He was a friendly little kitten and at first glance, he looked like a normal, orange tabby. He was meowing in the parking lot. A big tomcat was approaching him so me…being me…got out of the car and picked the kitten up. The first thing I noticed was the huge scar on his neck and upon closer inspection I fought back tears as it wasn’t an animal marking, it was a knife wound. Still, he purred and cuddled like nothing had happened. He was seemingly unaffected by his past trauma. As I got to know him better, the visible signs of abuse were evident. His eye looked abnormal, whiskers had been burned and cut, and two more deep gashes on his sides were prominent. This kitty had been through some stuff, yet he was still loving and affectionate. How in the world could this baby critter (vet said he was no more than 4 months old) still be trusting to any human hands? I was amazed.
Ellis reminds me of us. Some have wounds that are visible and when we see them we find them repulsive and sad while their owners, because they’ve become a reminder of their survival, think nothing of them. I’ve met so many courageous people who’ve been through unspeakable things who bear their marks as evidence of our God who freed them and flipped their horror into absolute healing.
Oh that we would believe to be an Ellis. God can do it.
He can turn our ugly scars into most beautiful reminders of what He’s done for us. More importantly through the healing He renders, we can cultivate a deeper relationship with Him discovering who He truly is. You can trust Him. Will you?
Gideon was in a winepress threshing wheat. I’m sure since it was a winepress and he was trying to thresh wheat it was a hard job because the place was most likely ill-equipped for wheat threshing. This hard job in a less than favorable place was the result of Israel’s turning from God and being captives of the Midianites.
I can picture him talking to himself not happy with his current circumstances – because honestly that’s what I would be doing.
In the midst of hardship and hard times, the Angel of the Lord greeted him: “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!” (Judges 6:12 NLT). Gideon responds with questions and doubts. The Angel didn’t indulge him; he simply said “Go with this strength you have” and save Israel to which Gideon responded with statements justifying the reasons he couldn’t comply – “We’re the least of the least…and I’m the least of the least of the least!”
I know you’ve been there – things are looking pretty bad, so bad you begin to question God. Prayers seem unanswered and you find yourself in a place you shouldn’t be, never intended to be and don’t want to be in.
Take to heart the truth captured in Gideon’s story. You have what you need to do what you need to do. If you’re saved you have Jesus, His power and the Holy Spirit inside you Who is the power to get through what you’re going through.
Go with what you have. Trust God for the rest.
Let’s walk with the Israelites for a minute. We’re still celebrating watching what we saw God do at the Red Sea – we saw the water turn in to two huge walls. While being chased by our enemy, we stepped onto the bottom of the ocean to find it dry, just as dry as the sand in the desert. No one but God could have pulled that off and we knew it. We had ourselves a Holy fit and celebrated what we saw Him do. That gave us the courage to keep following. We were full of faith at that moment, so we gladly followed Moses on even though we had no clue where our faith (or Moses) would take us.
Now we find ourselves in the Wilderness of Shur (my interpretation…sure enough wilderness). No food. No water. Nothing but nothingness. We’re tired and our feet hurt. We’re hungry and thirsty – every one of the million or so of us. On the heels of one of the greatest miracles we’d ever seen, we start complaining. We’re in a tough spot. Everyone knows survival…in the desert no less…requires at the very least, water. Walking out of bondage by faith is one thing but when physical need takes over, faith sometimes takes a back seat to what we feel, doesn’t it?
Can you feel it? I doubt we can – I’m thinking with everything we want and need at our disposal these days, none of us have been without water – while walking – in the desert – for three days. The complaints grew louder and they grumbled at Moses so loudly the man could hear nothing else. Moses did the only thing he knew to do – he cried to the Lord for help. What else could he have done? There was water (Marah) but it was undrinkable. I’m sure to all of them none of this made any sense.
This whole adventure from the beginning to that moment was all about full and complete reliance on God and obedience to Him. After he cried to God the Bible says, very simply and unmistakably “…and the Lord showed him a tree…”
Allow me to indulge my humanness for a moment, will you? A tree – this word indicates it was most likely a branch…not even a whole tree. Can you imagine the look on his face? “OK Lord, you hear YOUR people (not mine) You KNOW we NEED water…and you show me a tree…a tree branch…??” What?
In the moment of a great physical need (three days without water), I would have cried out, “LORD! What are you thinking?! We don’t need a tree!! WE NEED WATER!!!!” Not Moses. Not this great man of faith. He threw the branch in the water which made the bitter water become sweet and they drank. God met their need – every one of them who drank got their thirst quenched.
We sometimes find ourselves on top of the world after a mighty move of God and for some reason, we think we’re going to stay there! When something happens to us, we pray specific prayers and God gives or allows something that makes no sense whatsoever: Trees in place of water, a pink slip instead of job security, an illness instead of good health, etc. In those moments we have two choices: 1) Lean on what we think we know and have an emotional breakdown when things don’t make sense or; 2) Trust God with every fiber of our being, even when it seems He must’ve gotten it wrong.
Thank God for the tree. Pick it up in faith and apply His word, remembering the promises contained within. He never fails.
Exodus 15:22-25 Philippians 4:19
Sampson loves to run and chase squirrels in the park. When he can’t find squirrels and the park is vacant of people, he enjoys his freedom. He’s usually far ahead of me in a full trot…just because he can be.
Lately when someone approaches especially with another dog, he’ll come right next to me, his side touching me, and stop. He’ll look up at me for reassurance and won’t move until I put his leash on. After I secure the leash, he’ll go back to his normal trot, but he stays closer until the people have passed.
