Showing up

“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”  Heb. 10:25

Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches.  In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water.  For an angel went down at a certain time in to the pool and stirred up the water then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.  Now a certain man was there had an infirmity thirty-eight years.  When Jesus saw him lying there, an knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”  The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”  Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”  And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.”  John 5:2-8

The man had no one to put him in the water.  And yet he was there.  He was present in the place where the miracles happened.

I recently heard about a woman who was avoiding her church because she is going through a hard time in her life right now and when she goes to church it makes her cry.  I’ve felt that way before.  Sometimes, when times are the toughest, we feel the most like avoiding the house of God.

Friends, it is during those tough times, that we need to be in the house of God the most.  We need to show up and be present in the place of miracles.  We cannot expect a breakthrough if we avoid the place where they happen.  We cannot get the peace that passes understanding if we do not seek out the Peace Giver.  The shadow of death will loom so much larger on the outside, but when we enter into God’s presence, we find Him with us.  His rod and His staff ever ready to comfort us.  His green pastures and restoration of the soul can only be found where He is.

We may cry when we get in church.  It’s ok.  Church is not a place for perfect people.  It is a place for the broken.  Like this infirmed man, when we show up at the place where there is healing, restoration, deliverance, comfort, then there are emotions we will naturally go through.  But when we hear the Lord tell us to, “Rise, take up our bed, and walk,” it will be so worth it!

Go to church.  Cry if you must, but Go!  Seek the Lord.  Seek your miracle.  Just show up and do not give up.  God will meet you there.

Thankful I showed up,

jamie

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Art prayer journals

Another way that I sometimes journal is with art.  I use this type of journal often for prayer and praise.  I recall this particular page well.  I was feeling very overwhelmed with anxieties and fears about my daughter’s present and her future.  I was frustrated with a lack of knowledge about how to help her in the moment.  I was aggravated and agitated.  I wrote out all of the things I was feeling on my art page.

But then, I went back over all of it, taking my eyes off me, and wrote in attributes and strengths of God.  I praised Him and told Him that I loved Him.  His perfect peace came upon me and covered all the other emotions that I felt.

Now, every time I look back on this page all I feel is happiness.  God is mighty and able, and He comforted me that night.  This is the beautiful (to me) proof that I have of His faithfulness!

This is the last blog of my prayer journaling series.  If you missed the previous posts, you can find them here:

Prayer Journaling 101, Traditional prayer journal, Scripture/prayer journal

Loving you,

jamie

Month of Prayer, Day 14

“It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes.  The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of coins of gold and silver.”  Ps. 119:71-72.  Lord, in 2011, I wrote in my Bible that this is my testimony.  Remembering the battle that had just been won in my life, I know this was true.  I look at that now, after having fought for 4 1/2 years with physical mysteries and I notice my heart is a bit hardened towards those words.  I don’t like being afflicted.

But Lord, You have indeed dealt well with me.  According to Your Word, You have walked with me through the valley of the shadow of death.  You have been my comfort.  You have led me in the paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake.  You have been my shepherd who restores.  You have been a place of refuge.  You have turned me away from the snares of death.  And I thank You.

Surely I can have strong confidence in the One who does all those things.  Surely I can rest on the promises of the One who is consistently faithful.  Although there have been times of tearing in my life, I have also seen healing.  When I focus my thoughts on You, I see promise.  Isn’t that what Your Word encourages us to do?  Pr. 14:14 says, “A good man will be satisfied from above.”  Col. 3:1-2 says, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God.  Set Your mind on things above, not on things on earth.”

Lord, help me set my sights on You and, according to Your Word, let Your peace rule in my heart, causing me to be thankful.  Would I have desired to seek You so had I not been afflicted?  If everything were going my way, would I need a Provider?  Were my body to be in perfect shape, would I consult the Healer?  If I weren’t in pain, would I run after my Father, seeking comfort and peace?  Perhaps not.

