Weekend Walk, 02/11/2012

Hiding the Word:

My seven-year-old daughter likes to play the “When I’m 13 game.”

Oh, when will I be 13?  I’ll be able to do everything I ever wanted when I’m 13.  It’ll be so much better when I’m 13.  I’ll be able to babysit.  I’ll be old enough to take care of a dog.  It must be great to be 13!”

What is she thinking?  I’ve tried to explain many times that when she’s 13, what she’ll likely be saying is this:

Oh, I wish I were seven again.  Life was so much easier when I was seven.  School was simpler.  Relationships weren’t full of drama.  I didn’t have all this stress.  Oh, life was so perfect when I was seven.

Alas, she doesn’t believe me.

It reminded me, though, of something we read in Prisiclla Shirer’s Discerning the Voice of God, which we studied over the summer of 2011.  She wrote:

“God is the God of right now.  He doesn’t want us to regret yesterday or worry about tomorrow.  He wants us to focus on what He is saying to us and putting in front of us right now.  The Enemy’s voice will focus on the past and the future, but the voice of our God will focus on today.  God’s voice tells us what we can do now” (p. 85).

As Jesus said in the memory verse I’m choosing for this week:

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:33-34).

In the complete context of Matthew 6, Jesus tells us not to worry about what we’ll eat, drink or wear.  Seek Him.  Seek His kingdom.  Seek His righteousness.  He’ll take care of our needs.  It’s His promise to us.

Have you chosen a verse to memorize and meditate on this week?  I hope you post a comment below and share it with all of us!!

Weekend Rerun

Cultivating a Quiet Heart
  Originally Published 03/15/2011

“I’ve kept my feet on the ground, I’ve cultivated a quiet heart. Like a baby content in its mother’s arms, my soul is a baby content”
Psalm 131:1-2 (MSG)

I work from home at my computer so that I can take care of my three young daughters.  Mostly, my work days go something like this:

  • Get everyone settled and sit down at the computer to work.
  • Help child put clothes on her doll.
  • Sit down to work.
  • Get a drink for another child.
  • Sit down to work.
  • Spell “Pocahontas” for older daughter who is systematically drawing every princess she’s ever heard of.
  • Sit down to work.
  • Change baby’s diaper.
  • Sit down to work.
  • Break up fight between older girls who each want to be the same princess.
  • Sit down to work.
  • Get snack for children who declare that they are indeed starving and will die if they don’t eat something now instead of waiting for dinner.
  • Sit down to work.
  • Get lemonade for the children who forgot that they were also thirsty and not just hungry when they asked for a snack.
  • Sit down to work.
  • Look for a particular book for a child who swears she’s looked everywhere, including the bookshelf, and it has just simply disappeared into thin air.  Find the book on the bookshelf.
  • Sit down to work.

You get the idea.

Yesterday, I was working away and getting up every 20 seconds (perhaps an exaggeration, but it FELT like every 20 seconds), when my oldest daughter stood at my feet, appearing like a child in need.  So, I looked at her and sighed and waited for the request.  One more thing someone needed from me.  One more expectation to fill.  One more bit of help to give.

And she gave me a hug, placed a kiss on my cheek, said, “I love you, Mom” and walked away.

My baby does this all day long.  She plays and asks me for things and then at least two or three times an hour, she walks over to me and just lays her head down on my arm and waits for me to stroke her head and kiss her.  Then, she runs off again to dump out all the blocks and pull every book off the bookshelf as she plays.

I love my children and I love that I can be at home to help them when they need it and to give and receive kisses and hugs when all they ask for is affection.   Some days, it’s draining because it’s a job that involves giving, giving, and giving some more.   I know they’re kids who just need help and that’s okay.  I would much prefer they ask me for help than find my house torn apart from their efforts to do things on their own.  Still, sometimes I think a few minutes of quiet, uninterrupted time sitting in one place sounds luxurious.

That hug and kiss from my daughter yesterday reminded me of my relationship with God.   So many days, I go to Him in need.  I ask Him for help, encouragement, intervention, provision, healing.  All day long, I pray for myself, my family and for others.  Thankfully, God is a far more patient parent than I am.  He never sighs with fatigue and frustration when I show up before His throne again with another request.

Yet, how precious are the moments when I come into God’s presence not asking for Him to help me with anything, but just pleased to have His company.

