“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV
I have struggled with the contrast between what Scripture says and life experiences for most of my life, especially in terms of healing. This has been magnified since my nephew’s death on July 17. He was medically fragile. I had contended for him in prayer from the time of his birth to the moment of his death. An infection ambushed him and caught everyone, including his doctors, completely off guard. He was all right; then he was gone.
I myself have had countless people pray for my healing; yet cannot see. I have probably heard every explanation in the book for my blindness and the lack of healing, from the “hidden sin in my life” to “God doesn’t heal these days.”
In truth, I have had many injuries, illnesses and conditions healed by God, including repeated stress syndrome, anorexia, migraines, FibroMyalgia and more recently, an egg allergy.
I have studied the Bible thoroughly on this topic and have concluded that it is absolutely clear in this matter: God heals. This isn’t something He merely does; it is part of who he is. I can find all sorts of verses to verify this and none that give exceptions, caveats or time limits. Trust me, I have searched diligently: This would have made my dilemma a whole lot easier!
You should see people when I tell them I believe that God heals. They can’t figure that out, when I obviously have a disability. It really messes with them!
I have taken a step forward this past week: A deeper, heart-level revelation about trusting God first. It means believing his word and experiences of him over other life events. It has to do with recognizing that God’s ways and His Kingdom reality are far greater than anything I grasp or understand.
I told my pastor that I have had more than enough prayer for my eyes. HE challenged me: How do I know it’s more than enough? He is right; that is an assumption on my part. All prayer is answered; God is doing something bigger than what I experience.
The war between faith, in the sense of trust or expectancy, vs reliance on experience and understanding goes beyond healing. It is something with which we struggle when it comes to any of God’s blessings: Provision, protection, favor, salvation and all miracles. There are all sorts of doctrines and arguements to support the status quo and plenty of discreditation for people who dare to go out on the limb of absolute trust in God. When a miracle (including healing) occurs, there is no shortage of attempts to explain it away.
My point can be expressed in a stanza of poetry:
I bless You, oh Lord, for all that You do;
I will watch for Your miracles each day.
And even when they seem to be subtle,
I will not explain them away.
These are lyrics to a song I have started working on:
Rejoice my soul;
Join this song of praise;
Twirl and dance with great delight;
Raise your hands;
Worship all your days;
Soar to the greatest height.
Let happy sound
Come from your inmost part;
Till all that’s found
Is singing in your heart;
Lift your voice
In joyful song and mirth;
Let it resound
In all the Earth!
This is a relatively new song by Brian Johnson. May it bless and encourage you:
1When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. 2But he went only as far as the king’s gate, because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it. 3In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.
I am impressed that Mordecai made such a public statement, while staying within the law. He really got his point across!
I think there is something we can learn from this. While I believe there might be times for civil disobedience, I think we have more powerful impacts when we can stay within the law. For one thing, if we are acting righteously and receive punishment, no one can say it was because we acted illegally, which keeps our testimony clean.
Mordecai did not stay home and grieve in silence. Instead, he mourned openly. Actually, he made quite a scene: He WAILED. All of the other Jews did the same.
Too often, we try to put a good face on things that are not okay. While our culture may not allow for wearing sackcloth and public crying, there are plenty of ways for us to express sorrow or disagreement with attitudes, events or practices that break God’s heart.
There is a next step for us: To declare the truth of God’s Kingdom. We can send the enemy to flight, just by worshipping, speaking God’s word and making His reality known.
4When Esther’s eunuchs and female attendants came and told her about Mordecai, she was in great distress. She sent clothes for him to put on instead of his sackcloth, but he would not accept them. 5Then Esther summoned Hathak, one of the king’s eunuchs assigned to attend her, and ordered him to find out what was troubling Mordecai and why.6So Hathak went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate. 7Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. 8He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to instruct her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people. 9Hathak went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said.
I am a bit amused at Esther’s attempts to get Mordecai to dress decently. He refuses, until he is heard.
There’s that “good face” on situations that aren’t okay.
