If only…

“If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well.” Matthew 9:21, NKJV

If only.  You have probably spoken or thought those words before.  I know I have.  Most of the time, these words said are like wishful thinking.  But what is astounding about this woman with the issue of blood was the action she put behind the desire of her “if only.”  She wanted to be healed and spent many years seeking a cure.  When Jesus came to town, she took the opportunity presented to her.  She knew that if she could reach out to Him, she would no longer have to wonder what it would be like to experience healing.  She had faith that she would.  Her belief propelled her from dreaming about her “if only” into putting action behind it.

Her story is powerful and quite an eye-opener.  For many, the “if only” does not come with expectation.  Perhaps that is why there is a lack of action toward fulfilling it because they are not expecting a change.  But wishful thinking was not for this woman.  She had already suffered enough, and now was the time to do something about it.  Granted, she had tried to “do” something before.  But now her doing is taking her, by faith, to Jesus Christ, whom she is convinced, can make her whole.

Are you convinced enough to move your “if only” from wishful thinking to have enough faith to do something about it?  That’s the difference between the two.  Wishful thinking is just that.  It does not expect the situation to change but, it is fun to dream and think about it.  Faith says I believe that things will change.  It is not always going to be like this, and it is waiting to back that faith up with actions that declare what it believes.

Hebrews 11 tells many stories of faith done in action that moves because of one’s belief.  When Peter himself wanted to walk on water with Jesus, he didn’t sit in the boat with the others and dream about what the waves would feel like under his feet.  He lifted his legs over the side of that vessel and stood where only his faith in Jesus would allow him to stand.

Faith is not at all passive.  Nor is it just about dreaming.  It is also about doing.  What is your “if only” asking you to do today for a better tomorrow?  There are many awe-inspiring and beautiful things still to be done in the lives of God’s people.  Don’t let your “if only” be a reason to put it on the shelf to collect dust.  Instead, let your “if only” propel you forward into wholeness.

Today, we can believe for more. Hope for more. And, put faith into action because our God “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” Ephesians 3:20.

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“Praying for the today’s that we face”

praying for the today's we face - unsplash pic

Father God, we know there’s a coming day when every tear that falls from our eyes shall be wiped away, a day when the trying circumstances we face here shall all be over, and we are looking forward to that day and rejoicing in the promise for it. We, also, are praying for the today’s that we face. We are praying for healing in the many circumstances of life: health, finances, relationships, souls restored, national conflicts to experience peace in You and through You. We are praying for people to be released and made whole from anything that comes against Your best for their life. In Jesus’ mighty name, we pray, AMEN!

Text-free photo above by Marta Pawlik on Unsplash

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“Rabbi, is it I?”

“Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, ‘Rabbi, is it I?'” Matthew 26:25, NKJV

Love betrayed. The betrayed and the betrayer locked in questioning gaze. A tension of certainty and doubt filling the air of what was to be a beautiful last dinner spent with His disciples.

On the one hand, is Christ. He has done nothing but show love, concern, and compassion toward all who met Him. From the miracles to the teachings, He has treasured each life that came across His path enough to compel Him to know that the cross was the only way to save them all. Love was His motto.

Then, there is Judas Iscariot. The betrayer. The sell-out. The one who was close to Christ but now has become an enemy of Christ. Selfishness is what compelled him to give it all up for thirty pieces of silver. Gain and greed were his mottoes. Love didn’t matter anymore.

The two together at dinner with the question in the air:

“Rabbi, is it I?”

Have you ever felt the sting of betrayal by someone to whom you have poured out love? It doesn’t feel good. Our Lord amazes me! He knew all things and yet subjected Himself to all things. He carried it all to the cross with the burgeoning of love in His very being. He suffered affliction, ridicule, and torment. Yet, those He loved and walked with these three and half years of His earthly ministry are nowhere to be found. One sold Him out and the others fled or denied Him altogether.

“Rabbi, is it I?”

Love causes us to do some crazy things. Love makes us suffer long with people who have worked our last nerve. Love keeps us from giving up and giving in. Love centers us back to the real mission at hand: which is to love some more.

Love caused Christ to look into the face of His betrayer and say, “You have said it.” Love put the plan in motion that will pay the price for it all. Love gave the okay for the process to start, redeeming man from themselves and the sin that had them bound.

Have you ever wished you could save someone you love from the mistakes they are making? Has the love you shown over the years not reaped the rewards you were hoping for? Has the one you loved turned their back on you?

