When I write, I always think of it as though I am writing to a friend. It is basically a conversation I would have with a dear friend, and to me that is what my readers are…friends I just have not met in person, yet. I am going to spill my heart today as I would with a friend over coffee. This is one reason you see a lot of coffee pictures at the beginning of my articles. So grab a coffee and come sit with me. Let me tell you what has mulled over in this busy brain of mine.
Yesterday, hubby and I went to meet our daughter for supper. Her car has a broken axle and they cannot fix it until Monday. She cannot drive it, so she took my car. In hubby’s vehicle sometimes the heat works and at other times it doesn’t. He went out to start the truck and turn the heat on while I got ready. “Is the heat working?” I called out to him. “Let’s hope so!” he called back. We were expecting temperatures in the lower 30s last night so I prayed it would!
We got into the truck, and I brought a fleecy throw just in case. “WHOOP”, my husband said as he clapped. The heat was working! I silently thanked God I would not freeze this time. Then I made the mistake of thinking!! Thinking can get you into the worst of trouble if you don’t watch the kind of thoughts you are having. For those of you who may be wondering why hubby doesn’t just get the truck fixed (I have wondered that at times, too) the answer is he doesn’t so that he is sure if an “emergency” comes up, we are in a place where we have an “emergency” savings because we try to pay cash for everything we buy. With putting children through college, helping them get established, helping others who have needs greater than ours, my husband has not had the heart to put everything in savings, or even to put the truck in the shop.
I began to think of him and his generous spirit. We are both tithers and givers. We love to give! One time I would have given our house away had my husband not stopped me. I know that sounds crazy, but we feel the pain and suffering of others that much and we know God will provide for us so we give joyfully. Well, back to my point. As I thought of my husband and his giving that no one knows about, how he never complains about driving a 15-year-old truck, or anything else, I began to have a talk with the Lord. I should say “to the Lord” because I was doing all the talking!
“Father, here we are in a 15-year-old truck, our daughter is in a 13-year-old car, and I am still in my starter home while everyone else has new cars, beautiful homes, and I don’t know what else. Why? We do what You tell us. We give and tithe, gladly!! Where is the surplus?” At that point God brought Paul back to my mind. Paul said in Philippians:
Amplified Bible (AMP)
11 Not that I am implying that I was in any personal want, for I have learned how to be [a] content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am.
12 I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want.
13 I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who [b]infuses inner strength into me; I am [c]self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].
No matter what Paul faced, whether in plenty or in leaner times, he had taught himself how to be content! He knew God would meet all that was necessary and it wasn’t Paul’s aim to get rich in material things, but to be rich in the things of the Spirit! When he was in that place, he had things money could never buy! Like good sense and wisdom for one thing, but more than that, a personal relationship with Christ and a mighty grasp of the cause of Christ and the importance for it to continue!
I am not telling you this for you to say, “Oh, bless her heart! We need to send money!” OH, NO YOU DON’T! God is my supplier! We truly don’t need money! What I needed was a lesson. Before I voiced my thoughts to my husband the Lord had spoken to me days earlier, “Juliana, what if this starter home, this income, this way of life is the way it will always be? Will you still trust me to meet your needs? Will you be satisfied with what I have chosen your life to be?”
I had to think about that one for a bit. How would I choose? I mean it is indeed my choice! I can choose just as Paul to be content with the way things are, or to be upset with not having exactly the life I wanted instead of trusting God with how my life turned out whether I would ever know the reason for it or not. I had to decide to be bitter or to know my true treasure is in heaven and God would supply my needs on the earth, not necessarily all my wants!
I didn’t tell hubby that part, I only voiced the whys. Guess what hubby said? The same scripture God had given me and the same thing God had spoken to my heart. Confirmation always brings me satisfaction.
I think that is one of the reasons why I love Mother Teresa as I do. I am not Catholic, but I admire her and her work greatly! She lived a life of abasement, but yet she was rich in God! Her reward is great in heaven and that is forever, where moth cannot corrupt or rust decay! God’s purpose and plan for us is the very reason for our lives. God didn’t give life to me so I could drive an expensive car, live in a mansion, or wear designer clothes. He gave me life to make a difference in the lives of others in this world for the better! Anything else in life is just fluff that will never last, and most of the time, fluff leads to ego and sinful indulgence. I don’t want to face God with that on my “record”.
