See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way
in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19
in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19
My New Year’s post last week began on a thankful note. I was choosing to be thankful because of all that God brought me through in 2022. Interestingly, I have heard more than one person admitting that 2022 had been a challenging year for them. It had been for me as well. I had lost my grandmother in April and I almost lost my own life in October. So, my need to be thankful is borne out of the various challenges that took place that year and the reality that God chose to bring me through each one.
This brings me to my video testimony for this week. Ross, a high school football coach and teacher, found himself struggling to breathe over a period of several days. He thought he had caught a cold but when his wife, Stephanie, couldn’t take it anymore, she took him to the hospital where it was discovered he had contracted Covid-19. The doctors had little hope that he would survive. Stephanie reached out to his school, family and friends for prayer. She finally reached, as she put it, her "Abraham and Isaac moment" where she told God if He wanted to take him, she would lay him down. She did admit to God that what she wanted was perfect healing for her husband, however, she would surrender to God’s will for him. He spent the next month in a coma and on a ventilator. She was finally summoned to the hospital because they felt that they could do no more for him. She went with her friend and her sister and they prayed and worshiped for about seven hours. Miraculously, his blood pressure began to improve. Some weeks later he came out of the coma and was finally released. He had spent seventy-seven days on a ventilator but God brought him through!
One of the things that caught my attention was Stephanie’s "Abraham and Isaac moment." As much as she wanted her husband to make it she realised that ultimately God has the final say and she chose to accept God’s will over her own desire. That can be so difficult to do, yet, I believe that when we can reach to the point where, like Stephanie and like Jesus when He faced death on a cross, we can say God this is what I want, nevertheless, not my will but Yours be done. There have been various times in my life when I too have had my own "Abraham and Isaac moment." God has brought me to the point where, when faced with something tragic or challenging, my choice is to surrender the outcome to God. The fact is He knows what is best for me and whatever He chooses will always be in my best interest. Trust isn’t easy to do but it can bring a peace that just doesn’t make sense.
The next thing that caught my attention is Ross’ closing remarks at the end of the testimony. He had spoken to friends in the nursing profession and they admitted that there was no medical explanation why he should be alive, that it was one hundred percent a God-thing. The only thing he could deduce is that he is alive because God decided that he should be alive. In other words, God chose to keep him alive. So many times, we lightly thank God for life. It’s almost like a cliché. But think about it. Every day, you don’t just wake up to see a new day. God CHOOSES to give you life to see a new day. Now that is something to be thankful for! And, if God chooses to give you life for each new day, it means He has something good in store for you. God doesn’t just nonchalantly decide to make you live to see a new day. He is intentional! He is intentional about His desire for you to live; He is intentional about the blessings He sends your way; He is even intentional about the negative He allows you to go through because He knows He is just as intentional about bringing good out of it for you.
After suffering a minor heart attack in October 2022, I would thank God each day for choosing to give me life to see a new day. I know He didn’t and doesn’t have to make that choice but He does and I am certainly grateful for His choice. It tells me that He has a plan for me each day, He has a plan for my life overall and it’s a plan to prosper me not to harm me, a plan to give me hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).
God has the same good plan for you. God is intentional about His plans for us, just as He is intentional about His blessings over us. So, take the time to be thankful. Don’t just focus on the negative and on what didn’t go right, focus on the One who helped you through each challenge, the One who ultimately helped you make it through another year and who brought you to a new one. Be thankful for His faithfulness. He doesn’t have to be faithful, He doesn’t have to love us but He does because He chooses to. So just be thankful!!!
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Saviour, I encourage you to do so now and give your new year the best start you can give it. Life is going to happen whether you like it or not but, you can be grateful that God will always choose to be there, to take care of you, to love you, to see you through…
Don't lose your focus!
As we enter a brand new year, there is the usual talk of new beginnings and fresh hope. New year’s resolutions will be made with some excitement and sadly abandoned within a short time.
I am choosing however, to simply be thankful. It isn’t a question of ignoring the negative things that have happened but choosing to focus on the reality that God has brought me through as well as to focus on the good things He has brought out of it all. The fact is that God uses both the good and the bad things to help shape your present and your future. God’s purpose and plan for your life have not changed, they remain the same no matter what has happened. At the end of the day, no matter what, God is still good. He isn’t only good when things are good, He is just good … period!!!
