You Are Invited

Over the last three days, I have struggled with my emotions. I’m sad one moment and suddenly angry the next. Sadness is something that I experience every now and then, but anger is not an emotion that I am used to. I can tell you that there is an element of grieving involved, but there were other reasons too. I planned on blogging about that today, but then a conversation with a friend brought this post about instead.

I shared with my friend about my emotional struggles over the last three days. She too has experienced emotional struggles. Hers are due to the loss of a loved one, the loss of a child. She spoke of having to choose to press through each day. I too have sensed that need to choose to press through the emotions and it’s physical effects. As we spoke, a past experience came to mind. It was the memory of my grandfather’s passing.

To this day I clearly remember his funeral. At God’s instruction I sat next to my grandmother, held her hand and meditated on His peace, the peace that passes understanding. I had this sense of her and I being encased in a protected bubble, encased in a ‘bubble’ of His peace. About a week later when my grandmother came for a visit, she mentioned the sense of peace that she felt at the funeral, a sense of being in a bubble. She had felt it too.

It suddenly became clear to me that the choice we make each day isn’t to press through emotions or struggles, but to choose to enter that ‘bubble’ of His protection and peace, choose to enter His Presence and abide there.

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him will I trust”…He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge… Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you… (Psalms 91, Amp)

The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.  (Proverbs, 18:10, KJV)

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me: for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30, KJV)

…Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. [So I went with him, and when we were climbing the rocky steps up the hillside, my beloved shepherd said to me] O my dove, [while you are here] in the seclusion of the clefts in the solid rock, in the sheltered and secret place of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely. (Song of Solomon 2:13-14, Amp)

…How often would I have gathered your children together as a mother fowl gathers her brood under her wings… (Matthew 23:37, Amp)

But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings… (Malachi 4:2, KJV)

…I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. (Psalm 23:6, KJV)

Daily there is an invitation. Come away. Abide in Him. In that place we experience His healing, peace, restoration, and love, Then we have healing, peace, restoration and love to take to others. You are invited.

One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD… (Psalm 27:4, KJV)

For those experiencing grief:

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows… (Isaiah 53:4, KJV)

The Comforter (the Holy Spirit) wants to wrap His wings around you and bring comfort and healing. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

I Have Wronged No Man

Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. So he went to the high priest. He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains. (Acts 9:1-2, NLT)

They rushed at …[Stephen] and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they stoned him… (Acts 7:57-59, NLT)

Saul persecuted, arrested and was responsible for the deaths of Christians. Yet later (as Paul) he says, “Please open your hearts to us. We have not done wrong to anyone…” How can someone with his history say that?

Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities… (Psalms 103:2-3, NKJV)

Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin. (Romans 4:8, NLT)

As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12, NKJV)

Today, I too can say, I have wronged no man. Not because I have always treated others as I should, but because of the blood of Jesus that brought me forgiveness of all of my sins. Today, I can also say that no man has wronged me. How can I say that? Have I always been treated right by all men? No, but the blood of Jesus was shed for them too.

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32, NKJV)

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. (Colossians 3:12-14;MSG)

I choose to forgive as freely and completely as He chose to forgive me. Selah.

Teach Me

Show me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day. (Psalms 25:4-5, KJV)

I’ve written on this topic before, but felt very strongly this morning that I needed to do so again and in greater detail. In 1997 my nephew passed away a few short days after his birth. Many shared their thoughts on why this happened, why God did this. I knew God, but I knew very little about His nature and His ways. My prayer to Him in the midst of it all was this, “God I don’t know what happened, but I don’t believe You did this. Teach me about healing.”

Within two months I found myself at a new church, though neither my husband or I had considered leaving the church we had been in for years. There is so much to this story, but for the sake of space and time let me just say that less than a year later I had become a part of the healing ministry at that church including volunteering in their hospital ministry and being a part of their healing school. Many years later, many prayers later, hundreds of people ministered to and prayed for later, I became the person ‘in charge’ of the healing ministry at our church. I was in charge of training the hospital ministry team and coordinating the ministry. I taught healing school and trained the healing school volunteers. Sixteen years later I am still praying for the sick and seeing them recover. How? I asked Him to teach me about healing.

It didn’t take me long to realize what it meant to ask Him to teach me. I asked Him to teach me about prayer and soon found myself as a young woman with jet black hair, sitting in prayer meetings where just about everyone else in the room had white or gray hair. I’m not trying to make much of myself. I’m making much of my God! I asked Him to teach me about prayer and I ended up with wisdom beyond my years.

I asked Him to teach me about love and to teach me how to love. While at this same church, I not only taught classes on healing, but I also taught many classes on God’s love.

