that someone with the heart and desire to be such a carrier of heaven can do so.   When you share Jesus with someone, you're giving them the tools to open their own door to heaven, but it's up to them to actually open up to it.

And when you think on this further, we get a glimpse as to why corporate worship is so important- and so wonderful.  Think of a dark room with no lights.  And then one door opens and lets in some light.  It's amazing how much light can fill a dark space when it's only one light.  But then another door opens, and another, and before long, there is no place for darkness to hide- the darkness is completely hidden by all the open doors.  When we come together for corporate worship and fellowship, all our lights are coming together, and we make it easy for God to send his Spirit among us to do a bit of work on us. 

You ARE the door and the gate through which heaven can come to earth.  You carry it with you at all times when you have Jesus with you. And when He is with us?  No weapon formed against us shall prosper.

"No weapon formed against you shall prosper,
And every tongue which rises against you in judgment
You shall condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
And their righteousness is from Me,”
Says the Lord."  Isaiah 54:17

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Watching God Work

"Are there any among the idols of the nations that can cause rain?
Or can the heavens give showers?
Are You not He, O Lord our God?
Therefore we will wait for You,
Since You have made all these."  Jeremiah 14:22

I was reading this morning about the massive drought covering our country right now.  I didn't realize it extended all the way into Canada, but it does, and there are drought conditions too.  Farmers across the country are declaring their crops losses,or at least a loss of 50 percent.  That's huge.  And of course that leads to speculation that prices on everything food-wise is going to increase.  Corn is a huge crop experiencing losses, and many animals eat corn, not to mention that people also eat a lot of corn in a myriad of ways.  The thought of another hike in grocery prices has my head spinning.  And yet, we have a God who knows everything, who gives wisdom when it needs to be given.

"And He changes the times and the seasons;
He removes kings and raises up kings;
He gives wisdom to the wise
And knowledge to those who have understanding."  Daniel 2:21

All across the country, farmers over planted this year.  On average, they planted much more than they usually do.  In fact, so many have over planted that the expected results, despite the drought are that farmers in the United States will experience their third largest harvest ever recorded.

Think about that.  A significant portion of the farmland in our country is under drought conditions and we will still experience a magnificent harvest because of over planting.

Did God know what He was doing, or what?  He caused these farmers to over plant for just such an occasion.   Absolutely amazing.

Now, that doesn't mean I still won't continue praying for rain.  While we, as a nation, don't need to worry about food shortages of any kind, the drought will affect individual people and families.  Even people such as myself, who rely on their vegetable garden to provide sustenance for their family.  Watering with the hose is keeping everything alive, but the garden really needs the rich benefits which can only come from the rain.   Daily I walk out to the garden and survey what is going on.  While most things are hanging on, I'm watching with sadness as the multitude of bean and cucumber plants really don't seem to be thriving.  We've picked a few handfuls of beans, and I've been waiting for the buckets of beans to come in... and I just don't think they're going to make it. 

So I will absolutely still be praying rain.  Our immediate area is supposed to get a good soaking this evening, I am praying that it would be so.  But in the meantime, I am marveling at the goodness and mercy of our Father God who would plant the thought in the farming community to over plant this spring.  God knew there was going to be widespread drought, and he provided a way through before anyone even mentioned the word drought.

Incredible.What an Amazing God we serve.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tuesday: What Are You Thankful For?

"because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened."  Romans 1:21

We've had a recurring theme lately in our messages at church, and they all seem to center around thankfulness.  It's a great theme to have in mind, because all too often, our experiences become everyday and we cease to be thankful in the monotony of being.  Instead, we should be mindful and keep at the forefront of our minds that every single day is a gift from God.  Every single experience is from the Lord, and we should be thankful for the opportunity to walk through it.   And even when the devil tries to pull something and attack us, God gives us the tools we need to emerge victorious, and we should be thankful in all circumstances.

Paul tells us above in Romans that when the people ceased to be thankful, their hearts were darkened, and you know, I can totally see how that happens.  Especially when trials come.  But it's in those moments that we need to focus on God and be thankful in all circumstances.

