Tag Archives: God’s Love

It’s Okay to Cry

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Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

I think I know why God has allowed this cancer. He’s using me for His glory and I couldn’t be happier about that. The amount of people who have told me over the past four years how my conduct through this ordeal has helped them is remarkable.

Dare I say I’m a beacon? Sharing my strength with others as needed. Praying with them. Crying with them. Holding them up. It sounds very self-sacrificing, but it’s not.

They strengthen me as well.

Calming during the storm … sharing a hope for the future.

Of course it’s only because of God that I can say that.

Fighting cancer with God on my side makes me believe I’m strong.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. ~ Romans 8:28 (NASB)

Am I strong?

Perhaps, but it’s only because I’ve got the strength of a very powerful God within me.

But does being strong and feeling the power of God within me stop my tears during this season?

No.

And it has bothered me. I think I’m weak. When the tears well up and spill out I start to think that I’m not trusting God enough.

Soon though, the tears dry up and I think about my situation in light of my God, understanding that it’s okay to cry. God knows our tears. He even expects our tears. We are His frail creation that must depend on Him for comfort and strength.

He knows through my tears that I don’t love Him any less. He knows that I still trust Him, have faith in Him, lean on Him, and look to Him for guidance … for courage.

Even though I cry. That supreme peace floods my heart and soul.

Are you crying? Are you worried that God thinks you’re somehow less because of your tears? Don’t. Stop those thoughts immediately. That’s the devil driving spears into your faith. God’s love will never leave you. Remember that you’re His child and He loves you beyond what you can imagine.

Tears or not.

End of the Sin Chronicles

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Seven Deadly SinsOr is it?

I’m sure I could go on regaling you with my sinning ways and I dare say you’ve thought about some of your own sins these past few weeks. Let us remember that we are all sinners. That we are not perfect. But that there is hope for us in Jesus Christ.

Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus …” ~ Romans 8:1

Why not? Why aren’t we, Christ Followers, condemned because of our sin? Because we have a good and perfect God who died for us. To cleanse us. To forgive us when we repent. A God who through His death, broke the chains of sin that bind us. We have been gifted with the ability not to sin because we have the Spirit of God inside us.

I must remember that when the urge to sin overcomes me it’s not a forgone conclusion that I will sin.

My chains have been broken. 

And if you are in Christ – yours have too.

Prayer:

Lord. You said in 1 John 1:9 that ‘If we confess our sins, You are faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ Please never let this promise fade away. Continue to convict me when I think of sinning or do sin and then lovingly forgive me when I confess and repent of my sin. Thank you gracious Father. Amen.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Felecia

 

The Fog

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The Fog

When Paula came home from Atlanta the last time – she was in, as they say in Hospice, a very delicate condition.  In fact she came home in a private medical jet because the hospital believed she wouldn’t survive the 10-hour drive.  Her friends rallied together so her husband could continue to work and we took shifts caring for her.

When I initially walked into her home for my first shift and saw my beautiful friend laying on the couch it dawned on me that this might be the end and I bit back the tears that threatened.  You see, Paula has cancer.  If you’ve read me for a while you recognize her name.  She was diagnosed before me but was there for me through every step of my treatment, leading the way, plying me with ginger chews and bible verses and toasty socks and lotions, and a safe, godly ear for me to whisper into.

Walking through her door that first day was shocking. She was flat out on the couch under a pile of blankets and could not speak well, walk, or control the shaking in her hands that were puffy with steroids. She was on oxygen 24/7 and a regimen of oxycodone and other drugs and was only occasionally lucid.  As the weeks went on I continued to take my turns sitting with her, helping her eat, and perform other vital necessities.  Since she slept most of the time I busied myself with reading, writing, working on my book, and dozing off myself every once in a while.

We continued on like this for weeks and even though I prayed for healing a part of me was watching my friend sink further and further away from us and I asked God a few times if this wasn’t the end.

That was, until last week.

My ‘visiting’ day that week was Friday and I walked into Paula’s house to find the morning-shift friend smiling at me and Paula sitting up on the couch, her eyes bright, and a wide smile on her face.  I can tell you now, I was more than a little freaked out.  My friend was back to her perky self.

“It’s so good to see you.” She said.  A weird thing to say when I had just seen her the week before.

But as the day progressed I was to discover that Paula remembered nothing of the past eight weeks.  Nothing – save the constant ringing of the doorbell on Halloween.

She remembered going to Atlanta that last time and then … nothing until last Sunday when she, as she said, “Woke up from my fog.”