I’ve asked Him to teach me how to be a good wife. I’ve asked Him to teach me about anything and everything I can think of and He always does.

Recently I shared this with someone going through a very difficult situation. One of the things they were battling was tremendous fear. It was not only a battle that was specific to this situation, but one that they had struggled with for much of their life. I encouraged this person to ask God to teach them about His love. Perfected love (His perfect love) casts out all fear. I also encouraged them to ask God to teach them how to walk free from fear.

He longs to lead, guide, instruct, encourage, and teach us. We don’t have to walk through this life alone. We don’t have to try to figure it all out on our own. Trust me you will never figure it out on your own.

Ask Him, “Teach me”. Let Him help you to have the abundant life His Son gave His life for. Selah.

…one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray… (Luke 11:1, KJV)

Touched

When I say the word ‘touched’ what comes to mind? Maybe you think of the physical act of touching. A hand reaching out to come in contact with a person or object. Maybe it causes you to think not of a physical act, but an emotional one. Being deeply moved emotionally by an act of kindness or by the suffering of another.

During a recent conference, one of the speakers shared on the woman with the issue of blood. Let’s take a look at her story in the book of Mark chapter five.

And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. (Mark 5:25-29, KJV)

I love what the conference speaker shared in regards to this woman. He spoke of how some make it seem as though she grabbed Jesus or clung to Him in some way. But he demonstrated what it means to touch. She reached out her hand and maybe with just one finger lightly, gently and momentarily came into contact with His clothes. All around Him people were pressing in. I picture people pushing and pressing being jostled about as they tried to get to Him.

And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes? And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? (Mark 5:30-31, KJV)

The disciples were thinking, “Are you kidding me? Who hasn’t touched Him?” as they were being pressed on all sides. But someone touched Him in a way that caused virtue, His healing power, to flow from Him. He wanted to know who touched Him in faith and received the grace to be healed.

As I listened to the speaker a song started to stir in my heart, He Touched Me. The song flowed through my heart and my mind. Then I heard His still small voice, “You’ve touched Me.” My heart was flooded with joy. My eyes filled with tears. I knew what He meant. He was not speaking of a physical touch. He was telling me that I had touched His heart.

Yes, He touched Me. Yet, I am humbled, amazed, and in awe of the fact that He is a Savior, our God, that we too can touch.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched… (Hebrews 4:15, KJV)

How Beautiful

Have I ever mentioned that I almost always have a song going in my head? Today I wanted to post the lyrics from one of the songs that has been playing in my mind for the last few days. It’s an oldie but a goodie.

How Beautiful by Twila Paris

How beautiful the hands that served
The wine and the bread and the sons of the earth
How beautiful the feet that walked
The long dusty roads and the hill to the cross

How beautiful, how beautiful
How beautiful is the body of Christ

How beautiful the heart that bled
That took all my sin and bore it instead
How beautiful the tender eyes
That chose to forgive and never despise

How beautiful, how beautiful
How beautiful is the body of Christ

And as He laid down His life
We offer this sacrifice
That we will live just as he died
Willing to pay the price
Willing to pay the price

How beautiful the radiant bride
Who waits for her groom with His light in her eyes
How beautiful when humble hearts give
The fruit of pure lives so that others may live

How beautiful, how beautiful
How beautiful is the body of Christ

How beautiful the feet that bring
The sound of good news and the love of the King
How beautiful the hands that serve
The wine and the bread and the sons of the earth

How beautiful, how beautiful
How beautiful is the body of Christ

There are some very ugly things to see in the world. I never watch the news, but I would read it on-line so I could pick and choose what I saw and read. Now just seeing the headlines can be disturbing. Violent or inappropriate images surround us. But when we look at each other we can see beauty, because we can see Him. How beautiful, the Body of Christ.

The Elephant in the Room

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down… Psalm 133:1-2, KJV

If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. Mark 3:25 NIV

I have attended many churches throughout my life. I attended two Catholic churches with my parents. I attended a small Pentecostal church with my husband and his family. My husband and I attended a Methodist church while in college. We were part of an Evangelical Word of Faith church for 14 years. Three years ago we moved to another church at the Lord’s direction and with our previous pastors’ blessings. It’s been an amazing journey. At each church I saw a unique facet of our amazing and multi-faceted God. Each church added another brushstroke to the canvas that holds the masterpiece God is painting… me. At each church I grew in my relationship with God. I wouldn’t trade a moment of it.

I entitled this post, the elephant in the room, because recently I have encountered something that is obvious to so many, yet unspoken. Ignored, but still there. I think it’s time we talk about it.

