Luke 8:47 – The Hem of His Garment

Luke 8:47 – The Hem of His Garment

I greatly admire her fortitude, fearlessness and faith. Fortitude helped her withstand twelve long years without healing. Fearlessness compelled her to go to a place where she was not supposed to be. Faith thoroughly convinced her that touching Him would bring healing.

*This post originally appeared on Devotableapp.com on May 9th, 2019

She came up behind him and touched the hem of his clothes, and at once her bleeding stopped. Luke 8:47 CEB

The Bleeding Woman

I love reading about miracles Jesus performed during His ministry on Earth. In the books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, in between the accounts of Him freeing a demon-possessed man and raising a twelve-year-old girl back to life, we can find the story of Him healing a woman with an “issue of blood.”  And wow, what an issue it was! She endured twelve years of physical pain, being ostracized, and unsuccessfully seeking healing from countless doctors.

Hopeless, helpless and hurting.

I have tried to imagine what my mindset and emotional state would be after a dozen straight years of suffering physically, being rejected socially, and receiving no relief from numerous doctors as they bled my bank account dry. I do not think I would have the strength that she showed when she sought healing from Jesus by pressing into a crowd of people who had likely been unkind and uncaring toward her.

I greatly admire her fortitude, fearlessness and faith. Fortitude helped her withstand twelve long years without healing. Fearlessness compelled her to go to a place where she was not supposed to be. Faith thoroughly convinced her that touching Him would bring healing.

All three of the Gospel accounts record the facts that she touched the hem of His garment, she was instantly healed, and that Jesus told her that her faith had made her well. 

Why Did Jesus Ask, “Who Touched Me?”

Two of the three Gospels include another intriguing detail: When Jesus felt power leave His body, He asked, “Who touched me?”  Of course, He knew who touched Him; He knew everything! Why did He ask that question aloud and await a verbal response? 

Jesus could have continued on His journey, and He and the woman could have kept a special secret between them. He had places to go and people to heal. However, He took the time to ask the question. 

When she responded, the crowd witnessed the fact that Jesus desired to bring wholeness to a desperate woman. They saw that she mattered to Him. Her importance to Jesus superseded His schedule and social norms. 

You Matter to Jesus

You matter to Jesus too. Has anyone told you that lately? 

Regardless of what you are going through, you matter to Jesus. Regardless of which road to restoration you are currently traveling, you matter to Jesus. Regardless of how friends and society treat you, you matter to Jesus. 

You have a Healer who loves you. 

A Great Physician who wants you to be whole. 

You matter.

Muster up your fortitude, fearlessness, and faith. Reach out and touch Him today. 

Prayer – Thank You, Jesus, for who You are. Thank You for loving us and for Your desire to bring healing and make us whole. Help us have the faith it takes to reach out to You. Amen.

 

 

3 Ways to Let Our Little Light Shine

3 Ways to Let Our Little Light Shine

Psalm 147:4 (CEB)“God counts the stars by number, giving each one a name.”

When we gaze into the heavens on a clear night, we see a sky full of glimmering, light-giving stars created by God. In Psalm 147, it says He knows precisely how many stars there are and that He has given each one a name. The attention He has paid to the stars reminds us as His prized possession, how valued and precious we are to Him.

Just as God has perfectly designed the stars to light up a darkened sky, He has given each of us the responsibility to shine His life-giving light in the darkness. Matthew 5:16 says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

A catchy song that has been around for many years prompts us to let our little light shine. Within the lyrics of that traditional, well-loved melody are three lessons that we can learn from stars about shining our light.

  1. “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.” Take responsibility for your God-given task. 

Stars do not have to be continuously told how much, where, or when to shine because shining is what stars naturally do. Likewise, in Matthew 5:14-16, we are told that we are the light of the world and to shine before people, “so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven.” For example, loving those who are labeled as unlovable, forgiving the unforgivable, and radiating Christlike joy even in the middle of tragic life experiences are ways to reflect the radiance of our Heavenly Father and show this world how amazing He is. When our love for God compels us to love others the way He wants us to, this world gets the opportunity to see Him in us and be changed by Him.

  1. “Hide it under a bushel, no, I’m gonna let it shine!” Shine whether we are in the forefront or the background.

