God, Jesus, Prayer, Trials, Uncategorized

Praising God in Prison

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“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,”

Luke 4:18, NIV

 

Have you ever been in a prison? Maybe you, or a loved one has served time in prison. I was in a prison once as a little girl, watching my mom’s tap dance group perform for the inmates. I don’t recall giving it much thought at the time, or being fearful. They were trying to do some good for the incarcerated.

Prisons are terrible places. They are supposed to be. They are designed to punish. Prisoners spend countless hours inside tiny cells. Freedom is gone. Our modern American prisons look like a hotel stay compared to the old Roman ones. Ancient Roman prisons were horrific.

The most famous Roman prison can still be visited today. It is located just outside the Forum Romanum buried at the foot of the Capitoline Hill. It was Ancus Marcius, the fourth king of Rome, who, sometime during his reign (640-616 BC) constructed this dark, damp and foreboding subterranean structure.¹

Roman historian Sallust described it as about twelve feet deep into the ground. “Its appearance is disgusting and vile by reason of the filth, the darkness and the stench.” It was into this room, 6 1/2 ft. high, thirty feet long and twenty-two feet wide, that prisoners who had been condemned to die either by strangulation or starvation were thrown. One attributes the phrase “to be cast into prison” had its origins here.²

Roman prisons were not used to punish criminals, but instead served only to hold people awaiting trial or execution.

 

Paul and Silas in Prison

While in Philippi, a slave girl who had a spirit that could predict the future was following Paul, Silas, and their entire group.

17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her. (Acts 16:17-18, NIV)

The slave girl’s owners were angry since she made them a lot of money. They grabbed Paul and Silas, and brought them to the authorities. (Acts 16:19)

20 They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.” (Acts 16:20-21, NIV)

The crowd goes crazy and joins the attack against Paul and Silas. They are flogged, and thrown into the inner cell of the prison. Their feet were placed in stocks. (Acts v.22-24)

Paul and Silas were wrongfully accused, stripped, beaten, and severely flogged. Their backs would have been bloody, raw and ripped to shreds. The pain would have been unimaginable. After being beaten, almost to death, they are thrown into a horrible Roman prison. Things were looking bleak. If that were me, I would have given up. I would have asked, “Where are you God?” “You have abandoned us.” “You don’t care.”

Paul and Silas never curse God.

Paul and Silas never question God’s will or His plan.

Paul and Silas never give up.

Paul and Silas trust God.

Paul and Silas pray and sing hymns to God!

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” (Acts 16:25-28, NIV)

And the best, most exciting part is God did a miracle! All the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. Not just Paul’s and Silas’ chains. Every prisoner who was in the prison that night experienced a miracle. Their chains came loose. Prison doors flew open. What were all these prisoners thinking? What were Paul and Silas thinking? I can only imagine the unexpected joy they all must have felt. God showed up mightily.

29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household. (Acts 16:29-33,NIV)

In the morning Paul and Silas get released and everybody lives happily ever after. At least for that moment.  If you want to read the entire story it’s Acts 16:16-40.

Because of being wrongfully accused, beaten to near death, and thrown in prison, a bunch of people accepted Jesus Christ as savior. Paul and Silas remained faithful. God answered their prayers and did a miracle. The jailer, and his entire family, and all other occupants in his house got saved. Who knows how many of those prisoners and guards came to know Jesus as their savior. They all witnessed a miracle. How could you not be forever changed. They experienced the mighty hand of God.

Do you have chains of affliction? Are you in your own kind of prison? You’ve prayed, and prayed, yet feel trapped. Hopeless. You stopped praying. Stopped believing.

Your prison has a purpose. God wastes absolutely nothing. Whether you put yourself there by your choices, or circumstances out of your control put you in that prison, God is still able to make a way. He opens prison doors.

God is a chain breaker.  

If you are bound up in chains then pray, and sing hymns to God. Look to Him. Declare the truth of His word over your life and circumstance. Surrender everything to God and wait to see what He does with your mess. No one can do for you what God can. Keep trusting Him.

Jesus came to set prisoners free. 