I recall the testimony of a young African boy, Tani, a champion chess player in the United States. He was only eight years old when he won the 2019 New York state championship. He and his family had endured a terrible life in Nigeria where they faced persecution and the threat of death. They finally managed to escape to America where they started a new life. It was there that his chess skills were developed. He worked hard and his mother prayed with him explaining to him that with patience and prayer he would see success. It was a long and difficult road but Tani followed her advice and kept his focus and trusted God to help him be successful in the various tournaments he entered. In time, Tani’s success brought attention to his family’s plight and his family received material blessings beyond measure! Imagine, their challenging life in Nigeria helped pave the way for the success that was a part of their future!
Your journey may have been a long and difficult one. You have received promise after promise; your hope and faith may have been severely tested. At the end of the day, it is important to trust God and leave the results up to Him. God is going to be God and He is going to still be good no matter how things turn out. Our focus needs to remain riveted on God who can do all things. As soon as our focus shifts to the negative - which can be so easy to do - our hope becomes shattered. I encourage you to keep your eyes on God. Isn’t that what Jesus was trying to teach us when He walked on stormy waters? The miracle wasn’t so much that He was walking on water as the fact that He was walking on extremely rough, unstable waters. HE was in control. He did not need the problem to fix itself so that He could walk safely on it. He was able to walk on it in spite of how rough it was. HE wasn’t being tossed about like the boat, neither was Peter, once he kept his eyes on Jesus (Matthew 14:22-32).
Once we keep our focus on God and on His Word, we can survive and thrive in any situation. It really is about focus. When you focus on the problem - the wind and the waves - you will feel discouraged and hopeless. But, when you focus on God, hope and faith will remain alive because you acknowledge that He is the One to do it … not you! He is in control … NOT the situation! It’s about focus!!!
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Saviour, I invite you to do so now. Last year has been what it has been, but in this new year, you can choose where to fix your focus - on God or on your situation. The one thing that can change is your situation, the one thing that cannot change is God. He is unchangeable and has proven Himself incapable of failing. He is still the God who is able to make the impossible … possible!!!
God hears you...
Elizabeth and Kevin felt ready to start a family after three years of marriage. However, after several months of trying with no results, Elizabeth’s enthusiasm was replaced with the growing concern that something might be wrong. After a year, they visited the doctor who had no explanation for their infertility and therefore no easy solution. They kept praying and believing God but for Elizabeth she felt as if God was silent.
As they approached Christmas 2004, Elizabeth felt a sense of desperation because this three-year mark could mean that they would never have children. After Christmas dinner with Elizabeth’s family, they decided to gather around for a time of prayer. Each member of her family prayed that at the same time the following year, she and her husband would have a baby. Three months later, they decided to do a pregnancy test and discovered that they were pregnant. One year later on Christmas day 2005 - just as her family had prayed - Elizabeth delivered their daughter, Cassidy. God had answered even though it seemed as if He was silent. Elizabeth felt that God had gone out of His way to say that, yes, He did hear her and that He was just waiting for the right time to answer in a miraculous way. They now have four children and each Christmas they have an extra reminder that God hears and loves them. As she looks back, she realises that God had been guiding all the details just to show that He loves them and that He is always listening even when it seems as if He isn’t.
I am pretty sure Hannah, the prophet Samuel’s mother could relate to and understand what Elizabeth went through. She was barren and earnestly wished for a son. To make matters worse, her husband’s other wife Peninnah would grieve and torment her because God had closed her womb. Yet, Hannah turned to God in prayer and trusted Him to work a miracle in her life. She even promised to give her son back to God if God honoured her request. God did not fail her. Through the chief priest, Eli, God promised that her prayer request would be answered and sure enough in the process of time she conceived and gave birth to a son, Samuel (1 Samuel 1:1-20). She kept her promise and gave him back to God to serve Him in His tabernacle all the days of his life. God, in turn, blessed her with five more children (v. 22; 2:18-21)! Even though she had to go through a season of pain and anguish, God had been listening and was putting things in place to grant her request … but it was about His timing! Just like Elizabeth and Kevin, God had been listening from the very first time they made their request but He had also been orchestrating everything according to His timing … and purpose.
