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.

 

It Will Be Well

And he (her husband) said, “Why will you go to him (the prophet) today?  It is neither new moon nor sabbath?”  And she said, “It will be well.”  II Kings 4:23

We aren’t told her name.  Only that she was a Shunnamite and had no child.  Elisha the prophet told her she would have a child and sure enough, she did.  The story tells us that when the child was grown, he developed a headache and died in his mother’s lap.  She laid the boy on Elisha’s bed and set out to find the prophet.  She told her husband she was going to find the prophet and hence the question of why.  I find it interesting that she did not tell him about their son.  The only words she had to say in response to his question were “It will be well”.

What incredible faith!  How can one say it will be well when their son has just died?  Commentaries point out that for believers even in death we can say it will be well and we can; we know heaven is real.  But I don’t believe this is where this woman’s faith was directed.  I believe she was believing that the God who promised her a son could resurrect her son.

She also showed wisdom.   She didn’t faint, scream, yell, start making arrangements.  She didn’t even tell anyone, not even her husband.  Wow!  I am not advocating keeping something like this from your husband, but there are times when we are believing for a miracle that it is wisdom to be very careful with our sharing.  She responded to his question with words of faith and went in search of Elisha.  Too many times when we are given bad news, well-meaning people, family and friends begin the questions – what are you going to do?   What’s the prognosis?  We tend to want to talk the problem, not the solution.  It is OK to say, it will be well even in the face of evidence to the contrary.

This woman saved her words for the prophet, the one who could stand with her in faith, believing for a miracle.

indesElisha came to the house, prayed to the Lord and stretched himself out on the boy and the boy’s flesh became warm. Elisha got up walked back and forth in the house one time, stretched himself out on the boy again.  This time the boy sneezed 7 times and opened his eyes!

Elisha turns to the woman and says, “take up your son”.

The woman receives back her son and worships God.

I can’t even begin to imagine that scene.  The faith this woman demonstrates is remarkable.  Her wisdom, admirable.  We can learn from her.  She knew who to turn to when bad news hit.  She knew to keep her eyes and her thoughts on the solution, not the problem, even a problem as huge as a son’s death.  And her faith became sight and she took up her son and went home!

Thank You Lord, that You are the same yesterday, today and forever.  You are still in the miracle-working business, still bringing life out of death.  Touch areas of my life that need new life, I pray.  Point me to people who can stand with me in faith and help me to be someone others can trust when bad news comes.  Help me to stand in faith, to speak what is necessary and no more and to use wisdom while I wait for my day to take up what has been taken from me.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Parting Words

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And He (Jesus) said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation…  And these signs shall accompany those who believed; in My name they will … lay hands on the sick and they will recover.  Matthew 16:18

These were Jesus’ parting words to His disciples.  Some have called this the Believer’s Bill of Rights.  I have read different commentaries on this and there seems to be some disagreement as to whether or not this is for all believers or just for those disciples.  I’d rather not get into that.  I would just like to share a testimony if I could.

Our son at two year’s of age developed a hernia which required surgery to fix.  We didn’t have insurance or the money to pay for the surgery.  I asked a group of kids from my day care if they would lay hands on John and ask Jesus to heal him.  They were willing and one little girl who was three prayed, “Jesus, please make my friend John all better”.  I have shared this testimony earlier but I wanted to share it again as a reminder that we who believe have been given a commission.  One part of that commission is to lay hands on the sick, believing for their recovery and leaving the outcome in God’s hands.  A three year old girl heard that word, believed that word and laid hands on my son, prayed and he was healed.  The hernia disappeared.  He never had that surgery!

I recently left my son in Montana to stay with his sister for two weeks.  Even though I would see him soon and we had phones, I still wanted to have good, loving, wise parting words.  I didn’t really have any, but I thought about it for a while.  All I came up with was I love you, I will miss you, call when you want and have fun.  Like I said, I didn’t really have any.  But they were important to him and to me.  I tend to think that Jesus who knew He was leaving and has all wisdom, probably thought carefully about the parting words He wanted to leave with His disciples and to us.  And among those words were this promise – that if we lay hands on the sick they will recover.  Oh, I know, some will say that was for then and what about my dad or me or….?  Been there, done that and don’t have the healing to prove it.  I know personally that sometimes laying on hands doesn’t bring the recovery we are expecting.  But that doesn’t change Jesus’ words and it shouldn’t change our response to those words.  I can’t answer the why questions but I have learned not to ask them.  Why is not as important as Who.  What about you?  Is your faith in healing growing dimmer or stronger?  Are you willing to keep believing or just throw in the towel?  Are you asking why or looking at Who?

