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The good fight of faith

Posted by on Mar 17, 2017 in Daily walk, Help from God | Comments Off on The good fight of faith

“Fight the good fight of faith…” 1 Timothy 6:12
I feel like I should share this for anyone who is facing a nagging, persistent trial.
 
A week ago, I woke up with a neck ache. I took my go-to three ibuprofen and a 3-shot espresso drink. (I usually don’t experience this kind of pain, but when I do, these things seem to help.) Everything was fine until a couple of hours later when wavy lines disrupted my vision–the aura, or precursor to a migraine. Three more ibuprofens, three more shots of espresso, and I waded through a day full of dull, icky misery.
 
Of course, with all that caffeine piled up in my system I didn’t fall asleep that night until 2:45 am, so the next day, March 11, was pretty much a lost day for me…the day before my birthday, when I usually take the time to reflect, pray, and hear from God for the next year. UGH!
 
My birthday, March 12, was the first day of daylight savings time. Did I ever NOT need to lose an hour of sleep! But I decided to look at the positive–extra daylight started on MY birthday this year 🙂 and I got up to go to church to teach my singles’ Sunday school class, then on to the main service, followed by a birthday lunch with friends in my honor, then on to an evening prayer meeting.
 
Well, wouldn’t you know it? As I was feeding the cats at the crack of dawn, WAVY LINES started disrupting my vision again. ON MY BIRTHDAY!!! My first instinct was to yell, “NO!!!” and pray (definitely with some anger!) against this massive interruption to my day. I pictured all the things I absolutely couldn’t cancel and remembered how AWFUL I had felt with the same symptoms just two days before. I grabbed the ibuprofen and was well into my triple espresso when I heard the Lord say softly and simply, “Sing. Just sing.”
 
So with wavy lines and images of inevitable pain, I sang. I made up songs to God about His healing power and love. I made up songs to Jesus about the horrible brutality He endured that one Friday for me. I sang as I dressed. I sang as I put on my make up. I sang as I fixed my hair and brushed my teeth (a spitty little song). I sang as I gathered my materials into the car for Sunday school. I sang as I pulled out of the garage. I sang all the way to church….and as I was sitting at the stop light on Boone’s Crossing bridge to take the last leg to church–still with wavy lines disrupting my vision–I heard the Lord say softly to my heart, “This is what the good fight of faith looks like.”
 
And it hit me. All too often we don’t think we’ve done squat as far as faith in God is concerned if we see no improvement. That’s where we are greatly mistaken. The fight isn’t the fight once things are DEALT WITH–THAT’S when the fight is OVER! The GOOD fight of faith occurs while the pain is still hammering away–AND as we keep forcing our eyes and attention Godward!
 
I’m glad to say, I was able to teach my class, go to church, enjoy my birthday lunch, and hit the prayer meeting….without pain and, thank God, with ever-diminishing eye waviness!
 
Don’t be discouraged by HOW LONG the fight is taking. Don’t let the testimonies of others who fought shorter fights make you think you’re doing it all wrong. Just fix your eyes on Him who bore shame, pain, brutality, and death for you…and leave the rest in His capable, loving hands. He is faithful, and He WILL bring it to pass.
“…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
“…Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24
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Setting your compass aright

Posted by on Sep 17, 2016 in Help from God, Prayer Perspective | Comments Off on Setting your compass aright

If you’re anything like me, you get distracted all too often. Not too long ago, I sat at my computer from morning until late afternoon, only to break away to eat, feed the cats, and use the restroom.

And what did I have to show for my time? I had commented on several Facebook posts, I joined an online “I ♥ Cats” club; I watched several cat videos; I stumbled onto some “prepper” sites; I learned about homemade compasses; I caught up on the latest political conspiracies; and some stiffness in my spine and “sitter” returned. Productive. Yeah, right.

Needless to say, I was a tad disgusted with myself (although I was pleased with the “likes” and comments I received on the post and pic of an old cat I once owned); so when I drove to church that evening for a prayer meeting, I was telling myself and the Lord, “Something’s gotta change! Help!

