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What Are You Most Thankful For?

I love Thanksgiving.  It’s a season for giving thanks, fellowship, serving one another and sharing a meal with each other.  It’s a time we can enjoy each other and share what we are thankful for.

Or maybe it’s not.  Maybe Thanksgiving reveals everything we don’t have and haven’t accomplished.  Thanksgiving may be like a magnifying glass examining the little details of our lives that expose everything we are not.

To cover up our flaws, we assemble the perfect table and meal, making it seem like we have it all together, but really we’re falling apart on the inside.

Can you relate?

What are you Most Thankful For?

Of course, I am thankful for my family, our health and how abundantly blessed we are.  It’s so easy to thank God when things are going well in our lives.  It’s not so easy when they are not.

When things are falling apart and I feel like I’m hanging on by a thread, I am most thankful for Jesus.  I am thankful that even in my messes, I am complete in Jesus.  Even in my suffering, I am blessed.

It’s amazing when Jesus meets us in our messes, our storms, and flaws–He turns them into life’s greatest blessings.

If I never experienced failure, I would never know the deeper meaning of perseverance–How God makes the impossible, possible.

If I never trained for a marathon, I would never have known the power of God’s strength.

If I never went through the loss of our son, I would never experience the deeper meaning of God’s love and His glorious plan that one day we will see him again.

If I never had trials in marriage or as a parent, I would never have realized the value in growing my patience and building a stronger foundation in Jesus.  

To remove our messes, our struggles and flaws are to remove God’s glorious blessings.  


What am I Most Thankful For?  Jesus.  

I am not thankful for my trials but am thankful to have Jesus to walk with me in my trials.

When I struggle, I think of Job.  When his cattle was destroyed he still gave thanks.  When his family was killed he still gave thanks to God.  When his crops were destroyed he gave thanks.  When his health was at stake, he gave thanks.

When everything was taken away from him, he never stopped thanking God.  His thankfulness in his devastation produced a greater blessing he could have ever received than if he focused on everything he didn’t have.

No Jesus + Everything = Nothing.

Jesus + Nothing= Everything

Even when I have nothing, I have everything in Jesus.  There is always something to be thankful for.  I am nothing without Jesus.
  

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thes. 5:18)Click To Tweet

Behind every trial, there is a greater blessing.

When we GIVE THANKS in our trials, it helps us focus on God’s GOODNESS and that His LOVE endures FOREVER.

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 118:1)Click To Tweet

A Thanksgiving Prayer-  

THANK YOU, Lord Jesus, not only for our family, our health and the food we will eat this THANKSGIVING But also for our TRIALS we have endured this year.  We are not thankful for our suffering, but thankful that you are good and know what is BEST for US!

THANK YOU for giving us what we NEED not what we WANT.  You Always have the best plans ever!  THANK YOUfor going AHEAD of us and PREPARING  a place for us, even in our STRUGGLES we know this is only our TEMPORARY HOME.

THANK YOU for our circumstances that are beyond our control, they TEACH US to depend and lean on you making us closer to YOU.  THANK YOU for unanswered PRAYERS, they help us to TRUST in you, in your PERFECT PLAN.

THANK YOU for WALKING with US in the fiery furnace.  If you we didn’t have your hand to hold onto we would never know you are ALWAYS with us and will NEVER leave US.  THANK YOU for your FORGIVENESS when we fail and make bad choices.  THANK YOU for your LOVE and ALWAYS being there even in our MESSES.

THANK YOU for our DESPERATE Moments when we feel like we have nothing left, we can always depend on YOUR STRENGTH.  THANK YOU for our roadblocks and detours, they show us that when we follow Jesus, He knows the WAY!

THANK YOU for our failures and losses, they show us there is no greater reward than Jesus.  THANK YOU for your perfect gift of ETERNAL LIFE!  No matter what we go through it does not compare to the glorious reward of HEAVEN when we accept Jesus as our Savior!  THANK YOU for your PERFECT LOVE AND PLAN!  AMEN

What are you Most Thankful For this Thanksgiving?

Do you give thanks despite your trials?

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What Is The Number One Scam of The Week?

@ThePrayingWoman

Don’t Be Fooled

Don’t know if you have been up to date with the current scams going on out there, but every week hackers and scam artists are crafting ever so creative new ways to scam us all. 

It seems every week I get a phone call from the IRS saying they have a warrant for my arrest for unpaid taxes.  Or I get an email phishing for personal information impersonating my bank or fake profile friend requests on Facebook. 

The hacking and scam attempts have become so heightened to the point the IT Security team at my work sends me a scam of the week email with the new bad guys’ scams. 

Just like these online predators, the enemy likes to invade when we least expect it. 

