Category Archives: HARD TIMES

Afflicted by an itch – for my good! Part Four of Four

Image result for Royalty Free Clip Art of ConfusionConfusion leads to more confusion. In spite of the dizziness, I continued editing the manuscript, adding a comma here and removing an extra space, all the while pondering, “What does taking Your Word like medicine look like for me, Lord?” Still without an answer, I decided to review the basic passages I had memorized that had healed the depression and fear, my arsenal as I called it. I walked to the side table by the rocker and, underneath a yellow note pad, two devotionals and one Bible, found the nine sheet-protected pages binder-clipped at the left top corner. I reviewed each phrase of Isaiah 26:3, in the Amplified, until I could once again, as I had in previous weeks, repeat the entire verse to myself.

After lunch and an hour of lying down, trying to ignore the itching, I again returned to the manuscript, hoping to keep my mind off “the” problem. Instead, the buzzing whir of questions and fears intensified.

“Should I just stop the Prednisone? What if it is like an antibiotic and you are not supposed to. But it has not helped the itch that much, and I am not that dizzy. Well, I guess I am. Oh, what should I do?”

Then “Zing!” The enemy shot one of the poison-tipped arrows he uses against single believers. “Well, everything is so hard for you because you are alone. If you just had a husband, this would not be so hard.”

“Hmmph!” I said to myself, as I leaned forward, elbows on knees, gently pressing my temples. “Lord, as You say in Isaiah 54, You are my Creator and You are my husband. You are the LORD of heaven’s armies. You rule the entire earth. I will trust in You because I know You have always rescued me, and I know You love me. (Psalm 91)

Image result for Royalty Free Picture Of Sun Through Clouds\Trust brings clarity. Then came the clear thought, “Just call the pharmacist.” So, I did. She said, “Just stop taking it if it makes you dizzy.” I slid off the couch onto the floor, burying my face into the bumpy softness of corduroy cushions.

“Thank You, Lord, thank You!” Tears darkened an irregular circle in the cocoa-colored fabric of the couch.

“This is how I have handled sickness my entire life, isn’t it, Lord, even after I knew You? When I think I am catching a cold, I take two kinds of cold medicine, or more, to control the symptoms. Years ago when I was a runner, I tried orthotics, taping my arches, different shoes, extra stretching, strength training and everything else to “fix” my feet so I could keep running like I wanted to. When allergies began a few years ago, I began taking medicine every single day. Oh, sure, I prayed, and asked others to pray. I learned to anoint myself with oil, and to make declarations of health. But I was always trusting in something doctors could do or that I could do for healing.

And, Lord, I think I was afraid to trust You with my body. I panicked when I felt sick, and in the fog of panic, listened to the all or nothing lies of the enemy, lies like, ‘This is the start of a terrible sickness. You will not be able to work or do anything. You will be miserable. You must fix this now. Call a doctor. Get some medicine – quick! Hurry! You are in danger.”

I doubted You would really heal me. Forgive me, Father. I am so sorry. How could I have been so blind and doubted You so long? That must have deeply grieved Your heart when I subconsciously doubted Your love for me. It would be like Sharon thinking I was keeping good things away, when I did everything a single parent could possibly do.

I know from Your Word, Lord, that life is filled with troubles and You say rejoice because You have overcome this world. Yet, I also know that because we live in a fallen world we will have sicknesses and other afflictions of the flesh.”

With hips beginning to ache, I got up off the floor and sat on the couch. Sunlight blazed white off the blinds and dispersed into long slats on the oak veneer floor. The thump, thump, thump then slam as my upstairs neighbor returned home interrupted the squawk of a blue jay swaying on the branch outside the window.

Image result for Royalty Free Picture of Natural RemediesTrusting God first and using natural remedies. “Lord, obviously You are telling me to have more faith and to take Your Word like medicine. The only way I know to do that is refreshing my basic memory verses and adding more. I trust You, Lord, for more direction about how to use your Word like medicine. But I also think maybe I should just try natural remedies. I know people in Bible times used olive oil and other natural products for healing.”

Yesterday, my friend had texted to try ice packs and calamine lotion. Well, I disliked ice intensely and, although I had purchased calamine, it sat in the bag on the counter where I dropped it beside my purse when I returned home.

Now, I pulled an ice pack out of the freezer and winced as I applied it. In only a few moments, the itching began decreasing. I sat in the bathroom, gratefully relocating the ice pack to the itchiest spots. Next, I applied a thin layer of calamine lotion. In thirty minutes, the rash was nearly indistinguishable and the itch? Nonexistent.

“Thank You, thank You, thank You, Lord!” I kept repeating, as if I had just been pulled out of a raging river. “I appreciate it! That feels so much better.”

A few minutes later, my tummy growled. The enemy of our souls growled, too, seeking to steal, kill, and destroy. (John 10:10) However, this time, with a more sober mind and greater alertness to God’s voice, I resisted him and stood strong in my faith.

“Lord, You are healing the rash. The tummy upsets are no harder for You to heal. Nothing is too hard for You, as You say in Jeremiah 32:27. Please show me what to eat.”

In the refrigerator, I saw my two-day home-made chicken and vegetable soup, glad now that I had not thrown it out. When the itch and tummy upsets began simultaneously two days ago, I thought too much turmeric might have been the cause. For the last few weeks supper had been that soup with lots of onion and garlic and a big dose of turmeric, in a desperate effort to “fix” worsening allergies.

Image result for royalty free picture of healthy habitsOne problem, many messages. The small bowl of soup I ate settled just fine, no burping, no gas, no bloating. While washing the soup bowl, spoon, and the morning’s oatmeal bowl, another gentle thought came. “Large meals also cause GI problems.” It was not only too spicey soup. It was having two large bowls, as well as the rest of supper, then later a large bedtime snack, rationalizing I needed it to fall asleep. And, to be honest, self-pity often surfaced as I faced the night alone. A treat made me feel better, even though I knew lying down after eating often led to hiatal hernias, which often causes digestive problems.

Other thoughts flooded in about changes I needed to make for my health. I had gained ten pounds during the coronavirus lockdown because I whined that the gym was closed and I could not do my usual exercises. That had led to feeling stove-up, as my Dad used to say, and stiffer than I ever had. Bedtime had become irregular and too late, which led to arising after sunup, therefore missing the pre-dawn writing time that worked like a tonic every day.

Image result for royalty free picture of dad pointing finger Loving chastening, for my good. With deep gratitude, I saw that God had used the health problems for my good. They had taught me to depend on Him first for healing and to adjust some health habits. That would help me finish my years with good health, able to write and serve others, which was my heart’s desire.

A successful maiden voyage of a little ship of faith. Two days Clipper Ship Artlater, a bad earache helped exercise my new level of faith. As the right ear throbbed, I pulled my hair back and looked in the mirror. The outer edge of the canal was swollen and red.

“Oh, Lord!” was my initial thought. “Ears are really serious. How can I mess around with my ear?” But I prayed, with my mustard seed of faith (Luke 17:6), looked up natural remedies, applied ice packs and tea tree ointment (which fortunately was in the house already), sat on the couch and reviewed four more Scriptures in my arsenal until I could again recite them. After an hour or so came a measure of relief, and I went to bed, propped up to reduce fluid in the area. By midday the next day, the ear was remarkably better. Praise God! I knew healing did not always come so fast but, praise God and His great grace, it had this time!

I knew not to stop the blood pressure medicine but I could certainly make an, uh, honest effort to lose weight and exercise regularly again. Hmmm. . . maybe this could be a way to learn about long-term healing.

This light and momentary trouble (2 Corinthians 4:17-18) Regarding problems, perhaps there are a few basic lessons we believers learn—once we really learn them– and then spend the rest of life applying those lessons, by God’s grace alone, in new situations. I believe some of those lessons are:

[1] God is sovereign. (Psalm 113:1-6, Jeremiah 32:17)

[2] He loves us more than we can know this side of heaven. (John 3:16, Psalm 103)

[3] Everything He does and that He allows He will use for our ultimate good and the good of the Kingdom. (Romans 8:28, James 1:3-4, Genesis 50:20)

[4] He uses hard times to train us, and He does it because of His great love for us. (Hebrews 12:1-12, James 1:2-17)

[5] When we stray, He does whatever is necessary to woo us back to His loving heart and His safe pathways. (Luke 15, Psalm 107)

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[6] He will sustain us through any and everything, as we put our trust in Him. (Isaiah 26:3, I Peter 5:6-11)

[7] He died to give us an abundant life, on earth as well as in heaven, and it is His will that we live with love, joy, and peace each day. He will enable us to do that as we obey and trust Him. (John 3:16, John 10:10, Philippians 2:13).

