Friday, April 13, 2012

Being Sifted

Pardon my absence. Our family recently experienced a health scare because of my Dad, but God brought us through that. 

Yesterday, I learned that my friend, Carolyn, whom I mentioned in my prior post received her total healing, not on earth but in heaven. I'm going to miss her. 

Then, this morning I read an e-mail from another dear friend, whose writing I dearly miss, that she is going through something, too.

What is going on, Lord?

The answer came to me in a verse.
International Standard Version (©2008) "Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has asked permission to sift all of you like wheat, Luke 22:31
Though Jesus is talking directly to Simon Peter, it is directed to all of His followers. All. Including us, the present day followers of Christ. Doesn't it feel like we're all in a season of sifting right now? Our relationships, our loved ones, our health, our finances, our jobs... Reading that verse at face value is scary. One is almost tempted not to forge ahead with our God-given purpose because, really, who wants to go thru spiritual warfare and be sifted by Satan?  

However, I am comforted by two things: 
1) Satan has to ask God permission to do so.  Satan is not in charge, God is.
2) Because God loves us, I know He will only permit those things to come into our lives that will make us conform to His image. God is after our sanctification.

And I am also glad that God does not leave us hanging because if you read the next verse ~
International Standard Version (©2008) but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail. When you have come back, you must strengthen your brothers." Luke 22:32
But Jesus (I love that phrase!) has prayed for us - that our own faith should not fail. Is there a better Prayer Warrior than Jesus? Since He has prayed for us, He knows that we will come out of our sifting much stronger than when we came in.  Also notice this season of sifting has a limit.  He said "when you have come back..." Not "if" but "when."  

So, be strong, friends. Jesus won't let you fail. While you are alive and breathing, you have a God-given mission. Fulfill it. Don't give in to the fear. Our God is stronger!  

Friday, March 9, 2012

Write it down ~ (with an update at the bottom)

I posted this comment over at our other blog, His Gathering Place

"My nugget today came from the very dry reading in Numbers 33 which is basically a detail of Israel's journey from one place to the next. But the comment on my ESV Study Bible opened it up for me: 
It therefore serves as Moses’ testimony of what God has done for Israel during his lifetime. By mentioning Aaron’s death in vv. 38–39, Moses indirectly reminds the people that he too will die soon because of his disobedience (see 20:10–13). But this is not to suggest that God has failed his people; rather, this list of places where Israel triumphed over her enemies, was fed and watered, received the law, and was preserved for 40 years in the wilderness is proof that the Lord can bring Israel into Canaan—provided that they do not imitate the unbelief of their forefathers. The list therefore concludes with an urgent plea to make sure that all pagan worship is eliminated from Canaan when they enter it (33:50–56).  
Moses is going to die soon and he knows it. But before he leaves he wanted to give the people something to remember how God triumphed over their enemies, how they were fed and given the provision and preserved during their journey. To us it may just be a boring list of places we've never heard of, but to them these were their places of triumph."

The thought of death and dying have been on my mind lately. Not mine but someone whom I consider a friend. Her name is Carolyn and she's 77 years old. She was the one who trained me when I first worked for this firm. Last fall, she was diagnosed with lung cancer. She came out of that in a miraculous way. But last week she emailed that she now has a cancerous tumor in her brain. I continue to pray for her healing and for God's will to be done. In one way or another, I know she will get her healing. What I don't know is where - whether here or in eternity.

What do you do if you know your days are numbered? 

For me, I want to be like Moses and leave something similar for my children. A tangible proof of what God has done for me during my lifetime. How God guided, preserved and provided our family during the difficult days. Basically, to look back so they can look forward. Yes, we will come against the enemy but God is always faithful. I want them to see that. I want them to know He can be trusted.

I think back to the diaries I kept all the years. Most of them detailed my heartaches. I can read some of them and relive the pain over again. Not very healthy, huh? When I'm gone, I want my children to know that there's more to their mother than the pain and suffering. I want them to know there were joyous times as well. And these joyous times do not come from circumstances or even people (especially not people if they've read my other journals) but only from a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Because if He is in our hearts, then whatever happens whether joy or sorrow, it matters not because in the end, we can trust that Romans 8:28 is true. God does work all things together for good. 

