Lord, I Believe in You!

“Lord, I believe in You, truly believe in You.” We sang this song in church and after getting home, I wondered just how much I do believe in Him. Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that He lived on earth, died for our sin and rose again to sit at the right hand of Father God.

       For God so loved the world that He gave his only            begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not        perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 New Living              Bible)

I was a child when I first realized that I’d rebelled against God; in fact, it was on Resurrection Sunday when the pastor described how the two thieves, hanging beside Jesus, were guilty. I realized then that though I’d never stolen anything or broken any major commandments, I’d sometimes argued with my brother or not minded my parents. I’d heard about Jesus in church and at home, but I didn’t have a relationship with Him. Even then, I understood that I didn’t really know Jesus or God the Father, not like I knew people. And I knew that had to change, as it did at that moment. Suddenly I knew Jesus lived in my heart as well as in heaven. Specifically, that’s what we say but what really happened is that the Holy Spirit sealed me so that I’d be able to talk with God and go to heaven when I died.

As we approach Resurrection Day or Easter and observe it, I think that song is even more appropriate. Do I really believe all the Bible says about Jesus? The completeness of what He did for us when He died and rose from the dead, lived on earth while many people saw Him, and then He ascended to heaven, where He constantly prays for us at the throne of God? A few scriptures remind me of a bit that Christ provided.

       But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our    sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was    whipped so we could be healed. (Isaiah 53.3)

            He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. (1 Peter 2:24)

Do I really believe God can forgive me, especially if I’ve done a lot of wrong things in my life? Am I honestly confident that He will heal my back and my friend with cancer? Put another way, can I say confidently that I am healed? That my friend is healed, even before we see the results?

I started wondering just how much do I believe God for? Do I really believe He will provide the right job for me when I need one? Do I really believe He will help another friend’s troubled marriage? Do I believe God answers prayers when I pray for my country? In other words, am I confident about these things? Believe means to consider to be true or honest; to accept the word or evidence of. That reminds me of another verse.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1; the New King James uses evidence instead of conviction).

           And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)

If my boss tells me he will give me a raise at the end of the month, I believe what he says and begin to get excited about what I can do with the extra money. I have faith that my boss would not say that if it weren’t true. If I can believe a human, how much more should I believe the Lord God Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and me! Why do I have so much trouble believing God for other things when I believed Him so easily for my salvation, that He totally forgave me for all the wrongs I’ve ever done, even rebelling against Him? I believe He will continue to forgive me for wrongs when I simply tell Him I’m sorry and stop doing those things.

Our American culture, and especially the last few years, has gone against faith in God, but does that mean I should? Will I believe that the God who created the universe can heal my friend with cancer? That He can provide a job for someone who needs it? That’s what it means to truly trust in God, to rely on Him to provide when no one else can, to believe that He can do what He says He can do. Yes, I trust God to be God! As my faith has grown over the years, I’ve even become more confident in myself because I know who He created me to be and that I am sitting with Christ at the right hand of God, just like the Bible says. If He can do that for me, certainly He can do everything else He says He can. “Lord, I believe in You, truly believe in You.”

           I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 1:19-20)

          For He raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:6)

Do I realize where I’m spiritually living? Not on this earth, though my body is here, but in heaven with Christ because I believe He is who He says He is; so therefore, I am who He says I am!

          “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” (Matthew 17:20)

          Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” (Matthew 19:26; also, Mark 10:27, Luke 18:27 and Luke 1:37 For nothing is impossible with God.)

As the Bible clearly states, if nothing is impossible with God, then am I fully confident that He will do what He says He will do?

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My New Year’s Prayer for You

Dear friend, I pray that all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit (3 John 2, New Living Translation.)

What an all-encompassing prayer! I wish it for each of you and for my own family as well. Let’s examine quickly just what the prayer does say. Merriam-Webster says that prosper means: To succeed in an enterprise or activity; to achieve economic success; to become strong and flourishing.

I’d also say that includes emotional satisfaction and fulfillment as well as our health. But if we can’t find contentment because that God-shaped hole grows deeper daily, then we can’t truly consider ourselves prospering either. So we need all of these to be completely prosperous.

I really like the fact that John, the beloved disciple and an apostle, prayed that his friend may prosper in every way. I’m glad I can repeat that prayer for others. I’m sure most of us want to prosper also.

