Monday, November 30, 2009

He is Willing

When we talk about miracles what do you think of? Is the parting of the Red Sea what comes to mind? How about "walking on water"? Do we think about physical healing? I know I do.
There are many types of miracles in the Bible, and Jesus Himself preformed many of them as we see in the New Testament Gospels. Today I want to tell you about a miracle that happened in my life. I want you to know, so you will understand and accept that miracles are for those who believe. Not for those that just believe in Jesus, but for those that believe that He is willing... still willing for miracles, today.

Jesus healing the man with leprosy in Mark chapter 1.

Don't be tempted to skip over the scripture. (been there, done that) Even if you read it one hundred times. God can show you something new. He will honor your willingness to read His Word. So take a minute each new post to read the scripture verses. I can guarantee that it will bless you...time after time.

Version: NAS
John 14: 12-14

"Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me; otherwise believe on account of the works (miracles) themselves. 12. "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater [works] than these shall he do; because I go to the Father. 13. "And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14. "If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do [it].

Version: NAS

Mark 1: 40-42

40. And a leper came to Him, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying to Him, "If You are willing, You can make me clean." 41. And moved with compassion, He stretched out His hand, and touched him, and said to him, "I am willing; be cleansed." 42. And immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.

Some of you that I correspond with have heard this account, but I want you all to be on the same page with me. You need to know this, so you will know that I believe in miracles. Not just in theory, but in real life.

Back in the fall of 2002, a little over seven years ago. I had three major heart attacks. For four days I had what I thought was a pinched nerve in my right arm. I didn't know it was my heart because the pain was so severe in my right arm, shoulder to wrist.

At that time I was in good health, active and energetic, involved in church and ministry. I had a healthy diet, was a size 6, and had never smoked. I was probably the last person in the world that you could look at and think would be a candidate for a heart attack. But I had been under a lot of stress for quite a few years, and the underlying cause was that I had hereditary cardiovascular disease of which I knew nothing about.

God had called me to ministry a few years before, and in preparation He began to teach me about Himself. I studied God's Word for hours at a time. Sorry, I'm not exaggerating. I would get my Bible, and a notebook and I would be at His feet studying, praying, and listening. He instilled in me that He was looking for people that would believe the Bible. Not just for salvation, which is only the start, but that would really BELIEVE that He was still the same today, and that He is willing to do miracles in our individual lives. So I started studying the gospels with great intent and interest. Would I be willing to trust Him? Yes, I was convinced that I would.

So then a few years later the heart attacks happened, only a few weeks after God had done a huge miracle at our church that He had allowed me to be a part of. He knew what was coming my way. Why didn't He prevent it? Good question. One that I have asked of Him. I will just say, that had I not had this experience I would not have known first hand God's graciousness, willingness to heal, and His amazing love. I would not now have the confidence to teach and pray for others for physical healing.

Now when I finally got to the hospital at 6:00 on Monday morning I was still in the middle of a major coronary. They rushed me to the Heart Catheterization lab and did an angiogram. That is where they insert a tube, or catheter, through the femoral artery in your groin and inject a dye (contrast material) that will show under x-ray where you have an arterial blockage.
I had a 100% block and because of it there had been so much pressure in my artery that an aneurysm had formed. It was extremely large and had so weakened this artery that the cardiologist left the room when he saw it. He knew I was going to die on the table, and he didn't want to see it. My heart was severely compromised and was "dead" in the upper 1/2 to 1/3. In layman's terms I was a "goner".

I was terrified when, laying on the table, I started having another heart attack. There came a voice in my spirit that said to me loud and clear. "There will come a day when you see Me face to face, but today is not that day." I knew right then He would heal me.

I was told after the angiogram procedure that I would be a cardiac patient. Surgery to repair the aneurysm was out of the question. It would kill me. I could die if I sneezed, so it seemed inevitable that I didn't have much time. I thanked my doctor and said that I believed that God had a ministry for me and that I couldn't do it if I was in heaven. So I believed God would heal me. I didn't know when. Tomorrow, next week, next month or next year. But I believed God would do it.

The end of the week of my hospital stay the cardiologist suggested some repeat tests to see exactly where I stood. (now I think that this would have been a waste of time and dangerous) God knew what He was doing. So I had the tests.

The next evening I had a full hospital room with church friends and prayer partners. Our Sunday School teacher and his wife were there, and some close friends. (I had told my husband to not let anyone in to see me that was crying or scared. I could not afford to doubt.) The doctor came in to give us the results. I told him to go ahead. These people that were with me knew where I stood in my physical health and prognosis. The doctor cleared his throat, somewhat at a loss for words.

"I can't find the aneurysm, and your heart is fully functioning. I don't know how to explain it."

"I do." I said. "God has healed me."

And the cardiologist agreed.

Now re-read Mark 1:41

Now you know why I believe in miracles.

