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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Lost and Found

And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. (Luke 15:20 ESV)

I remember a time when I was younger and I had gotten bold and decided for myself I would walk home with a new friend (yes, someone I didn't know that well) instead of catching the bus to my house. Now back then, bus drivers knew their route kids and when we were not there, they would wait for a bit. I remember having to wait longer because the bus driver was waiting for me as then we took off on foot walking to her house. I couldn't have been there any longer than an hour and a half and had to head home. Now I knew the way home. But I walked slowly as I begin to realize that there would be discipline awaiting me there. Finally a few hours later, I returned home to my mom opening the door and yelling at me. Of course, back then I didn't realize the fear but only focused on the yelling. But what I realize now is that she opened the door as I walked up to it. I didn't make a lot of noise; I didn't even get to knock. She had a child missing, a prodigal daughter, and she was awaiting my arrival, meaning she knew I was coming home. 

There is a story in the Bible about a prodigal (reckless, lost) son who had gotten his inheritance, left, squandered it, went broke, worked for menial pennies in low jobs and then returned to his dad with a repentant heart. Let’s break that down just a bit, shall we? He got his inheritance from his DAD which meant his dad was still alive. Aren't we supposed to get that when someone dies? This boy had greed and restlessness growing in him for awhile. But let’s also look at the flip side! When he returned, not sure how many catch this, his dad saw him from a distance. You know what that tells me? His dad was looking for him! His dad didn't just see someone and say someone's coming. No! He recognized him from a distance! How many parents know our children?! I have adopted kids in our church and I can see them with their backs turned and know that it’s them walking! A parent’s recognition is better than any of these recognition tools out here today!! We know!! And if we are expecting out kids home, much like this father, we will be standing watch! 

Isn't that how our ABBA is?! He stands watch for when we return from our ridiculous, reckless and sinful ways. And then He recognizes us as His sons and daughters and greets us with love! There is no, "Well it's about time!" or expletives being shot at us or even condemnation readily flowing our way about what we have done and how messed up we are. Or worse still, silence when we return. No, He runs to us with open arms, greets us with hugs and kisses and has a celebration for us! How awesome is that?!

Do you have an area of your life that has You feeling like God is far from you? Maybe you received a blessing from Him, squandered it and are now left with an empty home, wallet or life. At what point do you say, as this prodigal said when it started getting dark and I had to walk or the prodigal son in the Bible, "What am I doing? How much more are people being blessed even though they have little and I'm starving myself?" God loves you even if you don't love yourself! God remembers you and waits for you to remember Him and return to Him. He won't even make you come 90 and Him 10. Take the first step in turning from your sins and I guarantee you will know He is with you.

Father, Your love for us is unexplainable! Even though we constantly do wrong, make bad choices, ignore Your voice and demand to have a "Have it your way" life, You still love us! You long for communion with us and wait for our return to You when we wander. When we return You meet us where we are at and shower us with Your love! Thank You for that! Forgive us because we have sinned against You and thank You that condemnation and questioning doesn't come out to meet us with You! Lord, thank You for Your patience with us, continue to show us Your grace and mercy! In Jesus name! Amen!

Just Ask

Just Ask

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.  For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. James 1:5-8 ESV

My daughter goes to a Christian school in our town called Omaha Christian Academy. She has been there for two and a half years now and my son went there for his last two years of high school due to bullying and bad influences. I am on the prayer team there with two other ladies and we get together weekly to pray for the school, direction, staff, families and kids. A big prayer of faith we have had recently started out as asking God to work in the heart of a potential donor. You see we need a bus for our kids to go on trips, scholastic and sports wise as well as other clubs. We started out saying that we needed to pray for the money to get the bus but then God reminded me of my own prayer holding to the promise that I will have a vehicle of my own and that He would supply it. So I told them this story and said why can God not so this for our school? He is a God of the impossible! HE can supply our needs and He can do without the help or reliance of others!