Since moving from my previous church to my current church, I have noticed something that I find very disturbing. When I speak to friends from my previous church, there is tension. There is awkwardness. There is this subtle undercurrent of competition regarding the two churches. I love everyone regardless of which church we go to. No matter how many church moves we’ve made, I still consider the people in each church family and friends. Each move we made was at God’s direction and I would not ask anyone to leave one church to come to another. That is between them and God.

I have invited friends to special events at our new church, not for the purpose of getting them to change churches, but because I love my friends and feel that they will be blessed and grow from the experience. They are always free to simply say, ‘no’. Yet, the response is often tension and then an account of what God is doing in their church.

I also come in contact with people that also attended and left my previous church. Some of them had an experience that left them hurt. When I talk to them about friends that are still there, once again the tension begins to build. I encourage those friends to let God heal their hearts of those hurts.

Can I just say that my church affiliation is not my identity. I didn’t feel that when I left one church to go to another that I was in my heart leaving the people of each church. My identity is not in the name on the building I choose to worship in. My identity is in being a part of the Body of Christ. When I was at the Catholic churches I was a part of the Body of Christ. When I was at the Pentecostal church, the Methodist church, the Word of Faith church I was still a part of the same body, the Body of Christ. Since coming to this new church, guess what I am still a part of the same Body that I became a part of when I gave my heart to Jesus 38 years ago, while a member of a Catholic church. I am still connected to the believers at each of these churches.

When we allow ourselves to be separated based on denomination, based on church affiliation, understand that we are not just allowing ourselves to be divided from another church body. We are allowing ourselves to be divided from a part of Christ’s Body.

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ… But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 1 Corinthians 12:12, 18-21

Whether we realize it or not, we need each other. The enemy would love to divide us. He knows a house divided cannot stand. He would love to divide Christ’s body. Let’s each examine our hearts and refuse to be divided from one another. This post is not just for those who attend my previous church, but also to any who have not attended my previous churches yet feel free to say unkind things about them or about any church or denomination for that matter. We can disagree, but we don’t have to be divided from one another in our hearts.

Jesus Himself said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” I think it’s time we stop judging, rejecting and condemning one another and start loving one another. A lost, hurt and dying world is watching.

And I end this by praying for myself, “Lord, search me.”

The Little Things

Many, many years ago I had a very interesting experience. I was just looking at the baby clothes at Dillards. Just looking. I wasn’t pregnant. I didn’t have any close friends or family who were expecting. I just like looking at baby clothes. I spotted this amazing Baby Dior outfit. It was so thick and soft, pure white with dark navy stars. As I admired it and dreamed of buying something like this for my own baby some day, I heard God’s voice. He told me to buy the outfit.

There seemed to be no reason to buy it other than God said. That of course was reason enough. I bought it and later that day He instructed me to give it to a woman who attended my church, a woman whom I had never met before.

I dropped it off at her home with some food, she’d just had a baby, but she wasn’t home, so I still hadn’t met her or spoken to her. Later I received a card in the mail from her thanking me for the food and thanking me for the baby outfit. She mentioned that she had seen one just like it before she had her baby only that outfit was white with gold stars. She said to God at that time that she wished the outfit came in blue. Not to be trite, but it was as though her wish was His ‘command’.

Last week I spotted some pumpkin butter at Calloway’s Nursery. I thought of a co-worker who likes anything and everything pumpkin flavored. I picked up a jar for him and a jar for us. This week as I arrived at the office I announced to my co-worker that I had a surprise for him. Before he saw what I had brought for him, he said, “Pumpkin butter.” How could he know?!

He said that recently he had told God that he needed to find some pumpkin butter locally. When he heard I had a gift for him, he just knew God had arranged for him to have his pumpkin butter.

Seriously God?! Baby outfits with blue stars, pumpkin butter? I have so many other stories like this that I could share.

I’ve been ‘mostly’ trusting God for a very big thing in my life. When He shows how much He cares about the little things in our lives, it makes me trust Him even more with the big things.

Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? – Matthew 6:26 NLT

Eyes of Love

Many years ago a woman shared with me her testimony of healing from cancer. She shared that she was lying in her bed dying of cancer when she saw Jesus walk into her room. She mentioned that He didn’t look at her. She said that He walked to the foot of her bed, but still did not look at her. Next He placed His hands upon her feet. She felt a warm sensation run through her entire body. Once again she said, “But He still did not look at me.” He turned and left, never looking her in the eyes. She was completely and miraculously healed of cancer that day.

As she shared her testimony I heard God speak. He asked me, “Do you want to know why I did not look at her?” My response, “Sure, if You want to tell me.”