When we think of prospering in every way, we often think of finances first. If we’re concerned about unpaid bills that we can’t meet, then we have no prosperity. And naturally we want our families to be happy within their families – for marriages to be good, children to behave in an appropriate manner, for all those relationships within the broader family to be harmonious. We think of prospering in our work as having a job we enjoy and can do competently, as well as being paid a reasonable amount for the skills involved in the job.

John prayed for his friend’s health, and I certainly wish for others, as well as myself to be well in the coming year. Being healthy is something we’d all like to experience. We probably never miss it so much until we don’t have our health and then realize how important it is in all we do. It is difficult to work when we hurt or feel unwell, whether we’re on the job or work at home. Life is simply more enjoyable when we’re healthy.

Then John says he prays Gaius is as healthy physically as he is spiritually. Evidently Gaius was walking the Lord for John to have said that. Oops! Would we want someone to say this to us? Is our spiritual life healthy enough that we’d want our body to be the same way?

That gives us something to think about, doesn’t it? Often people make a new year’s resolution to lose weight. Maybe this year, we need to make a resolution to help our spirits gain weight and to become and stay healthy spiritually. How does my physical health compare to my spiritual health? What do I need to do to become spiritually healthy?

A Christmas Present for Jesus

How much easier it is to talk the Christian talk than it is to walk the Christian walk. Even moral unbelievers can sometimes pass as Christians if we don’t really know them. Why? Because sometimes Christians don’t appear to live that much differently than the unbelievers.

My husband once worked for a Muslim man from Turkey, who outwardly lived as clean and good a life as any Christian. He was a good husband, father and boss; my husband and others who worked for him respected him for his ability and judgment. He didn’t smoke or drink, curse or talk badly about others. We knew his wife and children, and they all had a good family relationship. He believed in Allah instead of believing in Jesus Christ as his Savior.

How much easier it is to go to church,  give to the church and appear to be a faithful Christ-follower than it is to regularly check out hearts and see if Christ really has first place. Yes, we should and do love our families and care for them. We must give time to our jobs. But no matter what we do, is it for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31)?

Obviously we can’t stop every time before we do something and ask, “Am I doing this to glorify God?” But we can ask ourselves if our life purpose is to live for His honor. We can ask ourselves if anything we do would discredit the fact that we claim to follow Christ. Are we loving? That was Jesus’ most outstanding characteristic, for everything He did came from love for God and people.

The Bible tells us to examine ourselves before we partake of the Lord’s Supper or Communion (1 Corinthians 11:27 but see verses 23-32 for context.) Do we? Merriam Webster Dictionary defines communion as an act or instance of sharing or as intimate fellowship or rapport, besides the way Christians ordinarily mean the word. To me, the Lord’s Supper is all of these and needs to be taken very seriously but joyfully. Paul warns that it must be taken seriously. And why joyfully? Because of all God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son sacrificed for us so we can have intimacy with Them.

In Luke 46-49 Jesus compares a person who calls Him Lord but don’t obey His commands to a person who builds his house on sand, but a flood comes and washes away that house. James says someone who doesn’t obey the Word is like a person who looks in a mirror but then forgets what he looks like as soon as he turns away (1:22-25).

Both these Scriptures discuss how believers need to respond to God’s Word. Whether we’re personally reading the Bible or hearing it read, it should touch our hearts and gradually change us so that we more nearly display some of Christ’s characteristics.

Is there any greater present we can give our Lord this Christmas (or any other time!) than to make our life’s purpose to follow Him more closely?

And so dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice–the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him (Romans 12:1-2 New Living Translation).

The Way to Destiny

Stuck on the freeway cause it’s been closed due to a serious accident and car fire ahead. No exit to the frontage road for half a mile, after the incident. Yet, my inheritance depends on getting to downtown Houston by 12:00 for the reading of the will. If I’m not there, I miss my future.

Suddenly a police car motions for a car in the outside lane to drive across the median to the frontage road. With my blinker on, the second car signals for me to move ahead into his lane, since I was in the inner lane. As I hesitate, he exits, then a state trooper behind him exits, and the policeman motions that no more cars can drive across the median. That trooper needed to get to the accident, and my one opportunity disappears! I didn’t follow that chance to move when I could have, when I even felt like I should go ahead, and possibility lost the opportunity of gaining a great inheritance.

This describes the way I’ve felt spiritually for a while. Stuck where I was but knowing a better future awaited me. I’ve prayed and prayed more, but still I couldn’t find that release that would lead to my destiny. I determined to spend more time in prayer and Bible study, but I didn’t increase these. My morning time with God satisfied but I needed His presence at night also. I let that time fritter away, however, so I remained stuck where I was.

