I Chronicles 12:1 “Now these were the men who came to David at Ziklag while he was still a fugitive from Saul the son of Kish; and they were among the mighty men, helpers in the war.”
There is always a leader in a war but a leader needs help in fighting the war … he cannot do all the fighting himself. He would be vastly outnumbered.
God had given David 600 men who were loyal to him … mighty men, strong men, armed with bows, could use both right and left hands in hurling stones and shooting arrows … the Bible calls them “mighty men of valor”. Where David went, they went. Where David fought, they fought. If David said, “jump” they probably would have said, “how high”, on the way up!
You and I are in a war today. I am not only speaking of America, although that is true but I am speaking of our families … our children, our grandchildren and our great grandchildren. I am finding that I cannot fight this battle alone … I NEED mighty men and women of God who join me in this fight, who are my helpers in the war. I am not speaking just of myself … but YOUR war as well. We MUST hold up one another because our battle is not fought with swords, spears or guns and bombs but by INTERCESSORY PRAYER!
Look at Moses in Exodus 17:10-13. The battle was going on in the valley, Moses was on top of a hill watching and I believe praying. As long as his hands were up in the air Israel prevailed but when he became tired and let his hands drop the Amalekites prevailed. So Aaron and Hur, who were with Moses atop the hill, sat Moses on a rock and they held up his hands and by the end of the day … Israel defeated the enemy! It wasn’t Moses’ victory alone … it happened because he had “helpers in the war”.
Jesus had helpers also in the Garden but they failed Him. Twice He found them asleep on the job. We will never know how the story would have been different had they stayed awake and prayed with Jesus. Yes, I know … Jesus had to face this trial alone, He knew He was going to be crucified but how would the story have changed … had His disciples prayed?
There was another near miss with helpers … read the story of Peter being released from prison by angels sent from above (I would LOVE to see this story repeated in today’s world!). Acts 12:5-19 tells us that when Peter realized he was free he went to Mary’s house (mother of Mark) where “many were gathered together praying.” I imagine they were praying for Peter! Yet when Peter knocked and Rhoda answered the door (notice she did not open the door!) she recognized his voice, ran to tell the others and they didn’t believe her! Oh, ye of little faith! Maybe they didn’t really expect God to answer in such a dramatic way. But Rhoda insisted it was Peter and FINALLY at Peter’s insistent knocking, they opened the door and “were astonished”!!Moral of this story is … pray BELIEVING for the answer and don’t be surprised how it comes!
Who are your “helpers in the war”? As a female I have certain ladies I can call on when I need someone to join me in the battle. But even that is not enough.
I read in John 14 that before Jesus left this physical world to return to heaven He promised to send the Helper, the Holy Spirit. And further in John 17 we see that Jesus is praying for all believers … that includes you and me! So as my husband often says, “we join in Jesus’ prayer meeting”. I mean how powerful is that! To know that Jesus is praying and interceding for YOU!
The Holy Spirit also prays THROUGH us. Romans 8:26, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” It’s powerful praying when we pray in the language of the Spirit because then we KNOW we are praying in His will!
WOW … what better helpers in the war do we need?! When we pray for our families, our cities and state, our country and the needs around the world … we are entering the prayer meeting with Jesus, the Holy Spirit prays through us and we have friends to call upon as we stand together in believing prayer.
Now the question to me is … who am I helping in the war?
I have realized that I have experienced a feeling of oppression and heaviness that is unusual for me. It has been coming on for a while and in the last few days I have acknowledged it and am taking authority over it.
There are SO many things in this life I simply do not understand … this morning the news that a friend has a brain tumor, a married couple who are good friends of ours are both very ill with Covid, the daughter of friends who is suffering the trauma of rape, another dear friend whose husband is on hospice and will soon be face to face with Jesus, another friend with a teenage pregnant daughter, more restrictions coming on us because of Covid and yet thousands are being allowed into our country with no restrictions at all, the economy … the list could go on and on. And yet, God’s Word tell us we are NOT to be anxious over ANYTHING … His Word also tells us that He has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind!
So how do we cope? For one thing there is a chorus we used to sing in the 70’s … “Put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, lift up your voice to God. Sing in the spirit and with understanding, O magnify the Lord.”
Therein is the secret sauce … LIFT up our voice to God. Now I often will pray in my head and I know He hears those prayers but there are times when we must LIFT UP, out loud, our voice to God. So what if others hear … it might do them some good also! Secondly, in I Corinthians 14:15 we are told to sing in the spirit as well as the understanding. Now that “spirit” is not capitalized which means we sing with OUR spirit but I believe we also sing in His Spirit which is with languages of the Spirit. Look at the rest of that verse, “and I will ALSO sing with the understanding.” So I do believe we are to pray and sing IN the Spirit, in our spirit and with our understanding. It is most difficult to sing praises and worship Him and keep a spirit of heaviness!
Why pray and sing in the Spirit? I am quoting here from the notes in my Spirit-Filled Life Bible, “Paul reveals the place of tongues in his own personal prayer life. Praying in tongues is praying from the spirit instead of the intellect, and the same is true of singing praises. For Paul, praying and singing, both in tongues and in everyday language, were normal and regular parts of prayer and praise. There is no suggestion of hysteria, emotionalism, or abnormality of any kind.”
Thirdly, I Corinthians 14:4, “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself”. Edify: to instruct or benefit; uplift. So singing and praying in the Spirit builds up our internal disposition to offset discouragement, depression, oppression, etc.
Fourth … PUT ON the armor of God. These are defensive weapons … I like to think that first is the helmet of salvation because without salvation we can’t claim to use the rest of the armor! The breastplate of righteousness (His righteousness) covers our chest, heart and internal organs; the belt of truth (His truth as shown in the Word of God) holds the breastplate in position; wielding the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God (so ya’ all gotta’ know the Word!) so we can FIGHT off the enemy; the shield of faith to stop those fiery darts that the enemy shoots at us; and then finally to walk with our feet in shoes of peace! Wow … you know there is a whole series of study in these admonishments! (Ephesians 6:10-20.)
I referred earlier to being anxious over nothing … now THAT is a hard one! Who of us have never worried or been anxious over nothing! I certainly cannot raise my hand!! Philippians 4:6-8 is being burnt into my brain and heart. “Be anxious for nothing, but in EVERYTHING by prayer and supplication, WITH THANKSGIVING, let your requests be made known to God; AND THE PEACE OF GOD, WHICH SURPASSES ALL UNDERSTANDING, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (caps obviously are mine!) Yes, I pray and I supplicate but how much THANKS do I offer? I guess I need to do that more so I can hold on to the peace He has to give!
Finally, we must walk in faith … faith in God that HE is in control of our lives. That doesn’t mean that everything will be as He wants it to be because we can make decisions contrary to His will but if we repent and confess He can turn things around to our good.
