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Unexpected Expectations

I expected God to alert me to miracles in 2015 when He gave me the word Miracle and James 5:13-16 as my year’s verse: Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.I set out into the year writing down a miracle for each day.Most were small occurrences—yet something only God could do. I noted miracles that happened to people I cared about, like a friend I met in India receiving scholarship funds to attend a Christian University, to my dog finding my favorite earring.Sometimes my miracle was a warm day in the mid…

The Promise is Worth the Wait

It’s the fourth week of Advent.  Our waiting is nearing an end because Christmas will come again as promised on December 25.  The Feast of the Nativity is one of the immovable holidays.  It always occurs on the 25th Day of December.  Advent prepares our souls for the true celebration of indescribable hope, love, peace and joy!  God became one of us.  He was born through a virgin.  He grew in wisdom and knowledge and in favor with God and man.  He explained the mystery that the prophets, feasts and creation had been seeping out—that God would take on human nature, live, teach, die and rise again to secure the promise made to Abraham.  A mystery revealed that continues to remain too complicated for human minds.             Hebrews 6:13-20 reviews the promise.  God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received …

Prophets, Patience, Advent

The spiritual life is about patience.  The season of Advent draws us into an attitude of patience.  When enduring patiently, it is helpful that you are not the only one who must wait.  It is even comforting to know that others have waited before and perhaps even longer than you.
James 5:10-11 draws our attention to the patience of the prophets who foretold the events God would bring about in the world He created.  Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about.
When I take the patience of Isaiah who walked around naked for three years (Isaiah 20:3) as an example, then I don’t feel so bad about the patience God is asking of me.  There is Jeremiah who never married and was cruelly tormented in a pit of excrement (Jeremiah 18).  These same prophets wer…

Waiting with Patience

The virtue of patience can only be experienced in the period of waiting.  How will you ever become patient if you are never given the opportunity to wait?             Our Lord is the giver of holy patience.  Patience is not a gift that we beg God to give us.  Most of our prayers are about ending the period of waiting we are currently living.  Only the Giver of Life values the gift of patience, and He does not wait for us to ask to receive.              Advent is a season of exploring the virtue of patience.  It is a brief exercise in recognizing the holy goodness of the wait.  In Advent we are forced to wait four Sundays before we arrive at the joy of Christmas.  The gift of Advent is that when we allow our souls to sink deeply into the joy of waiting, Christmas becomes more fulfilling.  We don’t have to face the reality that a perfect Christmas morning is not created by all the frills, smells and presents that world insists will make us happy.  Rather the meaning of Chr…

Waiting on Waiting

Advent is the season of waiting.  Even the colors of the candles witness the anticipation of waiting.  The first three candles that you light are traditionally purple, while the fourth candle is pink signifying the approaching light of Christ on Christmas.             Although the waiting of Advent is familiar and easy to calculate, it persistently calls us back to an uncomfortable reality.  We are longing for, desiring, and anticipating what we really want but don’t quite have.  Waiting is uncomfortable.              Although I can be sure that December 25 will come, many of the realities I wait for are not as certain.  Either way, waiting is rarely comfortable and never fun.              Advent has taught me how to wait.  It shows me the value of patience, anticipation and the value of waiting before you receive.              Jesus shows me how to wait.  As I wait on Him, He is waiting for me.  I am almost learning to find joy in waiting by learning the joy of waitin…

Is God Enough?

If you were to ask people who know me, they would say: Debi says God is enough!  Trusting in God is the foundation of my life.             Something you may not know about me is that I have a deep need to be right.  Recently I’ve been faced with a problem that in my mind has a right answer.  When I am right, I assume God will back me up!  Not in this case.  Some very godly people asked me to go along with what wasn’t right in my mind.  They didn’t ask me to do something wrong they just asked me to put love before justice, and my right solution was to put justice before love.  (Um-that should have been the first clue that I wasn’t as right as I thought I was!)             Is God enough?  I think I’m enough.  I was fully committed to my plan.  I didn’t want to do it another way.  I understood that the other way wasn’t a wrong way.  I could grasp the rationale for doing it that way.  It was definitely the more humble and loving way.  The problem was—it wasn’t my way.        …

Do you Drink the Cup?

I wanted to write something encouraging us to pray for France today. When I received this note from Lorrie, who is one of the people who edit my devotions the week before, I decided to send this one anyway.  Please pray for my church’s missionary in Paris, Noemi Aguirre, that she can be a light in the spiritual darkness.  Pray for spiritual revival in that city to come to know the true light!

This devotion is so poignant in relation to the killings in Paris. For me, the cup this week has been the willingness to pray for those who kill to stamp out freedom and Christianity. But now I understand this cup releases the Holy Spirit into the world and touches the hearts of those who are hardened against our savior Jesus Christ.

