Be Careful What You Pray For!

You may need to read my last blog post to get the whole story, but even if you don’t, I have a true life lesson that proves that the sky is the limit when you take your wants, needs, and desires to God in prayer.

I have been working a part-time job for over 18 months. I started this gig in December of 2020 with the expectation that I would only need to do it for 6 months. My goals, at that time, were (1) to get out of the house and around people during the worst of the COVID pandemic, (2) do something physical and get out of the house, and (3) survive our dark, cold, long, Wisconsin winter.
As news to me, God had a better idea. His goals were (1) I would actually enjoy working a second job (2) this would be an active mission field to reach unchurched people in my community, and (3) to address my (almost) $24,000 in credit card debt.

A few months ago I routinely sat down with my prayer journal and I expressed to God that I was tired. With both jobs combined, I was working up to 60 hours a week and I told him that I really needed a break. My current balance on my credit card (at that time) was just under $4,000. I had come so far that I could see that being credit card debt-free was within reach. But, I also asked God to expedite my debt pay off because I didn’t want to do this anymore. As I recorded these requests, I consciously remember thinking, “How are you going to do this God? I’m asking to work less or not at all, but at the same time get paid more? These prayers contradict!”

I proceeded to close my journal and I just left it right there as I do everyday and with every prayer. Part of me couldn’t help but wonder if I expected God to actually answer my prayers that day, or was it just me whining? After all, it is such a fleshly human characteristic to “want our cake and eat it too”, right?
Several weeks passed and I forgot that prayer or whining session; whichever you want to call it. Despite being tired, sheer determination and an unwavering commitment to achieve my $0 balance credit card goal kept me going. I endured more long work days, making sacrifices to my social calendar and family time, missing out on community events and completely neglecting housework. Dust bunnies can wait until my debt is paid off, I thought to myself.
But then one day God answered my prayer and not how I would have ever imagined.

I got hurt – really hurt!

I was at work and it seemed as if it were just another night, but on this particular night, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was squished by an almost 4,000 pound box. I’ll spare you the details, but after a 5 hour wait in the Emergency Room, I was treated for a sprained wrist, elbow, ankle and a large laceration on the back of my right heel. Oh-it-could-have-been-so-much-worse!
Following the accident, I was unable to work for 2 complete weeks (because I was physically unable to stand or walk for any length of time, prohibiting me from being able to perform the light duty work that they tried to give me). Two weeks to rest, ice and elevate. Did you catch that? (2 weeks!)

The other miracle was, when I did return to work, the partial disability checks paid from workman’s comp more than doubled my normal take home pay. (Doubled!)
It was about 3 weeks after the accident that it all hit me. Not only did God gave me my much needed break BUT He expedited my debt pay off – Simultaneously! Exactly as I had prayed for it.

As of today, I my balance is $227 and I am days away from being credit card debt free and close friend asked me what I plan to do to celebrate this monumental accomplishment? After giving it some thought I decided I am going to commemorate God’s goodness in not just this, but in every aspect of my life, by getting a tattoo on my ankle (after it is healed) that reads, “My debt is paid.”

Our God loves us so much. He cares deeply for us. He is able to do so much more than we can ask or imagine. Be careful what you pray for, it might hurt.

Testing For Imposters

Crystal Ball

Today’s Devotion: Deuteronomy 18

Palm readers, horoscopes and Tera cards don’t pass the test. The last verse in chapter 18 tells you how to know what is truly from God and what is false. Deuteronomy 18:21-22, “You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD ?” If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed.”

Now what about today? This test would disqualify everyone on the contemporary scene who claims to be a “prophet” by predicting the future. I have heard of instances where someone has hit the nail right on the head, but more often they’ve miss the nail altogether. We never hear of their misses; we only hear of their accurate guesses and I admit – some are freaky accurate.

One very common prediction are the people predicting the end of the world on a certain date, the rapture of the church on a certain date, calamities that will come to a particular section of the country on a specific date, and a myriad of other such theories. My husband and I were married on December 31, 1999, which was supposed to be the eve of the end of the world. As soon as the calendar turned to 01-01-00 it would be the end of the world as we know it; that makes me think of the song by REM. Needless to say, the world didn’t end and we just celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary.

If we applied God’s test to these self-acclaimed prophets, they would be out of business in short order. A true prophet must be accurate in every detail every time. But do you know that there are no warnings about false prophets for the church today? Why? Because there is no more prophecy to be revealed. Everything has been revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ and in His Word. Our warning today is not against false prophets; our warning is against false teachers. “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you …” (2 Pet. 2:1). The warning to us is to listen very carefully today, because there are many sweet, soothing voices that sound very pious, but are not teaching the Word of God. Oh, how important it is for us to beware of false teachers!