How do I counteract years of negative journals? I don't want to throw them out because they were part of my history. Those things happened. But from here on out, I am going to be more proactive about finding the blessings in each day.

Then it occurred to me that I have already started doing that. 

The red notebook is the one I use for writing my One Thousand Gifts (we're somewhere in the 3,000's now), the black Moleskine with Snoopy is for my bible studies (currently Revelation thru Precept Ministries International), then the little spiral is my Siesta Memory verses (thru Beth Moore's ministry) from last year - maybe not all 24 verses memorized but they are there. I also discovered that the verses coincided with what happened or what was happening during the year. Funny how that works.

Eventually my goal is to have more journals detailing God's blessings and the lessons He taught me than the angst-filled journals of the years gone by. 

I have a lot of writing to do.

How about you? What kind of testimony do you want to leave behind?

Not even an hour after I published this post, I received an answer regarding my prayers for Carolyn. Here is an excerpt from the email she sent to our office:

Thanks, Mike... I feel yours and God's love.  have been home since afternoon of surgery -- sooooooo strung out on drugs (steroids) that I drive everyone crazy -- INCLUDING me!!!  So high that it will take two weeks to get me done.  BUT THE CANCER IS GONE and I do not have to have further treatment -- no chemo, radiation, etc. 
I AM DOING UNBELIEVABLY WELL!!  Please pass this on to Jan and Bob as well.
God bless,Carolyn 

Isn't that wonderful? Praise God!!!! How is that for Godspeed?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

His Faithfulness

Scripture Memory:

just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

(Colossians 1:7-8 ESV)


When I first read this my initial thought was: I wanted to be like Epaphras. He was commended for his faithfulness in his service for Christ. I prayed that my work be done not for the glory of self, nor men but always "as unto the Lord." I suspect that is how Epaphras did his ministry, which would explain why he was so effective for the cause of the gospel.

Then a few days later, I looked at the verse again and I was still struck with the same word "faithfulness" but this time it was God's. As I have shared before in my prior posts, Agent G and I were going through some growing pains. But God, oh He is always faithful!

I can't help but give Him props for always letting me know He can hear me and He knows what is going on. And what did He use this time? Of all things, fortune cookies. I normally don't put stock in what the fortune cookies say but in this case I take exception. I mean, if God can use a donkey to speak to a prophet, He can surely send a message thru a cookie. And send a message He did. 

This is what Agent G's fortune said:

(Uh yes, he who has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says.)

This was mine:.


These were both spot on. I looked around and listened for this tell-tale theme song because I was sure we just entered The Twilight Zone. 

I was speechless and beyond amazed that the Creator of heaven and earth, the God of the universe would take the time to - like it says in my memory verse - make known to me His love in the Spirit. I turned my face to hide a smile.

Thank you, Father!

*** {This is part of the  Adventures in Colossians series wherein I memorize, you guessed it, the book of Colossians in a year.} ***

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Scripture Memory:

because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,
(Colossians 1:5-6 ESV)


A double one again today. It seems God is always ready to open up these verses each time I look at them. If I had any doubt that God's word is alive and active, my experience in the last few days would certainly dispel that notion!

The first one is from the phrase "the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth." For most people the day they heard and understood the grace of God occur on the same day. In my case from the day I heard to the day I finally understood it took 16 years. My cousin, Tony, shared the gospel with me in the kitchen of our rental home in Daisy Place. We were eating dinner and I scoffed when he said if we accept Jesus Christ as my savior, all our sins are forgiven - past, present and future. That was 1987. I did not fully understand the grace of God in truth until 2003. It took three deaths - that of my maternal grandmother, my good friend and my mother - for everything to finally sink in. I finally got it. And I thought I was smart....

This morning the word hope caught my attention. February 28 has always been special to my husband and me. Today is the 31st anniversary of when Agent G and I started our relationship. We were young and so in love. I admit there are days when everything is difficult. But God! This morning, He gave me a special gift. I smiled when I saw it. Right there where that black blob is - wait, what IS that thing? A bird? A plane? Superman? Dirt on my window (most likely)? Anyway, right there - do you see it? The very faintest of rainbows curving down to the "N" in the sign. Just because He knows I love rainbows so much. It's His way of saying there is hope, no matter how faint. It's still there. 