A few posts ago, I asked for a favor. I'm not too proud to do it again. If you read this Bible Study please place a link to this blog on your side bar and or blog list. This is not for me, as it is not "about me". This is a blog celebrating Jesus and God's Word. I am praying for people to read this. God can bring them to Himself if we make His Word available. People come through these blogs hurting and searching. I believe that if they can just get a glimpse of Jesus here, He can change their lives. Please remember, this is not about me, or for me. It's about spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. If you don't feel comfortable yet, please pray about it. Here's the link:

We are just getting started. Have you found a journal, or a notebook? Please do. I know that God wants to speak to each of us. Just take a minute to write your thoughts, ideas, and prayer requests down for future reference. God has a lot to say to us. God has been speaking to many of you this last week, and I am so excited. I want to hear about what God has been doing in your own life. Please don't feel like my account overshadows what He has done for you. I needed healing, He did that. You may not have had that exact need, but I know there are miracles out there. Please share them with us. It doesn't have to be a "physical healing"' but ANY thing that you know God alone did. Leave a comment and tell us how God has done miracles in your life.

Blessings everyone!
love, Debra

Monday, November 23, 2009

Would you like to see Miracles?

Let's say you would like to see something wonderful happen in your life. What would you choose? A spouse that is more attentive and godly: a man that was doing his fair share in the marriage? How about a child of yours that is physically ill or just hurting in their "spirit", one that doesn't listen to you and goes off on their own path, leaving God behind. How about money you have financial needs that need to be met? Want to get a better grip on your own spiritual life and connection to God?

Well, I can tell you that in my life God has done all these things and many more. He is the "One" who has supplied the miraculous. He can take a man and make him the best husband I could ask for. He could take a daughter that was missing His presence and bless her with great spiritual gifts. He took a woman who was "worldly" and not having a deep relationship with Him and then blessed her with a new life. Then he could give us a solution to our financial debt. These are all things that are a direct result in my believing these scriptures.

Version: NAS

John 14:11-14

11. "Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me; otherwise believe on account of the works (miracles) themselves. 12. "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater [works] than these shall he do; because I go to the Father. 13. "And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14. "If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do [it]".

Do you have a problem in your life that needs God's attention? I think we all do. I know that I have several things on my heart that need Him to be involved with and that only He can fix. Health problems? yes, and money issues that are still being "worked on".
Do you have an emptiness in your heart? Are you searching for meaning in your life?
So let's start looking at some of the miracles Jesus performed while He was here on earth. We will study some individual miraculous events. Physical healings and miraculous occurrences; we will investigate them and see how God can do the same things in our lives today.

When I talk about "miracles" you need to know I do not subscribe to any concept that has been born out of the New Age movement. I do not follow anything or anyone except Jesus Christ. I have read portions of different "miraculous" courses such as " A Course in Miracles" by Marianne Williamson, and then there is "The Secret" which was much hyped a few years ago. These are teachings that are not from Jesus. They may throw His name around and have a little scripture added in for good measure, but they are not Biblical. Be careful what you pick up to read and study. "Miracles" are part of the New Age tug. (Also "angels" can be a lure that the New Age uses)They can suck you into something that is not of God. Pray before you read or subscribe to anything. As I have said before, seek God over what He would have you be involved in. If it doesn't line up with God's Word tell Him to let you know so you can leave it alone.

Quite a few years ago, when I first really started studying God's Word in earnest, I had a God inspired thought, that I would ask to see miracles happen in my life. Since I made that request of God, I have wondered at times if that was really a good idea. I have seen the miraculous, but at times it has come out of a desperate situation. I guess to see a miracle you have to be in a place that unless "God steps in", it just will not happen. Yes, I have been there a few times.

This will be an awesome time of study I can assure you. I'm looking forward to see what God has in mind for us and how He can give us new hope and a new way of looking at life.
I can guarantee it will be a time of "fruitful" study.

Before I close I want to tell you a little about what God has been saying to me about this little time of Bible Study and sharing. This is something God has a plan for. Each one of you that reads these posts God has a plan for. He has brought you here because He is getting ready to do "miracles" in our lives. I don't know what the "particulars" are, but I know He is up to something "awesome"! He wants us to be ready to grab on to Him and let Him take us someplace "new" in our lives.

A few days ago God showed me a group of women holding hands in a "circle". There were quite a few of us, and the circle was growing. We each held each other's hands in this circle. And He said to me, "It is not just a circle, but a circuit." Now I have to tell you I got super excited, because if you know anything about electricity, you know it needs a "circuit", or a path of electric current. God is getting ready to move through us with His power and presence.

So if you are just a casual reader I'm going to to ask you to pray about joining us with more of a commitment. I know God has a plan to bless each and every one of us.
I am challenging you to start a "journal" of what you are asking God for, because I believe with my whole heart some of our lives are about to change. Just grab a notebook or a journal and write down what God is putting on your heart about these posts. There will be quite a few posts I'm sure. It doesn't have to be in depth or lengthy, just let Him speak to your heart about what He wants to do.