In these particular prayer meetings, my pastor gives us about a half hour or so to pray on our own before we come together as a group, so there I was, still irritated at myself for allowing technology to so perniciously consume my time and my life. Therefore, as I walked the sanctuary I continued my quiet complaint to God. Out of nowhere, I heard this:

“Set your compass aright in the morning, and you will maintain the right direction throughout the day.”

“Set my compass in the morning,” I muttered to myself. “Set my compass in the morning!”

The lightbulb came on. DUH! I thought to myself; my day will go the way I set it first thing in the morning! I knew that; I’ve lived that. But I had gotten sloppy again.

But here’s where my earlier technology marathon came into good use. The instruction I had wandered onto about homemade compasses drove this fresh revelation home.

HOW TO MAKE YOUR DAILY COMPASS IN THE LORD

You see, to make a compass at home, you first need to magnetize a tiny piece of metal. The metal is not a magnet, but by contact with a magnet, it will start acting like one. You do this by rubbing a bit of wire or a needle against a magnet—rubbing it the same direction several times. Then the metal, which was once not magnetic, is now magnetized, and will, if floated on water, point due north.

You also, as you come into close interactive contact with the Lord each day, will become “magnetized” with a godly magnetism. Remember, a sewing needle is not a magnet, nor are you God. However, with close interaction, that needle acquires a measure of the magnet’s properties, and you acquire a fresh measure of the divine nature.

A magnetized needle will point due north when carefully placed on water, and again, although the needle is not a true magnet, its association with a magnet gives it the ability to be a reliable compass.

You yourself will more likely find true direction easier to access as you daily interact closely with your Father.

And here’s an interesting tidbit about many hand-held compasses that I didn’t know: Most of the traditional ones contain liquid. The reason? The needle moves more smoothly and less erratically when suspended in liquid.

Think about your life. You spend time with God, worshiping and interacting with Him, but for some reason, you may find receiving direction from Him to be a bit erratic for your liking. What do you do?  Suspend that needle in some water!

Paul analogized the Word of God to water (see Ephesians 5:26), so follow me as I continue this analogy: Just as the liquid in a natural compass brings smoothness and enhances true direction, so too does daily access to the Word of God, along with worshipful interaction with the Father, stabilize and enhance smooth direction for your life day by day.

“Set your compass aright in the morning, and you will maintain the right direction throughout the day.”

Dorothy

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Connection

Posted by on Mar 10, 2014 in Connection, Help from God | Comments Off on Connection

In plumbing, leaks can be caused by loose connections between pipes. And because you and I take it for granted that the connections between the unseen pipes at home are sound, once in a blue moon we are surprised when facing the inevitable—a leak.

In my house, the leak seeped up over the top of the fitting. Somehow the connection had loosened and soundness was compromised. But as quickly as it was discovered it was repaired—the contractor was in the house! Don’t you wish all of the leaks and glitches in your home would occur when a repairman was on the scene? Well, here’s good news—the Carpenter is always in the house!

The leak in the connection between the pipes started me thinking about the closeness of my connection with God. I hate to admit it, but as I look back over the past 39 years of my relationship with Him, I haven’t always maintained a super-tight connection. Don’t get me wrong—once I was born again, I was connected. But sometimes I was content just to appear to have a close connection, while the connection itself had become loose, casual—even sloppy. And upon closer inspection, I can see that the most satisfying times in my life have occurred when I purposefully tightened that connection.

How do you tighten the connection between yourself and God? What tends to loosen it up? What are some of the signs that you need to crank that connection more tightly? And if you’re in Christ and He’s in you, why concern yourself about this connection at all? Isn’t connection with Him a given?

The skinny is this: the connection is perfect on His end; it’s your end that needs watchful oversight, maintenance, and sometimes repair. If there’s any disconnect, it’s on your end.

