Dear Lord, I pray for us sinners & for those who some might consider the last to ever come to Christ. Not only the naysayers but those whose hearts have completely hardened, crumbled into dust & blown away. Lost souls...but not forever. Only you can restore such deep chasms, re-form dust & soften stone into new flesh ("I will give you a new heart & put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone & give you a heart of flesh." --Ezekiel 36:26).
God, I pray also for all the good & caring people who think God is 'just religious make believe', not possibly true or relevant in "today's world". It takes just a tiny spark of hope (like the possibility of lighting a match) for your flame of warmth, truth & beauty to envelop & bring us evermore fully into your love & understanding. In your sovereignty & justice, I trust in your giving each of us the opportunities ('the matches') we need to step ever closer into your glory, amen.
To move forward, we must first remember Christ. Only in Christ, can we look at our own & others' sins from His purifying eyes & redeeming heart. Made new & holy, forgiven, we forgive & move forward, changed by grace in Christ, amen!
Job is an especially rich book of the Bible for me. Reading it got me back into daily Bible devotion in 2020 when I was going through a period of depression in addition to ongoing ME/CFS since 2007. Much of what Job says is dramatic, understandably so, considering the intensity & unrelenting nature of his tormenting condition of festering boils from head to toe. I can relate to much of his lament, such as when he repeatedly asks God about why he is even alive, ("What's the point of life when it doesn't make sense, when God blocks all the roads to meaning?" Job 3:23). Day after day of pain & illness to the point of being unable to function, eat and sleep would make anyone question their existence. This is precisely the point of the masterpiece of Job. The author intrigues readers to examine their lives & consider how or if God intervenes, what God allows or provides to us & why.
Job contains 40 chapters of deep rhetoric between Job, his friends & God speaking through a storm. Note, spoiler alert, I was at first a bit disappointed that the conclusion leaves us without a straight forward answer from God about the main dilemma -- "Why do many Godly people go through horrible things while (so it seems) many wicked people live in ease & luxury?" I've come to understand through discussion & multiple readings of God's response to Job's defense (here's one example of so many)...
"Have you ever in your life commanded the morning and caused the dawn to know its place; that it might take hold of the ends of the earth and the wicked be shaken out of it?" (Job 38:12-13)
...that we are not to know or overly concern ourselves with such matters only God contends with. We are to turn toward rather than away from God, especially in our anger & devastation, He can handle it. Crying out to, is trusting in God and so we pray without ceasing ("Teach me to see what I still don't see. Whatever evil I've done, I'll do it no more." Job 34:32) to deal with our situation to the best of our abilities.
On a personal note, I will share how helpful & healing it has been to have a friend, GJ, who also has ME/CFS. Unlike Job's friends to Job, GJ doesn't shake his finger at me! We are patient, empathetic & encouraging of each other in ways that are difficult to know how to be for those who have not experienced long term illness. We share the same faith & discuss all things Bible for fun ... yes, truly a joy. It was GJ that came up with the phrase "Job it out" which I take to mean: complain as you must for a time then look to God for strength & support ("I've talked too much, way too much, I am ready to shut up & listen." Job 40:5) and do not expect everything to make sense!
Modifying the old adage 'When life gives you lemons...' for those facing chronic illness, I try "gently squeezing" every drop of good (God) out of the 'lemons' I'm given ... & out of life in every situation possible. I certainly did so this past summer when I was able to go camping with GJ (who, by the way, I would not have met if it were not for having ME). Camping took much more planning & rest than previously when I was well but this time I got to go "slow" camping with my ME friend & we had a wonderful time. I'm praying for more adventures like that (minus both of us getting covid afterwards) & beyond. Amen!
This phrase: "The miracle that we are IS God" is my initial take away a few chapters into listening to the audio-book: "Cure Your Fatigue: How balancing 3 minerals & 1 protein is the solution you're looking for, by Morley M. Robbins. It is nothing but wondrous how the human body functions in all of its complexity! All glory to God, Amen.
I took this moonset photo early morning October 10th, 2022 while I was visiting my Dad in Campbell River so it brings recent cherished memories.
Esther 4:14 is a message from Esther's guardian Mordecai, explaining her difficult situation: "For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” However, Esther's identity as a Jew was a secret at that time so she may have been able to escape the planned massacre of the Jews. Despite this she decided to offer support to "her people" no matter the cost ("And if I perish, I perish" Esther 4:16)
Risking her life twice, Queen Esther acted against the king's rules by going to him uninvited and she revealed her Jewish identity to him. Yet by doing these things, she was not put to death but instead, she was able to stop Haman's ploy to kill the Jews. Amen!
"Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" Who knows? God knows & it is not only Queen Esther but it is all who come to the kingdom, the Kingdom of God, that come for such a time as this!