Thank you so much for this devotion of remembrance and the call to drink the cup that God offers us, the cup of salvation, love, and peace.

Blessings,
Lorrie

Do you Drink the Cup?             This past Sunday I had the honor of assisting in the Communion table for our…

God's Jealous Love

Have you ever experienced holy jealousy?  I know you know what unholy jealousy feels like.  We have all had that tinge of jealousy, especially towards someone close to us who seems to always get what we want.  But there is a holy jealousy.             I guess the closest I have come to knowing what holy jealousy feels like was the day my son turned 18, and we were releasing him from the requirement of attending church on Sundays in order to live in our home.  He and I sat together in our regular pew and followed the motions of a typical Sunday service.  He was as present as he had been in years past.  There were no outward signs that my heart was breaking.              As the service progressed I could not help myself.  I experienced a deep sorrow that only now I can identify as holy jealousy.  My sorrow was not for myself. My spiritual well-being had no bearing on whether my son sat beside me in church each Sunday.  In fact, I was freer to worship without his occasional…

All Hallowed Eve

The Saints are some of my heroes.  I want to have the same kind of passionate love for God that I sense in them.  Hebrews 12:1 says: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  When I read this verse, I think about those who lived centuries ago whose words and instructions for spiritual growth still resonate with me today.  I’ve gotten to the place where it is hard for me to read modern spiritual writers.  I value more highly the authors whose writings have survived the test of time and continue to be translated and reprinted in a modern age.              I encourage every Christian to read the Christian classics.  Three to start with are St Augustine’s Confessions, Thomas A Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ and Brother Lawrence’s  Practicing the Presence.  There are so many amazing women writers,…

Litmus Test for Wisdom

The book of James tells us a lot about wisdom.  Who doesn’t want to be wise in the decisions they make?  What does it take to become wise?              Wisdom from heaven is far above our natural abilities.  James gives us a litmus test for wisdom that helps us determine how close or far away we are from what God knows is best.  But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness (James 3:17-18).             If you are trying to determine whether what your wisdom is coming from heaven, consider these eight qualities to your decision as a litmus test for wisdom.             Is your option pure?  God’s truth is pure truth and it always unifies.  Does the decision you are making have the potential to unify?  Pure truth does that.             Pure wisdom unifies so therefore it will lead to peace.  Is that the goal …

Saying No to the Bible!

On a recent mission trip, I experienced a sad reality.  Our team was sent out into desperately poor neighborhoods where we knocked on doors and spread the Good News about God’s love for them and about a new church with a great pastor in town.  We entered into kind conversation.  Whether they believed that God really could love them or cared whether God loved them or not, they were always courteous.             I have never been turned down so many times when I offered a Bible.  You would think that at least they might take it and try to sell it or something.  Perhaps they said no for holy reasons; they saw it as special and they knew they were not going to read it so better to leave it for someone who would read it.  It was a strange experience to have so many people say no when asked if they wanted to have a Bible.             When I stop and think about it, how many of us have said no to the Bible today?  We have the very words of God written down in a handy collection,…

God's Heart for Us!

Most of us find it hard to feel the love of God when we face harsh realities of life.  Others walk with God so closely that they know harsh realities of this world are common to us all, and they seem to accept God’s love in spite of what they have to lose.  I’m not sure which case the Widow of Nain from Luke 7 was experiencing.              Already a widow on the day Jesus met her, she was burying her only son as well.  Tragedy upon tragedy—hers was a life well acquainted with sorrow. The whole town seemed to stop what they were doing to support this widow.  Their presence almost speaks to the character of the woman with whom they felt so much sorrow .  The crowd might have been stunned into silence; having no words, they were just there for this poor widow, doing what they could.  They were carrying her son’s body to his grave.  They were crying with her.  They were telling her to eat some soup and drink some water because she was most likely unable to make those same c…

Prepared in Advance

I’ve been on a journey for the last 17 months that has highlighted God’s perfect timing. Every time I’m told a schedule that is most probable there is a conflict about something I felt God led me to commit. All I have been able to do is tell God I am powerless to find a way out of the conflicting purposes.  Each time the unexpected happened.  It was almost laughable at this point.  My journey has been teaching me in a very poignant way the truth of what God tells us in Ephesians 2:10:  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Literally, the only reasonable explanations for the way things have work together on my journey are that they have been prepared in advance.
I’m beginning to expect the unexpected.  For example, in the past few years, God alone provided a way for two previously planned mission trips not to conflict with the other journey He has asked me to walk.  Both of these mission trips happened in the …