Remember last week I wrote that I was bombarded by negative thoughts one snowy morning? I ran for refuge that day to a pile of devotionals, knowing in my gut that I would receive direction and help. And interestingly enough, in one way or another, out of every single entry emerged a strengthening, nutritious nugget about—you guessed it—a vital connection with God.

I’ll be writing about what I gleaned that snowy day in the next several blog entries. But tomorrow I plan to backtrack a bit and share a dream that I had sometime last year. You’ll understand why when you read “Connected to the Source”.

Dorothy

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” John 15:4

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Another leak

Posted by on Mar 7, 2014 in Help from God | Comments Off on Another leak

The trim nail was discovered and removed, and the section of copper piping was replaced. Three weeks later, after much running of water to flush out the system, my water tastes free of contaminants. Hallelujah!

But I had a hole in my basement ceiling that needed to be patched. My contractor, a godly man with a good attitude, and who is a craftsman in his own right, came to do the job.

He is no stranger to my herd of cats. Two of them hide from him in the compartments between the floors that he himself created—just for them. You see, two years ago he gutted that whole section of the basement to remove the mold problem which had developed due to earlier plumbing issues under the bathroom sink and tub. He saw that he had wiped out their “get-away” in the demolition, so he crafted an area with four “cat compartments”—complete with trap doors for clean-up purposes—to which the more cowardly among them could flee if so moved. I’m not sure if those cats are grateful for his artistry on their behalf, but they sure know where to go when terrifying repairmen come to work on the house.

The other two could care less about workmen; one is thoroughly disinterested until she’s through with her nap and then pays a visit, but the other—a twenty-pounder—likes to supervise everything that goes on.

Big Rowe was busy overseeing the patch job, Cammie was snoozing, and I decided to check in on Ember and Gideon, hiding in their “crawl space”. I climbed up on a step ladder to peer into their secret compartments between the floors and saw the yellow glow of two pairs of eyes. Ugh, I thought to myself. I haven’t checked up here in a while—it’s covered with cat hair! So as I began the task of de-furring the storage shelves beneath the cat hideaway and the bathtub drain pipe, I withdrew my hand in horror. WATER!!!

Not a new leak! Not now! Not here! I removed the bottled laundry detergents and fabric softeners stored on the shelf directly below the pipe and felt around. Yup—sprung a leak.

BOB!” I called to my contractor patching the ceiling in the other room. “You’ll never guess what I just found!”

He wasn’t surprised; he said these things happen to him all the time; and as he investigated, he discovered the cause of this new leak. It was coming from a poor connection in the fitting between the bathtub drain pipe and the elbow trap attached to it. He repaired it under the glow of four golden eyes, finished the patch job, and then went on his way.

As I returned to clean up the mess, I was amazed that it wasn’t a big mess. In fact, that leak had just started; only the top shelf had water on it; only a couple of paper towels were needed to mop it up.

And I thought of the goodness of God. This second leak could have slowly dripped for months and months before being discovered, but God revealed it to me right away before any damage—or mold growth—had begun.

And what did He use? A different leak, a patch up job, my relationship with two scaredy cats, and a pile of cat hair. How great is that? Surely our God causes all things to work together for our good—even cat hair!

And just like the Lord used the intruding trim nail to reveal truth to me, He has also shown me some interesting things about the value of vigilantly maintaining good connection.

More on that to come.

Dorothy

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

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Errant trim nail—discovered, extracted, and discarded

Posted by on Mar 6, 2014 in Help from God | Comments Off on Errant trim nail—discovered, extracted, and discarded

After the plumber removed the trim nail that had pierced the pipe, I was fascinated by how thickly corroded it had become in two years and amazed at how well it had plugged the metal all that time. In fact, as I prayed with a group of women soon after, I kept seeing that corroded nail in my mind. I couldn’t shake it, so I shared the story with them and the analogy of contaminants penetrating the fresh, living water in the lives of believers. From that analogy, we prayed for freedom for Christians dealing with intrusive toxins.