So anyway, I read devotion the other morning from Joseph Prince and although his devo was about something else, the last sentence in this first paragraph spoke something else to me:

"One of my heroes from the 1800s is a man of faith called George Muller. With faith in God, he built five large orphanages and housed some 2,000 orphans annually. He never asked a soul for money, but brought every need before the Lord. He literally prayed in millions of dollars throughout his life to keep those orphanages going." -Get God's Medicine Into You Joseph Prince courtesy of bible.com

Here is an email with a prayer I felt led to pray that I sent when I forwarded this to my two prayer partners and another friend God introduced me to!

"YES!!!! Chew on the first part of this, especially about George Muller!!! The first paragraph, last sentence!!!! AMEN! AMEN! AMEN!!! PRAISE GOD WHO HEARS AND ANSWERS!!!! We don't need to pray for new donors per se as much as we do donations!!! And then open our hands and expect to receive!!! James 1:6-8 comes to mind to remember when we pray!! Not to pray and cross our fingers but to pray, with thanksgiving, in expectation of what He already has for us!! The picture I get is of a parent who has something a child is looking at in a store and the child, instead of asking the parent, stares and wonders and even doubts that if he/ she asks that the parent would say yes. But when they finally do look to their parent ask, IT IS GIVEN!!!! Oh I am so excited for what's in store and how He will blow our minds view!!!

ABBA Father, thank You for this revelation!! Thank You for being so patient and kind while we figure this out and ask others or wonder and doubt!! Would You, Lord, increase our faith TODAY!! Would You prepare signs and wonders for our eyes to see and blow doubt out of the water as we step out of this constricting, limiting boat called comfort and on to the unknown waters You have called us to! Would we not look at our circumstances as our needs and cry out in anguish but look to You, Jesus, and cry out praises instead!? Fill us Lord with your strength to endure! ABBA, remember us with the favor that You bestow upon Your people! Conceive in us new fervor, new strength, new boldness and as our speaker said last November, new COURAGE to step out into the unknown because we know You!! You are a God of the impossible!!! Exceed our requests and expectations today Lord! In Jesus name! AMEN!!!!"

I don't know what else needs to be said other than we believe we shall see the goodness of The Lord in the land of the living! Not only when He comes to take us Home but now!! I am believing for this bus to be donated just like I am believing for El, our Provider to give me the good and perfect vehicle He has for me!! Whether He uses this donor, Woodhouse, who give freely as the Word says, or He Himself hands it to us, I know that it is on the way!! I do NOT lack wisdom or waver in my prayers for this bus!! I thank Him for what we do not see and pray GOD HELP OUR UNBELIEF!! 

What are you believing Him for? What has promise has He made to you? Can I remind you that his Word will NOT return to Him void?! Stop looking for resources or relying on your own and trust in the Source who gave you those resources!! His bank is everlasting! He Bank is never closed, never goes bankrupt and always gives freely to those who believe along with some gifts of grace and mercy! Believe in His goodness and mercy, declare His promises for your life and watch Him deliver!! FEDEX can't beat His timing!! 

Lord, I just want to thank You for Your goodness and mercy! Thank You for the lessons and trials You take us through to strengthen our faith! Thank You for never giving up on us and for blessing us in spite of ourselves! Thank You for OCA's courage and faithfulness and how they care for Your children! Pour into us this week Lord as a school, and as a family! As we all get together to pray for this need, I pray that You would meet the needs of others through us and in us! Thank You for continuing to entrust these families to us and even bringing about more! Increase our faith as You increase our children and as needs arise like more teachers, a gym of our own and bigger space! Make Your Face to shine on us and make us a bright Light to this neighborhood, this city, this state and this nation! Thank You for Your perfect blessing of a bus and Lord, thank You for my perfect vehicle!! In Jesus name! Amen!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Transparent Step

All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the Lord , and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. Exodus 17:1 ESV

Last year was a doozy for me. It seemed as if I was on the downward side of a roller coaster and the highest point of a gymnastics bar, and if you know me you know that's not good at all. I am very afraid of heights, you see. And for those sick enough to love this type of adrenaline rush, you know that even for a few seconds, no matter who is with you, you are scared out of your wits! And then of course when you are through the "danger of falling" you can rest again. That's where I am in my life. Last year I was led to ask for more patience, for God to forgive and help my unbelief and even stepped out to begin, for the thousandth time, school again. It seemed like with each prayer, each request, each step I took, I was in that moment in the roller coaster where you realize how far down that stupid steel trap is actually about descend with you strapped in. Okay so I'm dramatic, but its true!