With all the new technology and security measures in place, the little thieves in waiting learn how to adapt and discover different ways to break the boundaries of security to rob us of our identities and take everything they can get at our expense! 

I appreciate my work emails warning me of the ever-evolving and lingering scams waiting to attack and invade my bank accounts.  Their message is know before the scam.  If it weren’t for them warning me I may fall victim to even more scams. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if we were all warned about the scams and tricks of Satan before the attack? 

A Scam of the Week email would be nice right?

These scams remind me of the Bible verse, “Watch out for false prophets.  They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”  Matthew 7:15

Imagine a wolf lurking around wearing a sheep’s costume.  I know this isn’t possible, but just think for a moment what does a wolf gain by pretending to be a sheep?  His next meal. 

“For even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”  2 Corinthians 11:14

To read the rest of this article visit theprayingwoman.com.  

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Here are the Top 3 Prayer Posts on My Blog

 

I hope you read last week’s post The Top 5 Most Googled and Viewed Posts on my Blog.  I was really surprised what people want to know, what they’re searching for and where they were spending the most time on the blog.

This week I wanted to focus on the top Prayer posts since these posts were one of the top searches and shared the most on social media.

Prayer has been ever evolving in my life.  There’s been times I’ve been distant in my prayer life and times I’ve had such a passion for prayer I can’t imagine it not being a part of every single moment of my day.  But there is a recent revelation about prayer that has impacted my life tremendously I would like to share with you.

Whatever you’re going through in your life.  Whatever trial, struggle or burden you’re carrying, what if these things are God answering a prayer you prayed before?  What if the things we go through is God preparing, equipping us for what we have prayed for?

Top 3 Prayer Posts on my Blog:

  1.  Living on a Prayer- When you read the title of this post I bet the first thing that comes to your mind is Bon Jovi’s hit song, ‘Living on a Prayer.’  It’s a song about struggle trying to make ends meet, the people in the song have to keep going and hold on to what they got.  They are walking a fine line between making it or not and they are living moment by moment–living on a prayer.  Click on link to read more.

Imagine if we lived life like that?  Every moment of every day was dependant upon our prayers?

Or each moment was dependant on God for every breath, every step, every need of our day?

2.  Breaking the cycle of Prayerlessness-  Do we depend on God for our needs?  Prayer is our lifeline to God.  No prayer, no relationship.  Maybe you’ve been praying a prayer for a long time and wondered is God listening or even care?  How long have you prayed for your request?

Do you pray for your request regularly, over a period of time?  Our prayers don’t change God’s heart, they change our hearts.  We don’t know when God will answer our prayers but don’t give up, that’s exactly what the enemy wants us to do.  Keep Praying!  Click on link to read more.

3.  5 P’s to Pray Over Your Marriage- Marriage is one of the biggest blessings in life, yet 40%-50% of marriages end up in divorce.  If marriage is such a blessing, then why do so many marriages fail?

I think there are many factors at play–a person’s background and upbringing, parents who had a loving successful marriage, children, poor role models, trials, dysfunctional habits.  But I think one of the most important factors that help couples STAY together is PRAYER.  Click on link to read more {Also a FREE Printable!}.

These top posts remind me how important it is to depend on God, stay near to him to prevent broken cycles of prayer and how important it is to pray for our relationships.  I personally need to stay accountable and be disciplined and intentional in my prayer life or it doesn’t happen.

I hope and pray these posts can be a reminder to make prayer a priority in all of our lives, to be intentional, to allow God’s plans to be the greater purpose in our lives.

We can't go through what we go through without the power of prayer in our lives. Click To Tweet
'When you are walking in your purpose. People can see it.' #quote #RachelHollis Girl Wash Your Face #LiveoutyourpurposeClick To Tweet

How has Prayer Been Most Effective in Your Life?

In what ways do you struggle with Prayer?

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Why We Should Let Go of the Miracle

Have you ever prayed so hard for something, for someone a situation for weeks, months, years and the outcome still hasn’t changed?  What if that miracle, that outcome we’re praying for isn’t what God wants?

Of course we all WANT good health, our families to be SAFE, our kids to make good choices and not fight, our spouses to love us unconditionally even when we mess up.  Lately I’ve been seeing so many families going through so some hard devastating circumstances–their child has cancer, dad has cancer, there’s been an accident or a death.  There is a desperation for God to come through to resurrect our devastating circumstances.

But, what happens when God doesn’t come through and grant us the Miracle we’ve been asking for?

Doesn’t God care?

Why wouldn’t God want to heal a child whose about to die?

Why wouldn’t God want a family to stay together and heal the person with addictions?

Why wouldn’t God want to fix this unbearable, horrendous situation that will only lead to more destruction?