Faith … confidence or trust in the person of God! To have faith in God you must KNOW Him. Let me list here a few verses …
Matthew 6:30, “Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith.”
Mark 11:22 (Jesus speaking), “Have faith in God”. Some scholars say it should have been translated “Have the faith OF God”. Again notes from the SFLB, “The positive lesson to be learned from the cursing of the fig tree is the power of believing prayer. A mountain is symbolic of an obstacle, hindrance, or insurmountable problem. Faith is the key that releases the resources of heaven into our situation.”
Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (get out your Bible and read the entire chapter!) to see all the things FAITH accomplished … and more! It’s awesome!
Finally, and I truly LOVE this verse, Hebrews 12:1 & 2, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside EVERY weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher OF OUR FAITH … “ Folks, it is not our faith! We cannot conjure up enough faith for anything … it is HIS FAITH in us!
We are in a spiritual battle … a real warfare … for our personal life, for our families and for America! I am determined to fight the fear that wants to invade my spirit and lay hold of HIS FAITH! Just think of it … It’s HIS faith! He has given us HIS faith! Grab onto it!
Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a sleepless night! If you’re human you will had to have raised your hand! We need sleep to live. Those in “the know” tell us we NEED 7-8 hours a night! Yeah, right! I’d LOVE that. You’re fortunate if you get close to that … and especially if you are a mom or a postmenopausal woman! (Sorry guys!)
There are several verses in the Word of God that promises sleep to His beloved (Ps. 127:2 – I’ve often asked Father in the night if I wasn’t “beloved” anymore!); that our sleep will be sweet, we will sleep in peace and that we won’t be afraid. But then WHY do we have sleepless nights? Why do our fears and worries (OK – concerns – I KNOW we are not supposed to worry!) seem bigger and larger than life at night?
Isaiah 26:9 – “With my soul I have desired(longed for) you in thenight.” When we are awake and the nights seem long perhaps it is designed that we might desire time with Him without distractions!
NIGHT TERRORS (sweats, nightmares and cries)
When you are “down under” a weight of concern, filled with worry, frightened or sick – it is WORSE during the night hours. You can manage during the day. You’re busy, things to do, places to go, people to see – but as night falls and the body requires rest, you go to bed to sleep and you can’t sleep. The mind goes into high gear and sleep eludes you. Fear is magnified, you think the worst and you can’t wait till sunlight.
I had a child that had night terrors. This child was never fearful during the day – always a joy to be around. For a period of time this child would wake up screaming in the night and have NO recollection in the mornings of what it took us to calm the child down.
It is the same when morning dawns after a bad night … we seldom understand just what it was that was keeping us up because in the light of day it never looks as bad.
Look at some night terrors …
A. Weeping nightsPs. 6:6 “I am weary with my groaning; all night I make my bed swim; I drench my couch with my tears”.
Been there – done that! Oh, I don’t want to think back on my weeping nights. I’ve had quite a few! Various problems but just the same the tears were there. Maybe I wasn’t “swimming” in my tears but I sure enough had a very wet pillow!
Lots of tears but I love this one … Ps. 30:5, “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning”.
B. Struggling nights
Genesis 32:22-24, “… he, (Jacob) arose that night … then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him,until the breaking of the day.” Oh, Jacob had a long night! No sleep and involved in a wrestling match! Jacob knew he had a need; he was just plain scared of meeting up with his brother whom he knew he had treated badly. Now here as he wrestles with this “man” (believed to be an angel of the Lord) Jacob comes face to face with who he is (Jacob the deceiver), acknowledges and owns it and then God blesses him.
Who was Jacob? He was a “supplanter” – a deceiver. When he faced it, admitted it — THEN God blessed him.
Often our night struggles are times when God gets our attention! We see ourselves for who we are, admit our failures and cry out to God for His touch on our lives. When God touches us it changes our lives! Jacob had a limp from that day forward. Every time he took a step from then on he was reminded he belonged to God! He was dependent upon God. It didn’t stop him from walking but it probably slowed him down enough to remind him he was God’s. It didn’t make him perfect but was a reminder of Who he belonged to!
What’s your limp?
C. Grieving nights
We usually associate times of “grieving” with times of personal sorrow as when a loved one dies – and these times are valid. Sorrow and grief does often rob us of a good night’s sleep. However have you ever grieved over what grieves the heart of God? Sin grieves the heart of God and sin should grieve us too! Have you ever wept over your sins or the sins of others? Have you ever wept over the conditions of the lonely, the lost, the downtrodden, the heathen? Have you ever interceded for others through long hours of the night?
Look what the Lord said in I Samuel 15:10 & 11, “Now the word of the Lord came to Samuel, saying, ‘I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments.’ And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the Lord all night.”
Oh, it’s easy for us to be awake during the nights when it’s OUR troubles or our sorrows but do we really lay awake because of God’s concerns? Do we grieve over what grieves the heart of God?
D. Comfortless nights
Here is another of my “been there, done that” nights … Job 7:4, “When I go to bed I think, ‘Oh, that it weremorning,’ and then I toss till dawn.” (TLB)
Perhaps this is more common among women than men but how many nights have you laid down to go to sleep – very tired – when as soon as your head touched the pillow the eyes pop open, the mind shifts into gear and sleep goes out the window! We either want to sleep or have it be morning! The night can be sooooo long and we can’t wait till morning.
And it wasn’t just Job! Even the psalmist Asaph experienced it … “In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing; my soul refused to be comforted”(Ps. 77:2) Yep! That’s been me! It was like I couldn’t “give it up”, I hung on to my problems and pain … I would NOT be comforted! But while Asaph is thinking on all his troubles he ALSO remembers his “song in the night”(v. 6).
So what do we do when we can’t sleep? Do we run for the bottle of sleeping pills? Alcohol? Television?
Ps. 91:5 “You shall not be afraid of the terror by night …”. A command to not be afraid? How can we stop being afraid? By making the Lord our “dwelling place” (v. 9) … that means living in His Presence, concentrating on Him, singing unto Him, memorizing His Word, meditating on Him.
NIGHT MEDITATIONS (intercessions and petitions)
The night can be precious times of fellowship with Jesus. Ps. 4:4, “Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.” (The Living Bible, “Lie quietly upon your bed in silent meditation.”) Ps. 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God”.
Ah, the problem is … being silent and being still! So how can we be still and have a quiet settled heart?
A. TRUST Him
Have confidence in Him. Nothing catches God by surprise. He knows our days and our thoughts. He knows what is ahead and He charts our path. We can trust in God and NOT be afraid! (Ps. 56:4)
One of my favorites and one that is fabulous to meditate on … Isaiah 26:3 & 4, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever; for in the Lord JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.” (KJV)
There is not time here to go into all the verses in God’s Word that assures us that we can TRUST in God – but we know that He is trustworthy!