God’s timing is perfect – ALL the time. That evening . . . “Lord, it is so funny how You hide things beneath all these books and writing papers until I have learned a particular lesson. When I first read “God’s Medicine Bottle”, I understood that Derek Prince taught that IF we give focused, reverent, and believing attention to Your Word, that Your Word will be medicine to us. But I somehow forgot how he said to take Your Word like medicine, so when I asked You I felt led to refresh my basic arsenal of memorized Scriptures, to add more Scriptures, and to meditate on Your Word even more all day long.

And now tonight, re-reading the book, I found where Derek said he “took” the medicine of Your Word by reading it three times a day, after meals, as you take other medicine.

So Lord, I am thinking this reading three times a day should be separate from other Bible study and reading, something I do specifically to seek Your healing. So, I think we should start with . . . The End

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Afflicted by an itch – for my good – Part Three of ??

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Hmm. . . taking the Word like medicine. . . The next day’s morning routine went slower than usual. I still itched, though not as much. Dizziness forced me to sit down in between feeding Barny, brewing chamomile tea, giving Barny his morning catnip, brushing him, and morning devotions.

“Oh well, Barn,” I said as I stroked the sleek mink-colored fur along his sides, “Maybe it’s the blood pressure. Maybe it is just too low. Should I try some caffeine?”

I picked him up, held him close, and nuzzled my face into the cream-colored fur of his neck, breathing in the clean, animal smell.

“Yowww,” was his soft reply. I placed him gently on the floor and walked, slowly, to the rocker by the window.

After morning devotions, which included skimming “God’s Medicine Bottle”, I sat at the computer and resumed proof-reading “Affliction, God’s Loving Chastening.” With decades of office experience typing medical dictation, proof-reading letters, memos and reports my supervisors had written, then a few years writing minutes for the Board of County Commissioners and proofing my own minutes as well as those of other recording secretaries, and finally, after five years of evening classes, writing, editing and proofing my own emails, reports, and articles in professional journals, I could proof-read on automatic pilot, leaving my mind fairly free to think.

So, as I whacked an occasional unnecessary word here and deleted an extra space there in my little manuscript, I pondered. And I asked God, ““Lord, what does ‘taking Your Word like medicine’ mean for me, personally? How am I to do that? I paused. “Well. I know You used Your Word to heal my heart of depression and fear, so maybe the process of physical healing is similar?”

Healing began with getting the Word into my mind and heart. “Okay, Lord. I know healing started when I began doing two things. One, diligently studying your Word, for myself, in my areas of personal need, and, two, when I began memorizing those verses that You highlighted for me as I studied.

Image result for Royalty Free Clip Art of DiplomaHealing through diligent study of the Word. I kept thinking about how God had changed my approach to and attitude about the Word the previous year, 2019, when so much healing had happened. Although I had studied my Bible diligently, actually frantically, as a new believer there were seasons when my passion for the Word dimmed. Periodically, for a few years at a time, I put the Word higher in my priorities but never like I had as a spiritual newborn. The last five years or so I had read and studied the Word less and less, compared to previous times. As for meditation, that had been shallow and sporadic, throughout my life.

I prayed, “Forgive me, Lord, oh forgive me! And thank You for using the depression and fear to show me that I live only by every Word that comes out of Your mouth, Lord, as You say in Deuteronomy 8:3, not by things of this world. Oh, how I regret not listening to You, Holy Spirit! Thank You for Your patience.”

“Thank You, Lord, for all those winter and spring mornings last year, when I first began sitting at the desk, taking notes, like I was in school again. It felt so lonely, with both grandchildren in school, but as I sat with You, morning sunshine slanting through the blinds, You led me to look up verses on fear and courage and peace and worry and fretting and Your love and care and provision and protection. You led me to read the whole chapters those verses were in, to look up cross references, and take notes like I was studying for a final exam. Thank You, Lord, for teaching me how to feast from the meat of the Word directly like that, rather than being fed by others. Thank You for helping me do my best to correctly handle the Word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15.)

I paused and sat very still as I pondered upon the second way His word had healed my spirit and soul of depression and anxiety, by hiding the Word in my heart. (Psalm 119:11)

Image result for Royalty Free clip Art Of Stacks Of PaperHealing through Memorizing. ”You remember, Lord! With Your help, and Your Spirit giving me the desire to do it (Phillippians 2:13), we memorized verses about peace, like Isaiah 26:3, and verses where You promised to take care of and be close to Your children, like Genesis 28:15 and Isaiah 41:10. I copied the verses by hand, using the Amplified Bible, and I carried those pages of Scripture everywhere, each day, wherever I went, as one carries a lucky charm, almost frantically pulling them out while standing in line at the grocery, while riding the recumbent cycle at the gym – any time my mind was not engaged in some task or conversation – because when I pondered Your Word, I had peace. But when my mind was idle, fear and viscous self-criticism flooded in.

“It took many weeks to memorize our basic arsenal of Scriptures, but through that I know You did indeed make my mind new, Lord, because I think and feel and act differently. Keeping Your Word in my mind changed me into a new person by changing the way I think, like You tell us in Romans 12:1-3.

“I know, Lord, that keeping Your Word in my mind so many hours of the day as I worked to memorize was a big factor in Your making my mind new.” Then I thought about meditation.

Healing through Meditating. “Lord, memorizing from the Amplified was a form of meditating, wasn’t it? Or at least a good start?” I knew meditating meant to roll an idea over and over in your mind, to reflect upon it, and to ruminate upon it, to work on that piece of the Bread of Life as a cow works on its food, to mash and tear and grind and analyze, then let it rest and do it all over until it is broken down small enough so the body can absorb it. Maybe repeating verses phrase by phrase, over and over was one way of breaking down the Bread into small enough pieces so my mind could absorb it, just as a cow chewed and crushed her food until her body could absorb it!

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“Wow, Lord! I was taking Your Word like medicine, just like You told Derek to do! I was giving Your Word my undivided, diligent attention, desperation did give me an open, believing heart, and I did keep Your Words in the middle of my life, all day long, as a shield against the arrows of fear and sadness and hopelessness. That was why Your Word penetrated and did its healing work!

“Was that the “secret”, Lord, of how You healed my mind and emotions of depression? Had I, unknowingly, done it right? I had studied as hard as I could to understand Your teachings, then I had been meditating on them while I memorized them, and—Wow!!– they had penetrated my heart because all that time I was “whetting and sharpening them”, just like You tell us to do in Deuteronomy 6:7.

“Did healing come because Your Word pierced the depths of my heart, because it penetrated to “. . . the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal spirit], and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature]” (Hebrews 4:12, AMPC). Derek Prince said Your Word penetrates when a surgeon’s scalpel and a counselor’s words fail. Like a surgeon’s sharp scalpel penetrates flesh and bone, is that how the sharpened sword of Your Word penetrates to where our soul and spirit meet, to our innermost being?

Image result for royalty free clip art of mirrorAs I sat in my chair, hands frozen on the keyboard, hindsight said that for most of my walk with God, in regard to His command to meditate on the Word daily, I had been like the man in James who, though hearing the Word and seeing what he looks like, as in a mirror, goes away and immediately forgets. Over the years, Holy Spirit had gently reminded me that I was not meditating and had done so only briefly when a new believer. However, fully as prideful as King Saul, I had not listened to God and had persisted in my own way, reading several chapters a day, studying sporadically, and feeling that was okay or good enough.

I kept sitting quietly, tilting the chair back and forth with one foot on the floor, listening, waiting for more thoughts from the Lord. The fan whirred, cool air blew on my neck as the air conditioner ka-plunked on. Barny stood up and yawned, revealing pink gums and that tiny, pale pink, sandpaper tongue. I rubbed my thumb and index finger together, waiting in the silence.