A life worth living is a life lived for God. This is a hard lesson learned, but so great when we finally truly conceive it!! Only then do we see things in a different light. We see things in the light of God’s heart, not His hand. We see the whole picture, not just in part. We see what truly makes us who we are meant to be, not what we think we should be for public opinions sake! We are free to be ourselves and to get off the rat race of the materialism of life and to take our place in what we were made to do and be!
When we face God, and we all will one day, then we will hear from His lips, “Well done, my faithful servant…enter in!” What does it matter if you gain the world and all of its wealth if you are shut out of heaven and are thrown into hell for all eternity? You can’t take it with you folks and you were never meant to!
My treasure is Jesus, and my satisfaction is knowing I lived my life His way. I never want the song sung over me, “I Did It My Way”! That would be the greatest tragedy!! I saw a saying not long ago, and I can say it has changed my outlook forever. It said, “My life may not have been what I had planned, but it is exactly what God has planned!” That, my friend, is a life truly worth the living!
This scripture has run through my mind for three days. The word that strikes me more than any is “amid”. Amid…in the midst of, while the war is raging, during the trial, not after…AMID, ALL these things we are MORE than conquerors….
As I pondered this scripture, I thought of the author of Romans and what had to be happening to him as he wrote it. Paul was not imprisoned at this time but had been imprisoned earlier for the cause of Christ. I don’t know of anyone who went through more persecution than Jesus other than Paul!
Paul suffered so many things. Paul suffered shipwreck, snake bite, stoning, being beaten, locked in stocks where his legs were held out straight and his back was bent and his hands locked into place at his feet for hours, possibly days at a time! Yet, Paul could write when he wasn’t in stocks, in the midst of it all, he and the church were more than conquerors! Amazing!
The prison systems we have today are no picnic but they are governed and have set regulations so they are not considered inhumane, but still carry a definite punishment. In Paul’s day there were no regulations. Prisons were a horror. You can imagine the living conditions. No formal plumbing, stench and bacteria surrounded the prisoners. There was no health department to make sure the bacteria didn’t make it into the food they were served. Disease and death were all around because the conditions were so deplorable. If the absolute filth didn’t get you, the prisoners would. During the time of Nero when arenas were filled with people excited to see Christians slaughtered and literally eaten alive by lions while Nero played his fiddle and as the crowds cheered, can you only imagine what they thought should be punishable by imprisonment. It had to be horrendous.
Romans was not written while Paul was in prison but at the end of his third missionary journey. Paul had known persecution and prison before he wrote this letter to the Romans, and as we know, would face death for teaching and proclaiming the gospel. Yet Paul still wrote “amid all these things….” Many of us get upset over such small and trivial things such as when we get home and realize we forgot a grocery item and have to turn around and go back and get it! Or when someone says something we don’t like or care to hear.
As I thought of this scripture and all that Paul had gone through with such a good attitude, I was headed to the city. This particular day had been a hard one for me. I began to compare my “hard day” with Paul’s life of “hard days”. Still, nonetheless, it was a day I was ready to put behind me!
I was crossing a bridge that brings me to another town before I get to the city and something caught my eye. I looked up and the sky was particularly cloudy. A cold front was heading our way and rain clouds had rolled in, but in the MIDST of those clouds there was a hole in the middle of the clouds. It was ever so slight but through that hole came literal beams of light!! God spoke to my heart and said, “No matter how dark it seems, the sun is still shining just as brightly as ever behind the darkness and there will be a break in the clouds!”
I went about another ten miles and looked up again. In the midst of all the storm clouds, in one place, they had totally broken and the sun was visible with all of its light! In that particular spot, instead of dreariness there was utter radiance as though it were spring instead of fall.