Suddenly the Lord brought a verse to mind that I’ve known for years. If you will only obey me, you will have plenty to eat (Isaiah 1:29 New Living Translation.) When we have plenty to eat, we leave the table fully satisfied. I knew this verse presented the answer to my quest. I must put aside other things and give quality time to my Lord at night; then I will be fully satisfied.

God doesn’t say that I must spend X hours in prayer or Bible study. That’s legalistic and remains a place where Christ gave me freedom. No, I need to put being in God’s presence ahead of my enjoyment of watching TV or being on the computer. As I obey Him in this, I’ll find complete fulfillment.

Prayer for Those with Debilitating Diseases

(This prayer is for three people close to my heart, but I extend it to others in this situation.)

Father, my heart hurts for people close to me who are enduring debilitating diseases that Satan has inflicted upon them. I know many others face the same or different issues, all of which prove difficult to cure. Only you can touch these loved ones and heal them, Father. Whether you use doctors and medicine or whether You divinely heal them, I pray you touch their lives.

In the meanwhile, give them peace in the journey; comfort them in pain; let them know you stand beside them and your Spirit within them each moment of the day and night.

Father, you know each of their life situations, and I lift those up to you, for you alone know what each one needs at this very moment and in the coming days as they walk through these life-changing challenges. Give them courage, strength, energy, hope and peace. Let them know your very real presence upon them.

Father, if I could, I’d instantly remove each of these illnesses from them; but I can’t. I know you can. That is not a difficult thing for you, Daddy-God! However, sometimes you allow us to walk through these challenges, teaching us more about you along the way. I pray each one learns the lessons you have for them during this time, drawing them ever closer to you, Holy God.

I pray your glory comes out of these situations in whatever way you choose. May you be honored and exalted; and may all these close to me – and others also – have a greater testimony of your mercy and grace in the future than they do presently.

Father, I love and exalt you, for you alone are holy, high and worthy of worship.  You sent Jesus to pay the price for our sins and our healing, as the Bible says in 1 Peter 2:24 (NASB) “He Himself [Jesus] bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, for by His wounds you were healed.” In Jesus’ precious and holy name, I ask for your mercy, Holy God. Amen.

Come, My Child

Imagine you’re the parent of a child you’ve always been close to; you could talk about anything and did. Slowly that child drifted away from that intimacy, talking only about school as a whole and not staying as close by as previously. He put you on the back burner. How would you feel? What would you do to regain that previous relationship? This child still wasn’t doing anything particularly wrong; he was keeping curfew, his grades were still high, but you missed the way he’d share what his day had been like, what his friends were doing. Something changed and you didn’t like it.

Now suppose you were standing before God and you’re the child who’s not as intimate as you used to be. Yes, you pray and read the Bible but you don’t have that time of just being with your Father. You’re not a nominal Christian but you notice the difference in the way things are. You may even wonder what’s happened. At church you think it would be great to be as close to God as some others seem to be; but when you leave, nothing changes. One day you’re praying and hear your Father quietly whisper this to your heart:

“Come to Me, my child. Come and feast at my table, for you are lacking in nourishment. You are anemic because you’re not partaking enough of my blood. It is life-sustaining, but you are totally weak and feeble. You need Me, much more of Me than you’ve been getting.

“Come now and let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow; though they are red like crimson they will be like wool. If you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land.” (Isaiah 1:18-19 New American Standard Bible.)

“Come and buy food without price. Money can’t buy my food, only love and devotion can (see Isaiah 55:1-4).  How can you buy without money or price? You can buy with love, devotion and time – a time of withdrawal from the world. ‘Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near’” (verse 6).

Jesus’ blood paid the price for the forgiveness of our sins – all of them. Not just the biggies, but the simple things like saying something unpleasant to your family or friend, having a wrong attitude, neglect of Bible study, little time in prayer. Jesus’ blood covers all these and all the other wrongs we do. His blood protects us from the enemy of our souls. It does so much more than we give it credit for, but that’s not our focus now.

Are you willing to set aside more time to spend with your heavenly Father? Will you allow the Holy Spirit to have His way? How much time out of the day do you actually spend thinking about God? Is it enough for the relationship with Him that you desire? I’ve been in this place and asked myself these same questions and find I need more time with my Daddy-God to be satisfied, for He can fill voids nothing else can. We were created in His image and when we let go of that deeper relationship, our hearts yearn for it; we notice the void. Let’s listen to those words again, and go feast at the Father’s table and find the life-sustaining nourishment we need.

