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So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into “the Holy Place.”

Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God.

The “curtain” into God’s presence is his body.

 So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out.

Hebrews 10:19-22

Message Bible

Need healing? Need restoration? Need peace? Need something you can’t even put into words?

Feel like you can’t even approach God? You’ve been too distant – feel too unworthy – it’s been far too long since you even considered Him as a viable source for anything? Whatever the barrier that keeps you from God, He hasn’t placed it there. The only barrier was our sin, yours, mine, individual sins and collective sins, all of them, the sum total, the past ones, the present ones, the ones you haven’t even thought of yet. Those caused a barrier; but that barrier has come down. They came down when Jesus said, “it is finished”. The sacrifice made to  atone for our sins was made. God was pleased to call our debts paid in full and the barrier that separated us is no longer.

If we believe that, if we accept that, we can walk right up to God – without hesitation. We can take our needs, our concerns, our fears, our joys, our hopes (the ones that are alive and even those that have died) and we can confidently know that we are, as this verse says, presentable – inside and out. We don’t have to clean ourselves up first, we don’t have to dress up or act proper, we just come, as we are, and know that it was God’s desire to have the barrier of our sin removed so that we could come. He paid an incredible price for it. The only thing to be done now is accept that fact and walk right up to God.

The payment has been made; my debt is wiped away. What an amazing gift! I come to You, confident that I am presentable, inside and out, and ask for wisdom. I feel somewhat divided today. Does what I do honor You? Does it please You? I want, I need to know that what I do with my life is Your will and not mine. Would You show me, lead me, help me settle in my heart just what You would have of me? I ask in the name of my Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

pic credit: aipnews.com

God’s Best Gift

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If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us,

embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son,

is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?

Romans 8:32

Jesus – what do you think of when you hear that name? A good teacher? – a revolutionary? – a prophet? –  a great leader? Maybe what comes to mind is stories from Sunday School – the miracles He performed like feeding 5000 people with a few loaves of bread, or causing the lame to walk or the blind to see. Maybe you see Him as the compassionate man who loved people from all walks of life or the angry man who overturned the tables of the merchants at the temple. Maybe you see Him as the man who claimed to be the Son of God and got hung for that. And He was all of those things.

But do you see Him as a gift?

A gift from God sent to show us the way to satisfy the deepest longings of our heart.

A gift sent to show us the deepest longings of our Father God’s heart.

A priceless gift,

one we didn’t ask for,

one we didn’t know we needed,

one that has never been duplicated and is given to all.

Freely.

What an amazing gift!

So undeserved,

so beyond our wildest expectations,

so wonderfully thought out,

so amazingly incomprehensible.

Given to me.

Given to you.

Why?

Because our Father in heaven loves us!

Father, what an amazing gift You have blessed me with. Your precious Son, sent to show me the way to You, the way to peace and fulfillment and eternal life and love. Thank You for thinking so highly of me that You would send Him to me, as a gift I never deserved and couldn’t earn. Help me to treasure the gift of Your Son, help me to never take for granted what giving Him cost You. I ask in the saving name of Jesus. Amen.

Zentangle Quilt

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In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.

Psalm 18:6

 

Our Creative Arts Life group made this Zentangle “quilt” .  Each tile represents an answered prayer. Our list of answered prayers was longer than the 18 tiles here, but we ran out of time to make them. This was a very rewarding project for me personally. I am believing for my healing, I’ve mentioned that before and I am not healed, not yet. I’ll admit, sometimes, that effects my prayer life. I have even, at times, found myself thinking, why bother, does prayer matter? Working on this quilt was a great reminder of the many prayers He has answered, some just in the past few months since I started this blog. 

Answers like:

Salvation for a loved one.

A home for single foster mom.

A place to be a part of community for someone who was alone.

Peace in a troubled situation.

Hope for a young boy with a terminal diagnosis.

Increased compassion for a hardened heart.

A new song for a young girl that was locked in grief.