" in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."  1 Thessalonians 5:18

There's a silly saying out there that that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger.  It may be a bit harsh, but there is a grain of truth in there.  When we're experiencing trials and tribulations and walking through something difficult, we can be thankful that someday there will be an end.  And when we get to the other end, we'll have grown so much and become much stronger in our faith and understanding.

But we have to start somewhere.  Sometimes it seems so dark around us that it can be difficult to find something, anything to be thankful for.  Start there.  Find the smallest thing and thank God for it.  Even if it's something silly.  Yesterday I was thankful for a fresh tomato from the garden.  Today I'm thankful that our weather has cooled down a bit.  Some days I have to be thankful that God has given me knowledge on cooking so that I can take the nothing that's in the pantry and turn it into something.  Some days I have to be thankful for video games, because it's something the kids and I can do together and have fun and not go out and spend money we don't have on fun.  Most days I am thankful that I have a husband who values hard work.  When he's not out actively working to earn a paycheck, he's at home doing all the yucky jobs I don't like doing around the house.

The thing is, when you begin to be thankful for the smallest of the small things, you start looking for opportunities to be even more thankful.  And when you have that mindset, the smallest things start to become big victories!  When someone gives us a small bag of snacks for the kids I can be thankful immediately, because we've actually run out of snackie type foods, and it shows me that God even cares about the silliest things like snacks.   I sure was thankful last week when our e-mail began working again!  Let me tell you, I thought my heart was going to burst with joy when I received that phone call that our account was back to normal.  Something so silly, and yet I was incredibly thankful and joyful.

We tend to focus on being thankful at certain times of the year, or in certain seasons of life.  Here in America we celebrate Thanksgiving, and the weeks leading up to it are filled with notes about being thankful, which is wonderful, but we need that attitude year-round.  Generally in life when we say goodbye to someone who has passed away we are reminded of all the experiences with that person for which we are thankful.  How much more meaningful would it be to remember those things while that person is still with us?  When we can say thank you directly to that person for making a difference in our life.

With an attitude of thankfulness we can change the atmosphere around us for the better.   So take the challenge today!  Find one thing to be thankful for and thank God for it.  No matter how small or big, it's a perfect start, and then take that attitude of thankfulness into tomorrow and the next day and the next day until your heart is so full of thankfulness it's about to burst.  

Let's be thankful for today and thankful for tomorrow.  They are going to be great days.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Global Call To Prayer

"I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety."  Psalm 4:8

A few weeks ago I had a dream about the coming Olympic games.  In the dream, there was a credible threat to the games being devised by two men.  I was privy to their plans, and I remember being incredulous that they would plan to do such a thing.  It woke me up and I felt the need to pray for safety and peace during the London Olympics.  Upon waking, I had no recollection of who these men were, or what they were planning, only that they were doing this planning, and it was a threat to the Olympics. 

I've been praying on and off every since.  And I thought I'd share that desire to pray today.  The Opening Ceremonies kick off this coming Friday evening, and the games themselves commence immediately afterward.  Our family loves the Olympics.  Sadly, we're terribly busy so we won't get to see very much of it, but we will watch every second that we can squeeze in.  There's something absolutely wonderful about cheering on all these people in various sports.  We're not sporty ourselves, yet for some reason, we're drawn to the Olympic games at every go-around.  We find ourselves cheering for the underdogs, for every country, for every story, and every event where something new is about to be undertaken. 

And it's a brief moment in time where we can watch something and think that around the world, there are millions of people doing the exact same thing.  The whole world comes together for a few weeks to celebrate these young athletes, and every time, I think that maybe the Olympic Games are a teeny-tiny sneak peak into what it would be like to have a world united under one banner- the banner of Jesus Christ.

As the week goes on, and through the next two weeks of Olympic excitement, I hope that you will join me in praying for peace at these Olympic games. That any plots of the enemy to wreak disaster, havoc, and instill fear in the people would be thwarted and unsuccessful.  I am praying that peace will abound and that God's Love will be in abundance in the hearts of all the athletes participating.   May they get the sweetest rest when they need it, and may they have the energy they need at the right time as well. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Today's Encouragement

"Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."  Isaiah 41:10

I love, love, love reading verses like this from my Bible.  Sometimes, it becomes clearly obvious that God knows what you are going through, and He sends little reminders- such as bringing a great verse to mind.  All too often when we go through a rough patch it can be so easy to just withdraw and struggle through quietly.  but verses like this are such a great reminder- they fill the spirit with encouragement instantly.  I mean, just read it!  Try reading it aloud- even if you're not going through anything, don't you just fill something embolden within your spirit?  I sure do.