In the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), there is a pattern of a message from Jesus and then a miracle to follow.   Behind every miracle lies a deeper message.  There is nothing wrong in wanting, hoping or praying for the Miracle.  Not to sound depressing, what if the miracle NEVER happens?  Where does that leave us?  

Why We Should Let Go of the Miracle

Here is the point I want to breakdown.

God is capable of anything, any miracle beyond what we could ever ask of him. What part of the miracle are we putting our hope in? The Gift of the miracle or the Giver of the miracle?Click To Tweet

When a Miracle happened in the Bible, they all started one of two ways–without any expectation/anticipation of the miracle or with a believing person or crowd who was seeking the Messiah not the actual miracle.

When Jesus healed the official’s son (John 4:46-54), the official sought out Jesus for a miracle to heal his son.  He traveled a far distance to find him.  The man believed Jesus had to be present to perform the miracle, but in this case his mere spoken words healed his son.  The official sought out the one who was able to heal and Jesus granted the miracle.

In John 5, the handicap man sitting by a pool was not expecting Jesus to approach him and ask, “Do you want to be healed?”  Jesus merely instructed the man, “pick up your mat and walk.”  This man had no expectation to be healed and simply followed his instructions and was healed.

When Jesus fed the crowd of the 5,000+ people in John 6, they were seeking more of the Messiah and what he was able to do.  When they were seeking and following him, they had no expectation he would feed the entire crowd with just two loaves of bread and five fish.  They were seeking what Jesus was able to do, wanted more of Him not the reward of the miracle.

When We Let Go of the Miracle-

Letting go of the Miracle is HARD.  

When we hold onto the Miracle, we put our Hope in WHEN or IF THE MIRACLE happens, we’re then seeking the GIFT.

Letting go of the Miracle, puts our Hope in what God is ABLE to do and TRUST He knows what’s BEST, we’re then seeking the GIVER.  

Sometimes we have to ask ourselves hard questions and sit in the reality of the truth.  What am I putting my Hope in the GIFT or the GIVER?

I’m not saying let go of the miracle and lose your hope.  I’m saying let go of OUR expectation of WHEN the miracle WILL HAPPEN.  We can’t put God in a box and DEMAND, ‘God, I want this miracle to happen, DO IT!’  We can’t EXPECT God ‘to FIX it‘ the way we want it.  When we do, we’re putting a limitation on the miracle of what He’s ABLE to do.

Behind Every Miracle There’s a Deeper Message

Sometimes the deeper message isn’t God changing our outcomes, isn’t ‘fixing it,’  or even the miracle–it’s changing our perspective and changing our hearts.  Sometimes God is waiting for the Breakthrough or the Miracle to Happen within US.  If our hearts aren’t in the right place, we will never be able to receive the greatest miracle God has for us–Peace and Freedom.  Eternal peace and freedom resides in God’s outcome of what He’s holding in His Hands not our circumstances that fall in this world.

There is PEACE and FREEDOM when we stop displacing our hope in things that may never happen and TRUST IN GOD'S OUTCOME, what he has for us is ENOUGH and more than we'll ever need. Click To Tweet

Jesus NEVER  performed Miracles to PROVE Himself or give another sign He was ABLE.  He is ALWAYS Able and CAPABLE of the IMPOSSIBLE.

Are you praying for a Miracle?

Where Do you put your Hope, in the Gift or the Giver?

Is there an unsettling struggle in your life and you can’t put your finger on it?  I challenge you to sit with these hard questions and be truthful and honest with your answers.  We will never regret pursing the truth.  Join me next week when we discuss, “When God’s love is the outcome.”  Your are loved my friend!

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What Were The Most Powerful Words Ever Spoken?

Do you know where the most powerful, life-changing words were spoken?  

Do you know who spoke those words?

The most powerful words are from the last dying words from a person.  They are remembered because they will never speak those words again.  

This Easter as we reflect what Jesus did for us, we can witness in Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross his prayers for us.  His last words are so telling of his undying love for us. Here are the dying last words of Jesus.

7 Powerful Words Jesus Spoke on the Cross:

1. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). It amazes me even as Jesus was ridiculed, persecuted, beaten and crucified he still prayed for those who were killing him. He even forgave one of the men on the cross who was sentenced with him. Even in Jesus death he prayed for us and still had the power to make people right with God and cared about their salvation.

2. “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43 NIV). These are the words Jesus said to one of the criminals sentenced with him after the criminal said, “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Can you even imagine hanging on the cross suffering and Jesus says these words to you, promising you will be in paradise today and you will be with Jesus? This signifies this paradise is something that  only Jesus brings not the world.

3. “Dear Woman, here is your son” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother” (John 19:26-27 NIV). Jesus was saying this to his mother Mary, even in Jesus’ last hours of life he honored his mother by asking John, his disciple to take care of her.

