Browsing Category "Listening to God"

“You Know Not What You Ask”

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.  And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” Galatians 5:22-24

Almighty God, Your love overwhelms me, Your compassion unmeasurable; crucify my flesh, my will, fill me with You that I would love more fully, help me to understand with Your compassion.  

Jesus, teach me to suffer long, to endure, to wait on You, to live at peace with Your timing, to practice temperance.  Help me to understand Your gift, the pain You willingly bore for me and for all who believe.  From this understanding, produce in me meekness, mercy, and charity. 

Holy Spirit, grant me goodness, for I go to the source.  Hold back my tongue, until Your fruit manifests from it.  Give me faith to see as You open doors of utterance that I may speak the mystery of the gospel with clarity and boldness.

“But Jesus answered and said, “You know not what you ask.”  Matthew 20:22a. 

Last Saturday I met a godly woman, married three years, who told me her husband has health problems and is in constant pain.  This pain is a terrible pain, not a dull throbbing pain, but an almost unspeakable pain that continually disrupts even basic living.  This was something her young husband lived with daily, making anything he tried to accomplish extremely difficult. 

My heart ached for her and her husband, but attempting to put myself in their shoes by imagining what life must be like was very hard to do.  It is very hard to know anything other than what I do know; I hardly know pain of any sort, and I do not know chronic pain at all.  I lack empathy because I lack experience.  Jesus, how hard it is to leave myself and experience even a bit of the depth of compassion that dwells within You.  Lord, give me compassion.  

“But Jesus answered and said, “You know not what you ask.” Matthew 20:22a

Early the next morning after meeting my new friend, on Sunday at 6:30 a.m., I suddenly felt a lot of pain in my stomach.  It continued throughout the day, much of the day I was alright but many times the pain was very intense.  I realized it was only constipation so I was determined to avoid the emergency room, however I found the pain unbearable late Sunday night.  The pain was so intense I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t pray, and I certainly couldn’t sleep; for hours I couldn’t think about anything other than the pain, and I couldn’t do anything other than moan and rock back and forth on the couch.  All I could do was endure for the time God allowed it to continue. 

While I was on the couch that night, Jesus graciously and continually brought to my mind that I know nothing about pain, but that others do know pain, and they know it routinely.  My heart ached more fully for those who are so acquainted with pain. 

He also reminded me that He isn’t the author of pain, but that it could be blamed on something which is nothing, the nothing which is the gap, the great separation between man between God, and that all of creation groans and will continue to groan until He restores all things. “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” Romans 8:22   My spirit is at peace with Christ even as my body is wasting away, separated from Him physically. 

God wasn’t chastising me that night, though He does chastise His children.  All I felt from God while rocking in pain was grace and purpose and answered prayer.  I was the one, after all, who asked for more understanding; I was the one who asked to be closer to Jesus, the One most acquainted with pain, the One most acquainted with the gap which He did not create. 

Corrie ten Boom’s father once said, “It is no easy thing to stand in the palm of God’s Hand”.  When pain is so severe it consumes, Lord, You cradle us in the palm of Your Hand.  We gain strength to endure by trusting You are at work, graciously producing in us good fruit which You will use for Your good purposes.  Love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, all these are good fruits sown by the Spirit and tilled by Christ.  Praise be to the One who will return to reap His harvest.

4 Jan
2013

Caution: Excessive Prayer May Lead to Increased Evangelism Activity

Praying too much can get messy.  Even in cases when the believer is initially opposed to the idea of sharing the gospel, when consistent prayer continues, the believer’s desire starts to change.   The resolution to pray more might have started out with the sole desire to simply have special quiet times with God.  But the more time spent in quality prayer, the harder it becomes for the believer to stay in control of his own plans.

This is because God loves the world so much that as the believer devotes meaningful time with Him, God fills him with His love, just as the believer requested.   But then it keeps going.  God keeps filling and filling until it starts spilling and spilling, and then it completely messes up the believer’s carefully controlled environment. 

