Living in Deep Darkness

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I will give you the treasures of darkness. —Isaiah 45:3

In the famous lace shops of Brussels, there are special rooms devoted to the spinning of the world’s finest lace, all with the most delicate patterns. The rooms are kept completely dark, except for the light that falls on the developing pattern, from one very small window. Only one person sits in each small room, where the narrow rays of light fall upon the threads he is weaving, for lace is always more beautifully and delicately woven when the weaver himself is in the dark, with only his work in the light.

Sometimes the darkness in our lives is worse, because we cannot even see the web we are weaving or understand what we are doing. Therefore we are unable to see any beauty of any possible good arising from our experience. Yet if we are faithful to forge ahead and “if we do not give up” (Galations 6:9), someday we will know that the most exquisite work of our lives was done during those days when it was the darkest.

If you seem to be living in deep darkness because God is working in strange and mysterious ways, do not be afraid. Simply go forward in faith and in love, never doubting Him. He is watching and will bring goodness and beauty from all of your pain and tears. –J. R. Miller (from Streams in the Desert Devotional)

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31 Specific Prayers for Your Children

One of my favorite sites is Greg Laurie’s Harvest.org. I receive his daily devotional emails, and although I’m a little late in sharing this because it was for Father’s Day, it is always appropriate for parents to pray for their children.
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31 Specific Prayers for Your Children

By Greg Laurie
 …..
Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.
….. 
Happy Father’s Day! For Dad (or Mom), here is a prayer list you can use to pray for your kids! 
…..
  1. Pray that your child will come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
  2. Pray that your child will have a healthy fear of the Lord.
  3. Pray that your child will have a heart for the lost.
  4. Pray that your child will love obedience.
  5. Pray that your child will develop godly character.
  6. Pray that your child will love and want to live God’s Word.
  7. Pray that your child will recognize God’s voice.
  8. Pray that your child will love learning.
  9. Pray that your child has an appetite for truth.
  10. Pray that your child will love the things God loves.

Read the rest here.

Used by permission from Harvest Ministries with Greg Laurie, PO Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514.

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Raining Blessings

This is another devotional from Streams in the DesertIt made my eyes leak. 

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God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.
—Genesis 41:52

A poet stands by the window watching a summer shower. It is a fierce downpour, beating and pounding the earth. But the poet, in his mind’s eye, sees more than a rain shower falling. He sees a myriad of lovely flowers raining down, soon breaking forth from the freshly watered earth, and filling it with their matchless beauty and fragrance. And so he sings:

It isn’t raining again to me —it’s raining daffodils;
In every dripping drop I see wildflowers upon the hills.
A cloud of gray engulfs the day, and overwhelms the town;
It isn’t raining rain to me—it’s raining roses down.

Perhaps you are undergoing some trial as God’s child, and you are saying to Him, “O God, it is raining very hard on me tonight, and this test seems beyond my power to endure. Disappointments are pouring in, washing away and utterly defeating my chosen plans. My trembling heart is grieved and is cowering at the intensity of my suffering. Surely the rains of affliction are beating down upon my soul.”

Dear friend, you are completely mistaken. God is not raining rain on you—He is raining blessings. If you will only believe your Father’s Word, you will realize that springing up beneath the pounding rain are spiritual flowers. And they are more beautiful and fragrant than those that ever grew before in your stormless and suffering-free life.

You can see the rain, but can you also see the flowers? You are suffering through these tests, but know that God sees sweet flowers of faith springing up in your life beneath these very trials. You try to escape the pain, yet God sees tender compassion for other sufferers finding birth in your soul. Your heart winces at the pain of heavy grief, but God sees the sorrow deepening and enriching your life.

No, my friend, it is not raining afflictions on you. It is raining tenderness, love, compassion, patience, and a thousand other flowers and fruits of the blessed Holy Spirit. And they are bringing to your life spiritual enrichment that all the prosperity and ease of this world could ever produce in your innermost being.  —J.M.M

Songs across the Storm

A harp stood in the calm, still air,
Where showers of sunshine washed a thousand fragrant blooms;

A traveler bowed with loads of care
Struggled from morning till the dusk of evening glooms
To strum sweet sounds from the songless strings;

The pilgrim strives in vain with each unanswering chord,
Until the tempest’s thunder sings,
And, moving on the storm, the fingers of the Lord
A wondrous melody awakes;

And though the battling winds their soldier deeds perform,
Their trumpet-sound brave music makes

While God’s assuring voice sings love across the storm.

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Mortal Meets Immortal

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Envision that you are standing in the very presence of Jesus when He walked this earth, so close you could reach out to touch the Savior as He healed all manner of illness and disability. Most diseases in Jesus’ day had no cure. Imagine celebrating exuberantly with those individuals who, within seconds, were transformed from a life of physical or mental misery into complete health. Those who formerly depended on others to provide their most basic bodily needs were suddenly transformed to wellness and independent living by a mere word from Jesus.