Waiting can be difficult especially when you are not even sure your request will be granted. Both Elizabeth and Hannah had to learn to trust God even when He seemed silent. We too have to trust when no answer seems forthcoming, when God seems to have turned a deaf ear. It can be frustrating, it can be discouraging, it certainly hammers away at our faith. Yet, God does hear, He is listening. Psalm 34:15 says, “The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and His ears are open unto their cry.” The issue isn’t that God isn’t hearing but maybe that we feel stressed and discouraged when He doesn’t respond as quickly as we would like or in the way that we would like.
We love to say that Jesus is the reason for this Christmas season. Just remember that Jesus is proof that God hears us. Through Jesus we now have direct access to God’s throne of grace. God is interested in listening to us, He is interested in what we have to say … even though He knows what we are going to ask before we ask it! God desires to listen to us because what we have to say is important to Him. Think about that. The God of everything is interested in what we have to say! He will never ignore us … He is always listening!
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Saviour, this Christmas, make that step and gift yourself with the gift of salvation. That’s the reason why Jesus came to this earth, to offer us hope and salvation. God wants to hear from you. So, take the time to talk to Him today. He is listening!
A New Heart
Toni and her husband David were devastated to learn that he had two years to live. His heart was enlarged and not beating like it should. The EF (efficiency rating) of a healthy heart is 60 percent, his EF was 12 percent. They sought a second and third opinion but the results were the same. While he accepted that he was going to die, his wife, Toni, and their daughters refused to do so and prayer support was sought from family and friends at church. For the next several months, doctor’s visits revealed that he was getting neither better nor worse, his EF continued to be 12 percent and they recommended that he get a heart transplant as soon as possible.
One day, however, Toni realised that in order for her husband to get a heart transplant, someone would have to die. This realisation made her uncomfortable because she didn’t want anyone to have to die in order for her husband to get a heart. So, she changed her prayers and asked God to give him a new heart without having to rely on a heart transplant. She firmly believed that God was able to do just that.
In the following days, David was encouraged from the Word of God. One of the verses that gave him hope was Ezekiel 36:26 where the Lord said: “ I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you…” Toni, on the other hand, was thanking God for healing her husband yet, knowing that all she needed was faith like a grain of mustard seed, she asked for a sign - that snow would fall in their area. It had not snowed in her town for over one hundred years! On Christmas Eve, she looked outside and noticed that God had answered - snow was falling and it did not stop. The next morning the town’s inhabitants were amazed but Toni was in awe that her God saw her as significant enough to honour her faith. Three weeks’ later, at his monthly checkup, his doctors were baffled because he wasn’t sick anymore, his heart was fine!
I have shared countless miracles in this blog over the years simply because I truly believe God can do the impossible. There is nothing too hard for God according to Jeremiah 32:27. God can do anything but all He wants us to do is to trust Him and even prove Him! The Bible says that His Word will not return to Him void but will accomplish what He pleases (Isaiah 55:11). Over the years I have chosen to believe in and stand on His Word time and time again. Let’s face it, there are many people who have died from a heart attack but there are also those who have not. He chose me to be one of those who survived it! I didn’t accomplish that on my own, I couldn’t, that was ALL GOD!!! Just as God spared David’s life because He has a beautiful plan and purpose for Him I certainly know that He spared mine for the same reason!
There are countless Bible characters who have experienced miracles from God and just like David in our story, they expected something great from Him! Blind Bartimaeus received his sight (Mark 10:46-52); a man possessed by a legion of demons was delivered (Luke 8:26-35); a leper was cleansed (Luke 5:12-13); a Gentile woman’s daughter was healed (Matthew 15:21-28), and there are so many more examples!
What are you expecting from God today??!! Do you even believe that He is able to do the impossible? Whether we choose to believe it or not, God is able. As I always say, He may not answer in the way we would like but He does answer. Ultimately, He has a plan and a purpose for each of us and His thoughts toward us continue to be for good NOT for evil contrary to what the devil would have us believe.
At the end of the day, God loves us and wants the best for us. Once you believe that then it’s not so hard to believe that He will do His utmost best to rescue us when we are in trouble and to ensure that we live the abundant life His Son, Jesus Christ died to give us. God is able!