I'm also challenging you to leave comments and thoughts. Even if it's just a sentence. When we get involved and don't just stand on the sidelines, God knows we are "serious" about what He wants to do in our lives. If you are new reading this, don't feel inadequate or that you are not one of the group. You definitely are a part of this. You are not here by accident, and God wants to draw you in closer. Join hands and hearts with me as we study Jesus' miracles and as we allow Him into our life to see what miracles He has in store for us!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving week, everyone! I know we will be having our kids here and it will be a busy time. I'll post again next week. Until then, leave a thought or comment and I will answer back here on the comment page. I'm excited to hear what God is doing in your lives. Be sure and leave prayer requests, and I will post them on the side bar.
 Get ready and get excited.
 God is moving!

Blessings to you all,
In Jesus Love,

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mary's Song

We are all thankful; we have so many blessings in our lives. Even when times are hard, financially, relationally or personally, we all have things to be thankful for. We have gratitude in our heart to God. But sometimes expressing it can be difficult. Let's look at Mary and see and hear her great gratitude and praise that she expressed to God for what she was experiencing and for His plan that was becoming evident in her life.

The following scripture from Luke 1 is a passage that is often overlooked or at least downplayed in many churches. When I was young and in Sunday School, I don't remember this ever really being discussed in our story of Christmas. Nor did I hear this from the pulpit.
Mary was only 13 or 14 years old. How on earth did she come up with this amazing outburst of joy and gratitude? Well, that's the key. Mary herself did not come up with this response. This was a spontaneous outpouring of joy and praise that was orchestrated by the Holy Spirit Himself. God just took little Mary and gave her words that she probably had never thought of before, let alone spoken. And when little Mary opened her mouth to praise God, to thank Him, and show her gratitude, what came out in all it's beauty was a wonderful expression... the "Magnificat", or Mary's Song.

Luke 1:46-55

46. And Mary said: "My soul exalts the Lord, 47. And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. 48. "For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. 49. "For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name. 50. "And His mercy is upon generation after generation Toward those who fear Him. 51. "He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered [those who were] proud in the thoughts of their heart. 52. "He has brought down rulers from [their] thrones, And has exalted those who were humble. 53. "He has filled the hungry with good things; And sent away the rich empty-handed. 54. "He has given help to Israel His servant, In remembrance of His mercy, 55. As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and his offspring forever."

I want to talk a little about prayer and praise...and "thanksgiving".

Ephesians 6:18 (New International Version)
18. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Romans 8:26 (New International Version)
26. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

1 Corinthians 14:15 (New International Version)
15.So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.

Philippians 4:4-7 NAS
4. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5. Let your forbearing [spirit] be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus

Each of these scriptures indicates that there is the element of Holy Spirit inspired prayer.

Quite some time ago,when God was first calling me to a deeper more intimate spiritual walk, I was involved in a prayer ministry at our church. We had a prayer group that met on Wednesday evenings to pray for church matters and people in our congregation. I really enjoyed that time of seeking the Lord for a deeper prayer life. We had a volunteer prayer group for our church that had a goal of 24 hour prayer coverage. This was not just our small group, but church wide. My time schedule for prayer was at 10:00-11:00 on Wednesday evenings. We called it "the wall". (When you have time you might want to read the book of Nehemiah, especially chapter 1, where he prays for his people and then God leads him back to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall.)

I had a weekly update on things to pray for, but at that time my being able to stay focused in prayer for an hour was a real struggle. (still hard, who am I kidding?) I would find that I would cover all the list in the first 15 minutes, then be left feeling inadequate and spiritually immature. I had a knowledge that prayer was key in expanding my relationship with My Heavenly Father, I just couldn't get there by myself. I will never forget the night it all changed.

Here I was, once again, trying to do justice in prayer for all the people that were ill, church financial needs and requests, and even going the extra mile to pray for individual ministries at our church. That night I promised God that I would stay there until my time was up. That I would not be a slacker and that I would make every minute count. I glanced at my watch every few minutes, golly, I thought, I CAN do this! Whew, time was almost up. "I'll just finish up by reading a little scripture" I said to my self.

I opened my Bible to Ephesians  and began to read.

Time's almost up, Yeah, I've made it. I've sat still and concentrated on God for a whole 55 minutes. OK only a minute or two to go... down to the finish line... Gee, I have a lot to do for tomorrow, clothes to iron, a kitchen to clean, cats to feed....lots to do God, but hey, I'm still here, see, I'll give you those few extra minutes!

Then, in the last minute...home stretch... I hit Ephesians 4, Okey dokey, times up!!!

But at that very moment I heard a voice in my spirit, just like I had a phone to my spiritual ear. Very clearly The Voice said, "If you will stay with Me one more hour, I will make it worth your while. I will give you your "call".

