When Misery is Hard to Bear


Did you know that God pays very close attention to us? He takes a specific interest in our misery, especially when we cry out to Him in prayer.

The good news is He doesn’t just listen to us; He acts on our prayers. Just like He acted on behalf of the Israelites, who were enslaved to Pharaoh of Egypt, He will act on your behalf, too!

For years the Jews suffered under Pharaoh’s rule and then finally when the people probably thought there was no hope, God came to their rescue.

As with these people, when no hope seems to be in sight, He will stand up and make His greatest, most powerful move in your life.

“The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey…” Exodus 3:7-8

Notice what we learn about our Merciful and Gracious God:

  • He sees our misery.
  • He hears our cries.
  • He’s concerned about our suffering.
  • He comes down to rescue us.
  • He brings us up out of our demise into a good and spacious place of peace.

God is faithful. Faithfulness defines Him. We may not be consistently faithful. We may not always do the right thing. But if we confess our sins and trust in Him, He reveals to us who He is – faithful – no matter where we have been or what we have done. He forgives. He brings new life. His patience with us carries on and on; for even “if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot disown himself” (2 Timothy 2:13).

Don’t give up. Don’t relegate yourself to the failures. Cry out to your God! Cry out to Jesus! His arms are open; is your heart open to Him?

God’s words to you:

“I have paid close attention to you and to what has been done to you. I see your misery. I hear your cry for help. I’m here for you, my child. I’m here for you, did you hear that? Open up your heart and trust My ways; for they are good and perfect. I will come to you, rescue you, and give you a new strength so you overcome your slavery. You will be whole and free. Just do this one thing, will you? Trust Me. Meditate on My Word and believe that I AM who I say that I AM. I’ll take care of the rest for you.”

 

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Remove the Biggest Roadblock to God’s Miracles


When it comes to prayer, we can make the mistake of allowing what we deserve as sinners to keep us from asking God for His provision. While it is true, we are undeserving of God’s grace and His good gifts; we misunderstand the reason He answers our prayers. I know this has been true for me.

I have even gone as far as to intentionally not ask for my deepest desires; in essence, I have decided to punish myself for God. I consider that my sinful nature or things I have done in the past deserve His punishment and His rejection. So, I have held back my requests. I have ignored that one on one relationship that I need and He desires. I wonder how that has made Jesus feel? I’m sure very disappointed and hurt. Not trusting Him has to be painful. But even more than that, my reluctance to seek Him in prayer is not to let Him be who He is; it is to interrupt His character and will. It is to put a roadblock in His pathway.

Not only do I miss out, but He also misses out on fulfilling His very nature in my life. It’s like inviting a cook to your home to prepare a meal for you and your guests; you buy all the ingredients for a wonderful meal, show him everything in the kitchen, and then tell him he can’t cook. Or it’s like telling an Olympic swimmer who has practiced for years for the Olympics, and then the big day comes to compete; she arrives, then you tell her she can’t swim. To not petition God is to stand in the way of what He does best.

He wants to answer our prayers.

He must practice His grace.

It’s essential to His very being to be faithful.

Jesus answers our prayers because He loves us, not because we deserve the answer. And true love decides to love based on forgiveness. Our justified standing before God is not based on what we do or didn’t do, but on what Jesus did.

Jesus is our faithful Savior. If He can see through His death on a cross to the very end while we are yet sinners, so we can experience freedom from our sin, why would He ignore yours and my petitions that we ask of Him today?

No matter how big or small of a thing you ask or seek, Jesus is at the door ready to open. He will invite you into His Presence. He will grant you what you need without hesitancy. He will not give you a stone or a snake. That is what the devil gives. You can expect good gifts, for the Father of lights only gives what is good. There is no variation or shadow cast with His blessings. He is not a trick or treat kind of god; He is all about treats! He is good.

You may be sitting there reading this thinking, “But I have not been faithful to Him.” I have had that very thought. Out of guilt for my sin, I have decided I don’t deserve a good answer. But Jesus died for that. He covered my infractions.

You might say, “But what if what I am asking is just too far-fetched for God to answer.” I have said that. Are we serious? If He can raise Himself from the dead, what else could we ask that is more far-fetched than that? Our barriers to the requests we seek are not God’s inabilities, it’s our lack of faith and seeking.

James put it well, “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without doubting. For a doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” (James 1:5-7).

There are some key phrases I want you to note in this passage:

God, who gives generously – another word for generous is charitable. To be charitable is to give to an undeserving person. When one gives charitably, they do it because of who they are not because of who the person receiving is. God gives. It’s what He knows to do and be. I have never given money or food to the homeless person on the street because they deserve it. I don’t even know them. I give because I love and care that they have what they need. I’m human. How much more is God than me?