Just like my sweet doggie wanting to be closer to his master when uncertainty approaches, we need to do the same with our Master. We should stay close to Him in heart all the time, but especially when anything uncertain approaches we should want to be closer.
We’re grown adults who enjoy our freedom, don’t we? We love we can pretty much go anywhere and do anything at any time. Sometimes freedom can be a dangerous thing; a lonely thing. There is no certainty in anything but God. Rest assured, whatever happens, when it happens He’s right there, waiting on us to want to draw closer to Him. We don’t have to be afraid or even lonely. There’s a lot of freedom in God and freedom from unsureness and uncertainty with Him if we believe He’s who He claims to be.
Come closer to Him today, if for no other reason than because you’re free to do so. Enjoy His “leash” of protection and the peace of His presence. He’s going to see to you whatever comes your way.
Galatians 5:1 “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”
John 8:36 “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”
I have issues. Deep rooted, core issues, things I wrestle with on a daily basis.
Three years ago after a huge move back to East Tennessee, I had a change in my job which triggered a long term downward spiral in my life. No money, car broke down, I could go on and on but it was traumatic and took a long time to recover from – every area of my life was impacted.
To this day because of that, I sometimes wake up in a cold sweat paralyzed in fear that it will happen again. I can’t seem to shake it. The FEAR of what has happened happening again holds me hostage and like a hostage negotiator with prayer and reading the Bible, God convinces me to “come out” – to believe and relax, relying 100% on Him.
This morning I was reading Genesis 22 pulling a lesson together for Sunday School tomorrow. I confess to you I was doing this after I had been outside with my dog and seeing that I have a FLAT TIRE!!!!!!!!!!!
Every time I read this chapter, I try to put myself in Abraham’s place, walking up that mountain with his son of promise, the son God promised him in his old age; the son he waited for 25 years for; the very same son God asked him to sacrifice. The “spiritual” Abraham walked that walk in faith but I wonder what the “physical” Abraham was thinking.
I got to the part where he tied Isaac to the altar, 100% willing to kill him (KILL HIM!) out of 100% obedience to God. When something’s tied to the altar, it can’t escape. There’s my problem. I put things, concerns, prayers…ME…on the altar – totally in my heart giving whatever it is, including myself to God…but I don’t tie it down. In other words, when I get scared or I don’t understand I pull it right back up and walk away with it…then I bring it back…then take it back…then…
Oh God. Help us TIE IT DOWN! Help us leave it at the altar; help us have the faith of Abraham to 100% believe You and who You are and act accordingly, believing who You are. That would mean we can’t act based on our feelings, fears or frustrations. Help us to believe in You more than we believe in ourselves and even what we see. Help us to seek the ram! Help us to live in confident expectation that because You ARE our Provider, You will provide. That’s who You are! Forgive us our little faith. Help us to remember Your promises and to walk in Proverbs 3:5-6.
Whatever your “it” is, take it to God, tie it down and leave it there.
Proverbs 3:5-6; Genesis 22
Sampson looks forward to his morning adventures at a park close to us. After I take my son to work we usually stop by there so he can run the squirrels (his passion) and do his “business”.
Sampson hates rain. Mind you, he’ll jump in any body of water regardless of temperature, but the boy just hates to get rained on (I’d love it if someone out there could explain this to me).
On a day filled with more than I could do, it was pouring the rain. I mean pouring. When it was time to walk, I opened the door prepared to get soaked and he wouldn’t budge. I tried enticing him with everything I could think of and he just wasn’t doing it. I was stressed for two reasons: 1) he had a full tummy and hadn’t been outside since the night before and 2) I was going to be gone a good part of the day so the morning was my only chance to make sure we wouldn’t have an accident in the house.
I took my son to work praying the whole time about what to do about the situation. What else could I do? “Father, Your Word tells me to pray about everything, so here it is, the concern on my heart. It’s pouring rain and this doggie refuses to go outside…please help us in this dilemma. I believe You will. In Jesus’ name.” I was sure I heard laughter…
I pulled up at the park and my uninterested and very unhappy Sampson showed no interest whatsoever in being at his favorite place. Any other day, he’d be standing in the back seat wagging his tail waiting for the door to be opened so he could jump out. I rolled the windows down, still in prayer, knowing I couldn’t budge him – he weighs 100 pounds. All of a sudden a squirrel pops up on the sidewalk right where we were parked. “Sampson look, a foo-foo!” and with that, he popped up, saw the squirrel and when I opened the door, he hit the ground running. Boom. That was probably the shortest walk he’s taken with me to date but he got done what he needed to and both of us felt better.
I know you’re laughing, maybe rolling your eyes right now but here’s my point. To no credit of my own, in a testy situation, I prayed believing God would help us. I believe He provided the incentive (squirrel) for Sampson to get out of the car to take care of what needed to be taken care of. I’m still not sure he would have gotten out of the car had the motivation to do so not come. God reminded me, yet again, He is concerned about ALL that concerns me, including taking care of Sampson. Praying about everything means exactly that; praying about E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G.
Every time I start stressing over big things or little things in my life, I think about that situation, the prayer and the answer. Silly me. If He’s listening when I talk to him about helping me take my doggie to the bathroom, of course, He’s listening to me talk about everything else.
Philippians 4:6: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
1st Thessalonoians 5:18: In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
What concerns you right now? Will you pray about it, honestly talking to God?
After you pray will you believe Him? That means acting like He’s heard and He will provide. Tell someone what you learned through this experience.