 

Father God,

I love you and praise you. Thank you for being in the miracle business. There is none like you. I lift up every person who is in chains right now. They are trapped in their own prison. Comfort them. Reveal yourself to them. Open those prison doors and loose those chains. Set all those captive, free. And for those in actual prison, set them free too. Even if they have years left of incarceration, they can still experience your freedom. Come Lord Jesus to the prisons, and to homes, and hearts. You came to set all of us free.

In Jesus mighty name,

Amen!

 

 

Love you all,

Meghan

 

 

Photo credit Pixabay Desertrose7

  1. &  2. https://www.unrv.com/government/roman-prisons.php

 

Bible, Faith, God, Jesus, Trials, Uncategorized

God Makes Dead Things Alive

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Have you ever had a dream die? You were sure that “thing” was going to happen and change everything. But it never did, and you gave up. Too much time passed. Too much heartache. It’s dead and buried. You even marked the tombstone with the title of your dream. Gone forever. Or is it?

God is in the miracle business. He can bring dead things to life. It may be that the dream was supposed to die, so that God can turn around and raise it up again. Some things are just supposed to die. Dreams that are not from God should be left alone. Sure, we can pursue all sorts of endeavors in the name of God, that really have nothing to do with Him. I’m talking about the deep desires that He places in our hearts. The ones we barely tell anyone about. The seeds that He has planted.

We get impatient. We think, “It will never happen”. And so we walk away. We give up. We bury the dream. God does things different than we do. He’s God, and we are not.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
    declares the Lord.
As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts,” (Isaiah 55:8-9, NIV).

It’s easy to think we’ve got God all figured out. Like there’s some formula, and if we follow it, we get everything we want, whenever we want it. Following Christ means surrender to Him and His plan. And He does have plans for each of us (Jeremiah 29:11). And He does have dreams He gives us. God’s plans cannot be stopped.

“I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted,” (Job 42:2, NASB).

 

Lazarus

The story of Lazarus in the book of John is well known, and is the only place in the Gospel’s it’s told (John 11:1-44). Jesus gets word that his friend Lazarus is sick.“When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s son may be glorified through it,” (John 11:4, NIV). I can only imagine that Lazarus’ sisters, Martha and Mary, were sure that Jesus would show up and save the day. God had a different plan.“Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days,” (John 11:5-6, NIV). 

Jesus tells the disciples it’s time to go back to Judea. They think this is a bad idea since the Jews there tried to stone him. This doesn’t stop Jesus. “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to wake him up,” (John 11:11b, NIV). The disciples tell Jesus that Lazarus will get better if he sleeps. They thought he meant natural sleep. Jesus was talking about Lazarus death (John 11:12-13). He finally tells them Lazarus is dead and they must go to him (John 11:14).

By the time Jesus and the disciples arrive, Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days (John 11:17). The damage was done. Death won and there would be no victory for Lazarus, or so it appeared. Martha went to meet Jesus, but Mary stayed home. “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask,” (John 11:21, NIV). 

“Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again,” (John 11:23, NIV). Martha and Mary still didn’t understand that Jesus was about to do something miraculous. Jesus asks to see Lazarus tomb. “Take away the stone,” he said (John 11:39a, NIV). Martha thinks this is a very bad idea since Lazarus body had been in the tomb for four days. She tells Jesus it’s going to smell pretty bad (John 11:39b). “So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have always heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me,” (John 11:41-42, NIV). 

“When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go,” (John 11:43-44, NIV). 

Wow!! Jesus could have immediately healed Lazarus when he was sick. Instead, he waited, even when the sisters asked for Jesus help. He had a bigger plan; To raise Lazarus from the dead. Your God-given dream can be resurrected too!

God makes dead things alive. He is the same God as during Lazarus time. God does not change (Malachi 3:6). What has died in you? Faith. Peace. Hope. Trust. Maybe the dream that God gave you died. For your marriage to be restored, a loved one who’s not following the Lord, physical healing, emotional healing, fill in the blank. What is it that you need God to breathe life into once again?

 

 

Dear Lord,

I lift up every hurting soul right now. You see them. You know them. You love them. Bring new life to their God-given dreams. The ones that died. You are in the miracle business. We love you, thank you, and praise you for who you are. Perfect, Holy, God.

Amen

 

 

Love you all,

Meghan

 

P.S. The picture is from Elvis’ grave site at Graceland.