Psalm 131:1-2 says:  “I’ve kept my feet on the ground, I’ve cultivated a quiet heart. Like a baby content in its mother’s arms, my soul is a baby content” (MSG).  In the NIV, this description is of a “weaned child with its mother.”

The image here is of a baby content to be with her mother, not because she’s looking for food or the fulfillment of a need, but just because the mother’s very presence brings comfort.

It’s part of the maturing process in this Christian walk.  God weans us so that we don’t just look to Him for help, but we respond “to Him out of love . . . for God does not want us neurotically dependent on Him but willingly trustful in Him” (Eugene Peterson).  It’s not that God no longer cares for us or sees our need.  Instead, He’s asking us to trust His love for us so much that we can lay our burdens at His feet and leave them there, choosing to focus on God Himself rather than our troubling circumstances.  We see His love and not our empty bank account.  We look to His faithfulness and not our illness.  We focus on His might and not our broken relationships.

In his book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Eugene Peterson goes on to write, “Choose to be with him; elect his presence; aspire to his ways; respond to his love.”

This reminds me of Psalm 42:1-2 “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When can I go and meet with God?” (NIV).  It’s a cry for communion and relationship rather than a desperate plea for help.  It’s a call to enjoy God’s presence, not for what He does for us, but for who He is.

“Father, I thank You that You are so patient with me, hearing each of my requests and responding to me with lovingkindness and compassion.  I’m sorry for not spending more time just enjoying Your presence instead of meeting with You in order to get something for myself.  I trust in You to care for me and all these needs that weigh on my heart and I put them aside in order to commune with You and give You praise.  I choose to cultivate a quiet and contented heart.”

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

The Big Anniversary Giveaway!!! and “I Needed That”

Today, is a day of celebration for us!!  It is the one-year anniversary of this devotional blog.  You can even read the original post here, The Reluctant Blogger, written on 02/10/2011.

Can you believe it’s been a year?

An anniversary like that seems like the perfect chance for a giveaway to me!!!  It’s also a great time to say, “Thank you!”  Thank you for the many, many emails and notes and even gifts you’ve given me this past year to encourage me to keep this blog going and not give up.  I’ve gotten special surprise hugs in stores and beautiful emails in my inbox on some tough days.

You bless me all the time.  Thank you!

My friend, Rita Taylor, has made this fabulous necklace and bracelet set for the giveaway. Isn’t she incredible?!  If you’re interested in seeing more of her creations, check out her Etsy page here: http://www.etsy.com/people/bigmomma4542

A huge thanks also to Ana Isabel for the photos showcasing Rita’s jewelry designs!

Also, to celebrate the new series of Devotions from My Garden, I’m going to give away a gardening gift basket with some spring-time goodies for you!

So, that’s two great gifts up for grabs!!

Here’s how it works.  Every time you do one of these things, you are entered to win one of the two prizes:

  • Comment on any page in the blog or on the Facebook post from now until next Friday at noon.
  • Become a follower of the blog (Go to the Homepage and enter your email address in the box to the right).
  • Share this page on Facebook and then leave me a comment on this page telling me you did.

Easy peasy!  I’ll pick a winner in one week—on Friday, 02/17, at noon and then post the winner announcements to the blog that day.

Now, onto today’s devotional!

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My middle daughter had the middle child blues.

Over Christmas break, my older girls and I discovered a new-to-us series of books by Daisy Meadows about fairies.  There was a fairy named after every girl on basically the whole planet and a book about any possible interest or hobby she may have.

Poppy the Piano Fairy
Samantha the Swimming Fairy
Cara the Camp Fairy
Ally the Dolphin Fairy
Heather the Violet Fairy
Stacey the Soccer Fairy

We practically did a jig in the middle of the library when we discovered a book named after my oldest daughter, Victoria the Violin Fairy.

And then we scanned the shelves for a book for my middle daughter.  Lauren the Lollipop Fairy?  Lauren the Lilac Fairy?  Lauren the Crazy Fairy with a Wacky Sense of Humor and a Love of Stories?

Nothing.

Mia, Juliet, Holly, Kate, Helena.  A hundred girls’ names on that shelf and yet no Lauren.

It was the total middle-child disaster.  How come Victoria has a book named after her, but I don’t have one named after me?