Stars do not stop shining if the surrounding stars emit a brighter light. They continue to shine from wherever their position is in the heavens. When we compare what we perceive as our light’s impact to someone else’s impact and become discouraged, we hinder God’s plan. He is a Master Designer, and His design includes us using the unique gifts He granted us to bring Him glory. Comparing our shine to others is a waste of time since God purposely bestowed different personalities and talents upon each one of us. He created all of us differently so that when we are shining our unique light, the result displays His brilliance. 

  1. “Don’t let Satan blow it out. I’m gonna let it shine!” Shine even when others ignore, reject, or complain about the light.

How brightly stars shine is not dependent on the reaction of people who view them. If the light they radiate is not noticed or appreciated, stars keep right on shining. Speaking from experience, being unnoticed or unappreciated can produce an, “I give up. What is the use of even trying?” attitude. To continue trying to live a Christ-filled life when it seems like we are having no impact or even a negative impact on others can be difficult. But when we are focused on the reaction of people rather than the reward of an obedient life, we are missing what truly matters. We might even decide to allow our light to be blown out and therefore give Satan the satisfaction of succeeding in his mission. However, if we shift our focus back to God’s opinion of us rather than the world’s and pray for inspiration to continue shining, I believe we will stay motivated to let our light keep right on shining. 

The next time we look into the heavens and marvel at the twinkling stars that God created, may we allow them to inspire us to persevere in letting our little light shine. “Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!”

Unprayed Answers

Unprayed Answers

Whenever I am seated at the piano on Sunday mornings leading our congregation in song along with our church praise team, I consider it to be one of the sweetest blessings in my life. In addition to me, the team presently includes three vocalists, a bass guitarist, an occasional drummer, and an acoustic guitar player. 

In the early 2000s, as I sat on a padded metal chair in a conference room filled with hundreds of other women at a Christian event, a husband and wife duo performed several moving songs. She sang and he played guitar. Listening to them share their love of Jesus and music in such a special way made an impact on me. For a few months after the conference, my mind revisited how touching it was that they had the opportunity to participate in a music ministry together as husband and wife. However, as time went on, the memory of that duo disappeared from my mind.

A few years later, on a whim, my husband and I both attempted to teach ourselves how to play guitar. He learned much more easily and quickly than I did, and my ego took a hit, so I quit. I never tried learning guitar again, and I might just be a little bitter about my husband having such a seemingly easy time mastering a new instrument, especially since I am the one with a music degree and background. (By the way, if you were expecting a post about perseverance when the going gets tough, this is not it.) 😉

More than a decade later on a Sunday morning in 2017, as I sat in front of the sanctuary leading a worship song with the praise team, the memory of that husband and wife duo unexpectedly reappeared in my mind. I immediately began to tear up. I confess that I frequently tear up during the music portion of our church service because when the song lyrics proclaim the greatness of God’s love and faithfulness, my gratitude causes an emotional response. But this particular time, my tears were due to the fact that I had overlooked for several years. You see, I love Jesus with all my heart and I thoroughly love to sing, so I am definitely thankful that I sing on a church praise team. But on that particular morning, I was struck by the added detail that my husband is part of that praise team with me, playing the aforementioned acoustic guitar. I am sure that a combination of factors was involved in God inspiring Darren to learn how to play guitar and join the praise team. I can’t help but think that I know what one of them was: God wanted to accomplish something in my marriage which I had deemed impossible. 

It is amazing that we serve a God who sometimes honors dreams that are shoved down deep into our hearts or almost entirely dismissed. Dreams we don’t even bother to transform into prayer, because we have already decided they are out of the realm of reality.

The idea of sharing in a music ministry together as a couple never became more than an intriguing thought. Not a wish. Not a prayer. In fact, it had been forgotten. But even so, God orchestrated that forgotten idea in our lives years later, and it is an incredible, straight-from-God gift. Because of His great love, God answers prayers we never even consider praying.

Remembrance and Restoration

Remembrance and Restoration

The physical pain, the emotional pain, the “letting people know,” the condolences, the what-ifs, the fake smile I put on to match my fake Christmas spirit, and the feeling of being crushed. If you were to ask me what I remember from a few days before Christmas in 1992, these are the vivid recollections I would list for you. 