That is how it is in our lives. When our health seems to be faltering, when a loved one leaves and our world seems to be crashing all around us, when Christmas is fast approaching and the company hands out pink slips, when you feel as though you are facing the world alone and have no idea where help will come from this time, the SON is still shining and a break will come in the clouds of your life! You and I are MORE than conquerors in the great big middle of it all! How? Through Christ Jesus Who gives us a SURPASSING victory! We don’t barely make it through! We make it through and gain ground because of Jesus and what HE has done!
The fight is not ours, but the rest from battling is. The victory is not ours to be won, but to be taken hold of and received! How do we do this? By resting in faith in God’s word and His integrity to keep it! By knowing what HE says about our situations and the promise He has made to ALWAYS deliver us out of them to a higher and blessed place! Just as it says in our scripture, we are “conquerors THROUGH” Christ Jesus who loves us!
Love always wins…always! No matter what the situation you are facing, this time is no different! God has made a covenant (a binding contract) with us that cannot be broken by Him. He tells us in His Word, when the sun fails to shine and the moon fails to appear, when night no longer turns to day and day to night, only then can that covenant be broken. That is a stout and remaining promise! Did the sun shine today? Did night come? If the answer is yes, and we know it is, then the promise holds! You hold to the promise, too!
Blessings to you, precious reader! I will see you soon!
It amazes me how life comes full circle so many times. When I was writing last year on the power of prayer, everytime I would refer to Reverend Ken Hagin, Sr’s “Bible Prayer Study Course”, I would put the date I wrote about it in the workbook. I wrote on this very subject last year on November 1 and God has led me back to it at almost the exact same time. That tells me I always need a refresher no matter how well I know something. A little review never hurt anyone!
Little did I know, in less than a year, my husband and I would be going through a very difficult time. As you know my husband is a Federal Agent and was furloughed recently for two weeks. When this happened, we saw things we had NEVER seen before in thirty years of his service to our country (furloughed for over 2 weeks, actually. They were furloughed for four days this past summer). In thirty years, the government never shut down for that period of time. Things looked rough for us. Praise God, He was with us every step of the way! We never missed a meal or a bill!
We had gone to a church some time back that taught if anything happens in your life that is negative or if anything goes “wrong” it was because you had either said something you should not have, or you didn’t say something you should have. We were told it could also be we had not listened and followed the Holy Spirit as we should have. If we were following the Holy Spirit, according to them, then we wouldn’t have trials or trouble in life. We were told if we ever left that church, we would have left the will of God and our lives would be open to the enemy for him to destroy us any way he could.
I knew when hubby got furloughed they would take that opportunity to probably talk about how we would have been fine had we not left and gone to another church, which God had led us to do. I was thinking about this one day and the Lord spoke to me and said, “Stop worrying about what they are saying! I am going to prove them wrong, but it wouldn’t matter if I didn’t. You did what I said and that is all that matters! Who is he that accuses MY servant?” Praise God, the Lord had prepared us for what was ahead. We had no idea it was coming, but God had blessed us to the point we didn’t go hungry and we had enough money to pay our bills for that month, so even in the trial we remained blessed NOT destroyed!
Just about three months before any of this happened (the furloughs), the Lord had spoken to me and a friend of mine to teach a class on prayer. We went to our pastor and told him what God had laid on our hearts. The class came about just about 3 months after our first talk. It wasn’t long until all you know what broke loose in her life and in mine! The devil DID NOT want this class to be taught, that is how powerful prayer is!
Of course, the devil wanted to say, “Well, now if you hadn’t left the other church this wouldn’t be happening!” I almost got under condemnation, NOT CONVICTION which is how the Holy Spirit works. As I was preparing my lesson, lo and behold if Brother Hagin didn’t teach the very thing God had just shown me! GLORY TO GOD we are NEVER condemned!!
In this particular part of the workbook, Reverend Hagin reminds us Paul and Silas went through some really hard things. They weren’t in Philippi on a vacation! They had gone directed of God to do His work. The weren’t out of the will of God. Sometimes people will think if things aren’t just right they are out of the will of God. We can’t use circumstances to tell us where and what we should be doing. God tells us, Himself through the Holy Spirit!