She cried.  I tried to console and comfort.  I searched Google and Amazon for any book named after a girl named Lauren and failed.

Then I gave up and hoped her five-year-old heart wouldn’t suffer permanent damage landing her in a pyschiatrist’s office some day.

Almost two months later, I was driving in my car and praying for a gift of grace.

My husband and I were preparing for some upcoming medical testing for him.  Finally, after wrestling with God and throwing a few “righteous” tantrums, I prayed with submission.  “Thy will be done” and “thank You for the assurance that You’ll be with us in all things.”

The day before the testing, I drove around town, running errands with my two-year-old strapped into her car seat behind me.  I was praying and trying not to cry so I wouldn’t walk into stores and the library with red eyes and streaking mascara.

Dear Lord, we’ve submitted to Your will in this.  We’ve asked You to be glorified.  I’m not fighting You or Your plan for us, even if it’s hard and even if I don’t like it. But I’m asking for some extravagant grace and mercy today.

Then I made a request—that God would protect the hearts of my children.  They are so blessed by their Daddy.  By his faith and example of Godliness.  By his Christian leadership in our home and church.  By his firm, but loving discipline.  By his prayers for them every night and the crazy rides to bed he gives them—on his head, on his back, carrying them upside down, flying them through the air.

Lord, please take care of my daughters if their Daddy is sick.

The library was my next stop.  I checked my face in the mirror to examine it for signs of red, splotchy tears.  It wasn’t great, but oh well.  Who needs to look like a super model at the public library?  (Not that I ever look like a super model!)

We had participated in a book exchange program at the start of the year, bringing in books we no longer wanted and then picking out new ones in February.  Today was the big day we could choose new books, so splotchy face or not, we were going in.

My two-year-old and I jumped right into the goodies.  I glanced at the stacks on the tables and in the piles.  Then, in a box on the floor I glimpsed the wings of a fairy on a book cover and picked it up.

I expected a fairy named Abigail or Ava or Gabriella.

Instead, I held in my hands Lauren the Puppy Fairy.

I did another little jig in the library.  They must be quite accustomed to my praise dancing by now!

I rejoiced, not just because I found a book named after my middle daughter that I didn’t think existed on this earth.

I rejoiced because God gave me the grace I needed at the exact moment of my need.  It was a reminder to me that my daughters’ hearts are in His hands.  He cares about them enough to let me find a second-hand book with one of their names on it at a library exchange program.

Surely He will care for their every need, walk them through every hurt, and show them the fullness of God’s great love and compassion for them.

The day before I had copied this verse into my journal:

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Do you realize what a promise is in this verse?

It means God invites us into His presence. We aren’t unwelcome intruders there.

We don’t have to crawl in with our face to the ground either, waiting for condemnation or banishment.  He says we can come “boldly to the throne of grace,” knowing that we will be received.

Then, God promises to extend to us the very mercy and grace we desperately need exactly when we need it.

I didn’t find Lauren the Puppy Fairy a month ago or a week ago.  If I had, it would have been fun, but it wouldn’t have shown me God’s incredible grace.

No, within moments of my prayer for my daughters, I reached into a box and found a sign of God’s grace and mercy for me and my family.

That’s the promise for you, as well: He will give you the grace you need when you need it most.  Don’t be afraid to ask Him for it.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King


Devotions From My Garden: May the God of Hope

Today, I’m sharing with you another devotion from last spring to go with this year’s series Devotions From My Garden.  Enjoy!

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“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit
Romans 15:13, NIV

Today, I walked close enough to my front garden to catch the strong perfume of hyacinth carried by the wind.  It was delicious and relaxing and full of hope.  Those early spring flowers remind me that spring and new life are coming and maybe even here!  That after months of dormancy, a seed buried deep within the frozen ground is now beautiful, colorful, fragrant and abundant.  They remind me that our God is the Creator—able to make something truly wonderful out of nothingness.

And all of these things give me hope.

It means that I am never trapped or stuck in the relentlessness of my everyday because God brings abundant new life and seasons of blessing.  His mercies “are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23, NIV).

It means all of my time in the wildernesses of my faith when I saw no visible evidence of God’s plan for me were not wasted.  He has cultivated my heart and brought to life a beautiful “planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor” (Isaiah 61:3b, NIV).