Could you even imagine being in Mary’s shoes watching her child suffer, hanging on the cross, knowing he was going to die?Click To Tweet

Jesus wanted to make sure his mother would be taken care of and entrusted his beloved disciple John to do this.

4. “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means “My God, My God why have you forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). This is the fourth saying Jesus says in both Aramaic and Hebrew, from the cross. Prior to this, Jesus had fallen silent for 3 hours after the darkness came. This is the first thing he said after the darkness left. In the 3 hours of darkness is where Jesus felt the wrath and separation from God for the first time.

This statement shows his vulnerability as a human and reveals his feeling of abandonment from God. I think this saying shows how heavy bearing the sins of all of mankind was and therefore cries out to God for help. This shows us we should cry out to God also when we too bear much suffering.

5. “I am thirsty” (John 19:28 NIV). This is so interesting how Jesus asks for water considering he taught his disciples and followers many times that he was the living water, that whoever drinks of the water will never thirst again and have eternal life (John 4:14). It is striking how the one who is the water of life is dying in thirst. I think this shows Jesus craving for his physical comfort to be refreshed with a drink of water.

Jesus not only desired for his physical thirst to be satisfied but his spiritual thirst as well. In scorn, the soldiers dipped a sponge filled with vinegar on the end of a hyssop plant to give Jesus a bitter taste in his mouth. You and I today can ‘give Jesus a drink’ by sharing what we have with those in need by feeding the hungry and giving water to the thirsty (Matthew 25:34-40). Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 383). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

6. “It is finished” (John 19:30 NIV). This statement marks one of the last things Jesus says before he dies. It signifies he completed what he came to this earth to do, to die for our sins. He says the Greek word ‘tetelestai’ which means ‘paid in full.’ Jesus didn’t say ‘I am finished,’ he said ‘It is finished,’ meaning his redemptive work was complete. “It is finished,” is a declaration of Victory! Jesus became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). He suffered the penalty we deserved. Even up to the moment of his death, Jesus remained the one who gave his life for us (John 10:11, 14,17-18). Blum, E. A. (1985). John. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 340). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

7. “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46 NIV). This is the seventh and last statement Jesus says before he bowed his head and took his last breath. Jesus died for us. He offered his body and soul, not for himself, but for us. Jesus did not die as a martyr, but as a Victor, because he completed what he came to do. All of the suffering Jesus went through, his death was not for nothing.

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit,” is actually a bedtime prayer used by Jewish children. It tells us how our Lord died: confidently, willingly and victoriously (John 10:17-18).

It is a prayer of commitment to God before taking his last breath. Those who know Jesus as their Saviour may also die with the same confidence and assurance, that Jesus did (2 Cor. 5:1–8; Phil. 1:20–23). Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 276). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Wow! I can’t even believe all that Jesus was teaching us even in his suffering on the cross and very last hours of his life. It shows me how important prayer is in our lives. Praying is what Jesus was doing up until the last breath he took. He not only was showing us his love by enduring suffering and death in which we deserved, but praying on our behalf asking for our forgiveness.

He comforted the criminal who was suffering telling him about God’s promise of paradise. He honored his mother. He cried out to God for help. He showed his desire to have his thirst quenched both physically and spiritually. Jesus remained faithful even in his suffering. He showed us that God is always with us, he never leaves or forsakes us.

This Easter, we can partake and participate in the victory of Jesus as his gift to us.

What do Jesus’ last words mean to you?

What are the most powerful words you ever heard spoken?

We don’t have to be perfect to accept this gift, have it all together or be someone great. God’s gift of eternal life he offers to everyone, no matter who we are, who we were or who we will be. Opening and receiving God’s gift of eternal life, is the best gift anyone could ever receive this Easter.

I would love to hear from you! Leave your comments below. Have a blessed and Happy Easter!

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I pray the God of hope will fill you with Peace as you Trust in Him!  Have a Blessed week!  I would love to hear from you!  Leave Comments Below.  Happy Easter!


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Do You Know What You Need?

Do you know what you need?

I can tell you better what I want more than what I need.  I want a big piece of chocolate cake without reaping the consequences.  I want my kids to be obedient without giving me a hard time.  I want to work less, sleep in and go on vacation more.  The same goes for my kids.  I ask are you hungry, do you want something to eat?  Ten minutes later they tell me they’re hungry.  I’ve learned over the years don’t do what they say, do what they need.

What I need?  That’s a different story.  I know I need to be discipline even though I don’t want to.  If I wasn’t disciplined I would eat whatever I wanted, let time go by and never get anything done.

Not knowing what we need is apart of most of our stories.

Did you know in America there are over 52,000 Self-Storage units?  That means despite the 65% of Americans who already have garages to store ‘stuff,’ there’s an additional 21 extra feet to store more ‘stuff.’

