Category: Lesson from the Bible

When You’re Desperate for a Sign #livefreeThursday

As a single parent decision making has been one of my biggest struggles. Especially when I know a decision will have consequences for years to come.

My father and one of my brothers had chosen a car for me when we returned to Canada. It was a small car, perfect for the 4 of us. My brother had negotiated the price, I only had to bring my cheque book, pay for it and drive it home.

Six years later my car met up not with one, but with two deer on the highway. I was devastated when the insurance appraiser called with the news that the car had to be written off, they would only pay out a few thousand for it. How was I supposed to buy a reliable car with this small amount of money?

I had about two weeks to make a decision. Should I risk it and buy an old car? What if it needed repairs or broke down, how would I pay for it? Or should I risk it and buy a new car? A car loan would mean payments for the next five years. It would I be very tight financially for these five years.

I prayed for a sign. I wanted a sign. I was desperate for a sign.

But there was no sign. I took the first step and researched and read many reviews on cars. I took another step and visited a car dealership. I prayed like mad those days and nights. I wanted someone else to make this decision for me. But there was no one to do it for me. This time I had to make the decision. I signed the purchase papers and the car loan documents. A few days later I came to pick up my car. I was shaking and nauseous when I received the car keys.

It started to rain as I drove off the dealership’s parking lot. I stopped for gas before heading home. I paid for the gas and returned to the car. All of a sudden the sky broke open, the rain stopped and the biggest double rainbow appeared!

God answered my prayers! He gave me a sign. A sign of His promise.

12 “And I seal this promise with this sign: 13 I have placed my rainbow in the clouds as a sign of my promise until the end of time, to you and to all the earth. 14 When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will be seen in the clouds, 15 and I will remember my promise to you and to every being, that never again will the floods come and destroy all life. 16-17 For I will see the rainbow in the cloud and remember my eternal promise to every living being on the earth.” Genesis 9:12-17 The Living Bible

I couldn’t start the car. I sat and wept. I knew without a shadow of a doubt God was with me. We would be ok financially. He would provide all we needed. And He really did.

God sealed His promise to Noah with the sign of a rainbow. Every time I see a rainbow I am reminded of God’s faithfulness.

“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.” Hebrews 10:23 New Living Translation

 

 

Sweet or salty? Maybe both? #livefreeThursday

Stainless steel salt & pepperPhoto credit: Creative Commons License Bill Smith via Compfight

 

The topic for this week’s #livefreeThursday is “salty.” When I looked up the word “salt” on biblegateway.com I came across an interesting passage:

Season all your grain offerings with salt to remind you of God’s eternal covenant. Never forget to add salt to your grain offerings. Leviticus 2:13 NLT

This passage reminded me of what I learned about ten years ago. I sat in the office of an Ear-Nose-Throat specialist. After extensive testing he presented me with the diagnosis: Ménière’s. My presciption? No caffeine and no salt. I had less of a problem with “no caffeine,” but wasn’t quite sure what to do about the “no salt” part. After a few days spent on Google I concluded this would be the hardest diet change I had ever done.

My research showed that salt and sugar are basically everywhere. Did you know that during processing of table salt aluminum is used to whiten the salt which makes the salt bitter? To counter the bitterness sugar is added!

I was devastated by what I learned when reading food labels. I ordered a few books on salt-free cooking and baking. From reading those books I learned that it’s a lot more efficient to add salt at the table than during cooking. When you cook without salt and add salt at the table, you use a lot less salt and lower your sodium intake.

I grew up saying grace before each meal. Most times I still say grace before a meal. And then I add a little salt to my meal. Sounds a lot like an Old Testament offering to me.

God required his people to add salt to all their offerings, not just the grain offering (Leviticus 2:12-16). Why? Salt was supposed to remind the people of “God’s eternal covenant.” That’s a whole new picture for me. When I thank God for the meal I am about to eat, and when I season my meal with salt, I should remember “God’s eternal covenant.” I never thought about it this way when I sprinkled some salt on my food. I like this idea, this symbol.

Next time you and I grab the salt shaker, how about we pause and offer a prayer of thankfulness and remember God’s eternal covenant!

 

 

 

 

God is in the Business of Impossible

I find myself in the hallway these days. I’m on the move. Between places. I got here kicking and screaming. Why? A few words come to mind: stuck, comfortable, complacent. I drifted to a place I had no intention to end up. Who wants to break up with comfortable just for the fun of it? There might be a few people out there who would like that, but most of us like the comfortable zone, the known.

I said, I would never sell my house before I retire. Now I’m selling it. Over the last two years it has become increasingly obvious that my house, the yard and all the stuff we’ve accumulated has weighed me down. It has felt like a boulder tied to my feet, impossible to move. And when you can’t move, you make yourself comfortable and make the best of the situation. But not God…

God wants me to move, and he is rearranging my life. While it’s not fun to be stretched and squeezed I know there is a something better ahead of me.