Is this how meditation works? “Hmm,” I reflected. ”I need to look at that verse, not just repeat it in my mind.” I opened my Amplified to Hebrews 4:12,

“For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and the [immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.” (AMPC)

Image result for Sword ClipArt   “Ok Lord, I sense there is something more here about penetrating our heart that I do not see yet. Let’s break that down, phrase by phrase. . . so, if we sharpen Your Word by meditating on it (Deuteronomy 6:7, AMPC), then it will separate, or split asunder as the King James puts it, our soul and spirit AND it also separates our joints and marrow, the deepest parts of our nature. Then it exposes, sifts, analyzes and judges our heart. So, Your Word penetrates to the dividing line between:

  • the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit
  • Your Word also penetrates between joints and marrow (which are the deepest parts of our nature),
  • and Your Word exposes, sifts, analyzes, and judges the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.

So, for example, when I was deeply depressed, my soul would have been thinking “There is no hope for me. This will never change. No one can fix my messed up heart and life. God is disappointed in me because I have gotten depressed again.”

But, after weeks of reading, and speaking, and thinking what Your Word says about these things, Your Word got all the way through, divided my soul and spirit, then did those four things. Your Word, alive in my innermost being:

  • exposed the darkness,
  • sifted out the lies, as a gardener sifts rocks out of soil or a baker sifts lumps out of floor,
  • analyzed, or examined in detail, my soul and spirit, and
  • judged the thoughts and purposes in my heart.

 Hmmm, how did the Word judge? A judge in a courtroom hears and examines evidence, then declares a person guilty or innocent and sets them free or sends them to jail. When I judge something I call it good or bad and then, if I have the authority, I throw out the bad and keep the good, like picking through cracked pecans or walnuts.

So! Your Word in my heart exposed, sifted, analyzed and then judged the lies the enemy had planted for what they are, and banished them by replacing them with Truth.

  • Where I had thought “There is no hope for me”, the truth of Your Word in my heart judged that a lie, and Jeremiah 29:11 told me You had good plans for me, including a future and a hope.
  • Where I had thought. “No one can fix my messed up heart and life,” the truth of Your Word in my heart judged that a lie, and Isaiah 41:10 told me not to be afraid because You are my God and You will strengthen and help me and hold me up.
  • Where I had thought You were disappointed and mad with me because I was depressed again, Your Word in my heart judged that a lie, and Psalm 103 told me You loved me as high as the heavens are above the earth and that You had compassion on me, just as a father has compassion on his children.

I had known those verses but had not sharpened them by meditation, so they were, in my hands, a dull blade, an ineffective sword that did not penetrate to the dividing line of soul and spirit. But, diligent study, memorization, and meditation sharpened them for me personally so that they did indeed penetrate, like a scalpel, to the root of the lies that had caused depression and fear and had cut them out.

That was how the Word had healed depression and fear. Truth had set me free and as I kept the Word in my heart it had kept me free and enabled me to walk and live in truth so that gradually my habitual attitude was hopeful, peaceful, and confident that God would help me rebuild our life, and I felt deeply loved all “just” by hearing and believing the Truth.

I stared out the window a long time, simply thanking God for the healing and for helping me understand, at least partly, how the Word worked healing in the heart.

“Thank You, Lord, I understand emotional and mental healing better now, but what about physical healing? How do I take Your Word like medicine for that? And please help with this dizziness. I think it is getting worse. I love You, Lord, and I trust You. Thank You that You have done such a healing in my heart and blessed me in countless ways. Help me honor You in all things. You are so good to me, Father! I love You!”

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Afflicted by an Itch – for My Good! Part Two of ??

Image result for royalty free picture of toy wood rubber band airplaneHelpless, right where God wants us. “Oh, Lord!” I wailed as I looked at the pink spots that had reappeared so fast. “I know my little problems are nothing compared to what millions face every day, but Lord! What if the blood pressure medicine causes a rash, too?”

I rocked in my desk chair a few moments, thinking. Could the medicines I took, over the counter and by prescription, have caused the rash? In coping with Austin’s multiple allergens, I now took three over-the-counter pills each morning and later in the day, depending on symptoms. Lately, worsening asthma had scared me into using the inhaler twice a day.

Thoughts whirred through my mind like the balsa wood airplanes my brothers and I had flown in the back yard, the deluxe ones with a rubber-band, windup propeller that made the little plane zip erratically over our heads for a few seconds before plummeting into lush Bermuda.

Finally, I sat in the rocker by the window, opened my Bible to Psalms, read a few minutes, then prayed.

“Father, I give up. I do not know which medicines and which foods are bad for me. I do not want to try another doctor or medicine and I am getting really scared. I need Your help, Lord. I believe Your promises in Hebrews 13:5 that You will never in any way fail me. I believe, Father, but I am so sorry. Even after all You have done for me, I am still afraid. Help me trust You more and show me what You want me to do.”

Small Child Looking UpGod always, always, always hears and answers us. Fortunately, I knew God would help, even though I felt the sting of fiery darts of discouragement and doubt. I had lifted up my shield of faith the best I could and I made up my mind to learn to continue living a life of active, intentional gratitude to Him, no matter what physical troubles might lay ahead.

Still itching, resisting the urge to scratch, I said, “Well, Lord, as a love offering for all the miracles You have done all my life, let’s pick up where we left off on that little book about affliction. Thank You so much for giving me this work to do. Help me write what You want people to know and teach me as we write.”

I sat down at the computer, opened the file labelled “Affliction, God’s Loving Chastening” and read the last two sentences I had written five days ago, before the storm of physical afflictions.

“During those two years, as I actively sought help and healing for the increasing emotional upset, I read and heard many teachings by Joyce Meyer, Derek Prince, and others who taught about using God’s Word like the medicine it is to heal and renew your heart.”

Image result for Clip Art Free Old Medicine BottleGod’s Medicine Bottle. “Lord, I need to review that teaching and add more detail, right?” An internet search, to my delight, showed that Derek Prince’s little book “God’s Medicine Bottle,” was in the radio archives of www.derekprince.org. The short, but mighty, book taught how to receive healing from the Word of God, based on Proverbs 4:20-22.

For the next hour I barely moved, listening intently to each word, grateful that God had answered my desperate prayer in less than three minutes. Here is a brief summary of that teaching.


While a solider, Derek had severe eczema, like many British soldiers exposed to desert sun and sand. Doctors’ efforts failed, and Derek was left, along with others, to sit in the hospital. A relatively new believer, with nowhere else to turn for help but God and the Word, he began studying his Bible. One day, he read Proverbs 4:20-22.

“My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto My sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (KJV)

In the margin of his Bible, Derek saw that an alternative translation for “health” in verse 22 was “medicine”. After repeatedly pondering that passage, he decided to take God’s Word as his medicine. Then God told him clearly, though not audibly, “When the doctor gives a person medicine, the directions for taking it are on the bottle. . . This is My medicine I’m giving you. The directions are on the bottle. You better study them.” (p. 16, God’s Medicine Bottle)

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Following is a summary of Derek’s understanding of the four directions, as given in “God’s Medicine Bottle’.

  1. Attend to My words. God requires our undivided attention as we study His Word.
  2. Incline thine ear unto My sayings. Bend down your head, bow down your stiff neck and listen, humbly, as you study. Let go ALL preconceptions of how God does and does not work. Do not try to figure things out.
  3. Let them not depart from thine eye. The main thought here is to focus and have a single or simple, sincere eye—to see the Bible as it is written and take it as meaning what it says, without trying to explain it away.
  4. Keep them in the midst of thine heart. Just as some medicine must enter the bloodstream to be effective, God’s medicine must enter the heart, which is what God’s first three were about. Further, Proverbs 4:23 can be simply stated “Guard your heart with all of our strength; for all the things in life come out of it.” (p. 52) God says that for His Words and His medicine to do what is promised, we must keep His words and sayings in the center place of our life and heart.

Finally, Hebrews 4:12 teaches that God’s Word penetrates when nothing else will – not a surgeon’s knife nor a counselor’s words.


Derek began bowing his head over the Bible three times each day after meals, which was how people usually took medicine. Within a year, he was totally healthy in every area of his body.

