Sunday, April 24, 2011

Trusting God, Heart and Sole

The Prayer Of Jabez For Women
Recently, as I was having my prayer time with God, I felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to pray that God would bless my life that day. I know after studying the Prayer of Jabez that this is a Biblical prayer and we should pray this everyday. But I had not really thought about praying this way for a while until this particular morning.

After my time with God, I went on about my day. That morning as I dressed myself for work, I put on navy blue pants. I had forgotten that my dog had chewed up my casual navy blue shoes, so I wore navy dress shoes instead, deciding to purchase some casual navy shoes during my lunch break. Arriving at work, I told a co-worker of my plans.

Although my job rarely takes me to the front office, this morning I needed to handle some matters there. As I walked past our reception area, I saw a woman who was working as a volunteer receptionist for the day coming in the front door. I held it open for her as she walked in and made a comment about the great big bag in her hand.

The lady proceeded to tell me that she had some shoes that her daughter wanted to give away and she thought she would bring them into our office and see if anyone there might want them. I looked down into the bag and I saw a wonderful pair of navy casual shoes that looked as if they had never been worn right on top. Not only that, but they were exactly the style shoe that I was going to buy. By this point, there was no question in my mind as to what size they were going to be. Sure enough, they were exactly my size! As it so happens, also on my wish list was a pair of brown dress shoes. Wouldn’t you know, the perfect brown shoes were also in the bag.

I am just amazed at the hand of God! When I think of the timing and the circumstances that God had planned to get those shoes to me, just so that I could be blessed, I am overwhelmed. First, He had to have this woman's daughter decide she wanted to get rid of these shoes. Secondly, our receptionist had to be out of town so that this woman would be coming in that day. Thirdly, this volunteer had to have the idea to bring them into the office and finally, I had to be in the office at just the right time to get them.

Something so small has made a huge impact on my life. I told everyone I saw that day about how the hand of God had blessed me. What an awesome God!

Vallie S.
Mobile, AL

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


In the Arms of Angels: True Stories of Heavenly Guardians  WHAT ARE ANGELS?
BIBLE READING: Matthew 1:18-25
KEY BIBLE VERSE: As he considered this, he fell asleep, and an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to go ahead with your marriage to Mary. For the child within her has been conceived by the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:20)

The conception and birth of Jesus Christ are supernatural events beyond human logic or reasoning. Because of this, God sent angels to help certain people understand the significance of what was happening (see Matthew 2:13, 19; Luke 1:11, 26; 2:9).
Angels are spiritual beings created by God who help carry out his work on earth. They bring God’s messages to people (Luke 1:26), protect God’s people (Daniel 6:22), offer encouragement (Genesis 16:7ff.), give guidance (Exodus 14:19), carry out punishment (2 Samuel 24:15-17), patrol the earth (Zechariah 1:9-14), and fight the forces of evil (2 Kings 6:16-18; Revelation 20:1-2). There are both good and bad angels (Revelation 12:7), but because bad angels are allied with the devil, or Satan, they have considerably less power and authority than good angels. Eventually the main role of angels will be to offer continuous praise to God (Revelation 7:11-12).
BIBLE READING: Luke 1:5-20
KEY BIBLE VERSE: Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news!” (Luke 1:19)

Angels are spirit beings who live in God’s presence and do his will. Only two angels are mentioned by name in Scripture-Michael and Gabriel-but there are many who act as God’s messengers. Here, Gabriel delivered a special message to Zechariah (1:19). This was not a dream or a vision. The angel appeared in visible form and spoke audible words to the priest.
BIBLE READING: Matthew 18:10-14
KEY BIBLE VERSE: Beware that you don’t despise a single one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly Father. (Matthew 18:10)

Our concern for children must match God’s treatment of them. Certain angels are assigned to watch over children, and they have direct access to God. These words ring out sharply in cultures where children are taken lightly, ignored, or aborted. If their angels have constant access to God, the least we can do is to allow children to approach us easily in spite of our far too busy schedules.
BIBLE READING: Hebrews 1:1-14
KEY BIBLE VERSE: But angels are only servants. They are spirits sent from God to care for those who will receive salvation. (Hebrews 1:14)

Angels are spiritual beings created by God and under his authority (Colossians 1:16). They have several functions: serving believers (Hebrews 1:14), protecting the helpless (Matthew 18:10), proclaiming God’s messages (Revelation 14:6-12), and executing God’s judgment (Acts 12:1-23; Revelation 20:1-3).