It means that even when I am in an impossible situation, God, who created everything out of nothing, can create a rescue for me.

All day today, I’ve been meditating on and unpacking the truths in a verse that similarly brings me hope: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13, NIV).

May the God of Hope: Our God is a God of hope.  Even when we feel that there is no rescue for us and no way out, we can trust in Him to save us.  We are never stuck, abandoned, lost or beyond His reach because our God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20-21, NIV).  When circumstances are at their most impossible, we have hope because “nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37, NIV).

Fill you with all joy and peace: Because we have hope, we can walk through disaster with joy and peace.  In the book of Nehemiah, Ezra reads the book of the law to the people for the first time in years. They had returned from exile away from their temple and homeland and now faced the long process of rebuilding.  The people wept with remorse over lost time and out of true regret for turning away from God, but Nehemiah and Ezra reminded them that “the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10, NIV).

As you trust in Him:  My joy and peace come from my connection to God.  They aren’t fake or self-motivated.  I can’t wake up in the morning and determine in and of myself that “I’m going to be at peace today” or “today, I’m going to be joyful.”  Instead, I ask God to please fill me with joy and peace and to help me stay connected with Him every moment of that day, so that I don’t begin to replace joy and peace with discontent, worry, or shame.  God can keep me filled up only as I trust in Him.  When I trust in others, in circumstances or in myself, I will be disappointed and my faith shaken.  Instead, we must “trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

So that you may overflow with hope: God doesn’t just fill us up for our benefit, but so that we can overflow for others.  He places us in community with other Christians so that we can journey together, encouraging one another and bringing hope to others when they need it.  He places us in the world so that we can offer hope to those who are hopeless.

Like the hyacinth in my garden, we are to let Christ manifest “through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.  For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:14-15, NASB).  We are like Christ in a perfume bottle!

By the power of the Holy Spirit: It is the Holy Spirit at work deep within us that allows us to be filled up to overflowing.  As Christians, the Holy Spirit is within us, constantly at work in our heart, and present as we face every life circumstance.  There is nothing in this life that we ever face alone and so we have hope, joy and peace.

I am always amazed by Paul and his prayers for others.  Most of the time when I pray for people, I ask God to meet their need, give them a job, heal their sickness, provide for their finances, direct their steps . . . it is always specific and practical.  These prayers are important and necessary, but I shouldn’t stop there.  The vast majority of Paul’s prayers for the churches in his letters were for spiritual blessings.  This verse in Romans 15:13 is just one example, in which he prays for hope, joy and peace and the power of the Holy Spirit at work in their lives.

So, today, I am taking my cue from Paul and praying for you:
Father God, I pray now for those reading this devotional.  Please let your Holy Spirit be at work in their lives, filling them to the point of overflowing with hope, joy and peace.  Help them know that whatever they are facing in life can be entrusted to You and that nothing at all is impossible with You, our Creator God.  You bring beauty and life out of darkness and dormancy.  Give them an excitement about Your work in their lives.  Help them live in joyful anticipation of what You are going to do next.
Amen.

More Devotions from My Garden:

  • Breaking Ground
  • Tomato Plant Prayers

    Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

    Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Devotions from My Garden: Tomato Plant Prayers

 

Last week, my daughters and I spent a picture-perfect day outside planting in the garden.  As I pushed the dirt around each  of our tomato plants, I whispered a little prayer for God to bless it and let it grow strong and healthy to produce much fruit and to be protected from weather and pests (those nasty huge green worms that appear every year) and also to be protected from my ineptitude (I’m no expert gardener).

My daughter giggled at me.  “Why are you praying over a tomato plant, mom?”

I stopped to think.  Why was I praying over a tomato plant?  Earlier that very day, I had prayed for the names listed in my prayer journal.  For job decisions.  For financial help.  For needed housing.  For strength while caregiving.  For a broken marriage.  For children growing up with instability.  For a small girl with cancer.

Now, here I was just hours later, asking the God of the Universe to care about my tiny garden.  Did it seem presumptuous of me, selfish perhaps to think that the small things that mattered to me, mattered to God, as well?

Yet, I looked up into my daughter’s face and said, “God cares about us.  He cares about every little thing, so it’s okay for us to pray about all that is on our mind and heart, not just the big stuff.”