Before he knows it, he ends up caring so deeply for the souls around him that he’s watching for opportunity to share the gospel even with strangers, and he’s perfectly fine with rejection on a daily basis, and his world is never again the same.  This believer is willing to be routinely rejected in order to find one person ripe for the harvest; because love so compels him to each one, for God is not willing that any should perish.  

He lives a life filled with joy, thanksgiving, and awe.  Because God is with Him, he is fearless and his hope is constant.  This fellow’s love for others runs deep and compels him to gospel driven conversation and purposeful living.  He can’t help himself, it is out of his control, for day after day, and throughout the day, he continues to kneel before the throne room of Almighty God, listening and obeying the One who died not only for him, but for all who might hear and believe.   

This is what can result from too much prayer.

18 Dec
2012

Yesterday’s Conversation with God

It sounds nuts, but God and I have these little conversations, and I’m really not kidding.   Frankly, I would agree with you that I am crazy except ever since I have been earnestly seeking Him in the mornings and at intervals throughout the day, He has shown Himself so clearly and so regularly that I’ve learned to look forward to it every morning. 

I go to a quiet conservative church, nobody is rolling in the aisles, in fact only a few people raise their hands during worship at all, I say that because I want you to understand that I am not any different than you.  I am recording these occurrences online because I hope you will grasp that God desires to talk personally with you as well.   As you present your body “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God” and as you are “not conformed to this world” but are “transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:1&2), you will recognize the voice of Good Shepherd teaching, comforting, and guiding you.  “…And the sheep follow Him: for they know His voice.” John 10:4b 

It is logical when you consider that God is omnipresent and all knowing; He knows the past, the present, and the future.  He knows every hair on every person’s head.  He designed all the complexities of our DNA, can He not also design the details of our lives?  He knows what will happen 5 minutes into the future as well as what a nation will do 500 years into the future.  Yes, He can and does speak personally to His children through His word, and the more the child of God believes that, the more directly and frequently He speaks. 

Desire and anticipate His voice, and prayerfully ask for ears to hear (believe He intends to speak to you; this request to hear pleases the Lord, and also remember the Spirit dwells within you, waiting to do this very work) then read until you sense He is looking right at you, and speaking to your soul, for His glory.  You can not have this ‘sense’ without faith; it is absolutely essential.  But with faith, and with fear and love for God, you will hear His voice.  Once that occurs, what else is there to do but fall on your knees in worship?  Now prayerfully speak to God about the particular passage He pointed out to you.  Then meditate on it during the day, and cherish, and obey His voice.  That is a conversation with God, and it can happen daily.

Yesterday’s Converstion 

During my morning devotions I read Romans 10:14 – 18, I will just write down the first part so you get the gist of it, “How, then, shall they call on him in whom they have not believed, and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard…”.  I then pleaded with the Lord, specifically crying out with the words of Isaiah, “Here I am, send me”.   

Later that day, after church, I prayed for guidance on scripture to memorize so that I can be fully prepared for gospel presentations as the Lord provides the opportunities.  The Lord has already helped by leading me to John 3:16, then the 10 commandments and Romans 3:23, but I wanted additional scripture to memorize that would express the holiness of God.  The Lord chooses when and if He will answer, but I am grateful to have the privilege to ask Him for guidance.  Please understand that I never know how the Lord might direct or what He will say when I open scripture, and I certainly never expect an immediate answer to any request for guidance but He chose that day to answer immediately. 

I opened an unused KJV bible to Isaiah 9 and read near the end of that chapter.  I recalled that during my morning devotions, I read in Romans about the sending out of preachers, and my prayer in response to that reading was Isaiah’s words, “Here I am, send me”.  Perhaps the Lord would use that very verse during this midday conversation since I happened to open to Isaiah.  I didn’t know where that verse was, though I recalled it to be toward the beginning of Isaiah, and that’s just where I was.   Immediately after thinking that very thing, without flipping the page I had just opened, my eyes fell squarely on Isaiah 6:8, “Also, I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?  Then said I, Here am I; send Me.” 

So I knew which verses to memorize to describe the holiness of the Lord to the lost.  I only had to look above Isaiah 6:8, which was my earnest cry to the Lord that morning, to find the perfect passages, Isaiah 6:1b-5:

“I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.  Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.  And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!”  And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.  So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts.”

