Sunday, October 1, 2017

A 40 Year Grudge

A few years ago, we learned that a friend of ours had cancer.  She was in her eighties and everyone at the church we attended back then loved her and her husband immensely.  They were a wonderful, gentle couple and it was a blessing to have known them.

Everyone in the church was praying for this sweet woman.  For the sake of this testimony, I will call her Esther.  She and her husband had been missionaries for many years in a country in South America, and as far as anyone knew, everything else in their lives was in order.

The Lord kept telling me that Esther needed to forgive.  I didn’t know what He was talking about, but He certainly did. 

One day several members of my family went with another couple to visit Esther.  Her husband was away from home that day, so we sat with her for a while and chatted.  We were all there to pray for God to heal her and deliver her from cancer that had attacked her body.  Finally, someone suggested we go ahead and pray. 

The Lord’s Spirit kept prompting me to tell Esther that she needed to forgive someone.  He impressed upon me that it was critical for her to let go of the unforgiveness before we even prayed.

I used to feel a little intimidated by elderly people.  It’s probably because I figured they knew so much more than I did about life – particularly if they were Christians.  Well, I certainly felt uncomfortable asking Esther if there was someone she needed to forgive, but it had to be done. 

I asked her, “Is there someone in your life you haven’t forgiven?”

She looked at me for a moment before answering.  “Yes,” she said.  “There is a man who molested my children when we were in South America.  They were very young at the time, and I have never forgiven him for it.  He was in the ministry with us.  And I will never forgive him for what he did.”

The room got very quiet.  Here was a beautiful and gracious elderly woman who had served the Lord for years, carrying a burden of anger and resentment against someone from forty years in the past.  She was in definite need of repentance, and God was asking her to forgive.  It was a terribly hard thing for her to do.
We reasoned together for a while that day.  She finally softened and said that she would forgive him. 

We all gathered around her and prayed.  She was standing in the middle of the living room, and during the prayer, the Lord touched her in such a way that she literally fell back and lay on the floor.  (Someone caught her, of course!)  Her countenance changed, and she was even more beautiful than before.

No one knew what she had been carrying for so many years.  No one except the Lord
and He wanted her to be with Him in His kingdom in a few days.  According to His own words, it would not have been possible unless she forgave that man.  Jesus said if we do not forgive others for their sins against us, then our Father in heaven will not forgive our sins.  Here is what it says in Matthew 6:14, 15,

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

This was an important moment in Esther’s life.  She had done wonderful things for the kingdom of God, but this was important enough that the Lord made a point of making sure she had another opportunity placed before her to extend mercy and forgive.

I’ve spoken with people who don’t think it really matters if they forgive others – people who believe the Lord understands why they are withholding forgiveness and that He will still let them into His kingdom.  Well, Esther served the Lord for many years in the mission field, and He still required it of her.  Some people would even say she was justified in refusing to forgive him, but they would be wrong.

Ask the Lord to tell you if there is someone you need to forgive.  You may already know, but just to be sure that you do, go ahead and ask Him.  Wait on His Spirit, because if you will be very still, He will let you know.  If He brings someone to your mind, forgive that person.  It’s not impossible to do.  It would be horrible to stand before the Lord one day and find out that you could not live with Him in eternity because of something someone else did – right or wrong – that you were unable to forgive.  Your salvation depends on it.  Those are Jesus’ words.  We cannot enter the kingdom of heaven if God doesn't forgive us.

Esther needed healing in her spirit and she received it when she forgave.  Just a couple of days later as she lay on her bed listening to her daughter sing hymns, she peacefully went home to be with Jesus.

Come on, you can do it! 

“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.”
Psalm 116:15


Sunday, June 18, 2017

God Seasons...

My Father,

My heart and mind are so full of so many things today.  The best place to start, though, is to say that you are Holy and I want your kingdom to come and your will to be done on this earth, as it is where you are in heaven.  The day is almost gone, and yet I still pray that you will give us our daily bread and forgive our sins as we forgive the people who have sinned against us.  Please keep us out of temptation and deliver us from the plans of the evil one, Father.  Everything belongs to you!  That is comforting to know, Lord.  There is nothing that escapes your notice nor your power.  It is all yours, and you will do with it as seems fit to you.  Thank you for that!  I pray that you will have your way in all of your people, Lord.  Be glorified in every wonderful way you will through us.

Thank you for the seasons you set before us.  You know I'm talking about the seasons of laboring, growth, maturing, trials, struggles, resting, and joy. There are so many others that my mind can't comprehend, but I know you had planned them all before we were even born.  Thank you, Lord.  It helps to know that most especially during the times that are hard to endure.  Sometimes when I am feeling the weight of battle, I need the reminder you give me through Holy Spirit.  You're faithful to tell me that you are at work in me, refining, strengthening, and developing things in me that are necessary for my walk and my healing. 

 Sometimes, like today, you shore me up with the reminder that decades-old wounds need healing and you are at work bringing that healing to pass.  Father, during those times of your great mercy you show me the effects of my sin in the lives of others.  Thank you for all of these things, Lord.  In your amazing love, you do the work of humility with each new revelation.  I am astounded by your patience and kindness, Father.  You wait for years sometimes, so that I can endure the revelation of my sin and its effects on others as well as on me. 

 Some of the things you've unveiled would have crushed me or overwhelmed me so much that I couldn't have withstood the knowledge of what I'd done without giving up and turning away in guilt and shame. You knew that was the case, so you protected me from seeing it all at once.  Your grace is beautiful, Father.  Thank you for being so gracious to me.