Knowing when it's a time to:
*rest & remain silent or a time to act & speak up;
*honor & conceal or a time to obey & reveal;
*pray, fast & offer risky support ...
takes courageous dedication & faith in God's grace, guidance & purpose. Praise the Lord, Amen! Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8)
Before my Dad passed away, he told me: "The idea that God will swoop down, pick up my dead body & bring me to heaven, is so absurd but ... I can't be certain that it won't happen." he said. My Dad, being a naturalist & science-minded, was not a fan of certainty (especially other peoples' certainty, lol!). Even though his skepticism drove him away from religious belief, at some point it also brought him back.
My Dad's realization that we can't be certain that the laws of nature as we know them are the only possible laws, is a beautiful, little, powerful miracle. Emphatically he would declare "God is love & heaven is right here & now!" With much prayer I trust my Dad's heart & mind was renewed even further & now he's singing & soaring limitlessly through eternal life in heaven with God who creates all the laws, how cool, amen!
So often the question Why not believe? comes to my mind. What harm or difficulty is it to believe GOD IS LOVE? The Bible & Gospel is such a rich & fantastical Truth story. I am so grateful to have been drawn by the Father & to be surrounded by believers in God's magic through Christ: "People cannot come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me; and I will raise them to life on the last day." John 6:44
Thank God for waking me up to the bondage of sin (mine & others)! Thank you Heavenly Father for giving me sanctuary & community to support my repentance & growth in Christ. I pray for the same for everyone all over the world.
Many people like myself, broken & scarred, turn to Christ when we finally realize it is the painful, heavy grip of chains of our sins that pierce & paralyze us. Duh! It is so obvious, once you know, you know. "Therefore since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin." (1 Peter 4:1) True freedom is freedom from sin which comes through faith in Jesus. What a blessing to have ears to hear, amen!
Even though being chronically ill often feels like I am "in bondage" I continuously remind myself: I am one with Christ in eternal life knowing the only true God & Jesus Christ whom thou has sent (John 17:3). In this way with me/cfs illness, I "exercise/work out" constantly & have become a spiritual warrior. I don't let being sick turn me from Christ. Instead, I use every spark of light & energy to feel & share God's love. When I can not move on my own, I ask him to carry me. He directs my everything; my standing up, going out & lying down. "The Lord is my strength & my shield..." (Psalm 28:7)
I pray for those who do not yet recognize or feel the pain of their sin. Even though facing it can be unbearably uncomfortable, this humility is necessary for salvation ("The world's sin is unbelief in me..." John 16:9). Please Lord have mercy in your way of bringing awareness to those who are ready (& those in preparation) for the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome them. In Jesus precious name I pray, amen.
2 Chronicles 7:13-14
Dear Lord, I pray for & hold up to you all who are going through hardship; people, land & animals in fires, floods, war, poverty & other oppressive situations. God, thank you for unburdening us especially in times of weakness & trouble by insisting that we submit to you our grievances & wrongdoings & change our ways to your way. May we seek your counsel in all things. Holy spirit, I ask that you be with each person working in law enforcement, government, the judicial & medical systems & cast away from them all evil influences.
Please God bless & protect our farmers dealing with exhaustion, extreme weather, insects & political upheaval. Please lead to salvation & heal those who are suffering with addiction, illness & injury. Lord, help us mend our relationships with each other & with the land you so graciously created & provide to us. Make us much better stewards of our beautiful earth home for many generations to come. I pray all these things in Jesus name, amen!
1 Chronicles 29:10-15
David's Prayer of Praise ~ Then David praised the Lord ..."O Lord, the God of our ancestor Israel, may you be praised forever & ever! Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory & the majesty....Wealth & honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power & might are in your hand & at your discretion people are made great & given strength....But who am I & who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you & we give you only what you first gave us! We are here for only a moment, visitors & strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace."
I highlight this passage because it reminds me to be grateful & humble knowing that we are all children of God, equal in His sight. And it reminds me to be grateful for all that God has given & done for me instead of grumbling about that which is going badly & not having everything I want. How many times has God spared my life without me having even so much a clue about it!? What can I offer in thanks to God? All of what was first given to me - my life - of course the good parts & yes, I've handed over the bad & ugly parts too. I am an ongoing work in progress being ever-renewed & reformed by Christ.
I acknowledge & am grateful for the privilege of receiving a positive reflection of Christ at an early age. Although I wandered away for quite some time, Christ never left me! I pray dear Lord for all those who have been hurt by people reflecting Christ poorly. Please touch, heal & soften their hearts to you Heavenly Father & correct those who are preaching in your name in ways that are harmful.
I pray dear God that those coming to Christ receive mature, loving support through difficult times, such as when pleading for circumstances to improve & yet they do not. Lord help us be patient & trust that just as we often can not make the problems of our own children go away, you also do not always free us from sorrows & obstacles, often for reasons beyond our understanding. Your grace alone is sufficient. In Jesus name, amen!
