The Christmas Season

At this special time of year
We think of others far and near;
As we give gifts to those we love
Let us also give to the One above.

Churches tell the story in word and song
So many will know where they belong;
Christmas is a time of good will to others
Men more willing to help their brothers. Continue reading

You Didn’t Ask Me!

. . .You don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it (James 4:2 NLT*). James earlier says that people ask with wrong motives so they don’t receive what they ask for. But that verse makes me wonder just how often God would grant simple desires if we only asked Him for them. Continue reading

The River

At church this morning we sang, “Flow to You, flow to You; Let the river of my worship flow to You.” As we sang, I saw *the river of the water of life flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb to us who were worshiping God with all our hearts as our praise flowed up to the throne of God. The river of our praise and the one flowing from the throne of God came together and flowed into each other. Our hearts and Father God’s were in sync as we stood praising Him.  Beside this single river, from the two joining together, stood the tree of life on each side of the river, bearing fruit that healed all issues we had – whether relationship, financial, health, work. Whatever our need was, God used that tree to supply it. Continue reading

That God-shaped Hole

Feeling kinda down and don’t know why? Your family life is going well, your job’s OK, finances are sufficient for your needs, health is adequate. Yes, you’re not overflowing in any of these areas but things are sufficient, so then why do you still feel like something is lacking? You’re somewhat depressed without being able to understand the reason.  Let me tell you my story. Continue reading

God Loves YOU!

God loves you. Let me repeat: God loves YOU! Yes, He really does. No matter what you have done. No matter what you have not done. No matter who you are. Father God sent His son Jesus to die so that anyone who believes in Jesus becomes a child of God. Continue reading

Jesus Suffering Paid for My Pain

The Sovereign Lord has spoken to me, and I have listened; I have not rebelled or turned away. I offered my back to those who beat me and my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard. I did not hide my face from mockery and spitting. Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will. And I know that I will not be put to shame. (Isaiah 50:5-7; all verses from New Living Translation.)

Father, I have several problems in my spine and I know a number of other people who have back pain. 1 Peter 2:24 says that by His stripes we were healed. That means that when Jesus’ back was beaten, He was paying the price for my back pain and for the issues others have as well. Jesus conquered death when He rose again and in verse 5 He overcame the pain and sickness Satan puts on us. Continue reading

Salvation and Righteousness Flow!

Open up, O heavens, and pour out your righteousness. Let the earth open wide so salvation and righteousness can sprout up together. I, the LORD, created them. (Isaiah 45:8 New Living Translation)

Father, this is my prayer today: that the heavens would open wide and pour out your righteousness upon me, upon my family and friends, upon everyone. Turmoil abounds all over the world today; perhaps never was your justice and honesty needed more than now. Everywhere I look exists terror and fighting or the threat of it. Many governments seemly don’t care for their people but only their greed. Even nature groans with earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, drought, fires, blizzards and excess heat. Who can make sense of it all? Continue reading

The Highest Way of Love

What can I do to show God I love Him? Various actions demonstrate our love, like reading the Bible, praying, serving however He asks, and giving our tithes and offerings. Trusting God, however probably is the highest way we prove our love. I don’t mean trusting Jesus as our Savior; that’s only the beginning when we grasp that Father God loved us enough to let His Son Jesus die in our place for our rebellion against God. Continue reading

What We Say Affects Our Health

The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity; so is the tongue among our members, that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. (James 3:6 NKJV)

What a strong James gives us about our tongues! Although I’ve known this verse for years, God revealed a new truth to me tonight as I read it. I’d always taken the defiling to mean if a person speaks wrongfully of God or curses a person or something on that order. Tonight I realized that it can defile our natural bodies, and that defilement comes from Satan, who makes people sick, not God. God’s goodness to us and for us comes from His unfathomable love. Continue reading

Am I Like Harry Houdini?

Phillip Baker, in his Daily Move, sent out this short message:
Harry Houdini once failed to unlock a door. He had never failed to pick a lock. So, what happened? The door was already unlocked. All he had to do was kick it open. Many times Christians believe a door is locked to them, when all they have to do is kick it open. What took place at Calvary unlocked everything. Continue reading

Bulldog Faith

Luke 18:35-41 tells the story of a blind man who shouted at Jesus when he heard the Messiah was coming into Jericho. Although the crowd told him to stop and tried to ignore him, the man yelled louder still until Jesus noticed him. When asked what he wanted, the man replied, “I want to see.” Immediately Jesus said, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” This kind of faith demonstrates the bulldog principle because the man had to ignore the crowd and continue shouting until Jesus heard him. An even better example is in verses 1-5 of the same chapter where Jesus tells the parable of the woman crying out for justice before the unjust judge. After repeated requests from the woman, the judge finally gives in simply to get rid of her, admitting that he didn’t care anything about the laws of God or the rights of people; he grew tired of putting up with her. Now the point is that our heavenly Father is nothing like the unjust judge in not caring about us. He loves us more than we can imagine; however, sometimes for reasons we don’t understand, God will delay answers to our fervent prayers. Continue reading

Aggressive Faith

What is Aggressive Faith? Do we simply believe and patiently wait, or do we need to go after it and do something to help that faith be accomplished? Definitely I think there are times we need to patiently wait on God. Psalm 27:14 tells us: Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord! This is like a little child eagerly awaiting a special birthday present; though he wants the day to quickly come, he must wait until it does. Sometimes God has set times to manifest the answer to whatever we’re praying for in faith. Whether He has to work with other people or other circumstances, we may not know, but in His time, it will come without any help from us. Continue reading

What Is Praying in Faith?