I could easily brush that off as a little coincidence if such things only happened on rare occasions.  But I can testify to anyone willing to read this that it is not rare in the least.  This occurs all the time, almost daily, certainly weekly, and for years.  I used to write it down because it was so strange and I didn’t know when it would happen again, if at all, but now I anticipate it and I write it down so that I can better understand and remember, and hopefully, to strengthen the faith of others.  And I can tell you that I’ve been a Christian for over 20 years and the Lord didn’t move like this until I started seeking Him with all of me, earnestly asking for eyes and ears of faith to see God at work and to hear His voice.   I’ve never seen the dead being raised, or someone instantly healed or any such thing, but I have absolutely no doubt that the Lord speaks to me personally through His word.  And I’ve come to realize that to be just as miraculous. 

 

Many Shall Run To and Fro

“The word of the Lord came to…”  The word of the Lord came to Solomon, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, David, and other men of God; this exact phrase is used 18 times in the KJV.   Do you realize the word of the Lord has come to you?  “The word of the Lord” has come to all who believe by means of His holy book.  He speaks to all His children using His words, typed on paper and bound with thread.  He is living and active and so are His words in our lives; He is near you. 

“The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah from the Lord”  Jeremiah 11:1.  I read this on November 24th, and the above observation struck me hard.  The word of the Lord has come to me.  As I was falling asleep that night I told God that I know He is speaking, and that I hear His voice.  There is nothing more exciting or fulfilling than hearing the word of the Lord.

The next day I was making the bed and praying, lowly asking the Lord to confirm His call regarding this online prayer journal.  If I am going to spend time on something, even if it’s just a little bit of time, I want to know the Lord has directed me to it in the first place.  God does what God does because He is King of kings, sovereign and perfect.  If He wants to confirm something, He will.  If He doesn’t want to confirm something, He won’t.  He chose to confirm His call about this blog that day.

After my petition for confirmation, I opened my husband’s bible (the only one by the bed at the time) immediately read a very relevant passage.  I had no idea I was going to read that particular passage, it has been years since I read that passage; it wasn’t on my mind whatsoever.  The passage was Daniel 12:3b & 4, “…and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars forever and ever.  But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.”  

It is likely that this prophetic passage is referring to the Internet; “knowledge shall be increased.”  The Hebrew word for “increase” רבה (ra^ba^h) refers to an exponential increase, so knowledge shall be multiplied. It will increase in abundance, exponentially, which is exactly what is happening during our times due to technological advancements.  I asked if I should continue to record this prayer journal online, and the Lord directed me to the prophetic passage about the Internet.  It was as if the Lord was conversing with me, directly and immediately answering my inquiry.  

“Many shall run to and fro…’  The hustle and bustle of people and their knowledge, the never ending chatter of men wise in their own eyes.  This is the internet, a tower of godless knowledge, a tower of Babel built in vain; man’s prideful increase is so pitifully simplistic to the infinite Almighty.  But God’s righteousness, His mighty deeds, are eternal, and pointing people to that righteousness, whether by the internet or by any other means, will not be in vain.

Choosing an Evangelistic Methodology

Lately my heart has been greatly burdened for the lost.  The Lord has been quickly answering evangelistic petitions because He came to seek and to save the lost.   Books and experts on the topic of witnessing and evangelism abound and the variety of methodologies abound, perhaps because the Lord made each of us so different.  I do not want be tossed back and forth like the waves by using my own intellect to wonder through such books.  Desperately needing the counsel of the Holy Spirit, this morning I asked the Spirit to guide me to an evangelistic methodology that would be appropriate for me.   

The Lord graciously chose to immediately provide Matthew 5:17-20 in response to this petition. 

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.  Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

Therefore, by the plain direction of the Holy Spirit, I am enrolled as a lifelong student learning how to rely on the Ten Commandments and on the fulfillment of the commandments in Matthew chapter 5, on the surety of Judgement to come, and on the impossibility of righteousness without Christ, to assist sinners in comprehending their personal need for the Savior.  Obeying this call is not possible without continual prayer to become more and more dependent on the Spirit.  My only job is to get out of the way and to respond as the Spirit quickens, keeping spiritual lenses on at every moment to see properly when the Lord provides natural openings and opportunities for relaying the message that is so closest to His heart.  Praise be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.