I was dumbfounded.  Had God spared her the mental anguish of the last eight weeks by closing her mind to what was happening to her physically?  No one had an answer for it but I wouldn’t put it past Him to do such a thing.  That’s how much He loves us.

But that wasn’t the half of the miracle – here was my lovely friend Paula.  Sitting up – and I mean UP (not propped up!) eating, talking, joking, laughing, with only a small shake in her hands to offer any lasting evidence.  Her legs and arms were still mighty weak but that first day she walked with her walker, crossed her legs on the sofa like any proper lady, and held lasting coherent conversations.  Even though she continued to freak me out as I watched her, I praised God for His miraculous healing.

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It’s been four weeks since that day and Paula’s now moving around without the walker, has been out of the house to shop and dine and go to a Christmas party, and continues to amaze.

God is truly astounding.

Never give up praying.  Never stop praising Him.

Never give up believing that God will intervene.  I know that many times He doesn’t, and we won’t ever know why this side of Heaven, but sometimes He does.  In both times, in all times, we must pray, and believe, and have faith, and praise Him continuously.

I’m learning that now, more than ever.

 

ScripturePicture: Ephesians 3:17

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It’s so true, isn’t it?

The longer you’re in God’s Word and following Jesus, you build up trust and faith in Him and strength in His continued love and faithfulness.

When God tells you he’ll never leave you, He’s serious.  If your roots are strong, you can weather any storm or trial you might encounter.

So sink your roots down into His fertile soil and get ready to grow stronger in your faith.

 

 

Feeding 5,000 & Other Miracles

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Feeding 5,000 & Other Miracles

Recently we discussed the miracle of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in a Bible Bite of John 6:12, which if you missed, you can just click HERE and have a nosh.

But let’s not stop there.  I wanted to turn that Bible Bite into a full blown Scripture Snack and look at the next verse too!

So they collected them and filled 12 baskets with the pieces from the five barley loaves that were left over by those who had eaten. ~ John 6:13

What’s so interesting is that along with John, Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record this miracle and each mentions 12 baskets of scraps.  In the Bible, the number 12 usually signifies God’s power and authority.  There were 12 tribes of Israel, 12 disciples, 12,000 of 12 tribes (144,000) to witness in the end times. {Check out biblestudy.org which goes into great detail about the number 12 in the Bible.}

It’s certainly a marvelous display of His divine authority to multiply five barley cakes and two fish from a young boy’s sack lunch!

Loaves and FishesWe don’t know how large the baskets were.  Were they small handmaiden, Sunday-go-to-meetin’ baskets or were they large collecting hay and straw baskets?  Does it matter?  There were over 5,000 people that ate their supper on a mountainside that day provided by a blessed-by-God sack lunch.

Who is this then who can feed over 5,000 with a few choice items?

And does He continue to send us the miracle of multiplication today?  He sure does, and I’m a witness.

Dateline Chandler, Arizona and I was attending a small group going through the ALPHA program.  The hosts are a lovely couple and each Wednesday night as we gathered for group, they would feed us dinner prior to our worship and study.  Eventually the group began to divvy up the responsibility and soon we were each bringing a portion – making it a pot luck meal.  It’s also important to know that the hosts have two sons that were both steeped in ministry in different churches.  So we had a core group of 12 participants plus at any given time we might have up to 4 guests.

One week, close to the end of the program, we had planned a fried chicken dinner.  Two people would each bring a 20-piece bucket of chicken from KFC and the rest of us added the sides and desserts.  On that Wednesday night I arrived with my ‘famous’ potato salad in hand, and walked into the house where an issue was erupting – one of the group members’ car had broken down and two people had forgotten their food.  The main concern was that the person who had broken down was one of the ones that was supposed to bring chicken making our total 20 pieces chicken for 13 people.

We decided as a group that we’d start by everyone having one piece of chicken and load up on sides.  I took a thigh and passed the bucket to the man next to me who loaded his plate with three pieces!  I started to say something but then realized that (1) he hadn’t been in the room when we discussed the one-piece business and (2) the bucket was almost around the table so everyone would get chicken.

After we’d finished eating a couple of the participants had gotten up for seconds and the guy who had been next to me walked back to the table with another piece of chicken!  My mouth watered as I watched him tuck in so I got up hoping that there might be a wing left in the bucket.  I peered in and was surprised to see two pieces of chicken left – a wing and a thigh.  I scooped up the wing and made quick work of it.