This past Saturday was, quite honestly, a rough day for me.  That was the day we returned home from our camping vacation,and on the way home we managed to get a flat tire on our van.  Andy did an amazing job replacing the flat with a spare and getting us home safely, but that whole time all I could think about was how Andy just took a week off of work, and now we needed four new tires for my van.  It's all-wheel drive, so you're not supposed to just replace one- all four need to be done.  I can't begin to say how much that is not in the budget right now.  And then, as if there could be a cap to an already gloomy day, we arrived home and discovered our Internet not working.  You know, when you're away from home for a week, it's nice to come home and go through the e-mails, to see if you missed anything important.  It would be a few days before a technician could come figure out our problem, so we just had to deal.  When I crawled into bed Saturday night, in addition to being exhausted from all the packing and unpacking that had to be done, I was feeling down because of the long day and the issues.

And then Sunday we got up and got ready for church.  It's been over two weeks since we've been there and I was really looking forward to being back with my church family.  There was still this bit of gloominess hanging on, but it wasn't going to keep me from church, that's for sure.  On my way out the door to get in the car, a little card fell out of my Bible.  It was a little business card with a scripture verse written on it.

"Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I didn't think anything of it at the time, other than wondering how this tiny card managed to fall out of my Bible, and tucked it back in.  Once the message began at church, it was another story, as the entire sermon was about being thankful.  I had to sit up and pay attention, because I knew that God was speaking to me.  That card falling out of my Bible was not accidental, it was a reminder to me.  And as I listened to that message, the gloom kind of slid away.  Our problems are still there, but they're no longer weighing me down and threatening to crush me as they did before.

In everything give thanks.  There are many things to be thankful about with the flat tire.  For one, it happened on the way home from our vacation.  Had it happened on the trip there, we likely would have turned around and went back home, skipping the vacation.  Two, it happened at the perfect time.  It truly did.  We were literally feet away from a vacant lot which was across the street from a gas station.  We could use the vacant lot to change the tire, and could also utilize the gas station for the bathrooms, and air for the spare tire.  Three, we were pulling a trailer with its own set of jacks and tools.  Andy really needed a second jack to be able to navigate underneath the van.  I don't know how he'd have managed without that extra jack for the trailer.  And four, we made it home safe and sound.  The only thing we suffered (besides the obvious of needing new tires) was a loss of a few hours.  We had all the time in the world that day, and we'd made remarkably good time packing up camp and getting on the road.  So we had the time to spare.  The weather was also appropriate.  Had the flat happened closer to where we began our journey home, we'd have found ourselves in rain.  Who wants to change a tire in the pouring rain?  I'm also thankful it happened while Andy was with us.  I cannot change a flat tire myself, and had it happened when it was just the kids and I, I don't know what we would have done.

Overall, there was item after item to be thankful for in regards to that flat tire.  Am I thankful that it happened?  Of course not. But in retrospect, I can see where the devil is trying his hardest to mess us up and wreak havoc upon our lives.  And I see how God is touching things in just the perfect way to prevent these events from being earth-shattering.  I can see His hand of protection upon our family.  That tire had probably been flat for many miles, but God sent His angels to keep our van moving forward to the perfect spot to change a tire.

God is so good.  And I am incredibly thankful.  Our Internet problem was a simple hardware change, and honestly, while I hated spending those days without the computer, it was very enlightening to see exactly how much I got done during the day without the distraction of the computer.  I'm going to be keeping that in mind as my schedule gets more and more overtaken with activities. 

