When God Provides

motel no vacancy signThere are dramatic stories of how God provided for someone’s needs when the situation seemed hopeless. 

No food in the cupboard and a bag of groceries appear on the doorstep.

The need for a transplant donor and one becomes available just in time.

Someone knows someone who knows someone and a job is secured before the last penny from the last paycheck has been spent.

While you may have never participanted in anything you’d call dramatic, I’m sure if you look back, you’ll see God’s hand always present, large or small, providing in ways only he can.

A time I feel for certain God provided for my parents, brother, and me was when we traveled back to the States from Panama after visiting Sissy and Chief in the Canal Zone.

The Miami, Florida hotel clerk informed my dad there were no available rooms. It was late, Dad, and the rest of us, were tired after our flight. This wasn’t the first hotel we’d tried to find a room at and the prospects for finding a room for the night did not look good.

As my dad turned away, the hotel clerk called him back. Seems he just so happened to have a room left after all.

Now, I know finding a hotel room does not rank up there with receiving a transplant donor, but the point I’d like to make is this. We need to keep our eyes open to see God’s hand at work in our lives.

There’s also been the time I thought I lost my wallet. Pilot and I looked all over and couldn’t find it. Until…I looked one more time in my purse, of all places, and there it was.

God doesn’t always work in dramatic ways, but he is always at work.

And don’t you think he’d appreciate it if we thanked him for the things we consider small, just as much as we thank him for the things we consider big?

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And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 (NLT)

You can find my September Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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It Is Never Too Late To Do God’s Will

older man with sonHave you ever felt like perhaps it’s too late to do God’s will?

In Christine Caine’s book, Unexpected, she relates the story of Caleb, showing it is never too late to do God’s will.

Right now, in this season of my life, I’ve questioned whether it’s time to move on past certain dreams I’ve long held or keep pressing on. Christine’s recounting of Caleb pressing on even into his eighties, proves it’s never too late to pursue the call God has on our life.

We remember Caleb as one of two spies who, along with Joshua, entered the Promised Land, saw the giants, and announced, “No problem. With God on our side, we can take them. Those giants are gonna fall.”

Unfortunately, the people believed the fearful accounts of the other ten spies, refused to take the land, and wandered for another forty years in the wilderness.

Christine says:

During all those wilderness years, he kept believing. And he kept himself vitally alive — spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally — eager to possess what God had promised him. Over the course of four decades, he never let go of the promise that Hebron was his. His attitude was all in — he looked to the future with nothing but hope and courage.

Caleb never quit. He refused to allow himself to stop believing he’d reach the Promised Land, even after four decades of trying. He refused to sit back and rest on previous victories. He held firm to the belief it was never too late to see God’s promise fulfilled.

When Caleb was eighty-five years of age, Joshua gave him the land of Hebron as the Lord commanded. But first, Caleb had to drive out three clans of the descendants of Anak. That fierce giant who stopped the Israelites from entering forty years earlier.

Caleb was prepared to take his rightful place in the Promised Land.

He put in the hard work to reach it.

He didn’t give up when opposition pressed against him.

He could have retired and let others fight the battles, but he didn’t.

He fought for his Promised Land.

How willing are we to keep fighting, and truly believe it’s never too late to do God’s will?

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Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” Numbers 13:30

You can find my September Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Walk on Water

row boat on waterAndrew Peterson wrote a song which said, “If you want to walk on water, you’ve got to get out of the boat.” Shortly after, books popped up with the same title, based on the Bible story of Peter walking to Jesus on water.

How many of us would love to have the faith to walk on water? But there’s a catch. In order to walk on water, we’ve got to haul our self out of the safety of the boat. We have to take that first scary step into liquid.

We remember the story of Jesus walking on the water to the disciples’ boat during a storm. At first glance, the disciples believed he was a ghost. When Peter realized it was the Lord, he decided to get out of the boat and walk across the water to him.

All went well until the waves began to lap around Peter’s knees, and he took his eyes off Jesus.

Jesus asked Peter, “Oh, ye of little faith. Why did you doubt?”

Why did he doubt? Why do we doubt? Why was his faith small? Why is our faith small?

In Mark Batterson’s book, The Circle Maker, he says, The key to getting out of the boat is hearing the voice of God. If you’re going to get out of the boat in the middle of a lake in the middle of the night, you better make sure that Jesus said, “Come.” But if Jesus says, “Come,” you better not stay in the boat.

I used to be rather fearless, but I’m not so inclined these days. Decades ago a friend and I climbed up an open look-out tower on a small Native American mound on an island in the middle of the St. John’s River in Florida.

As we approached the top, I stopped and latched onto the metal rail like my life depended on it, bent forward, and waited for the earth to stop shaking. Vertigo, compliments of an inner ear nerve imbalance, gripped my body and I knew for sure I was going to careen to the ground in a broken heap.