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Chosen

Gifts And Ministries Of The Holy Spirit

Have you ever been in a situation where you feel alone, lost, darkness all around and thought God had forgotten you existed?

We all experience times like these.  I will never forget my own a few years ago while in South Africa visiting my parents.

The ten-day vacation was coming to an end and I expected to be home in the States within the three days.  Unfortunately, the staff of the airline I was to travel on went on strike, resulting in no flights coming to or leaving South Africa.

Initially, I was not concerned. Surely, I thought, this will resolve itself within the next three days. But no, it did not resolve. It went on for weeks.

Panic set in because I needed to get back to the States as work and family were waiting for me.  I prayed and prayed, begging God to intervene in the strike so that I could fly home.  Daily I called the airlines.  There was never any change.

Finally, after two long weeks of striking, a few flights left South Africa. But by this time there was such a backlog of passengers camped out at the airport that it would be weeks longer before I was able to leave.

Still, I could not wait any longer. I had to get home. I presented my problem to the Lord once more. And, in faith, took action on my request to Him.

My parents took me to the airport, which was a good two-hour drive.  Not knowing what to expect when I got there, I planned to join those sleeping on the floor hoping to get a flight out.

We arrived at the airport and it brought my stomach to my throat.  The sight of the throngs was too awful to bear!

"We're just going to turn around now and return home," my mom said.

My dad, on the other hand, is one of those old time believers in God's amazing work in the worst of situations.

"I think she should just step out in faith and see what happens," he said.

We parked miles away and fought the crowd to the terminal.  People were sleeping, standing, camping out in the terminal.  No line was moving.  I had no idea where to go to even begin to put my name on a waiting list.

And then God intervened, as He always does in such circumstances.  There I was standing with my huge suitcase, in the middle of the crowd, totally dazed, not knowing where to turn, when one of the airport attendees suddenly reached for me and asked, "Where are you going?"

I said, "New York."

He replied, "Come with me." He picked up my suitcase and escorted me right to the front of the line, leaving everyone else yelling and cursing at me.  He waited with me at the counter and helped me get on a flight. The flight had one seat open to New York.

After checking in, I went to find my parents, who were still in shock at what they had just witnessed.  My dad, tears running down his face, smiled and hugged me, saying, "Well?  Once again, all you had to do was step out in faith, making your requests known to Almighty God and He answered.  But you had to act on your faith.  Why do we doubt God?"

Looking back over the whole situation, my faith in God increased tremendously.  What happened?  Why was I chosen out of the crowd?  I will never know why, but I can only say that God took this situation to prove to me that He knows who I am, that He alone can work out the toughest challenges in our lives.  He knew I had to get home to fulfill commitments in the church.  I asked and He answered.  

There are times when we have to take God at His word when He says He will make a way in the wilderness when there is no way.  We have to physically move forward, taking up our baggage, trusting that He is who He says He is.

Was the gentleman in the airport who took me out of the crowd an angel?  I don't think so.  He was looking in the crowd for someone to put on the flight.  God helped him to pick me.

We miss out on so many blessings when we say, "The situation is impossible."  We must come to the realization that our God is a God who transcends the impossible.  We need to step out in faith, knowing He hears our cry.

What do you need to ask God for today?  And then how do you need to take action?

Sharon H.
East Rockaway, NY

Reproduced with permission from © ® All rights reserved.