2 Kings 17:13-14
The books of Kings & Chronicles have taken me much longer to read through than the Gospels, the beautiful flowing poetry of the Psalms & wisdom oriented books such as Job. These two Bible verses (2 Kings 17:13-14) & writing this blog is inspiring me to look closer at the bigger picture & Biblical time line of events to orient myself. From 1050 to 586 B.C. there were forty-two kings & one queen (Athaliah) ruling over Israel & Judah. Apparently, only seven of them acted in ways that were pleasing to the Lord for some portion of their command!
Evil leadership is not surprising really, given our sinful natures (“As it is written: there is no one righteous, not even one." Romans 3:10). Those 464 years of kings' reign during the ancient world, are they really much different than present day's ruling class? Sadly, maybe not so much. Before the coming & death of Christ, there were many Godly laws - some consensus says there are 613 recorded throughout the old testament. Of these, most people know the moral laws; the ten commandments, (which Jesus summarizes in Mark & Matthew (22:38-39) by pointing out the primacy of 1a. & b. These instructions from God are woven into our DNA & the fabric of our society yet secularly, now claiming this is taboo).
1a). You shall have no other gods before Me.
b). Love your neighbor as yourself. (Leviticus 19:18; Mark 12:30-31)
2. You shall not make idols.
3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
5. Honor your father and your mother.
6. You shall not murder.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal.
9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
10. You shall not covet.
Whether we are kings, pastors or just regular people, past or present, try as we might, no one can keep one hundred percent free from breaking any of these rules & thus committing sin & doing evil in the sight of the Lord. And so out of love for us, God gave us a way of salvation out of the "prison of sin" through His son, the sinless sacrifice of Jesus Christ as the new covenant. In Matthew 5:17 Jesus says: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.
I love the simplicity of how the author of "God's Ten Laws" puts it:
"Jesus fulfilled the purpose of the temple, and became the new door through which to come to God. People no longer had to come to the temple and offer sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins. Now they would come to the new Temple – Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. Shortly after Jesus’ ascension into heaven He sent the Holy Spirit to indwell all who would trust in Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 6:19 we are told that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit – the place in which He dwells...."
"A believer’s mission is not to obey the Ten Commandments – that is old covenant thinking and it proved inadequate (which was its purpose). A believer’s mission is to ..."
be moved by the Holy Spirit as described in Ezekiel 36:27 "And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws." The difference in these missions is about intent. The new covenant is not about virtue signaling, compliance or works for self gain, rather, it's about love: "Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." Romans 13:10
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for entering & reigning over our hearts & letting your Kingdom come through us to Earth as it is in Heaven. Lord, please help me up when I am discouraged about injustice & evil and when I don't see actionable ways Christianity is flourishing. When I'm concerned wondering where & how is your Holy Spirit moving us? When I am blind to the Kingdom's expansion & fortification by your grace, power & glory Lord, please clear my vision & place me safely wherever you want me. Equip me Father with all the fruits of the Spirit I need.
I Lord, do not know much yet about all this but YOU know & I trust you. You are always working your good & divine, almighty plan. Your love holds us steady in Faith & I thank you. Come Holy Spirit, come! Please Lord, banish everything that obstructs the Holy Spirit from fully filling, purifying, refining & moving all Christians to do YOUR will on Earth as it is in Heaven. Lord, I pray that the Holy Spirit moves deeply & undoubtedly into the hearts & lives of those who do not yet know you personally & those who have gone astray. God, please leave the ninety nine to reunite one more lost sheep as you did with me. I pray all this in Jesus precious name. Amen!
1 Kings 3:9-13
"The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings." (1 Kings 3:10-13)
Solomon's request is not for self gain but assists him greatly with serving others in the way God wants him to do. Thank you God for directing me to keep studying & surrendering to your will with all I've got. Your grace is sufficient for me. Your POWER is made perfect in my weakness....
Lord, please continue to fill me with YOUR love & motivation, especially when I don't see the bigger picture or your plan for my life. Where are you carrying me Lord? Why am I so often so tired that my body & brain hurt? Even though the pain is difficult Lord, I trust that out of my situation must come something good or you wouldn't make it so. The Good that is coming out of my illness is not personal gain or comfort, rather it is for others who need it more than I do now because I already have the ultimate good, amen!
I am reminded of the preacher, Nick Vujicic's prayer & realization "God, please give me arms & legs. But if you don't give me arms & legs, change my heart; renew my mind..." - "If God doesn't change my circumstance, he's going to use my life to be a miracle for someone else."
If God miraculously gave Nick arms & legs, he wouldn't attract the specific attention that he does nor would he touch as deeply, others with disabilities. Likewise for me, even with less physical energy, God is inspiring a whole lot of prayer & loving through me (probably that's why I am so tired out, phew), amen & praise the Lord!
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I am writing this blog to highlight Bible verses that I experience as especially healing and relevant for daily guidance. My journeys in life have been truly amazing. Chronic illness with ME/CFS, as difficult as it is, continues to take me wild and loving places for healing.