 I remember the panic attacks and how you said it was because of all of the trauma I'd been through in my lifetime and that you were bringing up things slowly so as not to let the remembrance of them destroy me.   I had blocked so much of my life out of my memory because it was too hard for me to recall as you told me long ago.  Thank you once again for your protection over my life.  I wasted so much of it, Father.  Help me use your wisdom during the time I  have remaining on earth!

You said in your word that you would take our hearts of stone and give us hearts of flesh.  How painful and yet how beautiful it is, Father!   Thank you for continuing to love us during this process of changing us.  Thank you for your love, my glorious GOD! Thank you for your goodness to us.

Holy, please help us remember that the work in us is ongoing! Remind us when the enemy tells us what failures we are, or when we feel tempted to criticize other believers who are struggling in some area of their lives that we have perhaps overcome in ours.  Help us keep our opinions and thoughts to ourselves about others and rather show mercy and patience, and grace just as you do for us.  Help us keep a watch over our tongues and only speak life and blessings over others.  

Teach us what we need to know about the power of our words and how important it is for us to be merciful!  You showed me again in James 2:13 that the person who doesn't show mercy to others will be judged without mercy, and that mercy exults over judgment.  I want to be shown mercy, Father!  I want to be merciful to others as well.  My prayer is for the whole body of Christ to come away from the critical and judgmental mindsets and to give with liberty the gift of mercy to one another.  Help us, Father. Help us see with your eyes.  Change our hearts of stone to become hearts of flesh!

Thank you for being my Father.  I love you so much.  Let your words come alive in all of your children.  Wake us from our sleepy ways and be all you desire in us.  In Yeshua's most glorious name I will forever remain your 'My Victory.'  

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Strengthen Our Sails in the Starlight

The sun isn't up yet, but I can see the stars twinkling in the early morning sky.  I'm thankful for another day and night here on earth.  

Good morning, Father.  You are amazing in all things, Lord, and I bless your name today.  Thank you for your goodness and faithfulness in all things.  To be able to lie down at night, knowing that I have a Creator and Father who rules the Universe and who is always God is so comforting to know.  Thank you again for being God!  I will not ever grow weary of telling you how very grateful I am that you are God!

Lord, time goes by so quickly!  It seems the day has just begun and yet not everything has been accomplished that needs to be done before it is gone. There are moments of great frustration, knowing that there is still so much that I can't seem to get to and aware that time is slipping away.  I don't want to be negligent of what needs to be done, but neither do I want to miss the time I need to simply be with you and away from all of the daily tasks.  I continue to ask for your way always.   You know what is best left undone, what is necessary, and what is not.  

You know the timing of all things.  Lead me in your timing, Father.  And please give me the strength I need in every moment.  Some days I feel weak and tired. Strengthen me during those days, Lord.  Please tell me when to rest, if I am not paying close enough attention or if I am feeling pressed and don't recognize the pressure.  Lead me in the way everlasting. You are The Way Everlasting!

Many of my brothers and sisters in the body of Christ are also feeling such enormous pressure and tiredness.  I ask you in Yeshua's name to reveal to each one the truth about where that pressure and fatigue originates. Lord, many are not only tired, and under enormous pressure, but also feel they are not accomplishing their call in life.  

Lord, you see and know all.  You know the things we cannot see, and you decide when and where you want to use each one of us. You also understand how you want to use us!  Help your people refuse frustration and accept with joy and anticipation the doors you open at the times of your choosing!  

Help your people lay aside wrong mindsets that inhibit the relationships you want to enjoy with us.  How often have we turned away because of guilt about tasks undone or for neglecting time that could have been spent with you?  Help your people see the need to be with you intimately every day to clearly hear your word of direction for the moment.  We need the quiet time with you, Father.  We need the time alone, separate from the cares and duties of life if we are to hear you clearly and deepen our relationships with you.  Strengthen all of us to willingly lay aside every agenda we create and choose to run to you for our time alone together.  

Even at times, Lord, things will change moment to moment. You know and see it all!  Your will is the rudder on my ship.  Turn me this way and that according to your desire for my life. Holy Spirit, speak to me first thing every morning before we even set sail for the day.  Talk to me throughout the day!  I pray for your wisdom, discernment, humility, and love to fill my sails.  

Please wash over your people with waves of joy, power, strength, and peace as the hours rush by.  And  Father, please draw all of us ever closer to you, your will and your ways for our lives. Do what must be done to bring us closer to you.  You've been so good to us, Father.  Again I ask you to make us people who are hungry for you.

You desire truth in the inward parts.  Fill us with the truth of your word. Fill us with the truth of who you are and who we have been called to be. Help us seek your way and find it.  And help us see the ones who are afloat on the seas of life, with no life jacket to keep them from drowning.  You have the life jacket they need, but you send your people to deliver that 'life jacket' to them.  The life of your word is the life jacket everyone needs to be saved!  

Help us see that setting our own course means that we may miss the lives that are crying out to be saved!  We love you, Father!  We love you, Lord Yeshua and we love you, beautiful Holy Spirit.  Have your way with us today! 

You are most beautiful and wonderful of all!  You are kindness and mercy, glory and power!  You are faithful and gentle, passionate and perfection! You are my provider and my friend.  I love you, Lord.  Reign in me today.

In Yeshua's mighty saving name, I pray and will always be your...
'My Victory'