Monday, April 4, 2011

A New Start

My family was going through some very rough times. We were basically homeless over the past several years. I wasnt able to get a job because of my work history which was from being a stay at home Mom. I went through abusive relationships in my life and had no help from the father of my kids. I was granted child support, it helped but wasnt enough to survive on. I also suffered from anxiety disorder/panic attacks, you name it. After over a decade of suffering from the depression and anxiety, it finally came to me that I need to pray about this, and I prayed from my heart. I was literally sick and tired of the way I was feeling day to day. I was only getting four hours of sleep a day, imagining all kinds of illnesses and disease, calling 911 and feeling foolish but grateful that I was still in good health, people calling me weird and laughing at me because I was always jittery. I prayed and almost immediately I was cured of anxiety which was a part of my life for over ten years, I was amazed how soon my prayer was answered. I felt like a new person. I was cured of the anxiety but I was still moving from place to place with my children. I finally had to let them stay with their dad to have some stability. I never wanted to separate from my kids but I had no choice. I still had the olders ones with me and we were living in a drug infested, violent neighborhood. I worried constantly of my boys getting hurt, jailed, and even worse killed. My oldest son couldnt find a job so he got into some illegal activity which scared me senseless. One night I heard scuffling upstairs from the apartment we stay in and something told me my son was involved. I ran upstairs and sure enough he was being drug out a door bruised and bleeding, I was horrified, I didnt know what to do, but I mustered up the strength to pull my son downstairs and kept him in. He was intoxicated and hard to control but I wasnt letting him go back out to get hurt again or killed. I didnt know where to turn, and I remembered a prayer I saw in my local Thrifty Nickle that someone had published. That prayer was a novena. I said that prayer everyday for nine days. I also prayed in between the Novena because I knew only God could save my son. I prayed that our lives would be turned around for the better and that my son will stop doing the bad things he was doing and that we can start over on the right track. Praise our Heavenly Father, and Jesus, and all who interceded on my behalf. I have since moved to another state because of a job offer, and my son was blessed with a wonderful job that he is so happy and grateful for. No one can tell me there are no such things as miracles because I know there are. I am just so grateful because we are working and God made it all possible. At the end of the school year the rest of my children will be united with me and there is nothing more I can ask for..God is good:)

Shared by Iowa:

Friday, April 1, 2011

From The Dawn Of Time

Heaven: Biblical Answers to Common Questions (booklet) From the dawn of time the faithful have knocked at heaven's gate, seeking clues to eternity. In the Divine Comedy, Dante writes of entering " the heaven of pure light " where he sees Christ, who is " painted with our likeness, " and whose "love moves the sun and the other stars."
  Thomas Aquinas describes eternity where we shall live pure bliss, fully knowing and being known by a God of Light. Erasmus of Rotterdam spoke of a friend who died and was met in a sublime meadow by St. Jerome. As the mortal and immortal met in an embrace, the heavens opened and a channel of divine light and music broke through, linking the entrance gardens of paradise with the celestial world.
  In the twentieth century, Oxford don C.S. Lewis fancifully takes a dream-like bus ride from hell to heaven in The Great Divorce. Upon arrival he writes, "I got out, The light and coolness that drenched me were like those of summer morning, early morning a minute or two before the sunrise, only that there was a certain difference." A distinct difference to be sure. The hero from hell soon meets heaven's "solid people." He discovers to his amazement that he is the phantom - the truly "real" are those who live in paradise. One of the solid people tells one of the little humans, "Don't you understand ? The Glory flows into everyone: like light and mirrors. But the light's the thing."
  In the stories and visions that follow, the light is indeed the thing. A constant, transforming, illuminating Light is reported by those who have peeked into paradise throughout the ages.
 Perpetua. a second - century martyr, asked for a glimpse of things to come as she awaited her turn to be thrown before ravenous beasts. In a vision she saw a " bronze ladder reaching up to heaven, but it was so narrow that only one person could ascend at a time.... At the summit I saw an immense garden, in the center of which sat a tall, gray-haired man dressed like a shepherd, milking sheep. Standing around him were several thousand white robed people. As he raised his head he noticed me and said, 'Welcome, my child.' Then he beckoned me to approach and gave me a morsel of the cheese he was making. I accepted it with cupped hands and ate it. When all those surrounding us said, ' Amen,' I awoke, still tasting the sweet cheese." Saturus, her brother in martyrdom, in his own vision hours before his death saw a splendid garden before entering a "place where the walls seemed constructed of light." There he and Perpetua met the Lord and elders who told them to enjoy themselves.
  Today, thanks to advances in medical technology, more people are resuscitated from the brink of death. Accounts abound of people who leave their physical bodies behind and are shown what Lewis labels "the valley of the shadow of the living." Millions are estimated to have had near - death experiences, and legions have testified to the similar characteristics commonly associated with them: a feeling of peace and calm; leaving the physical body; traveling through something like a tunnel; meeting others - including a Being of Light; seeing a life review; reaching a threshold or border; coming back with an altered view of the importance of life; and having no more fear of death. Some of these people tell of heavenly things. Some return to tell of the brush of angels' wings and celestial choirs. Some are met at heaven's gates by beloved relatives and friends. But sometimes what is seen is odd, unearthly, or even funny. The one thing that pervades nearly every story is the Being of Light, called by various names, but always experienced as the source of love. Even a fleeting glimpse of the Light transforms those who adventure into the beyond. Most return with a heightened awareness of themselves as spiritual beings and have no fear of dying. More time is spent in enjoying life and helping others and less in worrying about material goods or others' opinions. Relationships change - living with first - hand knowledge of heaven is not easy for the earthbound.

