What’s following your belief?

Israel mountainIsrael in Spring

Believing is like waiting. Abram (later Abraham) was 75 when God told him to leave his family and become a nomad in a land he did not know. God promised him descendants numbering beyond the stars in the heavens.

And so Abram believed God and started walking.

And Abram waited in expectation of a son.

Twenty-five years later, Isaac was born. And Abraham believed God and waited for more.

He [God] said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” Genesis 22:2

And so Abraham believed God and started walking. Belief … not understanding. Belief working.

You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected;  and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,” and he was called the friend of God. James 2:19-23

God gave me a promise, an impossibility. He impressed upon me that He would heal me of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. There is no cure.

I believed God, even though I’d had hands laid upon me, and I had been anointed with oil. I was still in pain.

Yet, my husband, Keith, and I started walking and praying through the Scriptures.

We believed God. We waited upon God.

Two years later, November 21, 2010, God healed me.

We believed God’s healing, and the walk became an adventure of unlimited possibilities of signs pointing to God.

We learned and are continuing to learn, that we had limited God’s work in us.

When we simply believed God and started walking, God worked.

“These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed. Mark 16:16-20

What is following you as a believer in our Lord Jesus Christ?

My prayer for you:

Father in Heaven, You are the God of all possibility and all that is good. Thank You for Your patience with Your believers. Bless us with Your wisdom and the knowledge of You. We want to believe in You, but we have limited our understanding of You. Help our unbelief, and teach us how we should walk in faith. Work in us and confirm Your Word by what follows us. We thank You for all that You are and do. In the precious name of Jesus, we pray.

7 steps towards Job’s restoration

twisted branchesWhy did I not die at birth, Come forth from the womb and expire? Job 3:1

From wealth to poverty,
From family to dead children,
From health to near death,
From honor to judgment,
From joy to agony,
From expectation to hopelessness,
From God’s pride to Satan’s plunder,
Job blessed the name of the Lord.

In agony, Job grieved loss.
In pain, he scraped boils.
In patience, he endured friend’s chastening.
In love, he rebuked his wife.

In hopelessness, Job cried “Why?”

“Even today my complaint is rebellion;
His hand is heavy despite my groaning.
“Oh that I knew where I might find Him,
That I might come to His seat!
“I would present my case before Him
And fill my mouth with arguments.
“I would learn the words which He would answer,
And perceive what He would say to me. Job 23:2-5

In power and love, God spoke.

 “Now gird up your loins like a man,
And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding,” Job 38:3-4

“Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
So that an abundance of water will cover you?
“Can you send forth lightnings that they may go
And say to you, ‘Here we are’?
“Who has put wisdom in the innermost being
Or given understanding to the mind?
“Who can count the clouds by wisdom,
Or tip the water jars of the heavens,
When the dust hardens into a mass
And the clods stick together? Job 38:33-38

In awe, Job repented.

Then Job answered the Lord and said,
“I know that You can do all things,
And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? ’
Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”
‘Hear, now, and I will speak;
I will ask You, and You instruct me. ’
“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;
But now my eye sees You;
Therefore I retract,
And I repent in dust and ashes.” Job:42:1-6

In mercy, God instructed.

It came about after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has. Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, and go to My servant Job, and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves, and My servant Job will pray for you. For I will accept him so that I may not do with you according to your folly, because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.” So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did as the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job. The Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the Lord increased all that Job had twofold. Job 42:7-10

7 steps towards restoration

  1. Loss. Wealth, children, and health were considered to be God’s blessings to the righteous. Job lost all of these, and he lost honor as a righteous follower of God. He thought that God had taken His blessings from Job. Yet, he said, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
  2. Helplessness. Although Job’s friends told him how he could work his way out of his tribulation, Job knew within himself that he was helpless to change his situation. He knew that the only answer was God.
  3. Why me? Job thought that God took everything away from him, and he questioned why it happened to him. He wanted God to answer to him. Job wanted God to justify why this happened to Job.
  4. Longing for God. Although Job’s friends sat beside him, he felt isolated. He longed for God to speak to him. From the pit of despair, Job turned his eyes up to God, longing for His Word.
  5. Focus on God’s magnificence. Job listened to God, focused on His creation, His power, his magnificence. When Job’s focus turned from his problems to the works of God, he lost sight of his small problems.
  6. Repentance and service. Job confessed that he had not understood God, and that he had misrepresented God. God instructed Job’s friends to offer a sacrifice and ask Job to pray for them, and Job prayed for them.
  7. Restoration. After Job prayed for his friends, God accepted Job. “Accepted” literally means that God “lifted up the face of” Job. Close your eyes and imagine God touching your chin with His finger and lifting your face toward His face. God also restored Job’s wealth, his family, and his health, not back to the way it was before, but twofold.

pine treeMy prayer for you:

Almighty God, You, alone, are worthy. You, alone, are Creator. You, alone, are in control of our lives. We long for Your Word, Your Presence, Your Son. Restore Your followers. We come before You in repentance and humility. We wait upon You, O Lord.

3 principles I’ve learned from my roses about my walk with Jesus

rose unpruned 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. John 15:2

I have 36 rose bushes. Roses are beautiful, and they take work. From spring to late fall, I’m pruning, feeding, and talking to my roses. My floribunda roses take more meticulous time; they grow in clusters. This bush develops three buds together. The middle bud always blooms first. Once it begins to wilt, the two on either side bloom. If I leave the middle dying rose, it ruins the bouquet, and attention is drawn to the dead bloom.

rose unprunedMore importantly, if I were to neglect cutting out the dead flowers, my rose bush would quit producing blooms.