B. MEDITATE on His Word
Meditation has gotten a bad name. Many today associate it with Yoga or eastern religions. We picture someone sitting cross-legged on the floor, palms outward, eyes closed and humming! But it is not that! It is SO much more.
What does it mean to “meditate”? To reflect, mutter, ponder. When the angel spoke to Mary the Bible tells us that she “pondered” these things in her heart – meaning that she thought about them, turned them over in her mind.
Ps. 63:6, “… I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.”(KJV) Joshua 1:8, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth; but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.”
We can think of plenty of things to think about during the night watches but what we should do is meditate, think, ponder, and yes even mutter on God’s Word. That will bring peace!
Ps. 77:12, “I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of your deeds.”
Ps. 119:147, “I rise before the dawning of the morning, and cry for help; I hope in Your word.”
Ps. 119:55, “I remember Your name in the night, O Lord…”
C. DESIRE Him
Is. 26:9, “With my soul I have desired You in the night, Yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early;”
Do you love the Lord enough to stay up all night standing before the Lord? It’s HARD to stay up at night (unless of course you are sleepless!). Look at the exhortation to bless the Lord in Ps. 134.1, “Behold, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who by night stand in the house of the Lord”.I will admit that would be hard for me (I don’t like to stand very long!) but how blessed we would be!
D. PERSEVERE … in fellowship with Him Luke 6:12, “… continued all night in prayer to God.”!! That verse speaks for itself … spending all night in prayer!
As we give our terrors and tears to Father, as we trust and meditate upon His Word – guidance WILL come! Our Father will give us instructions. It is wonderful to know that we don’t have to navigate this life on our own!
Ps. 16:7, “I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel; my heart also instructs me in the night seasons” Ps. 16:11, “You will show me the path of life…” Job 33:15-16, “In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, while slumbering on their beds, Then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction.”
Ps. 19:1 & 2, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech; and night unto night reveals knowledge.”
The WORD is God’s counsel to us. Often in the quietness of our hearts in the night, meditating on God’s Word, reading God’s Word, we can hear His still small voice.
The Lord called Gideon to be a deliverer for the Israelites. Gideon wasn’t sure of his calling and built an altar and it was “the same night” (Judges 6:25) that the Lord spoke to him.
Joel says, “your old men shall dream dreams” (with the pouring out of His Spirit). Most dreams come at night (yes, they can come during naps too!) and God can give instructions in dreams too! (Joel 2:28).
I foolishly thought when my “dark night of the soul” sleepless nights ended – I’d have no more. Wrong! That’s my only time now when I can be quite enough to hear God! He gets my attention in the night hours …. Husband is asleep, Television is off, Phone doesn’t ring, No radio, no stereo, no computer, And I can’t sleep! ☺
How often I’ve claimed the verse,“He gives His beloved sleep” (Psalms 127:2). Sometimes I can go to sleep … other times I get up!
Night praise …Ps. 92:1 & 2, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High: To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night”.
Job 35:10, “Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night…?” Even Elihu, one of “Job’s comforters” knew that God could give songs in the night! Here is another comforting verse which comes after the psalmist cries and pours out his tears to God, Ps. 42:8, “The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me …”
I think my favorite story of singing in the night is found in Acts 16. Paul and Silas were in jail. Their clothes had been torn off, they had been beaten with many stripes, to keep them “safe” the jailer threw them into the inner prison which probably meant NO light or movement of air and then put their feet in stocks (shackles). Hey, this is NOT fun!
So what did they do? What would YOU do? I would feel sorry for myself … “God, why?” “What have I done to deserve this?” “Why me?” “Where are You God when I need You?” Oh, I can be a real complainer! But Paul and Silas PRAYED and SANG PRAISES! Songs in the night! Can you beat that?! WOW! Singing with blood running down their backs, can’t move because their feet were bound. They were hot, stinky and hungry … but they prayed and sang!
God heard AND came to their rescue! I love it! There was an earthquake, all the doors opened, all the shackles were broken but NO ONE was hurt let alone killed! All because their focus was not on their pain but on God!
There is one final verse here that is a challenge to all of us … Ps. 149:5, “Let the saints be joyful in glory; let them sing aloud upon their beds.”!!! Well, maybe someone who slept alone wrote this! If you’re married it might be best to wake them up and let them know what you plan to do! ☺
I have gone to bed with worship music on and often I’m singing in my “head” along with the CD … maybe I need to “sing along” out loud! Remember the Word of God also says, “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word ofGod”(Rom. 10:17). It is good to read aloud and sing aloud the Word of God — it brings FAITH!
I believe we can all say when we are in our dark night of the soul that we long for deliverance. We want morning to come but our deliverance can also come IN the night hours … we don’t have to wait for the light of day.
David is fleeing from his son Absalom when he cries out to God about his many enemies and the many that have risen up against him. But immediately he states in Ps. 3 that God is a shield for him, God bestows glory on him and lifts up his head; that he cries out to God and God answers him and then he says in verse 5, “I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustained me.” With God watching out for me … why am I awake with worry? I can sleep because THE LORD SUSTAINS ME! Hello!!!!!!!
I like the verse in Exodus 12:42, “It is a night of solemn observance to the Lord for bringing them out of the land ofEgypt …” He was protecting HIS children and bringing them out of bondage … and I believe that as a child of God I also can believe that He is keeping vigil over me in the night hours and bringing me out of whatever bondage or fear that I am encountering.
With the Lord watching out for us, what is our fear? He is our rear-guard as well as our front guard! He will not only watch over you but also that which belongs to you!
Plus the story from the “Night songs” fits here too! God delivered Paul and Silas in the night … and HE WILL deliver us when we keep our focus on Him.
Finally – all our nights will be gone! Revelation tells us that in heaven “there shall be no night there” (!) (21:25 & 22:5).No more night challenges, no more night fears, no more sleepless nights … for then we shall eternally be in the light of His presence!
I want to end with the chorus to “No More Night” by David Phelps … No more night no more pain No more tears, never crying again And praises to the great, “I AM” We will live in the light of the risen Lamb. Hallelujah!
The Israelites had just had an awesome, stupendous, glorious, unheard of victory … the walls of Jericho falling down without a shot being fired! WOW! God had given explicit instructions how to go against the city and they obeyed. Personally I think the greatest victory here was that they marched around the city without saying a word, once a day for six days and then on the seventh day marching seven times! But then they were men … maybe that explains it! 🙂
Sin is not always apparent at first. It can be hidden for a time and we think no one else knows but it WILL be revealed.
Maybe the Israelites got a little cocky, self-assured, over confident with their victory at Jericho and now Joshua sends spies to assess the next battlefield … the city of Ai. The spies come back with their report … it’s small, we can take it, in fact it will be easy so we don’t even need to send all the troops perhaps just a small detachment of men.