Imagine one particular morning you’re eating breakfast with my husband and me, looking onto our large backyard with numerous trees of various kinds. Our two dinette windows occupy most of that wall’s space, while about 25 feet away, three chickadees vainly try getting seed from my bird feeder. They know from lots of experience that when they see seeds, it should flow out the holes at the bottom of the plastic feeder onto the tray where they can eat it. In frustration, the two parents pecked several places on the sides trying to force the seed onto the tray. “Why won’t those stubborn seeds come out so we can eat them?” the chickadees question. Continue reading

Faith versus Hope

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1 NKJV[1]).

He [Peter] came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying. 13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate. 15 But they said to her, “You are beside yourself!” Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, “It is his angel.” 16 Now Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished (Acts 12:12-17). Continue reading

The Three Chickadees

           As I watched my bird feeder at breakfast, I saw three chickadees trying to get some seed, which they were sure was inside the feeder. They went all around the tray on the outside but to no avail. Then two of them even pecked at the plastic sides of the feeder. They could see the seeds inside, but they would not come out. Why not? Continue reading

Ask and Receive

When our older daughter was growing up, her friends started having their ears pierced, so naturally she wanted hers done. We told her she could have that for her 12th birthday present. Now why we made that condition, I have no remembrance since it was a long time ago. She may have asked more times but always had that limit; however, the time finally come and her desire was fulfilled. Our younger daughter is four years younger, and after a while she wanted the same thing, so got the same promise.

As I was thinking about prayer this morning and some prayers I’ve prayed for a long time, this memory came to mind. God often grants our prayers but puts us in a holding time first, for which He does not give us a reason. I’ve found though that we can learn tremendously more about God and ourselves during that time. Just as people hope for a cure to devastating diseases, so we long for an immediate answer to our prayers. Much research is done and one thing leads to another until finally one day two events come together to cause a cure to be found, we anticipate. In the same way, sometimes God orchestrates events so that our prayers are answered, but this may take much patience on our part.

As we pray and don’t see answers, we begin to see whether our motives are pure or selfish. Do I want this situation for my own convenience, or is it actually something that God desires also? Will it help or hinder someone else? Why do I desire this particular answer? Am I willing to wait for it if it doesn’t come quickly? Will I allow God to work in my life to make me more like the image of Christ, or do I continue to want my own way? What fruit of the Spirit am I lacking that God may impart to me during this time?

Galatians 5:22-24 tells us: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Perhaps this is what God wants to do within us while we wait. Are we willing for Him to do that?

We also learn whether or not we truly trust God during waiting times. Will we continue to believe He is able to answer our prayers, or do we give up on Him? Do we persist in our faith, knowing without any doubt that our Father is loving and faithful, far more than we will ever understand? Do we continually rely on these qualities in Him, no matter what our circumstances seem to be? Will we be obedient to what God tells us to do in the meanwhile?

Probably always, God will demonstrate more of Himself to us in a holding time. As we grow more dependent, He manifests Himself to us – that is He shows us more of His character so that we begin to know Him better. John 14:21 says, “The person who knows my commandments and keeps them, that’s who loves me. And the person who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and make myself plain to him” (The Message*).

As we grow spiritually, we learn to love God more, to trust Him to plan good for us (see Jeremiah 29:11), to become obedient to do as He says, and to do that quickly without hesitation. While I’m not there yet, I’ve come a long way from when I was a teenager and read the following verses, believing them with a strong, child-like faith.

John 14:12-14  I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it (emphasis mine).

John 15:7-8 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples (emphasis mine).

John 16:24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete (emphasis mine).

As I said, when I was a teen I believed these verses with a child-like faith; when that prayer was not answered after much heart-felt pleading, I allowed this to distance my heart from my Father, more or less spiritually running away from home. I continued to act the part of a faithful child on the outside but inside I felt betrayed and dismayed. I could not understand why God did not keep His word to me. Now this particular prayer involved someone else believing in Jesus as their Savior, and God will not make anyone a robot. Even if it means their eternity in hell, God will not go against Himself when He gave us a free will to accept or reject Him. I did not understand that at the time and was sincere in my desire for the other person. I could not say now if my prayer also had some selfish interest in the answer. But this was to be a life-long lesson to me. It took many years after that division, but I was God’s child and He continued to woo me back to whole-heartedness with Himself. My Father did not give up on me.

