Her name is Petunia. I remember the first time I laid eyes on her during a trip to Haiti last summer. It was during a class that we were offering for the seniors living in the village. Why, you couldn’t help but notice her…her hands shook uncontrollably all of the time.
Turns out, her condition started three years prior and had worsened over time. No longer could she prepare a meal, or button her blouse, or do anything with her hands. The shaking was debilitating. She was unable to care for herself.
One of the young girls on our team tried to help her write her name. She tightly grasped Petunia’s hand, attempting to write a letter of the alphabet.
But it looked more like a scribbled mess.
About an hour later, some of the team members gathered in a circle around her and prayed earnestly for God to heal her hands. They believed God could answer their big prayer. They asked God for a miracle right then and there. I wonder how often we put limits on God. I wonder what holds us back from praying God-sized prayers.
Without seeing a result the first time, they petitioned again the following day. They didn’t give up. They persevered in prayer. Maybe you find yourself stuck right here. Frustrated that God isn’t coming through. Doubting He truly is a good God.
God promises us He will work all things together for good for those who called (Romans 8:28). We can trust that God will work our situation out for our good. We can know that when God’s answer is yes, it is according to His eternal plan. And when we don’t understand the no, we continue to persevere in prayer until our hearts are transformed. Ready and willing to surrender to God’s will.
For Petunia, her hands were completely healed.
And then we went home.
And doubt slowly crept right on in. Unknowingly taking residence in my heart. Were her hands really healed? Would the shaking stay away? Like Doubting Thomas, I wanted to see. I wanted to know with my own two hands.
“Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” John 20:25
After my visit last week, I am happy to report…Petunia is still healed. Her hands are calm. She has been completely made well.
What could happen if we believed God still answers prayer? How would our lives be changed? What would we ask Him to do? Would we persevere?
Jesus answered Doubting Thomas, “Stop doubting and believe.” John 20:27 (NIV)
I am praying for you today that you will believe God is working in your situation. That you will see His goodness. And that you will fight the fight, stand strong, and believe.
As I stand in our driveway nonchalantly watching as my son swings nearby, I can’t help but notice my neighbor pull into the driveway in a brand spankin’ new car. It’s white and sparkling, not a dent anywhere. I can only imagine the clean smell emanating as you enter the door.
No french fries smashed on the seat.
No 10-day old juice boxes mysteriously glued to the door.
I find this feeling welling up…it is the longing for more. This unquenchable, dislikable taste in my soul. Oh Jesus, I want more.
I turn and I hear my kid screaming. I’m not really sure where things went awry. Somehow he managed to fall off the swing. Nothing much. Just a little wind knocked out of the boy. As I sit and try to console him, I realize that I can’t fully suffice. He will always have needs that arise. Oh Jesus, I want more.
The mailman pulls up to deliver our mail and I walk out to retrieve our daily load. Quickly skimming through the pile, I realize that it is just a bunch of bills. I hang my head down low and pray…Oh Jesus, I want more.
Then I hear a whisper.
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
When our focus is consumed with earthly stuff, it quickly becomes dim. We get discouraged and downtrodden when we gaze on the things of this world. We lose sight of eternity and our hope in Jesus Christ. We see through dim, dark glasses when we don’t keep our eyes on Him.
When we can’t see Jesus working in our small, little worlds…we jump to the conclusion that He has left us, or forgotten our existence, or has bigger fish to fry. But God’s Word promises us that He is always near. He hears our cries and promises to be the Light of the World.
Even when we cannot see Him, Jesus is still there. This world is temporary…leaving us to want something more. The things we see now are fleeting, but the invisible God will always last. Put your trust in something bigger than you…nothing is dark to Him. Your problems. Your burdens. And troubles. Don’t worry, darkness is not too much for God.
“even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.” Ps. 139:12
I’m praying for you today that you will not be overcome. That your problems and troubles will not overwhelm you, because Jesus truly is the light of the world. When we walk with Him throughout our day, we begin to realize…everything is better when we keep an eternal perspective. He really is our more!
I realize that Christmas has come and gone, but yet I find myself lingering. As I pack up the decorations and stack them away, I realize my house feels a bit empty. With no stockings all hung by the chimney with care and the nativity scene out of sight, I desire to cling to the memories in order to remind myself…Jesus is still right here.
It is a struggle to believe in an invisible God. A God who we cannot physically touch or see. It is a fight to keep living for Him amidst this world full of scoffers and doubters.
I wonder if Mary, the mother of Jesus, ever doubted God’s future promise. I wonder if she felt inadequate in spite of the words that were spoken over her.
“And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.” Luke 1:28-29
I wonder if she thought the calling was too great for her. Surely, she must have suffered. She faced rejection from her fiance and her family and friends…not to mention her entire community. To be pregnant and unwed must have hung a shadow of shame over her head; however, let us be reminded what God thinks of us matters more than the thoughts of man. Illegitimate. Pregnant. A crazy story. I wonder how many would believe?
“And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.” Luke 1:30-31
Mary would have the burden of raising the son of God, and bear the pain of watching him be crucified. It could not all make sense to her at this time. How could she become pregnant with the son of a divine God? But God, who is loving and caring and full of grace, gently reminds her who He is forevermore.