See the source image Ruth “happened” to stop in the field of Boaz. After I listened to the entire teaching about God’s medicine, came a deep, peaceful sigh. “Thank You, Father, for speaking so clearly. I know that just as Ruth “. . . happened to stop in the part of the field belonging to Boaz” (Ruth 2:3, AMP) so, at this particular hour, I happened to resume our work on the book about affliction at the spot about using the Word like medicine. You  knew that would get me to sit down and listen—attentively–to the entire teaching again.”

This, dear, dear Father, is a new thing for me this taking the Word like medicine, although I have always believed that all Your gifts, including healing, are still in operation today, just as in New Testament times. Thank You that you taught me how to use Your Word like the spiritual weapon it is to heal depression and anxiety. Now I need You to teach me how to take it like the medicine it is for physical healing.

Forgive me, oh Father, for relying on doctors and medicines for healing first, all my life, even after learning about Your healing powers. I have been like the Israelites in Isaiah 30 that we are writing about in the affliction book. They spent all their wealth purchasing help from Egypt instead of seeking strength and protection from You, and consequently they were terrified of and fled from their enemies, just as I have fled from my fear of sickness, rather than standing and leaning on You.

And just as You told them that You eagerly waited, expecting, looking and longing to be gracious to them, and that You lifted yourself up so that You could show them lovingkindness, so You have been eagerly waiting for me to return to You and rest in You so that I can be saved from these afflictions of my body. You have been longing for me to return to You and learn to gain strength from being quiet and from having trust and confidence in You. (from Isaiah 30:18, AMPC)”

I knew that God was showing me the next area of personal growth for me–depending on Him for physical healing.

Image result for Royalty Free Clip Art of String Around FingerHow quickly we forget! I also knew, just as certainly, that He was chastening me about keeping the Word first in my life. In recent weeks, working on the book about affliction had been so exciting that I had, too often, kept writing rather than doing the personal Bible reading and study I knew was necessary for me personally.

Also, God’s presence during the writing so nourished and excited my soul and left such an afterglow that I did not feel the need to quote my basic Bible passages to myself during the in between moments of daily living, as I had done when God was healing me of depression and anxiety. I had also neglected to my commitment to discover and meditate on new Bible passages.

“Forgive me, Father! You warned me. I heard more than one Bible teacher and pastor whose ministry had steadily grown for years and who had not yielded to the sin that wrecked so many well-known ministries attribute their success to maintaining their personal relationship with You. I also knew many saints whose ministries, though behind the scenes nevertheless equally important in the kingdom, had lived long, victorious lives because they put their relationship with You above any work they did for You.

Thank You, Lord, for exposing the ways of the enemy in this. I see that he tries to draw every believer away from the most important thing in life, as You said in Matthew 22:37-39 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (NIV). I know that good can be the enemy of the best. If I spend so much time in my personal work for You that I neglect my time with You and our Bible study, I have stepped off the path You have for me. Nothing can come before You.

Is that the lesson of Mary and Martha, Lord, in Luke 10:38-42? I feel like I never understood that story before. Wow!”

I paused. How wonderful, I thought, that God takes such care with His children to show them exactly how to live! And just as clearly as if we heard a human voice. (Isaiah 30:21-23) How wonderful that He does not criticize us when we fail and that He never embarrasses us when we need to ask Him how to do something. (James 1:5-8).

Image result for royalty free picture of phylacteryGod warns us not to forget. On impulse, I searched “how quickly we forget” and found Deuteronomy 4:9, “Only take heed and guard your life diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen and lest they depart from your [mind and] heart all the days of your life. Teach them to your children and your children’s children” (AMPC). I knew from having seen pictures that phylacteries were worn during prayer, and that they were highly visible. I also knew, from, pictures that putting them on took time and effort. God obviously wanted His children to think deeply about His Word when they prayed.

For the next few minutes, I skimmed through the first part of Deuteronomy, from Chapter Four on, noting how many times God warned Israel, through Moses, to keep His law FIRST in their hearts and minds, passages like Deuteronomy 4:10, 39-40,5:7, 6:1-25, especially 3, 12 and 24. I would study that out later. The passages in Deuteronomy reminded me of Psalm 107, which tells how God, because of His mercy and loving kindness, again and again rescued rebellious Israel when they rejected Him and His holy ways.

My tummy rumbled, and I drew my attention back to my prayer of repentance for neglecting His Word. I concluded “And, Lord, I trust You to show me what foods to eat that will help heal whatever is out of balance.

Image result for royalty free picture of praying handsGod is very near to us in everything about which we call upon Him. “. . . who has a god so near to them as the Lord our God is to us in all things for which we call upon Him?” (Deuteronomy 4:7, AMPC). I walked to the fridge, opened the door, and felt led to eat some spinach. I had read months ago that, paradoxical as it seems, spinach and other leafy greens help the tummy. (In writing this story, I learned that its alkalinity makes it an excellent antacid.) The spinach stayed down, with no burping.

I returned to the farmer’s market grocery that evening, thinking I could try another kind of yogurt instead of one based on soy or almonds. Sure enough, coconut yogurt and some other kinds existed, but at far too high a cost for my regular consumption. Walking out of the store, holding my empty mesh bags, I prayed, “Lord, thank You for guiding me. Help me remember and show me how You want me to take Your Word like medicine. Please keep showing me how to do that. And I think You are saying to try fresh vegetables and fruits that help allergies and asthma. It makes sense that eating foods that You have supplied in nature would be part of Your way of healing.”

Image result for royalty free clip art of grandmother sleeping in bedAs I walked up the stairs, I ignored the dizzy, light-headed feeling, assuming the blood pressure was a bit off, as it often was by day’s end. I fell asleep that night, repeating my basic arsenal of Scripture passages, Isaiah 26:3, Hebrews 13:5, Psalm 91 . . . zzzz

 

P.S. I heartily recommend the teachings of Derek Prince, a widely-known and highly respected international Bible teacher. Though he went home to glory in 2003, his teachings are still going forth through the work of his family and others, through many avenues, including www.derekprince.org. Sound Biblical teaching can easily be found, on innumerable topics, through searching the website and other resources, including putting, for example, “Derek Prince on healing” into your web browser. You will be abundantly blessed as you feast on solid food. (Hebrews 5:14).

Afflicted by an Itch – for My Good! Part One of ??

Image result for Free Clip Art Of Quill PenDear friend, I am trying two new things: using a short story form and splitting long blog posts into parts. So, laying aside my earlier hesitations and trusting God, here we go! Woo hoo and go God!

This short story/blog post series shows:

(1) How God used Proverbs 4:20-23 last week to heal me physically when nothing else worked.  Proverbs 4:20-23 in a nutshell is that  God’s Word is medicine for our bodies IF we take it as He says.

(2) A personal experience of the benefits of affliction. As Psalms 119 says (verse  67) “Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I obey Your Word.” and (verse 71) “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.”

Affliction in body and mind. “You know, Lord, this is going great! In a few more days, we might get this finished. Thank You!”

I rocked gently in my chair. The softest whisper of wind stirred the branches outside the window. Midmorning sun dappled through the top-most branches. Gentle light illumined some leaves a bright, new grass green, leaving shadowed leaves varying shades of jade.

Holy Spirit and I had worked on this  booklet about affliction, which had grown to be a small book, for two months. As I had dug deeply into Isaiah 30, the little book’s Biblical foundation, I had understood more about the message of its working title, “Affliction, God’s Loving Chastening.” The book showed how, through a long season of affliction, God had lovingly healed deep hurts, cleansed me of hidden sins, strengthened me, and made “my feet like hinds feet [able to stand firmly or make progress on the dangerous heights of testing and trouble.” (Psalm 18:33, AMPC). A peaceful season of energizing work had followed.

Image result for Free Clip Art of Person At ComputerThe dangerous heights of testing and trouble. But now, today, this morning? Seated at the computer, pressing hard to complete that book, I was again standing in the middle of the dangerous heights of testing and trouble.

I paused, lifted the dove gray cotton tank top and frowned at the pink, raised dots covering my tummy. I wriggled my shoulders, resisting the urge to scratch, scratch, scratch the same kind of dots sprinkled over my sides and back. The fan on the bookshelf, which served as a cubby atop my writing table, faithfully whirred. On the other side of the room, the white-shaded lamp cast ovals of light into the corner and onto the vase of white plastic roses and pipe cleaner flowers, the most recent treasure from my two grandsons. Worship music lilted from the radio next to the vase.