In my mind, I figured we were praying for those who were facing addictions or various besetting sins—and I’m sure we were. Those things certainly seek to worm their way into the lives of men and women who endeavor to follow the Lord; Satan uses such devises to bind up, if possible, anyone who poses a threat to him or to the spread of his agenda. What I didn’t know when I shared my trim nail story, however, was that God was about ready to uncover one in my own life.

It didn’t happen right away. God takes His time with us; He not only prepares us for our calling, ministry, and service—He also prepares us to deal with uncomfortable or painful issues. And I believe that He has a due season for everything He does, and He works in us throughout our lives to help us to hear and receive what He has to say.

On a recent snowy day as I hunkered down at home, I began the day with prayer and time in the Word, but for some reason I was flooded with an onslaught of negative emotions. Thoughts of isolation, ineffectiveness, despair, and unacceptability bombarded my mind. I poured out the pain I was experiencing before the Lord. After all, the psalmist urged, “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us” (Psalm 62:8; emphasis added).

And interestingly enough, God led, not one godly person, but two—right in a row—to call me that morning to share their love and encouragement. The trim nail was still hidden, but He was applying the pre-op salve of lovingkindness and acceptance in the Beloved (see Ephesians 1:6, KJV) through the words of these precious saints.

After the conversations, I determined to hear from God and spent most of the rest of the day reading several devotionals (many were listed here on February 10: http://www.firstofallpray.com/?p=4114). As I read, God spoke to me through them, confirming some key directives I had received from Him previously. By the time I was writing a summary in my prayer journal about everything He had said, the oppression shrouding me earlier was all but gone. As I arose from that task to a more mundane endeavor, however, a scrap of the old heaviness startled me as it leaped on my mind, demanding attention, flooding my thoughts with images of all the disapproval my life had generated.

And just then the Plumber, the Ancient of Days Himself, stepped in and spoke very clearly, “Disapproval”, and I saw a man’s hand pull a piece of trim from the wall of my heart pierced by a thickly corroded nail—disapproval itself. All the condemning images drained away, and I recognized what the Lord—my Plumber—had just done for me.

It all made sense to me. I had been plagued by the feeling of being disapproved much of my life—even as a believer who thoroughly trusted in the finished work of Jesus Christ, His precious blood shed for me, the wonderful regeneration of the Holy Spirit, and the living power of the Word of God. For some reason, I was not able to fully shake the nagging doubts and oppressive accusations despite how loved by God I knew I was.

God was showing me that the disapproval my parents expressed toward me as a child, teen, and young woman—even though I knew they loved me—had invaded my system and lodged in my soul. When Jesus came to make His home in me, the living waters sprang up to eternal life and all was forgiven and I was cleansed—but that errant trim nail of disapproval remained. Through the years, with every disapproving look or word, that nail was driven in deeper. I felt it, for sure, but was never able to identify what was going on inside. In fact, the Lord showed me, I had developed a “disapproval response mechanism” in my soul that was triggered whenever I met with anything that felt disapproving toward me—whether it was real or imagined. And if I left it unaddressed, or worse—I nursed or coddled it—and didn’t forgive as quickly as possible, that intrusive trim nail would redevelop its corrosion and the living water within would become tainted again.

And out of nowhere came my Plumber, the Savior of my soul, who simply removed the offending nail. Of course, I have questions: Why now? Why wait this long? But the fact of the matter is this: He did it. He pulled out a grossly contaminating, painful spike from my soul, and I am grateful. The flow of the rivers of life and the washing of the water of the Word will be all the more refreshing, sweet, and powerful.

My purpose in sharing this highly personal incident is to encourage you to press on in God even if things seem impossibly dark, oppressive, or disturbing. When the leak occurred in my basement, I was angry and upset at the mess and inconvenience. However, without that leak, the corroding trim nail never would have been discovered, and my water would still be contaminated.