I remembered a blog post I wrote in 2014. The words I wrote then are even more pertinent to my hallway situation today. Here is the post (abbreviated):

impossible

 

I woke up with this phrase in my head: Glorious Impossible. I couldn’t quite understand why these words were playing in my mind. Then it hit me: Glorious Impossible! Just the combination of these two words seems conflicting. What’s so glorious about impossible?

As I kept repeating these two words over and over during my morning routine I was reminded of the circumstances I’m facing, problems I’m dealing with, dreams I have. It occurred to me that most of them (if not all) have the word “impossible” attached to it.

Beth Moore writes in The Patriarchs, “Many times when God told me through His Word and prayer to believe Him for something very specific, over time the outlook on the matter dwindled from good to slim to utterly impossible before He brought it to pass. Keith and I are facing such a matter right now. In fact, this morning the situation seemed to hit the ‘impossible’ category. While my stomach churned with concern, a smirk crossed my face as I thought, it might be prime time for the God show. He wants to make absolutely sure that we know He’s the one who fulfills divine promises.”

Coming back to my circumstances and all the impossibles I’m facing, I know only God can turn them around. If I learned anything from God over the last eight years it’s this: His timing is perfect and His way of solving my Impossibles is the best way. On one hand I struggle with impatience, with wanting to solve it myself, with rushing and manipulating the impossibles in my life. On the other hand I am excited to see how God will turn it around. I’m looking forward to seeing Him perform the miracle of GLORIOUS IMPOSSIBLE in my life.

Today I choose to believe my God for the GLORIOUS IMPOSSIBLE!

“We will rarely be able to conclude that any God-given destiny simply followed a natural course of events.” Beth Moore

What about you? Are you facing any impossibles right now? Why not trust God with it and believe the words the angel spoke to Mary: “For nothing is impossible with God.”

Running from God or from Grace or both? #livefreeThursday

My life is trying to run awayCreative Commons License Vincepal via Compfight

A few weeks ago a song stopped me in my thoughts during my morning commute to work. “Always stay humble and kind,” I heard a man’s voice singing on the radio. I turned up the volume to listen to the words. At the end of each verse he’d sing, “always stay humble and kind.”

I was not in a good place that morning, if you know what I mean. I hadn’t slept well, pushed the snooze button way to many times that morning, and was irritated when I left the house. Each week, if not not daily, new constructions were set up along my route to work. Stop and go and more stop than go didn’t lighten my mood either. If anything, this made me even more irritable.

Do you think it was a coincidence I heard that song the last 1000 meters before I arrived at the office? I parked my car and bowed my head. I realized God had spoken. I confessed to God my irritable behaviour, my negative thoughts, my self-righteousness, the unwillingness to extend grace. Yes, grace.

I’m reminded of Jonah and his unwillingness to extend grace. He displayed his self-righteous attitude by not going to Nineveh as God had instructed. He decided to “go in the opposite direction to get away from the LORD.” (Jonah 1:3 NLT) When Jonah receives his marching orders from God the second time, he obeys.

You would think that’s how the story ends. A happy ending after much turmoil, like a storm, being thrown overboard, swallowed by a great fish, spit out onto a beach…

Jonah obeys, right? Yes, he does. But he still doesn’t agree with God when God doesn’t destroy the city of Nineveh after its people confess and turn to God.

Wasn’t that why Jonah was asked to go and preach to the people of Nineveh? But Jonah didn’t see it that way. He complains to God: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, LORD?… I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me know, LORD! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.” Jonah 4: 2-3 NLT

Do you hear Jonah’s pride? He predicted the doom and gloom for Nineveh, and now that God relented and changed his mind and decided to show grace to the people, Jonah was all bent out of shape. His credibility as a prophet was gone…

Or did he think they didn’t deserve God’s grace? They were the enemy of his people, violent and merciless. And now God showed them grace?

“Jonah wanted the Ninevites to pay for their crimes against his people. In his graceless way of thinking, they should get what they had coming. Jonah couldn’t get past his prejudice. He was caught in the conflict of grace: it was something he was quick to ask for, but not something he was quick to dispense.” Andy Stanley in The Grace of God

“Always be humble and kind” reminded me of how quick I am to ask for grace, but oh so slow to dispense grace.

Who am I do decide who deserves grace and who does not? Jonah’s story is a great reminder to leave prejudice and self-righteousness and pride at the door. Instead, extend grace, and “always be humble and kind.”

livefreethursday

 

 

Do You Like to Worry? #lifefreeThursday

Normal People Worry Me DutchAstrid via Compfight

“What kind of question is that?” you might ask. “Who would – in their right mind – like to worry?” You might disagree with me on using the word “like” when it comes to worry.