In a study of overeating rats, Scientists examined their eating habits and their reward system (dopamine receptors).  What they found was once the rats started down the path of overeating it drove them towards a dysfunctional reward system.  In order to feel the ‘reward’ or satisfaction of eating they had to eat more in order to feel the ‘reward,’ which led them to their downfall.

It makes me question with our hoarding and addictive tendencies, do we even know what we need?Click To Tweet

Give me what I need not what I want.

One story in the Bible reminds me of what happens when we look within and seek God for provision instead of relying on ourselves or the world to rescue us.

In 2 Kings, a widow who was in financial trouble came to Elisha who her husband had worked for.  She tells Elisha of her troubles, how creditors are looking for her.  Elisha asks her, “How can I help you?  Tell me, what do you have in your house? (2 Kings 4:2).  She tells him I don’t have anything except a small jar of oil.

Elisha then tells her go to your neighbors and ask for jars, bring them back to your house, shut the door, pour the oil into all the jars and put them to the side (2 Kings 4:4).

“She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons.  They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring until they were full” (2 Kings 4:5).

3 Lessons from the Heart:

Three important lessons can be learned from this message.

 1.  She Chose Wisdom.  Out of desperation, the widow who was in fear of losing her two sons to the creditor as slaves, turned towards Elisha, a man of wisdom.  As a widow she was in a desperate situation, no husband, no way to financially provide for her sons, she chose to seek counsel of a wise man (Elisha) instead of acting out her fear.

2.  God Provided.  Elisha asked, “What do you have?”  When the widow came to Elisha, he didn’t immediately dive in to rescue her by giving her what she needed, he pointed her to look within to see what she already had.  As Christians we are called to love others, but we also can be guilty of taking over the role as the Savior and rescue people from their situations instead of helping them gain the skills they need to do for themselves.  There comes a time when helping helps and when helping hurts.  Elisha didn’t create a cycle of dependency, he gave her the skills to utilize the resources she already had.

3.  God Multiplied.  The oil never stopped flowing until all the jars were filled.  God used what she had and made it plentiful, into more than she needed.  Elisha said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts.  You and your sons can live on what is left. (2 Kings 4:7).  The jar plan Elisha told her, sounded kind of crazy.  But she trusted and obeyed and God multiplied what she had.

How Amazing is our God?

One thing the widow did that makes an impression on my heart is how she embraced the suffering.  She was dealing with the grief of her husband, having to be the primary breadwinner/caretaker of her sons and deal with everything on her own.  She didn’t throw her hands up, say ‘I give up,’ and let her sons be sold as slaves.

When she pursued wisdom and embraced the suffering, it drastically changed her situation.Click To Tweet

What do you need?

Looking at our world, there is an epidemic of brokenness.  A world that turns towards crime, drugs, prostitution, eating, hoarding to fill a void of something we all desperately need–LOVE.

We can have everything taken from us but if we still have love, we have everything we need.  Things and stuff can be replaced but the love from others cannot.

God’s love is the solution to brokenness.

God's love has the power to mend and provide in ways this world can never do. Click To TweetDo you need Love?  Leave a comment below how can I pray for you?

The best way to receive love is to give it.  Who can you love on?  A widow, a person who needs groceries, a parent who could use a date night?  Every small act of kindness makes an impact in someone else’s life.

Prayer-  Dear Lord,  Give me what I need, not what I want.  When I ask for what I want, it makes me dependent upon worldly things that leaves me only wanting more temporary rewards.  I need you Lord.  I want you God.  You are my Maker, my Lord who knows what I need.  Help me seek you, stay focused on you so you can give me the desires of my heart.  Help me be like the widow, who chose wisdom, had faith and trusted in you Lord and allowed you to lead her Lord.  I thank you and praise you for who you are.  In Jesus name, Amen.

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What Is One Answer You Want To Know?

What Is The One Answer You Want To Know?

There are so many questions, yet so little answers.  Have you been waiting on an answer from God about a question that burns deep within?  Seven years ago when our son died, I had a question, “Why?” Oh how I was on a search and mission to discover the answer to the why.  Do you know what happened in my search?  I got further and further away from the answer.  I sank deeper and deeper into the despair of my grief.  My life became utter chaos, everything was out of order nothing was in my control.

In these moments I take matters into my own hand, God so gently whispers into my ear, ‘dear child, if I told you the answer to the why you still wouldn’t understand.  The only answer you need to know is I LOVE YOU.’

There are so many times in the Bible questions were asked and do you know how God responds?  With a another question.  I’ve wondered why does God answer with another question, then it dawned on me.  He answers with a question to reveal the answer within us he already knows.  How well would we understand if he told us the answer?  We understand so much better when we come to the answer ourselves.

I love how God meets us right where we are.