Lord, with prudence, help me as I consider well my steps.  As I walk out this affliction day by day, let my focus remain on the One who is good and who does good.  Let my eyes stay fixed on the One who does not cast off His people, nor forsake His inheritance.  Let my trust be in the One who anoints my head with oil, and causes my cup to run over.  Let my cries be sent out to the One who hears my voice from His temple.  Let my tears be entrusted with the One who puts them in His bottle, treasuring my heart’s loyalty and trust in Him.

Lord, the care You take of me, the salvation You’ve given, and the promises You keep in Your faithfulness…surely those things are worth more than thousands of coins of gold and silver.  Thank You, Lord.

I love you,

jamie

Month of Prayer, Day 5

In Ps. 119:20, the psalmist declares, “My soul breaks with longing for Your judgments at all times.”  Oh, God, his desire to know more of You was so strong that it overcame him and ‘broke his soul’.  His desire for You exhausted and wore on him, zapping his strength in the best of ways.  God, that I would allow that type of desire to take hold in my own heart.  Oh, that my desire to know You would consume my thoughts as much as any unfulfilled desire ever could.

Lord, in Pr. 5, Solomon pleads again with his son to pay attention to his wisdom and his understanding.  He instructs his son not to be enraptured by an immoral woman.  He warns him of the dangers of being seduced by desire towards her.  Lord, Your Word tells us the same things.  We allow our desire for so many things to take our steps away from You, but all the while, we should be so consumed with a desire for You that nothing else will satisfy.  Forgive me, Lord, for placing my desire in other places.

Help me to hear Your Word as the instruction that will truly keep from reproach and contempt.  Help me not to depart from the Word of Your mouth that was given to keep me from being caught in the cords of sin, and quite literally from death.  Do not let me despise Your instruction, nor let me be consumed by anything other than my desire for more of You.  You alone are worthy of my life.  You alone are worthy of my desire, my longings, my devotion.

Oh, that Your Word would give me more delight than any other thing could even imagine to bring.  Awaken in me a new desire, Lord, for more of You.  Awaken a longing such as I have never had before.

Let my longing for You be passed to my children and my children’s children.  Let the generations to come long for You so strongly that it also breaks their souls.  Oh, that our longing would produce works that will glorify You and You alone.  You are worthy of all that and more, Lord, our Creator, our Savior, our Deliverer, and Strength.  Your power and might, Your faithfulness, Your peace…all these things and more make You more desirable than all else.  Keep that in our hearts and in our minds.  Help us to meditate on these things above all other things.  Move in us and use us for Your glory, Lord.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

I’m so glad my life is in HIS hands

Have you ever sang songs to God with lyrics like these:

“Bring me anything to bring You glory.  And I know there’ll be days when this life brings me pain, but if that’s what it takes to praise You, Jesus, bring the rain.”

“No matter what comes my way, my life is in Your hands.”

“My life is not my own.  To You I belong.  I give myself, I give myself to You.”

Do you think you would or have you ever had a moment of hesitation when singing them?  I have.

I used to sing these songs freely.  “Oh, yes, Lord.  Bring the rain.”

And then one day the rain fell.  I was determined to bring God glory through my trial, and for the first bit, I did.  Then, I got a little tired.  I got sad.  That sadness led to feelings of being neglected.  That neglect made me angry.  My anger made me rebellious.  I was no longer allowing God to be glorified.  Those words I had sung so intently, were proven empty.

When I began to find my way back to Him, simply trusting that His plans for me were good, regardless of the trial, I found myself hesitating when it came to singing lyrics like those.  Those words have much more meaning when you realize God’s way of using you may not be quite what you had in mind.  Those words are much heavier when you realize that the rain could bring pain.  Those words are not empty.  They mean something.

The truth is; however, that no matter what comes our way, our lives truly are in His hands.  He is our Creator, our Sustainer, our Redeemer, and our Soon coming King.  I can’t think of more capable hands that I’d like my life to be in.

I recently heard someone debunk the familiar saying that God won’t give us more than we can handle.  She said, “Everything is more than we can handle!”  She was right.  That’s why we need the One who gives us strength.