Jesus, I’ll admit, sometimes it is hard to keep believing when healing doesn’t come.  It is tempting to change my mind about You or Your word.  Or to just think that maybe its me and I am not worthy of healing.  I know these are all wrong ways of seeing this situation, open my heart to the right way of seeing as I keep my eyes on You. I don’t know why, but I know Who and I know that You healed my son and I am grateful and I thank You now for my healing.  In Your name, Amen.

Now Choose Life!

I woke up the other morning in a terrible funk.  It was 1 am and I had difficulty returning to sleep.  The problem was severe pain in my left hand.  Enough pain to nauseate me and keep me awake and cause me once again to question divine healing.  I have been reading a book entitled “You Can Be Healed – How to Believe God for Your Healing”  by Billy Joe Daugherty.  He was our pastor in Tulsa for five years.  I loved him and loved that church. The problem in those early morning hours was one that had been darting in and out of my mind for days.  One of the last chapters in the book is called “How to Live Longer”.  He wrote about Psalm 90:10 which says’ “The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years” and numerous other verses that promise long life. He talked about making our words line up with the Word of God and building our faith and such.  He wrote about how death is our giving up our breath, not succumbing to disease that takes us out early.  All good stuff.  All Biblical stuff.   The stumbling block to me that week and that early am was just this….  Pastor Billy Joe died before he was 60 of cancer.

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As I lay there that morning my thoughts ran like this – if God didn’t heal him, a pastor, who devoted his life to ministering to people, ushering countless thousands of people into the kingdom of God and witnessing miracles of healing too numerous to count, then what chance did I have of being healed?  I am a homemaker, a mother, a wife, a grandmother.  My greatest success in a day is getting dinner done and not leaving the kitchen totally trashed.  And some days even that doesn’t happen.

I continued along in this line of thought no doubt because of pain and low serotonin until I started building a case against me being able to receive healing from God. But when I got out of bed that morning I opened my devotional and read this verse: Romans 8:32 -He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

I gotta say it brought me to my knees and to my senses.  God is not holding back on me.  I can’t answer why I still have so much pain when I believe (most of the time) for my healing.  And I can’t answer why Pastor Billy Joe died before 60 but I do know that I can choose to look at the stumbling blocks that cause me to doubt or I can look at the promises God gave me in His Word.  But I can’t do both.  The choice is mine.

untitled (8)In Deuteronomy,  the people of God are given the choice of choosing life or choosing death.  Seems like a no brainer, but God knew it wasn’t.  He gave the answer, choose life.  “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live”

Looking at the unhealed, cataloging the pain,  listing evidences that would tell me that God doesn’t heal today or won’t heal today is choosing death.  Looking at the promises of God is choosing life and the choice is mine.  Today,  I choose life. Among the first words Pastor Billy Joe’s wife Sharon said publicly after his death were words spoken in connection with diving healing.  She said, “I still believe”.

In spite of the pain that would tell me otherwise, I too, still believe.

Father forgive me for doubting Your goodness and Your willingness to give me all things?  Even healing.  You didn’t hold back Your own son and You are not holding back on me now.  Help me to look beyond the stumbling blocks and the unanswered questions so that I can fix my faith on You and goodness.  Amen.

Refreshment

For I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes.  Jeremiah 31: 25

Here is a beautiful promise of refreshment to God’s weary ones.   Everyone of us.  Languish means to lose or lack vitality, to grow weak, to fail to make progress or be successful. Any of that hit home with you?  It does with me. I am tired of doctor’s appointments, blood tests, changing diagnosis, tired of trying new prescriptions, new supplements, tired of the pain, the limitations, tired of complaining.  Just plain ol’ tired. Fortunately, the ways God refreshes us are as limitless as He is.

I’d like to share how He refreshed me one day.  I work with kids and today we were in the gym and it was warm.  The air smelled like warm, sweaty kids, you know that smell, it isn’t real refreshing.  Someone knocked on the door and I opened it to cool, moist, spring air (and the parent that knocked).  I just stood there soaking in the air and enjoying it.

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 One by one, kids starting walking over to see what I was doing and before long there was a crowd of us standing in the doorway,

taking in the fresh air and marveling at how wonderful it felt.

Wonderful and refreshing.

Not a big moment, to be sure, but refreshing and satisfying.

Sometimes, I think we get so caught up looking for the big answers that we fail to see the little ones right in front of us.