Have you ever had a test to study for but you forgot to study? Oh how I hope I'm not the only one! You suddenly feel ill, a sickness that travels from deep in your tummy and seems to spread faster than the stomach flu on a road trip to the rest of your body? You even get tunnel vision like in the movies when you step into the classroom and instantly remember that test. Then you go about seeking refuge by hoping that something will change and asking everyone if the test today, even asking people if they studied so that you don't feel alone in your educational quicksand. Then you begin to ask people to help you "review one more time" as if your rain is going to retain their knowledge within that few minutes. You may confide in your best bud that you didn't study in hopes that they will console you and somehow become a superhero by stopping the test as if it were a speeding bullet, locomotive or by leaping over the tallest building! I've been there and that's what the beginning of last year was for me because God had called me to know Him more and I forgot to study.

But even as I was going through rigorous training last year, I can confidently say that my faith has grown. I'm pretty sure it's not where it needs to be, according to my scale. I'm not a super saint who can discipline myself in the midst of a heated argument, encourage myself when my family is in need and my bank account is drier than a desert mirage revealed two seconds after you began to drink the "water". But I am figuring out, I don't have to! God will lead me to the right verse, bring about the right attitude, give me just the right amount of strength, patience and joy I need, He alone knows my daily intake of bread and has promised to provide it.

I'm still without a vehicle of my own. My mom was able to step out on faith and get a new vehicle, my friend was blessed with a vehicle after hers went south forever and the liar and enemy of our souls would have me believe that I was crazy to believe that God would manifest a vehicle for my needs with no income, no payment, no money down. But what I have learned is God is not a "buy here, pay here" god! He is an on time God! But note that He is not on OUR time. He is on His!

I'm sure your saying, "Felicia, what does this have to do with the verse or the title?", or maybe that is just me. Well either way, let me explain. Last year this time, I made a voicemail greeting that basically said that God was calling His people out of bondage and the wilderness. And that's exactly what He did, with me. In this verse, He led Israel out of the wilderness and into Rephidim, which means rest, but when they got there they had no water. They grumbled and Moses interceded their behalf and God provided water out of a ROCK!! Have you ever tried to even break a rock much less get something out of it?! Only God can perform that type of feat!

This is my outtake. We get to a place of rest from a struggle we had before ad instead of praising God for bringing us out, we focus on and complain about what we don't have. Yes water is something needed. Yes they were thirsty after their travels from the wilderness. But after having blessings in the wilderness, didn't they know God wouldn't bring them out of there just to have them die of thirst? Don't we do the same? God brings us out of something and instead of resting in Him and knowing He is in control and will provide, we grumble and focus on the things we don't have.

This year, God has brought us into a place of rest. I don't know what that looks like for you friend, but I do know that we need to rest in the knowledge that it is already done. Whatever it is, He has already taken care of it when Jesus died in the cross. Don't you remember what he said with his last dying breath? It... IS.... finished. Will you trust that everything you go through is already dealt with? You will only need to step into His place of rest as you wait for His next command. And, oh, those provisions that you don't see? Ask for them, grumbling only wastes time and then thank Him for what He has done, is doing and will do. Step out on that cliff of trust, even if you fall He will catch you!

ABBA Father, thank you so much for bringing us to this place of rest! Last year was a doozy for us but You got us through! Thank You lord for the many lessons and even the hard times I really didn't want to go through. Thank You for opening everyone who can read this eyes to this new year. Thank You for the provisions You give us and for the patience to wait for you. Lead me Jesus, I surrender all to You! In Jesus name. Amen!