Photo by Melanie Lamb Lasterday… All of us grandmas know how endearing those words are that our grandkids have coined when they hear a word differently and, trying to make sense of it, say it… More
Nearly all of us good Christian girls have a copy of “The Book of Bible Promises.” Maybe it was a graduation gift or a “prayer partner” gift from a friend at church. In the front of the book it lists different issues you might be praying about matched up with scripture that addresses the promise of the answer. I’ve used it to encourage others that are dealing with difficult circumstances. Slapped a verse on a “Thinking of You” card in the hope that it takes away their pain like a magic pill.
Now there is nothing wrong with using the Word of God in the hope of helping someone. The prophet Isaiah records what God told him about HIs Word:
Isaiah 55:11 “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth: It shall not return to Me void but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
Yet, I have been reminded, while studying the life of Abraham and Sarah, in the book of Genesis, that promises have conditions that we cannot interfere with, or we could find ourselves waiting for a very long time for their fulfillment. For Sarah, it was 25 years.
A little background. God chose “Abram” to be the “father” of His people (Genesis 12). God established a covenant with him that He would make his descendants as “many as the dust of the earth” (Genesis 13:16) and as “stars of the sky for multitude” (Genesis 15:5). And those descendants would come from the union of dear, old, Abram and Sarai.
Quite a promise to a man already 75 years old, with a wife of 65 years. There would be four reminders of this promise until little Isaac was born to Sarah. Abram was re-named Abraham by then and Sarai was re-named Sarah, and they were 100 years and 90 years old respectively.
Can you even imagine how hard it was, how “impossible” it seemed to them, to her? She knew when her periods stopped. She knew her husband was not as energetic as he used to be? How could this be?
During her years of waiting, the couple were visited by “three men.” And one of them was Jesus, Genesis 18:1-15, gives the account. The time was coming close to the fulfillment of the promise and there was still some unbelief in Sarah’s heart, because she laughed a smirky (I know that is not a real word) laugh. Not out loud, but in her heart. But Jesus was there, and He knew what her heart did and called her out.
Genesis 18:15: “But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. And He said, “No, but you did laugh!”
And this after He has just said to her:
“Is anything too hard for the LORD?” (vs. 14)
Goodness. That verse is probably in my Bible Promises book, but it never hit me so hard. What is my impossible? Nothing. Because there is nothing too hard for God.
The Bible reinforces this in other scripture, Luke 1:37, “For with God nothing will be impossible.” It’s interesting to me that this promise is related to a baby being born to an old woman as well. The angel tells Mary that her cousin Elizabeth was with child, “in her old age” (vs. 37). Formerly “barren” women, given such privilege. Two old women, Sarah and Elizabeth, having a crucial role to play in bringing us Jesus. Wow.
Are we guilty of believing that our impossible is too hard for God? Do we believe that fulfilled promises only come to those who are more talented, more intelligent, with more strength, more patience, more beauty, more wisdom, more self-discipline, those more organized, with more resources, with a better background? Does any of this matter, is anything too hard for God?
As I think about aging, now that those years are closer to me than ever before, I am, I confess, afraid. I want to fight it tooth and nail instead of embracing the season that for me seems most difficult. The examples of Sarah and Elizabeth help me to see that God chooses older women to do huge things. And He blesses and makes and keeps promises to older women. I don’t know for sure but I don’t think these two ladies were afraid when they were given those promises. Their reactions were what any woman would do when they knew the truth of the natural process of biological aging. Only God could deliver the fruit of those promises.
I am thinking now of the biggest and most important promise of all – Salvation – and Jesus told his disciples the absolute truth when they asked Him, “Who then can be saved?” (Matthew 19:25)
Matthew 19:26, “But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”
The “look” of Jesus, can you imagine? He looked at Sarah and called her out. He looked at his disciples and told them the truth. He looks at us and He truly sees all of us. There is nothing hidden, so why not believe for the impossible?
If you have experienced His salvation, you have the privilege of prayer and access to fulfilled promises. What is your impossible? Don’t smirk, don’t even think about smirking. Be like the victorious Sarah that is mentioned in the “Hall of Faith.”
Hebrews 11:11: “Through faith also Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.”
Just like you and me, she failed a few times, but she got there. And some of those failures produced whoppers of consequences, but she got there. She got there because God is faithful to use everything for our good and His glory. (Romans 8:28) If we do not believe for the impossible, are we judging God unfaithful? Scary thought.