You notice that I underlined some of the above phrases; that’s because I think they are vital to the verse. Some of these are conditions but two are results. John 14:12 mentions we must have faith in Jesus. That is not the faith of salvation but rather the faith of totally trusting that God’s word is true, without any doubt. Oh, how hard that is to gain when our circumstances look unfavorable! That’s when we must look to God and depend upon His faithfulness while keeping our eyes from dwelling on our situation – in other words, living by faith not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). We do not deny our circumstances but realize that God is mightier than they are.

John 15:7-8 gives two conditions and one result: Jesus says we must keep on putting Him first in our lives; even when we are busy, our spirits can be praying and thinking about spiritual issues (see Romans 8:26-27). Also, we must keep on studying the Bible. That’s not just reading a few verses, but thinking about Scripture and how it applies to our lives, asking the Holy Spirit to show us all we need to understand from God’s Word. Our Father promises that when we do these things, He will bring about the result of us being witnesses of Him and thus bearing fruit for eternal glory.

Will we always know how others are affected by our lives? No. How many have had someone in their younger lives mentor them and be a spiritual father or mother but later lose track of that person? That happened to me with one special friend; she was sent into my life for a reason and a season, as the saying goes. She moved many years ago, long before the time of inexpensive phone calls or email, and we eventually lost track of each other; but she was there when I needed her most and one day we will rejoice with each other in heaven.

John 16:24 tells us basically that when we learn to truly pray in faith and see those answers, we will have incomparable joy. What a result! We don’t pray for this joy but receive it as a result of the work God does in our lives as we draw close to Him. Perhaps this is one reason God delays answers to prayer – so that we will get continually closer to Him and becoming more like our Savior Jesus Christ.

Whatever your unanswered prayer may be, first of all ask yourself if God will be honored by the result and if you’re truly praying in faith. Then ask your loving Father to give you a Scripture to hold onto – a signpost that no matter what your eyes may see, you will know that you know that God will grant your request. Oh, how that helps us when we can read those verses back to God as an answer to our prayer. Not that we need to remind Him but rather ourselves of God’s faithfulness to fulfill what He has spoken. That doesn’t mean we pick a verse at random and say God will do this for me. No His Spirit leads us and plants that deep within our hearts so that it becomes a part of us that circumstances cannot uproot.

Let me encourage you to keep on persisting in faith and prayer, whether or not you see the result. We don’t necessarily need to keep on asking God for the same thing repeatedly, though we may. Jesus prayed three times before Calvary that if it was God’s will, He would not have to face the agony of the cross. When Jesus had His answer, the issue was settled. Paul also prayed three times for a certain thorn, or difficulty of some kind, to be taken from him. In both cases God said no but brought victory out of the situation. Because Jesus and Paul prayed three times, that does not mean we must do the same thing. God does not want us to write rules like this about how He will work in our lives or the way we live. Three prayers are not magic.

Sometimes God answers immediately with only one prayer; other times, we may pray many times. However, when we believe fully that God has said He will answer a prayer, we can start thanking Him for that answer. This builds up our faith much more than repeatedly begging God, and often our lack of faith is a real hindrance. We must stand firm against all assaults from Satan, the enemy of our souls. Ephesians 4:27 tells us Do not give the devil a foothold. Prayer can be a battle between righteousness and evil; we may be a warrior and not be aware of it. Let your courage and faith grow. God is always faithful.

Perhaps you think, well I’m just not there yet. That’s ok. If we are willing, God will always take us where He knows we need to go. All He asks of us is our willingness, and that can often be our battle. I’m a peace-lover. I do not like friction or strife and am not a competitive person. One lesson I’ve had to learn is that often we must fight spiritually for the answers to our prayers. John 10:10 states: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. In other words, Satan wants only to do things that harm us and those God calls to Himself. Jesus came to give us a true fullness of life, so that we have the Holy Spirit living within us and we no longer simply exist until our time of death comes. Yes, we often have to fight but we know God is the Victor and through Him, we win the war.

I’m reminded of the story of Oswald Chambers, a great servant of God and a man of faith that few others are. He prayed and saw God provide food for orphans; when there was nothing in the home, someone would bring milk and another brought bread. Multiple times this happened, as well as many other miracles God provided in answer to his faithful prayers. However, one answer was delayed a great many years – that of a loved one’s salvation. Rev. Oswald prayed daily for that man but never saw the answer. Nevertheless, on the day of his funeral, that man believed in Jesus to be his eternal Savior. God was faithful, even though the prayer wasn’t answered during his servant’s lifetime.

Hang on, stand firm, battle wisely; if God has led you to pray for a certain person or situation, then He will one day bring that answer. Your Father is always faithful. Ask and receive that your joy may be complete.


* THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved. All other Scripture is from the NIV.