21 Nov
2012

To Market for Eggs and Souls

“…And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shown you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.  And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there…”  Acts 20:20-22

For a number of years now I have found it difficult to make a simple errand, such as picking up eggs at the local grocery store, without feeling “bound in the spirit” for the souls around me.   I can’t seem to go anywhere without thinking about people’s souls.  Needless to say, it is very inconvenient and I usually end up ignoring the promptings in my heart, sometimes due to time restraints, but often out of disbelief and fear. 

The work of evangelism is both glorious and emotionally draining at the same time; it is what I want to do more than anything else, and what I don’t want to do more than anything else.  It is full of meaning and purpose, and yet every time my stomach churns and I want to just crawl away into a cave and eat Captain Crunch cereal and forget all about the world.  Why can’t I be normal and just buy my eggs and leave?  I can’t.

Praying for the Opportunity

So then I pray for guidance, “Lord, I don’t have much time at all, but I’ve got a minute to pass out one gospel of John.  Jesus, I don’t want to spook anyone so please give me discernment to know who and when…”  The Lord always answers that prayer with just the right timing, but I’ve got to act on it right away or the moment is eternally gone, and I’ve lost the opportunity I had just prayed for. 

This happened twice recently.  A few days ago, while my girls were playing at the park, there was a young woman waiting for her ride and just standing around; I felt compelled to offer her a bible, yet I was hesitating.  I didn’t want to; what if I spooked her?  But I felt only more compelled the more I continued to hesitate. 

Finally, I obeyed the Lord’s prompting and asked her if she had ever read scripture. It was the beginning of a beautiful conversation but as soon as it started, her ride arrived and I was out of time.  If I had only obeyed right away there would have been plenty of time to have shared the gospel with this dear young lady who showed interest; it was obvious I missed a perfect opportunity.  

Another Missed Opportunity

This hesitating happened yesterday as well.  I was running an errand and was in a bit of a rush but I had at least one moment to pass out one gospel of John.   I prayed for the right opportunity.   Then I saw it, and I knew it; as I was walking to my car, I saw a woman cleaning her windshield in the parking lot, and taking her time at it.  I knew it would be nothing to simply ask if she would like a gospel of John.  I hesitated, and lost the right moment. 

Later I noticed she was sitting in her car waiting for someone, bored with nothing to do.  Another missed opportunity for a short but meaningful conversation and, what’s worse, she would have had plenty of time with nothing else to do but look at the scripture I would have provided. 

When I miss those moments I pray for the those I think the Lord was prompting me to talk to, and I ask for His grace, and I ask for more confidence and for instant obedience for the future.  Sometimes I do it right, and those times are always so rewarding and exhilarating; they are highlights in my life. 

God Answers Evangelistic Prayers Quickly

I’ve been praying about setting aside an hour a week just for street evangelism and the Lord has been quick in answering these prayers.  For instance, I prayed that my girls would be well cared for, and the Lord quickly provided another homeschool mother eager to care for my girls on Wednesdays while at co-op.  So that need has been satisfied.  

For safety reasons, I need another woman to go with me.  Yesterday morning during my devotions I prayed about this need, specifically asking for another woman evangelist that would be available around 11:30 on Wednesdays.   Then, that morning at church, I spoke to an evangelist who mentored another woman in street evangelism on Wednesday afternoons, but this other woman was moving out of town.   And so, seeing that the Lord was answering my specific prayer from that morning, I simply said, “then would you be available on a weekly basis to mentor me on Wednesday afternoons, at about 11:30 am?”  She quickly responded with ‘yes’, she would be available after Thanksgiving.  Perfect.  Thanks be to God. 

Good Fruit in Only a Minute

It takes only a minute or two to pass out a tract and so just about any trip outside my home can become a mini mission trip, even when time restrains me.  And I am believing more and more that this burden for souls is not my imagination, but rather the working of the Holy Spirit within me, and as such it must not be disregarded.  The more I act on this belief, the stronger I believe it next time because I taste the good fruit my action has produced, and I get to personally witness the kingdom of God advancing. 