According to Brother Hagin, “A life of ease, with no rough or difficult places to endure and no sacrifices to make, does not indicate whether or not a person is in God’s will. If it did, then Paul never did get in the will of God in his entire ministry! He missed it from beginning to end. No, you can’t judge being in the will of God by whether or not you have tests and trials in life and obstacles to overcome.”
Brother Hagin had hard times. Sometimes Sunday School wasn’t bursting at the seams at his church. Sometimes the offerings would be down. He said the devil would just try to aggravate him to death with circumstances, and we can let him! But, if we will learn how to deal with the devil he will never be able to overwhelm you with circumstances!
Brother Hagin learned to praise God and “minister” to Him (which means to magnify the Lord, not asking for anything just praising Him). Then he would pray in the Spirit until he got direction from the Lord. He would then tell the devil, “I want you to know I am not going to miss a meal or lose any sleep, because I am in faith. I’m standing on God’s Word.”
He had committed the problem to God and he wasn’t going to take it back and worry about it! He would tell the Lord, “Lord, it is my responsibiltiy to treat people right and visit the sick and do the best I can. But as far as the rest of it, I’m going to leave it to You, Lord.”
You don’t have to be disturbed, worried, and upset when life seems dark. When we learn to praise EVERY SINGLE DAY, and minister to the Lord that will bring much peace and eventually direction. I told my husband this is what I love so much about Brother Hagin. He was such a mighty man of God and so grounded and balanced, yet he went through difficult things. When he did, he got alone with God and the Word of God and the Lord showed him exactly what to do and it was so simple a third grader could understand it and do it.
Brother Hagin did it and when he died he had missions and churches all over the United States and throughout the world as well as Bible schools! I love simplicity! We are the ones that complicate the things of God and put ourselves under unnecessary yokes and burdens. God doesn’t do that…He wants to give us rest and lead us from victory to victory and He will if we will get alone, praise Him and listen to what He says!
Stay out of the negativity of things. Don’t think about why this didn’t work out and why that won’t work out. If we do that we will never move forward! I saw this saying somewhere recently and it has helped me so much. It said, “My life isn’t exactly what I planned, but it is exactly what God has planned!” That takes so much regret off of you and enlarges your ability to trust God! He is working it all to our good, as we pray and trust and minister to Him. Relax! He has us and He has promised He isn’t letting go!
God bless you, precious reader! I will see you soon!
Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
23 I assure you: If anyone says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, all the things you pray and ask for—believe that you have received[a] them, and you will have them.
I have had two pastor’s wives that brought conviction to my heart by just being themselves. They never looked at me and told me my attitude was wrong, in fact quite the opposite. They never gave me lectures on what I was and what I should be. They just lived the LOVE of Jesus consistently in front of me. They put on no acts! The love they showed to EVERY SINGLE PERSON, was who they were and are to this day! They never rejected anyone! They loved all with the same fervency. That is what Jesus does! It was that very love in action that was given, even when they didn’t know they were being watched that brought GREAT conviction to my heart! It was so easy to love the ones who treated me kindly, and it was so easy to distance myself from those who didn’t. That ISN’T what Jesus would do.
Years ago there was a saying that became so popular it became the motto of some. “What would Jesus do?” otherwise known as WWJD. Of course, as with all Godly things, the world began to criticize it and pick it apart with some type of silly disapproval, and of course, Christians didn’t want to “offend” so they stopped saying it. Now you never hear it, but it would be good if we let that rattle around in our brains for some time, many times throughout the day. I know my behavior would face a choice and the choice would have to be made!
My current pastor’s wife is one of the women I am talking about, and no I am not trying to rack up brownie points because I don’t do that and because with her you don’t need to. In her eyes, you come with brownie points and you never lose them! I watched her “work” the altar yesterday. People who were not what others may have thought they ought to be would have been labeled by certain ones with the words “flake, fruity, can talk to them until you are blue in the face” were not passed over by this precious lady, but instead they were embraced, and as always, given a word of encouragement straight from the throne room of God!
This dear woman is constant in her love walk. She NEVER criticizes other people! That doesn’t mean she lives in la la land, but she choses love over shunning, discernment over judgement, and loves the most unloveable (in the eyes of the world)!