I believe that.  Sometimes we see God as too wrapped up in world affairs, global weather patterns, and hospital rooms to have time for the daily thoughts and concerns we face each day.  Somehow we think we’d just be wasting his time, taking His attention from those who really need His intervention if we prayed about “silly” little things.

Satan has great success defeating the prayer lives of Christians by making prayer seem so complicated.

He tells us prayer is hard and it has to be done a certain way and for a certain length of time.
He tells us we don’t pray as well as other Christians we know.  He tells us we are lacking and we fall short.
He tells us God doesn’t care about our concerns and needs because they are too insignificant for God’s notice.

So, with all of that pressure and the feeling that we simply can’t measure up, we sometimes don’t pray at all.

And yet, Scripture tells us to “pray continually” (1 Thes. 5:17).  It’s not that we need to quit our jobs and devote ourselves to on-our-knees intercession all day, every day.  It’s that our every thought and emotion can be turned over to God in prayer, living in continual conversation with a listening and caring God.

I am reminded that the Psalmist told me to “cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken” (Psalm 55:22) and Peter told us to “cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).  Cast all my anxiety—-not just the big life-altering problems, but everything that puzzles my heart and occupies my thoughts.

In a world where we are constantly reminded of need and hurt, when wars and revolutions are started everyday, when tornadoes and tsunamis wipe out homes and countries, when our email boxes fill up with prayer requests for the homeless and the sick, it may seem so foolish to lay at God’s feet the little things like tomato plants.

And yet, Isaiah 63:9 says, “In all their distress, He too was distressed, and the angel of His presence saved them.  In His love and mercy He redeemed them; He lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.”

Isaiah here is writing about how God carried Israel in the past.  During all those days in the wilderness between Egypt and Canaan He delivered them from Pharaoh’s mighty army, He carried them across the Red Sea on dry ground, He gave them the Ten Commandments, but He also made sure they had food and water to drink and led them to an oasis to refresh them when they were weary.  He cared about every event and every need—big or small—that mattered to them.

About a week after I had knelt in the dirt to pray over my tomato plant, my daughter and I sat next to each other talking about a birthday party she was going to the next day.  I looked up the directions on the computer and realized that this family lived exactly in the middle of the hardest hit area of tornado damage from the storms a week before.

My daughter announced, “Well, my friend says that she could hear the storm and it went right by her, but they were okay.  I guess God knew she was having a birthday party and didn’t want it to be ruined by her house being broken.”

Sweet innocent faith!  I had told her that God cares about every little thing, and she believed it.  If He cares about tomato plants, why not a birthday party?  And why not the worries on your mind?  Your decisions, your financial needs, your relationship problems, your job choices, your shopping list, your schedule for the day, whether your kids behave in the store (I have prayed that prayer many times).

Isn’t it one of those miraculous aspects of God’s nature that He cares about the big and small, the world events and the personal concerns, the global crises and the daily struggles?

More Devotions from My Garden:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Weekend Walk, 02/04/2012: A Verse on Peace

Hiding the Word:

Have you ever had to wait for an answer?  The call-back after a job interview or your score on an exam or a followup visit with a doctor?

Then you probably know this first hand: Waiting stinks.

There are too many what-ifs to plague your mind.  Too many hypothetical situations and combat strategies to develop for every potential battle.  Too many worst-case scenarios to play out mentally.

I’ve spent the last week practicing everything I’ve learned or written about when it comes to overcoming worry and paralyzing fear, mostly because of the horrors of waiting.

I don’t always get it right.  I’m fearful much of the time.  But, I’m trying to replace every anxious thought with a Scripture verse, usually one of the ones we’ve memorized in the past few months.

This is war.  Fear is my enemy.  God’s Word my weapon.

It’s a reminder to me that this matters.  Choosing a verse a week to meditate on and memorize makes a difference in my life.  I hope it does for you, as well.  If you’ve let the habit fall by the wayside, I encourage you to start fresh this week.

As I continue to fight fear with God’s Word, I’m meditating once again on a verse about peace.  I hope you’ll join me in memorizing it.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid (John 14:27).

Weekend Rerun:

Take Heart, Daughter

Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,'” he said, “your faith has healed you”
(Matthew 9:22).