Financial increase.

Provision for home repairs from mold damage.

God hears our prayers. Our voice makes it to His temple, even to His ears. True, the prayer requests keep coming to our prayer group’s attention and perhaps the requests at this point are more numerous than the answers. But the answers are coming. God responds to the cries of His people in His perfect timing. It isn’t easy to wait, I know this, but keeping track of the answers along the way served to build my faith that my prayers, your prayers, our prayers don’t fall on deaf ears. None is too small, none are too big and none escape the attention of our Father in heaven.  They don’t have to follow a formula, or be eloquent or even wordy. A simple “help” can suffice.

Thank You God, that You hear our prayers and respond to them. Thank You, for all the answered prayers in my family and in my church family. What an honor and a privilege to be able to come to You, to bring my needs and the needs of others to You and know that You are more than willing and more than able to come to our aid. For the women that made this quilt, would You use it to remind us that You answer prayers, would You use it to encourage us in our prayer life and would You open our eyes to see more and more of the answered prayers you send our way. I ask in the wonderful name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

Picture credit: Creative Arts Life Group at Rhapsody Church

 

 

 

Outcast … Again

To the outcast
On her knees,
You were the God
Who really sees.
And by Your might,
You set Your children free.

These lyrics are from Amy Grant’s song El Shaddai. The speak to what is on my heart today for a young girl I worked with. I have written of her – she’s the 10 year old who was raped by her mom’s boyfriend and then taken from her home and put in foster care. She’s the one who would sit for 2 or more hours and cry silent tears because of the pain. I say worked with because last Friday, she was removed from the foster home she lived in and will no longer come to our program. I don’t know where she is now or if I will see her again this side of heaven. This, by the way, was the 7th foster home she was in since September.

I asked our prayer group at church to pray for her and they did. Our pastor brought up the story of Hagar who was an outcast. She was banished from her home and was in the wilderness when the Lord showed up and spoke to her. Far from home, far from anything familiar, far from having any where to go or any place to return to and far, far, far from hope. And yet, God saw her.

She was returned to her home and the ending of her life was far better than the beginning because God saw and acted on her behalf. We prayed that the same God that saw Hagar would see this little girl who has also been banished from her home, far from anything familiar and far from hope.

It is so easy to believe when we are hurting that God is distant, that He doesn’t know or perhaps He knows but doesn’t care or is too busy. This story tells us otherwise. God sought out Hagar and found her at her lowest point and raised her to a new place in Him.

Whatever the situation,

whatever the loss,

whatever the diagnosis,

whatever the change of circumstances that has left you feeling alone or abandoned,

know that God sees,

He is the God who really sees.

Jesus, thank You for the short time I had to spend with this young girl, she will be forever in my heart as I know she is in Yours. Show up big in her life, please, help her to know that You really see, that You haven’t abandoned her or turned a deaf ear. Would you hold her and love on her and put someone in her life who will listen and comfort her and love her? And would you make the ending of her life be greater than the beginning? I ask in the name of the God who really sees. Amen.

pic credit:  karlmarxhausen.net

A Change of Perspective

Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance.

The Lord be with you all!

II Thessalonians 3:16

Yesterday, two young Jehovah’s Witnesses came to my door. They asked the question, “what would you change if you could change one thing about this world?”  I answered that I would change people’s perception of God, which in turn would change their perception of themselves. The story comes to mind of Gideon.

Gideon lived in turbulent times. For seven years, the Midianite invasions left them stripped of crops and livestock and Israel was starving. They cried out to God to help them. Then the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon as he was hiding in order to thresh his wheat. Then He addressed Gideon as, “you mighty man of valor”. He continued to tell him that God was sending him to rescue Israel from the Midianites. Gideon’s first response is much like mine would have been. What me? How? Really?! But I’m…just…so…me?!

