God Hears

I sat quietly alone on my loveseat with the gas fireplace roaring beside me. Though the TV was on, it was set to mute as I considered my next move. I glanced at my injured foot which was now in a “boot” resting on the coffee table in front of me. I sighed. No one else was home. I just wanted something cold to drink but knew how difficult it would be to hobble with my crutches into the kitchen and return with a cold satisfying drink.

So, my dilemma, as simply as it was: Should I relax my newly broken foot or did I really need a refreshing drink. To myself, yet out loud, I said in despair, “there is no one here to help me”.

Immediately my mind raced to the story of the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda. It is found in the 5th chapter of the Gospel of John. Apparently the sick, the lame and the blind would sit by a pool of water. It was said to have had healing powers when it was stirred – some translations state that it was stirred by angels.

Some scholars believe the pools were at a pagan shrine or temple honoring the Greek god or demigod Asclepius, the god of medicine or medicinal powers. It was said that the healing snakes stirred the waters. And the scholars contribute the medicinal powers and stirring of the water from bubbles that arose from the mineral springs. Others debunk this theory.  Regardless, a man sat by this pool of water for 38 years with no one to help him get in. He must have come to a place of despair.

It reads like this from the NIV translation:

Sometime later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.  One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” 

“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. John 5:1-9

What I found interesting about this story is that Jesus walked into the midst of a pagan shrine (if that was the case) not caring about the “protocol” of the day. According to scripture he only approached one individual and healed him, on the Sabbath mind you, which was also against Jewish tradition.

He heard the man’s heart even though the man never asked the Lord to help him. We have heard other stories where people called out to the Lord, but not in this circumstance.

God’s mercy and compassion for those in need, for those who cry out from their heart, is amazing.

It made me realize that he hears, even when we don’t speak. He hears even if an individual doesn’t realize who they are calling upon.

I don’t care if you are:

in a prison cell
amid a war-torn country
in a COVID ward
on center stage
looking in the wrong direction for help
rich and famous
poor and alone
amongst friends
amongst enemies
feeling lost
in a church family
in a cubical
homebound
living on the street
a drug addict
hopeless
or seem to have it together…. God hears the heart that cries to him.

Where do you find yourself today? What is your situation?

I am telling you DO NOT GIVE UP. DO NOT LOSE HEART. GOD HEARS!

Isaiah 65:24, “Before they call, I will answer. While they are still speaking, I will hear.” (NIV)

Psalm 139 explains that he knows everything about you and cares. He knew you before you did. And Romans 8 states that NOTHING can separate you from the love of God.

What are you waiting for? What can you lose?

Dear Lord, Hear those who are crying from their hearts, those in despair, those who are in need and even those who do not realize yet that they need you. Amen

By the way: I was able to grab that drink. I just had to guzzle it right there at the refrigerator. And then I hobbled on my crutches back to the loveseat to rest my foot on the coffee table.  And soon my family returned home. I am grateful that I have something to drink, a couch to sit on in a warm house, and for those who are caring for me, as I heal.

I am mostly grateful for God who will never leave or forsake me, who took the time to go out of his way to heal a paralyzed man thousands of years ago when he had no one to help him. God is the same yesterday, today and forever and so I am grateful that he continues to heal today.

Remember: He cares about every detail of your life…and loves you.

God bless.

Red Sea Impossibilities

As I entered the doors of the local hospital emergency room, once again, several different thoughts came to my mind. This hospital, the corridors, the ritual of checking in, the nurses and even the food, had become familiar for many reasons.

It was just a little over a year ago that I had taken my father to the ER, accompanied by my mother. He had battled heart issues for years and this time his implanted defibrillator went off with such strength it rocked him to the core. Since he had tested positive for that irritating pandemic, COVID, he stayed in the hospital. During those days, his defibrillator went off so many times he simply wanted to quit. But he fought hard so he could come home to his family that awaited his return.

After COVID he battled pneumonia and won! Though he did come home for a time he returned to the hospital because he became infected with MRSA (an infection that is caused by a type of staph bacteria). The infection demanded intense antibiotics which caused kidney failure. Eventually, during the cool of the season, with the trees turning multi-colors (his favorite season) he came home to hospice care.

It would only be a few months later that we would stand by his bed as he entered eternity.

Almost a year to the day that I first had taken my dad into the emergency room, I was driving my husband in. He had become ill with a high fever that lasted for a couple of days and didn’t seem to break, even with medication.

It would be a 10 day stay; first warding off sepsis that was trying to invade his body, and then going through several surgeries that would leave him without four of his toes. The first several days were crucial, but eventually I was allowed to take him home. He would have to remain off his foot for at least another month after he got home. I was becoming used to the daily care, thinking about the times I had helped my mother and sister with my father in the not too distant past. I was thanking God for sparing my husband’s life.