Feelings that come from these questions don’t feel good. No more for us than they did for Christ. But, when we view His life and all that He dealt with in light of our questions, it breathes a new life of appreciation in all that He has done for us.

“Rabbi, is it I?”

We have not always been our best. We have not always crossed every T or dotted every I, yet, He continues to love. We have not always followed every command or taken every stand that we ought to, yet, He continues to love.

The next time when the love we shed for another seems to be all for naught, remember Christ. Remember how His love was betrayed. Remember how His love was afflicted. Remember how His love compelled Him to continue.

Remember all He did for every one of us despite us not being at our best. Let the knowledge of His love cover us today. Yup, it hurts sometimes but let that knowing what He did for us compel us to act as He did – with Love!

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

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“Focus Shift!”

 

“It’s all in how you look at it.”  At least, that’s what I hear some say.  Perspective, if you will, changes one’s outlook on a lot of things in life.

How do you view the position you are in now?  Is everything going okay for you or are you finding yourself fighting through, just trying to make it to the other side of adversity?

Perspective.

It’s rather hard to see the glass as half full when you feel half empty.  To imagine a silver lining when in all honesty all I see is dark clouds.  And, somebody must have put a rock at the end of my tunnel blocking out all light because I just don’t see it.

Perspective.

How we feel matters, but then again, it doesn’t matter.

When we feel positive and optimistic it is easy for us to shower others with attention and be pressed into service for their needs.  But, when we are in the midst of trials and travail, the negative and pessimistic seem to take up residence in our being, hindering us from bothering with anyone else other than ourselves and our own needs.

As I was pondering this I thought about Jesus on the cross.  It dawned on me, in the midst of the worse thing He would ever have to endure, how much He had a focus shift.  How much He paid attention to the needs of others despite what He was going through.

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do,” (Luke 23:34, NKJV).

Focus shift.  Instead of ranting and raving, Jesus, in His agony and pain sought the betterment of the very ones who were killing Him.  He knew He would die.  He knew the pain would not cease until He did.  This plan was going to go forth.  Yet, He focused on the needs of others rather than Himself.

How awesome is that?  Often, we hear these words during a Seven Last Words service on Good Friday, but can we even begin to imagine the strength and willpower it took for Jesus not to focus on Himself during that time?  For Him to look beyond what He was currently going through to care for and about others?  I don’t think we have a clue.  He immediately pleaded with the Father for their forgiveness.

“When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’  Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’   And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home,” (John 19:26-27, NKJV).

This is a blessed Son indeed.  Women in biblical times had no authority or protection if it were not for certain members of the family establishing care for them.  This is what we see Jesus doing here.  What did His mother have to endure?  Any mother out there knows and can sympathize with the sheer agony of heartbreak that Mary must have been going through.

He had to go.  He had to die.  But that didn’t make it any easier for her to comprehend.  It didn’t soothe the heartbreak at all!  A mother’s love doesn’t work like that.  It’s a special connection of heart that starts at the time of conception and never leaves her.  Jesus knew she needed special care.  This woman who had raised Him and loved Him through it all needed to be looked after in a special way.

In His time of desperation, it is a blessing that He shifted the focus and thought about Momma!

“Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise,” (Luke 23:43, NKJV).

Sinner.  Thief.  Criminal.  Yet, on the cross, he got the attention of Jesus.  How?  He had a repentant heart.  No matter what Jesus was going through He could never turn a blind eye to the one who wants to get right with God.  To the one who bears true, sincere, godly sorrow for all that he has done.

At that point in time, Jesus had been on the cross for a while.  How hard would it have even been for Him to push the air out of His lungs to form the words, “You . . . will . . . be . . . with . . . Me . . . in . . . Paradise?”  His body was fighting against Him in the battle between death and life, yet it was as if He couldn’t be bothered with the demands of His personal pain.  Somebody was seeking salvation, even in this late hour, Jesus stepped up the plate to care for the other man’s needs.  Focus shift.

Jesus knew what He was going through.  He wasn’t blind to the fact that He was in pain.  It’s what He CHOSE to do in spite of it all.  He CHOSE to focus on others!

You know what you are going through.  And, I’m sure you are not blind to the trouble you may face today.  But, what about others?  I observe people very closely.  Sometimes I wonder why does that man have sad eyes?  What thoughts are going through the one sitting on the steps over there?  That lady wrestling with a stroller, shopping bags, and kids on the bus stop, what does she have to face when she gets home?  I try to think about the “behind the scenes” of a person’s life.