I also remember finding a sorrowful sense of irony in losing a baby to miscarriage just days before the celebration of Jesus’ birth.

My mind had the following phrases on repeat: God could have prevented it from happening and God could have performed a miracle once it happened.

The question of “God, where were You?” evolved into, “God, why would You…” and then, “God, how dare You…” (and there’s still a part of me that wonders how I was not zapped or struck by lightning immediately after uttering those words to Him…) 

As I wrote in a post a few years ago, My First Pregnancy, My Faithful God, and My Firm Stand“He knew my husband and I were ecstatic about being parents. How dare He take this baby away? Yep, I said those words to the Creator of the Universe. I looked upward, right up to the sky and screamed, “How dare you!” Looking back on that moment and the bitterness I harbored for quite some time afterward, I sometimes think, “Wow, God, it takes a lot of nerve for an almost 22 year-old woman to challenge Your sovereignty. Thank You from the bottom of my heart for being patient with me and lovingly waiting for me to realize there was no one to blame.” I wasted a lot of time being mad at God when I could’ve spent that time being comforted and held by Him instead.”

I am unable to give an eloquent explanation of why it occurred, and equally unable attempt to inspire others with a “Therefore, this is why terribly sad events sometimes happen…” speech wrapped up in some sort of Christmas-time revelation gift with a bow on top. Oh, how I wish I could say that I remember that I allowed God to fill my emptiness to overflowing with His comfort and love. But instead, I remember resting in rage and resentment and not allowing God to console me with His relief and restoration.

I clearly remember a list of painful moments stemming from a miscarriage during the Christmas season years ago, but in Lamentations 3:21, there is mention of “remembering something that fills me with hope.” What is that something? As verse 22 and 23 say, “The LORD’s kindness never fails! If he had not been merciful, we would have been destroyed. The LORD can always be trusted to show mercy each morning.” That something is an unrivaled kindness and mercy that He lovingly pours out upon us. Years have passed, and although there is a comfort and excitement in knowing I will meet that baby in Heaven, I still wish there had been a different outcome – namely one in which I am a mother to 5 thriving children, instead of 4. I believe we can still be Jesus-loving, God-trusting people even if we sometimes wish a couple of parts of our life stories had been written differently. But dwelling on those thoughts instead of asking God to increase our trust in Him causes us to hang on to hurt instead of having the beautiful experience of being healed by Him. His unmatched kindness and mercy will ultimately overshadow painful memories every time.

I eventually made a choice to focus on remembering God’s kindness and mercy instead of loss, and as a result, gained an incomparable hope of a future filled with promise.

ISAIAH 55:11 – GOD’S WORD WILL NOT RETURN VOID

ISAIAH 55:11 – GOD’S WORD WILL NOT RETURN VOID

so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11

GOD’S WORD IS A GIFT

I would like for you to imagine telling someone there is a gift waiting for them with their name on it. Imagine telling them this particular gift will renew their perspective, remind them of their priorities, and reveal their purpose. Now, imagine if that person said, “Wow, that gift sounds awesome! How wonderful to have access to that!”…and then they proceed to ignore it? They decide to leave it unopened. Would you be outraged? Shocked? Puzzled, at the very least?

If that gift was offered to you, would you ignore it and allow it to remain wrapped? No way!

But we all do it! We leave one of our most beautiful treasures unopened. Friends, we’ve been given a gift beyond words: a love letter from the Originator of Love. A Holy Book filled with love, lessons, and life. Literally!

Read the rest at Devotableapp.com.

(This is my most recent contribution to Devotableapp.com – I invite you to go to that website and subscribe to the daily emails. You will get an encouraging devotional in your inbox each morning!)                                                                                                                   

 

Just Like Joshua

Just Like Joshua

Parents often repeat commands to their children for emphasis. In the first chapter of Joshua, he was told by God to “Be strong and courageous,” three times. God’s words in these verses seem to be a very matter-of-fact way of informing a willing man that the next steps must be taken, and success would not be a part of the equation if strength and courage were absent. The next steps were to obtain the land promised to the Israelites.