I don’t know what your impossible is right now, but please don’t give up. If God has made you a promise, He will fulfill it. Let’s all just try not to get in His way.
Don’t you love it when everything is “in it’s place.” I was always taught that everything has it’s place and should be in it’s place and all would be good. There has to be a clean up time and now that Spring has sprung many of us ladies will be dusting off the cobwebs of winter and letting in the fresh air. Cleaning and organizing.
Do you remember the activity sheets in elementary school where they have pictures of items and you are supposed to put an “X” on what doesn’t fit the pattern? A baseball, a football, a soccer ball … then a tiara. Which one is “out of place?”
Where do we take our heart-wrenching needs though? Are their bins for problems, say for family members, work, health, dreams? Can our prayers get dusty? Waiting on God to do something? Are you tempted to put that request in file 13? Or, heaven forbid, take that other one into your own hands?
While walking and talking to God this morning, I was reminded of some prayers that He has graciously answered lately. Some “time-specific” prayers that concerned things I wanted to take into my own hands. Instead I took them to Him to handle. And He did, so perfectly. I praise Him for that because it has taken me a long time to learn that putting concerns in their right place is crucial to live out my faith.
“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.
The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the work of thine own hands.” Psalm 138:7-8 (KJV)
So where do we need to put our troubles and concerns? In the hands of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Say His name over all your cries for help, all those things you really have no control over and experience His faithfulness. Unclutter your heart and mind of concerns that need the touch of God. Put them all in their proper place, His holy hands. You are a beautiful work of His hands, and He will never forsake you.
I have never felt so powerless. The other day all I could do was weep because there is something happening right now that all I can do is watch. I want to help. I want to change what is happening, but I can’t. All I can do is watch. And it feels awful.
As Easter is near, and this is “Holy Week” most of the thoughts of Christians are on what happened to Jesus. How awful it was that a perfect Man, loving in all of His ways was crucified. The perfect example of kindness and holiness was falsely accused, scourged, nailed to a cross. Spat on. Insulted. Shamed. Pierced. And all that loved Him and followed Him could do was stand and watch.
And then I thought about the story of a woman who did what she could. There were those that criticized her, yes, but Jesus didn’t. He promised something beautiful instead. He said:
“Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”
Mark 14:3-9 describes “The Anointing at Bethany”
“And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head.
But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted?
For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they criticized her sharply.
But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me.
For you will have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always.
She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial.
Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.” (NKJV)
Isn’t it wonderful that Jesus honors those who do what they can? Isn’t it a beautiful example of a woman who knew she couldn’t change what was happening, yet still gave so extravagantly to do what she could?
This speaks to my heart that even though I can’t change what is happening, I can still love and show my love extravagantly, without reservation, and know that Jesus is pleased. Surrender to Christ is never giving up. It is giving away the ability to control anything; control we never really had in the first place. It is taking that thing that you are the most worried about and handing it to Him. It is anointing our risen Savior with faith and trust and worship.
This is the victory we celebrate at Easter. Because we have a risen Savior, there is absolutely nothing that can defeat us. Not really. We must be persuaded as the Apostle Paul when he wrote:
“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us fro the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
As you read this, I am sure there are things that life has brought you that you feel powerless to change. A prodigal child. A diagnosis that won’t go away. Suffering that seems so unfair. Weep it out. Give it to the risen Savior and always choose love and faith. Do what you can. Step into the joy of hearing our risen Savior say, “She did what she could.”
Are you having trouble sleeping? I have never been very good at it. When I was younger I thought the sleeping requirement was optional for me. I could get up in the middle of the night and get a head start on my day. Caffeine helped me drag through the afternoon when my mind and body said “wait a minute!” and I could push through. No more.
Now when I beg for sleep I have trouble laying down the concerns of the day, so the night hours are an opportunity for the enemy of my soul to raise his ugly head. I’ve had to go to battle with the Word to find my peace. This is my weapon of choice:
Psalm 4 (An evening prayer of trust in God)
It starts out:
“Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; have mercy on me, and hear my prayer.” verse 1
“I will both lie down in peace, and sleep: for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” verse 8
There are only 8 verses in Psalm 4 but they are full of thought provoking statements that address the concerns that need laid down so the peace and gladness of God can fill the mind and heart.
This morning, as I had my prayer time, these are the words I had to offer to my God who only makes me dwell in safety. They are full of the truths of His Word and I share them that you might be encouraged if you can relate to the same struggles.