Surprise! The Israelites went to battle thinking they were going to be victorious and they were soundly defeated so much so that thirty-six of their men were killed and the Israelites fled and ran for home. Defeated. Thirty-six of their men dead. Their hearts melted and became like water (Joshua 7:5). What happened?
Joshua gets the news and he and the elders fall on their face before God. Joshua gets mad at God and asks why He let this happen! Perhaps they all should have stayed on the other side of the Jordan. He complains to God that all the people around here are going to laugh and cut us down and then what will happen to Your great name? Interesting isn’t it how we want to blame God when bad things happen!!
God answers Joshua and tells him to GET UP, why are you bellyachin’? There is sin in the camp! Someone has stolen that which I commanded was not to be taken and has hidden it. God said He would not be with them anymore until they found the guilty party and administered justice! I guess we might think that is pretty severe but God wanted an obedient people!
God instructed Joshua how to find the guilty person. Joshua obeyed God’s instructions (and God gives us instructions in His Word how to weed out the sin in our lives!). Finally standing before Joshua was a man named Achan.
Joshua to Achan: What have you done? Do not hide it from me.
Now I will have to give credit to Achan at this point. He did not blame anyone else. He didn’t say, “I didn’t hear you … I didn’t get the memo … i was eating lunch …” no, he confessed his sin to Joshua. He admitted that he saw the goods, he coveted them, took them and hid them in his tent.
What is keeping us from full fellowship with God? Is there a hidden sin that we think no one knows about? That sin MUST be dealt with and eradicated. Could it be sexual sin, pornography, lies, cheating, finances, sour relationships?
Joshua was in a hurry to rid Israel of this hidden sin because he sent his messengers and they RAN to Achan’s tent, found the hidden treasure, brought it back to Joshua and laid it out before the Lord.
There are consequences to our sin. Achan and his family suffered those consequences. Let me say here that we are not to go out and stone and kill those that are involved in sin but when the sin is revealed it is to be killed! Confess, repent, bury it and heap stones upon it!
The disobedience was grievous to God and that place was given the name “Valley of Achor” … Achor meaning “trouble” … the Valley of Trouble.
Not a good legacy!
We may think that we can never rise above our sin. That we are doomed to stay low and live in the pits but God does have a plan of HOPE!
In Hosea 2 we read of God’s unfaithful people. Time and time again the Israelites had turned their back on God but He continually pursued them even when they went after other lovers. In verse 14 we read how God still went after them … and He comes after us! “Therefore, behold, I will allure her. Will bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her. I will give her vineyards from there, and the Valley of Achor as a door of hope …”
THERE IS HOPE!
Correction and discipline is never fun … it’s always painful! Serious issues require surgery! A cutting away of that which is infecting our spiritual growth. Just as we discipline our children so God disciplines us when there is sin … why? because He LOVES us! He does not want us to wallow in our valley of trouble and think there is no way we can rise above this. When our sin is identified, don’t try to rationalize it, deal with it and bury it! When you have done that you can begin to walk through that door of hope that God is offering you. Satan will tell you that you have no hope but he is a liar!
God is a LOVING Father. God is a FORGIVING Father. God offers HOPE when confession and repentance is sincere.
After Achan’s sin was dealt with here is what God said in Joshua 8:1, “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; take all the people of war with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land.” And herein lies their door of hope, their obedience brought victory.
Isaiah 65:10 also shows us that our Valley of Achor/Trouble can become a place of peace and rest … “And the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down, for My people who have sought Me.”
Psalm 119:81, “I HOPE in thy word.” Romans 4:18, speaking of Abraham but a word for us as well, “Who against hope, BELIEVED IN HOPE”
COVID19 lockdown. Divorce. Accident. Loss of job. Forest fires. Hurricanes. Sickness. Cancer. Vandalism.
Birth of a baby. Job promotion. Successful surgery. 65th anniversary. Winning a lawsuit. Publishing a novel. Answered prayer.
Miracles. Challenges. What then?
Let’s look at Exodus 15 … The children of Israel had a rich history of miracles. The preservation of their lives during the season of the plagues. Escaping from the clutches of the enemy. The crossing of the Red Sea. The pillar of fire by night and the cloud by day. The destruction of their enemies.
Wow … what a mighty God they served!
The children of Israel came through the Red Sea on DRY ground. Moses led the people in a fantastic praise-filled song. Then Miriam led the women in song … both sang “Sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown in the sea!”
Moses led the people three days into the wilderness … three days and no water to be found.
Finally, “Dad look! There’s water ahead! Let’s hurry I’m SO thirsty!” Bending over they fill their cupped hands with water and slurp it into their dry parched mouths only to spit it out because it was so bitter. And the complaining begins.
How quickly we forget when facing the next trial.
I would probably complain also even though if I thought for a bit and remembered all that God had done for me in the past … just maybe I would say, “God, You can do it again”. But no, the people quickly forgot the miraculous and began to complain.
They complained against Moses. Moses knew where to turn and he cried out to the Lord. The Lord answered with a strange instructions! “See that tree over there? Cut it down and throw it into the water!” Not those words but that was the command … AND when obeyed … the water became sweet and drinkable. Problem solved.
This became real to me as I pondered all that is going on around me today. There is a lot of bad stuff going on and it seems to be getting worse. I have come to bitter waters. What to do? Do I sit here and complain “Why, God? Where are You?” Or can I look back and see the monuments that God has erected in my life. The miracles of answered prayer. His provision in dire circumstance. The near escapes, His protection, His healings in my life.
The waters are deep. The waters are bitter. I feel I am drowning. There is no way up. THEN … I see the tree! THE CROSS! “Father, you made a way to make the bitter sweet! You provided salvation, deliverance, healing and ALL that I need! Let me drink deeply from the sweet waters You have provided!”
And look at the last few words of verse 25 … “and there He tested them”! How does God “test” us? If we had everything we wanted, in the way we wanted at the time we wanted … we would be spoiled brats! Just as we teach our children so God teaches us lessons, tests, so that we might learn to grow into the persons He wants us to become. Oh that I could learn my lessons the first time!
By the “tests” we endure, we learn how to trust God, to rely on Him, to see that His promises are true and that He will never EVER leave us or forsake us. We probably won’t see Him, there will be times when we won’t feel Him … but He IS there … all the time!
The children of Israel surrounded by miracles, faced with a life threatening emergency, God answers … now it’s test time.
In verse 26 God speaks, “IF you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of these diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.”
How did they respond? How will you respond? To make it intensely personal … How will I respond?
Will I come through this time of testing? Will I find sweetness out of bitter?