I turned my attention to the rash, and, just like that, stepped into the snare of worry.

The snare of worry. “What if it gets worse and the doctor’s office is closed?” I pondered. “This is Friday, nearly noon. Maybe I should call and try to get a walk-in appointment.”

I took the keyboard out of my lap, the ergonomically correct typing position I so carefully used, and stood up. I took three steps and opened the refrigerator, wishing I could just step into its coolness. I was beginning to feel hot and flushed and irritated.

I sat back down, pulled the keyboard back into my lap, popped two cold red grapes into my mouth, and tried to focus on the computer screen. No good. I ran my hands through my hair, grown longer than usual during the coronavirus lockdown, and sighed deeply.

“I just don’t know what to do!” I muttered to myself, tightening the enemy’s snare of worry even more firmly around my mind.

“Things have been going so well! I just cannot handle this. What am I doing to do? It might go away. It might just be heat rash. But what if it is not? I had that anaphylactic reaction a few months ago. What if this rash gets really bad? What if my immune system is hypersensitive now?”

I stood up again, crossed the room to the rocker by the window, and picked up my Bible. Instead of sitting down and reading it, though, I just stood and stared out the window. Another sigh. Another hand-swipe at the hair prickling at face and neck. My whole body felt irritated.

“This reminds me of when I was deep in the depression and walked around the house, starting one thing after another and finishing nothing!” I fumed to myself.

Image result for Free Clipart Of Many ArrowsThe poisonous arrows of lies. Now that the enemy had me immobilized in the noose of worry, he began shooting poisonous arrows of lies. The spiritual skirmish continued.

“If I am staying close to God and doing all I can to serve Him and help others, why doesn’t He keep me healthy? Why did He allow this rash? And on top of a whole week of terrible indigestion and bloating I can’t figure out either! It is just not fair. And maybe I will keep getting more unhealthy. I am, after all, an older person now. What if I get sicker and sicker and . . .”

Finally, pulling myself out of the tailspin, I called and, thankfully, got an appointment. At three o’clock, after the most cursory of questions from the doctor, I sat in line for the drive-through window of the pharmacy. At home, I read the directions, flinched at the thought of taking more medicine, especially such a strong one as Prednisolone, and, after a long rest on the couch, sat back down at the computer, searching out more information on foods and allergies and — rashes!

More confusion! Confusion mushroomed as I read that, apparently, some heart-healthy foods I had consumed in large quantity lately—cruciferous vegetables, onions, garlic, and turmeric—could cause allergic reactions and digestive issues. Ugggh!

“What am I going to do?” I fairly screamed inside. “I itch, I have this rash, and everything I have put in my mouth today has made me burp like an ugly old toad!”

Image result for Free Picture Of Woman With Grocery CartThe family trait of stubbornness, however, kicked in. An hour later, after more internet browsing, I drove to the local farmer’s market grocery, list of foods that helped allergies and indigestion in hand. Plump blackberries, on sale for five dollars a tiny basket, went into the cart. Without looking at the price, I yanked up a bag of cherries and tossed them in. Next came blueberries, out-of-season slices of watermelon, and almond yogurt, at the exorbitant price of five dollars per container. I shook my head at the cash register total, feeling my shoulders slump over.

“I can’t afford this pricey stuff all the time,” I thought as I slumped my way back to the car in the dusk. The air smelled hot and too dry. Streetlights would soon come on, and I needed to be home, eating supper at my regimented two-hour-before-lying-down-soasto-prevent indigestion hour.

Trying to but failing to feel God’s presence. I drove home, dragged my itchy self and my bulging mesh bags up the stairs, had some blackberries and almond yogurt, then propped upright on the couch for an hour, listening to the worship music from the radio in the corner, trying to but failing to feel God’s presence.

“Still more frustration,” I muttered to myself as I turned off the lights and plodded to the bedroom. Mental exhaustion led to troubled, restless, and late-in-coming sleep.

Saturday, the next morning, I could not feel His presence in my morning devotional time either, as I thanked Him that the rash seemed a good bit better. Sighing, I returned to searching the computer, trying to figure out what else to eat besides high-priced food.

In the list of “Six common food allergens that cause itchy skin” was nuts, including walnuts, a handful of which I had faithfully ate each day to lower cholesterol, and almonds, which I consumed in the almond milk I drank so as to avoid asthma-irritating dairy.

I leaned over, rested my head in my hands, then got up and slammed myself onto the couch.

“Was the almond yogurt bad for me too? What else was I eating that might have caused the rash and indigestion?”

Image result for Free Picture of Arrow FlyingTwang! Whoosh, whoosh, thunk! Twang! Whoosh, whoosh, thunk! went the arrows of the enemy, hitting the target of my mind and heart.

Twang! Whoosh, whoosh, thunk! went the arrow of self-pity.

“I have tried so hard to be healthy, all my life, and now this!”

I stood up, half hobbling back to the computer.

“And now the stinking virus has kept me and everyone else out of the gym and my joints ache, every muscle I had is getting soft, and my feet are getting stiffer without the swim exercises.”

Through all of that, even as the panic rose, I kept trying to connect with God.

“Thank You, Lord, that I got  in to see a doctor on such short notice. Thank You that the rash seems to be better this morning. Thank You that I have the money to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. Thank You that I know You are faithful and that all You do is good.”

Image result for Free Picture of Prescription BottleI took the afternoon blood pressure medicine I had taken for ten years and sat down to work on the book about affliction. Blissfully, the peace I always felt when writing with the Lord descended.

Ten minutes later, I paused, lifted my shirt and closed my eyes against the pressure of tears. The rash was bright pink again.

What am I supposed to do, Lord? “What am I supposed to do, Lord? I have to take the Amlodopine? People have strokes when their blood pressure is too high!”

To be continued . . .

Image result for Free Clip Art Of Quill PenP.S.: As I did the final editing of this Part One on the computer, getting ready to post it on the website before going to pick up my two grandsons (my reward to myself for a morning of diligent work), I accidentally hit a wrong key or two and . . . the document I had worked on for five hours (actually many more hours before today) disappeared. I stared blankly, mouth hanging open, then frantically searched every way I could think of for five minutes. Then I went online. No luck.

‘Oh, Lord! I wailed. “I know this was a good piece of work! Oh, Father, oh Father!” was all I could say.

Still stunned, eyes wide, I made up my mind to write it all over again, trusting God to somehow help me remember what we had written. I would have to trust Him to help me do that tomorrow. My back could not take another five hours in the chair today.

I looked online again, one more time, and found something that seemed promising. Still barely breathing, I anointed the computer with olive oil, prayed and walked through the steps of using the Task Manager.

Praise God, Who never fails, there the file was! So, dear friend, please do not think you are the only one waiting for the next episode of this story. I am, too!

 

What Prophecy Can Do for You . . . What You Can Do for Prophecy

What Prophecy Can Do for You . . . What You Can Do for Prophecy

What prophecy can do for you. Friend, if you do not know what is happening with prophecy today you miss the chance to:

  • Stay calm as God shows you, through His current-day prophets, why so many unbelievable things are happening,
  • Hear what God is doing behind the scenes that the fake news never reports,
  • Increase your faith as you see Biblical as well as modern-day prophecies fulfilled, and
  • Pick up your spiritual weapons, take your God-appointed place in God’s army, and FIGHT “ . . . against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12, NIV)

Resources about the prophetic. Following is a list of resources to acquaint you with what God is doing today in the prophetic realm. I have found these resources to be truthful, honest, and aligned with God’s Word.

https://marycolbert.us/nation-builders-prayer-host/ – Mary Colbert. Author, Christian activist, ordained minister – National prayer lines dedicated to prayer for the U.S. and for the wisdom of God.

https://elijahlist.com  – Prophet Steve Schultz, began this website decades ago. – Prophecies from around the world, news, prophetic resources, etc.

https://sordrescue.com/ – Prophet Mark Taylor – Prophecies, commentary. He predicted President Trump’s election before he was even running. See Mark’s website for details.

www.comemnistry.org – Denise Williams (hosts one of Nation Builders Prayer Calls) – Apostolic intercessor, Prophet, Chaplain and more. She “shares podcasts . . . with teachings, prophecies and words of knowledge as instructed by Holy Spirit.” (from her website.)

https://www.jpost.com/breaking-news (The Jerusalem Post) – Provides breaking news from Israel, the Middle East and the World. Learn what is happening with Israel so you can intercede. Remember Genesis 12:3, where, speaking of Israel, God says, “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who curse you.” (Genesis 12:3, NIV)

An urgent plea: Please stop listening to the lies and fear tactics of mainstream media. Even if you just skim headlines, you still hear lies that twist your thinking, fill you with fear, and darken your heart to the truth. Get your news from some of the resources above and so-called “far right” sources, like Sean Hannity and Jay Sekulow.