God, who gives…without criticizing – another word for criticizing is condemning. When we give our lives to Christ, we cross over the line from being condemned to no condemnation. The only accuser we will encounter is Satan. He accuses best whereas God blesses best.

Ask in faith without doubting – to doubt is to mistrust. It’s to think that God is not really who He says He is. It’s to disbelieve His ability. It’s to take our eyes off Him and put them on the circumstance. It is to hold the impossibility set before us above the One who can do the impossible. That’s idolatry! Faith pleases God. On the contrary, to not believe displeases Him.

A doubter….should not expect to receive anything from the LordThe roadblock to miracles in our life is not God, it’s our doubt; it’s our lack of faith; it’s you and me. Rand Hummel says in his book, Fear Not, “If I refuse to seek God’s will or purpose on a matter, God is under no obligation to deliver me.” When we concern ourselves with our problems and ignore God’s ability to solve them, we cannot expect deliverance.

God is rich in mercy.

He is great in love.

His grace has no limits.

There is no end to His glorious riches.

Miracles are His specialty.

All He asks of us is to have faith. He does not ask us to come to Him with a perfect record. He does not ask us to be upstanding citizens who live on the right side of the tracks. He asks us to believe Him humbly; for it is our faith that will move mountains. It is our faith that sees answers. It is what we choose to believe that will change our life (negatively or positively). If we choose to believe in the God who can do what’s impossible and does good by His love, we will see great and mighty things we did not even know or ask. It will be more than we could imagine. But if we choose to focus on what we deserve, we will keep ourselves from His goodness; we only gaze upon the goodness we could have.

I would imagine that Jesus walked away quite sad from His hometown. It was here that His earthly family did not believe in who He was. While they were astonished at His wisdom when He taught, they could not get passed their unbelief in seeing Jesus as their Savior and Lord. So, what did Jesus do? “He did not do many miracles there.” (Matthew 13:58). It was their unbelief that stood in the way of Jesus’ power to bless them. They were the roadblock to God’s grace, mercy, and love.

Our prayers are effective! We never need to doubt their power. We can truly trust that God is faithful to His word! The questions for us are:

Will we allow God to be good to us?

Will we knock on our Savior’s door?

Will we step out of the darkness of disbelief and experience the power of faith?

“Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” ~ Jesus 

 

 

 

 

Getting Real When You Pray


“How very simply does the good man pray, and yet with what weight of meaning! He uses no ornamental flourishes; he is too deeply in earnest to be otherwise than plain; it were well if all who engage in public prayer would observe the same rule.” C. H. Spurgeon

Be real when you pray. God can handle it! He does not want some superficial, fabricated, over religious fake of you. He wants you! He wants the heartbroken, angry, hurting, fearful, joyful, and thankful you!  Peter tells us to “give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” (1 Peter 5:7). With all of your might and with all of whom God made you, cast your cares on Him. It’s the humble, the real, and the transparent with whom God wants to dialogue. When the real you intersects with the true God, amazing things happen.

Just before telling us to give our worries and cares to God, Peter also tells us to “humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time” (1 Peter 5:6).

To be humbled means “to be leveled, to be reduced to a plain”.* It means to get to who we are underneath all that superficial, shallow, and surfaced self that culture encourages; it’s the real person who feels rejected and dejected.

To be humble is often understood as being humiliated, but that is the farthest from its definition. To be humble means to be authentic – to reveal the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, the temperamental, the all! Is it uncomfortable to be real? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely!

God already knows who you are, but often we come to Him all dressed up, full of “false” confidence and that “I got it all together” apparel. Sadly, this is not only false; but it also makes our prayers ineffective. The phony do not get the attention of God; only genuine faith does. And faith is best planted in the one who can be real.

One of the hardest things about prayer is that we must place ourselves under God’s authority – His control rather than our own. When we decide to be humble before the Lord, to be real with who we are, and understand that God’s hand is a hand of love, grace, mercy, and comfort; then we can come to Him trusting that He is our good, good Father, who only gives us good gifts. We can confidently approach the throne of grace, knowing full well that our good, good Father will bless, not curse. He will hold, not hurt.  He will lead, not desert.

Again Peter says, “give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” Did you see that? He cares about you. He cares about me. He cares for His people. This concerned Father is the God we place ourselves under. We are under the shadow of His wings, and He protects, as well as loves.

Why would we not bow under this? I’m shaking my head in wonder at myself.

Since we serve a God, who is a good, good Father, He delights in exalting His children. To exalt means “to raise us up to dignity, in honor and happiness.”* He is pleased to put our feet in a spacious place, and to grant us the strength and peace we desperately need in any and all situations that we face.