Clearly God saw Gideon differently than Gideon saw himself. Of course, God has the ability to see the ending of the story before we even see the beginning of it. But more than that, God promised Gideon that He would be with him. Then God changes Gideon’s perception of God. He reveals Himself as Jehovah Shalom – THE LORD IS PEACE. Curious isn’t it that He didn’t reveal Himself as God –  “The Great Midianite Conqueror” or God –  “The Mighty Warrior”. No, He revealed Himself as peace.

I think God knew that whatever the circumstance, whatever we are facing, no matter how awful or overwhelming it can be, the one real thing each of us needs is peace. Not peace as in the absence of war, or peace as the absence of stress or conflict, but peace as in the Prince of Peace abiding with us and in us, giving of Himself so that we can give of ourselves.

Jehovah Shalom led Gideon and his team to victory in part because Gideon’s perspective of His God and himself were changed. A nation was preserved. I wonder what could happen in our lives and our small part of the world if we could see God as He presents Himself in His word and see ourselves as He sees us and tells us about in His word. What kind of victory and healing and deliverance could that bring to our world?

Lord, all too often, I feel like Gideon, wondering how on earth am I going to do the things You have placed before me. Things that seem monumental at times and totally out of my comfort zone. Thank You for being my peace, for giving me peace in every circumstance.  Help me to see myself the way You do, to rise up like Gideon and do all that You have called me to do, knowing that You, Jehovah Shalom go with me. Thank You Jesus.

Pitiful or Powerful?

Two of my adult daughters were going through extremely difficult times.

Times I wished had not come their way; times I can’t spare them from going through.

I hurt for them.

My heart broke for them.

And I felt helpless.

My husband and I were discussing this one night and he said it must really feel bad to know what they are going through and not be able to do anything – to be so powerless.

And I nodded in agreement.

Then I trudged upstairs to get into my pajamas and curl up in the darkness of my bedroom and be  powerless and helpless and feel sorry for them and sorry for me.

I decided to pray first maybe more out of habit than conviction and an amazing thought crossed my mind.

Actually, I remembered Joyce Meyer saying, “You can be pitiful or you can be powerful”.

I must have heard her say that dozens of times but that night, it resonated with me.

In the natural, there is only so much I can do for my daughters.

But God, through my prayers, can do so much.

I began speaking His Word over them:

They are the head and not the tail.

They are loved with an everlasting love.

They are led in paths of righteousness.

They are inheritors of the promises of God.

They are blessed to be a blessing.

They are surrounded with favor like a shield.

They are taught of the Lord and great is their peace.

They are protected by angels.

They can do all things through Christ who strengthens them.

They are children of the Most High God who has not forgotten them or forsaken them or turned a deaf ear to them.

God will restore to them for the years the locust have eaten.

Goodness and mercy will follow them all the days of their lives.

They will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

No, I don’t have to be pitiful.

I don’t have to be powerless.

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I can take them to the throne room of God anytime, day or night, and know that He hears my prayers.

He has bottled up my tears.

He has sent His angels to perform His Word in their lives.

I still curled up in the darkness of my bedroom, but instead of feeling sorry for them and for myself, I felt peace.

That peace that surpasses all comprehension.

Peace that only God can give.

Pitiful – I don’t think so.

Powerless – I don’t think so.

Not me, not anymore!

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.

Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.

It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Philippians 4: 6-7 Message Bible

reposted from my old blog godhappenings.wordpress.com

TCB

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…and having done everything, to stand firm.  Ephesians 6:13

When I was a kid, my Uncle Bob had a dog.  I can’t remember the dog’s name, only that it liked to chase kids and bite them.  Every time we were over there, Uncle Bob would remind us that when the dog charges, don’t run, just stand still.  The dog can’t chase if you don’t run.  Sounds like good advice, but I was never able to do that.  I ran every time the dog charged me.  I never got bit that I remember, but I remember dreading seeing that dog.  Each time I would repeat my uncle’s advice – stand still, stand still, stand still, but my feet ran anyway.

