“But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.”
20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; — John 17:13-17, 20
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Note that it doesn’t say “Rejoice when you are happy, pray when you need something, give thanks for the good in your life.”. But somehow, that’s how we all live. We think joy is an emotion, a feeling that comes when we get what we want. Prayers come much quicker when there’s something in it for us and our thankful heart turns cold when we think God isn’t being fair. Continue reading
Acts 20:22 And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.
Sometimes God asks us to do things that are uncomfortable. Things we really don’t want to do. I’m facing a “Jerusalem” of my own. I know I’m supposed to go there. I know the Lord has compelled me to take the journey, but I do not know what will happen once I get there. I anticipate hardship, tears, pain and hurt. Not quite the prison hardships Paul was facing on his journey to Jerusalem, but I know it really isn’t something to look forward to. This isn’t a vacation in Hawaii kind of trip. Actually, I really want to chicken out. In my own strength, I know I cannot be faithful in the task at hand. But I also have the knowledge that God will be there to carry me through any task he sets before me. That if I just trust in him to give me the wisdom and strength I need, I’m going to be just fine.
So, I’m going. I’ll be covering myself in prayer before I leave, along the journey, and during the visit. All I can do is rest in God’s peace that I know I’m doing what he’s asked of me. Because no matter how hard the path, if it’s the one the Lord has asked me to walk, it is right. As much as I want to take the “easy way out” – I know following my own desires is not going to solve anything. My own way isn’t going to do the work God has in store for my heart and others as well. So, I’m willing to go. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I know the Lord is sending me there. For now, that’s what I’m holding on to.
Psalm 139:7-10 (NCV)
Where can I go to get away from your Spirit?
Where can I run from you?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there.
If I lie down in the grave, you are there.
If I rise with the sun in the east
and settle in the west beyond the sea,
even there you would guide me.
With your right hand you would hold me.
I spent the day at Seattle’s premiere trauma hospital while my beloved Poppa (grandfather) had surgery to repair his broken neck. He’s been on feeding/breathing tubes and fighting severe infections all week. Drugged to manage his pain – fighting to regain strength enough to even be able to attempt the delicate procedure he had today. It’s been a rough week as just about every day brought some new problem, a fresh difficulty he’d have to overcome. And yet, the past few days I have been utterly overwhelmed by God’s great faithfulness. I barely made it thru worship at church yesterday because I was enveloped by the knowledge that no matter what my circumstances say, God is with me.
My Poppa believes in Jesus as his Savior. That alone is a miracle beyond words for me. This morning, my pastor came to the hospital and prayed with Poppa. And when I looked at him prior to his surgery, I saw pain in his eyes, but also peace. I suppose this scripture could refer to anyplace – “If I go to the ICU at Harborview, you are there” “If I am utterly emotionally spent, even there you would guide me”. Poppa came thru his surgery and is stable this evening. He is such a fighter and I’m so very proud of him. While my day at the hospital was totally draining, it was nothing compared to what Poppa struggled with today.
I went for a run when I came home, trying to clear my mind – dump some of the emotional baggage I’ve been building up in hospital waiting rooms all day. Even as I allowed my tears to flow, cascading as my feet pounded against the pavement – God was with me. As I poured my energy out, His right hand held me up. In my exhaustion from the day, I rested in His comforting Spirit. Running is therapeutic for me, but it’s sure nice to know there’s nowhere I can run that would take me away from God.
Luke 1:17 For with God, nothing will be impossible.
Do I really believe that? The Bible says it. Plain as day. It is all possible. Anything you can dream or imagine is within the realm of possibility with God. It might seem crazy. You may think there’s just no way it will happen, but NOTHING is out of the question.
This week, I received a huge lesson in trusting God for what seems impossible. A person I thought would never see Jesus for the loving Savior He is, came to know Him in a personal way. This man has been on the receiving end of desperate pleading prayers for 30 years. Right up to the day before I learned of his salvation, I would have told you there was no way. His heart seemed impenetrable. His mind totally closed off to the things of the Lord. And yet, God was able to reach him and touch him in an amazingly mighty way. I’m particularly thankful for God’s grace and mercy in this life because, it was my grandfather (Poppa). I visited him a couple times this week and am overwhelmed by that change God’s peace has brought to his demeanor. He is a new person. Incredibly soft and sweet in the midst of severe pain – with a graciousness I have never witnessed in him before.
It has made me reconsider the limitations I put on God. The box I keep Him in seems so small in light of such an obvious transformation in a life previously so lost. I think the problem is, we assume God is restrained by our own weaknesses. I am too tired, emotionally drained, physically weak to really accomplish the things I want to each day, and I place those same limitations on the Lord. How can He have the time and energy to deal with all the world’s issues, and still take an active role in my little life? Isn’t He exhausted? If, in all my mental prowess and debating skills, I am unable to make someone see the logic of following God’s plan instead of their own, how will God reach their mind and heart? Even in my prayers, I’m trying to ask or tell God how I think things should work out, rather than relying on Him to direct me in His perfect will and plan.
The incredible reality is, our Lord is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. Even when we think we’ve figured out the “best-case-scenario”, God’s end-game is always far better. I need to start allowing myself to open up the box and let God be free to do His work in my life, and through me into other lives.
Colossians 2:4 Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.
Yesterday evening, I was sitting on the couch with some friends and family having a lovely chat, winding down from a great baby shower. I was tired, dragging after only a few hours sleep, having spent 6 hours baking the previous day. All I wanted to do was lazily listen to the conversation around me and then crawl into bed. Suddenly, I realized the clock in the kitchen said 5:43 — completely energized, I sprang from the couch. “I gotta go!” I yelled behind me, racing from the room. Frantically I located my keys, some shoes and my purse and ran to the car – leaving my family and friends just sitting in my living room – and sped away from my house towards the pharmacy. You see, in all the fuss preparing for a baby shower, I’d forgotten to pick up my birth control pack for the new month, which I needed to start yesterday evening. The pharmacy closes at 6 o’clock.
You may be asking yourself how on earth this story could tie into a devotional? Well, I’ll tell you. Continue reading