McGee, J. Vernon (1984-01-06). Thru the Bible Commentary, Volumes 1-5: Genesis through Revelation (Thru the Bible 5 Volume Set) (Kindle Locations 21921-21931). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

Where’s That Christian?

Blend in the crowd

Today’s Devotion: Numbers 31

This world is not our home. It’s our station; our station for Christ. We are here for a short time to do the work of the LORD. As believers, with lives that are completely surrendered to God, He has a purpose for our lives and we are here to fulfill that purpose. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone says to me, “You deserve to be happy.”

My response, “No, I don’t.” God deserves the glory and my happiness will never be fully attained on this side of heaven. It’s impossible; we’re greedy, selfish, prideful, gluttonous sinners. If we are truly happy, it’s from our ability to have fulfillment in this world and that, at best, is temporary. Ray Stedman says in his blog, Authentic Christianity, “Happiness is liking the present moment because it pleases us.”

Even King Solomon in all of his splendor was granted everything a human could ever possess and he declares it all meaningless. (Ecclesiates 1:2) His ask of God was for wisdom, something money can’t buy. Why? It was the best gift he could possess and gave him answers to some of life’s tough questions. As a result, through his wisdom realized this world is temporary, unfulfilling and exhausting.

Numbers 31:15-16 “Have you allowed all the women to live?” he asked them.They were the ones who followed Balaam’s advice and enticed the Israelites to be unfaithful to the LORD in the Peor incident, so that a plague struck the LORD’s people.”

There was a great problem with the children of Israel. God had taken them out of Egypt in one night. But it took God forty years to get Egypt out of them. And even now, after they had been tricked into idolatry through the advice of Balaam to the Midianites, they still bring the Midianite women into their camp. That is the problem with worldliness. It is not wrong for us to be in the world—that is where God has placed us—the great issue is whether the world is in us, in our hearts and lives.

This is a call-out for us this morning. A chance to realize whether or not we are truly of God or of the world. Does the world see us differently or just “another one of the guys?” Do we stand out in a crowd? Do people look for us like “Where’s Waldo” because they know we’re there somewhere?

We are set apart to be God’s people and today is our day to look, act, and live like we are His own.

I’m Nothing Special

Garbage

Today’s Devotion: Numbers 27

Moses gets ready to pass the baton. We have been with Moses since Genesis. Not only a long life, but a lot for us to learn from this man of God and today, in Numbers 27, is no exception. I love Numbers 27: 15-17, “Moses said to the LORD, ‘May the LORD, the God who gives breath to all living things, appoint someone over this community 17 to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the LORD’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.'”

Joshua is to be the successor of Moses. After Moses lays down the work, Joshua will pick it up. In one sense he was the most unlikely one to succeed Moses. Do you know why? He was an average man. No one went around saying that Joshua had great potential, great leadership ability and all that sort of thing. Apparently Joshua didn’t have that. He was an ordinary individual. Joshua reveals what God can do with an ordinary man.

If you’re like me, I don’t feel like I’m anything special. You hear about the greatness of Marie Curie, Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa, Billy Graham, etc, etc, etc… But throughout the bible God uses ordinary men to do His great work and I’m only to assume the greatest people in history probably didn’t see themselves as anything special either. If anything, I would bet most of them cried out, “Why me?” I’m inspired by Joshua and I’m always grateful when God uses the most unlikely as the best candidates to get the job done. He will not leave us to be without a Shepard and this tells me He can use ordinary people like you and me.

I’m so encouraged today that my ordinary day and ordinary life can be used by God for great and wonderful matters. Not for my glory, but His glory. Not by my abilities, but by His ability. Not for my needs and desires, but for His needs and desires. What a purposeful, yet amazing life we can led if we listen to His voice, be obedient to His calling and live according to His will.

Watch And Pray

New-Years-Eve

Today’s Devotion: Numbers 24

This chapter is a continuation from Numbers chapter 23 because Balaam gives us two more prophesies – one being the coming Christ, which is a story that is shared on Christmas fairly often. It is also noted that this is the message (prophesy) that the wise men had knowledge of and is why they knew to be looking for a star to find the coming Messiah.

See verse 17 “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of all the people of Sheth.”

Tell me THAT isn’t cool!

This makes me wonder if we are paying attention and listening for the signs that God is giving us regarding the return of Christ. I don’t believe you would disagree that we don’t have to look far. Turn on the world news, watch the global economy taking shape, the natural disasters that are seemingly more frequent (like birth pains – Mark 13:7-9) and not to mention how sin is permeating our culture – a whole new meaning to the “Sex, Drugs and Rock-N-Roll” quote of the 70’s.