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Saviour, I invite you to do so now. God did not create you for destruction or to live a failed life. He wants you to prosper and thrive in Him. He wants you to live the abundant and blessed life He originally designed just for you.
God can do it!
I was encouraged by the testimony of Christine Caine, a popular Christian speaker and author. She was at the airport about to return home after a conference. After facing various challenges in transit, she managed to get on the plane to take her to her final destination. Unfortunately, however, the captain informed them that they would not be able to take off immediately. It turned out that because of the weather, there were 26 other planes ahead of them awaiting clearance for take off. He further went on to say that he did not believe the plane had enough fuel to wait that long. Immediately, this confident, woman of God started complaining to God, completely stressed with all the delays and challenges of this trip. However, in the midst of her tirade to God, the captain came back on the loud speaker and told them to immediately get themselves ready because they had been cleared for take off. It turns out that another run way which had been closed was now open and they - plane number 27 - were going to bypass all 26 planes in front of them and leave via that runway!
You can imagine how she felt. She was just busy practically telling God off in her mind and there was God now working a miracle out in her favour! Isn’t that so like us at times? We get discouraged, stressed, upset when situations don’t quite seem to be working out the way we would like. Our worry and fear increase and before you know it, we have forgotten all the good things God has done for us, all the times He came through for us - and right on time! In the midst of a trial or test, it can be so easy to forget who our God is and what He is capable of and the fact that He really never fails us!
I recall the story of the children of Israel in the wilderness. Each time they faced a challenge, they would complain. It seemed that they consistently forgot the miracles God performed for them with each new trial. They complained and even wanted to return to Egypt, the place of their bondage. God had parted the Red Sea and not only got them through safely on dry ground but used that same sea to drown their enemies (Exodus 14); He even literally provided food for them from heaven (Exodus 16:1-5) yet, each time a problem arose that they couldn’t handle, they forgot that their God could perform miracles. The psalmist David, on the other hand, was a man after God’s own heart because, although he faced numerous trials, he never failed to put his trust in His God. He knew where his help was going to come from and that if God did it for him before, He would do it for him again! Our problems may vary but the God who can solve them is the same.
In my own life, I have learned to trust God, choosing to believe that if He did it before He will do it again. With each challenge, He has been developing in me trust in Him. Yes, there are times when my faith begins to waver. The situation or challenge seems so scary, seems as if it will never end, seems as if it will get the better of me and I assure you my attitude is not always the best at those times. But, faithfully and beautifully, God always reminds me that He is right there, and He will see me through. There is nothing that I face that He can’t handle.
That day, God understood exactly Christine’s need to return home on time and her subsequent frustration at the various challenges she had been facing during travel. He could have allowed her to suffer through the wait but He chose to work a miracle just for her and to remind her about her attitude while she was waiting. Whichever way it went, God was going to work it out and she was going to get through this test. Sometimes we need to be reminded to have a good attitude during our trial or test; sometimes we need to put our faith into action; and sometimes we just need to remember that we serve a God of miracles and that with man it may be impossible but with God all things are possible! However you look at it, we are not required to figure it out or do it on our own. We are simply required to trust and let Him lead. He sees, He knows and He never fails!
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Saviour I encourage you to make that step now. In this tumultuous world in which we live, life can be so challenging at times. Yet, our God is ever-present and ever-ready to take us victoriously through any challenge, any test that will come our way. He really does see and know. He truly never fails!
Just in time!
At the age of 3 months, Kaleb’s mother became concerned with the way he was breathing. When they took him to the hospital, tests were done and it was discovered that he was suffering from a heart condition which would require a heart transplant. He was given medication in the hope that this would aid in the healing process but this did not happen. He was put on the waiting list for a new heart. Prayers were going up on his behalf from family and those on social media. Months later they were informed that a heart had become available and it was confirmed to be a match. His surgery was successful and they were able to take him home just in time for Christmas. It has been a reminder every Christmas since then of God’s goodness to them during that crucial time. Even though the waiting process seemed long, He came through for them at just the right time. They learned to trust God and not give up.