We finished dinner and moved into the living room to begin the study.  While we were immersed in Pastor Gumbel’s video message and subsequent discussion, the host’s two sons arrived.  I overheard their Mom tell them that there probably wasn’t much left but they were welcome to whatever was there.  We continued to discuss our study and both sons filled their plates and came in to join us.  I was amazed to see that BOTH had TWO pieces of chicken on their plates!  Driving home that evening I contemplated chicken.

When I took the last wing out of the bucket there was one piece left – a thigh.  I quickly start to think about what everyone ate at dinner.  I know that 4 guys had (at least) 2 pieces each (8), I had 2 pieces (10), the guy next to me had 4 pieces (14), and everyone at the table ate chicken so I figured that the remaining 4 women and 3 children each had one piece (21) and then the boys came home and had 2 pieces each (25).  I was astounded!  I counted up the numbers over and over making sure my math was right.

Arriving at ALPHA the next week I was so enthusiastic to discuss my observations I didn’t even sit down before starting, “Before we get started I have to discuss something about last week’s dinner.”

The group looked expectantly at me and the host blurted out, “The miracle of multiplication!”  Apparently I wasn’t the only one who had caught what God had done.  I smiled and looked at him, his eyes were twinkling.

“We witnessed a miracle, didn’t we?” I asked.  He agreed and we filled the group in on what had happened.  As I laid out what I deduced I was interrupted as several of guys revealed they’d actually had three pieces and a couple of the ladies had two rather than the one I’d concluded.  If all that wasn’t amazing enough … remember the guy who sat next to me stuffing down all that chicken?  He pronounced that he couldn’t believe I’d left that thigh in the bucket and figuring that everyone was done eating, he ate the thigh!  That meant that by the time the host’s sons arrived, there actually was an empty bucket – should have been an empty bucket and yet they pulled out 4 pieces of chicken.  Isn’t God great?  We had such a glorious time of worship that night … pouring out our love to our Father … our amazing Provider.

In hind sight it was silly, really. God providing chicken to some of the best fed people in the world.  He didn’t have to do it, no one in that room was anywhere close to actual need, no one was going to go hungry, and no one was dying of starvation.  But He did it anyway ~ He broke chicken and fed us all until we were full with no scraps left over.

What a blessing!  How astounding that the Creator of the Universe provides for us!

Has He provided for you in some manner?  Let me know!

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*** One other juicy tidbit: this miracle (the feeding of the 5,000) is one of only two miracles that appear in all four Gospels.  The other being Jesus’ own resurrection.

 

Through Jesus’ Eyes

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Through Jesus’ Eyes

I was thinking the other day about how Jesus loved everyone while He walked on earth.  Of course He loves everyone even today, but think about it.  He loved every sinner … the lame, the diseased, the hungry, the poor, the disciples, Herod, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and even us, before we were born.  Every. Single. One.

And we’re supposed to be like Him.

Huh?

I can’t do that.

I want to, but I always seem to fall short of the goal.  My selfish nature worms its way into the mix and trips me up.

Oh, I’ve gotten better at it the longer I’ve walked with God, but it’s still a struggle and I often wonder if I’ll ever be like Christ.

Some of my favorite scriptures about this can be found in 1 John 3: 16, 18, and 23:

16 This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us.  We should also lay down our lives for our brothers.

18 Little children, we must not love in word or speech, but in deed and truth;

23 Now this is His command: that we believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another as He commanded us.

Can I love others better?

Absolutely.  I’d hate to think that I couldn’t grow from where I sit today.  But how to do that?  Where to start?

I started by asking God to help me to see people through His eyes.  He didn’t waste any time answering me.

Within days I noticed a slightly perceptible change in the way I was viewing people.  I might be able to describe the change like this … people started looking softer to me.  Fuzzy around the edges.  More pliable, perhaps weaker … but not in a bad way.  Easily injured.  Almost as though everyone’s heart was very close to the surface, even if they thought that they had thick skin.

Lots of changes came quickly for me after that, but most importantly was the way I treated others.  I became outwardly kinder – more considerate.  I’m softer with others.  Not so quick to judge.  And if I do make that mistake, I apologize – quickly – to the person and to God.

I also started really listening to the way people spoke to each other.  Sometimes I overhear one person talking to another and I cringe.  I wonder … if we even had half a clue about the damage our speech does to others would we stop?  Would we zip our lips?  If we could see the internal destruction, would we place our heads in our hands and cry?

If we didn’t I don’t think we could call ourselves Christ’s followers.