Sometimes it takes a trial for us to truly understand what surrender really means.  We are not in control.  God is.  But the thing about God is that He does not leave or forsake us.  He goes before us, preparing the way, and behind us, directing our steps.  He gives us comfort and peace when there seems to be no reason for either.  He made the way for our salvation before we were ever born.  He is strongest when we are weakest.

With our lives in His hands, we can understand that no matter what comes our way, He is still our God and He is still the same.  Our pain is never in vain.  We have the unique opportunity to give Him glory through it all.  His worth isn’t based on the current circumstances.  He is worthy, no matter the situation.

Voluntarily surrendering our lives to Him brings joy and hope in the midst of the pain.

Surrendered,

jamie

Finding the root I needed

Pr. 12:3:  “A man is not established by wickedness, but the root of the righteous cannot be moved.”

I remember my young adult years being filled with what I referred to as restlessness.  I never felt a strong sense of peace in my life and I blamed it on anything but myself.  I listened to my music way too loud, I wore clothes that let me feel ‘free’, I travelled a lot, I drank too much, and camped out alone in the woods.  I was trying to intentionally either out run my restlessness or ease it with over the top activities.

I was trying to find my peace in things of this world, sin, and unconstraint.  Unfortunately, all I really found was more loneliness, more restlessness, and choices to regret later on.  Thankfully I didn’t lose my life in the process.

I remember the day I realized I no longer felt that restlessness.  It kind of snuck up on me, actually.

During my peace-seeking I found a man who loved Jesus.  Yes, I had been raised in church, but I really only loved myself.  Jesus was only ever in my mind when I felt momentary guilt or shame.

Eventually we were married, and this man who loved Jesus took me to a church that loved Jesus.  I began to understand what it meant that Jesus was truly my Savior.  I began to understand how much He loved me.  (You don’t die in someone else’s place if they don’t mean something to you)

I began to read the Word of God out of curiosity and delight rather than out of duty.  I found out more about God’s love than I had ever known before.

I began to worship the Lord just for who He is, not out of guilt or shame.  I finally perceived the truth about grace, realizing salvation was not based on my actions, good or bad, but on God’s grace and compassion.

One day, without warning, I realized I was full of peace.  All the restlessness that I thought I’d been cursed with was simply gone.  In its place was the peace that passes all understanding, and the One who had placed it there was God.

Finally, I had a root to hold me in place.  My foundation was solidly established, and I no longer had to out run the sinking sand beneath my feet.

Once I allowed Jesus Christ to be my personal Cornerstone, I gained the security I’d sought for so long.

I know from experience, that anything outside of God will leave your foundation unsound and unstable.  If you need a foundation for your life that is fixed and unshakable, Jesus Christ is the answer.

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.”  Matthew 14:27

Rooted in Him alone,

jamie

Establishing a plan

Pr. 20:18:  “Plans are established by counsel; by wise counsel wage war.”

In Acts 13:1-4, we find 5 prophets and teachers ministering to the Lord and fasting.  As they did so, the Holy Spirit instructed all 5 that Barnabas and Saul should be separated for a work to which the Lord had called them.  vs. 3, “Then, having fasted and prayed and laid hands on them, they sent them away.”

Paul and Barnabas had a hard road ahead of them, but being connected to the Lord gave all 5 men very clear instruction about the fact this was His plan.  After fasting and praying together, they obeyed in faith.

The best way to receive counsel from the Lord is to be connected to Him, just as these 5 men were.  Receiving counsel from the Lord is the best way to live in peace, believing that God will be with you through the journey.

Knowing clearly God’s plan, Paul and Barnabas were able to endure the persecution, abuse, malice, and misfortune they later faced on their journey.

When our plans come from the Lord, we can embark on our journey knowing that those plans are not only for good, but come with the guarantee that He will never leave us nor forsake us.  Establishing plans from any other source is a risk we don’t need to take.

Seeking counsel,

jamie