This verse is telling us that when we are being attacked by an enemy – be it sickness, lies, tormenting thoughts, disease, whatever – that there are things we can do and having done those things, all that is left is to stand firm.  Easier said than done. I know.  The things mentioned in this passage are the things referred to as the full armor of God.  Things in the spiritual realm.

In this time that I am in believing for a physical healing, in addition to putting on the full armor of God, there are things in the natural I can do.  I can choose to eat healthier foods, exercise more, learn ways of dealing with stress, and keep myself fed up on the Word of God.  In short, I have come to see that taking care of business means taking care of me.  This doesn’t come easy to me; I have taken care of other people all my life.  I was always on the bottom of the list and seldom were resources available for me by the time everyone else’s needs were met.

But I see it differently now.  I can’t take care of others if I won’t take care of me.  Expecting God to heal me when I won’t do my part is tantamount to tempting Him.  Ultimately, the end result is in His hands, but, by His grace,  I can take care of the business He shows me to take care of.

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Have you found it easy to neglect your needs to take care of others?  How has that worked for you?  What if we decide we are worth taking care of?  Would that be ok?

Thank You Lord, for showing me the importance of taking care of me.  Forgive me for all the years I have not done that.  Grant me the grace to change how I eat and exercise and anything else You show me to do.  I know You are my Healer God and I stand firm in that knowledge.  I will do my part, by Your grace and leave the outcome in Your hands, Amen.

We All Need Somebody

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Today, when I got out of bed, I experienced severe pain.  The doctor’s use a scale that goes to 10 to determine pain levels, with 10 being debilitating, unbearable pain.  I believe the pain this morning would be a 12.  I could barely walk, the pain was so intense.  I’d like to say I got up and began confessing healing scriptures and praising God and thanking Him for my healing.  Those would have been great things to do, but I didn’t do those.  I murmured and complained and wondered how I would get through the day like this.  I had a very small crisis of faith.  For a few moments, only a few, I questioned if healing was really for everyone.  I know better, but pain makes me think crazy things at times.

I considered posting on Facebook and asking friends and family to pray for me, but I didn’t do that either.  Some people who love me would worry and I didn’t want that. I know this will pass.

I texted my friend and prayer partner and let her know I wouldn’t make to prayer this morning because of pain.  I didn’t ask her to pray.   I didn’t ask because I knew I didn’t need to.  She would pray because that is what prayer warriors do – they pray.  I knew she would pray because she is my friend and that is what friends do – pray  for their hurting friends.

She texted her prayer to me, she prayed that God’s Kingdom would come to my body in Jesus’ name.  A kingdom that doesn’t include sickness, pain, suffering, mental torment, lack of any sort.  A kingdom of blessings that only God can bring to a broken life or body.

What is the hurt that has come your way? 

Disease, sickness, financial lack, betrayal, relational problems?

Are you just sick and tired of being sick and tired? 

Have you asked for prayer? 

Do you have a go to person that you can lean on during this difficult season of your life?

Could you be blessed by having the kingdom of God bursting loose upon your life bringing healing and joy and peace and abundance?

Having pain and suffering and lack and relational problems and financial woes and disease and being in need doesn’t make you a less than person; it just means you are human and life sometimes brings these things to all of us.

Don’t suffer alone; don’t suffer in silence.  Don’t let pain isolate you from others.  We all need somebody, sometime.

If you need someone to pray for you or someone to lean on, can I suggest you ask God to show you that person?  If you need someone to pray for you and someone to lean on, I volunteer.  You lean on me and I will lean on you and together we will see God’s kingdom here on earth!

Lord Jesus, thank You for putting people in my life that I can lean on.  And thank You for the people that feel they can lean on me.  Thank You, too, that my crisis of faith is shorter lived than ones I have had in the past.  I pray for my family and friends that Your kingdom would explode upon their lives and we would all be able to say, only because of God!  Only God!  Help me to be the prayer warrior and friend that my family and friends can count on, in Your name, I pray, Amen.