I have often thought that “respectability” is one of the most powerful hinderances in the Kingdom of God. It dampens so much of what we might do otherwise. “Decency and decorum” can kill a spirit of freedom – Don’t raise your hands in worship and certainly don’t dance! Don’t greet strangers and ask if you can pray for them…
How far outside the box are you willing to go? If God told you to dip yourself in a river so you can be healed (from the story of Naaman, 2 Kings 5 ) would you do it? If He told you to gather a group of young people in a city park so you can tell Bible stories, would you get right on it? If you find yourself laughing uncontrollably during worship, is that all right?
10Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, 11“All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.” 12When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
15Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”
17So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions.
Here is one that catches me…and lots of other believers, I dare say: Circumstances speak louder than God’s word, or so it seems.
Esther had not been called by the King for thirty days. He might have been busy or lost interest in her; we don’t really know. From where she stands, he doesn’t like her well enough to give her confidence that he would extend his gold sceptor to her. She did not believe that God would go before her and give her favor with the King yet again. God had already done that when she was chosen to be queen. For this reason, she wasn’t all that willing to try.
I can’t say that I blame her. I often forget that God supplies all…that’s ALL, with no exceptions, my needs according to HIS riches. That includes things like recognition and favor. IF my life depended on it, I think I might resist, too.
I think of another story in the Bible, where God’s provision was absolutely necessary, yet the women were on their way when they asked, “Who will roll the stone away for us?” (Mark 16:3) They could have stayed in hiding: “The stone’s too big for us.” “What about the Roman guards?” Somehow, they didn’t go there; instead, they went to the tomb, where they discovered that Christ had risen.
May I come to know and trust God so thoroughly that I set out to do the work He has given me, knowing that every provision is already mine!
Esther was called to do something she was sure she couldn’t do. Not only that, she was in peril, just for trying. Her uncle Mordecai warns encourages her:
WARNING: God will save His people somehow; if you don’t follow His call, you and your family will die.
That’s quite the warning indeed!
It would be tempting to say this doesn’t apply to God’s people today. Nice try! There are lots of ways to die.
Some will perish physically. Harold Eberle, (worldcastministries.com) raises up pastors in Pakistan. When each class finishes and all are graduating, the new pastors understand that 30% of them are likely to be martyred. They obey the call on their lives anyway.
There is a death that seems more subtle, yet it is quite real: To fall into complacency and compromise, until one’s relationship with God has grown cold and ineffectual. This is a death in one’s soul; something that will leave us without feeling or a sense of God’s presence. The good news is, resurrection is available. WE call it revival. As a guest speaker, Scott Scheile, said this weekend, “Revival means that something dead needs to be made alive.”
I think one of the most potent ways to die is to live in disobedience. The most basic way this happens is to choose comfort and the ways of the world over a relationship with God through Jesus. It isn’t about following the law and rules. Plenty of people follow rules who do not know God. They need to be reborn into His household and Kingdom.
The next kind of disobedience is to neglect one’s vocation. I am not necissarily talking about ordained ministry. God calls people to all walks of life and work. He wants His presence to be carried everywhere. If you are to be a wife and mother, go at it with all enthusiasm and diligence. If your passion is to build things or have a thriving business, make it the best product around! Again there is the promise of resurrection life. While there are opportunities that we can miss, God has a way of providing new ones as we repent and follow after Him.
Esther chose well. She said she would carry out her office as queen, even if she died. In the end, she succeeds, of course: Her people are saved; justice is served; Mordecai and Esther prosper. All of this because she obeyed.
Queen Esther could not have done this alone. She needed the people of God to join with her. They, along with Esther and all of her attendants, fasted and sought the Lord for three days before she went before King Xerxes. Then, with God’s provisions of favor and wisdom, she fulfilled her mission.
We need each other in the same way. There are all sorts of passages in the Epistles that say we are the Body of Christ. We cannot live apart from Him; we cannot make it when we are separated from each other. It is only when we spend time with God, individually and corporately, that we can fulfill the missions God assigns to us.
who knows but”…that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
Here’s a thought: We are living in the time, place and position that God has design and chosen for us!
