I am a Christian, a retired teacher, a mother and a grandmother. I love to read and I love the Lord Jesus Christ! Unless otherwise specified ,all visual illustrations are from the YOU VERSION APP of the Bible.
By the time you get to Numbers 13 in your study of the journey of the Israelites through the wilderness, you should understand that the hearts of many of the people were still set on selfishness instead of on the Lord. God had saved them from slavery in Egypt, given them food to eat, kept them safe and still they whined and complained. So it is no surprise that when the representatives from each tribe were sent to do reconnaissance and bring back a report of what Canaan was like, most of the spies were negative and reported that there was no way that the Israelites could be victorious. Yes, the land was good and the food there was plentiful, but the enemy were giants. Thus, they were reluctant to go forward. Only Caleb from the tribe of Judah and Joshua from the tribe of Ephraim encouraged the people to continue forward, as lead by the Lord.
Caleb’s positive attitude did not come because he was confident in his own ability or in the ability of the warriors with Israel. Rather, he was confident in the might of the Lord. His certainty was strongly rooted in his faith in God. I want to be a Caleb in a land of naysayers who all want to stay right where they are, comfortably ensconced in a wilderness while God provides food, shelter, and clothing that never wears out. There’s nothing wrong with that, right? Of course, there is something wrong with that! The Israelites did not wander for forty years in the wilderness just to be content staying there! They were sent to occupy the Promised Land and it was ready for them to march in and take, but because of the unbelief and reluctance of some of the leaders, they had to stay in the wilderness for more years. Of those leaders, only Caleb and Joshua got to go into Canaan.
Sometimes life seems like a wilderness journey, but we get comfortable with those circumstances and although we don’t like them too well, we don’t want change to happen because we don’t know what the outcome of the change will be. Either we trust God to take us out of the wilderness into the new place that He has promised us or we don’t. Either we are a Caleb who sees God taking care of things for us or we stay where we are, moaning over the circumstances but reluctant to try to change them. Again, I want to be a Caleb. I don’t want to be stuck in the wilderness, moaning and whining and refusing to move forward. I don’t want God to leave me there because of my unbelief. Sometimes I have to take the time to pray for help with my unbelief and a new infusion of faith. Keeping records of past answers to prayer helps restore me and get me ready to move on. Do you want to move on with God or stay comfortably where you are, even though that is not God’s best for you? I know what my choice is and I hope that you are aware of the repercussions to making the wrong choice.
May the Lord bless you with the desire to want to be a Caleb in the middle of the wilderness of life and grant you the courage to move forward with Him. Not ahead of Him, not behind Him, but with Him as your guide into His very best for you!
I am an overcomer, and so are you if you are a Christian. Following in the path that the Lord has prepared for us, we cannot always expect the way to be easy. But we can know without a doubt that Jesus goes before us. Since He overcame all that life on earth and Satan threw at Him, we can, too. It takes faith, perseverance and steadfastness, but we can do it!
I struggled for a long time when I was a newly born-again Christian. I just did not understand the thought that Jesus paid everything for us on the cross and yet, there was still work for us to do here on earth. After many years of seeking an answer, I finally got peace when I realized that the work that Jesus wants me to do is not onerous or demanding but rather loving and kind and merciful. The work He has given me to do is the same that He did on earth, i.e. to spread the good news of salvation through grace.
Seeing others believe in Christ builds my own faith. Helping others to come to know Christ as their Lord and Savior builds it even more and that is a living legacy worth having. God has given us all of the tools we need to share about Jesus in His Word. Some of us are better at using the Word than others, but all are supposed to be daily digging into the Word in order to share it with those who need it. The Bible is our spiritual food and just as you would not go days without eating (unless you are called to fast for a period of time), neither should any Christian go days without reading God’s Word and letting His Spirit speak to your heart. Then, once your own faith is built up by His Word inside you, then you can take what you have learned and share it with others. A hammer builds, but only in the hands of someone wielding it. Likewise, God’s Word saves but only from the mouths of those who speak it.
Have a blessed day and may you be filled with the wisdom from His Word so that it overflows to others around you.