God’s marching orders held no promise that a supernatural feeling of courage would well up inside of Joshua’s soul. Nope. No “peace that passes understanding” feeling would signify it was time for Joshua to move. The words feel or feelings do not make an appearance in this chapter. God did not tell Joshua to feel strong and courageous. God told Joshua to be strong and courageous.

Did God promise His presence? Absolutely! But there was no promise that Joshua would not necessarily be shaking in his sandals as he carried out these sacred steps.

Just like Joshua, we are told many times in the Bible to be courageous. And just like Joshua, God does not tell us to feel courageous. He says, “Be courageous.”

It will not be possible to find in ourselves the confidence in our own ability to carry out our call, but there is something we can have absolute confidence in – God will show up and walk us through it. Step by step. Forward steps. Even backward steps. He will help us get back on track and be right by our side. Yes, we may have some shaking-in-our-boots or sandals moments, but God’s presence is a guarantee.

When we obey God and follow through with something that takes us straight out of our comfort zone, He blesses us. In Luke 11:28, Jesus says, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” The blessing of God is worth the prayer, perseverance, and persistence that hard assignments from Him require.

Courage is often about us doing what God has asked us to do even though we might still feel nervous or fearful. Courage is asking God for strength to do it anyway – even though fear may be whispering (or shouting) in our ear that we are the wrong person, that it is the wrong time, or that we heard the wrong message. Courage is the strength to keep repeating to ourselves until we believe it that, “God is with me.”

If we insist upon waiting to be struck with a feeling of courage before we step out of our comfort zone and onto God’s path, we will wait ourselves right out of an opportunity to do something great.

 

 

 

Waiting Well

Waiting Well

Tuesday morning, my prayer ended with me crying out, “God, what am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to start praying for a different result? Am I supposed to ask You to give me a new plea, a new prayer, a new passion? Or am I just supposed to continue to wait?” His answer was a deafening silence.  

Now God does not answer me audibly, so silence is not new. When I “hear” from God, it is a new thought, a new impression upon my spirit, a new sense of direction; accompanied by peace. Those responses are how I have always known that God “answered,” my questions. So when “none of the above,” happened after my heartfelt, hollered, hopeless, “What am I supposed to do…?” inquiry, it hit me like a ton of bricks: If I am not sensing the Holy Spirit’s prodding to pray in a new direction, then I am to keep praying and continue waiting. 

I know how to keep praying; I have done that many a time. I have frequently assumed God thought I was similar to the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15. Jesus’ disciples urged Him to send her away when they became annoyed with her repeated requests.  But I am always encouraged that the story ends with Jesus blessing her because of her faith. 

I wrestle with the waiting. Although I am pretty good at impatient, irritated waiting, waiting well with an uncomplaining, unfazed, unwavering spirit is not a talent of mine.

Waiting well takes a conscious and intentional effort. Psalm 31:24 (ESV) says, “Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!” Maybe part of the courage He expects from me is in returning to Him over and over with the same prayer and believing that He is not getting sick of me or my request. Maybe the other part of that courage is believing that His silence is not avoidance and boldly believing He is working in unseen ways. 

On Tuesday, I chose to wait well. By Wednesday, I experienced some moments of not waiting well. And on Thursday, I felt led to start my day in front of my computer writing about what I had been contemplating. 

I asked God to speak to me about what waiting well truly means. At that very moment, my eyes directly went to a “Verse of the Day” email in my inbox. I opened it, and it “happened” to be Psalm 27:14: “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

My first thought was, “Wow, God, thank You for an unbelievable direct answer to my prayer!” My second thought was, “Wow, God, if only You could answer this other prayer so quickly and directly.” My third thought was, “It is up to You, isn’t it? I’ll continue working on this blog post and learning how to wait well, and You continue being God. Thank You for showing me that verse when I needed it and teaching me how to wait well.” Between you and me, I spent entirely too much time dwelling on my second thought.

Apparently, God still has some work to do in my heart. Thankfully, doing great works in our hearts is one of His areas of expertise. 

As I continue to wait for God’s response, God will continue to work in my heart, and I will continue to have a choice on how to wait. Waiting well may take more discipline than waiting with impatience, but it will always afford more opportunities to watch our powerful God work in ways that only He can. 

**This was my November contribution for devotableapp.com – Great place for encouragement  and hope!