“For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37
So often in life we try to figure everything out. We want to have life go according to plan. But if we willingly lay our lives down and allow God to work mightily…I wonder how our lives would change in the new year. I wonder what could happen if we lived open-handed, accepting what God sends our way.
Mary’s final words that particular day should serve as a great example. And I pray that you and I will let God have his way in our lives as well.
Do you believe in the invisible enough to go forward in 2017 and live for it?
I recently attended the Austin Symphony‘s concert of Handel’s Messiah and was blown away by the reminder of the birth of our Lord and Savior strewn throughout the pages of Scripture over 2,000 years ago.
Old Testament and New.
Whose name is God.
May you be blessed as you take a look at the mystery of Jesus unveiled long ago…
Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God
Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill
shall be made low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.
And the Glory of the Lord
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
Thus saith the Lord
For thus saith the Lord of Hosts; Yet once, it is a little while and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of Hosts.
Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of Hosts.
But who may abide the Day of His Coming?
But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:
And He shall Purify
And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.
Behold, a Virgin shall Conceive
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion
O thou that bringest good tidings to Zion, get thee up upon the high mountain; O thou that bringest good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah,
Behold your God!
Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth
For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to Thy light, and kings to the brightness of Thy rising.
The people that walked in darkness
The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
For unto Us a Child is born
For unto Us a Child is born, unto Us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
There were shepherds abiding in the field
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night.
And , lo, the Angel of the Lord came
And, lo. the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the Angel said unto them
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And suddenly there was with the Angel
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.
Then shall the eyes of the blind
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.
He shall feed his flock like a shepherd
He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
His yoke is easy
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Behold the lamb of God
The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
He was despised
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.
Surely He hath borne our griefs
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
And with His stripes we are healed
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
All they that see him laugh him to scorn
All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
He trusted in God
He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
Thy rebuke has broken His heart
Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.
Behold, and see if there be any sorrow
Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger.
He was cut off out of the land of the living
He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
But Thou didst not leave His soul in hell
For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Lift up your heads, O ye gates
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord of Hosts, He is the King of Glory.
Unto which of the angels said He at any time
For unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?
Let all the angels of God worship Him
And again, when He bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, He saith, “And let all the angels of God worship Him.”
Thou art gone up on high
Thou hast ascended on high, Thou hast led captivity captive: Thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them.
The Lord gave the word
The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it.
How beautiful are the feet
And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
Their sound is gone out
But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.
Why do the nations so furiously rage together?
Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His anointed,
Let us break their bonds asunder
Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
He that dwelleth in heaven
He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision
Thou shalt break them
Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel
And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever.
And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, LORD OF LORDS.
I know that my redeemer liveth
For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
Since by man came death
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
Behold I tell you a mystery
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shallall be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
The trumpet shall sound
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptable must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
Then shall be brought to pass
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death where is thy sting?
O death, where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
But Thanks be to God
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
If God be for us
What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Worthy is the Lamb
Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
And Merry Christmas!
The news hit the waves of my radio station stating that a school teacher was required to take down her Charlie Brown Christmas poster.
What’s the problem with Charlie Brown?
There must be more.
One of my favorite childhood memories is huddling around the t.v. alongside my brothers, cramped on the couch, chomping on popcorn and drinking hot cocoa while being glued to the Christmas edition of Charlie Brown. The iconic scene unfolds as Linus stands on the stage of their Christmas program reciting,
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior which is Christ the Lord. That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown,”
A teacher with this great reminder was required to take it down. Apparently, we have forgotten that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. Over the course of time, we’ve seen Santa and snowmen and reindeer settle in, all nestled up to the fire. Christmas presents piling up beneath the tree. Dazzling light shows all aglow.
But Jesus has dwindled in our classrooms and gatherings. He no longer is the talk of the town. It makes me sad that we might be guilty, like the innkeeper, saying “There is no room in our inn.”
If we take Jesus out of Christmas, what are we left with?
Wrapping paper to be tossed in our trash piles and toys that will be broken within a few months. Extra pounds to work off in the New Year, due to our intake of chocolate fudge. Another memory to reminiscence about how our family members drove us all nuts.
Let’s be real honest…we need Jesus in our Christmas. He is the only thing with everlasting value. He is the hope of our tomorrow!
How do you keep Jesus the center of the Christmas season? What traditions do you have?
Your business is God’s business. Let me say that again…your business is God’s business, which adds a new perspective to how we view our time. So often we view our time as a personal right. We think it is our alienable right to determine what we do, when we do it, and with whom. However, Scripture presents a different standpoint. God wants to be involved in the smallest of details. He wants our all.
We often view our time as “ours.” We wake up with our agenda, pre-mapped out with bits of minutia that have to be done. However, do we include God in our decision-making process? Does it cross our mind that He might have something for us to do? Have we left Him any wiggle room?
I have good news for you. God has prepared good works for you to do! He has a plan for your life.