A desperate woman who had suffered a hemorrhagic affliction for twelve years, had exhausted her finances consulting numerous physicians, with no relief. Her life was limited; constant bleeding rendered her unclean, preventing her from worshiping in the temple. She had heard that the Healer was in town, so she devised a plan. Her most critical aspiration was jostling through the tightly congested crowd pressing against Jesus. She was convinced that a slight touch of Jesus’ flowing outer cloak would be sufficient to transfer Jesus’ healing powers to her ravaged body. Whether the diseased woman’s scheme was pre-meditated or if she acted on impulse, we will never know. Of one fact we can be sure—she needed her plan to succeed.

“‘Who touched me?’ Jesus asked.” (Luke 8:45).

Being exposed wasn’t part of the woman’s plan. She commingled with the crowd engulfing Jesus, intending to quickly touch Jesus’ clothing, discreetly slipping away healed and unnoticed. It isn’t Jesus’ method to perform healings on demand. He came to earth as the Son of God to accomplish the will of His Father in heaven, to obey Him explicitly, and to bring glory to His name. Jesus wouldn’t permit the woman to recede into the crowd before He announced her healing and she made a public profession of faith.

Photo credit: Wikimedia

Photo credit: Wikimedia

“Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me. I know that power has gone out from me’” (Luke 5:46).

With crowds of people encircling Jesus, it was inevitable that several in the group casually brushed His clothing or unintentionally bumped against Him. Jesus knew the one who contacted Him hadn’t brushed His clothing accidentally. The woman’s touch was different and distinct; light but intentional. She probably stretched her arm to its maximum length from as far away as possible, believing that a delicate touch of Jesus’ garment would harbor sufficient strength that would transfer to her body.

When Jesus inquired about the person in the crowd who had touched Him, the disciples were incredulous. Peter addressed the peculiar question for all of them. “‘Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you’” (Luke 8:46b). The disciples thought it futile to seek out one elusive person among a massive crowd of admirers.

“Then the woman seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling at his feet. In the presence of all the people she told why she had touched him, and how she had been instantly healed” (Luke 5:47). Mortals cannot touch the immortal without phenomenal results occurring. The mortal is always empowered or energized; changes occur like fireworks illuminating a pitch black sky.

Jesus didn’t touch the woman; she reached out to touch Jesus, resulting in an instant healing.

“Then he said to her, ’Daughter your faith has healed you. Go in peace.’” (Luke 5:47-48). In the Gospel accounts this woman is the only individual Jesus addressed as daughter, a tender, loving term Jesus used to express compassion for her and praise for her faith.

When we approach Jesus in prayer, is it with a believing heart overflowing with trust? Or do we, like some in the crowd, doubt a brush with Jesus will have lasting consequences? We are commanded to exemplify a solid belief in Jesus, reflecting faith, convinced that Jesus has an ultimate purpose for our individual lives. “Confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6).

The woman touched Jesus with intent, convinced that when she boldly reached out to Him, Jesus would respond with healing powers. Jesus never disappoints! Let us react in prayer like the suffering woman Jesus commended for her faith, unlike the crowds of complacent curiosity seekers who knew not the depth of love and power in their midst.

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“For God didn’t give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).

We may not physically stand in the presence of Jesus today, but He is ever-present in our lives, encouraging us to commune with him through prayer. Like the woman who was determined to touch Jesus’ garment, our outreach may be vague, even tentative, but with boldness and confidence we are privileged to call on Almighty God, knowing He answers each of our prayers. Jesus is just as accessible to us in prayer as His physical presence was real to the suffering woman. She approached Jesus with confidence and courage, the methods with which we are commanded to pray. The difference is that the woman walked toward Jesus physically trembling in fear. We are not to fear Jesus, but to reverence Him with a prayerful attitude of boldness and strength.

Jesus-Spotlight-50--AMPWithout a doubt, Jesus performs healing miracles in our current age. Jesus is more available to us today than He was to the people who solicited His attention centuries ago. We need not push through crowds to reach Him; our faint call of Jesus’ name alerts Him to our needs immediately, assuring us of His undivided attention. He then responds from His throne in heaven, adjusting His responses to conform to His sovereign plans for our individual hearts.

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Memorial Markers

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Now this day will be a memorial to you,
and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD;
throughout your generations you are
to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.
 

—Exodus 12:14

Two years ago today, I enjoyed a day completely free of pain. Days like this are so unusual that I make sure to remember them by setting a memorial/memory marker for each of these times.

I’ve written about memory markers before. These are referred to in the Old Testament as memorials. God encouraged His people to pile up some stones in the places of special blessing as a memorial for them to remember things He had taught them and didn’t want them to forget.

The meaning of the Hebrew word for memorial (v. 7) is “to remember.” Given man’s propensity to forget it is little wonder then that memorials have frequently played an important role in biblical history. At the foot of Mt. Sinai, Moses built an altar of stones to commemorate God’s covenant with Israel (Ex. 12:14) . Now in today’s text we see God command his people to erect a memorial.1

I have my own version of these memorial markers to commemorate certain days or events I don’t want to forget by adding them to my cell phone calendar and setting alerts.