Isn’t that the way our Christian walk is? We walk along praising the Lord and doing work for His kingdom. If we’re not careful, our praise turns to grumbling, and our works turn to frustration.

From over a decade of loving, feeding, and pruning my roses, I’ve learned three things that are also essential to my Christian walk.

  1. Loving. Roses take a lot of time. If I did not like spending time with my roses, I would not have them. That’s the way it is with my relationship to Jesus. I need to spend time with Him … quality time. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” John 15:4
  2. Feeding. Roses need to be fertilized regularly. I need to spend time in the Word of God, praying, and listening as the Holy  Spirit feeds my spirit and guides my walk. “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.Psalm 119:105
  3. Pruning. Roses spill out their fragrance, color, and beauty for all to enjoy. Slowly, the petals wilt, turn brown, and fall off, leaving only the base of the bud. If the deadness is not cut out, the bush will not to continue to produce flowers. As I walk with the Lord, fruit will develop for others to enjoy. Jesus prunes the branches of my life that are producing fruit, and cuts off the branches that don’t produce fruit. Sometimes, I feel pain because of the pruning and need to ask for forgiveness for straying. “bear fruit in keeping with repentance;” Matthew 3:8

rose prunedThe promise?

A focus on beauty, on fragrance, on the fresh blossoms and fruit.

“For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.” John 17:19

My prayer for you

Father of all that is beautiful, may we walk with You in holiness. Quicken our spirits to recognize how You are loving us, feeding us, and pruning us. Enable us to see You at work in us and yield to your sanctification. Empower us to be a fragrance to You and all who come into our paths.

What are you learning from your walk with Jesus?

Freedom rings this Independence Day

Oak Glen

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12

For freedom to worship their God, they came to America.

For freedom to speak their mind, they came to America.

For freedom to travel unhindered, they came to America.

For freedom to earn a living, they came to America.

For freedom, they fought in wars.

For freedom, they guard our country and our allies.

For freedom, they sacrifice their limbs, their futures, their lives.

For freedom, they pray, they serve, they sacrifice.

O beautiful America, O beautiful Americans who love freedom!

God bless America’s men and women who have served it well and are serving it heroically.

My prayer for America:

Lord of Hosts, bless America’s men and women who serve in the military, those who have served, and their families. Pour out Your peace that passes understanding upon them. Fill them to overflowing with the Holy Spirit. Heal their wounds and bless them all the days of their lives. O Lord, turn America’s heart toward You, and bless our nation.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17

Jesus Shepherds through comfort and distress

mountainsThe Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23

It is easy to say “The Lord is my Shepherd,” when we are comfortable and have everything that we want, and yet, that does seem to be the time when we stray from the other sheep.

When we’re going through the shadow of death, that valley that steals our health, our wealth, our loved ones, that’s the time that we press in closer to the other sheep and our Shepherd, or we run away in terror.

Sometimes, a little lamb continuously strayed from the flock, and to teach the lamb to stay with the flock the shepherd broke the lamb’s leg. While the leg healed, the shepherd carried the lamb around his neck. The lamb grew to know and love the shepherd, and when the lamb’s leg was healed, the lamb always stayed by the shepherd.

We need a little correction sometimes, too. It hurts while we’re healing, but that can be a time of deeper intimacy as our Shepherd carries us around His neck.

He gently walks us to the table of plenty and gives us His overflowing cup. He anoints our wounds with the healing oil of the Spirit.

He guides us in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake, and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

My prayer for you

Loving Shepherd, guide us in Your righteous paths. We cherish Your rod and staff because we know that You love us with an everlasting love. You are our Protector, our Healer, our Provider, our Rest, our Savior. We adore You and cherish Your presence.

A mother’s 3 words that guided this woman’s life journey

PietaPatience, Pluck, and Perseverance … the mantra of Mama, and my guiding path as I walked, ran, skipped, stumbled, and climbed through my childhood, teenage years, and early adult years.

My eyes rolled when I heardPatience, Pluck, and Perseverance.”

Later, I came to understand the wisdom in those words, and without realizing it, I adopted the concepts … just gave them different words: wait for the Lord, possess His promises, walk in His power.

As I studied the Pieta in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, I was reminded of the great love a mother has for her children. I stood there and wept as I remembered that

… Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed—and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” Luke 2:34-35

I know that there were times when Mama’s heart was pierced through when we were growing up, either by things we did or by things we experienced. Yet, as Mary, she stood by her children and served them. Patience, pluck, and perseverance.

I’m remembering the many afternoons that she sat with me in the hospital and the times that she sat with my brother in a small hospital in Weleetka, Oklahoma.

I’m remembering how she cared for Daddy in all his illnesses.

Mama’s life’s journey has been one of service, and like Mary, she has shown that her:

soul exalts the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; …. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name.”  Luke 1:46-49

The concept of those words carried Keith and me in the trials, walked us through the challenges, and pushed us towards the mountaintops. Patience, pluck, and perseverance … Waiting, possessing, and walking, step-by-step through the crooked, uphill, downhill, sometimes overgrown path that Keith and I have chosen as our life journey.

My prayer for you

Majestic Father, You have blessed us with mothers who have shown unconditional love to their families, neighbors, and communities. Thank you for our mothers. May we bless them and show them how much we love them. Amen.

May this day remind you of the many way that you have been blessed by your mother and the patience, pluck, and perseverance that your mother has shown in her service to her family and community. Won’t you tell your mother that you love her today?