Shared from: ( G P )

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Jesus' Miracles, Signs of Divine Powers

Parables and Miracles of Jesus

"This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in Him" (John 2:11).

Anyone who does not believe in God finds the concept of a miracle, any event that contradicts and even suspends the laws of nature, impossible to accept. That is, if God does not exist, only nature controls life. Therefore no miracle is possible and any account of a miracle cannot be true. This logical argument against miracles was first formulated by Benedict Spinoza (1632-1677). Spinoza's argument can be summarized as follows:

A miracle violates natural laws.
Natural laws are immutable.
It is impossible to violate immutable laws.
Therefore, miracles are impossible.

However, if God exists, He created the natural laws, so it should be no problem for Him to move beyond or outside these laws, nor can He be restrained by these laws.

Jesus used miracles as signs to his credentials as the Son of God. Without miracles it would be exceptionally difficult to believe His claims. As John wrote in John 20:30-31:

"Jesus' disciples saw Him do many more other miraculous signs besides the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in Him you will have life."

Observe that the miracles of Jesus not only showed His power over nature, but also revealed His approach to ministry: helping others, speaking with authority, and connecting with people. The keyword is compassion. Almost all His miracles were driven by compassion. He healed people who sought His help. He raised the dead to comfort grieving families. He quieted storms to calm the fears of His friends. He fed multitudes to avert their hunger. Don't fail to notice that Jesus never performed a miracle for His own benefit or gain. The miracles aided others, not Him. On five occasions Jesus performed a miracle as a sign solely for the disciples: walking on water; cursing of the fig tree; both miraculous catches of fish by the disciples; and the coin for the temple tax. All other miracles sprang from compassion for the people around Him.

The New Testament gospels record thirty-five miracles. Only one miracle (the feeding of the five thousand) is described in every gospel. About half of the miracles are recorded in two or more of the gospels. As expected, quite a few, eleven in fact, are shared between all the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke), but only seven are recorded in only two of the three synoptic accounts. Two miracles in John also appear in one or more of the synoptic gospels. Matthew has three unique miracles, Mark has two, while Luke and John each record six. 

This distribution once more demonstrates Matthew, Mark, and Luke are personal testimonies. Even Mark, the gospel "copied" by Matthew and Luke, has two miracles not mentioned in the other two. Why are they omitted if Matthew and Luke leaned on Mark as their primary source as the synoptic theory claims? 

As miracles are evidence of Jesus deity, it is useful to categorize them into:

Healing miracles: The vast majority (26) of miracles in which Jesus heals one person or more or even raises (Jairus' daughter, a widow's son and Lazarus) from the dead.

Nature miracles: Nine miracles are recorded where Jesus does something impossible simply within our natural world. He defied the laws of nature.