As I listened to this story, I was reminded not only of God’s goodness but of the fact that time is in His hands. As baby Kaleb waited for a heart for his heart transplant, it must have been stressful on his parents wondering if he would survive the long wait, wondering if he would make it. All the while, as they waited, they prayed and trusted God. I don’t know what waiting season you may be in but while you wait I encourage you to trust God. During this time it can be so easy to focus on the negative, to focus on what could go wrong, to believe that you are not going to make it through this season, but, I encourage you to trust God in the waiting. He can see what you can’t, He knows what you don’t, He knows what the end of your story will be. Trust Him in the waiting, hold on to His promises because He always gives us a Word, something to hold on to while we wait.
As my mind runs over a few people in the Bible, it finally settles on the woman with the issue of blood (Luke 8:43-48). Think about it, she had suffered for twelve years. That’s a long time! Many of us can barely make it through our situation in a few days! She had tried everything and had to finally face the reality that no one could help her not even the doctors. I am sure she felt hopeless and helpless. Yet, one day, she heard about a man who was going around healing the sick and performing miracles and He was passing her way. It had been an extremely long - and expensive - wait but she was going to try one more time. She wasn’t on a waiting list, she had no appointment to see Jesus but she was going to get to Him no matter what it took! And get to Him she did, secretly, quietly and she received her healing. In God’s perfect timing her healing came because she chose to have faith in Him … even after an extremely long wait. Some people would have given up on ever getting healed after twelve years! Many have given up in much less time!
Don’t give up on God! He may seem to be long in coming to your rescue but He will come … just in the nick of time! It may seem as if everyone else is getting their breakthrough, their promotion, their healing, their prayers answered . . . everyone except you. At this point it can be so easy to give up. It can be so easy to believe that your dream may very well die in that wilderness, that you may die in that wilderness. But guess what? You are going to make it, you are not going to die there, you will make it through, you will make it to the other side. It is God’s job, not yours, to get you safely to the other side, to get you safely through your wilderness experience. I have had to believe that for myself. It is the expectation I hold on to that God will get me through my own trying season, I am going to make it because He will get me to the other side! That’s His job - not mine! So, when fear steps in, choose trust and have faith in Him because HE will do it!
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Saviour, I encourage you to do so now. We all need a God who never fails, a God who will get there when we need Him just in the nick of time!
God the Master Artist
I recently watched a video about a woman, Marcy, who developed meningitis and went into a coma after delivering her third child. The doctors informed her husband that she would probably not make it. After a week, she woke up from the coma but could not remember the past thirteen years of her life. She believed that she was still seventeen years old and did not know that she was in fact thirty and married with three children. However, when her children were allowed to visit her, even though she did not remember them, she instinctively knew that they were hers. In order to secure her release from the hospital, she lied about her amnesia and went home to a life she could not remember. No one was fully aware of her mental state. She continued lying to everyone about her amnesia. She tried praying asking God to help bring her memory back. When her prayers were not answered, she turned to alcohol to help her deal with her frustration. For years she struggled to keep both her amnesia and alcohol addiction a secret.
One night, she was with her family at home when God helped her see them from a new perspective. He revealed to her that this is why He had saved her - for the future. Just as her husband was holding their daughter in his arms, He, God, was holding her and would never let her fall but she had to trust Him. At that moment she surrendered her life to God because she realised that she wanted His plan for her life with the amnesia more than she wanted her plan for her life without it and she chose to trust Him with all of it!!!
That revelation from Marcy got to me and tears filled my eyes. You see, recently, I faced a challenge that was way bigger than me. I suffered a mild heart attack and wished that the doctors were mistaken in their diagnosis of my condition. Through this testimony, God has reminded me that my life is in His hands and that whatever comes my way - both good and especially bad - He has me in His arms and He would never let me fall. He may not stop the challenges from coming but He would be there with me through each and every one. Psalm 23:4 says: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me…” I went through that valley and knew that I knew that God was right there with me. I never doubted it. But, I am so glad that ever so often He reminds me that He will never leave me nor forsake me, that He is always there for me and will never fail me. I chose to trust Him then and I still continue to choose to trust Him even in my recovery process. He still has a future for me!
