Ask Anything

Do you imagine God so big that He is too busy for you? Perhaps you feel compelled to handle things on your own so He can spend His time taking care of “bigger” issues. Maybe you know people who are “worse off” than you are, or you think someone deserves His time more than you do.

Don’t believe the lie!

God desires to be there for you no matter how small you think your problems might be. He has endless capacity to do and be—far beyond anything you can imagine.

Imagine yourself the child of a father with endless resources who loves you, wants to provide for you and give you the desires of your heart. There is only one condition—He wants you to ask. You serve a God without limits. He is unrestrained in what He can do for you.

What things are you holding close to your heart today? Your Heavenly Father is just waiting for you to ask for His time, His wisdom, His intervention. He wants to give you the desires of you heart. It’s not a matter of deserving it. You’re His child and like a good father, He wants to do you good!

Open your heart today and relinquish to Him anything you’ve been holding back. He wants to be a part of the answer. Take a moment and invite him to intervene on your behalf today.

In that day you will no longer ask me anything.

Very truly I tell you,

my Father will give you

whatever you ask in my name.

Until now you have not asked

for anything in my name.

Ask and you will receive,

and your joy will be complete (John 16:23-24 NIV).

 

Obedience’s Miracle—The Widow of Zarephath (P1)

Part 1 of 3

God chose to take the life of the prophet Elijah and intertwine it with the life of one widow. Elijah served as God’s spokesperson, the man who stood in front of King Ahab and prophesied “…the next years are going to see a total drought—not a drop of dew or rain unless I say otherwise.”[1] Jezebel, King Ahab’s wife, tried to kill all of God’s prophets. At one point, Elijah thought he was the last living prophet.[2]

Our lives our intertwined for mutual provision and blessing.

Those who worshiped Baal believed he was the god who brought rains and bountiful harvest—so the words Elijah spoke for God were profanity against Jezebel’s god. After declaring no more rain, Elijah hid himself in the Kerith Ravine, east of Jordan where the Lord sustained him with water from a brook and food ravens brought to him.[3] When the brook dried up, God sent Elijah to Zarephath with instruction to look to a widow to sustain him.

The woman, only referred to as the “widow of Zarephath,” demonstrates a powerful faith through her obedience in 1 Kings. The city serves as part of her identification. We can assume she is the only widow in her city. Zarephath rest inside the region of Sidon, the native country of Queen Jezebel, the woman who married the wicked King Ahab and required her god, Baal to be worshiped instead of God Almighty.[4]  We might easily assume this widow is not of Hebrew lineage, but she clearly believed in the Hebrew’s God and trusted Him.

So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke by Elijah (1 Kings 17:15-16 nkjv).

God’s purposes are so much higher and wider than what we imagine. God tells us to go here or there—to do this or that—and it’s easy to think it’s about us. Hopefully we can see it as God positioning us for blessing. While that is often a part of his plan, our eyes usually rest on ourselves, when in fact it has less to do with us and more to do with what he wants to do through our relationships with the people to whom he connects us for a bigger purpose. Our lives our intertwined for mutual provision and blessing.

Who has God sent into your life to help you? Are you looking for God to answer you through the divine connection of relationship He’s placed in your life? What relationships does He want you to cultivate?

[1] 1 Kings 17:1 MSG

[2] 1 Kings 18:22

[3] 1 Kings 17:5

[4] 1 King 21:25-26

Sarah’s Story Part 2—Helping God

Sarah followed Abraham and together they obeyed God not knowing where they were going. Abram took his wife Sarai and his nephew Lot with him, along with all the possessions and people they had gotten in Haran, and set out for the land of Canaan and arrived safe and sound.[1] (Abraham was 75 years old, so that would make Sarah about 65, if you consider she was 90 and he was 100 when their promised son was born.)