My daughters believe their daddy is a superhero with an amazing super power.  He can fix anything.  For years, they have brought me broken toys and pages ripped from books and announced that it was okay because “Daddy could fix it!”  They stand amazed as he pops wheels back on plastic strollers, adjusts the height of swings, and, even more impressive, repairs our broken dishwasher.

Then there was the day that my daughter, then just two years old, came to me, her hands outstretched and holding a DVD split completely into two separate pieces.  Her tiny fingers gripped something totally irreparable.

“Oh, baby,” I said, “It’s broken.  Really broken.”

“It’s okay,” she announced with confident faith, “Daddy can fix it.”

“Most of the time, sweetie, but not this one time,” I whispered.

We’ve all experienced the limited fix-it abilities of others and ourselves.  We can apply glue to relationships and duct tape to careers, we can piece together finances and snap hopes and dreams back into place after countless cracks and rips.

But then there’s the day—we’ve all had those moments—-when we grip in our fingers something irreparable.  No amount of gluing, taping, splicing, snapping, tying, pinning or sewing can undo the damage, fix the broken or resurrect the dead.  Not this time.

So, we bring what is diseased and dead to the God who has power over life and death. My commentary says: “Life in this world will be better if it is lived by a power beyond this world, the power of the resurrected, ascended, glorified Christ.”   We live in resurrection power when we trust Him even in the midst of impossible, overwhelming, hopeless circumstances.  We hold up to Him a mess of shattered pieces and declare, “Abba, Father, My Daddy can fix this.”

Because we know He healed what no one could heal.  Because we know He created a universe, a planet, and life with the power of His Words.  Because we know He even conquered death and overcame the grave.

Just like the woman who had bled for 12 years pushed through a crowd so she could touch Christ’s cloak.  For twelve years, she had been walking dead.  Her sickness made her unclean and cut off from community life, from marriage relationships, and from the ability to worship in the temple.  She shouldn’t have been in the crowd, wasn’t allowed to have contact with people for fear she would spread her uncleanness to them.  Her very presence there was risky.  Anyone could have condemned and publicly shamed her.

My husband reminds me that her story is one of salvation.  Her healing foreshadowed the cross as she transferred years of uncleanness and impurity onto Him with one touch.  He absorbed her uncleanness.  She now, for the first time in 12 years, was made clean, purified, holy, new—–once she was lost, but now she was found.  Then she made public confession when she, “knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.” (Mark 5:32-33).  Yes, the whole ugly truth of it all.

Our own redemption stories all echo hers.  Christ miraculously fixes what is unfixable.  He assumes our guilt so that we may receive forgiveness.

There’s something else, here, though, something about her faith that I need to learn.

Her healing didn’t happen by accident, an unexpected brushing against Jesus in the middle of a mob.  No, she had to decide to push through the crowd; she had to choose to reach out a shaking hand to grab the dusty hem of His robe.

So, it is with us.  We could stand on the outskirts of faith, not truly trusting God to heal and redeem us, but we would remain broken. Maybe we feel insignificant, maybe our problem doesn’t seem big enough or maybe it even appears too big for God to handle.  Regardless, until we bring the pieces to the throne and lay them at His feet, we cannot expect healing.

This reaching out for Jesus wasn’t just bold, it was also full of hope when things seemed hopeless.  “She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse” (Mark 5:26).  Doctor after doctor, remedy after remedy, year after year, medical bill after medical bill, all leaving her now destitute, hopeless, and still bleeding.

But then our compassionate Savior reassured and comforted her, not just fixing a physical problem, but speaking peace into her fearful heart: “Jesus turned and saw her. ‘Take heart, daughter,’ he said, ‘your faith has healed you’” (Matthew 9:22).

There’s a message for you also in the broken places.  God asks you to “take heart, daughter.” Don’t despair.  Don’t give up hope.  Bring your burdens to Him.

What is it about her faith that healed her? She believed so much more than that He was a medicine man with some effective healing aura.

She believed He could give her new life.
She believed He could remove her impurity and make her clean again.
She believed He would not condemn her for approaching Him in all of her dirty unholiness.
She believed she could come to Him just as she was.
She believed He could bring hope to the hopeless.

Her faith made her well.

Then, she gave testimony to what He had done and announced to the crowd of onlookers that Christ had healed her.