Well, I stayed for an extra two, and believe me, my life changed. Not only did He speak to me about what He wanted me to do in my life, but He put something in me that energized and made my prayer life new. He instilled His Holy Spirit into my prayer life, and it's never been the same. Now I depend on Him for direction in prayer. I invited the Holy Spirit to take over my prayer time, and with that came new focus, and new depth of understanding and purpose.

Mary became infilled with the Holy Spirit. He directed her prayer. She uttered words and thoughts that were not from her "conscious" mind, but from her spiritual mind. Her heart and mind submitted to God.

Prayer has many components. We'll talk about those at some later time, but just know if you feel unable to articulate your needs; if you are at a loss as how to communicate in prayer to God, just call upon the Holy Spirit to inspire your prayer time and life. He will gladly do that. He will enrich and renew your prayers with His own mind and heart...and you will connect with God in a whole new way. You will be like Mary, you will open your mouth (yes, praise and worship and give thanks verbally, out loud. God just loves that!) and you will sing...sing your own song of joy, worship, praise, and thanksgiving.

Have a wonderful week in preparation for Thanksgiving.
Let God inspire and refresh you.


Healing Scripture:

Deuteronomy 7:13-14

13. "And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock, in the land which He swore to your forefathers to give you. 14. "You shall be blessed above all peoples; there shall be no male or female barren among you or among your cattle. 15. "And the LORD will remove from you all sickness; and He will not put on you any of the harmful diseases of Egypt which you have known, but He will lay them on all who hate you.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Warning! It may not always be easy...

Remember the song, "I Never Promised You A Rose Garden"?  Ouch 1973.
As I have studied and prayed over this passage in Luke 1 concerning the angel's announcement to Mary of her favor with God, and then the plan that is put before her, I get the feeling poor little Mary must have been one frightened little gal. The angel made a point to say "Fear not" to her. If I was met with a large spiritual being while I was making my bed, or doing the dishes, I would have to say that I definitely would be a little surprised and a lot nervous. But more than just for the momentary excitement, I think the angel needed to let Mary know that what he was about to say to her, could cause her fear.

God had a plan. This was His Big Plan, and He needed someone that trusted Him, loved Him, and revered Him. God needed someone who was willing to lay down their own plan, and pick up the plan that God was laying before them. Mary was just a young teenager, 13 or 14, I have heard. She had met and was engaged to a young man named Joseph. They had a plan. They were going to get married and live happily ever after.

Most young women have a plan similar to that. I know I did. Whether it's a career, or a marriage, or travel (or all of it) we all have dreams and aspirations, that's just part of our human nature...and it's good that we have that. Plans and dreams motivate us. Our plans and dreams may have slight variations, but most include a love story, a family, and a white picket fence. Youth sees things through those rose colored glasses that maturity often requires us to remove.

Version: NAS
Luke 1:30-34

30. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31. "And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32. "He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33. and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end." 34. And Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?"

Version: NAS
Luke 1:37-38

37. "For nothing will be impossible with God." 38. And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

Now, back to The Plan. When we become a Christian, we not only ask Jesus into our hearts, spiritually, but in turn we should be willing to hand over our hearts to Jesus. I have said before that when I became a Christian I made Jesus my "Lord and Savior", but it took a long time for me to allow Him to become "Lord of my Life".
Read it again please, not just Saviour but The One Who is in Charge.
So here is Mary with her own plan, and now she has to be willing to say "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said."
My life didn't change a lot until I finally got to the place where I said, "Lord, I am willing to put aside what I think and want, and let You show me what You want." That was not an easy time for me. It was a process of letting go of some things. It wasn't a rose garden, but if we do use the analogy, then there were some mighty big thorns and a lot of manure that I had to be forced to deal with.

Mary "signed on" as I said before. She agreed with God for His plan. Now, I'm not spouting doom and gloom here. God has good plans for us.

Version: NAS
Jeremiah 29:11-14

11. 'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. 12. 'Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13. 'And you will seek Me and find [Me], when you search for Me with all your heart. 14. 'And I will be found by you,' declares the LORD, 'and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,' declares the LORD, 'and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.'
He has good plans, they may just not always be easy. Remember when James and John's mother came to Jesus. She asked what she thought would be a good question. She asked Jesus if her two son's could sit with Jesus in Heaven. She really didn't know what she was asking.

Version: NAS
Matthew 20:20-28

20. Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Him with her sons, bowing down, and making a request of Him. 21. And He said to her, "What do you wish?" She said to Him, "Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left." 22. But Jesus answered and said, "You do not know what you are asking for. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?" They said to Him, "We are able." 23. He said to them, "My cup you shall drink; but to sit on My right and on [My] left, this is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father." 24. And hearing [this], the ten became indignant with the two brothers. 25. But Jesus called them to Himself, and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and [their] great men exercise authority over them. 26. "It is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, 27. and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; 28. just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

Mary signed on to become a "servant", a bondslave of the Lord, she was "indebted" to Him.