And on top of all that, God took the time and trouble to send me that small message on Sunday morning, which turned out to not be such a small message.  The truth is, God is always speaking to us, but are we willing and able to hear and listen?  I would pray that our hearts and minds would be open to hearing what He has to say to us today.  There is always something He wishes to say to His beloved children.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Praying For Rain

"then I will give you rain in its season, the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit."  Leviticus 26:4

Last week we went on our annual family camping vacation, (which is why I wasn't posting) and had a wonderful, wonderful week.  God really smiled on us all week long.  The weather was perfect, the bugs were  non-existent, and the night-time hours brought the sweetest, most restful sleep.  I can't tell you how wonderful it was to spend the week not worrying about rain, and keeping everything dry.  And yet, there was a part of me, all week long, who was continuing to pray for rain, because it has been so dry.  Well, the last night of our trip we got to experience that bit of rain.  While it wasn't fun dealing with the aftermath of everything being wet, the torrential downpour that completely soaked us was actually kind of fun to experience.  It made me think that all the dry earth around us would rejoice so much to experience such a soaking.

We're teetering on the brink with a widespread drought this year.  If the paper I was reading yesterday was correct, much of our region is in that make-or-break spot, where we need a good soaking soon, or the crops will be headed to the point of no return.  Our immediate area experienced some of this rain in the last 24 hours, but we sure still need more.  This morning as I look out the window, some of the lawns have thankfully lost their crispy edges, but there is definitely still plenty of brown there. 

I'll tell you though, I am having kind of a difficult time with praying for rain right now.   Andy took a week off of work for our vacation, and he doesn't get compensated for it.  We can't really afford a week without pay right now, but we felt he really needed the time away anyway.  His job relies on it not raining, so he can be working outside.  Even on the weekends, he has some tree work coming up and he needs it to not rain so he can do the tree work and make up for the missed income, plus bring in extra to take care of some immediate needs for our vehicles.

So how do I pray for rain?  God's timing is absolute perfection.  He knows the perfect times to let the rains loose.  And more than that, he knows where.  Right now, as I type this, another round of rain is passing through.  It makes me smile and grin, and think about how much God knows and loves us, because where Andy is working today is well south of this band of showers.  So he can put in his full day of work while our ground gets another soaking. 

And so this morning I hope you will join me in praying for rain.  Our country sure needs it, we're hovering on the brink of another dust bowl, but if we seek the Lord and ask for His intervention, perhaps we can help make a difference.  Because if you look at the verse posted up above- that right there is another one of God's promises.  He promises to send the rains in the right seasons- and the season is NOW. But more than that, once the rains come, the land will yield its produce, and the trees their fruit.  We will NOT experience another dust bowl on our watch.

May God bless this nation with a pouring of rain.  May he quench the parched lands with the healing rains of heaven, and may the coming harvest be so abundant, that the people will be amazed and will know that only God above could have provided the abundance before them.  May God heal our land, and bless the people across the nation.

Friday, July 06, 2012

The Excitment and Anticipation

"And the Lord said to Joshua: “See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him.”  Joshua 6:2-5

This is always one of those stories in the Bible that gets my blood pumping, because I love seeing God give direction, and the people obeying.  I love seeing the faith acted out before me as I read the tale over and over. Yesterday as I was driving around running errands, God dropped Jericho into my head, and I couldn't stop thinking about it.  And it was because of something that I'd never thought of before.  

The Israelites had received their directions from God.  They knew what they had to do- and it was a lot of work on their part.  It couldn't have been easy to march around that city six days in a row.  And yet they continued to do it day after day.  But then do you know what happened?  Suddenly that sixth day was at it's end.  Suddenly they were at the day before the most awesome thing was going to happen.

Think about that.  The anticipation and excitement had to have been overwhelming.  They had completed the march of the sixth day, and were waiting for it to be seventh day.  They knew God was going to do something awesome on the seventh day.  That time of waiting for it to actually BE the seventh day had to have been excruciating. 

Can you imagine?  I really can't.  Yet, yesterday when I was driving in the blazing heat, I couldn't help but feel like we're on the verge of something... we're on the verge of God doing something so spectacular and so wonderful, and I can hardly stand the anticipation that is building inside of me.  

Also yesterday, a friend shared a screen capture of a map of the United States.  It actually was a very pretty map that showed the heat across the country- and the entire country looked like it was on fire in the picture.  I couldn't help but think that maybe this was a sign in the natural of what's going on in the supernatural.  A sign that our country is preparing to get back to its roots and burn for God.  Wouldn't that be awesome!