I think of such wonderful Scriptures as, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do all the good works that He has given us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10) Or “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not calamity, to give you a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
To me, this means I can trust God to provide all that I need for my assignments: Connections, opportunities, materials… How cool is that!
Moreover, I live and work as a princess – one with royal position and authority in my Father’s Kingdom.
I used to know a man who lamented that he wasn’t born 100 years earlier. He loved everything that pertained to that time, idealizing the way of early 20th century life. He also blamed his father for urging him to get a degree in accounting, instead of encouraging him to follow his own desire to teach. The result was that he was not able to settle and enjoy life. He could have returned to school for that education degree, but worked in an office instead, never taking responsibility for his own choices. When I last heard from him, he was still searching. What a loss! He was excellent with children, very creative and tender hearted. Had he been able to embrace the time and place that God had designed for him, he and others might have shared in many blessings. Thanks be to God who provides another way when one of us doesn’t obey: Those who might have benefitted from his ministry have received provision from God through other people.
May each of us come to know Papa God’s love and hope for us so profoundly, we embrace our lives, positions and assignments with great joy and expectancy.
How does knowing that God is good, that He is always in a good mood; that He loves you intimately and completely affect the way you live?
I heard a talk several months ago, in which the speaker said that most of us practice what he would call ,practical atheism.” We believe in God; yet when it comes to making decisions, we rely on ungodly counsel or use our own wits, instead of asking God what HE wants us to do and cooperating with him. Interesting. After pondering this for a long time, I have decided that his point has merit.
I remember what big news it was to me when I learned that the saying, “God helps those who help themselves” isn’t true. I was in college. As I read the Bible for the first time, really, I discovered Scripture passages like these:
“I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
And my God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
“For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37
“Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:27
“God works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
My pastor says that there is no problem or situation that would not be radically changed if we really knew how much God loves us.
What do you say? Is my pastor right?
Most loving Father,
We receive the spirit of wisdom and revelation that You give to us so that we know You better. Open the eyes of our hearts so that we really get how much You love us. By Your grace, we lay down all atheism and put our whole trust in You. Thank You for Your goodness. Amen.
(…spirit of wisdom and revelation is from Ephesians 1:17)
There is an aspect of prayer that I have been pondering for a while: Expectations. This matter seems quite basic; yet it is so powerful, we do well to consider it with all diligence and care.
When you pray, what kind of answer do you expect to get?
Does knowing that God absolutely loves you with all that HE is change your expectancy?
I love scales! That’s because almost all of life happens in degrees and we move one way or the other. Here then, are my scaling questions for you:
0=Not at all – – – – – – – – – 10=absolutely; without reservation
Does God love you? 0 – – – – – – – – – 10
Does He provide for you? 0 – – – – – – – – – 10
Does He heal all wounds and diseases? 0 – – – – – – – – – 10
Does He forgive all sins? 0 – – – – – – – – – 10
Does HE protect you? 0 – – – – – – – – – 10
Does He give you things that you would like to have, but don’t necessarily need? 0 – – – – – – – – 10
Do you trust Him, even when circumstances are hard? 0 – – – – – – – – – 10
Do you expect to hear and understand when you ask God questions? 0 – – – – – – – – – 10
Do you expect blessings in this life? 0 – – – – – – – – – 10
Does God like you? 0 – – – – – – – – 10
Does He think you’re awesome and precious? 0 – – – – – – – – – 10
Does God answer prayer in a timely manner? 0 – – – – – – – – – 10
I could probably come up with plenty of questions, but I’ll get to my point.
According to Scripture, the answer on every scale is “10:” Absolutely; without reservation. We have a hard time living at that level of expectancy, however. Experience, inner struggles, lies we believe and the fact that God is so much greater than our own understanding get in our way. The challenge is, we are called to grow into this level of absolute trust. That is part of what being changed from glory to glory is all about.
Just to add emphasis and challenge your thinking a bit, consider this prayer from Ephesians 3:
“That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend (some versions say “grasp”) with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”
Such wonderful paradoxes! He is able to do above and beyond; yet He wants us to grasp the height, depth and bredth of His love…Wow!!