So, even though we may have to lay down our own plan for our life, wouldn't you rather be doing what God has planned for you? I know I would. I'm shortsighted and don't know what's best. I've gotten my own self in lots of ditches over the years. I have found that God has good plans.
They may not  always be easy, but they are best, and His best for me.

Version: NAS
Romans 12:1-2

1. I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, [which is] your spiritual service of worship. 2. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

I would love to hear from you all. What has God asked you to lay down for His plan for your life? How has He taken "your plan" and given it an "overhaul"? I know you all are out there, I'm asking you just to leave a short (or long) comment on these posts, if you feel God nudging you. Let's hear what each other has to share. :)

Healing Scripture #2

Exodus 23:25-26
25. "But you shall serve the LORD your God, and He will bless your bread and your water; and I will remove sickness from your midst. 26. "There shall be no one miscarrying or barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days.

Be Blessed, Everyone.
love, Debra

Friday, November 13, 2009

My alarm clock is ringing...

Do you ever get a sense of urgency from the Lord? One day it's an idea or a concept, and then all of the sudden there is a fire burning under you to do something! Well, this afternoon it happened again.

About  four years ago God gave me a Bible Study on "Healing". He totally "downloaded" it into my spirit. When I started this blog a month ago, I knew I wanted, and probably would at some point, follow what He had given me in writing posts from it. I saw it as starting after the New Year, when we all have more time and are in the "resolution mode".

I have been following Melanie at Bella Mella for a short while, and praying for her son, Andrew. Today Melanie left a comment and joined in as a follower. Her response was the match that lit the fire.

When I had the first round of heart attacks seven years ago, God had me start "collecting" healing scripture, and then building on the list. It has grown and grown, and with each new scripture I have received an ever expanding revelation of the Trinity, God's deep love for us, and His goodness.

I was fighting for my life, and even recently the Lord reminded me I need to read and speak these scriptures out over my life and physical body daily.

So today please join me and many others in praying for Andrew, be sure and go by Melanie's blog to find out more about her wonderful family and their strong faith...and then pray for them.

I will continue focusing on Mary for another post or two. Then I'm not sure where the Holy Spirit is leading.

I have wanted to start a prayer focus, so I will try to do that for now, by just posting on my sidebar a copy of your email or comment. If any of you are battling an illness, or know someone who is... or just want to have a better picture of how God feels about our physical well-being, just email me. I will send you a copy of the healing scripture list. I will start listing them on this blog, starting at the beginning.

This feels good and right, l will stick with the continuing Bible Study. Mary's life and calling is such a deep well to explore, if you haven't read the other posts on her please do.

I feel that God is wrapping His arms around each of us and can use us for His purposes, together. 

Please look up this scripture in your own Bible for a more complete understanding and word from God.

1.) Exodus 15:25-26 "...for I AM the LORD who heals you."   Jehovah Rapha


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Blessing follows Favor

Favor and blessing. How do these two things connect? What exactly does "blessing" look like? Let's see what the Oxford Dictionary has to say about "blessing". noun: invoking favor, a gift of God, favor of God, advantage, good fortune.

Version: NAS
Luke 1:28-33

28. And coming in, he said to her, "Hail, favored one! The Lord [is] with you." 29. But she was greatly troubled at [this] statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this might be. 30. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31. "And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32. "He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33. and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end."

Version: NAS
Luke 1:34-38

34. And Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" 35. And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God. 36. "And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37. "For nothing will be impossible with God." 38. And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

I keep hearing the phrase, "Blessing follows obedience." It's a concept that I have learned over the years. Not always in an easy way. I'm a pretty bullheaded, stubborn person, in the natural. I have tendency to do what I think is best. I make up my mind and then I can steamroll right over you; that is part of my nature. It is a quality that can be good, especially when things need to be done, but sometimes it doesn't particularly set well with God. It's been a hard lesson for me to be "submissive" to the Lord, He and I have gotten in a tangle of two over the years. Believe me, He is loving and kind, but there are times, He has had to sit on me to get me to pay attention. He's a good parent; a much better parent than I could ever hope to be. I lose my patience, get mad, give in, compromise, (but not in a good way), be harsh, be neglectful,etc. You know what I mean. I'm a human being and sometimes not a glowing example.
I believe Mary was a young woman who had learned submissiveness, which resulted in favor, which resulted in blessing. When we talked about the Samaritan woman, I mentioned the scripture from Matthew 11:28-29, concerning taking the yoke that Jesus offers us. If we get in step with Jesus, and go where He wants to go, the "burden" is lifted off of us and we let Him shoulder it.

Jesus wants us to get in step with Him, not running off on our own. How many times that has happened to me, and unfortunately I have paid a heavy price. This is where many people that don't know God would scream that they don't want to become a mindless zombie and be like everyone else. That is a good point. God appreciates our individuality, but He's not asking us to become like everyone else. He's asking us to become like Him. Then our individuality shines through in His likeness.