Nineveh was a great city situated on the outskirts of what is now Mosul, Iraq … prosperous, arrogant, mighty, victorious, cruel, evil, beautiful, wicked, idolatrous, flourishing capital of the Assyrian empire.
America is still a great nation. Prosperous, arrogant, mighty and has been victorious over evil.
The Bible depicts Nineveh as a wicked city that is worthy of destruction. America has left her christian roots and has become a nation that many say is worthy of destruction. Is it?
God wanted to show mercy on Nineveh not because He overlooked their sin, arrogance, pride, cruelty … but because He is a merciful compassionate God and desired to give them an opportunity to repent.
Who is God sending to America today? You? Me?
The tears came unbidden and totally unexpected. We were there for an evening of relaxation with friends and to view the Sight & Sound production of “Jonah”. Awesome staging, beautiful costumes, incredible voices, fabulous depiction of Jonah’s call and Nineveh’s repentance. The second half brought a whammy to me … Nineveh could be America! The parallels were startling and not lost on me but who could be/would be Jonah? And would America repent? She has certainly had opportunity!
As we left the auditorium I could not talk because my tears were so heavy.
God speaks to Jonah and Jonah rebels! God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh and cry against the city “for their evil has come up before Me” but Jonah does not want to obey God. He wants to see Nineveh destroyed! Has God spoken to me, to you regarding the evil of America? Do we want to see the wicked destroyed?
So Jonah runs away except you can’t run away from God! Two times we read that Jonah ran from the presence of God.
God doesn’t let us get away from His calling on our life and God is going to get Jonah’s attention! Jonah runs in the opposite direction, ends up on a boat, he goes to sleep and a storm comes up. The sailors are throwing their cargo overboard trying to lighten the load and when that doesn’t help they begin crying out to their gods for help. No help comes. Then they find Jonah, shake him awake and ask him to pray to his God … “that we may not perish” (1:6). As the church of God, are we asleep on the job? Are we running away from His calling? Are we concerned about those that are perishing without God?
The sailors begin to question him, “Who are you? What is your occupation? Where are you from?” Jonah admits who he is and that he is a believer in the God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land. Now the sailors are afraid and question him, “What have you done?”. They knew he was running from the presence of God. The world is questioning us … “who are you?” Is the world seeing the compassion and mercy of God that we proclaim? Are they seeing that we believe in the very Presence of God?
Jonah claims to fear the Lord but his actions belie the fact! Jonah takes the blame for the storm (Is America in the shape it is because the church has not been faithful to her calling?) because he knows he is guilty of running from God’s call. “If My people who are called by My name …”
The pagan sailors call out to God, throw Jonah overboard (judgment in the house of God), the storm stills and they turn to God but Jonah sinks into the sea where God prepared a great fish to swallow him!
It has always amazed me that it took THREE days for Jonah to repent! Three days wrapped in slimy seaweed, wallowing in sea water and who knows what else! Stinky. Smelly.
Finally 2:1 Jonah prays and the fish got a belly ache … no wonder the fish finally vomited Jonah onto dry land! Oh the mercy of God! How long will it take for us as God’s people to repent?
Interesting fact however … he thanked God for his deliverance but still didn’t tell God he would go to Nineveh! Still didn’t pray for the unbelievers! Just a little bit selfish there I think! Jonah had not done ANYTHING to deserve God’s mercy or his rescue … it was by God’s grace and mercy alone!
Chapter three starts out with God’s voice once again coming to Jonah “a second time”. God was determined that Jonah obey and that Nineveh get the message of coming destruction despite Jonah’s reluctance to do so. Is God wanting to use me, to use you, to get His Word to the people in America that destruction is coming unless America repents?
Jonah finally set out for Nineveh but his message was not one of grace or mercy … it was a message of judgment … in 40 days Nineveh would be destroyed!
Nineveh (America) as wicked as it was/is is important to God. He wanted to show compassion and mercy. God was giving them 40 days to repent (although the threat sounds unconditional a condition is implied. In Jeremiah 18:7,8, the Lord says, “If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it.”)
God will relent IF His people humble themselves and pray and seek His face and turn from their wicked ways THEN He will hear from heaven, will forgive their sins and restore their land. THIS IS GOD’S PROMISE!! II Chronicles 7:14.
Jonah knew God’s heart was for mercy but he did not want Nineveh to experience it. Jonah has not expressed any concern that people would perish … but the heathen expressed concern! (1:6, 14 and 3:9)
Despite Jonah’s reluctance he obeyed God, went to Nineveh and cried out about the coming judgment. Unlikely as it seems, the people believed him and repented in sackcloth and ashes! When God saw their repentance and how they turned from their evil ways, God relented of the disaster and did bring about their destruction. Are we obeying God out of our love for Him and to see people saved or are we reluctantly obeying because that is what we are supposed to do? Are we wanting to see disaster on those that are against God or are we praying and telling them about God’s compassionate love?
I will admit to praying for judgment on some of the ungodly! And there are times in scripture that we are admonished to do so. But this story gives us a true glimpse of God’s compassionate mercy. Jonah WANTED them to be destroyed … God WANTED them to repent. Jonah didn’t want them to experience God even though he knew God was gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and would relent from sending disaster IF they would repent of their evil ways and turn to Him.
Are our preachers and pastors (and ALL of us) speaking out about the wickedness in our land or are we just preaching/talking platitudes, good vibes, good intentions, prosperity, God loves us all no matter what? Or are we telling the truth that God HATES evil and LOVES righteousness?
So now as we close this story … Jonah is mad at God and just wants to die! It’s hot and Jonah is miserable. He goes out and sits sulking outside the city and makes a little shady shelter for himself while he waits to see if maybe God will destroy the city (as he is hoping!). But his shelter withers in the heat and the Lord miraculously arranged for a vine to grow up quickly for shade. Jonah is grateful for God’s goodness to him. BUT God also prepared a worm that came in the night and caused the vine to wither and die. Now the sun and a strong east hot wind came along, Jonah grows faint and again wishes to die. Have you ever been in this state? “God I’m mad because I wanted to see the wicked punished! I wanted it done my way! I’m embarrassed now because I said it would happen and it didn’t, now I look like a fool, please just let me die!”
Jonah was still angry at God. Angry that He showed mercy to the Ninevites and now angry that his shade disappeared!
Look how the story ends by reading out of the Living Bible, 4:10-11, “Then the Lord said, ‘You feel sorry for yourself when your shelter is destroyed, though you did no work to put it there, and it is, at best, short-lived. And why shouldn’t I feel sorry for a great city like Nineveh with its 120,000 people in utter spiritual darkness, and all its cattle?’”
How are we reacting to what is happening in America today? Yes, we don’t like to see our cities, our constitution, our way of life being destroyed … but are we more concerned about that or are we concerned about those that are in utter spiritual darkness … those that God loves and wants to see them repent and receive His forgiveness and salvation?