I am one who likes to bask in my comfort zone and hardly ever choose to leave it. Recently, when we came to Maryland for a Thanksgiving holiday visit, I was faced with being thrust out of my comfort zone suddenly and without notice, and I was not happy about the circumstances. Once again, my son’s regular caregiver quit taking care of his children to take a seasonal job, so the family was left without a babysitter. I was aware that this might happen, but in the back of my mind, I had told myself that we had reached thanksgiving and the young woman had no job yet, so I was probably going to just go home with my husband. Alas! On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, that all changed and I have been called upon to care for grandchildren again. Now, that is not what the comfort zone was. I have cared for them before and didn’t have too many problems. No, the comfort zone I left behind was one of knowing and planning and organizing and having things with me that I think I need for a long stay. Nevertheless, I said that I would stay and God has been working out things for me to get my meds that I need, warm clothing and foods. In fact, there is a bonus to this year’s stay. I get to go home on December 10th for a week while the family goes to visit Disneyworld. Hurray! I said I would take on the challenge of gathering meds here, layering clothes and purchasing special foods and God met me where I was, holding out His hand to hold me up.
I’m sure that if you are familiar with the Bible story about Peter walking on the water towards Jesus, you know that he had to have the courage to step out of the boat before the confidence came that he could walk on water. Courage generally seems to precede confidence in the Lord. Later in the same chapter, Peter took His eyes off Jesus and began to sink. When we are in the middle of hard circumstances, that is when we are compelled to keep our eyes fixed on the Lord, regardless of what is going on around us. Once Peter got his eyes back on Jesus, he was okay again.
There are many Biblical examples of those who showed courage and received the confidence that they needed. Noah started building a boat when God directed him to do so. It seems that it took him almost six years to build the ark and there was no sign of rain. One pastor told us, and it made sense to me, that there had been no rain on the earth until the time of Noah. So, when God told Noah it was going to rain and flood the earth, Noah had no idea what to expect, but he dutifully and with courage followed God’s command. As a result of his faithfulness, Noah and his entire family were the only ones left on the earth. One of my favorite Bible stories is about Daniel and his friends being thrown into the fiery furnace. They had courage to be willing to sacrifice their lives for their belief in God and God took care of them IN the fire. Both Noah and Daniel exhibited extraordinary courage which resulted in more faith in God, both for themselves and those they encountered.
My point is that when Jesus gives you the opportunity to step out in faith, go ahead. He will meet you and hold you up if He has to and as a result your faith will grow. What a testimony you will have from just stepping out and letting courage precede confidence!
Have a blessed day filled with courage to step out each time God asks you to do so!
When things get hard, I get closer to the Lord. I push in and almost try to become a part of Him as I pray, sing, whatever I have to do to get as close as possible to the only one that I know can help me.
This morning, I read the testimony of a young woman who went to be with the Lord in February. Her dream was to sing for a wide audience and sing she did, with all of her heart, on an American show on which she was a favorite. She never got to win the final prize or record in a big studio or become famous because she died. But it is her testimony of how she faced the hard times of cancer, and a husband who left her in the midst of her illness, that has stayed with people and crossed the internet repeatedly. I share that with you today just to ponder if you, too, think that you should be thankful in the hard times.
The testimony is not perfectly written, but it is heart-wrenching and a true testament of turning to God when things get hard. I cannot imagine what this lovely soul went through, but I know that she went through it with God.
It has always been easier to be thankful when things are going well, when the sky is blue, the weather is perfect, the kids are all healthy and other relationships are in the right place. But that is when I have found that sometimes I forget to be thankful, just because everything is so good. Then, along comes something difficult: a lost job, a staggering economy with high prices, illness, or any number of other things. At those times, I don’t hesitate to go before the Lord and thank Him for His guidance, provision and love. So, why am I (and probably you) so accustomed to going to God readily in the hard times? Because we know that He is our shelter, the only real refuge we have from the onslaught that is life.
I have never suffered as Nightbirde did, but I have faced hard times. And I know that the only answer is finding and holding on to faith in God, no matter whether you find Him in the bathroom, your bedroom or out walking around in the woods. In a world that is spinning out of control, I am thankful that God is stable and holds out His hand to each of us to keep us stable, too. God holds us up if we just call on Him. Our call starts with thanksgiving for His loving presence, in the good times, in the hard times, at all times.
My husband and I both got sick this week. We have some kind of flu, with coughing and sneezing and a low fever. In short, we have been pretty miserable. Harry got sick first, starting with symptoms on Wednesday night. My heart clutched once I heard him coughing because I just about always catch any germs that float around me since my immune system is compromised. Well, I lasted until Friday and then came the drainage down my throat and the plethora of asthma meds that I take so that I can breathe without struggling.
As I prepared for bed last night, I was concerned that I would not be able to sleep since breathing is more difficult once I lie down. I left my husband in the den watching his game and taking his med, used my nebulizer and headed to bed. It was amazing! After praying for all the Lord brought to my mind, I said a simple prayer asking God to give me the rest I needed to get stronger. I was amazed (I guess I should have not been so surprised) when I awakened this morning after having more sleep than I normally get when I am well. Rest is a gift from the Lord, just as each breath we take.