When we submit to Him and get in step with Him, He can work with us. He takes us under His arm and says, "Great, OK, now we can start to get somewhere. I'm showing you my favor because you are looking to me."

 Version: NAS

Proverbs 3:1-6

1. My son,(and daughters) do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments; 2. For length of days and years of life, And peace they will add to you. 3. Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. 4. So you will find favor and good repute In the sight of God and man. 5. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. 6. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.

Mary was a young woman who kept His commandments in her heart, wore truth around her neck, allowed Him to write them on her heart. The result was that she found favor with God, and man. She trusted in the Lord with all her heart, even though she did not understand how all this could be. She acknowledged Him and the result was He made her path straight.

When we do these things, God "obliges" Himself to watch over us. He favors us, and then blesses us with His powerful Presence. He walks ahead of us on the path, and Blessings follow.
Mary had a lot to go through. She had "signed on" for a path that would not be easy. She trusted God, no matter what, and because of that she ultimately received the highest Blessing any woman could seek. She received God's presence in a way that none of us will ever fully know. We may not be able to carry the Son of Man in our "womb", but we can all carry Him in our hearts.
And that's where the blessing lies. Not just in material goods, happiness, or fulfillment of our desires, but the blessing of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Then, and only then, will we find our highest and best. Sometimes that includes all the things we reach for in our life here on Earth. Sometimes wealth, fame, and happiness, but true Blessing only comes when it is attached to the Favor of God.
Today, may you each find
 God's Blessing in your life,
If you haven't read the last two posts on Mary
please do, they relate to one another,
in this little series of posts.

I'm going to step out here and ask a little
"favor" of you who read this regularly.
This blog is not promoting "me", but hopefully Jesus.
Some of you have this blog listed on your sidebar or blog roll.
Would you please prayerfully consider adding it.
Not as a favor to me, but to spread the Word of God.
Many people come through these blogs everyday.
Sometimes they are searching.
 If even one person finds Jesus in these posts,
it would be such a "blessing".Thank you all,


Saturday, November 7, 2009

This thing called "Favor"

How can we work together with God to see things change in our lives? How can we know that He is hearing our prayers and seeing our needs? How can we get God's attention? Let's look at Mary, the Mother of Jesus, before she received the news of his forthcoming arrival.

(If you have not read the previous post, please do. It introduces our look at Jesus' Mother, Mary)

Version: NAS
Luke 1:26-38

26. Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee, called Nazareth, 27. to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. 28. And coming in, he said to her, "Hail, favored one! The Lord [is] with you." 29. But she was greatly troubled at [this] statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this might be. 30. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31. "And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32. "He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33. and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end." 34. And Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" 35. And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God. 36. "And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37. "For nothing will be impossible with God." 38. And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

Luke 1:28
"...the angel went to her and said, 'Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.'"

I want to talk about favor today, because it is a crucial element of Mary being chosen by God for His mighty work, to be accomplished. 

Favor in the Oxford Dictionary says: esteem, liking, approval, goodwill, friendly regard, partiality, support, promote, prefer, courtesy, consideration, preference, to help, and benefit.

Looking at this scripture we need to see it for what it was, Mary had found a soft spot in God's heart. He hears us all and regards us as His children. We are all loved. He is our Father. A lot has been said of the scripture concerning our standing in His eyes.

Romans 2:11 says specifically that ..."God does not show favoritism." So there must be a difference between "favor" and "favoritism". Subtle?...yes, but a difference. This is what Oxford defines as favoritism:  unfair partiality, bias.
Because the Word of God does not contradict itself, we need to look further into how we perceive what is being said. Sometimes what we think a word means in the Bible, really is not how it should be translated. This is something I've run into many times. What in today's context means one thing, in Bible times, meant something else. It's our "frame of reference", that is different.

When I think of "favoritism". I think of special treatment. Of one person getting something that the others do not receive. It brings to mind images of a bunch of people wanting the same thing or treatment, but one "lucky" person who receives it without merit, simply because they are considered better on a whim by the "giver". Whereas "favor" is more of a heartfelt emotion that comes with strong relationship and bonding. Yes, the concepts are similar and subtle. But one is random, without relationship, while the other is genuine connection due to past relationship and experience.

So we find that Mary had "favor" with God. He had preference, support, esteem, liking, benefits, etc. toward her.
Haven't we all said or at least felt toward our children at some time or another that ,"I love you, but right now I do not like what you are doing."? Our love has not changed, but we do not like what they are involved in, or an act that they have committed, or an attitude that they are exhibiting. Our relationship is suffering. I know I have, and unless your children are perfect, which mine were not, you have most likely felt that also. That is how God is sometimes. He loves us so much He sent Jesus to die for us, but He doesn't always approve of what we are up to, how we act, or our attitudes toward Him or others.