I even taste the good fruit when I am rejected.  Rejection is an honor, even a joy, because my Lord was dispised and rejected, and He has promised comfort and blessing when the world rejects me because of Him.  “Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.” Matthew 5:11

I have sat idle too long, waiting for the world to come to me.  Though I have been a believer for 23 years no one has ever asked me about my quiet hope.  I going to them instead.  I’m going fishing!

 

30 Sep
2012

Jesus Provides Ice Cream

This is an account of the Lord’s unfolding of His will by means of His word.  This is also an example of why the homeschool mother’s devotional time is also her most important curriculum planning time.

“When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”  Luke 14:12-14

Yesterday the Spirit seemed to prod my soul when I came to Luke 14:12-14.  That’s a hard one to apply however, since I don’t know any poor, maimed, lame or blind.  Though the principle can be applied broadly; stay heavenly minded, hope that folks would not repay because heavenly reward far exceeds earthly, I did wonder what the Lord had in mind by highlighting this verse in my heart.

Later that afternoon the girls and I went to our regularly scheduled homeschool playgroup meeting at a local park.  We got there before everyone else so we ate our lunch on the picnic table and read our chapter book together.  I noticed a large group of mentally challenged teens with their caretakers on their way toward us, and, remembering the morning reading of Luke 14:12-14, I knew the Lord had something in mind.  Many of them greeted us with a friendly smile and some hearty handshakes; I loved them instantly.  

I knew it was providence that we happened to run into this group after my reading Luke 14: 12-14 that morning, but I didn’t know what I could give that they couldn’t pay back to me, since they had already given us so much with their friendly handshakes and hellos.  What do you have in mind, Lord?  How can I give to them? 

Then an ice cream truck came rolling into the parking lot.  I never carry cash with me, but providentially I had plenty of cash that afternoon.  The Lord provided the means to give them something they could not pay back that lovely September afternoon.  What delight spread across their faces as they received their unexpected treat from the merry little ice cream truck.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow!  Jesus has a special love for the disadvantaged, the childlike, the poor in spirit, the lowly, the outcasts, and the oppressed, more than we realize.  Jesus wanted them to have ice cream that day!

That night before tucking the girls into bed I shared Luke 14:12-14 with them, letting them know the Lord provided those verses that morning, before any of the events of the day.   Their eyes bulged wide, with childlike faith they quickly put the two together and realized the Lord was at work.  Bekkah fondly recalled the delight on the teen’s faces as they received their ice cream, her broad smile indicating she had personally experienced the joy of giving. 

I could not have planned such a learning experience for my girls myself.  It was too perfect.  When I make my own plans and then ask God to bless them, I end up frustrated at best.  Far sweeter are the times when I am still enough to watch God unfold His plans by simply opening Scripture throughout the day, and with as much childlike faith as I can muster, making ready my heart to do whatever God happens to ask of me.  “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Col 4:2

2 Timothy 1:7

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  2 Timothy 1:7

The Lord spoke powerfully in our home for six days through His word.  If you’ve got a minute, please, pull up a chair… 

Day 1:  Saturday, September 8th, 2012

At a special women’s event at our church, the speaker wrote 2 Timothy 1:7 up on the board and had the group memorize it.  The group had it down pretty well in less than 10 minutes, perhaps less than 5.  I’d go into the teaching methodology but then I’d be bunny trailing, so that’s for another post.

Day 2: Sunday, September 9th, 2012

While my husband and I were getting the girls into bed, my 7-yr-old, who was not at the event the night before, told my husband she was afraid, and that God gave her the fear.  My husband, who was not at the event the night before, knew Scripture had something about God NOT giving us a spirit of fear, and so corrected my daughter on her false thinking.  I dropped in on the conversation to mention that we had just gone over that verse in my class at church the night before.   As my husband was looking for a bible, I was trying to recall where it was in Scripture (yup, mind like a steel trap), first suggesting Timothy, then decided it must have been James or Galations and ended with ‘oh, I don’t know’.   James got his phone out and quickly found the verse, 2 Timothy 1:7.