Marcy came clean before God and with her husband and was also delivered from her alcohol addiction. She still has not gotten back her memory but her passion for painting was reignited. It has become a successful career and her abstract pieces are inspired by the Word of God. As Marcy puts it, it takes every layer to create the painting she wants to create and in the end every layer has done what it should to create the final piece. We are, in fact, His canvas, His masterpiece and every layer helps create who we are. And, even when there are bad layers in our life, God is still able to create something beautiful that brings honour and glory to Him. On God’s canvas, there are no accidents or mistakes, God uses everything for good!
I don’t know what “bad layer” you may be facing but God isn’t finished with you yet. He still has a plan and a purpose for your life. I, too, felt uncertain about my life and future after experiencing that heart attack. But, God reminded me that His plans for me are still to prosper me NOT to harm me, to give me hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). God still has a beautiful plan for your life. No mistake, no accident, no “bad layer” on your canvas could ever change God’s mind about you or change His purpose for your life. You are still God’s masterpiece, He is still working on you. It’s not over, it’s just all part of the process. The key thing however, is to trust God, trust that He knows what He is doing, He knows why He has allowed certain bad things to happen to you and that He has a good plan and purpose for all of it.
It’s about trust, it’s about surrender. God sees, God knows, God cares, God has a good plan. He has never created a bad picture before and He is not going to start now!!!
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Saviour, I encourage you to do so now. With God as the Master Artist of your life, you can rest assured that He and He alone is able to use every mistake, flaw, bad layer to create a beautiful masterpiece that ultimately brings honour and glory to Him.
Nothing is wasted!
Dean was out bike riding early one morning. At the same time Will and his friend were out on a road trip. Visibility was difficult and unfortunately they did not see Dean on his bike until it was too late. Dean’s spine was dislocated and he was subsequently paralysed from the waist down. People began to pray thanks to the message being spread on social media. His surgery was successful and the doctor was able to offer a tiny hope that he would walk again. Dean felt hopeful enough to challenge himself and his doctor to run a half marathon. The doctor was inspired by his faith and agreed to do it but in reality he did not expect that the opportunity would ever come. However, a year later, they did run the marathon together and finished in under two hours - just as Dean had promised himself. This was not the end of the miracle. Will, the young driver who had run into him also ran with them and the three finished together. It turns out that while he was in the hospital, Will had visited him and apologised for what he had done. Dean had offered forgiveness, reminding him that it was an accident and that he didn’t want him to carry this burden around with him for the rest of his life. In fact, he wanted him to process it and move on. Will felt a weight lifted off of him and the two remained in contact.
I am encouraged by this story because in life you never know what unexpected thing may come your way or when it may come. Dean was out on his usual bike ride I am sure and never expected that he would end up paralysed from his waist down. Will and his friend were looking forward to their road trip and never knew that their road trip would turn into a nightmare. This is the reason why it is so important to just give your day to God. Even if negative things come your way, trust that God has it all under control. Dean wasn’t sure he would ever walk again but he lived in hope especially when he was able to slightly move one of his toes. He also had his faith in his God and huge prayer support. God had not left him. God knew exactly what would happen to him that day but God had a plan for it all. Not only did God heal him and help him to recover to the point where he could run a half marathon a year later, God also provided emotional healing - to the young man, Will, who had run into him! God did not just heal the victim but the person responsible for the accident!
When God works, He does a complete work. In this case, He performed both physical and emotional healing. God was concerned about Will too and through this unfortunate incident, birthed a relationship that never would have happened had the accident not taken place.
We can’t always trace why God allows bad things to happen but we can trust that He will bring good out of it, sometimes for everyone involved. When we look at all the miracles that Jesus performed, I am sure not one of those people were happy in their situations. For some, like the woman with the issue of blood, they even had to endure being treated like outcasts because they were considered unclean (Mark 5:25-34). Every situation was painful, every situation was a challenge but for many who came to Him in faith, He healed. Their pain, their suffering was not in vain. In fact, their situations brought glory to God and maybe that was the true purpose behind all they went through. Without their suffering people would not have received the opportunity to see what God could do.
I also think here of the story of Lazarus (John 11:1-44). Jesus had been told that he was sick. Jesus could have gone to him as soon as He heard the news but He chose to wait a few more days before going to him. By that time of course he was already dead. Jesus told his disciples plainly: “Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe” (vv. 14-15). Jesus could have healed him while he was sick but He chose instead to do something greater - raise him from the dead! God always has a greater plan for our situation, greater than anything we can imagine or believe.