Am I always successful?  No, but I do try very hard to be compassionate toward the people I come across.  We never know what someone is going through.  We never know when someone needs us to pay a little attention to them.  Jesus showed us that we can do that even in the hardest of times.

A tall order to fill?  Yes!  But one that will make a great impact in the lives we come across today.  You can even start right in your own home.  How can we pay more attention to the needs of those around us?

“It’s all in how you look at it.”

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“Not a word of God’s promises will fail!”

 

“Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass,” Joshua 21:45

The waiting – sometimes excruciating. The battles – hard-fought and horrendous. The enemies – many. The hopes and dreams of a people once enslaved – building. The promise – within sight. Victory – obtained. Possession – now.

The journey of the children of Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land had not been a road easily traveled. Through it all, they struggled with discouragement and wrestled with obedience. Battles ensued, some won and some lost. Crossing the Red Sea; crossing the Jordan. Walls were brought down at Jericho and lives fled at Ai. The sun stood still during the fight and kings were conquered. Now, they are at the promise but the road there was not easy.

The children of Israel and their excursion to the Promised Land, their struggles with the flesh and their attitudes, and holding onto hope while waiting for obtaining the promise reminds me of our Christian journey. The promise is before us but the road is not paved with ease and comfort as some would have you believe. The path we walk takes effort, sometimes great effort. The trials we face are often difficult. But the faith we hold onto is assured.

If life never threw you any curve balls then I wonder if you were in the game at all. What does that mean? There are a lot of messages that we hear that tickle the ears making the hearer believe that they will never suffer hardship on this Christian journey. It leaves the hearer bewildered when they do face difficulties. They are taken aback when struggles come to their home. They believed they would coast on through without any road closures or stumbling blocks. Discouraged, many throw their hands up in defeat before they obtain the promise.

Jesus said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world,” (John 16:33, KJV). You see, we have an assurance of a great promise at the end of our journey, but Jesus was very real and upfront to let us know that road won’t always be easy. Jesus led no one into a false sense of security that they would never have to experience any adverse circumstances. He said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation.”

Before reaching the Promised Land and even to the point of laying hold of the promise, the children of Israel had to fight their way through. But the Bible tells us, “Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.” They eventually were able to fully experience everything their souls had been longing for on that journey. The sights, the smell, and the taste of victory were theirs for their enjoyment. They had the good thing that God had promised.

I write words of encouragement in case you are in a curveball state; in case you have been sidetracked by unexpected discouragement. Still press forth in the journey. Don’t give in at the sight of struggles. Be determined in the forward march. Not a word of God’s promises will fail for you either. In fact, Psalm 84:11 says, “For the LORD is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly,” (KJV).

Keep your head above water and float on the promises of God who said, “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” (Deut. 31:6). I can’t promise you million dollars or that you will never spend nights crying over life, but I can promise that Jesus will be with you even to the end of the world, Matthew 28:20, KJV.

We have the blessed assurance of every promise that God has bestowed upon us. When adversity comes, know that you are not the only one going through it. Sometimes the journey will be harder than we like it to be, yet the assurance remains the same. In the end, if we hold on to our faith despite what our eyes are seeing right now, the promise is ours. “All came to pass,” for the children of Israel and it will for us too. “Be of good cheer,” Jesus said. “I have overcome the world!”

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“Know That God Hears!”

 

“I called on the LORD in distress; the LORD answered me and set me in a broad place,”  Psalm 118:5, NKJV

It was one of those moments in prayer when you could utter no words, tearing streaming down your face, and only one phrase keeps repeating itself in the heart. That was me one night and try as I might to redirect my prayer, the Holy Spirit within me kept drawing me back to Psalm 118:5. I couldn’t get past it. After several attempts to lead my own prayer, I acquiesced.

There had to be a reason why my heart stayed so solely on this one verse. A revelation struck in the midst, telling me that I needed to be reassured that God hears me.  Sometimes the heart, as faithful as it can be, needs the additional support of knowing God hears.

“I called on the LORD!” God has so many wonderful characteristics and attributes, but one of the things that always strikes me as impressive is the fact that He hears my prayers, Psalm 54:2. In all lowliness of mind and heart, we come before Him freely. The Sovereign of the universe becomes attentive to us, to our needs, and bows down His ear to take on our concerns. He doesn’t have to but He is mindful of us, Psalm 8:4. He centers Himself to focus wholly and completely on us.