If we look to the new testament where God IS preparing us for what is to come, we will see His warning in Luke 21:36, “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

I pray for you my girlfriends in Christ, that we will be wise to hear God’s voice, following His teaching and be wise to see the message that He has for us in preparation of what is to come. With a new year upon us, a fresh start – a new beginning in some aspects. Let’s not only plan to be healthy, make wise choices, be financially stable or whatever worldly self-improvement plans we have to check off our lists. Let’s put more emphasis on time in His Word, Following His plan for our lives; watching and praying for what the future holds so that we may stand before the Son of Man like wise men who read the message and followed that star.

Christmas… Do You “Get It”?

Christmas

Today’s Devotion: Numbers 19

It’s Christmas Eve. Do you want to know something? Since I became a born-again believer over 10 years ago Christmas has taken on a whole new meaning. One of my friends, Kent Maichle, who received Christ this year had an amazing post on Facebook. He says, “A few have asked, since my son is getting older. Does he still believe this Christmas? My answer is yes and for the first year his Dad does too.” As I paste this unto this blog tears run down my cheeks…. for the first year his Dad does too. (Awesome, absolutely awesome!) There is nothing more beautiful that a heart who ‘gets it.’ I remember so vividly my first Christmas with Christ – A whole new meaning, an entirely new perspective on life!

I went into my bible study in Numbers 19 today with the intention of extracting a Christmas message. After all, it is Christmas. What kind of blogger would I be if I just blogged through the holiday and didn’t acknowledge the special event of Christ’s birth. But then I came to realize something. By reading God’s Word, I celebrate Christ’s birth, life, and resurrection everyday.  Through the reading of His Word, I am constantly reminded of who God is, what He has done and how I should live in a surrendered, humbled, God-honoring life.

So that being said, of course there is a message of Christmas in Numbers 19, and this is what I found.  Verse 20, “But if those who are unclean do not purify themselves, they must be cut off from the community, because they have defiled the sanctuary of the LORD. The water of cleansing has not been sprinkled on them, and they are unclean.” We are unclean, all of us. During this time in history, God put the calf and other sacrifices in place for man to deal with their sin and dirtiness. Today, because of Jesus, we HAVE a way to deal with our sin and become clean. The disconnect is knowing that and then living for that.

So Christmas is a symbolic celebration of the coming of our LORD Jesus to earth, as a human infant, to live a perfect life, so that we may live an eternal life. But when we truly come to accept that gift, we not only have His eternal promises, but we are clean. It’s like a Holy shower. So I pray for all of those who haven’t unwrapped their gift from God and given their hearts over to Him. My heart grieves when I remember seeing Christmas Day as the finish line for my 6 week marathon of retail frenzy. Now I go into the Christmas season with my heart and budget in tact. True peace on earth!

Guilt By Association

guilt-by-association

Today’s Devotion: Numbers 18

God tells Aaron in verse 1, “The LORD said to Aaron, ‘You, your sons and your family are to bear the responsibility for offenses connected with the sanctuary, and you and your sons alone are to bear the responsibility for offenses connected with the priesthood.'” God is telling the Levites that they are responsible for what takes place. We need to remember that Korah was a Levite; the rebellion arose within the tribe of Levi. It was very serious. God is telling them they are responsible.

When I was young, my brothers would instigate some trouble and my Mom would come directly to me for answers. Often times I was nowhere near their mischief, but because I was the oldest, my Mom held me to a higher level of responsibility. She would say, “Your the oldest, you need to keep your eye on your brothers.”

Now whether you think that’s fair or not, when I read Numbers 18 and the expectations that God places on Aaron and his sons, there is something to be said by living with God-given responsibility. As a Christian, I see this as a calling to help my Pastor. Imagine the pressure that rests on his shoulders and the level of accountability that he has to God as he leads our church, congregation, and his entrusted body of Christ? We all have a level of responsibility to help him, his family and our church family.

It’s the holidays and the Christmas season can be a time when we need to express our appreciation. We probably don’t even know what pressure he endures by skeptics of Christ’s birth. I pray for our church leaders that they would remain steadfast in their ability to be a witness to those who don’t understand and faithful to follow through with God’s plan in their lives, family and ministry.

When God Says, “Shut Up!”

Silenced

Today’s Devotional: Numbers 17

I love God’s sense of humor. I think this might be the funniest chapter in the bible. I literally laughed out loud reading this incredibly short chapter that really packs a punch!

God tells the prince of every tribe to bring a dead stick (rod) to the tabernacle and that whichever rod sprouts, belongs to the prince who is worthy of having Godly authority on earth. Not only was Aaron’s rod the ONLY rod that sprouted, but verse 8 it says, “The next day Moses entered the tent and saw that Aaron’s staff, which represented the tribe of Levi, had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds.”

Awesome!