“Come to Me, my child. Come and feast at my table, for you are lacking in nourishment. You are anemic because you’re not partaking enough of my blood. It is life-sustaining, but you are totally weak and feeble. You need Me, much more of Me than you’ve been getting.”

What will I do? What will you do? Our soul’s prosperity hinges on the answer.

 

Clogged Arteries

Many people get clogged arteries as they age and then must take medicine to clear them. But, do I have spiritual clogged arteries? What? When our spiritual arteries get clogged, our relationship with Father God gets hindered and Holy Spirit no longer flows freely within us, just like blood becomes partially blocked in our physical arteries when they’re clogged. Continue reading

Almost Unbelievable Blessings – But Believe Them!

Let me introduce you to two amazing verses that probably most believers read over without paying proper attention to the real meaning of them; I know I did. These are Ephesians 1:3 and 2:6. Only more recently have I given them real thought, though I’ve read the Bible most of my life, and even wrote a simple study of this book long ago. This meditation covers the first verse and soon a second will cover Ephesians 2:6 because they contain too much material to discuss at one time. 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

Deep in the Pit

A prayer of one overwhelmed with trouble, pouring out problems before the LORD. LORD, hear my prayer! Listen to my plea! 2 Don’t turn away from me in my time of distress. Bend down to listen, and answer me quickly when I call to you. 3 For my days disappear like smoke, and my bones burn like red-hot coals. 4 My heart is sick, withered like grass, and I have lost my appetite.

17 He will listen to the prayers of the destitute. He will not reject their pleas. 18 Let this be recorded for future generations, so that a people not yet born will praise the LORD. [Psalm 102:1-4, 17-18 New Living Translation]

Have you ever been in this terrible place where it seemed that no matter how hard you prayed, God still didn’t answer your prayer? Maybe you cried out with all your heart and even fasted as you prayed but no answer came. Heaven seemed sealed shut to you, although you saw a quick resolution to other people’s prayers. You wanted to yell, “God, that’s not fair!” We don’t understand why our loving heavenly Father lingers over some prayers. According to Bible principles, God ought to answer them quickly because His will demands their answer. We’re at a loss and can’t explain it but we certainly feel like verses 1-4 of Psalm 102. 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

Hidden Diamonds

A friend gives me a beautifully wrapped present, a 4″x4″ square but quite heavy. Why did she give me a gift, I wondered? It’s not my birthday or anything special. Excitedly, I open it and know she can see the disappointment on my face. But I can’t help it; I’m almost crying. Inside the gorgeous box was a dirty, ugly rock. I wished she had not given me anything rather than something like that. What must she think of our friendship?

Continue reading

The Terrible Waiting Time

“Lord, I don’t care which way we go, just move us!” I prayed one day after my husband and I talked about putting our home on the market and moving. After two years passed, I didn’t really care if we moved or not, I simply wanted off that fence. Many pros and cons made us undecided which would be the better course for our family. My husband was unhappy in his job and didn’t find similar work in Austin. We were looking at other options out-of-town and even considering moving back to our hometown where our four parents lived and we had a few rentals. The more we looked the more confused the picture became. Sitting on the fence for so long became unbearable. I simply wanted a decision, at that time not really caring what the consequences were. Continue reading

Family Blessings

Being able to spend time with all our family some part of the last two months blessed me tremendously. With children and grown grandchildren spread around Texas, Georgia and California, getting to see them for several days only happens occasionally. At Thanksgiving or Christmas we all try to get together somewhere, but then only get about two days by the time we travel. Having a little more time means we are more relaxed and enjoy being together and talking about more than we do when crowded into the rush of Thanksgiving or Christmas Dinner and presents. Continue reading

What Is Shalom?

The Jewish people treasure the word “Shalom,” greeting each other with it when they first meet and again on leaving. Shalom implies peace, as we commonly think of it, but very much more than that. Shalom suggests wholeness, completeness, health, security, prosperity, fulfillment, contentment, restoration, unbrokenness, joy,  peace between you and God as well as between you and other people – in other words, we might say it hints at heaven on earth. 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

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

Making Something out of Nothing

Sound impossible? It is for us but not for God because Luke 1:37 tells us, “Nothing is impossible with God.” The context is important: An angel has just announced to Mary, a virgin, that she will have a son; furthermore, her older relative Elizabeth, who was considered barren, is in her sixth month of pregnancy. Then the angel pronounces Nothing is impossible with God.

Continue reading