If people have had a reputation, she never lets that affect her attitude. She perseveres in love, knowing that it is love that brings change, conviction, and turns lives around! She is such an example of all that Jesus is, and all I want to be.
I have had another friend that is just like this, and funny, she is a retired pastor’s wife. This lady fed so much wisdom into me, when I was so very ignorant! She didn’t let my immaturity or ignorance affect her love and ministry to and for me. I have seen this precious lady pray for people who were literally demon possessed and have seen those very people melt into her open arms, literally! I have seen them cry out to God for forgiveness and deliverance when nothing else moved what seemed to be hearts of stone. Why? Because deep inside all of us the most innate need, the thing we all need over anything else is love; and love she gave! People were drawn to this love! She didn’t need any type of program to get people saved. She literally loved them into the Kingdom of God!
Again, I never heard one negative word come from her mouth! She didn’t talk about her flock. She didn’t tell you how the “cow ate the cabbage” so she was always approachable and you knew you could tell her anything and it would always be kept in confidence! You knew she would never judge you, and she had the gentlest way of correcting you….just like Jesus!
Notice, in both of these women certain words are repeated over and over in the description of each. Those words are love, gentleness, never judging, correcting in love, no favorites, never talking about the sheep, and just like Jesus.
I cry as I write this, and I look at my life and see some parts that are fragmented. Yes, there are some people who refuse to let the conviction of the Holy Spirit change them. With these people you cannot be their “best buddy”, after you have given effort after effort to help them. At that point you have to let the Holy Spirit deal with them. But, when you see that person, do you turn your head away and pretend you didn’t? Do you cringe inside when you hear their name? Are you happy when you hear they are doing well and would you greet them with a hug, and truly be joyful they are being blessed and are being a blessing?
We don’t have time for personality clashes anymore! God has never said to me, “I just can’t be around you much, Juliana, because your personality just doesn’t mesh with Mine.” He has never looked away when He saw me coming. He has never acted like he didn’t recognize or know me, EVER!! He has never NOT approved of me ( He may not have approved of my behavior at the time, but He has always approved of ME!).
You have to leave the dead to bury the dead, or in other words, leave past dead things alone. You can’t call to memory every fault you have ever known in a person when that person has obviously come to God and is forgiven and changed by Him. You can’t be on someone’s side that isn’t walking in love instead of God’s, whose unconditional love is ever-present. Who do you serve, my friend?? Man or God? Who do you value the opinion of most? Man’s or God’s? God said you better be concerned with what He thinks over what man thinks because He is the one Who has the power to send your soul to hell. Man is but a vapor and is here for only a little while. In other words, God is the one you will answer to, not people.
What if God’s children had not accepted Paul because of his past? I tell you, if there was any reason to fear anyone, when Paul was Saul, he gave every single reason to fear and tremble. He ordered executions of Christians and held the coats of the people who stoned Stephen and looked on in approval!! BUT, when God changed him the course of the future and history was changed! God sent word to Ananias to accept Saul, for he had dealt with him and he wasn’t who he was before! Ananias told the people and their response was shock, BUT because God had said it, they received him with love! When Paul was being sent on a mission journey, they cried for him not to leave them, for fear they may never see him again! Oh, that is the love of God manifested in the flesh!!
Are we like that today? Are we Christ-like when it is convenient, when we want to impress someone, or is that truly our nature and character? What would Jesus do? Do we get an answer of something He would NEVER do when we ask that? Change is a good thing, and to take a very honest look at ourselves is the beginning of wisdom! I know I have some tweaking myself that MUST and WILL take place! Nothing is worth the loss of our witness and walking according to the flesh, which includes anger, resentment, and judgement will zap you of your credibility every single time!
Blessings to you, precious reader! Walk in the motto of “What would Jesus do?” and don’t let anyone or anything talk you out of it! It wouldn’t hurt to ask, “What would Jesus NOT do?” Pour out the love of God, that causes others to bloom in Him and in their lives! That is what Jesus did when He poured His very life out for us! Go with God as God goes with you! I will see you next time! Juliana