He Sees Us In Our Despair

In Genesis 7-13, God sent an angel to Hagar after she was sent away by Sarai and asks her- “Where have you come from and where are you going?” God already knew the answer yet asked anyway, to give her a very important message.  God sees us in our despair.  In God, He reveals himself as El-Roi, the God who sees us.

He Sees Us When We Hide

In Genesis 3:9-13, God asks Adam and Eve, “Where are you?” after they ate the forbidden fruit.  He then asked, “What is this you have done?”  God already knew the answer yet asks the questions anyway, to let them know, hey I’m God, I know and see everything, there is nowhere you can hide where I can’t see you (Jeremiah 23:16-24).

He Meets Us in Our Unbelief

In Mark 9:14-29, Jesus approaches a situation of a crowd arguing and asks a few questions, “What are you arguing about?” “How long have I been with you?” A father desperately wants healing for his son who is possessed by a demon.   Right before Jesus arrived, the disciples were there trying to cast out the demon but were unsuccessful.  Jesus asks the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” The father responds, “But if you can do anything….”  Wow IF you can?  Jesus knew all the answers to every single question yet the crowd and disciples didn’t even know what they are arguing about until Jesus draws out the answer.

'All things are possible for one who believes.' Mark 9:23Click To Tweet

Don’t you wish God had a telephone number you could call him up at anytime, ask him any question and he provided an immediate answer?

In all of these situations, God knows the answer.  He knows what’s in our hearts.  He sees what we’re going through and what we’re struggling with.  He pursues us.  Meets us where we are and yet we still pursue the answer to what we want to know.

There is no harm in pursuing answers to our questions, but when the pursuit of the answer consumes us and brings more despair, maybe it's time we give our pursuit to God.Click To Tweet

We let him lead us so we can hear what He has to say.  We allow Him to ask us the questions so we can discover the deeper answer within us.

God is close to the broken-hearted.  Our brokenness draws us closer and nearer to him to hear him.  We may not always like God’s plans or what He has to say, but know the only answer we need to know is He LOVES US.  He knows what’s best for us.  We may not like it or want it, but know God is good all the time and desires the best for us.  There may be times when we suffer but know God knows the way through our suffering.  Jesus suffered too.  If anyone knows anything about suffering, it’s God.

Only God can turn our suffering into a door of hope.  Into His glory.  Into His greatest blessings.

What is the one answer you want to know?

Where has the search for the Answer led you?

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Mountains and Valleys

Many of us have read or heard of the very popular Bible passage Psalm 23, where David talks about God being his Shepherd, how he leads him beside still waters and restores his soul.  One part of this verse stirs something deep within my heart in verse 4.

Psalm 23:4 ESV

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,[c]  I will fear no evil, for you are with me;  your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Have you ever had a season in your life you didn’t want to be in, where you asked God, “Why am I here?”  “What am I doing in this place?”  With fists clenched, heels digging in the ground, telling God, “I don’t want to be here!”  Sounds like the valley of the shadow of death is one of those places.  Other versions of this verse also read valley of darkness or death.

What do you think David saw when he walked through the valley of darkness?

The valley David refers to in this verse is a valley in the desert of Judah.  Anyone who walks through this valley is putting themselves at risk of encountering anything lurking in the darkness, wildlife, bandits, even a random flash flood.

What strikes me, David is walking through the valley where there is a shadow of death.  Where there was a lot of unknowns surrounding him.  Anything could attack or happen to him at any moment.  Yet, he didn’t run away from the darkness, he didn’t take a different route, he walks right through it.

Do you think David knew he was going to walk through a valley of death?

I think many of us would have turned around if we knew what lied ahead.  We always wonder why God doesn’t share details with us.  If we really knew, we wouldn’t go where God was asking us to go.  David then says in response to walking in the valley, “I will fear no evil, you’re rod and staff comfort me.”  David knew even if he was in the valley he was safe and protected because God was with him every step of the way.

In Everybody Always, Bob Goff talks about fighter pilots who train in the valleys in between the mountains.  When asked why do they train at lower elevations where winds can get them, their response was, ‘so we can get better.’

God isn't always going to lead us to the safest route forward but to the one where we will grow the most. God knows without risk we wouldn't grow #quote @BobGoff #EverybodyAlwaysClick To Tweet

David knew walking through the valley would be hard.  But he also knew in the valley is where he learned to depend on and trust in God the most.  Walking through the valley will be dark and seem like God is far away.  When we trust in what God is able to do and not in what we see, He walks us safely to the other side every time.

It is so easy to praise God when we’re standing on the mountain but not always so easy when we’re deep in the valleys.

Imagine what would happen if we took the same approach as David?  If we faced our fears, our darkness and walked through them, depending on God for our guidance and comfort when we’re afraid?