Will you try this, this weekend, dear friend?  Will you ask God to show you how He sees people?  Be ready.  He will do it and you will be astounded.

Prayer:

Father, please be gentle with us.  We know you want us to grow into a mirror image of your Son, but we are mere humans, warriors for you and yet fragile beings in this sinful world we live in.  Help us to view others through your eyes and keep us strong through the reality we will begin to see.  Through this change in understanding we will become stronger and more able to bring your love to the world.  In the name above every other name, our Jesus, I pray.  Amen.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

ScripturePicture: Deuteronomy 32:2

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De 32-2

I’m thirsty.

Are there days when you get up and get moving and don’t stop to read His word?

Me too.

And on those days do you find yourself, perhaps mid-day, craving Him?  Oh you know immediately what the “problem” is … you know what’s wrong.

You didn’t allow Him to talk to you that morning and now you feel empty.

It’s not enough to pray – I pray all the time.  Devotionals are not enough – I read a few of those most mornings.  But I need HIM in my life – daily.  As surely as some people need their hit of caffeine in the morning – I need my full measure of God.

I’m writing this Tuesday (yesterday) afternoon after running around all day from about the moment I fell out of bed.  If I don’t go talk to Him right now and let His love and His teaching wash over me, I’m going to go cray cray … I think literally.

If you haven’t yet today, go pour yourself a tall cool glass of Him and quench your thirst.

I’ll see you by the water cooler,

Felecia

 

Bible Bite: Mark 4:41

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Bible Bite: Mark 4:41

A Bible Bite is a little tidbit that I run across that irks me and controls my thoughts until the Holy Spirit helps me to break through the miasmas to teach me some lesson. 

During Paula and my bible study, we were talking about standing stronger by walking in faith (Day 27 of the 28-day study).  I grew increasingly distressed during the scriptures of Mark 4: 35-41.  Jesus had been teaching using several parables (vv. 1-34) at the side of the Sea of Galilee.  As night fell, He told the disciples they were going to go over to the other side of the sea and they all hopped in a boat.

As they sailed, Jesus slept in the aft of the boat and a wind brewed up that whipped up the waves so forcefully that they were crashing over the sides of the boat and threatening to capsize.  Yet, Jesus slept.

The disciples woke Him up concerned that He was going to let them drown and He got up and rebuked the wind and the sea with, “Silence, be still!”  He turned then to the disciples and asked, “Why are you fearful? Do you still have no faith?”

What amazed me most was the next verse, Mark 4:41:

“And they were terrified and asked one another, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey Him!”

Terrified?  Why were they terrified?  I didn’t get it.  The disciples had been with Jesus for a while at this point and had seen miracle after miracle.  What terrified them now?

And they asked each other, “Who is this then?”  How could it be that they forgot who Jesus was?

Part of the keys are in Jesus questions.  First He asks, “Why are you afraid?”  I love being on this side of the situation.  We’re reading about an incident in the Bible and have the benefit of being able to take a global view. Do you (like me) often find yourself shaking your head at what some Biblical one is doing or saying at any given time?  I do that until I realize that in some way I’m just like them … ahem … and then keep reading to learn from these Saints who have gone before.

“Why are you fearful” (my HCSB states)?  Why are they fearful?  Jesus said when they got into the boat that they were going to the other side.  Surely He knew the boat would be caught in a storm, but He wasn’t worried because He fell asleep.  (Another aside: I like to see Jesus’ humanness here – He slept because He’d been teaching all day and was tired.  The Son of God gets tired. I love that little bit of insight.)

But back to the question at hand.  In Warren W. Weirsbe’s Exposition Commentary, he notes, “… for the greatest danger was not the wind or the waves; it was the unbelief in the hearts of the disciples.” Further, “It was their unbelief that caused their fear, and their fear made them question whether Jesus really cared.  “We must aware of an evil heart of unbelief.” (Heb 3:12).1

“Do you still have no faith,” Jesus asks?   Jesus asks these questions as a way to test the disciples.  Just how far have they come?  How much do they or don’t they believe?

How often do we continue to wonder if God is really all that He says He is?  How often are we shown His grace, His mercy, His faithfulness, His very deity, and still we forget the works He has done?  Can we be that stiff-necked?  That hard-hearted?  Nincompoops to the core?  Yep.  And still He loves us!  Still He’s patient with us and He who started a good work in us will carry it on to completion. (Phil 1:6)

It was true that the disciples had seen Jesus’ many miracles. They’d seen him cast out demons, heal people, and forgive sins but now – Weirsbe ends the section this way, “Now they discovered that He even had authority over the wind and the sea.  This meant that they had no reason ever again to be afraid, for their Lord was in constant control of every situation.”2

Is Jesus your Lord?  Then we must understand completely – we have no reason to ever be afraid.  Ever.