It might be compared in some ways to a farmer these days, packing up the house, the barn, the animals and all he and his family possess and moving to another farm in another state—but they didn’t know where they were going. They just stepped out trusting in God to deliver all He promised.

Throughout Sarah’s story, there are many challenges. She and her husband were ordinary people trusting God for something greater than they could ask or think. They were far from perfect—just like us. They had their moments of doubt and unbelief along the way.

Sarah struggled to believe God’s promises included her. The natural circumstances crowded into her thinking as month after month, year after year she remained childless. It was a common practice in their time and culture to give a maidservant as a substitute wife to the husband, but remember, God had called them out from their people. He set them apart to follow Him and live according to His ways. He desired for their lives to look differently from the rest of the world.

God had a plan, but Sarah decided to help God out. Sarah encouraged her husband to follow the culture of her day and to sleep with her maidservant, Hagar. Sarah probably thought she could raise the child as her own. Abraham agreed and acted on Sarah’s plan. Once Hagar became pregnant, Sarah and Hagar’s relationship quickly changed. Hagar detested Sarah, and Sarah resented the woman who was able to give her husband the one thing she didn’t think she could give him.

The Lord appeared to Abraham when he was 98 years old and told him this time next year, I will return to you and Sarah will have a son. Sarah overhead the conversation and laughed at His words. The Lord confronted her asking why she laughed, and she fearfully lied that she didn’t laugh. The Lord again said, “Yes, You did laugh.”[2]

When we hatch our own plan to help God deliver on His promise, or hurry things along outside of His plan, those consequences can have lasting effects. Problems continued between Sarah and Hagar even after Sarah gave birth to the child God promised. (Even today the descendants of Ismael and Isaac continue to war against one another.)

Yet Hebrews 11:11 says, By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.[3] God is telling Sarah’s story from “the end.” It doesn’t matter to God how many times she stumbled, how many times she failed. It doesn’t matter to him that she laughed in doubt or tried to take matters into her own hands. In the end, she saw God’s promises for her life delivered. She became what He created her to be all along—a mother of a great nation. She believed God and walked with Him by faith.

If you’ve ever waited on a promise, you probably found it very challenging. Even if you’re a very patient person, it’s difficult to cope with a long wait. I know I spend a lot of time thinking about the thing God promised and wondering just how God will pull it all together.

[1] Genesis 12:5 MSG

[2] Genesis 18:10-15 NIV

[3] ESV

Pioneering Faith

No matter how many times we’ve believed God and experienced the results of our faith, there is always a fight to stand firm in the next challenge. I don’t just set my heart and mind on something generic, I imagine what it will look like when the answer comes. I set my expectations high. I think about what it could look like, feel like and taste like. I imagine where we’ll go and what we’ll do as we begin to move forward in obedience to God’s plans.

The challenge is I can get ahead of God. I allow expectations—a picture to develop in my mind that I’ve created, and eventually I discover it’s not even close to the image of what God wants that particular thing to look like.

That brings about a crisis of belief. Did God really say we are supposed to move to another state? While we knew the answer as we began to journey forward, doubt creeps in at the first obstacle. We have this crazy idea that God’s going to come in with his bulldozer and go ahead of us, giving us a clear path, when in fact, He’s actually called us to blaze the trail.

Think of the pioneers of the Wild West. They traveled over rough country. They had no roads laid out before them. They were fortunate to have a path of travelers that have gone ahead to follow. They had to do all the firsts. They made the road; they dug the well and the outhouse.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4 ESV).

When God asks you to move, it usually involves putting your faith muscles (and natural muscles) to work. I want to think it’s going to be easy—and every once in awhile—it is! But usually, as a pioneer of faith, it means starting from scratch and building something.

So, when you don’t see the results of your faith produce in the way you imagined, take a deep breath and let it go. (Can you tell I’m taking a deep breath now?) I believe God has my best interest at heart. He has something that looks different—and it’s better than I imagined. It’s exactly what I need, even if it’s not what I thought I wanted—or not in the timing I expected.