The healing miracles are easy targets for critics. Many simply insist that the healed person was not ill, the person might be "self-healed" (the "power of positive thinking") or there might even have been a type of hypnosis or other "magic." Obviously our ancestors did not have our knowledge of science, but they were not stupid either! Even a first century uneducated Jew could distinguish between a magician's trick and a genuine miracle. They would have identified a fake healing. The healed people were not selected from the audience willingly participating in a performance. These were locals, known by the community for their handicaps, perhaps long-term blindness or injury. Resurrecting someone moments after his death would suggest he had not actually died. Lazarus, however, was in the grave four days (John 11:39: "'But, Lord,' said Martha, the sister of the dead man, 'by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.'"), so one can hardly argue that "he was not really dead."

Still, from an evidence perspective, the most awesome confirmations of Jesus' deity are the nature miracles. There is just no explanation for walking on water, calming a storm, feeding huge crowds from a single lunch box, or turning water into wine. Such events are real miracles and they show Jesus' divine power. Keep in mind that such miracles have never been claimed by other professed miracle workers. Only Jesus has displayed such power. Look closely at the nature miracles and probe them for the characteristics for a genuine miracle. We learn:

Significance: There is no doubt the nature miracles are significant. It is unlikely that anyone present was not awed! This is clear from people's reactions, such as when Jesus climbed into the boat after walking on the water: "Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, 'Truly you are the Son of God'" (Matthew 14:33). After Jesus calmed the storm: "In fear and amazement they asked one another, 'Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him'" (Luke 8:25).

Immediate: All of Jesus' miracles had immediate results. Both healings and nature miracles were instantaneous. 

Defy the laws of nature: This cannot be disputed, for this is the exact definition of a miracle.

Multiple witnesses: As a last resort, non-believing critics try to refute Jesus' nature miracles by dismissing them as myths or legends. However, the evidence is overwhelming. First, the miracles were done in groups of varying sizes, either the disciples (one can argue they are not objective) or a crowd of several thousands. Second, five of the nature miracles are recorded in multiple gospels, one even in all four gospels. Third, Jesus' opponents never denied or even disputed his miracles. They admitted Jesus performed miracles and tried to claim Jesus had teamed with the devil: "But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, 'It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons'" (Matthew 12:24). Or they tried to destroy the evidence: "So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him" (John 12:10-11).

Among all miracles the astonishing feeding of a crowd of five thousand men plus women and children, likely a total of ten to twelve thousand or more people, stands out.

This may well be the most impressive nature miracle of all. Some see a symbolic link between Jesus as the "Bread of Life" and God's gift of manna to the Israelites in the desert long before.

Second, it is the only miracle found in all four gospels. Each describes the events on that hillside near the Sea of Galilee: only five loaves and two fishes to feed the large gathering. Jesus broke the bread and the disciples handed out the food. There was enough for everybody and the leftovers filled twelve baskets. Comparing the four accounts is rewarding. As to be expected with eyewitness recollection, they all describe the same storyline, but each provides different details. For instance, Mark and John estimated "eight months of a man's wages" would be necessary to feed all the people. All gospels relate that the people were to be seated, but only Mark and Luke tell they sat in groups of "fifties and hundreds." John mentions the Sea of Galilee, Mark and Matthew just mention a boat, and Luke adds that they are close to a town called Bethsaida. John also reveals it was a boy who had brought along the Barley loaves and fishes. John identified a number of disciples by name. Again there is a random pattern of details in the various gospels. Contrary to synoptic theory, Mark, supposed to be the briefest and simplest gospel, actually has the most extensive account with the most details. A total of four independent witness accounts to this remarkable event.

Third and last, this miracle is performed in the presence of five thousand men, not counting women and children. Nothing was done in secret. It was born out of compassion for the hungry crowd, but the number of witnesses is momentous. And at least three of the four gospels were written within a generation of this event, many of these witnesses were still alive as these accounts began to circulate. There were plenty of opportunities for someone to confirm or deny this miracle.

Shared from: Rod Vandeweqhe