So for Mary to have had favor with God, she must have been doing some things that were looked upon by God with approval. That's what I want. I want to be the kind of person God looks at and says, "We have good relationship, we communicate, I see that she is trying to make me happy. She has favor in my eyes."

That's where Mary was, she desired relationship with God and her attitude and actions supported that. So the angel said to her "Mary, don't be afraid, you have found favor with God."

Today I'm seeking the Lord in a more ardent way and attitude. I'm asking for His favor on me and my life. I want and need Him to be with me. And He says to me. "Don't be afraid you have my favor."

Be Blessed

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"What does "Character" have to do with it?"

I'm a "planner": a person who likes to be prepared and ready. I like to see the road in front of me and have it all laid out. I like to be "in the know" so to speak. God has called me with a gift of "looking ahead". To hear Him and know what He is doing and where He is going. He called me as a "Watchman" long ago. One that "stands on the wall" to see who and what is coming.
John 10:1-5, Mark 13:35-37, and Psalm 119:148.

When I sit down to write these posts I have no "heads up" where they are going. I have asked God to let me know in advance what His plan is for the next post, but He will not let me in on it. I don't know what I'm studying or writing until I sit down at this computer. So having said that, today the Lord said to me, "Let's talk about Mary".
So in my purposeful "shortsightedness", I think we will be looking at this young woman's "call", and how we can learn from her, and incorporate her faith into our daily life.

Luke 1:26-38

Version: NAS

26. Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee, called Nazareth, 27. to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. 28. And coming in, he said to her, "Hail, favored one! The Lord [is] with you." 29. But she was greatly troubled at [this] statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this might be. 30. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31. "And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32. "He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33. and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end." 34. And Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" 35. And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God. 36. "And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37. "For nothing will be impossible with God." 38. And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

Matthew 1:18-19
This is how the birth of Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

Two thousand years ago, saw a time of corrupt and evil government. The leader of the country, King Herod, was a man of evil intent and maliciousness. He was self-centered to the highest degree. Corrupt, decadent, and evil. He thought only of himself and his perpetuation of power and cared not for the betterment of his country and people. He wanted things his way, without thinking of the well being of others.
Mary was born in this time of corruption, she was a young woman who was loved by her family, as she loved them in return. Safe and secure in a small town life... insulated. I'm sure she was a devout young woman, who had been taught the ways of her Jewish roots. Undoubtedly, she was taught that some day Messiah would come and be not only the Savior, but also the leader of her country.

In this time, strength of character was what God was looking for in a woman. Character as defined in the Oxford dictionary as, moral strength, honesty, integrity and uprightness. Mary was a young woman who was willing to let God lead her, and she submitted to Him. Submission, not only of her thoughts and heart, but also of her very life. And isn't that what God is looking for still? Men and women of character, who are not afraid to bow their knee to their Heavenly Father and say "I am here for you to use, to work with, to shape and mold. Use me Father."

Today, many of us are reluctant to step out in society and share our Christian faith. Is it the times we live in, or is it our own character? This has been a question God has asked me lately. "Are you willing to step out and be used by Me?"

If you would like to read about Mary as a young woman, please do so. I think we will be talking about her for a few days. Put yourself in her place. Look at your life in the context of comparison to Mary's life. Let's see where this takes us. As I have said, I value everyone's opinion and ideas. Don't be afraid to leave a comment and put yourself "out there". This is what it's about. Interactive is what I'm going for here. Please read the comments even if you do not leave one. Many ideas, comments, and thoughts are exchanged. I really love hearing them. You can add things that I have not thought to cover. Your experience and beliefs are so valuable!
I think this study of Mary will be really thought provoking and enriching!

Blessings to you all!
Thanks for traveling the road with me.

Monday, November 2, 2009

More Questions...what about Baptism?

Jesus tells Nicodemus about "being born again" and what that means. This then, goes into the subject of "Baptism". Let's look at this scripture to see just what that means in the context of our salvation. 

John 3: 3-6  NIV
3. In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.
4. "How can a man be born when he is old ?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!"
5. Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.7. You should not be surprised at my saying "You must be born again."

Nicodemus whispers in Jesus' ear, "Help me understand about salvation."

Once we have been "born again", aka "saved" we have some understanding of the Bible and spiritual things. The scriptures can be "opened up" to us, we can "get" some things that before we could not comprehend. We do not know "everything", but we have a partial understanding. This is how the "Holy Spirit" gives birth to our "spirit". Without salvation we cannot understand spiritual things, they are foreign to our thinking.

1 Corinthians 3:8
For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when "Perfection " comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child, When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."

"Flesh gives birth to flesh" speaks of the fact that we are born physically and spiritually into a world that is "sin". We are not born "perfect" without sin, and then the world corrupts us. We are born into a life and world of sin. We do things in the natural way of men that have not yet met or known God.

So upon salvation the Holy Spirit gives life to our spirit in a miraculous way. We are given "new life", through the Holy Spirit. Things we did not understand as an unbeliever, are now opened up to our thinking.