Yes, even in the midst of unidentified black blobs, the things that I don't understand and dark clouds, overwhelming circumstances, dark emotions ~ there's hope. Thank you, Father.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Ten Thousand Reasons

Scripture Memory:

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints,
(Colossians 1:3-4 ESV)


When I first memorized these two verses, the phrase that jumped out at me was on verse 3 "when we pray for you," in particular the word "when." I wrote down "continual intercession for my brothers and sisters in Christ should be a part of my daily prayer life. My prayers should not just be focused on my comfort and my needs alone (and there are many). Like my reading in Revelation 5 this morning, it says that my prayers are like incense in a golden bowl. May it be a pleasing aroma to God, my Father!"

That was on February 15th. I thought I was done. A short and concise post - for a change.

But at the last minute, God gave me something else.

As I have shared with a friend, so far life has been a tad hard the last couple of days, weeks, months, okay, really it's the whole year. I suppose when you start 2012 with a visit to Urgent Care for your child it is sending you a message: "Girl ~ Hi, this is 2012. You're in for a ride. Watch out!" Thanks, 2012 I hope the Mayans were right about you.

Inspite of the challenges though, I find myself clinging more to God lately in the form of a song. "Bless the Lord, o my soul, oh my soul, worship His holy name, sing like never before, O my soul, worship Your holy name."

At home = sing. At church = sing. At work = sing (softly). In the shower = sing (LOUDLY). Earlier when I read Ann Voskamp's blog, she had a link to a YouTube video - and I couldn't believe it - it's my song! Well, it's Matt Redman's actually but you know what I mean. I felt like I just received a kiss from God. I took out my headphones and spent my lunch hour just singing, praising and crying. I felt my soul soaring. That is my when eyes fell on Colossians 1:3 "We always thank God...." In this context, my song sounds even better especially after reading the rest of the lyrics (I was stuck in the refrain). I'm posting it below. May it bless you as it has blessed me.

Matt Redman - Ten Thousand Reasons (10,000 Reasons) (Bless the Lord), New Album - 10,000 reasons, Year: 2011

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name

The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning
It's time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name

You're rich in love, and You're slow to anger
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name

Jesus, I'll worship Your holy name
Lord, I'll worship Your holy name

Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name
Jesus, I'll worship Your holy name
I'll worship Your holy name

May you find your 10,000 reasons to praise God today.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Adventures in Colossians

Hi, again. Excuse the dust. I have been busy posting twice a week on this blog and have neglected this one. You might ask, "But, Grace & Peace, you can't even keep up with this blog, why start another one?" Trust me, I'm asking that question myself. All I can say is: It's all God's fault. :) It's His idea not mine.

Sometimes God can be a tad...demanding. Not only does He want me reading His Word daily in 2012, He also wanted me to memorize Colossians in a year. Ahem, actually, He asked me to do that last year. But due to my son's illness (and my inherent laziness), I let it fall through. So, truthfully, it's not His fault.

What I plan to do is to post the two verses each day (or week or let's be realistic, however long it takes me) plus the insights that He gives as I ponder those two verses. I chose the ESV instead of the NIV used in Ann's blog (see, another excuse - I'm good at finding those).

Shall we begin?

I admit my weakness, I'm motivated by cute. And this notebook I found at Staples from the Martha Stewart line is very cute:

I printed the verses on the Avery 8164 labels (6 to a sheet) so I couldn't use the excuse of "I don't have time to cut and paste the verses!" The label fits perfectly in the notebook. It was done in no time!

What are we waiting for? Let's go!

[x] Memorize:

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
(Colossians 1:1-2 ESV)

Paul became an apostle by the will of God. He was a Pharisee (Philippians 3:5-7) and in his own words, a "persecutor of the church." But God (I love this phrase - anytime you see that it means something good is about to happen) had something in mind for him (see what I mean?). Something that is beyond his imaginings. Paul preached the gospel to the Gentiles and his writings live on today.

God can give someone a Damascus experience where the blindness and scales will fall afterwards. No one is beyond the reach of God's mighty hand. Amen and Amen.

What hope that gives me!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

An Invitation

How is 2012 so far? Are you keeping your resolutions? If one of them is to go on a deeper walk with God, perhaps I can help in some way. Some friends and I are reading through the bible here. Will you join us? We would love to have you there.

May this year be more fruitful than the last.

Happy New Year!