And here’s the kicker – it was once dead and is now alive! Sound familiar? Plus, can you image how the other tribes felt when they realized they better buck up because it is clear that God chose Aaron to lead the people, not them? They have been among the Israelite complainers so God gives them a solid answer, which I think says, “Shut up!” Like only God can.

Then they babble in shock, verses 13-4 say, “The Israelites said to Moses, “We will die! We are lost, we are all lost! Anyone who even comes near the tabernacle of the LORD will die. Are we all going to die?”

Perhaps that is where my humor comes on this early Saturday morning. My ability to relate to these poor Israelite men. I want to get something my way and then God makes it clear that I’m not the one, can’t, or won’t. I have have resorted to having my own pity party and, in all honesty, has gotten a little over dramatic at times; just like the Isrealities here.

The best part of this message is that God raised the dead, which symbolizes Jesus, but also has a lot to say about what He can do in our lives. Dr. Vernon McGee says it best, “Friend, do you need mercy? Do you need help today? Is life monotonous? Is it stale, flat, and unprofitable? Then go to the Lord Jesus. He is up there for you, your Great High Priest. Are you lonely? Go to Him. Is life a battle that you are losing? Are you defeated? Go to Him. Is life a struggle against temptation that you cannot overcome? Go to Him. Is life a horrible mistake and you need wisdom at the crossroads of decision? Go to Him. Is life shrouded with sorrow for you today? Go to Him. He is our Great High Priest by His resurrection from the dead. He is alive! He is up there for us today!”

McGee, J. Vernon (1984-01-06). Thru the Bible Commentary, Volumes 1-5: Genesis through Revelation (Thru the Bible 5 Volume Set) (Kindle Locations 19170-19172). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

Sinner In the Middle

Monkey-in-the-middle-pic

Today’s Devotion: Numbers 16

Do you remember the game Monkey in the Middle? Two people stand a distance a part and the person in the middle is trying to intercept the ball. Should they catch it, the thrower becomes the new monkey.

In Numbers 16 we have a situation of “Korah in the middle” and there is one big problem with that. God and Moses were playing toss and they never asked Korah to play; he just jumped in. Just like a big bully on the playground, Korah intervenes by trying to spike the ball which was a very bad move on his part. The moral of this chapter is, “Don’t get in the way of God’s plans, especially he hasn’t invited you to be a part of them.”

That’s exactly what Korah did. He built up a rebellion against Moses and Aaron and had their own agenda; and that agenda was not God’s. Even worse, they were jealous of Moses and Aaron and took it upon themselves to rise against them and they succeeded by bringing a lot of people down with them, but never got to Moses and Aaron.

How does this play out in our lives? We read and know the will of God, but we see an opportunity to impose our will. We do this for a lot of reasons (selfish ambition, boredom, impatience, jealousy, anger, etc.), but the primary reason is sin. God has a plan for our lives, but in our sin we craft a better idea; our idea. The result – we jump into the middle of God’s plan and try to get him to move toward us, instead of us moving toward Him.

The results were not favorable for Korah, his men, and 14,700 innocent Israelites who were affected by the plague that God began due to Korah’s rebellio. It’s a big mess and the chapter doesn’t have a overtly happy ending, but there is a clear message here and that message is that we don’t want to get in God’s way. Today I am reminded to pray to God as Jesus did, “42 Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42

Blue, God Believing Day!

BelieveGod

Today’s Devotion: Numbers 15

There is a Lorrie Morgan song with a line in the lyric that says, “I’m looking for something in blue” and the blue she seeks is for her unborn son. A couple years ago I was in a Beth Moore study called “Believing God,” we all cut blue ropes, made them into bracelets, and wore them as a reminder to believe God. This all based upon a the biblical message that we are studying today. In Numbers 15, verse  39 says, “You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by chasing after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes.”

So is this tassel supposed to be some form of good luck charm like a pet rock, rabbits foot, or finding a penny, picking it up so all day long you have good luck? Not at all. This is a reminder. A reminder that we are to believe God. Since I became a born-again believer I have let go of all things superstitious. My parents used to call me every new years day to remind me that I was supposed to wash my hands in money so we could make sure we had enough for the year ahead. I stopped avoiding cracks on the side walk that would break my mothers back. I cringe at the thought of how many people put their faith into palm readers and horoscopes, and lastly, I gave up putting my faith into winning the lottery. (Although I still joke that that I would be the poorest lottery winner because I have so many people, causes, and ministry organizations that I wish to support.)

God is all we need. When I found Him, I found so much more than hope of 2 kids, a yard and a picket fence. I am reminded of this as I read Numbers 15, how God gave the Israelities something blue to remind them not to follow the lusts of their own hearts and eyes. Know that this message is intended to encourage you if there is something you are struggling with or striving to remain faithful to God in. It just might be between you and God, but you know what – everything is.

Let’s make it a blue, God believing day!