Don’t Miss Your Miracle!

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2

Sometimes I get frustrated with prayer.

I probably shouldn’t say that. But I’m just being honest. After all, we live in a society of instant gratification. So we get wearied when prayers seem to go unanswered. And our enemy fuels that weariness, feeding our flesh with thoughts of futility.

It’s hard to have faith when we lose hope.

I know you’ve been there. I certainly have. Maybe you’re there right now.

What situation in your life have you labeled hopeless? What have you stopped praying for because you didn’t see God move the way you’d hoped? What if you’ve given up right on the threshold of your blessing?

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2

Scripture calls us to pray without ceasing—to continue steadfastly—and to watch for the movement of God with thanksgiving. In other words, never lose hope.

I know. Easier said than done.

Especially when the road is long.

A few months ago, my husband and I met a wonderful Christian couple from Alabama while vacationing. God intersected our paths, and we quickly became friends.

Over the course of the week, we shared our stories and lots of laughter. But I also discovered that a deep pain lurked behind their friendly personalities and bright smiles. One of their daughters had suffered from illness for all of her twelve years.

At birth, because of a hole in her diaphragm, some of her organs weren’t where they should’ve been. Surgery corrected the problem, but it left its mark. Eating remained a constant struggle. Consuming food hurt, so she never wanted to eat. Every meal became a battle. At twelve years old, she weighed only 58 pounds.

Her parents shared stories of God’s faithfulness over the years. Through their hardship, they had been watchful, offering God praise for bringing their daughter through so much.

But they were weary. Twelve years is a long time to watch a loved one suffer. And to experience that suffering yourself as turmoil disrupts your days.

God stirred my heart to pray for our new friends and their daughter. And to rekindle their hope.

We won't believe without hope. Don't let the enemy steal yours. Click To Tweet

After we’d returned home, I was praying for this dear child I’d never met but loved in Jesus’ name. I felt the ache of this family’s twelve years of suffering. And Jesus reminded me of the woman with the issue of blood who had suffered twelve long years. Twelve years of seeking doctors only to worsen. Until one day, Jesus of Nazareth intersected her life and she touched the hem of His garment. Grace poured out from her Savior and healed what doctors could not.

I texted my new friend that April morning to encourage her that I was praying for her, and to share what Jesus had revealed about the woman with the issue of blood. The Spirit stirred my heart that it was time for fresh hope, and I told her I believed Jesus wanted her daughter living free from this burden over food. I would fight the battle with her in prayer.

Just last week I received incredible news from my friend. A new medication has stimulated her daughter’s appetite and she’s eating everything in sight! She has begun to enjoy her food and even tells her parents she’s hungry—something they’d never heard from her before. She’s also gained a few pounds.

Why do we keep praying, beloved? Because God moves through faith. And you never know when God’s perfect timing will intersect your circumstances—and you’ll receive your miracle. Even after 12 long years—or twenty, or thirty.

Which is why our enemy promotes hopelessness. We won’t believe without hope. And we’ll quit praying. So we miss our miracle.

And he [Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?  I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Luke 18:1-8

Beloved, your heavenly Father asks you to consider. If an unrighteous judge will give in to a persistent demand, will not the God who loves you move in answer to your perpetual prayers? He has staked His Word that persistent prayer will move Him, which is precisely why our enemy convinces us to lose hope.

To believe God for something when your circumstances consistently tell you something else requires tremendous faith. And faith is the catalyst that releases the grace of God to pour out salvation (Ephesians 2:8).

So Jesus asks you.

When He looks into your seemingly hopeless situation, will He find faith?


No Offense, But…

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. Proverbs 10:12

Have you noticed how easily we get offended?

Honestly, it doesn’t take much. It offends us if the person in the car in front of us drives too slow. Or when the service at a restaurant doesn’t meet our expectations. We even take offense when someone looks at us the wrong way—or doesn’t look at us at all.

Every day we allow grievances to snatch away our peace. Then when something really hurtful happens, we’re undone.

Beloved, Jesus went to the cross to rid us of offense.

Perhaps you’ve never thought of it that way before. But the power of the cross lies in forgiveness, and forgiveness takes no offense.

Jesus showed us what that looked like as He bled for us on the cross.

And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34

The people screaming, “Crucify Him!” weren’t sorry. They hadn’t apologized. It wasn’t even over. They shouted insults while He bled for them. They celebrated His agony while He struggled to gasp out the words, “Father, forgive them.”

The love released through that act of forgiveness shook the earth and tore the veil. It crumbled the barrier that separated man from God. And it conquered sin and death in man’s heart so love and life could flow in its place—love that empowers, love that redeems, love that transforms and heals.