Day 3: Monday, September 10th, 2012

At the dinner table that night, my 17-yr-old son told us that he engaged in a long conversation about Christianity to a Muslim woman in a burka.   Really?  Well, tell us more.  He had extra time before his community college class began (dual enrollment), and overheard a Muslim woman tell another student that wearing the burka was the greatest thing a woman could do for God.  In the spirit of power, love, and a sound mind, not fear, my son decided to offer a bible to a stranger in a burka.  She said she already read the bible and asked if my son read the Quran.  Yes, he read the entire Quran.  Apparently surprised and intrigued, she then had many questions for my son concerning Christianity.   

After he told us his story, we prayed together as a family right then and there.  Having 2 Timothy 1:7 fresh on my mind from the two nights prior, I recited it in my prayer.  And it was a fitting verse because it certainly was power, love, and a sound mind that moved my son into action.   We then gave him an English/Arabic new testament, a tract entitled “Jesus and the Quran”, and some other literature by the Crescent Project (an outstanding ministry dedicated to sharing the faith with our Muslim neighbors) just in case he were to see her again. 

Day 4: Tuesday, September 11th, 2012:

Going through my email that morning, I notice an email update from the Crescent Project.  Though I only open such emails on rare occasions, I decide to open it that day and as soon as I do, guess what verse is staring nonchalantly back at me?  2 Timothy 1:7.  

“God has not given us the spirit of intimidation. Pray for Christ to plant deeply within you a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind when you think of and interact with Muslims (2 Timothy 1:7).”

The content of the email was also posted on Crescent Project’s blog.  

Day 5: Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

That afternoon, while we in the drive through at McDonald’s after our homeschool co-op class, I told the girls that when they think of something nice about someone else, they should go ahead and tell that person, because it is encouraging, and the Lord wants us to be encouraging to others.   My 5-year-old responded, “But I’m shy”. 

And so the verse became fitting once again, “Oh, no, sweet Bekkah, you aren’t shy!  That is a lie you are believing about yourself.  Always remember, sweet girl, you are a child of God because you accepted Christ’s free gift of salvation!  That means you have the Spirit of God living inside you, and God gave you a Spirit not of timidity (NIV), but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline!  Bekkah, you can encourage others because you have God’s Spirit living inside you! 

Then, later that same day….

It was our first night for our church’s Wednesday night program and it was amazing!  I am a newbie ‘Table Leader’ along with a friend and my 14-yr-old daughter.  We are responsible to encourage a table of second graders in the faith every Wednesday (one being my 7-yr-old daughter).  I considered that the Lord might bless us with yet another instance of this verse so when the song leader introduced the new song to the group, telling us that it was from “Second Tim…”  I anticipated what was coming next.  Second Timothy one verse seven.  I know Christ was in that room that night, with all those dear children, I know His Spirit was powerfully present.  I uploaded the song, lovingly sung by our song leader;  please rejoice with me as you hear this promise of God put to music…

 Day 6: Thursday,  September 13th, 2012

My 14-yr-old daughter went to a special event her school organized, in a town about an hour away.   Guess what verse one of the speakers quoted while addressing the kids?  You got it.  2 Timothy 1:7.  She came home and excitedly told us about it; she even anticipated hearing the verse that day simply because God brought it up 5 days in a row already, why not once more?  After she told me about her experience, I jested that perhaps this would be the last day, since God rested on the seventh.  And apparently that is what God had in mind, because this is the end of my testimony.

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Why did our family hear that verse 6 days in a row, each time at an unrelated event by unrelated people?  Why did God graciously move in this way?  All 6 of us recognized the hand of God; it was no coincidence. 

I imagine the answer to that why is unique to each one of us, and now also to you, dear reader.  God speaks through His word “for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness” 2 Timothy 3:16.  Without the speaking of the word, without the hearing of the word, without faith to receive the word, I would have nothing to testify now.   