“The LORD answered me!” God responds! Our deepest heart’s desires do not fall on deaf ears. God is not playing cat and mouse with us. He wants us to seek Him that He may be found. “Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near,” (Isaiah 55:6, NKJV). Then, He can respond!

How would we receive it if God verbally and clearly answered us? I, honestly, would probably freak out. But, answer us He does! How often have we gone in prayer, and the Sovereign of the universe has moved and acted on our behalf? Too many times to count! Often in my prayers, I am always thanking Him for inter-weaving Himself through every area of my life because I may not have heard an answer, but I can see His response. I can see Him moving mountains and obstacles. I can feel Him bringing peace in the midst of the storm. I wonder at His glorious love for us that causes Him to respond.

“Set me in a broad place.” Distressing times are tight. It feels as though you really can’t move this way or that. You feel locked in and bound up as if unseen shackles are imprisoning you. But, when God answers prayer, you feel release. You feel a freedom that was once a dream. It no longer feels like the walls are caving in on you, rather with a Herculean strength of the spirit, you feel like you can now push some stuff out of your life and move on.

My heavenly Father hears me! There’s no need to get too deep with words here. Sometimes we just need to be reassured of these old, simple truths. God hears me! Take that, and go in the peace of God today.

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Victory Shall Be Mine!

 

This not meant to be deep, just encouraging to all who are out there fighting today.  Reading in my Bible, I came across some very inspiring verses (as usual 🙂 ).  I was reading in the book of Joshua where conquests were being made in the name and in the power of the Lord.  Enemies continually came out to fight against God’s people.  At one point Joshua 11:4 says, “So they went out, they and all their armies with them, as many people as the sand that is on the seashore in multitude, with very many horses and chariots,” (NKJV).

By all normal accounts, this should have been the end of God’s people.  According to the standards of human perception they were outnumbered and out powered.  But, God . . .

God told Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them, for tomorrow about this time I will deliver all of them slain before Israel,” (Joshua 11:6, NKJV).  Not one shall escape, but all would fall under the power of God working through and for His people.  And, if that wasn’t encouraging enough, as I continued reading I came to Joshua 12:7-24 where it lists 31 kings that fell because God was fighting for His people.

That lets me know that no matter what the odds look like that’s stacked against us, they can never out stack God.  God is a victorious God and we are meant to be victorious people in Him.  We are conquerors; we are people of conquest.  It may seem insurmountable to us, but God has already climbed the highest mountains that we face and He has already won the battles against the greatest armies of enemies that try to come against us.

Don’t let the numbers against you phase you.  “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them,” (2 Kings 6:16).  Since we have God on our side – we have more than they!  We outnumber the enemy.  Victory shall be ours. 

“Our Thoughts Vs. God’s Leading”

 

I have learned, that as humans, we don’t really know what we want some of the time.  Oh, we have goals, desires, and aspirations, but often how to attain them becomes skewered in our thinking.  We may pray for God to move this obstacle out of the way or transfer that particular issue over there, and when He does, we are just not happy or totally satisfied with the results.  Sometimes things don’t look or feel like we thought they should.

That’s because as humans we have to realize our limitations.  We are not all-knowing.  We can barely get through one day with all our faculties intact, let alone for us to try to tell our own end from the beginning and what we think our tomorrow and future should look like.

We can pray about things that bother us and concern us but ultimately we have to be willing to let God lead.  And, sometimes we even have to pray that He would help us to follow that leading.  When He leads, we don’t always understand the outcome, but then again, if we did, it wouldn’t be the walk of faith, filled with trust in our God that we are called to walk.

Our thoughts can lead us into the land of wondering, but it is our daily prayer that our hearts will follow God in the pursuit of what He has in store for our lives.  The Bible tells us, “The LORD knows the thoughts of man, that they are futile,” (Psalm 94:11, NKJV).  Some other translations relate that word “futile” found in the NKJV as “worthless” (NLT), “vanity” (KJV), and “meaningless” (HCSB) just to name a few.

In other words, our thoughts about a situation compared to God’s cannot be matched.  Did not the Bible tell us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts,” (Isaiah 55:8-9)?  What He knows about a circumstance far surpasses anything our intellectual capabilities can begin to even imagine.  With that being said, our thoughts take a back seat to His sovereign leading.  

As hard as it may be to let go of the wheel and allow God to steer, it is something we must do if we are to drive in the right direction and course for our best and most successful life in Him.  We have to end the constant back and forth tug of war for control of our lives and submit to the One who is in control of our lives.

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