So, no matter how bad it looks, or feels, God has a plan for it. No, God isn’t trying to make your life miserable - that’s what the devil may want you to believe. God may choose to use your situation to bring hope and healing to many others. Your pain is simply a chapter in your life story … but it’s not necessarily your whole story. Once your life is in God’s hands, every aspect of it, both good and bad, God will use to bring honour and glory to Him. It is not about you, but about His purpose for your life and every step of your journey, both good and bad, counts!
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Savior I invite you to do so now. Simply ask Him to come into your life, forgive you of all your sins and make your life into the beautiful story of hope He wants it to be. There is purpose for your pain and struggles because in God’s hands NOTHING is wasted!
He was there all along...
Today was one of those days where I found myself searching for something to write about. I began looking at a few videos trying to find some inspiration. Not surprisingly, they all spoke to me in some form or fashion as they each reminded me of the goodness and faithfulness of God.
The last video I watched was not a story of God’s miraculous physical healing power like the first two. Rather, it was a testimony that some can relate to. Ruth was a college student juggling a heavy course load, facing the reality of a failing marriage and starting to have flashbacks of abuse as a child. She was feeling overwhelmed and when she could not take it anymore, she decided to end her life. She took some pills along with vodka. Firemen had to break down her door and found her on the floor. She went into a coma and doctors gave her a ten percent chance of survival. When she did awaken from her coma, she was disappointed that she had survived. She made more attempts after that to end her life and consequently many visits to the hospital.
This part of her testimony reminds me of the reality that even as children of God, we face battles, sometimes on a daily basis, and we too feel overwhelmed. I wish I could say that as a child of God all of our problems disappear and that we live happy, carefree lives. The reality is that the devil will always be working hard to destroy us - that’s his job. We may experience seasons of happiness where things seem to be going alright, but then we also experience sometimes long difficult seasons where we wonder how we are going to make it through. We pray, we trust God, we get into His Word, in short, we do what we may know to do to simply make it through. Yet, it can be hard.
In one of the other testimonies I watched, Jessica found out that she was terminally ill with breast cancer. Unfortunately, the cancer was also found in all of the lymph nodes under her arms. As if that wasn’t enough, she was pregnant. Against all hope, Jessica put her trust in her God. Even as she went through painful treatment, she kept her eyes on God and found comfort and strength as she remembered that Jesus went through worse for her. Just like Ruth in the other testimony, it was difficult for her. I couldn’t help but notice that in spite of all the negatives she faced, she absolutely refused to give up on her God. She even admitted that even if God had allowed the cancer to spread all over her body she would still love Him!
Sometimes, it’s not about God doing it our way or even doing what we want, but having the confidence that He knows what is best and His best will always be good for us. Yes, God did heal her and she did deliver a healthy baby boy and she gives all the praise and thanks to God.
Ruth, on the other hand, did not have that relationship with God like Jessica did. After her many failed attempts at suicide, she finally started back therapy and made progress towards her healing. Her first marriage ended but she got married again and life really improved for her. Yet, she felt that something was missing. Finally, she and her husband started going to church and one day she made up her mind to surrender her life to Christ. That was the missing link. On top of that, she was able to finally realise that, all along, God was putting the right people in the right place at the time to help her. In short, He was taking care of her. That caught my attention because in this testimony, this person wasn’t even serving God yet God was taking care of her even when she had not surrendered to Him. I find this encouraging because God’s love goes above and beyond. I look at the number of times she tried to end her life and God refused to allow her to die. He had a plan and purpose for her life and He was not about to allow her to miss His best for her.
No matter what you are going through, no matter how you are messing up, God loves you. He doesn’t just love His children who have surrendered their lives to Him, He loves even those who are running from Him, trying to live their lives their way without His help. What I love, is when she said that all along God had been putting the right people in the right place at the right time to help her.
Who has God been sending your way to help, to encourage, to be a source of strength to you? When we are going through, it can be so difficult to see all the people God is using to help us, all the holes, ditches and pitfalls that He is preventing us from falling into, all the things He is protecting us from. Just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean that He isn’t working on our behalf, doesn’t mean that He doesn’t care. Sometimes, in retrospect, as we look back over our lives, we realise that God was there all along, carrying us, protecting us, keeping us, just plain loving us!