I thought this would be the last I would see of the hospital for some time.

But after work, as I pulled into my driveway, I got a phone call. My mother had gotten into a horrible car accident and was at the emergency room. I entered that familiar door and was led back to emergency rooms, again.

Despite that she lay in a neck brace and endured horrific bruises, she forced a smile. I thought. “I am glad she is alive!” Though bruised, a cracked rib and cracked pubic ramus, she was still alive! I was glad to drive her home that evening. She began to heal slowly while my sister and I watched her improve. Then one morning she complained about chest pains and here I was again, at the ER.

After many tests they discovered small blood clots had entered her heart and her lungs from the bruising in her legs. Not only had she survived the accident, but she had survived blood clots.

I sat by the bedside once again, trusting the God that had always been faithful.

The saying, “when it rains it pours” seemed to be appropriate.

PS 139 kept coming to my mind, especially the final verses.

 PS 139; 23-24 NLT
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”

I was being shaken. Often people say that God won’t give you more than you can handle. Well, I don’t always agree with that statement. He often allows more that we can handle on our own. He just gives us more of HIS GRACE. I thought, “What was in my heart? “I want God to lead me along the path of everlasting life. He is faithful to do just that.

These are precarious days. Our country seems to be shaking! The events that are taking place are events that test the core of our beliefs. Events that are affecting our personal lives, events that are affecting the future of America and the world are taking place in these hours.

We must be prepared to hear the voice of God. We must be prepared to obey his leading. We must be prepared to bring in the harvest for salvation.

We don’t know our future. We don’t even know how many days we are going to be on the earth. But it is important that we make most of our time.

As my mother is resting her weary body while it heals and my husband is being restored, I rest in the comfort of the Lord. I know there will be many struggles. I have witnessed them personally and among friends and family. I see them in our nation, and the world, at large.

Heartache, death, disease, violence, and trials don’t seem to stop, it seems. But it is part of this life. Jesus even said that there would be many trials but to be of good cheer for he has overcome the world.

What did Paul say in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9?

“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed”. (NLT)

God’s light always shines brighter in perilous times and impossible situations.

It has throughout history. I am SURE that when Moses reached the Red Sea and knew the Egyptian army was right behind them, he was wondering what God had up his sleeve. But he trusted God who delivered ALL of them, while their enemy perished.

I bet Esther was not expecting to have to plead for her people as Haman had declared that all the Jews should be slaughtered. It seemed impossible to have victory amid that disastrous proclamation. But God heard the cries of her heart and others. Not only did God deliver them, but Haman hung in the place of the one whom he threatened to have killed.

We can continue with Joseph who must have felt hopeless as he sat in a prison for years for a crime he never committed. He may have wondered how he was going to get out of this one. But God heard his cries and not only freed him but made him second in command of the nation.

What about Daniel, who was thrown into the lion’s den, David, who was sought by King Saul who wanted to kill him, or even Noah who was mocked for years and years as he built this huge ship where there was no water, and yet God saved each of them. And what about Peter who was delivered from prison by an angel. We can go on and on.

Even in modern times we have heard testimonies of God’s faithfulness when all seemed lost. There are testimonies yet to be heard from places like Afganistan, China or North Korea where it takes the faith of the God who still works in the impossible. DOES God hear his people?

Sometimes we must walk through things we thought we wouldn’t have to. Sometimes life seems hopeless. BUT GOD STILL hears our cries and delivers, ESPECIALLY when it seems impossible.

What are you going through? What thoughts are invading your mind? What trials are crossing your path that seem impossible and what fears may be knocking at your door.  What about the future of America? Has God heard the cries for this nation? I believe he is waiting for his timing for this nation and for your future. He is waiting for the impossible. When we reach the Red Sea of impossibilities, God WILL be glorified.

I pray that you trust him in the process of your journey. 

God bless!

the Challenge

I was in a corridor with three other people. I didn’t recognize them nor was I aware of their relationship to me. I just knew I trusted them. We peered through an opening from the darkened corridor where we were hidden. We saw what appeared to look like the steps of a courthouse. A large crowd had gathered. The crowd comprised of people who were protesting for their freedom that they once took for granted.

They shook their hands in the air demanding freedom. The leaders (people in power) stood on the platform of the steps, towards the protestors, trying to calm down the frustration that the people were expressing. I wondered why we were not amongst them. But the four of us just listened staying in our hiding place. Suddenly we realized that the loud protesting had quieted. And individuals in the crowd were shaking hands with the leaders, one at a time. And then one by one the protesters departed with contentment in their eyes and a smile on their face. We then realized that the leaders were making deals with each person, promising them something they wanted. The people traded their freedom, traded their outrage, traded their stand for what was right for some type of personal promise. They were willing to compromise.