How many days do we have left? 40? 39? 27? 10? 5? 1?
The question stands … Can America be the next Nineveh?
Ugh! I woke up this morning with a rather heavy heart … more bad news!
Riots. Murder. Virus. Deaths. Schools not reopening. Teachers unions protesting. Children in crisis. Job losses. Businesses closing. Anarchy. Government in disruption. Slander. Hate. You name it!
THEN the Lord dropped into my spirit … “face the battle with praise just like Jehoshaphat!” So I got my Bible and turned to II Chronicles 17-20. I’ll give you a run down but grab your Bible and read it for yourself.
King Jehoshaphat sought God and walked in His commandments. His heart took delight in the ways of the Lord.
God established him in office.
Jehoshaphat was rich and had honor in abundance.
He allowed the priests to teach the Word of God.
He aligned himself with the wicked king Ahab of Israel. (It’s another whole study to decipher why Jehoshaphat joined with Ahab to go to war when they knew what the outcome would be!)
When surrounded by those who would kill him, he cried out (18:31) and the Lord helped him and delivered him from those who would have killed him.
Jehoshaphat returned in safety even though his actions had displeased the Lord but … (19:3) “good things are found in you … and have prepared your heart to seek God.”
Jehoshaphat brought the people back to the Lord God of their fathers.
He set judges and commissioned them, “Take heed to what you are doing, for you do not judge for man but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment … let the fear of the Lord be upon you in the judgment … let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take care and do it, for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, no partiality, nor taking of bribes.” (19:6-7)
Chapter 20 … war again!
Jehoshaphat had fear set in but (v3) “(he) set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast”
Jehoshaphat stood before the people and here is part of his prayer, “O Lord God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You? … if disaster comes upon us – sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine – we will stand before this temple and in Your presence … and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save… we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You … now all Judah, with their little ones, their wives, and their children, stood before the Lord.”
The Lord responded through His prophet … “Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s” … and I add HALLELUJAH!!!
Prophet continues, “You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you … do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.”
Jehoshaphat (remember he is the king!) bowed before the Lord and worshiped Him.
Then they “stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with voices loud and high.”
The next morning they rose early, went out and Jehoshaphat stood before them and said, “Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established.”
Then the king appointed singers who would praise the beauty of holiness as they went out before the army and sang, “Praise the Lord, for His mercy endures forever.”
It was when they began to sing and praise that “the Lord set ambushes against” the enemy and “they were defeated”!
God’s people were three days gatherings the spoils of war
On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berachah (Valley of Blessing) and they returned with joy.
The people returned home victorious, with joy and with stringed instruments, harps and trumpets to the house of the Lord. “And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel.
OK … so what’s the point of all this? What does it say to us? What can we learn?
God had put a righteous king in place. He was not a perfect man but his heart sought God. When he made the mistake of aligning himself in war with an ungodly king, he repented, sought God and God delivered him.
He brought the people to God, set up godly rulers and acted courageously.
But the enemies of God’s people come again and the king fears BUT he asks the people to join him in fasting and prayer for guidance from God. There is public affirmation of who God is. The king shows his vulnerability and his dependence on God and encourages all to keep their eyes on God … NOT on their surroundings. Worship, praise loudly, believe in God, sing!
If we keep our eyes on what is happening around us and not on God we WILL become discouraged!
What does God say … don’t be afraid, don’t be discouraged, this battle is Mine not yours, go, you won’t have to fight, position yourselves, stand still and SEE God’s deliverance for God is with you!
THE BATTLE IS THE LORD’S!
Our President deserves our prayers. I believe he is doing his best to call us back to God. He is setting in place many good judges. We as God’s people need to pray and fast, fight the “good fight of faith”, speak out, worship God, praise Him and SING LOUDLY! 🙂
I can’t change the world or even my small community … but I can change me! I can change my perspective! What is happening in our world today is UGLY! I don’t like my freedoms disappearing … but I can still praise God. I can still sing LOUDLY. I can still worship the King of kings!
As I write this we are in the midst of sheltering in place. Because of the coronavirus and COVID-19 much of America and the world has been shutdown. Social distancing. No handshakes. No play ground time for children as playgrounds are off limits. Schools are closed. Restaurant, coffee shops (even bars which doesn’t bother me any!) are closed. Coffee shops closed (now that’s BAD news!) except for drive through.
This week Ronn and I called an elderly widowed friend who lives alone in a retirement community. She cannot have her family or friends visit. Her meals are delivered by the retirement kitchen once a day. She can walk her little dog twice a day around the green belt and walk to get her mail. Other than that she is alone in her apartment … thank God she has Jesus as her constant companion.
Our friend is over 90, alone and missing the hugs her family can give her. Another friend’s mother, also over 90, just passed away this morning (not related to COVID-19) but this friend was able to be with her mother in her convalescent home because she was part of her care team and was able to stay with her. This lady was able to enjoy the touch of her daughter.
My own brother is in a retirement home as is his mother-in-law who just celebrated her 104th birthday this week and my sister-in-law cannot physically visit either one of them, hug or touch them!
So it got me to thinking how important “touch” is. I remember years ago reading an article about children being raised in a Romanian orphanage and laying in their cribs for months on end without anyone to hold them and the devastation it caused to their mental and physical growth. It changed their brain composition.
I found on the internet that physical touch is known to improve the function of your immune system and also can reduce diseases such as those associated with the heart and blood.
Some psychologists term “skin hunger” (or called touch hunger) is a need for physical human contact. Touch can communicate a range of emotions, serving as an important social tool, and even the act of hugging can reduce your levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Touch can also bring comfort or show empathy, can influence our thought processes, reactions and even our physiological responses.
What is “touch starved”? This is not an often thought of “starvation”. We humans are wired to be touched. From birth until the day we die, our need for physical contact will remain. Being touch starved (or touch deprived) occurs when a person experiences little to no touch from other living humans. Babies who are not held, cuddled, and hugged enough can stop growing, and if the situation doesn’t change, even die.
Any and all positive touch is considered to be beneficial. Losing out on workplace handshakes, friendly hugs, or pats on the back can result in feelings of touch starvation … what will the outcome of this social distancing be to us as people?
Jesus knew the importance of touch …
(1) Mark 8:25, “He (Jesus) put His hands on his (the blind man) eyes again and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everyone clearly.”
(2) In Mark 10 Jesus took the little children in His arms, laid His hands on them and blessed them.
(3) Matthew 8:3, Jesus touched a leper, one that no one was allowed to touch … “Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him … immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”
(4) Jesus touched Peter’s mother-in-law and her fever left. Matthew 8:15.