Why do we keep doing it if we don’t like it? In other cases, if I don’t like something I find a way not to do it, or I change it.

If I have a habit I don’t like, I work on changing it. If I don’t want to drive this route, I will find an alternate one. If I don’t like doing dishes I buy a dishwasher.

Why can’t we do it with worry?

In Matthew 6:27 Jesus asks, “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?”

I want to suggest that worry takes from you instead of adding.

Worry robs you of hours and maybe even days and weeks out of your life.

Worry steals your peace.

Worry deprives you of joy.

Worry confiscates your mind.

Worry takes your much needed, precious sleep.

Worry goes off with your health and refuses to return it.

Again, what does Jesus say about worrying?

“So don’t worry about tomorrow. For tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:34

“…your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.” Matthew 6:32b

Isn’t that encouraging to hear? God knows my needs, and I’m supposed to live in the present. Today is what matters!

The apostle Paul wrote some precious words about worrying, too!

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Philippians 4:6

Today I make a choice not to worry. I focus on the good things in my life. I practice thanksgiving. And I pray, pray and pray some more!

While I pray, my mind focuses on God and His Word, and I let go of my worry and receive peace.

What keeps you up at night? What drives your thoughts in circles during the day? Bring it to God in prayer, and leave it with Him. “…your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.”

 

 

Heal Me!

Day Thirty-Eight. -2.17.08. xobellefemme via Compfight

Reading through Max Lucado’s book “Before Amen” I came to chapter Five: Heal Me.

This one is very close to my heart. I’ve read it many times since.

“Heal me,” is a prayer I have prayed more than any other.

“Adam and Eve had a falling out with God and a falling out with each other. Nature fell out of whack, and the human body out of balance. The Fall was exactly that: a fall from wholeness. Sin opened the door, and sickness walked in.”  (page 49, “Before Amen”)

 

Heal me! Is that an unreasonable prayer? Read more

When You Go Through Deep Waters…

Isaiah 43 2-3

I have clung to these words with super glue. When you’re a single mom of three, you know you will face deep waters. I will face rivers of difficulty. Oh, and the fire of oppression is no cozy, warming fire.

I will never forget the dark, starless night when I stood at the living room window of our country house in the middle of nowhere in Manitoba. I saw the taillights of my husband’s vehicle turn left at the end of our long driveway. He left never to return.

Deep waters. Rivers of difficulty. Fire of oppression.

I was in “deep waters” when I moved after my divorce from Canada to Germany. My kids were 6, 4 and 2. I needed to find employment, a place to live, enroll my oldest in school, find daycare for the two youngest.

Yes, the waters were deep. Many times I felt like I was drowning, I feared I wouldn’t have the strength to come up for air again. But you know what? I didn’t drown.

I didn’t drown because I was never alone!

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you!”

I get goosebumps just taking in this promise. God is with me!

When I felt I was losing my mind and couldn’t go on anymore, I remember uttering the only words I could think of: “God, please help me!”

Even though family and some friends helped along the way, they could not get me out of the deep waters I was in. At the end of the day they went to their homes, and I was left with my little children to fight yet another night, another day to survive the deep waters.

“I will be with you.”

I am living proof that God is indeed with us! Whatever deep waters you are facing today, look up to the One who will guide you through. God will even carry you, if necessary.

God with us. Emmanuel.

 

Are you looking for peace?

Turmoil

Creative Commons License marcusrg via Compfight

“The key to peace is authority. When we allow the Prince of Peace to govern our lives, peace either immediately or ultimately results. Peace accompanies authority.” Beth Moore

This quote from this week’s Bible study “Breaking Free” by Beth Moore got me thinking about times in my life when I was completely at peace, though my circumstances were difficult, complicated to say the least.

Why am I anxious and restless in far less complicated situations but have peace when the world around me is crushing?

Is it because I think I can handle smaller “situations” myself but need God for the real big ones?

God offers peace to us in any and all circumstances. However, there’s a condition: I’ve got to put my trust in Him and have my mind set on God. God wants authority over my life.

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you.”    Isaiah 26:3

To surrender my life under God’s authority is not a price to pay. His peace is a gift that results from our surrender and the knowledge He is in control of our circumstances, our families, all of it.

Jesus told his disciples in John 14:27:

“I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

What is it you’re facing today? Are you in need of some peace of mind and heart? It’s a gift! Go to Jesus and receive this gift!

 

When Healing Doesn’t Come…

The year I turned 40, things changed. One sickness chased another. I’ve been diagnosed with several chronic diseases. Most of them are what I call “invisible diseases.” It’s hard to explain Ménière’s disease or chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

Interestingly enough, on days I feel the worst I get the most compliments on how good I look. Read more