It is so easy to get caught up in the cycle of pain, thinking that’s all there is in my life. However, God gives me special days and occasions to remind me that He is always with me and will never let me go. So I cling to these memorial markers during the ongoing days of chronic illness when it often seems I will never climb out of the pit.

What this has done in my life has been remarkable. It used to be that I would mentally cry “I don’t understand!” But now, even though I still don’t understand (because I’m not God), I find myself telling Him, “I don’t get it, but I trust that You know what You’re doing and that’s good enough for me.”

You see, God has shown me that He wants me to remember that I can always count on Him. So on each of my pain-free occasions, I have made a new memorial marker on my phone calendar so I can recall the day (or event) and the outcome when I need encouragement.

Beloved, I want to encourage you today if you’re going through a tough time. It is so easy to be thankful when things are going well but understandably much harder to have thankful thoughts when everything seems to be falling apart.

I know what I’m talking about here.

I once read a devotional that confirms what I have long suspected. We were encouraged to store up the memories of precious times when we felt God blessing us with something special, and slide those memories out during the tough times.

In other words, remember the good during the not-so-good.

Here is the crucial part of trusting God: each time I choose to trust God during a particularly puzzling and/or frustrating situation, He demonstrates His faithfulness to me. Sometimes that means He answers a particular prayer in a particular way. Other times He fills me with the overwhelming sense that I can absolutely trust Him while He works behind the scenes, even if it doesn’t feel like He is hearing me. This is where faith comes in.

During one of the toughest times in my life, God pointed me to Isaiah 26:3 and I cling to it to this day:

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“You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”

Beloved, how about you? Do you do anything to remember those sweet, special times where you can see the Lord at work? And if so, share how you commemorate those times in the comments below. 

1“Building Memorials to Remember God” from Sermons.Logos.com 

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Happy Mother’s Day

I’ve written before about how my Mom loved red geraniums and grew them in a large planter that was on the front porch of one of our homes. I bought some red geranium plants last year in memory of Mom and displayed one of them in an old corn planter that we have in our backyard. I loved the look of the vibrant red against the true vintage look of this planter, but as usual our ever-present breeze (aka strong winds) blew most of the flowers off, so I moved the plant to our front porch. At least I took a picture of it before all the flowers were gone! The Lord took Mom home in 2007 and I miss her more with each year that passes. This is for all the Moms out there: those who are still with us and the ones we can no longer hug but whose face and memory we carry in our hearts. Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother’s Day

Miss you, Mom …
red geraniums always remind me of you.

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How to Be Content

Have you wondered how it is possible to be content in this chaotic, sin-sick world? This is a wonderful piece by Sam Storms. Please visit his Enjoying God blog to read more great articles.

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The Secret of Spiritual Contentment

By Sam Storms

What could the Apostle Paul possibly mean when he says that he has “learned” to be “content” in whatever circumstance or situation he’s in? Here is what he writes:

“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:10-13).

Key verse from this article:

The issue for us all is resting and rejoicing in Jesus to such an extent that neither poverty nor prosperity has any affect on us, whether for good or ill.

Read the rest here.

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Spring HOPE Collage

Doesn’t Spring feel like it’s taking forever to get here? In some parts of the country, it must seem like it’s still winter because the snow is still melting. Here in northern Arizona, our daytime temps hover between 50-60 but the ever-present winds make it seem much colder. No matter where we live in the U.S., I think we could all use a bit of Spring hope!

The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring. —Bernard Williams

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Be strong and let your heart take courage, All you who hope in the Lord.
—Psalm 31:24

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The New Covenant Fulfilled

This is from J. Vernon McGee’s Thru the Bible commentaries.

The Last Supper 18
Photo credit: Flickr.com


And when He had taken some bread and given thanks,
He broke it and gave it to them, saying,
“This is My body which is given for you;
do this in remembrance of Me.”
And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying,
“This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.”

—Luke 22:19-20

The Lord took two of the most frail elements in the world as symbols of His body and blood. Bread and wine—both will spoil in a few days. When He raised a monument, it was not made of brass or marble, but of two frail elements that perish.

He declared that the bread spoke of His body and the wine spoke of His blood. The bread speaks of His body broken—not a bone broken but a broken body because He was made sin for us (see 2 Corinthians 5:21).

I do not believe He even looked human when He was taken down from that cross. Isaiah had said of Him, “…his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men” (Isaiah 523:14); and “…there is no beauty that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2).

For centuries the Passover feast had looked forward to the Lord’s coming and His death. Now He is in the shadow of the cross, and this is the last Passover. The Passover feast has now been fulfilled.

We gather about the Lord’s Table and search our hearts. What we do at this Table is in remembrance of Him. We look back to what He did for us on the  cross, and we look forward to His coming again. “For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come” (1 Corinthians 11:26).

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