It’s Time to Welcome the Rain

I am fortunate to have had my maternal grandmother in my life as a child. She was a strong-willed woman with a strong prayer life. I am thankful for the many things I learned as I listened in the hallway to her converse with God.

I was eighteen years old when she died after a battle with breast cancer. There was so much going on in my life, and I struggled deeply to understand how the God, who had always been rain rgbstockthere for me for as long as I could remember, would allow her to die. So many people prayed. So many believed she would beat the cancer. I was angry, and I deliberately shut God out. I knew He was there, but I didn’t want to talk to him. I had so many questions, and He knew I wasn’t ready for the answers.

I am thankful he knows each of us better than we know ourselves. After a difficult season, I began to slowly let Him in. He gave me the answers in a slow, gentle rain over the years rather than a flood I thought I wanted. That’s my nature—to want it all at once, rather than at the capacity in which I can absorb it, which is most beneficial to me.

Just as rain nourishes the ground, God’s presence provides life and growth for the spirit. After a long season, in which the ground has received no rain, it is hard and at first it resists the rain. That is what happened to my heart. I had allowed it to harden. I thought I was protecting myself, but in reality, I was just allowing the ground of my heart to grow more desolate without nourishment from his presence. I eventually discovered when we go without a drink of God’s presence; our hearts can become hard and resistant to his outpourings.

I pray that I will always be open and ready for an outpouring of his presence to quench the thirst my soul desperately need.
Lord, send the rain!

Friendship is Good for Your Health

It may seem odd to you, but Krista McLennan found that cows have best friends and become stressed when they are separated . She made the discovery while working on her Ph.D., at Northampton University, measuring how cows respond when isolated, specifically looking at their heart rates and cortisol levels. She believes her findings could help improve milk yields. According to McLennan’s findings, the cows are social animals that need friendship to ease their stress and anxiety.

If cows need each other—what about you and me?

I find when I spend time with girlfriends, it reduces my stress level significantly. As I’ve opened my heart to girlfriends, I’ve noticed my heart rate slowing and concerns from the day that weighed heavily on me slowly subsiding from my mind—much like when the tide sneaks out into the ocean.friends talking rgbstock

2 Samuel says, Your friendship was a miracle-wonder, love far exceeding anything I’ve known—or ever hope to know (2 Samuel 1:26 MSG).

It does us good to open up to others on every level. When we laugh or cry and express ourselves to one another, we share a piece of ourselves. We also can’t help to take a little something from one another.

I have girlfriends who add to my physical strength just by spending time with them. Others stir my creativity and help me to think in new and different ways. When girlfriends get together to offer positive support, I leave the gathering relaxed and ready to press in again to face another challenge.

Take some time this week to share a cup of tea or coffee with a girlfriend and recharge.

The Blessing of Serving Others

Excerpt from This Christmas, God Wants You to Know. . .

“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me’” (Matthew 25:40 ESV).

The choice to serve others can leave an impression in the hearts of that person and sometimes their families for generations to come. One man’s decision to serve others is eloquently captured in a movie, Schindler’s List. The final scene takes place at Oskar Schindler’s grave as those he served placed stones on his grave. Even today there are small stones of all shapes and sizes placed respectfully one on top of the other on his grave site.

Perhaps each stone placed is a promise made by the one who left it to remember something significant. Perhaps they are thanking God for one man’s courage to stand up when it seemed no one else could. Maybe they owe their very lives to him because without him they would never have been born. Others may hope that they have enough boldness for what they believe in when their time comes to stand.

Schindler chose to serve others and make a life-saving difference in their lives by doing what He could do. No matter how small your service to others may seem, God will use it to bring blessing to your life and to the lives of those you serve!

 

Thank you for the opportunity to serve others. May I recognize the opportunities as they come and take action, bringing blessing to their life and pleasure to You, God. Amen.