How to Get Involved

  • First, start getting informed. The list above is a good starter list. Ask Holy Spirit to lead you.
  • Second, join some of the world-wide intercessory prayer calls, available every day, at various times (see Mary Colbert above.) You can listen silently and agree in prayer; you do not have to pray out loud.
  • Third, in your daily life pray for the peace of Jerusalem! Pray for our President Donald J. Trump! Pray for our nation and our world! Pray!

 

My Father is the strongest! How to abide in peace

Image result for royalty free picture of awe“God is bigger than all my problems” (“Bigger than any Mountain” by Bill and Gloria Gaither) “But you tourists are all so rich, you must buy some.” The man’s voice was harsh and accusing, venomous with sarcasm.

“No! I said I do not want any!” Anger and fear throbbed in my friend’s voice.

“Hey!” I said in a loud, low tone as I squinted my eyes, stared at the man, and stepped in front of my friend. I was profoundly glad to be six feet tall, with a solid frame. Sharon was now hidden behind me, and I towered over the man.

Our tour guide had instructed us to ignore overly aggressive peddlers, but when our group was temporarily halted, Sharon’s gentle manners had apparently lured her into conversation.

“We do not want any” I said and took a small step toward the man. “Now leave us alone.” I had no idea what I would do but I knew showing fear would only draw out more aggression.

Suddenly, the man disappeared. Our tour guide, a six foot four, sturdy young man, had stepped in front of me. Broad shoulders blocked my view completely, up, down and on both sides. I said, “Wow, thank You, Lord!” under my breath and took Sharon’s hand to lead her quickly back to the group.

That was 15 years ago, but I can still feel the heavy peace of feeling safe that blanketed me. I believe God wants us wrapped in that peace of feeling safe, not just when we know we need Him and run to Him, but always. That peace is where He wants us to dwell. “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no foe can withstand]. (Psalm 91:1, AMPC)

Young children boast, “My Daddy can do anything and he’s bigger than anything!” As believers, God wants us to remember who He is when the world, our fleshly weakness, or the enemy of our souls comes against us. Selah!

Image result for royalty free clip art of gods throne

God wants us to have the peace of knowing He is omnipotent—more powerful than anything or anyone.

6 “One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.”

8. Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”

9 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied.

10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hand, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

12 The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”

Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.” (Job 1-6-12, NIV)

Image result for royalty free picture of bible on desk with papers The Bible tells me . . .  Thirty plus years ago, as late afternoon shadows lenghtened,  I paused, staring blankly at the bookbag and red sweater on the couch across the room. The sweet sound of laughter came from the balcony of our apartment, where my daughter and my neighbor’s little girl played together came through the window beside the desk. As a new believer, I was reading my way through the Bible each evening after supper. That day I was starting the book of Job.

“Wow!” I mused. “So, Satan has to get permission from God before he does anything. So that means God is more powerful than Satan! That’s good to know.”

It was indeed good to know that truth, and to know it from my own personal Bible study, not just second-hand from Bible teachers, early in my walk with Jesus. Since that day, this truth together with the truth that God loves me personally, have garrisoned my frail heart with bedrock peace (Philippians 4:7, AMPC) while I learned, through the mistakes of many years, how to live in victory over the world, my flesh, and the enemy.

Image result for Royalty Free Picture of LightningThinking about God’s power is calming. Why do people and animals alike quake at the explosive sound of thunder? It is the sound of power that we instinctively know is far greater than we are. I believe God’s Word so often urges us to consider nature because it reminds us of His power. Psalm 8 says the whole earth tells us of God’s supreme kingship, or majesty. Psalm 19 says the heavens and the skies make known God’s magnificence. And when God wanted to strengthen Elijah, who had become discouraged after having been very zealous (I Kings 18), God showed him a “great and powerful wind (that) tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD”, then an earthquake, then a fire (verses 11-12). “And after the fire, came a gentle whisper.” (verse 13) In everything God does, He remembers that we are mere humans (Psalm 103:14), so when God shows us His awesome power, He also shows us His tenderness toward us. (Isaiah 40:11) It is like an earthly father’s big hands tenderly holding a baby. If human fathers know how to be gentle, how much more does our Heavenly Father know?

Remembering God is near brings peace. Keeping the mind on God’s greatness and nearness calms the human soul. Because my father was the superintendent of a rock mine, he wore heavy boots to work. Each evening when he stepped through the door, he leaned over and removed those lime-rock encrusted boots, and my heart was at peace. The prototypical strong, silent type, my father loved his family and was home each evening. The house was so much quieter then. Shouting was rare and fights were few, with Daddy’s quiet presence a calming oil upon troubled waters. I adored my Father and just thinking about his work boots by the door brings me peace, even now.

Friend, our all-powerful, tenderly loving Heavenly Father is with us, this very moment. May we both find rest in His presence.

Image result for royalty free picture of jesus holding a child

 

God is so, so, so, so good to us!

Image result for royalty free picture of a rose

God does great things beyond our understanding (Job 37:5)   God is so so so so so good to us! Who but God could show me a wild red rose, growing up a corner wall, as I walk around the building, just to get out of the house? Who but God can make me just happen to look in that direction at the right moment? Who but God can let me see that the red of the rose is far, far deeper and richer than the most costly cloth ever made by the hand of man? Who but God can make me know that only the softness of a baby’s skin—also made by God—can rival the softness of the petals?

Who but God can pause my feet and arrest my thoughts, causing me to know that every hue of every color, every fabric, every building, every microscopic-sized invention, every application of knowledge have all sprung directly from one of His blueprints?

How can I not pause and consider the heavens, so high, so blue, that He holds lovingly in place over the whole earth, while we humans scramble to understand one tiny virus? How can I not know that the peace in my heart– in the middle of the biggest changes our modern world has seen–comes from Him? How can I not praise Him, admire and respect and applaud and lavishly thank Him? How can I not honor and worship this One who deserves all the glory?

Image result for royalty free pictures of majesty in natureAs I consider who He is. How can I not give Him all of my heart, all of my soul and all of my strength when He has done such awesome things for me and the whole world? How can I put anything else before Him in my affections? I simply cannot, when I consider who He is and who I am. I can only confess my weakness of fear and doubting and rebellion and lift grateful hands to heaven and my eyes to the hills, where my help comes from, from this Holy One of Israel, this Yahweh, this great and high and holy one, the Great I AM, Who was and is and is to come, the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega, the firstborn from among many brethren, the risen Savior and our soon-coming KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS!

Image result for royalty free picture of jesusAll glory, all praise, all honor to the Lamb that was slain, Who alone takes away the sins of the world, Who dwells in unapproachable light, but also in the hearts of those who love and obey Him, this One who sets eternity in the heart of man but dwells with the meek and the lowly!

I will not fail to praise Him, lest the rocks cry out! (Luke 19:37-40). How can we fail to praise the One Who, out of love, made us so that if we love Him and keep our minds on Him, our hearts are steadfast and strong? (Isaiah 26:3) How can we fail to trust, lean on, rely and be confident in the One who makes obedience lead to blessing? (Deuteronomy 11:13-32) Hw can we fail to rely on this compassionate, kind, gracious and everlastingly loving One who promises to give us all that we need, and to never, never, no, never fail us in any regard? (Hebrews 13:5)

HE IS all we need. (Philippians 4:19) How can we not turn to Him and rely on Him, with confident trust, when He is the One who made us, the One who gives us life through His breath, the One who chooses to dwell in human hearts, the One in whom we live and move and have our very being, this One who rides through the heavens to come to our aid, this One whose touch melts the mountains but Who whispers His love to us in the darkest night? How, I ask, can we fail to love such a One as this? He is:

  • Elohim, God My Creator
  • El Shaddai, God Almighty
  • El Elyon, Most High God
  • EL Olam, God Everlasting, God Eternal
  • El Roi, God Who Sees
  • Adonai, Lord, Master
  • Yahweh (YHWH), GOD
  • Jehovah Jireh, The Lord Provides
  • Jehovah Nissi, God, My Banner
  • Jehovah Sabaath, Lord of Hosts
  • Jehovah Mekeddeshem, Lord Who Sanctifies
  • Jehovah Shalom, The Lord our Peace
  • Jehovah Shammah, The Lord is There
  • Jehovah Tskkenu, the Lord our Righteousness.