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Eph. 2:1-10 (emphasis added)
I pray this truth shakes you to the core. Before the beginning of time. Before the planets and stars were hung in the sky. Before the mountains were shaped into form. God knew you. He had plans for you. Because you are His masterpiece, created to do great things. God has purpose for you in changing diapers, stuffing lunch boxes, folding clothes, and buying Christmas presents. Minutia matters to Him. The smallest things matter to Him.
We have the tendency to live this life segmented. One day a week we give to Jesus, the other six we consider all ours. However, God wants to penetrate every bit and piece of us. He wants to include us in His work here on earth.
Truth be told, God is working all around you right now. Question is…are you willing to join Him?
What is God asking you to do today? How does He want to rearrange your plans? Will you listen to His voice?
You’re in. Sold out. You want to give God your everything. But something within you begs the question, “Now what? What does that mean? How do I know I’m doing what God wants me to do?”
It’s not a mathematical equation. It’s not a predicted procedure. It’s not the same for you as it may be for someone else. It literally is handing your life over and saying, “But God. I’m yours. I’m all in.” It is all about taking your schedule, agenda, and dreams before the throne room in prayer.
We tend to busy ourselves to the point of exhaustion. I confess. I am guilty too. We fill up our to-do lists and overcommit ourselves. Especially around this time of year. It’s no wonder we don’t’ have time to spend with God. There may be some core reasons why this occurs, and I want you to prayerfully consider: Have you over complicated your life to the point that you could utter the words, “No room.”
“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7
Oh, how these words of old still ring true for us today. The innkeeper missed out on the birth of Jesus because he had filled his inn to the brim. Yes, he had plenty of excuses. It was census time in dear ole’ Bethlehem. But to think he could have seen Jesus that night, the King of Kings born in his home! There is no indication that the innkeeper was angry towards God, or unsympathetic to a young couple needing some help. His infamous remarks bear the truth…there was no room in the inn. He was busy with other activities. He had filled his calendar too full. I wonder if any of us can relate? Are we missing out on what God has called us to?
We live busy, hectic, and time-crunched lives. We seem to want to have something to do. We schedule our kids in a zillion activities. We say yes to nearly everything. Maybe it’s because it makes us feel important. Maybe it’s because we don’t want to be left out. Maybe it’s because we disdain the silence of being left alone in a room. Or could it because it is Christmas? Like millions of other people, our lives are consumed. Not necessarily with sinful activity, but nonetheless, filled to the brim. Parties, sporting events, shopping, chores, work…somehow we try to squeeze it all in. It is the clutter of activity that leaves many of us overly preoccupied and missing out on what God has in store.
We are all human. There are things that we have to do…like taxi driving and grocery shopping and dusting and mopping the floor. God exists in the routine, ordinary things we do and can work in us and through us in our ordinary tasks. Not everything we do will have the label “ministry” or “church” as a hashtag.
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Col. 3:23-24
But I want you to take an honest appraisal…Have you filled your calendar with too much? Have activities taken precedence over spending time with God? Be brave, Sister. Do you need to learn to say “No”.
We will need to be brave to take a stand to do what God is calling us to do. We will have to make tough choices. It may mean missing out on time with dear friends or feeling left out of the crowd or missing a festive holiday party. But please hear this from a gal who has traveled here…it will be worth the sacrifice. Following after God with all of our heart, soul, and mind is definitely worth the pursuit!
"We should put life in our faith. We should give ourselves utterly to God in pure abandonment, in temporal and spiritual matters alike, and find contentment in the doing of His will, whether he takes us through sufferings or consolations."--Brother Lawrence, author of The Practice of the Presence of God.
I urge you to continue to seek God for wisdom with your holiday schedule, asking specifically for discretion in your current commitments. You don’t have to attend EVERYTHING. Did you ever consider that God has a purpose for you in every moment? If you are too tired or exhausted to keep up the pace, go ahead and call an audible. You can take a time-out. Stay at home. With Jesus, there is no pressure to keep up with the Jones’.
How are you preserving time during the holidays to spend time with Jesus?
We serve a God who never fails. He will not let you down. In the midst of chaos, you can stand strong on His promises. Because of the work performed on the cross, you have the gift of abounding grace. We do not need to strive to perform. Grace has been awarded to you. Grace to be a sinner. Grace to fail.
“If we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13
It is vital to let this truth sink in. We could never atone for our own sin. The cost is too high. We are imperfect. All we like sheep have gone astray (Isaiah 53:6). It is because of grace we have been set free. We have nothing to prove. The debt of our sin has been completely paid.
Done. Paid for. Our slate has been wiped clean. As a result, we can acknowledge our shortcomings and failures and give glory to God. We can boast in our weaknesses, which display our need for more of Him. We must reach a point where we say it is okay to need God and to need Him more and more.
“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10
The God we serve is different than any other. He loves you despite your sin, shortcomings, wrinkles, and fat cells. He loves you on bad hair days, and good ones too. He loves you regardless of what you do or do not do. He loves you for you!
If you would like to know more about this God…a God who loves you to your core…please email me at email@example.com. I would love to tell you more!
If you know God as your personal Lord and Savior…share the reason for the hope that you have (1 Peter 3:15). I want to hear from you too!