Business as Usual

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 “Never, never, never, never give up.”

Winston Churchill

I was going to throw in the towel today on writing these devotions.  I was in pain and tired and quite frankly, becoming convinced that they were a waste of time.   Time I could better spend some other way.  I also have thought lately that they serve little purpose, in the sea of blogs and posts and books and written words, this is a plankton, who would miss it if I stopped writing?  Why not leave writing to the others who write so much better?

Sometime during the day though, I was reminded of this quote by Churchill.  I’ve often used this quote to help kids keep going when they want to quit but never really applied it to my life.  But then, I seldom set long term goals that stretch me like determining to write a devotion a day for a year.

I’ve used this quote, but I didn’t know the context until today when I looked it up.  Churchill said this after the Blitz.  The Blitz was a bombing campaign by the Germans primarily against England.  It lasted 10 months and killed about 15,000 people.  Addressing Harrow School, Churchill said, ” But for everyone, surely, what we have gone through in this period — I am addressing myself to the School — surely from this period of ten months, this is the lesson: Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

The bombing was supposed to push Churchill into negotiations with Hitler, but they had the opposite effect largely in part to Churchill’s speeches like the one above.  The people were encouraged and became determined to make it through that difficult time without caving in.  They even put signs up on shop windows that read “Business as Usual”.  Churchill rallied the people and together they faced a difficult time.

My enemy seems small in comparison to Hitler.  My enemy doesn’t drop bombs on me, he just sits on my shoulder whispering thoughts designed to get me to cave in.  Thoughts like you’re not good enough, God isn’t going to heal you, no one cares what you write.  Maybe your enemy says similar things.  Regardless of the little bombs that come our way, the purpose is the same, to get us to give up.  Give up believing that good can come into our lives, that we can be loved and accepted, that we can walk without pain, find our perfect mate, see our wayward child come home, give up an addiction, get free from an abusive situation, etc.  Whatever the bombs, the answer is never give in.  Keep on believing, keep on looking to God, keep on believing the best is yet to come, keep on trusting.  Business as usual, never give in.

Lord, thank You for encouraging me today, I needed that.  Help me to be an encouragement to others as You lead.  Help me to keep walking the walk of faith, to refuse to give in to the bombing thoughts of my enemy.  Thank You for the victory I have in You, Amen.

 

First Round Draft Choice

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If God is for us, who can be against us?   Romans 8:31

Sometimes, I will admit, that when I come home from a doctor’s appointment, I question whether or not the doctor really heard me.  Is he/she really on my side?  Or am I just one of so many patients they try to cram into one day and move along?  More times than not, I have not been helped by doctors.  Seldom can I even get two doctors to agree on the same diagnosis and treatment.  Frustrating, to say the least.

This verse is a refreshing reminder that God is on my side.  He is not just sitting on the sidelines cheering me on, although I believe He is, but He is actively leading and guiding me on my own particular healing path.  As my coach and my cheerleader and my biggest fan; He’s my game changer!

Because God is for me, nothing that can come against me can stand against me.  Not pain, not sickness, not disease, not allergies, not carpal tunnel.  Regardless of the symptoms that may be raging in my body, I know who wins the game.  And it is not over until He says it is over!

How can God be on my side?  Because of the price Jesus paid on the cross, He took on everything the enemy could rightfully put on me so that I would not have to bear them.  You might say I was His first round draft choice, as were you and He wants us in the game.  Not because we are such great players, but because He wanted us on His team and wanted to bestow upon us all of heaven’s resources, including healing for our bodies – whatever is necessary to keep us in the game.  I can’t earn this; it is a gift of grace.  How amazing is that?

I am in awe of Your amazing grace, Father.  I am so grateful that Jesus took my infirmities and pains and sorrows and sickness so that I could be free of them.  What incredible grace! Thank You for being my biggest fan, my loudest cheerleader, my All-Wise and All-Knowing coach.  Thank You for placing me on Your team and assuring me of the victory, Amen.