I awoke coughing, but I also awoke feeling rested. Praise God for His answer to prayer!
God gave us the example of resting and knows that our bodies need it. As I have aged, I have found that by late afternoon just about daily, I need a nap. It’s not just that I want to take a nap. I get a little fuzzy brained and I know that I really need to lie down and refresh my body. Yesterday, I tried to take a nap but I coughed too much and couldn’t really rest. So, I was somewhat surprised that I was able to rest all night without choking and grabbing my rescue inhaler. God is so good! He answers prayers for the weak, the weary and even those who don’t have high expectations for the answer.
My testimony is that of Jeremiah the prophet. God satisfied me with a pleasant sleep and I feel better today. I am still taking all of my meds, using my nebulizer and inhalers and nasal spray, but I am feeling stronger. I am so thankful that the Lord who created me knows what I need and provides it for me. Peaceful rest, away from the feelings of gasping for air and gagging on mucus. God loves me, even when I am too weary to exercise my faith properly.
May the Lord bless you with His rest and His peace today and throughout the week.
We rejoice before the answer from God comes because we have hope that He will answer in His good timing as we persistently pray. But what does “persistent” mean? According to the online thesaurus, it means ceaseless, continuous and enduring. To me that means that we start praying in the morning and keep that line open to God all day long. Even in the night hours when I am restless, I have only to speak His name to know that He is right there with me, already listening for my call.
Well, what should we be praying for? Here’s a Scriptural answer to that question:
We need to be praying for all believers everywhere. If you think you can pray quick prayers and cover everyone everywhere who needs prayer, then I would say that you have barely touched the surface of needed prayers. It is when we are listening to God speak to our hearts, though, that He tells us for whom we need to pray and how to pray for them. There are times when I am praying that God will bring someone to my mind and I won’t know how to pray for them, but I know without a doubt that God knows their need and has brought them to my mind so that I could bring them before His throne in prayer. I don’t know, but God always knows and is ready to hear and answer.
Have you ever picked up the phone and been about to call someone when it rings in your hand and it is that person calling you? It’s a really strange feeling that the two of you were thinking about each other at the same time. Now, put that into God’s perspective. He is always reaching out to us to speak to us. We just have to be ready to listen. Prayer is more than telling God a “wish list” of things that we want Him to do for us. It is telling Him what is on our hearts and asking that He speak His will into our lives and into the lives of those for whom we are interceding.
God starts sending the answer to us before we even call on Him. He is always ready to listen. Unlike our friends or our spouses, His entire attention is devoted to listening to each of us. God loves us and wants us to call Him, much as a doting Father wants to hear from His distant children. We are denying ourselves a close relationship with God when we neglect prayer since that is how we communicate with Him and how He communicates with us. How long can a relationship last without any communication between the parties involved? I hope that you will take time to talk to God today, about your frustrations, your victories, your fears, your worries. Talk to Him honestly about whatever comes to your mind because whatever it is, He already knows and wants to answer. Some say that it is not necessary to pray because God already knows what we need and will answer when He chooses. I, however, choose to believe that it is not for God that I am praying. It is to build my own faith and to establish a firm relationship with the only One who has all of the answers. Yes, God can answer without my prayer, but I want to be an active participant in this faith journey, so I pray.
Starting your day with prayer means starting it in tune with the One who knows your heart and wants to touch you with His mercy and grace throughout the day. May your day be blessed with persistent prayer!
Sometimes it’s hard to make a decision about something and take that first step into the unknown. I faced that after my stroke. The neurologist who was treating me in the ER was on a Zoom call rather than in the room and he told me and my husband that he was 99% sure that I was having a stroke. He gave us the option of my having an injection that could help me (30% chance) or could kill me with about the same percentage. Those didn’t seem like good odds to me, but in my foggy brain, I knew that we needed to pray and call our daughter to pray with us about it. The doctor told us that time was limited because if I did not get the injection within an hour of my symptoms beginning, it would not work. We prayed and asked God for wisdom. Actually, Hope and Harry prayed while I listened since I could barely stutter words at the time. We talked and decided that I would take the injection since the doctor told me that without it, I would not improve at all and may never walk or talk normally again. Was I frightened? Honestly, yes. But I had to take that step in order to ever be able again to take others. That TPA shot, also called a clot buster, saved my ability to function and may have saved my life. But the decision to take it was like standing on the edge of a precipice and knowing that whatever happened, God would be there to catch me.