(5) I like this one because it speaks to us and what we are facing today … Matthew 17:6 & 7. Jesus was ready to be lifted up into heaven and three of the disciples were with Him. A bright cloud appeared, a voice came out of the cloud, scared the disciples and they fell to the ground greatly afraid. Verse 7, “But Jesus came and touched them and said, ‘Arise, and do not be afraid.” I feel Jesus saying to us today … DO NOT BE AFRAID!
I will make a confession here … Ronn’s mother lived with us for almost 40 years. (Now that is a story for another time and place!!). At times we had a difficult relationship and it was hard for me to hug her or show affection (but I was always kind!). I knew it was important as she was a widow and the kids and Ronn would hug her but it was hard for me to hug her … not others. I had to make it a matter of prayer and finally was able to do so. In her last months of life it was a natural thing to do.
So what am I saying in all this? This time of confinement, isolation, sheltering and whatever else we want to call it … will come to an end. Life will be different but will we? I’ve heard that perhaps hand-shaking will be frowned upon. That’s sad. A handshake used to be as good as a contract. Will we stop hugging friends? Will we continue to stand six feet away? I hope not! Will we be more cautious with our coughing and sneezing? I hope so! Will we throw our tissues away? Better do so!
Let us do as Jesus did … touch those that need the touch of Jesus!
I love the words to a couple songs …
“Oh the touch of His hand on mine
Oh the touch of His hand on mine,
There is peace and joy
In this trying hour
Oh the touch of His hand on mine”
“Because He touched me, I now touch you
And in the name of Him who came to make you whole,
If it were possible to make the ties that bind any stronger, Tom would have done it for his best friend.
They had been together so long, been through so much … he knew Tom better than Tom knew himself, and sometimes that was scary.
The two of them had shared everything – traveling, eating, drinking, sleeping. Their laughter had been strong and lasting Their tears had been honest and grievous.
Of course, his best friend was the motivator, the catalyst, the nerve center of their motley crew. Everyone in the group felt the same way Tom did — ready to live and die for their extraordinary friend.
The commitment between them was tighter than any contract could have bound them, deeper than any emotion Tom had ever felt before. Together, he thought, there was nothing they couldn’t do.
A Dark and Stormy Night
But then there was a nightmare night … a morning with no sunrise —- a hideous realization that he was gone. He was dead. Murdered. He had thrown his life away.
He could have saved himself, but he did not. He had a chance at escape, but he didn’t act on it. He could have kept things as they had been, but instead he let himself be offered up like a sacrificial lamb.
It was worse to Tom than the loss of a limb — because a limb he might eventually learn to function without, and even forget that he had ever had. It was worse, it seemed, than losing one of the senses that guide us through our world, because somehow the other senses compensate for it.
It was like losing a vital organ, because Tom knew from that moment on that he would never forget what he once had and he would never be able to function without it — or even care to try.
It’s like losing your soul, he thought.
And he gave up. The rest of his friends told him to be careful, that all their lives were in danger because of what had happened. They stuck together to nurse their fears and tried to hide.
But Tom didn’t care. Let them hide if they could … He was no coward. He had known when their lives were in danger before, but it had meant more to him than safety to be with his friend. When he planned to walk right into a place that was openly hostile to him, the others said, “You can’t do it! You’ll never get out of there alive.”
But Tom heard himself saying, “Look, if he’s going there, we may as well go and die with him.” That’s how much Tom loved him.
And now where was that friend? … Six feet under, leaving Tom with this half a life that he couldn’t bear to live … a life he didn’t know how to end.
“Tom! He’s not dead!” his friends began to tell him.
“He’s alive!” they insisted.
“We’ve seen him!” some of them said.
“It was some kind of error — a mistake —“
And Tom shook his head. Had they seen him alive? Well, Tom had seen the Master dead — no mistaking that. He was torn between anger at them — for not letting his memory lie in peace — and concern, that they had all lost their senses in their grief.
“I haven’t seen him alive,” he told them, “and until I do, I really can’t believe you. You’ve just been thinking about him too much, and we’ve all been under a great strain …”
But then, finally, there was that miracle morning … a sunset without darkness … a joyous realization that Jesus was not gone! He was resurrected! He was alive!
With that simple look at those nail-scarred hands … with that simple touch of the wound in the Master’s side … Thomas finally knew — beyond doubt — it was true. His friend had returned.
Yes, Easter came a few days late for the man we have come to call Doubting Thomas, but today we still tell his story. But why? What is the powerful draw for us to the tale of Thomas in John 20?
It’s that he was so endearingly human.
Twenty centuries ago a disciple of Jesus struggled with the same human emotions and griefs and darkness that you and I still struggle with today. We think about a man who has lost his best friend, and we understand how he felt.
Loved and Lost
Thomas was unwilling to believe that Jesus was alive again because he didn’t want to risk getting hurt again. Think of grieving parents who have lost a precious little child. Do they dare to give their love to another little one?
Think about children whose parents have abused or abandoned them. Is there any reason why they should open their trusting hearts to another family — or to the same parents again?
Think of that situation in your own life where someone you loved let you down hard. Why should you ever put yourself in that situation again? Why set yourself up for a fall?
That was Thomas. He was a cautious man. He didn’t want to get hurt again. He realized that he had just loved Jesus Christ too much … and it wasn’t going to happen to him again.
Thomas did not mean to become immortally labeled as a doubter, but he was afraid of the pain, the loneliness, the abandonment of losing his friend again. We can all understand that.
Love on the Rocks
Maybe you feel today the same way Thomas did. You’re not ready to open up and give your heart away again, either. Maybe you’ve been wounded by someone you love — maybe even a brother or sister in the Lord — and you’ve decided that you can’t go through that again.
Maybe you understand the loneliness of being deserted. Maybe you understand having your goals and your future mapped out — only to watch it all fall apart. Maybe you’ve loved deeply and lost.
Let me remind you that people may hurt you, but Jesus did not. Jesus died for us — to forgive us our sins — and rose again.
He didn’t just come back to appear to Thomas, but to give Himself to you and me, to each of us.
He came to Thomas at the lowest point in his life, in the midst of grief, despair, and doubt. And He will come to you at your point of despairl He will come to you at your loneliest. He’ll come to you in your emptinessl Your pain.
He came to Thomas when Thomas felt that he could never love again, and He’ll come to you when you think that you can’t love again, or that no one will ever love you again. He’ll come with love and hope and joy.
Ready to Take the Chance Again
Jesus came to Thomas with the knowledge that He was alive and real and in command. And that’s the message He brings to you today.
That’s the message of Easter!
The risen Christ is alive again to walk with you, to live inside of you and to guide your footsteps!
Are you afraid to reach out again? Of course it’s difficult to think of opening yourself up again to anyone. But I invite you today to set your affections on the risen Christ.