My friend looked at me, asked if I was okay, then said, “I’ve never known you to wimp out of anything before.”

Just as my vertigo prevented me from going any further up that ladder to see the view only possible from way above the ground, our fear oftentimes stops us from climbing to the heights Jesus wants us to reach. It freezes us, and keeps us from putting one leg after the other over the side of the boat, and stepping on top of the water.

We wimp out.

Jesus wants us to experience a life of faith in him. He wants us to achieve more than we could ever imagine. He wants us to remember he is right here with us, holding our hand when the waves threaten to pull us under. He wants us to get out of the boat when he says, “Come.”

If we allow fear to keep us in our personal safe boat, we’ll never walk on water.

Are there times you’ve stepped out of the boat in faith, even when you were frightened?

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But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:27-31 (NIV)

You can find my September Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Cast All Your Worries On Jesus

Guatemalan worry dollsSeveral years ago, I came upon a tiny woven bag which contained six even tinier woven dolls. Guatemalan worry dolls. Worry dolls (also called trouble dolls; in Spanish, Muñeca quitapena) are small, hand-made dolls that originate from Guatemala.

According to legend, Guatemalan children tell their worries to the Worry Dolls, placing them under their pillow when they go to bed at night. By morning the dolls have gifted them with the wisdom and knowledge to eliminate their worries. The worry dolls are made of wire, wool and colorful textile leftovers. The size of the dolls can vary between ½ inch to 2 inches.

The story of the worry doll is a local Mayan legend. The origin of the Muñeca quitapena refers to a Mayan princess named Ixmucane. The princess received a special gift from the sun god that allowed her to solve any problem a human could worry about. The worry doll represents the princess and her wisdom.

Although I’ve had plenty of worries since the day I purchased these dolls, I’ve never once needed to place them under my pillow at night. Why? Because the God who created the heavens and earth cares about me, just as he cares about you. He asks us to cast all our worries on him, for he is always, always, thinking about us, and watching everything that concerns us.

We do not need to limit when we tell Jesus about our concerns and worries to right before we go to sleep as with the Worry Dolls. We can cast all our cares on him 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, believing he hears, cares, and works on our behalf.

With the calm assurance Jesus hears and is working, we can safely rest at night and rise in the morning with the knowledge nothing reaches us that didn’t pass through Christ’s nail-pierced hands first. And when it reaches us, Jesus is right there beside us, walking through whatever it is with us.

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Let him have all your worries and cares, for he is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you. 1 Peter 5:7 (TLB)

You can find my August Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Following Rules

The volunteer organization, Civil Air Patrol has three main missions. Aerospace education, cadet programs, and emergency services.

During a meeting, one member brought up the subject of the CAP participants in the field wearing BDUs — Battle Dress Uniforms — which consist of camouflage shirts and pants during deer hunting season.

Excellent point.

Who wants to be dressed in camo, wandering through a field on a rescue mission when you are surrounded by hunters who can’t tell you from a deer?

This man said he has his cadets wear fluorescent ball caps and vest.

Good thinking, I say.

He also said he knew he was breaking the uniform code regulation, and would be reprimanded, but felt it best for his cadets.

Way to go.

Rules or no rules, do what’s right.

No one wants to explain to a parent their child has been injured because a hunter couldn’t tell them from a deer.

Thinking about this man’s refusal to follow a rule he felt would endanger those in his care led me to ponder several other instances where people refused to follow certain rules.

  • During his interactions with the Pharisees, Jesus often called them vipers, white-washed tombs full of dead men’s bones, and blind guides. The Pharisees prided themselves in following the man-made rules they created, yet they did not follow God’s rules. Jesus refused to go along with them.
  • Previously, I wrote about the Apostle John’s refusal to follow the Jewish religious restriction that prohibited him from entering Pilot’s courts during Christ’s arrest.
  • Henry D. Thoreau often practiced Civil Disobedience. (As did Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr.) At one point while Thoreau was in jail for refusing to follow rules he felt were unjust, his good friend, Ralph W. Emerson, visited Thoreau. Emerson asked Thoreau what he was doing “in there”. Thoreau turned the question around and asked Emerson what are you doing “out there”.

At one point, Jesus was asked which was the greatest commandment, or rule. He answered by saying we are to love the LORD our God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind. And to love our neighbor as our self.

As long as we live there will always be rules. If our desire is to become more and more like Christ each and every day, our job, I believe, is to pray for discernment to know which rules he wants us to follow. And which ones he wants us to ignore.

Any rules you’ve felt led to ignore? Besides posted speed limit signs? 😉

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One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31 (NIV)

You can find my September Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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How Strong is Our Signal?

transistor radioIn the 1960s I had a very cool transistor radio. Oh, yeah. I surely did. It even had an earphone you could plug in. Yep. Only problem was the unreliable signal strength.