(from Names of God Study for Kids, https://rachellarkinblog.wordpress.com)

This Most High and Holy one, is our God, and He says:

“Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice.” (Isaiah 41:10, AMPC)

Image result for royalty free pictures of majesty in nature

How much does God love you?

Image result for Royalty Free Picture of Grand PianoA few notes into the pianist’s prelude, and I knew what the choir would sing. Eyes closed, shutting out all distractions between me and God, Holy Spirit was right there with me. I felt I could almost touch Him. With the rich harmony of many voices, the familiar melody and words rippled along:
“How many times must I prove how much I love you?
How many times must I show my love for you?
How many times must I rescue you from trouble
for you to know just how much I love you?”
(from “So You Would Know” by Al Hobbs.)

Smiling, I lifted my face upward and raised my hands, murmuring, “Oh, Father!” as tears trickled down. God’s voice continued . .

“Didn’t I wake you up this morning?
Were you clothed in your right mind?
When you walked in on a problem didn’t I step right in on time?When you got weak along life’s journey My angel carried you,
so you would know just how much I love you.”

I shook my head slowly as I recalled how many times God had miraculously come through for my daughter and me during ten years of single parenthood. God’s voice continued. . .
“How many days must I be a fence all around you?
How many nights must I wipe your tears away?
How many storms must I bring you safely through for you to know just how much I love you?”

Image result for Royalty Free Picture of CrucifixionAfter giving my heart to Jesus, three years into single parenthood, the lifetime loneliness had greatly lessened as I sat alone with Him, after Sharon was asleep, looking out the window at the stars. I was so grateful I could feel His love, so grateful He showed me how to take good care of Sharon. God’s voice continued. . .
“Didn’t I put food on your table?
Show up when your bills were due?
When the pains were racking your body didn’t I send a healing down to you?
When you were lost in sin and sorrow, I died to set you free,
so you would know, just how much, I love you.”

I stood, hands lifted, face upturned, as more tears poured down. How many times had God sent an unexpected check for us? How many times had family and friends bought clothes for Sharon, taken us out for dinner, and paid for school activities? How many times . . . That was decades ago. All these years have only added more times to remember how clearly God has shown how much He loves me.

 God reassures us of His love, so many times. The powerful song “So You Would Know”, written by Al Hobbs, trumpets God’s gentle reminder of His love for His children. The melody and words show God’s gentle patience, like a father answering his child, “Yes, sweetheart, how many times do I have to tell you. . .” Why does God reassure us so often, in so many ways?

God knows how we are made. God knows that we, being human, would like to actually see and hear Him, especially during trials, and especially during times like the whole world now faces. Psalm 103:14 reminds us “For He knows our frame, He [earnestly] remembers and imprints [on His heart] that we are dust.” That says that God, seriously and with intensity, always remembers our humanity. He knows we need constant reminders of His love, His presence, His provision, and His power. Let’s look at some things God wants us to know about His love, presence, provision, and power.Image result for Royalty Free Picture of Sunrise

Reminders of God’s love. How loving He is to inscribe into nature itself two visible reminders of His love for us: the height of the heavens and the distance between east and west. “ for His unfailing love toward those who fear Him is as high as the heavens are above the earth. He has removed our sins from us as far as the east is from the west.” (Psalm 103:11-12, NLT). Step outside and selah.

Image result for Royalty Free Picture of Jesus Holding PersonReminders of God’s presence. Isaiah 41:10 says “Fear not [there is nothing to fear] for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice. (AMPC) When I remember that the God of the universe is right here beside me and living in me, when I remember that I have, indeed, made Him my God by loving and obeying Him, His peace descends like a warm blanket over my troubled soul.

Reminders of God’s provision. Hebrews 13:5b tells you and me to “. . . be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, ‘I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support; [I will] not,[I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]. Dear fellow believer, let us take God’s Word like the medicine it is and read this verse, out loud, to ourselves, 10 times or more until we feel His peace, right in the midst of this trial!

Image result for royalty free picture of earthReminders of God’s power. In Jeremiah 32:27 God says, “Behold I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is there anything too hard for me?” Let us imprint this fact about the nature of our divine God on our hearts, just as He has imprinted each detail about our human nature on His heart. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1), He holds all creation together (Colossians 1:17) and God says, “I am the LORD: there is no other god.” (Isaiah 45:1, NLT)

NOTHING IS TOO HARD FOR GOD!!!

“Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD” Psalm 150:6,NIV. Choirs give a glimpse of what praise will be like in heaven. There is nothing so powerful as the sound of many voices, singing in harmonious praise to God. Search the internet using the phrase “So You Would Know” and worship and honor God along with the Brooklyn Tabernacle and the Radio Angels, right there in your home, with Holy Spirit.

As you worship, put fear to flight (Joshua 10:10-11), glorify God (Psalm 96), enthrone Him on your praises (Psalm 22:3), worship our mighty God, our KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS, (Revelation 19:16), Who alone sits encircled above the circle of the earth (Isaiah 40:22), Whose plans never fail (Psalm 33:11), in Whose presence the mountains quake (Nahum 1:5), and in Whose name demons flee (James 4:7). This Holy One of Israel, this Wonderful One Beyond Words, He is our God, the One we serve, the One Who cares for us each moment, and the One who will bring us home to live with Him for all eternity! “Let everything that has breath Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!” (Psalm 150:6, NIV)

“The Lord is good, a Strength and Stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows (recognizes, has knowledge of, and understands) those who take refuge and trust in Him. (Nahum 1:7, AMPC)

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Desperately needing God

Image result for Royalty Free Picture of clock Radio In The Dark  A desperate seeker. “Meowrp” My eyelids fluttered open. My beloved Barny was seldom vocal. In the darkness, the blue numerals of the clock radio glowed 9:00 a.m. as I scritched his chin.

“I got up and gave you both halves of your breakfast, Barn, at 6:00 and again at 8:00,” I mumbled, pulling the blanket to my chin. “But you have not gotten on the bed,” I thought, “since you went blind two months ago, and you have not gotten me up when I oversleep either.”

My hand reached to pull back the covers before the thought completely formed in my mind. “Barny is asking, no begging, for our brushing time! How sweet! Thank You, Lord, for that!”

I had always brushed him and given him catnip. But, since learning of the cancer, each morning I sat on the floor, let him lick a tablespoon of catnip out of my hand then spent fifteen minutes brushing his coat, gently running my hands the length of his small body, caressing his ears and face and, of course, crooning. This morning, Barny had insisted and required this of me. Food alone no longer satisfied. He craved my attention and affection. He had a desperately seeking heart. Why? He had experienced what 15 minutes of pure joy felt like. He wanted more!

A rich blessing of affliction. Talking with a friend last week about seeking God brought to mind my recent experience in seeking greater awareness of God’s presence. I thought I loved God and truly depended on Him, and I did, but after two years of depression I learned that when God says “Seek My face (Psalm 27:8)” He means to desperately insist and require His presence.

During that struggle with depression, I did everything I heard of, including lots of counseling and many times of special prayer. It all helped but each day was still miserable. Some days were a ceaseless torment. Slow improvement came when I overcame my reluctance to take an antidepressant. But the struggling continued, without peace, until I began studying the Word of God, for myself, in my areas of need, and began thinking and speaking the Word as often as I could remember.