God has been faithful to take care of me since that first scary step. And, of course, there have been other scary steps along the way of life. That’s what life is about…seeing the choices and taking a step in what you hope is the right direction.
Like Moses, we couldn’t just stay in the wilderness of indecision. We had to take a step. Just, move on. Pray, decide, move.
Once the decision is made, God walks with you and makes His glory shine through whatever choice you have made, provided you have consulted Him and are truly trying your best to follow Him and His will. Delighting in God is more than a happy smile on your face saying that you love the Lord and know that all will be okay. It is a deep feeling that springs from your heart that no matter what happens, God will still be there.
That word “whatever” is important. We have a tendency to make our plans and then ask God to give what we have decided His “rubber stamp of approval.” It just doesn’t work that way. First, we talk to God about the choices we have and ask for His guidance, then we step out in faith and move in the direction that we think He is leading us. If we go the wrong way, we can be assured that God will let us know and get us back on the right pathway, usually after learning a valuable lesson that He is trying to teach us. The most important thing is to make sure we include God in our decisions before we make them rather than asking Him to bless the decision that we have already made.
I remember that when I was very young, I would get up from my bed in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, but I wouldn’t turn on any lights. I knew the way because I had done the same trip so many times and was confident that I could make it into the bathroom, two doors away, just by walking straight. Then there was the night that I heard my father whooping in the bathroom and my mom asking him if he “got it yet.” Got what? It seems that there was a big rat (yes, a rat) in the bathroom tub and daddy was intent on killing it with his boot. That night ended my dark rambling to the bathroom because now I had an absolute belief that there was possibly, maybe, likely could be, a rat between me and the bathroom and I wanted to see it before it saw me. Or at least that was my thought. So, instead of walking confidently in the dark, I turned on my bedroom light, the hall light and the bathroom light before I would go in, use the facilities and return to bed.
Faith is like me before my father found the rat, only the confidence isn’t supposed to go away. You believe because you know in your heart that God is taking care of you and will work it all out. Stepping into a dark room or stepping out in faith? With God walking before you and providing a rearguard too, we have nothing to fear.
The last week has been a test of faith since our grandson got injured. On Thursday, Tyler went to the orthopedist to have his fractured clavicle checked. We had prayed for good test results and fully expected that would be the case. But…the doctor said that his clavicle is not aligned correctly, put him into a brace and a new sling and said he had to return in three weeks to be checked again to see if he will need surgery. Oh, dear! That was not what my faith was expecting, so just like the child turning on the lights, I started wondering what I could do to change the outcome. However, there are no lights to turn on, no place to run and hide. There is God and my belief that He has the situation under control That is what I was praying this morning as I awakened and showered, for God to work things out for Tyler and his family. Now, I wait for the answer.
God’s promises didn’t stop when Tyler got injured. Tyler is still his beloved child and He is still watching over and caring for Him. I anticipated that the orthopedist would tell him a few months in the sling and he would be as good as new. I have no doubts that he will one day totally heal, but I have to wait for the news that it has happened. Just as my mom was saying in the hallway, “Got it yet?” Well, good things may take a while but God’s timing is perfect. I have no idea what God’s plan is in all of this. I know that Tyler is going to go back to college this week and has to make some major adjustments in order to be able to attend classes and do his work. For example, he has to have help taking off and replacing the brace when he showers. That requires dependence on a helper and Tyler is not one to ask for help easily. (Isn’t that true of most of us?) He cannot carry a backpack, so he will need someone to carry it for him. He may have difficulty taking notes in class, so again, he will need a helper. He can’t carry a tray in the cafeteria…help. So much that he has been used to doing alone, now he will require assistance. My prayer is that the Lord will prepare the way before him and have the helpers there that he needs when he needs them. I just have to wait to see how everything works out. My daughter, his mom, has done all she can to clear the path for him, calling student services and alerting them to his needs. Now, we wait.
Waiting is not easy, but it is necessary. Abraham anticipated that God would provide a sacrifice instead of Isaac, so he waited. I suppose he could have gone off into the bushes and looked for a ram or a lamb to sacrifice, but that is not what God had told him to do. So, he believed in God’s provision, knowing that no matter what God had the situation under control. I am not sure how that would have felt, climbing up the hill with the understanding that at the destination, your only child is to be sacrificed. And yet Abraham climbed the hill anyway. I would like to think that I would do likewise, but I just don’t know how big my faith is until I get to the point that it’s the only thing holding me up.