Whenever the word is opened, we must listen carefully; God is speaking, and the significance of His message is unique to each of us.  We must each ask ‘what are you saying to me, God?’.  I don’t know how God will use 2 Tim 1:7 in the lives of my children or my husband, or in your life right now, but God knows, and He has said, “Ask and it will be given to you.” Mat 7:7a

I understand the week to be a sweet answer to prayer.  For months now I’ve been praying that our home would abound in prayer and in praise; that we would be distinguished by the continual praise on our lips.  I pray that our knee-jerk reaction in any kind of trial would be prayer, and then praise.  And that our reaction to blessing would be immediate praise, that joy would fill our home for the glory of God. 

Now there is much to battle since Satan knows the power of joy and so loves to steal it by telling us that we have a right to the blessings, and that the hardships are meaningless.  Our vision is often clouded by these lies and so the joy of the Lord is not always evident in our home. 

But while we are often unfaithful, God is always faithful.  God graciously chose to make Himself evident to each of us during our 2 Timothy 1:7 week.  “If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”  2 Timothy 2:13   Indeed, He is a prayer-hearing God, close to us and within reach, who speaks to us out of His holy word.  How thrilling!  What love is this?  God: our maker, sustainer, and redeemer, is also our friend who listens and speaks?  Oh, what undeserving joy!  So, firstly, before asking what significance that verse holds for our family, might we linger long in joy and astonishment that God concerns Himself with sinners like us. 

The significance of the verse?  Oh, right, that.   I haven’t really been meditating on that yet because I’ve been just kind of wading in the goodness of God.  Perhaps the most significant significance is simply that.  Thank you, Lord, for printing that verse on our hearts; I know the significance of that imprinting will be applied time and time again by each of us, and by you, dear reader, as we continue to follow Him into eternity.

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Okay, been meditating on the significance of the verse.  As stated above, the application of 2 Timothy 1:7 will be different for different believers; each of us should ask the Lord individually how best to apply this verse in each of our own lives.  As for me, the Lord seems to be weaving the following message into my heart:

Not a spirit of fear, but one of power, of love, and of a sound mind.  When I act, react, or not act at all out of fear, I lack faith; I do not believe God’s promise, I do not believe the truth of 2 Timothy 1:7, that I have the Holy Spirit deposited within me.  And the Holy Spirit is one of power, of love, and of a sound mind.  I must continually ask myself what is motivating me to action, I must ask the Lord in prayer to show me which path I am taking in different situations, am I walking down a path of fear, or one of faith? 

When my kids wake up scared in the middle of the night I tell them how I handle my own fears.  Basically, I think of the worst thing that could happen, and that can get pretty ugly.  Once I have that in my mind, I then give it over to God, trusting that if my fear were to happen, God would have a plan to make it good, even if I never saw that goodness until I got to heaven. 

And God would not only have a plan to make it good, as I trusted Him, I would grow in my faith by the trial (James 1:2-4), and be the better for it even here on earth.  And, on top of all that, God would also be glorified through the trial, which is my purpose while I still have breath. 

Faith is something substantial; built upon God’s promises, faith empowers and enlightens.  Fear has no substance, it is a bottomless pit, it is the lack of faith.  An old friend of mine has taken up a mental exercise while going through her day asking herself if she is choosing faith, or fear.  This is a noble pursuit; I can testify that the few times I have tried this exercise for myself has produced powerful effects. (I sound like a commercial).  

WARNING: Honestly asking if your motivation to do little things throughout your day stems from faith or fear can drastically change your life.  Little things you might do without thinking suddenly become a trial of sorts.  Wait, why am I doing this, or why aren’t I doing this?  Isn’t it really just out of fear?  If it is not out of faith, it must be fear.  Fear of what?  Oh, right, I’m afraid of __________(couldn’t possibly list all the fill-in-the-blank fears because the list is a bottomless pit).  Am I willing to give that fear to God, trusting Him through whatever consequence that might follow?  And you’re suddenly faced with all kinds of trials. 

But don’t retreat, you that are the redeemed of Christ, you who are invited to share in the wedding supper of the Lamb.  Stand your ground, you who will one day wear the “fine linen, bright and clean” Rev 19:8a.  Remember Revelation 19, recall who it is that wins and stay on His side, and turn now to hope and prayer. 