Image result for Royalty Free Clip Art of ClockAfter some weeks of success in finding peace through pondering Scriptures during daily activities, I recall thinking I did not have the strength or even want to be like Joyce Meyer and other Bible teachers who sounded like the Word was all they thought of all day long. My sin, rebellion, weakness, doubt, laziness, and the enemy’s lies are obvious in that attitude! But, God graciously gave me a willing heart and renewed a steadfast spirit in me (Psalm 51:10). I soon saw that thinking on His Word all day long was just what I needed (Proverbs 4:21).

So, I began studying the Word MUCH more and spending more time learning new Bible passages or repeating ones I already knew, out loud as well as silently. The more minutes of the day I kept His Word on my mind and in my mouth, the more hours I searched His word and discovered truth I needed, the more healing came. Month by month, discouraging, self-critical and thoughts and fears overwhelmed me less often. Gradually, my mind was renewed enough so that I remained in peace, keeping my mind fixed on Him. (Isaiah 26:3) His Word was becoming life to me and health to my whole body. (Proverbs 4:20-23)

Image result for Royalty Free Picture of Food and WaterGod tells us to desperately seek Him. In Psalm 27:8 God tells us, “. . . Seek My face [inquire for and require My presence as your vital need].” And the psalmist replies “My heart says to You, Your face (Your presence), Lord, will I seek, inquire for, and require [of necessity and on the authority of Your Word]” (AMPC). Notice that God tells us to ask for His presence and require His presence as our vital need. If something is vital, it means we must have it to live, like oxygen, food, and water. In older times, a wound was called vital if it was fatal. Ponder this and you will see it means we are to seek God’s presence as the number one thing in our lives. I did not do that before my affliction, but I do now! I know only God can keep my heart at peace.

An excellent Bible study is to type “seek, inquire, and require” into the search window of a website like Bible Gateway, where you can search the AMPC translation for that phrase. You will find 33 results, which will show you that, when God says seek or search, He does not mean a casual, haphazard, if-you-feel-like-it effort.

Image result for Royalty Free Clip Art of Heart  Ask God to make your heart willing. I did not consistently find God’s presence until I desperately pursued Him. My motivation was the fear that anxious, depressing thoughts would return. I say with the psalmist “Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I obey your word” and “It was good for me to be afflicted, so that I might learn You decrees.” (Psalm 119:67 and 71, NIV) I cannot explain how it works but God He does indeed make everything turn out for our good (Romans 8:28) and trials and temptations do help us become “. . . mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:4). That is why James 1:1-4 tells us to rejoice about trials and temptations. Like the goldsmith’s refining fire, hardships purify us.

Desperation for God is good. God knows just what works with each of us because He knows our hearts (Jeremiah 17:10, Acts 15:8), and if we ask for something good, He will give us good things, not bad (Mathew 7:9-11).  God never withholds any good thing from those who walk blamelessly before Him. (Psalm 84:11b) Cling to that promise as you draw nearer to God! He is with you when you are with Him. (2 Chronicles 15:2). So, I say, dear friend, if you want a closer closeness with God, pray Psalm 51:10-12 (NIV) along with me:

  1. Create in me a pure heart, o God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
  2. Do not cast me from Your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
  3. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

God’s presence is a priceless gift. How blessed we are that He makes it available to anyone who seeks Him – desperately!Image result for royalty free picture of gift

 

One foot in front of the other

Image result for free clip art of walking wobblyFour truths about trials:

  • Trials sometimes come in clusters.
  • However, we can walk, even wobble, through trials one step at a time.
  • We can hold on to God’s hand during trials, with confident hope.
  • God always, always, always, make a way!

Come, laugh with me—at me! If you could see me, here at the computer, you would laugh out loud. I am wearing a tank top, black Bermuda shorts, clunky running shoes with tractor tire soles, support hose that supposedly are calf-length but hit an inch below the mark on my six foot frame, and no make-up (rash issues). The counter and area around it is cluttered with unemptied grocery bags, my gym bag, purse, a stack of mail, two Bibles, and a stack of library books. Also, I trimmed my hair myself last night and, uh, I will likely not do that again.

But! I am sitting in the corner of my front room, at my desk, writing, telling you a story about how I wobbled emotionally but regained my balance by putting one foot in front of the other and leaning on my Best Friend.

Trials sometimes come in clusters. For the last two months, I have desperately needed everything I learned recently about staying in peace. Why? An anaphylactic reaction requiring a $500 visit to an urgent care clinic; two irritating skin rashes; two new foot issues; more back trouble; gastrointestinal problems; increasing blood pressure; gaining more weight when I am trying to lose, and need to lose, 20 pounds because of the blood pressure; a new level of asthma; the need for a $1000 water heater (dream on!); and learning my darling Barny cat has cancer. Besides these challenges of my own, the trials of family and friends and are on my heart daily.

When the blood pressure rose (not enough to warrant a trip to the doctor) I stayed in bed a lot for two days. And, with the stresses of the last few weeks, being cooped up, and fresh issues with the feet, asthma and Barny, I fretted myself right into the snare of stinking thinking—even though I am currently writing a booklet about that subject!!!

Image result for free clip art of walking wobblyWe can walk, even wobble, through trials one step at a time. Fortunately, I knew from experience that Joyce Meyer’s suggestion about trials worked. She says to: (A) cast ALL your cares on the Lord (I Peter 5:6-9), (B) do the good that you know to do (Psalm 37:3-7), and (C) go about enjoying your life (Philippians 4:4-8).

So . . . I prayed, asked God to help me put one foot in front of the other, then went to the gym, determined to write later in the day. (Writing is part of my “Good that I know to do”). Although feet and hips ached and lungs wheezed, I stretched, lifted weights and bicycled, all the while silently repeating my chain of Scripture passages about peace, a habit I had neglected in the last two days of fretting.

We can hold on to God’s hand, with confident hope. When a friend recently asked “What has been most helpful in healing the depression and anxiety? I answered easily, “Digging into the Word for myself and keeping it in my mind constantly.” I have several passages about peace and God’s love hidden in my heart. Whenever I slow down and ponder these passages, phrase by phrase, the light that comes from God’s Word starts chasing away the dark doubts and lies trying to overtake my mind. Dwelling on truths about our loving God brings peace and stirs up hope.

Image result for Royalty Free Picture of A Path In The WoodsGod always, always, always makes a way! One of these foundational passages about peace that I dwell on when I feel wobbly is Hebrews 13:5, where God tells us to be content with our present circumstances and what we have because:

“. . . He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you). {Assuredly not!] (AMPC)

This passage refers to Joshua 1, when God encouraged Joshua to be bold and courageous about entering the Promised Land. Notice how vigorously God stresses that He will not IN ANY WAY let us down. I challenge you to read this verse, 10 times, pausing and really thinking about each phrase. Then see whether you feel more confident in God’s love for you and ability to care for you.

Another comforting verse to ponder is I Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (NIV)

God never lies and always keeps His promises (Numbers 23:19, Deuteronomy 7:9). He will make a way for each Red Sea experience we have. Nothing is impossible for the One who rules the heavens but who chooses to dwell in human hearts (Matthew 19:26, John 14:23)!

Never, never, never . . . always, always, always! Although it is not written in all the places where God promises to make a way for His faithful children (I Corinthians 10:13, 1 Peter 5:10, Isaiah 46:4, etc. ) I believe that the emphasis God places on the certainty of His never letting us down in Hebrews 13:5 also is true in every place where He promises to deliver us. So, I can ponder Psalm 91, verse 14, and say to myself “Because I have set my love on God, therefore God will always, always, always deliver me.” If God promises to never fail us, that means He also promises to always deliver us. As I ponder Isaiah 46:4, I can say to myself, “God promises that He will always, always, always carry me and save me even in old age.”

Image result for Royalty Free Picture of BibleI am blessed to report that right there in the gym, in the middle of bicycling, God began lifting the dark curtain. He gave the gift of His presence and His peace the rest of the day as I picked up my grandsons, grocery shopped with them, visited with my daughter, then came home to sit down and write this blog post. Beloved, our God is so so so good to us! All we have to do is love Him and obey Him—and use the sword of the Spirit when we stumble into the pit of worry!

Father, thank You for rescuing me over and over again when I stumble. Help me to take a new grip with my tired hands and strengthen my weak knees. Help me mark out a straight path for my feet so that, where I am weak and lame, I will not fall but become strong. (Adapted from Hebrews 12:12, NLT)

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