We All Stumble

Even though I am at the mercy of God every day of my life, I often lose touch with this reality.  I’m pretty good at accepting God’s boundaries and living within the freedom they bring to my life.  I consistently follow the commands of Christ and have ordered up my daily life according to what God asks of us for basic living.  You know the phrase: I don’t dance and I don’t chew and I don’t go with girls who do-type living.              So, I need the Word of God to break me out of my mirage that I am not desperately dependent on His mercy day and night.  In my devotional reading, God broke into my delusional spiritual space by stunning me with James 3:2: We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.             I can easily delude myself, but the truth James points out sets me free to see myself for who I really am.  I am truly a soul in reckless need of the mercy of God. The truth is that it…

Our Contrarian God

Contrary to human wishes, God’s ways are rarely what we naturally want.  Why? Because His ways are far beyond our understanding.  When we first experience God’s ways as opposed to our own, we are offended.  We all want a God whose ways sync with what we want.  As you grow closer to God, you begin to discover that His contrarian ways bring you what your soul most needs even if it is the very thing you are attempting to avoid.  When you open your soul to God’s contrarian ways over and over, you begin to gain confidence in His ways.             If it is possible to explain, I would say that Paul explains it best in Romans 11:33-36 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom andknowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor
Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.
God is clear that…

God Meets us in Our Transitions

There are major times of change in our lives.  The major life changes are more obvious at adolescence and midlife.  The appearance of pimples and grey hair are much expected but little accepted.  Still they testify to the transitions of life. Other major changes happen when life experiences force them upon us.  These experiences can be happy ones such as a marriage or a new venture or times of loss such as a divorce, a demotion, or death of a close loved one.                 God is always for us, but He is very active at times like these.  He does not want us to go astray.  He sends people into our lives to guide us. The problem is that the enemy of our soul is attentive at times like these as well.  Our souls are in a tender state and it is vital that we remain anchored in our relationship with God to weather our storms that force us into the transition.  It’s easy to miss God’s gifts if you don’t have a wise other to give you a clear perspective about what is happenin…

Working with God

The celebration of Labor Day is about spending your time doing anything but working.  It’s so great to have a whole day not to work at the end of summer.  The smell of grilled meat, along with laughter and delight fill the air just because we don’t have to work!
                Labor Day is a national holiday of rest from work.  God assigned a spiritual discipline of rest from work one day each week.   He assigned it so that we would learn how to appreciate the privilege of work and to strengthen our bond to Him. The Jews made it a labor to rest.  There were so many rules about rest that they condemned the work of the God who gave them rest.  Jesus purposely healed others on Sabbath to show that rest is not work and work is not rest.  John 5:15-17 is one example: The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well. So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. In his defense Jesus sa…

Does Prayer Work?

I’ve been a Christian for almost fifty years.  I’ve done a lot of praying over those years.  I can’t tell you the number of people for whom I’ve prayed for all their cancer cells to miraculously die and for their health to be restored.  I’ve diligently prayed for certain souls to turn to God.  I’ve begged God for doors to open for a certain blessing.  If I could remember every prayer I’ve prayed and calculate the number of times I got what I asked in prayer, I would have to conclude that prayer doesn’t work.  Prayer isn’t given as a magical remedy to the part of life that I don’t accept.  God doesn’t bid us to pray so that we can order up our wishes like we choose a snack from a vending machine.  Rather prayer is about intimate connection.             The greatest prayer that was ever prayed was from the Garden of Gethsemane.  Jesus came there to ask God, His Father, for something very specific.  He asked in great faith.  He believed that God could answer His prayer.  He …

Gratitude Drives Away Anxiety

Anxiety is that feeling that makes you have to decide to breathe in and breathe out.  It makes you sick to your stomach; sometimes your head feels like it is going to explode.  All you want is relief.  The physical sensations desensitize you from the issues that make you anxious, and you become anxious about your inability to control your life.  Eventually, anxiety can overtake your walking, breathing, and living of life.             It is for just those reasons that God draws your attention in the opposite way that your anxiety directs.  God boldly says:  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7)Letting God care for you in the midst of your anxiety-causing circumstances is a giant spiritual step.              I am constantly bemused when I see this action in process.  In my personal life and with those I minister to, I witness that the life-giving remedy to anxiety is knowing how much you are loved by God.  It is only through His love that I…

It was the Holy Spirit

Do you know when the Holy Spirit is leading you?  How can you discern the differences between your own ideas, feelings of guilt and the Holy Spirit?  When are you confident that you have done what the Lord has asked of you and not just followed your own way?             It’s not the easiest lesson to learn.  It has taken me years to recognize the Holy Spirit; and I’m just now somewhat confident.  I don’t always know for sure that it is the Holy Spirit, and I often question myself. When I sense Him asking something of me, I think it might be God; but I never know for sure until I do it.  A lot of times it just comes down to a feeling of supernatural peace after I do something, which is irrational from my human perspective.             1 Corinthians 2:14 says: The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.  I often conside…