We may find ourselves strangled by the net of troubles in our life, but the net does not strangle our Father in Heaven. He is outside that net and has every intention to cut it with His omnipotence. As C. H. Spurgeon says with such description, “When we poor, puny things are in the net, God is not. In the old fable the mouse set free the lion; here the lion liberates the mouse.” Oh, how true! When God exalts us, He liberates us from the net of troubles and lodges us in the promise land of His favor.

There was a time in my life when my heart was so troubled. My world had turned upside down. I thought the scar of pain in my soul was wounded forever. The details of the situation I am not at liberty to share, but I can tell you about how I felt. And I can tell you how I prayed to our good, good Father.

The laceration this situation put on my heart was indeed unbearable. I remember so clearly the drive home from church that night. I went over and over in my mind what had happened. I cried and cried. The tears were so many that I could barely see the road in front of me. I prayed out loud. I screamed at God. I cried to Him. I told Him of my disappointment, my pain, my inability to forgive…my hopeless premonition. Broken, wrecked beyond belief, I bowed under His wing and asked Him to help me. “Help me forgive. Give me the grace that is foreign to this land. Make me a vessel of mercy. And please God, heal my heart and make it whole again.”

I’m telling you; He did just that! Today, I don’t even know what that pain felt like anymore. However, I do remember that God lifted me. I remember the mercy, the grace, the forgiveness that saturated my soul – literally my very being. And today, that situation has become my ministry to others who find themselves in the same place.

Oh how our God restores, so that we can restore others! God is really good at turning our misery into His ministry! He’s amazing like that! 

I learned from that time in my life that God could take all of me. I was leveled.  There was no energy to fabricate a false happy. Unhappy was all I knew. The pain was my intimate friend. My companion was despair, failure, and infamy. However, in that humble state, I reached up. I looked at the Maker of my life. I got real! And what freedom I felt!

Getting real with all of my being, God showed me that I could step onto that holy ground where the One and Only, could revive what had been lost.

I don’t know what you face today. I do know that life is full of its troubles, but none is bigger than our God. He knows all, can heal all, and overcome all. Pray, my friend. Come to the Father of Light and tell Him plainly all you feel and think. And watch…wait for it…He will exalt you. He will bring you to that spacious promise land that you want so badly!

Oh, how His grace is fully sufficient in our time of need. We just need to get real.

 

*definitions are from blueletterbible.com

One Prayer That Gives Others 7 Progressive Gifts


As Dan and I took five minutes this morning to pray together and read Colossians 1:9-12 we discovered that there are seven benefits that our prayers for each other provide for us. Keep in mind that while I am speaking of marriage partners in this blog, this same principle can be applied to anyone we pray for. Paul prayed the following for the Colossae church and we can do the same for our spouse and anyone else in our life. Look what results… ID-10032847

We continually ask God to fill you (person’s name) with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives” (Colossians 1:9b)

As we continued to read we saw 7 Progressive Gifts in verses 10-12 that our life will gain because of this one powerful prayer that Paul modeled. Because I have prayed this wonderful prayer for Dan and he for me, our day will include…

  1. …living a life worthy of the Lord.
  2. …pleasing the Lord in every way.
  3. ….bearing fruit in every good work that we do today.
  4. …growing in the knowledge of God.
  5. …strength with all power according to God’s glorious riches (no limits).
  6. …great endurance and patience.
  7. …a joyful thanks to our Father in Heaven.

What a great gift I could give him and one he gave me. In the midst of all these awesome gifts, God uses this prayer time between husband and wife to bind two hearts as one in His name. Praying together is the perfect reflection of a “…A cord of three strands not easily broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12).  Give the gift of prayer to your spouse today!  It’s priceless!

This image is from the portfolio of “tungphoto” from  FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Hope of Marriage


Our Pastor gave a great message last week on hope. As I was listening to this message again this morning, I couldn’t help but think of the many marriages that have lost hope and then acted on that hopelessness in divorce.

Pastor Zac uses the passage of Hebrews 10:23, “Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.” With this passage, Pastor Zac explains that we can hope in God because He is good for what He promises. Unlike many of us who promise this and that but are sometimes unable to follow through for various reasons, God is capable of following through every time. God’s promises are not only true, they are trustworthy. He has all that He needs to fulfill all that He promises.

I may not remember every single word of my wedding vows, but I do remember one passage that was read, “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” (Matthew 19:6). This was a pledge that my husband and I made to each other on that precious day of commitment. But it was more than a pledge; I believe it was also a promise from God to us. While we committed to not let anyone separate us, I believe that God would also not let anyone or anything separate us if we trusted Him for this promise in our marriage. On many occasions we have had people, circumstances, stress, (my driving skills!) and a whole host of things strive to separate what God joined together in us. But I will tell you, in those many times there is one thing that we did that taught us to hold on, push through and see God’s promise come to life in our marriage…

Many marriages are struggling today; some partners might think that God has broken His promise to them, but look back at what Hebrews says, “…let us hold tightly…” What are we holding tightly to? The hope of God’s promise. In a struggling marriage, it’s not that God has broken His promise; often times it’s that we have let go.