In the valley is where we grow the most and receive the sweetest most unexpected victories when we trust God to walk us to the other side of our darkness.

Psalm 23:5, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”

God goes and prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies.  God doesn’t promise we won’t have to walk through our valleys in the absence of our enemies, but in their presence.  As our enemies surround us God our Shepherd, the master of provision provides for us everything we need in the midst of our battles.

The enemies in our lives are powerless over us when we praise him in our darkness–when we push through holding onto God’s hand, when we trust and don’t know how everything will turn out.  God’s generosity of mercy and grace then overflows in us, all the days of our lives and we will dwell in his house forever (Psalm 23:6).  In God’s house lies a sanctuary of peace and love like none other that sets us free from the fears of any darkness.

The next time fear gets the best of you, allow God to be your Shepherd leading you through your dark valleys.  Pray Psalm 23 over your situation.  Close your eyes and follow the voice of the Shepherd.  Trust in Him, take His hand, He knows the way.

A voice cries:[a]
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
    make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
    and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
    and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
    and all flesh shall see it together,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Isaiah 40:3-5

What season are you in?

How do you allow God to lead you through your valley?

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The Great Escape

In a few days, Christmas will be over.  Gifts will be given and presents will be opened. Just because Christmas will be over doesn’t mean the story of Jesus ends.

A very important prayer was answered over 2,000 years ago that changed the course of our lives forever.  During the time of the birth of Jesus, King Herod an appointed Roman ruler was king of Jerusalem.  He was a very ruthless and mean man.  He murdered his wife, his 3 sons, his mother-in-law, uncle, babies in Bethlehem and many others.  He was not a person the Jews wanted as their king.  They very much were waiting and praying for a new king, one that would save them from Herod’s rule (Matthew 2:1-2).

It all started with the Magi, the wise men who were following a star that predicted the birth of Jesus, the king of the Jews.  Even though the Magi were Gentiles, they went to seek Him in Jerusalem the Jewish capital city so they could worship Him (Matthew 2:2).  But after meeting with the chief priests and teachers they discovered baby Jesus wasn’t in Jerusalem but born in Bethlehem.
When King Herod heard the news of a possible king being born, he was angry.  He called upon the Magi to tell them “Go and make a careful search for the child.  As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him” (Matthew 2:7).  What the Magi didn’t know was Herod was an evil man and never had any intentions to worship the new king.
The Magi were overjoyed when they finally met baby Jesus and Mary.  They brought them gifts and bowed and worshipped Him (Matthew 2:10-11).  In their rejoicing, Satan was at work behind the scenes, using Herod as his vessel, creating a plan to have baby Jesus killed.
I love how God intervenes to protect His will and plan. 
How was baby Jesus able to escape the evil plan of the Satan?

3 Ways God Intervened:

  1. God warned the Maggi about Herod’s evil plan in a dream.  The Magi decided not to return to Herod but back to their country by another route (Matthew 2:12).  Herod learned he had been outwitted by the Magi, that he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under (Matthew 2:16).
  2. God sent an angel to appear to Joseph in a dream.  The angel said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt.  Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him” (Matthew 2:13).  So Joseph and Mary left with baby Jesus to Egypt until the death of Herod.
  3. After Herod died God sent another angel in a dream to Joseph telling him it was safe to head back to Israel (Matthew 2:19).

God was always one step ahead of Satan.  He knew Satan was using Herod for his evil plan, in an attempt to stop one of God’s greatest plans ever—God is bigger.

God heard and answered the prayers of those praying for a new king and saved (Mary, Joseph and Jesus) from the evil hand of Herod. God provided a way to escape from the plans of the evil one.  His merciful hands had it under control the entire time.
Satan will always be at work trying to prevent God’s plans from happening.  Whatever our circumstances are please know, if God is able to provide Mary, Joseph and Jesus an escape from Satan’s evil plans then God is able to do the same for us.  You are loved!
The only temptations that you have are the temptations that all people have. But you can trust God. He will not let you be tempted more than you can stand. But when you are tempted, God will also give you a way to escape that temptation. Then you will be able to stand it.  (1 Corinthians 10:13 ICB).
God’s timing and plan are perfect in every way.  If God can answer a prayer from 2,000 years ago, He can answer yours as well.
Your Prayers Matter.  Don’t forget to include PRAYER in Your Christmas Story.   You never know what one prayer can do, it might just change your life or someone else’s.
Do you include Prayer in your Christmas Story?
What have you prayed for this Christmas?
Here is a Christmas Prayer for you.  