This is what He said, “If she had seen the love in my eyes, she would not have wanted to stay.” I knew He meant she would not have wanted to stay here on earth, but would have wanted to join Him in heaven.

Recently I found myself facing pain from long ago that I had chosen to bury away inside my soul. As the pain flooded my heart I said to Him, “Can I see the love in Your eyes for me?” What I saw next surprised me, humbled me and blessed me immensely.

First I saw the eyes of God the Father full of sadness and pain as His only begotten Son died on the cross.

Next I saw the eyes of Jesus as He died on the cross. I saw intense agony as the pain racked His body and His life drained away.

This was not what I was expecting to see, but it was exactly what I needed to see. He loves me!

And Jesus, looking upon him, loved him… Mark 10:21

Truth

I sat with a couple yesterday. Both the husband and wife have recently been diagnosed with cancer. The weight of their illness hung heavy in the room. Hospice was coming later that day.

I sat with them and I read scriptures – Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24; Psalm 103:1-5; John 3:16; Luke 11:1-2, 11-12; Matthew 7:9-11; James 4:14-16; Mark 16:17, 18, 20.

I shared with them about healing being included in the work of the cross. I shared that Jesus paid the price for all of our diseases. I shared that God’s motivation for the cross was His love for us. I shared with them that it is our heavenly Father that we are praying to, not some distant, disinterested god, but a Father Who passionately loves His children. I shared that praying for healing was His idea, not ours. I shared that He gives us a part and that we can trust Him with His part.

Then I prayed with them.

In all honesty there are times when some little voice says to me, “Why are you doing this? Why are you getting their hopes up when things look so bad?” I don’t recall hearing that voice yesterday, but I do recall hearing this.

And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free. (John 8:32)

I was there to share His Truth. His Truth about healing and the Truth about His love for them.

I once shared these Truths in a class. A woman who attended that class mentioned to me later that her co-worker was complaining of having flu-like symptoms. She almost walked away, but then she thought “I just do my part and He’ll do His part.” She prayed with her co-worker and then walked away. Later this co-worker came to her and told her that her flu-like symptoms were gone. The lady who attended the class heard Truth. The Truth set her free to Trust God. Through her, God’s Truth set her co-worker free from illness.

I shared these same Truths with a friend who had stage 4 cancer. The doctors said there was no hope left. She was set free from cancer by these Truths. That was many years ago. She is still free today. And there are so many more I could share about.

What Truth from God’s Word do you know? Let that Truth set you free and then allow God to set others free as you share His Truth with them.

And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen. (Mark 16:20, KJV)

And these signs shall follow them that believe… (Marks 16:17, KJV)

By Faith, Grace, and Love

What’s on my heart today.

Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace… (Romans 4:16, KJV)

For [if we are] in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith activated and energized and expressed and working through love. (Galatians 5:6, Amplified)

IT IS BY FAITH

For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus [the leaning of your entire human personality on Him in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness]… (Colossians 1:4, Amplified)

Faith is leaning entirely on Him, trusting in His power, wisdom, goodness.

Because of faith also Sarah herself received physical power to conceive a child, even when she was long past the age for it, because she considered [God] Who had given her the promise to be reliable and trustworthy and true to His word. (Hebrews 11:11, Amplified)

Faith is believing that God is reliable, trustworthy and true to His word. He will do what He said He would do.

For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:10, KJV)

How did you release faith to receive the grace for salvation? Believe in your heart and confess with your mouth.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17, KJV)

THAT IT MIGHT BE BY GRACE

But He gives us more and more grace (power of the Holy Spirit, to meet this evil tendency and all others fully). That is why He says, God sets Himself against the proud and haughty, but gives grace [continually] to the lowly (those who are humble enough to receive it). (James 4:6, Amplified)

Grace is the power of the Holy Spirit.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9, KJV)

Grace is the power of Christ (the Anointed One and His Anointing) resting upon us.

WORKING BY LOVE

For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. (Galatians 5:6; KJV)

…and if I have faith [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but have not love (God’s love in me) I am nothing (a useless nobody). (1 Corinthians 13:2, Amplified)

No man has at any time [yet] seen God. But if we love one another, God abides (lives and remains) in us and His love (that love which is essentially His) is brought to completion (to its full maturity, runs its full course, is perfected) in us! (1 John 4:12, Amplified)

…God is love… (1 John 4:16, Amplified)

It is by faith (trusting entirely, believing in our hearts and confessing with our mouths) that we receive the promises by grace (His power, the power of Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives). It works by love, by receiving His love and humbling ourselves to yield to His love in us (allowing God to run His full course in us) so that we may truly love with His love.

It’s by faith that it might be by grace and faith works by love. Selah.