God promises to refresh us – to satisfy us.  I think our role is to be open to the myriad of ways He may choose to do that.  It could be a simple as fresh, spring air.

Father God, thank you for recognizing when I am languishing.  For knowing me so well and caring for me so deeply.  Thank you for providing refreshment for me.  Open my eyes, I pray, to the wonders around me, wonders that bring Your refreshing touch to my life.  Amen

Donuts With Diane

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One day at work recently it was “Pastries with Parents Day” at the school.  A number of the kids I work with weren’t going to be able to go because their parents could not take them.  In an effort to appease them, I offered to have “Donuts with Diane Day”.  I told them I would bring donuts and they could all have one.  They were appeased; in fact, they were very excited.  One boy, though, was grumbling about it saying that I would probably only get the small white donuts that come in packages and what a rip-off that would be.  I was somewhat offended by this; why would he question my generosity like that?

It reminds me of this passage from II Kings  (Message Bible):

Elisha said, “Listen! God’s word! The famine’s over. This time tomorrow food will be plentiful—a handful of meal for a shekel; two handfuls of grain for a shekel. The market at the city gate will be buzzing.”

The attendant on whom the king leaned for support said to the Holy Man, “You expect us to believe that? Trapdoors opening in the sky and food tumbling out?”

“You’ll watch it with your own eyes,” he said, “but you will not eat so much as a mouthful!”

If you read on you will see that this man got trampled at the gate by the throngs of people coming to get food the king had from plundering the Aramean camp.  He didn’t get so much as a mouthful.

It hurt my feelings that this boy thought so little of what I was prepared to do for him.  I can’t even imagine what it does to God when we doubt His goodness.  Goodness He has proven over and over and over again.   Romans 8:32 says:  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

The man in this story that scoffed the word of the Lord missed out on the blessing God had intended for him.  He also paid for that scoffing with his life.  I doubt that you or I will get trampled at the gate if we scoff at God’s Word, but we will definitely miss out on the blessings He has prepared for us.  Whatever the reason for healing being delayed it isn’t because God is holding out; it isn’t because God is stingy or unwilling.  Other factors could be at work hindering the blessing.  We need to settle in our hearts once and for all that God is good and His mercy and compassions fail not.

You are a great and merciful God and I praise You.  You are worthy of all honor, all praise, all glory.  You sent Your Word and healed my disease, how can I thank You enough for that? I open my heart, my life, my hands today to receive all the blessings You have prepared for me.  Forgive me for the times I have limited You by my doubts.  I know I can count on Your goodness and Your love for me.  Amen.

Turning Cartwheels

Not all of my days go the way I planned them.  Some fall short of my expectations.  Sometimes pain interrupts my plans.  Sometimes it is because of something I did or did not do; sometimes it is because of something someone else did or did not do.  Sometimes my long term projects fall short of completion.  Sometimes my goals, my hopes, my desires get lost in the shuffle of today and all that it offers.  This verse speaks to me for those days:

Though the cherry trees don’t blossom and the strawberries don’t ripen,

Though the apples are worm-eaten  and the wheat fields stunted,

Though the sheep pens are sheepless and the cattle barns empty,

I’m singing joyful praise to God.  I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.

Counting on God’s Rule to prevail,  I take heart and gain strength.

I run like a deer.   I feel like I’m king of the mountain!

Habakkuk 3: 17-19  Message Bible

Would it be ok if I put that into my translation, in terms I can relate to?

Though my body is aching and my joints are rebelling,

Though my plans didn’t work out and the doctor had bad news,

Though the bank account is dwindling and the bills are stacking higher,

I’m singing joyful praise to God. I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.

Counting on God’s Rule to prevail,  I take heart and gain strength.

I run like a deer.  I feel like I’m queen of the mountain!

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Praise is at times an overflowing from the abundance of my heart, other times it is a sacrifice: a decision I make in spite of circumstances.  Praise is acknowledging God for what He has done on my behalf.  Even if today I have doubts and can’t think of what those things are He remains the same – loving me, healing me, watching over me, forgiving me, providing for me, reassuring me, upholding me in His righteous right hand.  Even on days when I forget to sing joyfully, He still dances over me with joy!

Praise doesn’t have to loud and extravagant, but it can be.

Sometimes it can be a simple, heartfelt thank you.

Father, I am counting on Your rule to prevail in my life, in my body, in my finances, in my will.  I surrender to Your plans for my day and Your provision for this day.  This is the day You have made and I will rejoice in it.  If my plans fail to go my way, will you please have them go Yours?  Thank You that I take heart and gain strength as I wait on You.  Amen.