Father God, You are my righteousness because of the gift of Your Son. (Romans 3:22)
Because of Jesus, I am relieved when the trials of life threaten me. ((Matthew 11:28)
Because of Jesus, when chains come for me, they break by the Word of Truth. (John 8:32)
Because of Jesus, I can live with joy and the strength You bring. (Nehemiah 8:10)
Because of Jesus, shame is not my name. (Psalm 103:12)
Because of Jesus, I may remember the me I used to be, but I am not the me I used to be. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Because of Jesus, and the love He has for me, I do not have to obey my flesh and settle for less then you have created me to be. (Romans 8:5)
Because of Jesus, I can believe and have complete assurance that He is always with me. (Hebrews 13:5)
Thank you Father, I praise You, I pray in His name and for His glory, Amen.
Have you been watching the Olympics? On nights that sleep doesn’t win, I’ve enjoyed watching those amazing athletes soar in their sports and been struck by the look on their faces when the scoring comes on the screen. The numbers tell their story, victory or defeat. Enough or less than enough.
I imagine what it would be like if my day was scored. But, wait a minute, it is. Whether it should be or not. All of us can feel a bit unfairly judged, can’t we? We compare our accomplishments with others or our younger selves and come up wanting. There is this longing to know that we’re really good at something. An Olympian at something.
I want something that was never promised. Now I know my problem and can face it. I will always be less unless I replace it with what God gives freely. Author Ann Voscamp says “grace is weightless” and she’s right because Jesus says “my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30), Comparison and competition can crush us under the weight of their judgements. We were never meant to live under that burden. We were meant for abundant life (John 10:10).
The truth is that God creates and satisfies our unique needs in every way. This is a dynamic principle. It is never finished, because He is not finished with us yet. He is the Creator that knows His creation. So much better than they know themselves. There must be open communication between us and our Heavenly Father God. If we don’t make the effort or take the time to pray, our less will grow to more and more less. And as it grows, so does an emptiness that feels like the deepest hunger.
Why am I not replacing what is less with what I have an unlimited access to? I am the daughter of a King. And not just “a” King, but the King of Kings! Why do I forget how to pray for what I have need of? I mean really pray, with faith, believing, (James 1:6-7, 4:2, 5:16). My soul forgets to take my needs to the only One who can turn those requests into my greatest good. I don’t have to worry if they are in His will, because He gives me the safety net of His love that would never allow me to be the one who gets to decide what I get or don’t get. Truly, there have been some things I have asked for that it would have been a disaster if He would have given them to me.
“If you being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father which is in Heaven give to them that ask him.” Matthew 7:11
I love how Jesus says “Father which is in Heaven.” Can you think of a better place to see the wide expanse of our lives? He is the only One who sees how each prayer answered can be intertwined with other lives. The control of that has to come from “higher up.” Much higher up.
“The LORD has established His throne in the heavens; and His kingdom rules over all.” Psalm 103:19
God gets to decide what the “good” gifts are. He is the only One who knows and sees that big picture and makes the decisions when we replace our will for His as we pray.
“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8: 26-28
There is a parable Jesus told in Matthew 12:43-45 that talks about a man that was less than he should have been for God and so he cleaned up his act but did not replace his less with God’s enough and the ending to that story is awful. Since there was empty space that the man did not fill with Christ, the evil came back into his life with greater force than in the beginning.
This teaches us that we cannot just stop a bad habit or try to change a pattern of thinking and then the good stuff will happen. We need to come just as we are, give our less than to Christ and replace it with more of Him. Right away! This is true with anything we are doing that we shouldn’t. Don’t just say you’ll stop, make a plan for a positive thing that will replace it and you will be less likely to return to what you were trying to get away from.
Let’s take our less, which leads to nothing more than a mess, and replace it with prayers for peace, His peace, (John 14:27). Let’s go where He leads us and when we’re not sure, just take the next step toward our passion and trust Him to reveal our purpose and His will. Remember that He will never lead you to anything contrary to what His Word teaches. Read the Bible, lots of the Bible! And don’t leave “empty” space. Replace it with more of Jesus!
And when the “scores” come in, we will be okay, because we know Who wins!
Notes: Post image by Melanie Lamb. The title for this post is a line from a Big Daddy Weave song. I highly recommend listening to their music, it glorifies God and can put good thoughts in your brain for the Kingdom.
“Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand.
You will guide me with Your counsel, And afterward receive me to glory.”
There are absolutely endless benefits in the salvation we have in Christ, but one of my favorites is being able to call the God of the universe my Heavenly Father. To know that He loves me too much to allow me to not be a part of His family. This family of His that will be together forever in glory.
I need held, guided, counseled and received. No matter how special our earthly fathers are to us, they should never be held to such high standards. We are far too needy for them. Only our Heavenly Father can “continually” be with us and give us what we need – forever.
When Jesus taught us to pray, in Matthew 6:9, He taught us to address God, His Father, as “Our Father, which art in Heaven.” How amazing this is. Jesus, who is about to die for us to have this privilege. He is willing to share His Father with us, to welcome us into His family, when we have absolutely nothing to bring to it but brokenness. This is love that is perfect and I can’t praise Him enough for it.
I can remember, when I was a little girl, the sound of my father’s pick-up truck as it made it’s way up the hill to our farmhouse. Many times he worked late and I would be in bed, but I could rest better knowing he was home. Good fathers leave memories like that. Some of you may not have good memories of your earthly father and my heart aches for you. Let me tell you that your Father God wants to hold your hand and show you what a good parent He is.
“When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.” Psalm 27:10
I hate to think this but, no matter how good our parents are here, they will never be enough to take care of all of our needs at all times. They can only hold our hands for so long. But our Heavenly Father will always be with us. His limitless love and power and peace will guide us and keep us, forever.
He is always there, standing at the door of our hearts, desiring to come and dine with us through prayer. (Rev. 3:20) When we are at the place of realizing how helpless we truly are, we can finally truly pray and our Father is always listening and ready to work in our lives according to His perfect will. Be that little girl, reach up with your right hand and take hold of Your Heavenly Father’s hand and go where He leads you today. I am.
I’ve lost my last two attempts to produce a post this week. All I did was click something wrong and they were gone. The third time, they say, is a charm. This will be my “untitled” post since, I’m not sure where it’s headed. Just some words about the journey and how God is good. Good to me and good at being God.
That last sentence was one adopted after I read “Uninvited” by Lisa TerKeurst. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a good book to help deal with rejection and the struggles you might be dealing with. And who isn’t? It stings when you get up in the morning and just want to live your life the best you know how and someone or something enters into it and, wham!, you didn’t see that coming.
I can’t fathom, since I met Jesus, living one more hour of one more day without knowing that God is good, good to me and good at being God. As I look over at my Bible on the beautiful stand my father made for me, I see the side where I’ve opened the pages and they are looking frayed. The beautiful gold edges are looking like they have been touched and flipped through many times. This is how I know God is good. His Word tells me so, and His presence as I spend time in it, assures me that He is mine.
So this is where this is going. As my coffee brewed this morning, the Holy Spirit said to me “Remember what you watched last night?” It was one of those nature shows by National Geographic where these folks live in the wilderness all by themselves and take pride in just surviving the day to day in the harsh environment of Alaska. How does that work? It seems like such a contradiction. They live a secluded life yet they are on media where millions watch them day and night?
I know that Scripture teaches there are, sometimes, periods when God calls us to be secluded to have quiet, reflective time with Him. Away from other people so we can focus on Him alone. As an introvert, I would love to just live “Jesus and me” but that is not the command. The command is to love and show love and share the gospel. Maybe those wilderness folks take their influence and compensation and support others who share the gospel. My job is not to judge. I am only responsible for using the experiences God allows in my life in the ways He leads me to. The peace God gives when we give Him our cares can’t be understood. It just happens. As the Scripture says:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, through prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made know to God, and the peace of God which surpasses understanding will fill your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
“Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
As this cold winter continues to press on, remember His goodness, His love and care, and His power to be the One in control. He doesn’t do anything haphazard or wild or crazy. When our faith remains in Him, it is not too cold and things are not too hard. They only seem that way when we are trying to survive our own wilderness without the constant reminder that He is with us.
“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
This scripture is right before that wonderful truth of verse 8:
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8
God is our supreme example that we are not to live without relationships. He sent His Son to pay the price for our sin, so He could have a relationship with us. If this is something you have never heard before, please check out “The Statement of Faith” on this site.
If you would like to find out more about Lisa’s book, check out uninvitedbook.com. Picture credit: Pillow made for me by my sweet sister, Jenny, love it!
Yes indeed, God is good. All the time.