Marriage is not easy. Two different people coming together to create oneness in Christ is a journey of ups and downs; struggles and triumphs and even unity and separation. But one thing I know, if we can hold on tightly to the promise that God can unify the most desperate of marriages, He can deliver.

Dan and I have found ourselves in hopeless times in our marriage; what has kept us from the divorce courts and the way of culture? It was not love, not feelings, not romance, not sex, not even going to church – it was prayer! Prayer is a powerful adhesive that unites the most indifferent relationship. After a while, how can you hate the one you are asking God to bless? And I do mean to pray a prayer of blessing on the one who hurts you. This is not a “bring fire and brimstone upon my spouse” kind of prayer. Pray for them, not against them. Even if you don’t feel like it, do it. It works!

If you find yourself in a hopeless marriage with no light at the end of the tunnel, hold tightly to the Lord’s promise to you. I know it takes two to make this journey complete; one partner may not be so willing as the other. Or maybe you are so hurt you feel you can’t heal. You can! Trust me, you can! I suggest with earnest that in this time of waiting for the other and even for your own hurting heart to heal, pray. Pray for God’s Holy Spirit to give you power to hold on, for “after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10).

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Dear Lord, You are so powerful and able to heal whatever is broken in today’s world. Whatever is impossible is easy for you. I lift up the struggling marriages in our churches; I pray that you will be their glue, their magnet, their HOPE. Give them a view of Your trustworthiness and give them the courage to step out in faith and hold on and not let go. In this step of faith, be faithful as You are to heal their marriage and bring back together what You have joined. In Jesus Name, Amen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture By Rosen Georgiev, published on 04 April 2011

Out of the Angel’s Hand


Prayerlessness produces a life that lacks peace and fabricates a power ride of control that finds itself wanting; it bows to bad decisions and every temptation that comes into our life wins. Our flesh becomes weaker and our spirit (though willing) is quenched.

If you are experiencing defeat, despair and doubt – pray.

Specifically bring your requests to the Lord and the angels will have an offering of power to light before the throne of God.

“Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with the fire of the altar, and threw it to the earth; and there followed peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake”(Revelation 8:3-5).

What was mixed with the smoke of incense?ID-100105405

What came out of the angel’s hand?

When the prayers of the saints mixed with incense was filled with the fire from the altar, what happened on the earth?

 

antpkr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Incense with the prayers of saints goes before our God from the angel’s hand; when thrown to the earth, thunder, lightning and an earthquake are experienced! Now that is moving mountains, my friends! Do not take lightly your prayer life! “…The prayer of a righteous man is (indeed) powerful…” (James 5:16).

Can Our Words Heal our Depressions?


“God does not use us in the lives of other people because we do some things, but rather because we are something. People do not long to be around one who does a lot of things as much as they want to be around one who is what they admire. It is greatness of character and a life with depth that earns the respect of others. Those who have been honed and buffeted, bruised and melted in the furnace of affliction, and then emerge with emotional stability and inner strength – they are the ones who have a ministry in the lives of others. Their weakness is like a magnet….for when we are weak, He is strong” (Chuck Swindoll)

Too many count their depression as wasteful times in life, when in fact if they use them as a time to be refined, they can then be used in the life of another. Depression left alone and allowed to wallow in the dust just turns to dust. But depression brought into the light, allowed to be winnowed by the threshing spade will be useful in God’s kingdom.

The best way to winnow depression and allow it to be used for God’s glory is to bring our words to the Lord in prayer. The best therapy session where one can experience freedom is when they talk (use their words) with the counselor. The best counselor to speak to is our God! He’s free! He ranks higher than a five-star rating. He is the best and no one can even measure to His ability.

In addition, did you know that our words are an offering before our God, just as any other sacrifice? Indeed, look at what Hosea says, “…take words with you and return to the LORD. Say to him: “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips” (Hosea 14:1-2). “That we may offer the fruit of our lips” is an offering of prayer. Prayers are like the incense offering the Priests made on behalf of the people. Because of Christ, we don’t need a Priest to bring our words to the Lord, we can bring them ourselves!

“What a glory it is to bring our words to you, Lord! What a beautiful gift to winnow the darkness of our souls in the cave of deep prayer. You listen to us, you love us, you understand us and if we have sinned, your forgiveness is in abundance for us to receive. Thank you for being the Wonderful Counselor in our lives! In Jesus Name, Amen!”