Are you facing brokenness or losing hope? “Take heart, daughter,” and trust Him with the impossible.

And when He has delivered you, fall at His feet in worship and give testimony to His grace. Tell “the whole truth” about what God has done for you.

If you have not received the answer yet, pray for that testimony.  Pray for the glory of His name.

Pray that you will be like the captives brought back to Zion, “who were like men who dreamed.  Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.  Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (Psalm 126-13).

Lord, fill us with laughter, fill us with joy in these circumstances.  Allow us to declare, “The Lord has done great things for us.”  Give us a testimony for Your glory, so that we can be a walking display of Your healing, resurrecting power and Your deeply compassionate mercy and love.

“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us” (Ephesians 3:20, MSG).

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

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Shout! A Little Bit Louder Now, Part II

It seems like such a simple test, but it’s more complicated than you might expect.

My daughter sat up in the bed in the doctor’s office for her annual checkup.  She had already stepped on the scale, stood up straight and tall, and read the eye chart.  Now it was time for the hearing test.

The nurse held the contraption into her ear and gave instructions.  “Raise your hand when you hear the beeps.”

I know, however, from years of experience that it isn’t so easy. We’ve been through this before.

There was the time she thought that meant raise your hand when the beeps begin and keep holding it up for the whole test.

So, I say, “Now, raise your hand when you hear a beep and then put it back down again so you can raise it up when you hear the next beep. You need to raise up and down, up and down.”

There was the time that she raised her hand just two or three times for the whole test and the nurse said, “Did you hear all those beeps?”

“Yes,” my daughter answered, “but some of them were quiet.”

So, I say, “Raise your hand every single time you hear a beep, even if some are loud and some are quiet.”

Unfortunately, the whole time my oldest daughter is listening intently to beeps, my youngest two girls are trying to tell stories, sing songs, fight with each other, play peekaboo, and any other number of extremely noisy and distracting past-times.

How’s a girl to hear a quiet beep in the middle of all that noise?

Yes, the hearing test sounds so simple and always ends up so very complicated.

In Part I, I talked about how we feel sometimes like we need a microphone to broadcast our cries to heaven so God can hear us.

But, today I’m thinking about our own spiritual hearing tests and how hard it is at times to hear what God is saying.

Sometimes it’s the noisy roar of circumstances that makes God’s voice so difficult to distinguish.

That’s what had the Israelites failing their spiritual hearing exam.

Initially, when Moses appeared back in Egypt with God’s promises of hope and deliverance, “the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord had visited the people of Israel and that He had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped” (Exodus 4:31, ESV).

Then Pharaoh hardened his heart again and again.  Life got harder before deliverance came.

So when Moses reassured them of God’s promise, “they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery” (Exodus 6:9).

They weren’t even listening to God’s messenger any more.  They were listening to bricks and mortar, to an earthly king, to slavemasters and work orders.

God spoke hope and all they heard was hopelessness.  God spoke peace and all they heard was dread and fear.

Then there are the times that we hear voices, many voices—on the radio, from our friends, in our devotions, in sermons, in books and in conversation.  Which is God’s?  How can we discern the sound of His beep among the confusing mess of beeping in our ears?

How do we know what God is saying?

Paul wrote, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

Whether it’s the message of salvation to a lost world or a message of peace to a hurting believer, we hear God when we are in His Word.

We always go back to the Bible.  We always rely on Scripture to discern truth.

That’s what happened when Paul arrived in the city of Berea to teach the Gospel: “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11).

Notice they “examined the Scriptures every day.”  The ability to discern truth doesn’t come from a random romp through the Bible every few months.

Discernment develops when we spend consistent time in God’s Word.  Discernment happens when we know His character and the sound of His voice from what He has done and said over thousands of years.  Discernment comes when we can lay every message beside the pages of Scripture and tell when they align and when they don’t.

Elisabeth Elliot wrote:

The Bible is God’s message to everybody.  We deceive ourselves if we claim to want to hear His voice but neglect the primary channel through which it comes.  We must read His Word.  We must obey it.  We must live it, which means rereading it throughout our lives.

We live noisy lives in a noisy world.  It’s a confusing mess at times and an overwhelming cacophony in other moments.

But we know that God’s “word is truth” (John 17:17) and that “The word of the Lord holds true, and everything He does is worthy of our trust” (Psalm 33:4).