During the summer I took that radio with me everyday to the pool. My girlfriends and I spread out our towels, slathered ourselves with Coppertone oil, faced the sun, and listened to WINX AM 1600 radio, at the top of the dial, broadcast live from Rockville, Maryland. I even had a WINX Winker button that entitled me to win prizes if I called the station whenever the DJ announced my name over the air.

One day a friend at school asked what I won after my WINX Winker number was called the previous night around midnight. There was one slight problem. Who stays up 24-hours-a-day to listen for their number to be called? Surely not this seventh grader. The station was pretty sneaky, if you ask me.

At the time, WINX’s radio signal was rather weak. During the daytime, you had to position the radio just right, with the antenna stretched out at the proper angle, to receive the signal. If a cloud passed over, you weren’t going to hear your favorite song, that’s for sure.

In thinking about the weak, semi-reliable radio signal, and the interference that got in the way, I thought about the reliability of the strength of our connection to God. Our radio signal, if you will. And I wondered, how strong is our signal.

Is the signal God sends us getting through, or are we hiding behind something like Adam and Eve did in the Garden after they sinned?

Do we allow others to weaken our connection to God? Do we allow them get in the way of our service to him?

Do we keep ourselves so busy with stuff we don’t have time to hear Jesus’ voice over the noise of our lives?

Just as it sent shouts of “OH. NO.” raging through me whenever my radio lost the signal with WINX and interrupted one of my favorite songs, shouldn’t we shout, “OH. NO.” whenever we drift from God, put up walls, try to hide from his presence and in doing so, break the strength of his signal coming through?

If we expect to find the truth God has for us, we need to look for it through his word and keep our ears tuned to him. We need to make sure we don’t become deaf to his signals. We need to keep our signal strong.

Fortunately, even though God is available to hear our prayers 24-hours-a-day, we don’t need to sit around waiting for our WINX Winker number to be called to win a prize. As soon as we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, the jackpot becomes ours. Eternal life with him in heaven. Glory hallelujah! Amen?

Did you own a transistor radio? If so, how was the reception?

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What then? The people of Israel did not find what they were looking for. It was only the small group that God chose who found it; the rest grew deaf to God’s call. Romans 11:7 (GNT)

You can find my August Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Strength to Bend a Bronze Bow

archer with bowStrength to bend a bronze bow. That’s what David says God gives in Psalm 18. In this psalm David declares God to be his rock, fortress, deliverer, shield, and salvation. David says God enables him to stand on rocky paths with feet as sure as a deer’s.

I have always loved the imagery of this psalm. Feet like deer which enable us to climb rocky paths. Strength which enables us to bend a bow of bronze.

One spring morning as Pilot and I watched mountain goats run up the side of the Rocky Mountains, rocks sliding down the hill beneath their feet, I saw first hand what it means to have feet like deer which enable us to stand on the rocky heights without falling.

After bending an ordinary bow made of hard wood to string it, I know bending a bow of bronze requires strength beyond my human ability.

David cried out to God, and God drew him out of the depths. God rescued David from his foes. He turned David’s darkness into light. Then God trained David’s arms for battle once again, giving him the strength to bend a bronze bow. 

How many times has God drawn us out of the depths and rescued us? How often has he turned our darkness into light? When God rescues, the battle isn’t over. It’s merely a pause. In that time of rest, God prepares us with strength and surefootedness to climb the next rocky path that lies ahead.

I long to have the strength to bend a bow of bronze, and the feet to climb the rocky mountains with surefootedness, don’t you? To long for the strength to handle the bronze bows and mountains of the everyday battles we face.

What was true with David is true with us. After God rescues, he isn’t finished. He gives us time to recover. As we recover, he trains and prepares us for our next battle. For surely, there will be a next battle.

What battles do you feel God is training you for, giving you the strength to bend a bronze bow to accomplish?

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It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great. You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way. Psalm 18:32-36

You can find my August Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Burden Or Blessing?

birds flying at sunsetWhen God allows something difficult into our life, do we view it as a burden or blessing? As with many things in life, we might answer, it depends. But what would happen if we looked at everything God allows to reach us as a blessing, no matter what the cost? How might our perspective change?

Recently, I was diagnosed with a rotator cuff tear. Burden. After six weeks of physical therapy and an MRI, turns out it isn’t a tear. Blessing. The problem is autoimmune related. Burden. God’s in control. Blessing.

Maybe when the orthopedic doctor first told me I had a tear, I should have just skipped straight to remembering God is in control, and counted it a blessing. Maybe. But that’s not how I looked at it at the time.

As I shifted from thinking rotator cuff tear with a possible treatment plan, to yet one more autoimmune-caused ailment without one, I read a devotion in Streams in the Desert. I would like to share what J.R. Miller wrote with you. Perhaps after reading it, you will see the hard things God allows into your life as more of a blessing than a burden.