That’s where I was last week when we first heard that Tyler was in an accident and seriously injured. He was unconscious, with blood pouring out of his ear. I could only cry out to God for mercy and grace, asking that his brain and skull be okay. And you know what? After multiple tests, the physicians declared that there was no brain bleed, no fractured skull, no injury to his brain at all other than being shaken around and concussed. Good news! Now, as a loving grandmother who is trying to have faith take over instead of doubt, I am trying to believe and anticipate that God will take care of Tyler’s clavicle, his ear drum and his needs at college. I’m anticipating all of the great testimony that Tyler will have about God’s provision and healing. Do I know with one hundred percent certainty that all will be just as I would like it to? No, of course not! But I trust God absolutely. That means that I am absolutely certain that He will take care of Tyler, heal him in the way that is best for him and take care of him on this arduous journey. God promised and I believe! He loves Tyler much more than I ever could and He has the best plan for him. I can’t see down the road that far, but I know wherever the road takes him, God is already there.
May each of you be blessed today with a faith that hopes, anticipates and even waits if necessary.
In my “Mornings with Jesus” devotional this morning, Jeanne Blackmer’s theme was faith or fear. She presented an interesting analogy, saying that uncertainty is the soil that either grows faith or fear. Think about it. We have that choice, to face uncertainty with growing fear or with growing faith.
With our oldest granddaughter just out of ICU, my faith was sorely tested this past weekend. We were visiting our other son in Maryland and I strongly felt that we needed to head to Virginia right away and be with Scott and his family. Praying before we left, I felt a calm peace wash over me. Of course, I cried a lot as we left because it meant I would miss the birthday of little Nathan, our youngest grandson who just turned one. Nevertheless, God’s Spirit was telling me strongly that we needed to go see Iris. We prayed as we traveled, for traveling mercies and for Iris to be okay. When we got to the hospital after almost an eight-hour trip, Harry and I were both running on adrenaline and a lot of faith. Melissa, our daughter-in-law said that Iris was doing well except she wouldn’t eat. Melissa couldn’t leave the hospital to get Iris some of the food she likes because Iris would pull out or bite her IV. So, we took Iris chicken, fries and hot sauce along with her favorite tubes of yogurt. She gobbled up all of the yogurt and ate the chicken and fries eventually. Of course, we also took Melissa some food. This seems small but it was confirmation that we were needed in Virginia to help out, particularly since our son Scott was flying back from Kansas City that day and would not return home until about 8 or so that night. We were filling the gap of his presence and being there for family. The uncertainty of what we might find when we got to the hospital was overwhelming at times, but we chose faith, praying and believing that God was going to touch and heal Iris’s lungs. For those who missed my earlier post, Iris is nonverbal autistic. The activity that she loves the most is going to the gym to swim and on Friday night, she had a seizure while swimming and sank quickly to the bottom of the pool. Her mom always watches her carefully in the water even though Iris swims like a fish. She saw her sink to the bottom, quickly got to her and lifted her out of the water, getting her onto the deck and on her side with the help of another patron who was swimming at the time. The ambulance came and whisked Iris away to the ER where she was evaluated with water in her lungs, sedated and put on oxygen and into the ICU. Now, for the amazing “God is good” part of the story. During her seizure, Iris’s windpipe contracted so she did not inhale as much water as she would have. Instead, the water went down her esophagus and into her stomach, so she had an upset stomach but not lungs filled with water. Yes, she had some water in her lungs, but not enough to cause a great deal of damage. She is home now and is taking a larger dose of seizure meds and an antibiotic for a possible lung infection. We are so blessed that she is okay. The fear that gripped me when I heard the word ICU was replaced with faith as we prayed and traveled. God heard and answered our cries for help for Iris. The nurse at the ICU, when she was discharging Iris, said that she was their youngest patient ever in that ward. Iris is eighteen, but I’m guessing that the ICU is filled with the elderly after strokes or cardiac events. After all, that is where I ended up after my stroke seven years ago. I’m so thankful that Melissa got to Iris quickly, that the man was there to help lift her onto the deck, that the ambulance arrived right away, that the ER doctors treated her quickly and thoroughly and that she now has a new neurologist who will see her more often than once a year. Uncertainty in this case provided the soil for faith, but it could just as easily have been fear. We had a choice and we chose faith and prayer, trusting God to take care of the situation.
I pray for each of you to face the uncertainty of the future with faith. As someone said: “I don’t know what the future may hold, but I know Who holds the future.”
Have a blessed day, my friends. I hope that this testimony encouraged you.