Anyway, the anticipation is great.  It's exciting, and it's building with every moment.  I don't know what it would have been like to be one of those Israelites.  Did they stay awake all night because they were too excited to sleep?  Were they so exhausted from marching for six days straight that they actually slept deeply in preparation for the last grueling day?  We do know that they rose early, and I suspect it was because they simply couldn't sleep anymore- the anticipation was so overwhelming.

 "But it came to pass on the seventh day that they rose early, about the dawning of the day, and marched around the city seven times in the same manner. On that day only they marched around the city seven times. 16 And the seventh time it happened, when the priests blew the trumpets, that Joshua said to the people: “Shout, for the Lord has given you the city!"  Joshua 6:15-16 

And there we see again, how it wasn't just a silent act of marching around the city.  After they'd completed their march, Joshua instructed the people to open up their mouths and shout.  They had to release a sound into the atmosphere.  It wasn't until after the people shouted that the walls came crashing down.  Had they all stayed silent, those walls would still be standing today.  But they used their voices to change the atmosphere- they acted, they had to DO something physically.  And then, God rewarded them for their faith and their diligence.

 " So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city."  Joshua 6:20

The walls fell down flat. 

What walls are you facing today? Can you feel the anticipation stirring in your spirit?  God is up to something, and perhaps He is just waiting for His children to open up their mouths and give a great shout.  Perhaps the time is upon us to face our walls (our situations) and have faith that God will remove them from us completely.

The anticipation is completely overwhelming me.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Speak To Your Situation

"But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm." Matthew 8:26

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a fairly quiet person.  I don't usually purposely seek out conversations and interactions with people.  I like listening, especially.  It's hard to really listen to someone when your mouth is full of chatter all the time.  But God's been working on me and my quietness.  There is certainly a place for quietness and stillness, but God's basically been showing me all kinds of instances in scripture where the voice was used in a situation.  The example I posted above is a perfect one, and it fits very much with today's dangerous hot weather.  Let's see what was happening prior to this verse.

 "Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. 24 And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. 25 Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” " Matthew 8:23-25

A great storm had come up- such a strong storm that their boat was covered with waves.  Jesus' disciples were all fishermen- they were used to rough seas and storms that would come up.  That's simply a part of the way of life for a fisherman, so when we read these verses, the fact that they were literally fearful for their lives says a great deal about the seriousness of this storm.  They specifically said that they were perishing- they were in danger of losing their lives, so we know this storm was really awful.  Yet, Jesus slept on through it until they came to wake him.  When he was awoken, Jesus chided them for being fearful and showed them one of the secrets of being a child of God.  Jesus SPOKE into the winds and the storm calmed.   We can read the same account in the book of Mark:

"And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. 38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”
39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm."  Mark 4:37-39

In both instances, Jesus arose and rebuked the wind with his voice.  He didn't stay quiet and just think the words to calm the storm.  He physically opened his mouth and sound came out in the form of words.

A few months ago I had an awful, awful dream.  I had a dream that I had new infant nephews, but they were dying.  They were dying in our arms, and in my head I knew that I knew that what they needed was prayer.  They needed me to open my mouth and speak healing words to their body in the name of Jesus, but I was distracted.  Every time I would think about opening my mouth to pray out loud over them, something would come up and the words never came out.  It was horrible, and I woke from that dream with a sense of grieving for the loss of these precious babies.  At first I was really worried that this was a dream that spoke of future events, but the more I mulled on it, the more I realized that God knows what speaks the most to me.  He knows just how much my nieces and nephews mean to me, and He used that idea to convey a message to me about the importance of learning to speak the Word to my situations around me.

The message was certainly received.  If I don't at least try to open my mouth and give voice to the words rolling around in my head in minor situations, what will happen when the major situations come up?  If I am too fearful to speak to my garden and bless my plants and encourage them to be fruitful and multiply (for fear the neighbors might hear me and think I'm loony), how am I going to be able to speak life into that person who was just hit by a car in front of me?   If I am too fearful to "practice" by going outside and speaking to that thunderstorm to dissipate, how am I going to know what to do when there is an actual tornado bearing down on us?