There is a fable about the way birds first got their wings. The story goes that initially they were made without them. Then God made the wings, set them down before the wingless birds, and said to them, “Take up these burdens and carry them.”

 

After hesitating a bit, the birds picked up the burdens, and set them on their shoulders to carry. For a short time the wings seemed heavy and difficult to bear. But as the birds carried the wings, folded over their heart, the wings grew attached to their bodies.

They quickly discovered how to use them and were lifted by the wings high into the air. The weights had become wings. 

J.R. Miller continued, “We look at our burdens and heavy loads, and try to run from them, but if we will carry them and tie them to our hearts, they will become wings.”

No matter how overwhelming, any burden God has lovingly placed with His own hands on our shoulders is a blessing. Frederick William Faber

How do you look at the difficult things God places in your life? Burden or blessing? I’m striving to slide my burden/blessing meter closer to the blessing end. Will you join me?

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Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

You can find my August Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Lord, Make It Right

dark nightWhen life events seem confusing and beat down on us, we might cry out, Lord, make it right.

When we aren’t sure which is the best path to take, we might cry out, Lord, make it plain.

When things seem a little muddled and fuzzy, we might cry out, Lord, make what is so clear to you, clear to me.

Whenever we cry, Lord, make it right, we can be assured God is aware of what we’re going through. Sometimes we see his hand move as he works on our behalf. Other times we don’t. Whether or not we see God at work, it doesn’t change the fact he is working.

When we believe God is good, God is in control, God will never leave or forsake us, and trust in his sovereignty, we are better able to lay our needs at his feet while we wait for him to work in his way and in his timing.

This may not be an easy thing to do, but the more we do it, the easier it becomes.

How have you seen that to be true in your life?

“Being perplexed, I say,
‘Lord, make it right!
Night is as day to Thee,
Darkness as light.
I am afraid to touch
Things that involve so much;
My trembling hand may shake,
My skilless hand may break;
Thine can make no mistake.’

“Being in doubt I say,
‘Lord, make it plain;
Which is the true, safe way?
Which would be gain?
I am not wise to know,
Nor sure of foot to go;
What is so clear to Thee,
Lord, make it clear to me!’”

Streams in the Desert

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O our God, won’t you stop them? We have no way to protect ourselves against this mighty army. We don’t know what to do, but we are looking to you.

2 Chronicles 20:12 (TLB)

You can find my July Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Have Our Spiritual Tools Become Dull?

axe in block of woodAfter the past year we’ve had with the very real effects of COVID, I’m wondering. have our spiritual tools become dull?

Most of us avoid using dull tools to accomplish our work. If you’ve ever tried cutting a piece of wood with a rusty saw, or snipping a vine with a blunt pair of clippers you know using dull tools requires extra work and extra time. Work that could be avoided if proper care was given to the tool beforehand.

Those who cut out fabric to sew a garment usually guard their sewing shears with a vengeance. Sewing shears are not to be used to cut paper. The fastest way to blunt a pair of scissors is to cut paper with them. Or worse. Cut open a plastic bag. (Speaking to my family here.)

In the book of Ecclesiastes Solomon spoke of planning ahead. He advised keeping our axe sharpened before it became dull. Smart advice. I’ve not had much experience chopping wood with an axe, but I have thrown dull axes at wooden targets. From that experience, I can attest to how inefficient a dull axe is.

We may not own an axe or throw them at targets, but what about the spiritual areas of our life? Have we grown lax, and allowed our spiritual tools to become dull?

With the recent social distancing protocols in place, we may have slacked off in our church attendance. Virtual or otherwise. I know I did.

As things begin to return to the way they used to be, this is a great time to get with other believers and worship together.

Along with getting back in church, do we need to make the extra effort to join a Bible study group?

Studying God’s word on our own is important and necessary. However, when we discuss Scripture with others, we often gain insights we might miss when we study on our own.

If we’ve stopped reading our Bible on a regular basis, now is as good a time as any to get back in the habit.

Has our spiritual tool of prayer become dull? I am so grateful for those in my life who come alongside and pray for me. I am also grateful for people God places in my path to pray for.

Meeting together with other believers, group Bible study, and daily Scripture reading are all important spiritual tools we need to keep sharp. For me, though, praying and being prayed for is one spiritual tool I don’t ever want to let become dull.

Have our spiritual tools become dull? If so, let’s get busy sharpening them to be more effective for God’s work.

As Solomon said, it is smarter to plan ahead and keep our tools sharpened so we don’t have to work harder to use them.

What ways have you found to keep your spiritual tools from becoming dull?

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If your ax is dull and you don’t sharpen it, you have to work harder to use it. It is smarter to plan ahead. Ecclesiastes 10:10 (GNT)

You can find my July Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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