In John 3:8, Jesus says that we must be born of water and of the Spirit. This is a fairly controversial scripture, and has been interpreted many ways. Some denominations and churches base a lot of their doctrine on this particular verse. I will tell you how I feel God has lead me to understand this passage:

In Matthew 3  Jesus asked John "the Baptist", His cousin and forerunner of His ministry, to baptise Him. This was a practice that indicated "repentance". At the time of Jesus' baptism the Holy Spirit descends on Him and He is filled with His power to enable Jesus to begin his earthly ministry. Jesus receives the act of baptism publicly to show us He is "fulfilling all righteousness", and as a picture of what we believers should do to "follow" Jesus.

Matthew 3:15.
Let's see what happens when we are baptised. Upon baptism we do not wash ourselves clean, but through our belief in Jesus Christ we have been washed clean with the "living water". ( The "living water that Jesus offered to the Samaritan woman in John 4.) It is the process of burying our  old "self" with Jesus, symbolically, through His death and resurrection.
Baptism is a "picture" and symbol, of our burial to the old ways of our flesh and life, and then the "resurrection" of our new life in Christ. It symbolizes our coming up fresh and clean. We "wipe the slate clean" so to speak, and then we start fresh in our spiritual life.

In the Old Testament times there was a purification process that took place so the Jews would not be "defiled". Washing hands, feet, and face were necessary for cleanliness. Bathing as we know it today did not take place. Long hot soaks in a tub were unheard of for the common man. So daily washing was necessary, and "customary". When guests arrived at your home, you had someone wash their feet. It was a courtesy of hospitality. Then the Jews took it another step spiritually in "ceremonial washing". In Old Testament times there is a lot of teaching, especially concerning acts of worship in the Temple that are about "washing" and "purification" .

Jesus is saying that we must go further, and wash not only hands and feet, but our hearts. That is the "washing of the water of the Word." God's Word, the Bible washes us when we read and accept, and allow it to "cleanse" us. That act of spiritual washing cleanses our heart, mind, and spirit.

Titus 3:4-7

4. But when the kindness of God our Savior and [His] love for mankind appeared, 5. He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6. whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7. that being justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to [the] hope of eternal life.

Jesus chose to be baptised publicly in the Jordan River. He was submerged in the water for a more clear picture for us to follow. Different churches baptise in different ways. I was immersed as a child of six. I knew and understood what it was about. I had received Jesus as my Savior and knew Him in my heart. I went into a "baptistry" at my church and was "dunked".

Many churches "sprinkle", or pour water, to symbolize baptism. Must you be baptised before you can enter heaven? My thinking is that it is not a requirement, as Jesus turned to the thief while they were each on the cross and says "This day, you will be with me in Paradise". This man had not been "physically baptised", but he was "spiritually baptised".

As believers should we be baptised? Yes, we do that in our act of following Jesus. Will the act of "physical baptism" get us to heaven? No. Not unless the physical act accompanies the spiritual act of baptism.

So when Jesus says you must be born of water and the Spirit, He is saying to be born again we must have both the spiritual repentance and cleansing which is the symbol of water baptism and then the spiritual rebirth we receive from the Holy Spirit.

There have been periods in my life where I was out of the "habit" of reading the Bible. We all go through these times. Sometimes it's not even a conscious refusal; we are just busy, our "life" gets in the way. Sometimes we have so many problems that we feel hopeless and unable to hear what God is saying. Sometimes the sin in our lives seems to take on a life of it's own and reading the Word of God is about the last thing we want to do. If we open the Word, then we open our hearts. Conviction of our sin is something we sometimes don't want if we are "enjoying" our sin for the moment.

I have been in all these places. I have found that daily Bible reading is important for me to maintain my intimacy with God. There is something "supernatural" about opening God's Word, the Holy Bible and reading. I may not know what or where to read, but if I submit myself to this daily act, then it is much easier for God to lead me and speak to me than if I never open the book. The Bible, the Word of God "washes" us in our daily life. Just like we physically wash every day. I need to spiritually "wash" every day.

My prayer for today: "Father, thank you for salvation, for the act of grace on your part that saved me from a life of sin. Thank you that I can come to you to receive "cleansing", that your Word is available and life-giving. Thank you that Your Holy Spirit is with me, speaking and leading me in my daily life. Thank you Father, that you are writing this Bible study, not me. I would mess it up. You are kind and loving and refreshing. Thank you for the ones you bring to this place. Please touch their hearts and lives individually, through your wonderful life giving words.
In Jesus Name. Amen.

Thank you for coming by for a visit to my study time. This has been a long time dream of mine, to be sharing God's Word. Some of these posts are long. Thanks for sticking with me through them. I want to share the "meat" of the Word. It's not something that can be accomplished in a "quickie post", I want to give you something to think and pray about...something to "chew" on for a while that is nourishing. 
Have a wonderful week.
  I'll be back.