When we choose offense, we submit to the spirit of the world—of hatred—rather than the Spirit of love Christ poured out. We choose our sin nature instead of Christ’s nature. Jesus always forgives.

1 Corinthians 13:5 tells us love does not insist on its own way, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Hatred keeps that record, dear one. It remembers every offense.

Can you see why God compels us to forgive, dear one? God is love, and love covers all offenses (Proverbs 10:12).

Beloved, you and I have been empowered by the Holy Spirit dwelling within us to live driven by Christ’s love rather than sin’s hate. We’ve been given a new nature—Christ’s nature—and that nature offers the power to dramatically change our present circumstances. When walking in that nature, we enjoy the beautiful fruit the Holy Spirit provides.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Wouldn’t you love to live each day feeling your heart swell with love and bubble over with joy? Wouldn’t you love the peace of God to wash away your anxiety and worry? Don’t you long to find yourself empowered to patience instead of blowing up at the people you love?

Unfortunately, that isn’t where most of us live. Instead, we far more readily give in to our flesh, spending much of our days tied up in knots, feeling frustrated, angry, depressed, and overcome by the circumstances we find ourselves in. Our families end up baring the brunt of our misery.

What are we missing? Perhaps Matthew 6:14-15 will shed some light on the root of our struggle.

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Powerful words. Jesus said if I refuse to forgive others, God won’t forgive me. Let’s put it another way. If I refuse to release others, God doesn’t release me.

No wonder so many of us feel stuck.

Taking offense and harboring bitterness in your heart will keep you from experiencing the grace of forgiveness in your own life. That means the power God offers through forgiveness gets held back, and you feel the weight of the offense you carry.

You may have noticed. Offense imprisons you in darkness.

Dear one, God’s command to forgive those who offend us isn’t about letting them off the hook. It’s about allowing God’s power to continue to flow into our lives. Bitterness blocks the flow of His love, and love empowers everything God does.

You and I don’t deserve forgiveness, dear one. We’re guilty. But Jesus offers it anyway and asks us to receive it by faith.

Yet we struggle to extend that grace others. We want people to earn it. And we won’t offer forgiveness freely because whoever hurt us doesn’t deserve it.

I won’t argue with you. Nobody really deserves forgiveness. The very fact that we need to extend it means that a wrong has taken place.

But God’s not asking us to let people off the hook when He asks us to forgive them. He’s asking us to let Him bear the burden. He’s asking us to trust His promise in Exodus 14:14,

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (NIV)

When we trust God to keep His Word and surrender our bitterness, a beautiful thing happens. He moves on our behalf. And trusting Him accesses the grace of God to provide the fruit of the Spirit in us. Love replaces anger. Joy replaces bitterness. Peace overshadows strife.

Forgive, dear one, so you can be forgiven. Release your captors so that you can live free.

When Favor Brings Opposition

They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.”

 But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” Nehemiah 6:9 NIV

 I used to believe that God’s favor meant ease. Then I felt the touch of God’s favor.

Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t trade following Jesus for anything. I want to walk in the steps of the God who goes before and experience His presence. And at times I am astounded as I witness His unmistakable hand making the impossible possible.

Yet there are other moments along the journey when difficulties arise that sap my strength. Doubt surfaces, bringing with it a lingering question: Have I stepped out of God’s favor?

Have you ever been there? Have you stepped out in faith, following a prompting God stirred in your heart, only to discover that opposition and difficulty seem to overshadow the favor you thought God had given?

If you have, you’re not alone. Scripture is full of stories of faith heroes that clearly possessed God’s favor yet faced terrible opposition. Nehemiah is one of those heroes.

His story begins with a stirring in his heart for the Jewish remnant returning to Jerusalem after 70 years of Babylonian captivity. He had been told,

Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Nehemiah 1:3-4

Nehemiah poured out his burden before the Lord, confessing the sins of the people and recalling God’s covenant promises. He finished with these words,

“Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.” I was cupbearer to the king. Nehemiah 1:11

Nehemiah needed the favor of the king he served in order to return to Jerusalem and fulfill his calling to rebuild the city walls. When the time came to seek that favor, Scripture tells us he “was very much afraid” (Nehemiah 2:2). He had reason to be. The king did not serve Nehemiah’s God and had no reason to want to help Israel—or to release Nehemiah from three years of service to complete the project.

Yet after seeking the Lord, Nehemiah stepped out in faith and asked the king for permission to go. But he didn’t just ask for time off. He asked for letters giving him safe travel and for King Artaxerxes himself to provide materials for the project. Nehemiah should certainly have been executed for such a request, and yet Nehemiah 2:8 reveals,

And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests.

 When God’s favor rests upon the head of His own, even a pagan king bows down.