A Christmas Prayer-

Dear God-  Thank you for your amazing gift of Jesus this Christmas.  Thank you for hearing our prayers and sending us Savior, a Messiah one that will redeem our world.  You are so merciful and gracious.  Thank you for sparing us and delivering us from the hands of the evil one.  May your light shine through us this Christmas to others.  May they see your bright light and know you have sent them a Savior.  May everyone know and witness your love.  May everyone receive the greatest gift of all this Christmas, eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen
Enjoy your families and know you are loved!
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Mary- A Heart Prepared

 

Are you getting ready for Christmas?  I don’t know about you, but every year I get caught off guard with all the preparation to get ready for Christmas!  It seems no matter how much I plan, there is always something to get ready for.

The busyness of Christmas can be distracting and overwhelming to our hearts because of all the extra stress the holidays add to our plates.   Then before we know it we are missing out on the very reason why we celebrate Christmas.

A prophet named Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David!  Is it not enough to try the patience of men?  Will you try the patience of men?  Will you try the patience of my God also?  Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:  The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (God with us)” (Isa. 7:13-14).

I Love how God Uses the Unlikely to Carry out His Almighty Plan.

In the verse above, the Prophet Isaiah was preparing our hearts for the arrival of Jesus.

Luke 1:26-35….”God sent the angel…to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David.  The virgin’s name was Mary….

Mary was just a young peasant girl who was about to be married.  Why would God choose her?  The angel Gabriel tells Mary, “Do not be afraid, you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30).  The Greek word for highly favored is charis which means grace.  God had found favor in Mary and bestowed a special honor on her.  God sent an angel to prepare Mary’s heart for God’s greater plan.

Gabriel, the angel prepares Mary’s heart, that she will be with child and his name will be Jesus.

Gabriel goes even further and tells Mary five things about her future son.

1.  He will be great.  Luke 1:32

2.  He will be called the Son of the Most High. Luke 1:32

3.  He will be given the throne of His father David.  Luke 1:32

4.  He will reign in the house of Jacob forever.  Luke 1:33

5.  His kingdom will never end.  Luke 1:33

“How will this be,”  Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”  (Luke 1:34).  This is what I love about Mary.  She doesn’t question the fact that the Messiah is coming, but rather that she would be used as a vessel for his arrival, a young virgin peasant girl.  She didn’t doubt or question God’s plan but how will this even be possible since she is a virgin?

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…”  (Luke 1:35).  

I don’t know about you, but I want a heart like Mary’s.  A heart that is ready to trust and receive God’s promises. Mary’s heart welcomed the angel’s message, by submitting her heart almost immediately after hearing his message!  She didn’t let her doubts or fears get in the way of God’s plan.  She allowed for God’s greater plan to happen through her by submitting her heart to God.  How wise was Mary’s heart to recognize this message could have only come from God Himself.

Mary heard the message of God’s promise, and her heart of faith was reassured by the words, “For nothing is impossible with God”  (Luke 1:37).  She even uttered the words, “I am the Lord’s servant, May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38).  No wonder God found favor with Mary.  God already knew Mary’s heart before He chose her.

I want a heart like Mary’s.

Can you imagine if Mary didn’t allow for God’s greater plan to happen and allowed her doubts and fears to get in the way instead?

Have you ever allowed your doubts and fears get in the way of God’s greater plan?

I have many times.

May we all have a heart like Mary's, a heart that faithfully responds to His promises. Click To Tweet

This Christmas before we allow busyness and distractions to take us away from the true meaning of Christmas, let’s stop and allow God to prepare our hearts for His greater plan.  There is a fullness of joy when we stay present in the presence of Jesus.  We can rest assured—that His peace will fill our hearts and joy will fill our souls when we allow for God’s greater plan to happen through us.

A heart prepared is a heart ready to receive God's promises of peace, hope, and joy.Click To Tweet

Have you allowed God to Prepare your heart to receive His Promises this Christmas?

If God sent an angel to you with a message, “Do not be afraid.”  Would you go where God was asking you to go?

Prayer:  Dear Lord Jesus, thank you God for your greater plan.  Thank you God for Jesus and preparing a place in heaven for us.  We pray we will have a heart like Mary’s, one that is obedient, faithful and trusting of your plan even when we don’t understand.  Prepare our hearts Lord for your greater promises.  We pray we will not get in the way of your plan but allow your greater plan to happen through us.  We pray for your will and ways to be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Help us not be afraid like Mary and allow for your greater promises to fill our hearts.  Help us stay present in your presence this Christmas and focus on the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Did you enjoy this blog post? Please share with others! Want more encouraging messages sent right to your inbox? Subscribe to my blog and receive a weekly Monday Message or like my Author Facebook page to catch the latest posts.  Have a blessed week!

I would love to hear from you! Leave your comments below!  Would you like to know more about the Christmas story!  Join me next Monday as we learn more about what the Christmas story means to you.  

Martin, J. A. (1985). Luke. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 205). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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