Do you need healing?  Can I pray for you, with you?  Please let me know.

If you have a healing testimony, I would love to share it.

reprinted from my blog  godhappenings.wordpress.com

A Horse of a Different Color

imagesCAEKB98V  Years ago, when I lived in Montana, I bred Appaloosa horses.  Appaloosas weren’t all that popular then, at least not where I lived, and I took a good deal of ribbing about them.  They were seen as inferior by my friends who preferred Thoroughbreds or Quarter Horses or Arabians.  I didn’t mind; it was good fun and I loved the breed.  Besides, in the local competitions we were fond of, I invariably came home with more ribbons then they did, but it never silenced them.

One year, I was the source of many teasings because I bred a solid colored mare to a solid colored stud, fully expecting a loudly colored colt.  Everyone thought I was crazy and more than once or even twice, did they let me know this.  All in good fun, I think?! I hope!

“You’ll never get color out of that cross” is what they said.  Their tone sounded more like “are you nuts?”  A horse’s gestation period is 11 months and believe me I never heard the end of it until – that wonderful day when my filly was born.  All my hopes and expectations were fulfilled in that beautiful, incredibly colored baby.  All their jokes were silenced.

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Faith works like that.  Believing for what we can’t see; continuing to believe until we do. In spite of naysayers or evidences to the contrary, faith continues to hope, continues to hang on until the promise is fulfilled.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”.  When I bred that mare I was hoping for a colored colt and all I had to go on was my limited understanding of genetics and the mare and stud’s pedigree.  It was a big gamble; a solid colored colt would have been a very big disappointment.

In believing for physical healing what we have to go on is God’s Word.  Far more reliable than a limited understanding of genetics; He has spelled it out – I am the God who healeth Thee.  We need to settle that truth in our hearts and stand firm on that belief while we wait on the manifestation of our healing to come in our lives.  Sometimes, we will be misunderstood by those around us.  And sometimes, we may even be mocked.  But one day, if we remained fixed, our hopes and expectations will be fulfilled and their comments will be silenced.  Until then, we have the hope of our healing, the conviction of things not seen.  Either God was lying when He said He is our God who heals us or He is telling the truth and our healing is in His hands.

Jehovah Rapha, You are the God who heals me.  You have spoken Your word and I believe You to bring it to pass in my life in Your timing.  I fix my eyes on You and remain steadfast in faith, knowing that though I don’t see it now, I will, by Your grace.  Thank You for honoring my faith as I honor Your Word, in Jesus’s name, Amen.

Focus

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

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

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

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

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

The Serenity Prayer

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God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; 

courage to change the things I can; 

and wisdom to know the difference.

I don’t know about you but I didn’t get up one day and say “wow, I would really like to be in pain for years”.  I didn’t do that and I am sure that whatever you are going through, it wasn’t by your choice.  And yet…

Some time ago, God led me through a grief process.  At first,  I was in denial – believing everyday that today would be it, the last day of the pain.  And of course, it wasn’t.  Then I grieved over my life that had been redefined by pain, grieved over all the things I could not do anymore, things that had filled my life and my days and I wasn’t prepared to give them up. This led me in and out of anger for quite some time.  Anger directed at doctors and myself and even God.  When I finally confessed that anger and let God deal with it, then there was the bargaining stage.  What if I do this or don’t do that?  There was a lot of mental torment in that trying to find the right combination of things I could do or not do to bring about relief. I can write this in one paragraph but this was a year-long process and I moved back and forth between the stages.

Finally, I reached the stage of acceptance.   I have come to know that there is nothing I can do to relieve the pain.  I can’t change it but by God’s grace I can accept it.  For now.  Not as a permanent guest because I still believe that by His stripes I am healed.  But just for now, I can accept that this is what it is and I can find peace in that.  I can see the myriad of good things in my life that pain hasn’t stolen from me and I can rest in the assurance that God is God and He is good and the day of my deliverance is coming on His timetable.  How about you?  Can you, just for now, find peace in the circumstances you find yourself in and trust the outcome to God?

Lord, You are a great and merciful God and Your compassions fail not.  Your faithfulness to me is humbling and fills me with such gratitude.  Who am I that  You should even take notice of me and yet You do.  Minute by minute You are watching over me and providing for me and healing me at my greatest point of need.  Help me to accept the things I can not change and rest in Your peace while You work on my behalf.  Thank You, thank You, thank You.  Amen

Do you need prayer for healing?  I would love to pray with and for you, please let me know.

Do you have a healing testimony?  I would love to hear it and post it to share with others.