Give Him your love. Let Him heal the past and the pain and give you a new future. He will ever desert, abandon or hurt you, for He promised, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
Not Seeing is Believing
When Thomas finally saw Jesus, and knew that He was indeed alive … that He had not abandoned them … he “answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’” (John 20:28).
In the next verse, Jesus says to him, “Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
That’s you and me. We have to believe, even when we don’t see. Thomas was chosen as a disciple because Christ knew that he would be cautious — and serve as an example to you and me.
But you and I were chosen as His disciples in this day and age because He knew that you and I had the strength and dedication to believe, even when we had not seen.
Join me today in committing your faith, life and future to the risen Savior!
If you want to know Jesus as your Savior …
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, will you make that commitment right now? It is as easy as following Thomas’ example and declaring, “My Lord and my God.”
Here is a sinmple prayer that you can pray if you’re not sure how to approach Jesus. You could say it right now …
“Dear Jesus, I believe that you are the Son of God who died and
rose again to save us from our sins. I ask that you forgive me for
the sins of my past right now and make me part of the family of
God. Thank you for your eternal love for me. In Christ’s name,
This article was published by my husband, Ronn, in the days of our television ministry.
“Jesus, I’m in trouble. Help someone to see me quick.” Then blackness
As a child I had two traumatic experiences with water, one at a southern California beach and another during a vacation at a lake. However at both of those experiences my daddy was there to pull me to safety. It left me with a fear of water that stayed with me for years.
Not wanting my children to fear water I made sure they had their swimming lessons. Our youngest was three and I figured it was time for her lessons so I signed up all four (the three older children for more advanced classes) at our local city pool. The first day the children saw that they were also offering adult beginner lessons. They shamed me into signing up!
The next morning there I was, freezing, in the world’s ugliest bathing suit and the first thing the instructor said was “put your face in the water”. With that I started to cry! I was 35 years old and couldn’t put my face in the water … not wanting the other four adults to see me crying I began to splash water in my face!!
However, after three weeks I was able to swim, under water and I was ecstatic! One problem … not being very coordinated I never could (still don’t) have the whole thing down about continuing to swim while lifting my head, turning the same, opening my mouth, grabbing a lung full of air while still swinging my arms. Just doesn’t happen! But no problem … being in an Olympic size pool where I could touch bottom I would stop, stand up, get air, back to swimming. Simple.
A few weeks after my lessons Ronn flew to St. Louis to attend a conference. A family in our church was going to be gone for several weeks and they lived in a condominium that had a swimming pool. They invited me to stay there for several days and let the kids have fun swimming. Sounded good to me so I loaded up the kiddos and Oma (Ronn’s mother who lived with us) and off we went.
The children wanted to swim right away but I said they needed to wait until after lunch (God thing #1). After lunch we suited up and went to the pool. There was only another lady and child at the pool and later another man showed up. There were signs posted “No lifeguard on duty” but just that summer the HOA had decided to hire a lifeguard for the afternoons only (God thing #2) Shortly after we arrived at the pool the lifeguard showed up (God thing #3). I didn’t know he was a lifeguard … just saw him sitting off to the side about 25 feet away.
I had this brilliant idea to swim across the pool … I had done it during my lessons. What I didn’t take into consideration was that the Olympic pool was all one depth and I swam across the width not the length. I also didn’t consider that I should start at the deep end and go toward the shallow end. So I took off …
I was over the deep end when I realized I needed air but when I wanted to touch bottom to stand up — the bottom wasn’t there. That is when I knew I was in trouble and I prayed, “Jesus, I’m in trouble. Help someone to see me quick”.
I remembered the instructor had told us never to swallow water so I closed my mouth tightly but then I remember the burning feeling of taking water into my nose which went directly into my lungs … that is when I blacked out.
The next thing I remember was taking a huge gulp of air and in my mind thanking Jesus for making an air bubble in the water … “Jesus, you are so good … You made an air bubble here for me” … what I didn’t know was by that time I was out of the water!
How did that happen? The lifeguard saw my children and grandma but didn’t see me and he thought “I didn’t see that lady walk away … where is she?” At that moment he stood up and saw me flat on the bottom of the pool and off he took and jumped in.
Obviously he (and the other man who ran over) got me out, laid me down, couldn’t open my mouth to give me artificial respiration (I guess I took the instructor seriously when she said not to open my mouth to take in water!) and they stood me up … and that is when I got the huge gulp of air … so now they knew I would live.
I have no idea how long I was “out” but apparently they sat me on a pool side chair and as I began to come to I heard someone saying, “Lady, do you feel like throwing up?” He asked that several times and I had no idea who was asking, why I was sitting with my head between my legs and why would I want to throw up? I wasn’t sick! I kept saying “no”. Then the voice said, “The ambulance is on the way and you will be going to the hospital”. That was NOT what I wanted to hear and I said, “Oh no …” All I would think was we have no insurance and I’m going to make a huge bill and Ronn is gone! Then I heard another voice say with authority, “Young lady, you WILL be going to the hospital!” and as I picked up my head I saw two black shoes which were filled with a police officer and I quickly said, “OK”!
Off I went to the hospital with my daughter, Vonda who was 12, in the ambulance with me … thank God grandma was with us to take care of the other children.
Oh, by the way, I waited until I was in the emergency room and as the doctor walked in THAT is when I threw up … all over him, me, the gurney, the walls the floor! And again in the X-Ray room all over the equipment!
So what does this story have to do with answered prayer? That’s the best part! 🙂
Early that morning the Lord awakened my Grandma Kopp (who lived over 400 miles away) with this, “Pray for your grandchildren!” Grandma asked the Lord, “which one?”. She said the Lord answered her, “Grandchildren”. She also said it was a very strong admonition. Grandma being a woman of prayer began to pray. She prayed all morning giving this prayer her full attention. Later she told me that early in the afternoon (remember God thing #1) a heavy darkness and blackness settled over her and she knew it was a spirit of death and she interceded even more fervently continuing to pray in tongues, her prayer language. Suddenly the blackness lifted and she knew she had “prayed through”, that she had won the victory in prayer. She then left praying and began to rejoice and praise God because she KNEW that which ever of her grandchildren were facing death had been spared.
It wasn’t until the next day when Grandma learned it was me and a cousin who was having chest pains and pain going down his left arm. I was rescued and my cousin’s pain left.
There is so much more to this story. How God had been preparing me and helping me to face my fears (there were a few!!!), and the lessons I learned after this experience. But the point I have often repeated … what if Grandma had not prayed? What if she had not heeded the voice of God? I am firmly convinced that I would NOT be here today!
We are admonished to “pray without ceasing” and to me that means a life of communing with God but there are also times when we put ALL aside and pray with fervency! If God places something or someone on your heart and you know you are to pray NOW … don’t put it off … someone’s life may be depending on your prayers!