That, my friends, is freedom.

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1 Warren W. Weirsbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary: New Testament Volume 1, 2nd ed, (Colorado, David C. Cook), 125.

2 Weirsbe, 125.

 

ScripturePicture ~ Psalm 8: 3-4

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It’s one of the questions I wondered aloud to My Guardian (aka: The Lord).

Ps 8-3 LG

Its something I don’t think I’ll ever understand this side of Heaven.

I remember a time when I was mentioning to an unsaved friend that Satan had been pestering me in my dreams.  I told her that I was going to have to remember to ask God to keep me safe from him while I slept.

She said, “You really think God cares about your dreams?”

“Yes.” I stated.  “He loves us so much He cares about every little thing that affects us.”

Something to remember when you think you have no one to turn to.

Turn to Him and speak.

He’s listening.

 

Cross to Bear ~ 2

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This story started on Friday.  If you missed that, you’ll be lost today. So here’s a quick link to pop back and catch yourself up!

As I placed the nozzle back in the pump, I walked around the back of the car and my newest decal loomed large … a reminder of who’s I am and whom I’ve just disgraced …

† = ♥

I hung my head in shame and slid back into my car.

In my head I replayed what I said to the station manager.  Was that anyway to treat another human being?  What did that outburst say about me as a Christ follower?  I shook my head in disgust.  Some witness!  Paul can survive beatings and floggings and stonings and I can’t persevere through an argument without coming unglued.  I still have so much to learn!

By the time I was ready for bed that evening the weight of the sin-millstone around my neck was palpable.  The incident and the implications of the fallout weighed heavy on my mind for the rest of the day and I knew I couldn’t go one more minute before I had to get down on my knees that night and cry, begging forgiveness from my Lord and Savior.  I went to bed with a beautiful peace on my heart, but still mortified by the way I had acted that day.

The ever-present oily pit of black goo roiled in my soul.  I imagine it to be a pool of sin sloshing back and forth in my soul.  Sometimes it lays dormant for a while, other times it bubbles up and leaks out.  Now, I don’t want you to think that I’m in a constant state of consternation – far from it.  I fully accept the grace God affords me after I repent and ask forgiveness for my sin.  My heart and spirit are somehow lighter knowing He forgets my sin “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12 (NIV).  It’s just that as I come to love the Lord more and more I am ever so much more saddened when I sin.  I know I hurt His heart.  I know I disappoint Him.  All sin is an act against God.  I love how Jerry Bridges puts it in his book Respectable Sins:

“Even though our hearts have been renewed, even though we have been freed from the absolute dominion of sin, even though God’s Holy Spirit dwells within our bodies, this principle of sin still lurks within us and wages war against our souls.”

Even though we are believers, we have a tendency to evaluate our behavior by how it relates to the society in which we live.  Since as Christians, we’re usually operating at a higher moral standard than those around us, it’s easier to get caught up in feeling good about ourselves and how we behave – even though we are sinning all along.  We must watch out for that trap.  Can’t you just see Satan grinning with joy?

Unbelievably, I hadn’t even read Day 14 when the incident at the gas station occurred.  As I opened up the bible study the following day I couldn’t help but see my sin all over its pages.  Convicted over and over again (but not condemned because I’d already received forgiveness from God).  Unfortunately, there were other recent incidents where I had opened my mouth inappropriately and these occurrences tugged at my heart.  I hadn’t confessed those to the Lord yet.  I’d pushed them aside as acceptable sins.  The bottom line – would I ever learn to keep my big yap shut?

Kay asks, “If I want to live this life (a life sold out for Jesus), am I willing to pay the price?”

Am I willing to really come to grips with my inability to keep my mouth closed when it isn’t necessary to speak?  Am I able to look with such love toward others that a critical thought never enters my mind again?  It’s certainly become a prayer of mine.

Think this week about your cross.  Or at least one of them – because I know I have many myself!  What can you, once and for all, give up to Christ by next weekend?  What can you cut out of yourself like fisherman gutting a newly caught snapper – all for the sake of Jesus?  I don’t think we have time to waste, my friends.  Jesus may arrive at any time and I want to see you on that narrow path with me!