The thing is, Jesus actually took the time to tell us how to do this! The Lord's Prayer is the perfect model for how we should pray for our situations.  Here are the first few verses, which we all know:

"Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven."  Matthew 6:9-10

The first thing we do when we pray is we praise God.  He loves to hear the praises of his children, and I kind of think it gets his attention real good.  Like when my daughter tells me that she really likes the dinner I've prepared, it gets my attention, it makes me happy to hear such praise from my child.  The Father is the same way.  But then look at that next verse, that is the key.  God's Kingdom is come, His will be done, on earth as it IS in heaven.  Think about that!  Are there tornadoes and tidal waves and earthquakes in heaven?  Are there diseases in heaven?  Are there cancers and heart attacks and arthritis in heaven?  Of course not!  Heaven is a perfect place, and part of this praying business is to align heaven and earth.  To cause that which is in heaven to be the reality here on earth. 

"Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."  Matthew 18:18

All of these verse together bring forth a very lovely idea.  That we can use our voices to spread God's Will here on earth.  It's certainly not His Will for man that we perish in harsh weather events or suffer disease that the devil has spread about the earth.   But it doesn't do us any good if we're too afraid to open our mouths and release what Jesus is teaching us. 

The awesome thing is that there is always going to be another opportunity to put this into action. Always.  I have heard countless testimonies from evangelists and preachers about when they first started to pray for infirmities.  One in particular decided that he really wanted to see God heal deafness, so he started praying for every deaf person he could find.  He literally prayed for hundreds and hundreds of deaf ears to open, persevering and believing that it was God's Will for the deaf to hear.  And then one day it happened, his perseverance and faith was rewarded with the healing of a deaf ear.  He could have given up after the 200th person or so, but he didn't, he kept on, certain that there was no deafness in heaven, and as such, there should be no deafness here on earth.   He also didn't just simply think his prayers for the ears to open.  He spoke to them, commanding them to be healed in Jesus' name.  

There are times and places for "thought prayers".  I really think God understands when we're in a situation where we think our prayers, and he listens to those too.  But it's the spoken word that literally affects the atmosphere around us.  It's the spoken word that Jesus used to rebuke the storm and calm the seas.

It's time to put this into practice.  I don't know where you live or what the weather is like where you are, but for the next two days we are actually under a dangerous heat warning.  It's extremely hot and dangerous outside, and it's been intensely hot for the entire week.  We had such a low-key 4th of July this year because it was too hot to even go out to the garden for a few minutes.  I, for one, have had enough of this heat, and it worries me to hear about people who don't have air conditioning.  It worries me a little to think about my husband outside working in this heat all day long- and all the many people like him who still have to go to work and can't sit at home in the comfort of the cooler air. I happen to believe that whatever the weather is like in heaven (is there even what we consider weather in heaven?) that it never poses a danger to everyone who lives there.  And I believe this excessive heat is dangerous and not of heaven.  So when I head outside in a few minutes, I'm going to put my faith into practice and rebuke the heat.  

Jesus did it!  He may have rebuked a storm instead of a heat wave, but by golly, it's time for us to start realizing that we are citizens of heaven, and as citizens of heaven, we have the right to bring heaven to earth.  Today I'd like to do my part.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Happy Independence Day

"if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."  2 Chronicles 7:14

It's a great day for the United States of America today.  Today is the day we celebrate our nation's birthday and reflect on how she began all those years ago.  The study of history is absolutely fascinating, and when I think about how God moved things all around the globe to bring this country to it's beginning, I get chills.  I love reading accounts of history and seeing how God made things work out.  I've been watching a TV series, and reading books that talk about the reign of Henry VIII in England.  I've long been fascinated by that period in history, but it's so incredible to look back and see how God took one man and used it to completely change the course of the church in England.  And furthermore, it was the actions and rulings of Henry VIII that drove the pilgrims to decide to seek religious freedom in a new nation across the ocean.  Had Henry VIII been a docile and inactive king, we would be looking at a completely different history of our country.

I posted the verse above as reminder this morning, as we celebrate our country, we should remember to always be praying for her as well.  You know, I used to read the verse above and while it was a call to prayer for me, it also made me wish that more Americans were Christians- that they were praying people and talked to God.  But someone recently pointed out to me that this verse is not specifically talking to the people of a nation.  It's talking to God's people.  He specifically says "My People", so the people who already are Christian, who spend time with Him.  That's who God is calling to prayer. 

This verse is a promise! 