And so Nehemiah set out for Jerusalem—papers in hand—accompanied by army officers and cavalry sent by the king.

Unfortunately, others aren’t always happy to see God’s kingdom advance. As soon as Nehemiah and the Jews began to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls, men from surrounding communities who feared Israel regaining strength began to mock and ridicule them.

Still, they worked to rebuild the wall, crying out to God, “Hear us, our God, for we are despised” (Nehemiah 4:4). They managed to rebuild until the wall reached half its height.

Then their opponents plotted to fight against them, so the people prayed to God and posted a guard day and night to meet the threat. Half of the men worked while the others kept watch armed with weapons. Supply transporters even worked with one hand and carried weapons in the other (Nehemiah 4:17). Still, the work progressed.

Then Nehemiah began to help the poor, bringing further opposition. This time they schemed to bring harm to God’s servant another way. They drafted a letter accusing Nehemiah of trying to incite a revolt and proclaim himself king. Now we come to our opening Scripture,

They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.”

 But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” Nehemiah 6:9

And God did.

So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two daysWhen all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God. Nehemiah 6:15-16

God’s favor rested upon Nehemiah from beginning to end. His hand never left him, even when he weakened under oppression. The difficulty didn’t mean God’s favor had departed. No. It gave God an opportunity to provide Nehemiah strength in his weakness and became the very thing that proved God’s hand was with him all along.

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Dear one, if opposition comes against you when you set out to answer God’s call, don’t despair that God has abandoned you. He hasn’t. He is faithful to keep His Word no matter how circumstances appear. Opposition often affirms your stance in God’s will and provides an opportunity for Him to reveal His Glory.

And He may just be doing a good work in you in the process.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

Do You Seek God’s Heart or His Hand?

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” Genesis 15:1 NKJV

Most of us struggle to realize that God Himself is our reward. We long for the things we believe He can give us. After all, we have desperate needs. But we often keep God at a distance.

Ten lepers met Jesus in a village as He journeyed between Samaria and Galilee. Luke 17:12 tells us they stood at a distance as they cried out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us” (verse 13). Jesus responded with an unusual request.

When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. (verse 14)

Place yourself in the scene, dear one. Ten lepers—outcasts because of their condition—had heard about a healer from Nazareth. Hope stirred their weary hearts. Maybe—just maybe—He could fix their problem. If He did what the stories promised He could, their lives would change forever. Healing meant they could reenter society. They’d return to their families.

They would live again.

They weren’t disappointed. Jesus answered their hope with direction. He told them to show themselves to the priests.

That might seem an odd request to you and me, but according to Old Testament Law, lepers could only return to living among their people if the priest declared them clean. By sending the lepers to present themselves to the priest, Jesus had declared their healing.

But I’d like you to notice something. He sent them away before they were healed.

When those ten men departed from Jesus, their skin still oozed from open sores.

And as they went they were cleansed. (verse 14)

Can you even imagine how they must have felt? Still bearing the marks of their defiled condition, they departed from Jesus in obedient faith. With each step toward the priests, they left behind their sickness and moved toward healing. By the time they reached them, they were completely cleansed.

Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” (verses 15-19)

My heart stirs with the same question Jesus asked that day. Where are the other nine?

Jesus drastically changed the lives of ten men that day, yet only one of them thanked Him. Only one returned to look upon his Savior. Only one fell on his face at Jesus’ feet.

And only one will rise in glory when Christ returns. “… your faith has made you well.”

 For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation. Psalm 149:4

Beloved, nine received an external cleansing and were satisfied. Only one believed Jesus worthy of honor for restoring his body, and he received the greater work. Jesus also healed him on the inside.

You see, his position had changed. This Samaritan started out just like all the other lepers. They all stood at a distance (verse 12), crying out to Jesus in desperate physical need. But even after Jesus healed them, the other nine remained there.

Nine had no desire for Jesus’ presence. They just wanted His blessing. They didn’t want Him. So they received their healing and went on their way as though they’d never met Him.

But one couldn’t stay away. With praise on his lips, he immediately turned toward the One who had healed his body. And he offered himself. He fell on his face before Him, close enough to touch His feet. Distance no longer defined his relationship to the Healer. And that made him more than well. It made him whole.

Have you come close to Jesus, dear one? Do you seek His presence? Or do you seek His hand?

Most of us seek God for external works. We want Him to heal our finances, our marriages, our bodies. But we don’t really want Him. We aren’t willing to fall on our faces. We just want to take from His hands and get on with living our lives.

We want what He can do, but we don’t desire Him.

Jesus is the reward, dear one. He’s the treasure. Seek Him as one, beloved, and you’ll experience what the leper did. He will make you well.

 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:45-46