It was then that the four of us looked at one another knowing we had seen enough and it was time to leave. One of the people told us to follow him. He knew the way to go. We followed him back through the narrow corridor.

And then I woke.

The thought that came to my mind: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it.” Matthew 7:13

Compromise has swept the hearts of many. It seems easier at times to compromise than to stand up for what is right. It is hard to fight against the flow. It is hard to walk upstream. It is much easier to just lay back and float downstream on a nice floatie. Is that what has been happening to those who once stood for righteousness? Have they given it up for the comfort of floating downstream?

The word that kept coming to my mind was: challenge. It is challenging to be different from the mainstream. I do believe that many are taking up the challenge. Our lives have been rocked. We have not been allowed the comfort of floating downstream. Instead many are rising up and walking against the grain.

2020 has given us a reason to get out of our comfort zones and stand. This year may have been challenging to be positive in the midst of the news of rioters, in the midst of a pandemic, in the midst of schools being closed, churches being closed, businesses going under, people losing everything they worked so diligently to attain. It would seem that hate and lies are dominating the airwaves and the stores, the workplace and the streets; our entire lives.

There has always been challenges, even following the Lord or maybe because we chose to follow him.

Paul faced challenges and said as much in 2 Corinthians 4:8,

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

He knew his choice to follow his Lord would take exercising his spiritual muscles. But when he left this world, he left fighting the good fight. He knew that it was worth it, not just in this life, but especially in the life to come. He had gotten to know his Lord on such a personal basis that he was willing to give up all that he was, for the one that loved him above all. He was willing to be persecuted so others would know the truth, the freedom and the joy he experienced. Jesus had turned his world upside down! And in a positive way. He had learned the truth and that truth filled every fiber of his being, in spite of the hard circumstances.

Jesus also tasted what it was like to go against the flow. He knew what it was like to walk upstream in a world that was filled with lies and darkness. He still healed the sick and still set people free, in spite of attacks, not only from the world system, but also from the religious system.

He took up the challenge and set his face like a flint. He was determined that no matter how hard things got, no matter who was with him, he would accomplish what he set out to do; because he loved his Father. And because he loved each of us, as well. He was willing to take up the challenge that his heavenly Father had given him.

He kept his eyes on the joy that was awaiting him, so that he was able to endure the cross despite the ridicule, humiliation, excruciating pain and loneliness so that we, too, may experience the goodness of the Lord. (Hebrews 12:2)

He defeated the lies of the enemy on the cross so we can be free.

Things have been difficult this year. Personally I have fought challenges, as well. I have surrendered my will and my heart to my Lord many times this year. The Lord was challenging me: Do you trust me?

I choose to take up that challenge and trust him. I choose to take up the challenge and obey him, standing up for what the Bible teaches. Many do not understand that choice and even many who call themselves Christians don’t understand. They want their feet in both worlds, compromising. They are like those in my dream who compromised for the promise that was given to them by the world. They have closed their eyes to God’s truth and have accepted watered down truth.

I pray that the Lord will keep me from compromising with this world, that I will stay on the straight and narrow path. I have compromised in my past and it did not satisfy. I never want to return to that life. I know that living for Christ is worth it in this life and also in the one after.

This is what the Lord is challenging me to do:

I challenge you to trust me…more and more each day,
To trust me in this hour and live out what you say.

I challenge you to read MY WORD and hide it in your heart
To keep it fresh in your soul, so your love for me won’t part

I challenge you to stay in truth, the truth that comes from me
Don’t compromise with those that sin. They are blind and cannot see.

I challenge you to seek MY LOVE, a love undefiled and pure.
Not the fake love that roams the land. It is muddy and unclear.

I challenge you to live in worship. You will never be the same.
It will bring freedom into your life. Chains will break in Jesus name.

I challenge you to walk in boldness with MY holy fire.
Sometimes that means to pray, than watch what will transpire.

I challenge you to live the purpose that runs throughout your blood.
Get READY! My Glory is coming to the earth like a rushing flood.

I challenge you to quiet your heart so you can hear my voice.
Will you let me lead you? I’m giving you a choice.

So I responded: Lord help me. Give me your wisdom and your grace.
Help me to be determined to not just run, but run to win the race.

What is the Lord challenging you to do? These are precarious and exciting times. God is on the move and he would like to have you join him. His glory is about to blow through the world. Are you ready? Do you want to be a part of what God is doing? Are you willing to walk through the narrow gate? You will look different than the world. But the joy that is set before you will outweigh the trials.

GOD IS GOOD…….ALWAYS!

Will you accept the challenge?