And my earnest prayer about the ‘little thing’ not only helps in coming to an honest answer, but also provides the strength necessary to follow through in faith.  Today, as I do each little thing, might I apply 2 Timothy 1:7 by asking this question to the King of kings and Lord of lords, in prayer, “am I acting, reacting, or not acting out of faith, believing You have given me a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind, or is it actually fear that motivates me?”  “Ask and it will be given to you.” Mat 7:7a

The Dilapidated Garage: Today’s Glorious Mission

Our garage, if you want to call it that, is in need of a lot of work.  Paint, a new roof, new doors, and now we’ve discovered it needs either a completely new foundation, or lots of reinforcement to the current foundation.   In short, it’s a mess.

Ever since my poor husband realized the foundation needed extensive work, he has spent hours poking the wood, walking around it, thinking, then poking again, walking, standing, talking about it, thinking about it, then inside on the computer looking up possible solutions, then back outside poking and thinking, etc.

He concluded that he would have to dig deeply around the entire thing to work on the foundation, but his time is so limited.  It will soon be cold and he goes to work everyday so he can only dedicate precious few hours to it each week.  These things are of great concern to him.

Yesterday, while he was poking and thinking, I kept asking him if I could be of any help and he finally directed me to the children, “if you could help Beks practice riding her bike, that would be wonderful.  I had to tell her I couldn’t help her because I had to work on this”.  I asked him if I ought to dig around the garage the next day while he was busy at work, and both he and I quickly brushed the thought away because I have many responsibilities of my own.

Earlier in the week I prayed that the Lord would give me something I could do that would really show my love to my husband.  Yesterday I prayed about the garage; that my husband would have peace about it.  This morning during my devotions, I asked Jesus to speak to me; I asked the Lord to lead me today.

So when I stumbled onto Luke 6:48 this morning, “He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid a foundation on rock…” The words, “dug down deep” really hit home (or the garage) and I didn’t think it too far fetched to consider that the Lord was calling me to dig deeply around the foundation of our garage today.

So, there is today’s testimony about God’s amazing faithfulness in answering prayer.   I love God’s little surprises; I would have never, ever, guessed that I was going to spend today shoveling dirt because I happened to read Luke 6:48.

Yet, here I am, that’s just what God called me to for today.  I am thankful to look out my window and not only see a dilapidated garage, but also a glorious mission, full of His purpose and His presence.  I’ll let you know how it goes…

Update:

I was able to do some focused digging at various intervals throughout the day because the Lord graciously made it possible (I’m slowly learning I don’t have to be anxious about my other responsibilities when the Lord directs, because He always works it out one way or the other).  I had cookie making duty for my son’s soccer team which my 14-yr-old daughter gladly took on for me.   She had her headphones on and was joyfully be-bopping in the kitchen for hours, baking up a mean quadruple batch of chocolate chip cookies.

My husband got home in the evening and said, “Do my eyes deceive me, or do I see some digging has been done?”  Since I wasn’t totally sure that was exactly what he wanted, I was so pleased that he was happily surprised when he saw it.  Thank you Lord!

12 Aug
2012

Another Encounter with the Living Word

I am always floored when I consider that our holy and almighty God is intimately involved in my everyday life.  He is so big, He is even in my littleness, condescending to meet even my smallest need, reminding me of His presence at any given moment.

Yesterday my step sister was in the hospital for heart problems.  Though I don’t know my step sister very well (my mom somewhat recently remarried), her condition led me to pray mightily for her that day.

Yesterday evening it seemed Christ was so near while I was praying and recounting my first encounters with faith as a young child, and then as a teen when I first read Scripture.

My mind moved to my step sister, laying in the hospital, and my mother who probably spent the day with her at the hospital, and it seemed to me that the Spirit might have me call my mom and check on how things were going, even though it was 10:30 p.m.

I wanted to quickly read a verse or two from Scripture, because that was my intention when I sat down in the first place.  I opened precisely to Job 5:1 and all I needed was the first half of the sentence to realize that God was confirming the direction to give my mom a call, “Call if you will…”.  Closed my bible and gave my mom a call; we had a very nice chat and I think my mom felt my love.