Whether we’re sifting through the sounds of circumstances or sorting through information overload, we can always trust Scripture to speak to the truth of God’s character and will.

You can read more devotionals on this topic here:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Shout! A Little Bit Louder Now: Part I

She didn’t believe I could hear her.  At the very least, I wasn’t paying attention and most certainly didn’t understand.

I was multitasking.  My two-year-old sat on my lap while I played the piano and sang at worship team practice.  For the most part, she sat patient and still during each of the songs.  Every few minutes, she gave in to temptation and touched a piano key or two.  Mostly, though, she simply sat and watched.

But then she began very quietly whispering in my face, “Paci.  I want paci.”

I didn’t have her pacifier and wasn’t sure where it was.  Besides that, I was pounding out chords on the piano and singing harmony all while whispering back to her, “Wait one minute.  I’ll find it in a moment.”

Since I didn’t immediately pop a pacifier into her mouth, she decided that I hadn’t heard her.  So, she said it louder.  And again, even louder.  “Paci!  I want paci!!”

Still singing, still playing the piano, I looked her in the eye and said, “I know what you want.  I’ll look in a minute.”

This was not acceptable to her.

At this point, she did the one thing a two-year-old who wants her pacifier could possibly do to make herself heard over all the music.  She grabbed my microphone with her hands, placed her mouth right up to it, and said in her loudest announcer voice (who knew two-year-olds possessed such a thing?): “Paci.  I want paci.”

That was an attention-grabber.

Have you ever felt like you needed a microphone to broadcast your prayers to heaven?
That God wasn’t aware of you, couldn’t hear you, wasn’t paying attention, and didn’t understand what you were going through?
That there was so much ambient noise, He couldn’t possibly hear the cries of your heart?

If anyone had reason to feel overlooked, ignored, unheard and unnoticed, it was the Israelite nation as they sweated and groaned their way through hundreds of years of slavery in Egypt.

And it’s clear that they weren’t silent sufferers.  Instead, “the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help” (Exodus 2:23).

More important than the fact that they were crying out, though, is the fact that God was listening—even before they realized He was paying attention.

And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.   (Exodus 2:24-25, ESV).

I love how the Message breaks this thought down:

God listened to their groanings.
God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.
God saw what was going on with Israel.
God understood (Exodus 2:24-25, MSG).

God listened.  God remembered.  God saw.  God understood.

Oh, sometimes we believe pieces of God’s character hold true.  God may hear us pray, but He surely forgets His promises to us.

Or maybe He is faithful to keep His promises  . . . but only when He is looking in our direction.  Otherwise, we escape His notice.

Or maybe He hears our prayers and sees our situation, but doesn’t understand how desperate it really is and how hopeless we really are.

Yet, God’s character is no piecemeal buffet.  It’s not changeable or uncertain.  It’s not full of holes from the pieces proved false over time.

So, we can hold fast to this same truth as we groan in our own need, whether it be the annoyance of a daily stress, the repentance over a habitual sin, or the hardest of life’s challenges.

God hears us.  God remembers His promises to us.  God sees us.  God understands.

And then He rescues.

His response to the cries of the enslaved nation was to call Moses to be their deliverer.  Remember, though, that He had already placed every part of this plan into action over 40 years before.

He had rescued Moses from the murderous rampage of Pharaoh, who had every Hebrew baby boy killed at birth.

He had trained Moses as a prince of Egypt, schooled him in all of the sciences and rhetoric a leader of a nation might need.

He had watched over Moses as a refugee in the wilderness for decades.

And now, he called Moses up to active duty and sent him back to Egypt with a message for the hard-hearted Pharaoh, “Let my people go.”

God had been active for years before Israel ever saw the answer to their cries.

Just as the Psalmist wrote: “Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether” (Psalm 139:4, ESV).  Yes, the Lord hears our cries before they ever form on our lips and He knows our needs before we ever kneel before Him.

Because we know He hears, remembers, sees and understands, we can also declare with King David:

Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed; He will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving might of His right hand” (Psalm 20:6, ESV).

God’s love for us and compassion for His people is all the microphone we need to broadcast our cries to heaven and to receive salvation from His mighty hand.

You can read more devotionals on this topic here:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King