If God's people here in America will take the time to pray and seek our Father in Heaven, He WILL hear them and will heal our land.  That is so huge right now.  Our physical land is in a tailspin right now.  We have massive widespread drought, we have torrential downpours and storms in other places.  Half the country is under massive heat warnings, while other parts of the country are shivering in their sweaters and running the heat in July.  Wildfires out West are ravaging the country, and are not confined to the forests anymore- in the last week hundreds of residents of Colorado Springs lost their homes and neighborhoods to a wildfire.

If the people will pray, God will hear, and He will fix what is going on in our atmosphere.  And I can't help but mention that what's going on in the atmosphere is a reflection of what is going on with our government.  Too many extremes with no relief in sight. 

If the people will pray, God will hear.  Won't you take a minute today, while you are celebrating and rejoicing in living in a free land, to take the time to pray for this free land.  I know I will.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

As Children

"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:" John 1:12

I would do absolutely anything for my children.  Anything.  When we first discovered we were going to be parents, our initial plan was that Andy would stay home with the kids while I made a nice income for the family.  This was entirely possible, as I was working my way quickly up the ladder at my place of employment.  But the longer I baked that baby, the longer I wanted to be the one to stay home with my child.  And as time passed, our thinking shifted, and it was determined that we would live off of what Andy could provide.  

Those first few years were such a time of testing, and in fact, we still are tested to this day.  I've been at home for 12 years now, and it really has been a sacrifice for us to have me at home with the kids.  It would have been very easy for me to put the kids in day cares and go to work to help pay the bills.  We'd probably be homeowners and have all the material possessions we could want.  Instead, we're living paycheck to paycheck, and not even that sometimes.  But you know what?  Every sacrifice has been completely worth it to get to raise our children ourselves.  And then to take it a step further and educate them ourselves as well?  As I'm watching them grow and unfold into the people God wants them to be, I know that every hardship we endure, every sacrifice on our part has been worth it.

This week we are learning the ropes of our new dance schedule- and if that isn't a sacrifice, I don't know what is!  The hours I spend at the dance school with the kids literally equates to the time put into a part-time job, only I'm paying them instead of getting paid.  But you know, it's worth it.  The hard work and effort the kids put into dance, and they joy they experience from it is worth the sacrifice- it's worth the sacrifice of my time to have them there, and it's worth the financial sacrifice.  We'd much rather pay for another year of dance instead of planning family vacations.  Our children are worth every penny and every second.

So how much more are we worth to out Heavenly Father?  When I think of my children, and the sacrifices, and how much my heart takes joy in being able to do what we do for them, how much more does God delight in us as His children?  I was so worth it to God, that He sent Jesus to pay a huge price so that I could know my Father in Heaven, and that I could spend eternity with Him.  Think about that.  God looked into the future, and He saw you being born.  He saw you coming into this world, and His heart leaped with joy at the possibility of spending eternity with YOU.  But Adam and Eve messed things up a bit, so God crafted a plan to send Jesus to fix what Adam had broken.  Jesus came, and He sacrificed more than we could ever know, because He loved you more than anything.  Because He loved me more than anything.  Because He loved your neighbor more than anything.

Wow. God poured His heart and His breath out when He created mankind, and He loves each and every one of his children.  Even the naughty ones.  *Smile*

Think about that.  Think about your own children- or your future children.  Children can indeed by naughty from time to time, breaking rules or misbehaving, and yet, no matter how awful the offense, we always, always love them with all our heart.  My children will always be my children, and I will always love them to the fullest- no matter what their transgressions may be.  

How much more does the Father love His Children?

I believe that one of the reasons God gives us children is so that we get an opportunity to try to experience the great love He has for us.  I don't think our love actually comes close, but it gives us a glimpse, it gives us something to refer to when we talk about the Father's Love. 

It's an amazing thing.  You are His precious child, and no matter how you may have stumbled or fallen, He is always right there with arms wide open waiting to spend time with you.  

I could ponder this all day everyday, and every moment I am still amazed.  So today I choose to delight in my Heavenly Father.  I choose to be embraced by my Father and let Him share something special with me today.  My eyes and ears are open and ready to see what He has for me today.  It's a new day, the sun is shining, and He has something He wants to share just with me today.  And He has something He wants to share just with you today.  Will you open up and let Him do that today?  I would pray that you would do just that.