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Saviour, I invite you to do so now. God cares about you, He loves you and wants what is best for you. The beautiful part is the fact that you don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to have it all together. God wants you just as you are and He knows exactly how to fix every problem in every area of your life.
He gave it all for you...
Last week I mentioned that there was more than one song entitled “Be Still” that was ministering to me. I shared the version then sung by Travis Greene but this week I am going to share the other one that really got my attention: “Be Still” by Bethel Music and sung by Steffany Gretzinger.
For me the main thread throughout the entire song are the words: “‘Cause You gave it all for me…” When I hear these words it brings to my mind a vivid picture of what Jesus went through for us … for me.
Recently, I shared with some students the story of the crucifixion. I was teaching a Religious Instruction class at school and I started sharing with them Jesus’ journey to the cross. I felt led to paint as vivid a picture as possible of all the pain and suffering Jesus had gone through some two thousand years or so ago. I spoke about His rejection by His own people, the Jews, His betrayal by them, the horrific treatment He received at the hands of the Roman soldiers who were simply doing their job believing Him to be a criminal worthy of the worst punishment. And yet, in spite of all that Jesus went through, the reality was that He still chose to allow Himself to be killed, to die for the very Jews responsible for putting Him in that position, for the very soldiers who beat Him and who pierced His hands and feet with nails as they fastened Him to a cross. In spite of all of that, Jesus still loves us…
The first verse of the song says:
Be still my heart and know, You are God alone
Stop thinking so much, and just let go
Be still my soul and rest, humbly I confess
In my weakness, Your strength is perfect
Let’s face it, we all go through situations that disturb and discourage us. Sometimes, we are doing the best we can but nothing seems to be going the way we would like it to. Worry and fear step in and it may feel as if everything is spiralling out of control. Yet, according to the lines of the verse, sometimes we just have to speak to and encourage ourselves. Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves that this problem is too big for us so we may as well just give it God.
The sad reality is that the more tightly we hold on to the problem, the more stressed and discouraged we become. Yes, it is difficult to let it all go, I should know because I struggle with letting go time and again. But, I am also learning to ask God to help me let go what I need to let go. And, the encouraging things is, we may be weak and totally incapable of handling the situation but God isn’t! In fact, His strength has the opportunity to show out even more in the face of our weakness. There is nothing wrong with being and feeling weak and helpless. The problem comes when we know it but still unnecessarily stress ourselves out trying to fix things. I am truly learning to just rest in Him. As problems rear their ugly heads, I am learning to just admit that I can’t do this and that it’s God’s battle not mine … and I give it to Him.
The chorus says:
For You alone are God, there will be no other
And You have won my heart, more than any other
So I will give it all, 'cause You gave it all for me
God is God all by Himself and we need Him way more than He needs us. There is nothing or no one that can compare to Him (Isaiah 45:5). He is God and God alone. We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19) and because He gave His all for us, we can give everything to Him - both the good and the bad. It can be really difficult to give ourselves completely. It is already difficult to give Him our problems but, giving ourselves completely to Him can be just as tough. Yet, when we hold ourselves back, we are missing out on all the beautiful things He has in store for us.
I am reminded of a picture I saw once of a little girl holding a tiny teddy bear in her hands. Jesus is kneeling in front of her asking her to give it to Him but she refuses while holding tightly to her bear. What she can’t see, however, is that with His other hand, He is holding a much larger teddy bear behind His back.
We usually can’t see the good things God has in store for us. All He wants us to do is to trust Him, to trust that if we surrender ourselves and all that we are holding on to, if we give it all to Him, what He has for us is so much bigger, so much better, so much more beautiful than anything we may be holding on to. God always wants the best for us and He already has it. He has already given His all, even His very life so that He could give us His best - eternal life. He gave His all for you, He gave His all for me … there is no way we can lose by giving our all to Him! Trust Him today.
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Saviour, I encourage you to do so now. When you invite Jesus into your life you are positioning yourself to receive His very best for you. After all, no good thing will He withhold from you His child (Psalm 84:11b).
This blog provides inspirational nuggets inspired by the Word of God and serves to encourage and motivate Christians in their Christian walk.