In what ways are you most challenged when you consider trusting God and expecting answers that bless? Confess your struggle to Him; ask for His help; be ready for His answer.
When do you find that you trust Him more readily? Thank Him for His grace that makes this possible; ask for even more in this area.
What do you want most from God? Ask Him for it. When you get your answer, please come back and share: Testimony is a strong faith builder for all of us.
Divine plans were set in place,
Especially for me
So that I would do the good works
That reflect God’s glory.
I gladly live as who I am;
Never to be someone else;
Yielding gratefully to the lead of Holy Spirit.
These are the words to a song I am composing. I have the melody and some of the harmony:
You’re the author of my heritage;
My life is found in you.
You know the plans you have for me
And my destiny is true.
The riches of my legacy
Will bless for years to come;
I’m your precious child, oh Lord Most High
And your kingdom is my home.
You live in me;
I’m alive in you
In all I am;
In all I do.
Is God good?
Is he in a good mood?
Is this so all of the time or are there exceptions?
What you believe about God is absolutely foundational to ALL of your relationships: With Him; with yourself; with others.
Your faith is the material from which every perception, belief and expectancy will be sewn.
If you consider God to be one who acts on whim; who blesses when He is in a good mood and either ignores or punishes when He isn’t, you are in for a precarious life. You will find your heart filled with doubt, fear, insecurity and a drive to make sure you perform just right.
If, however, you understand that God is always good; He is perpetually at peace, joyful, hopeful, loving and affectionate, you will find these same qualities reflected in your life. You will be able to trust and rest; your expectations will be based on His goodness instead of your efforts.
“Yeah, but…” you might say, “What about illness, injury, natural disasters and death??”
Indeed, how many times have you heard somebody say that God gave a person some disease or disability? How about statements that God brought disaster on people? How often do you hear, “if it’s God’s will,…” when someone is seriously ill and might possibly die?
Truthfully, God doesn’t have disease, injury and disaster to give us. Those things came into the world when humankind yielded to Satan’s temptation. What God has to give is good, perfect and life-giving; Satan is the one who lies, kills, steals and destroys. There’s a war on!
I am beginning to understand that the greatest weapons in our arsenal are what we believe and how we speak. If we truly get who God is, what He says and does; if we declare those things and press into them, we break through the devil’s scheme and experience God’s Kingdom on earth. Words have power; that’s why Satan attacked, based on what God said. If he can get us to agree with him, he gains a foothold. If, on the other hand, we agree with God and declare His truth, more ground is taken. Please understand: God has already won the war through Jesus’ suffering, death, resurrection and ascension. Let’s start by agreeing with Him about that.
Is God good? Yes. He is, in every way; all of the time. He has salvation, healing, prosperity, courage, hope, joy, peace, love and endless blessings to pour out on us. He can and wants to give us every good gift.
Is He in a good mood? Yes. In every way; all of the time. Make a list of every happy emotion you can think of: That’s how God feels. Does He know sorrow, anger, grief, rejection and pain? Yes. HE is the Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. He has experienced everything that people do; yet without sin. He knows how to comfort and give courage. He can be in a good mood through all of this because He sees the whole picture.
Does He love and like you? Yes. That is why He cares about your faith, attitudes, words and actions. He wants you to have all of the goodness of His Kingdom and none of the destruction of the devil’s realm.
Do you have power and choice? Yes. God is not interested in puppets or robots; He wants real people who freely choose to love and follow Him.
Choose this day whom you will serve (worship; follow.) Put your trust in the good, good God, who already knows and loves you.
The greatest family value is love:
Papa God set the standard;
Big Brother Jesus sest the example;
Holy Spirit empowers us
So that we can live accordingly.
Another family value is truth:
Spoken in sincerest love;
The standard for God’s dear sons and daughters;
In knowing Him we are set free,
Jesus the Way the truth and the life.
Papa God’s family values honor:
Parents, each other and all
Who know Him or need to find His presence;
Until they learn they are precious
And find their identity in Christ.
As we grow and learn family values,
May we practice them daily;
Call for God’s will on earth as in Heaven;
Live in Kingdom reality;
Reflect His glory until He comes.