A surfaced boil reveals that an infection needs to be addressed. Without that boil, the infection can spread undetected. A leak in the plumbing reveals that something is not right with the pipes—perhaps even contaminating the water. And chronic issues of heaviness, oppression, or sin in your life can be viewed as a wake-up call to press in to God and His Word all the more. Instead of allowing the oppression to bind you in shame or despair, use the devil’s attacks as your personal launching pad into the presence of God. The Lord will come through for you—every time.

And concerning errant trim nails:

1. Protect your heart by obeying God.

2. Keep the living water of Jesus flowing within you.

3. Trust Him to bring to light anything that may be hindering you—and watch Him set you free.

Dorothy

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What’s in your water?

Posted by on Mar 5, 2014 in Help from God | Comments Off on What’s in your water?

The culprit behind my plumbing leak was a tiny trim nail which had been inadvertently driven into one of my pipes. And when the plumber removed the compromised section, I was disgusted to see what lingered inside of that length of copper. Rusty, dirty water spilled out into a waiting bucket. YUCK!

And then a light bulb came on in my mind. Yikes! The water pouring from my kitchen faucet had tasted funny for over a year now. I asked the plumber if that little nail, slowly corroding in the pipe, could make the water taste “off”. The answer was yes.

After the taste of my tap water went “south”, I began to use bottled water exclusively for drinking. I also started running the water from that faucet until I couldn’t taste it whenever I cooked, prepared coffee, or ran water for the cats’ bowls. I hadn’t trusted the water for over a year; now I knew why.

As Christians, we are vessels through which living water flows. Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well, “Everyone who drinks of this water [well water] will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life” (John 4:13b-14; emphasis added). You and I have a well of water within us, springing up to eternal life. This is the water of life which the Lord has given to us; as long as we drink from it, we will never thirst.

Jesus also proclaimed on the last day of the great feast, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water’” (John 7:37b-38). Within you and me flow rivers of living water—waters of the Holy Spirit which arise through faith in Jesus (see verse 39).

And yet have you ever experienced a tinge of “offness” coming from the flow of your life? Have you ever thought to yourself in reflection, Something just doesn’t seem right; something tastes “off” as I think, pray or speak? Have you ever wondered, Why do the “waters” seem to get so muddy from time to time?

When that happens—and no Christian is immune—you may question the Lord and His faithfulness to you. But the truth is this: He’s still there; He’s never stopped helping you; His Word still speaks.

The well of which Jesus spoke is still inside of you—it hasn’t moved—with water springing up to eternal life. On top of that, rivers of living water still run deep within you, ready to splash through your life onto the lives of others.

I learned that a little trim nail penetrating a small copper pipe can foul the water in a home until it is discovered and removed. Every day, you and I come into contact with the world around us, its ways, its philosophies, and its loves. Every day, you and I bob and weave without even thinking, dodging suggestions and accusations, taking thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ, and declaring, It is written. And the living water within us keeps on flowing.

But from time to time, an errant suggestion or a bit of news, a stray thought or a random image finds its way into the plumbing. Before you know it, the water seems “off”; what was once clear becomes cloudy; what used to flow freely within you seems to be sluggish and stale.

Nothing’s wrong with the Source of that living water; but something has fouled it, nonetheless. The good news is that the Living God is very aware of the condition of the well within you, He knows the exact location of any contaminant that may have worked its way into the river—and He’s willing to share that knowledge with you if you’re willing to hear it.

Your job is to contact the Plumber and give Him license to inspect your “home”. He’ll locate and remove the offending pollutant, showing you exactly what it is and how it penetrated your defenses, and He will repair any damage to your “pipes”. You, in turn, need to kick-start the living waters within you so you can fully flush out your system, wash yourself with the water of the Word, and then commit to refortifying your godly defenses.

Leaks happen, whether in buildings or in your life. Water can become tainted in the spiritual realm as well as in the natural. And your God is big enough to walk you through any of it—or all of it. He’s ever present and He is beautiful for situation—for every single situation.

He can be trusted.

Dorothy

Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way. Psalm 139:23-24

Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord,
and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. Isaiah 55:6-7

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. Jeremiah 33:3; English Standard Version

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