 

 

 

 

 

Bible, Faith, Family, God, Jesus, Uncategorized

I love you Dad!

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When I was a little girl, the thought never crossed my mind that my parents were ever once children themselves, let alone babies. In my child mind, parents are just grown ups, and they had never been anything else. This sweet picture is proof that parents were once babies. That’s my dad as a baby. I have no idea how old he was. Leo John Whitney was born on May 29, 1943 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was the youngest of three boys; a surprise baby for my middle aged grandparents. They already had sons who were 17 and 13 by the time my father arrived in the Whitney household. Lee was the precious youngest. My uncle Mack, the middle son, would tell me stories of “the prince”, my dad.

Lee grew up in Braddock, Pennsylvania. A borough in the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. His father, Michael, sold Chesterfield cigarettes and Ann, his mother, took care of the home and children. My dad was doted on and dearly loved. Some, my uncles, may even say he was spoiled. I would have to agree with that argument. My dad was raised Catholic, and went to parochial school all the way through high school. While in college he met my mom, and they married in 1963. He graduated from Penn State in 1965. Shortly afterwards, my parents decided to move out west to California. They got jobs and began to get settled in the Golden State. The Vietnam War was in full swing. My dad received his draft card and decided to join the Marines. Oorah!

Dad was a proud Marine. I know this because I heard, “From the halls of Montazuma, To the shores of Tripoli,” every time he drank too much; which was often. As a little girl I loved my dad. I would ask for sips of his beer. I had no clue he was an alcoholic. He would tell me I can be anything I want to be. These “speeches” were done while he was drunk. Again, I didn’t know what “drunk” was, or alcoholism. In my mind, Dad was strong. I would put my arms around his neck and he would dive into the pool. We’d go under the water, and I’d hold on tight. He’d flex his biceps and my sister and I would grab on and he’d lift us up. He was the strongest man I knew.

He loved when we had horses and got us all cowboy hats and boots. Dad rode Tasha, our part Arabian horse. I think he liked playing “cowboy”. I saw him try to get on the horse a few times and fall off. Drunk again. I still had no idea what that was. I watched my dad fall in the pool when he was cleaning it. Drunk.

Dad accepted Jesus Christ as his savior August 1982. I remember watching him get baptized. We got involved in our church. Dad was an usher but still struggled with his demons. We’d stop at the liquor store on the way home from church. Dad was saved, but not set free. He finally went cold turkey in the late ’80’s which was great. The down side was him trying so hard to stay sober on his own; he’d fall off the wagon at times. I never saw him drunk again like when I was growing up. So, praise God for that.

My memories from when I was a little girl are good ones. But, all addictions get worse, and his alcoholism did. By the time I was in  high school his drinking was out of control. I knew what alcoholism was now, but never told a friend. I didn’t know what to do with it. Anger built inside of me. The dad I loved, I now despised. I hated him. I hated alcohol. I hated what it did to our family. It tore us up.

The summer after I graduated high school I heard a sermon at church on forgiveness. I had probably heard many teachings on forgiveness up to that point. That day was different. The words cut to my heart. I knew I needed to forgive my dad. I was 17 and I forgave Dad for all the years of drinking and the pain it caused. I never came up to my dad and said, “I forgive you”. It was done in my heart and Jesus set me free of that burden. I began to see my dad differently. As a person with a past, and problems. Just like me. I loved my dad again, like when I was a little girl. God is so good.

Dad loved the Lord. He was not a perfect man. I am not perfect either. I tell this from my view. My four siblings have their perspectives, and memories. My mom has her memories too. This is my way to honor my dad. My story is one of forgiveness, and the redemptive work Jesus did on the cross and in my dad’s life.

Dad passed away exactly twenty one years ago today, March 30, 1998. After his grim cancer diagnosis, he lived the best life he could. He loved running the Gresham Bike Store, that my parents had bought a couple years prior. He hugged us every time we saw him. He was hugging everyone, my husband,  the mailman, and probably the dry cleaner. Time was short, and Dad knew it.

My dad loved me. At the very end of his life, when he was in the hospital at only 54 years old, I had a sweet moment with him. I came by the hospital to visit him and my cousin Tommy was in the room. I told my dad that I would come back later. He said “No. Stay”. He took my hand and said these words, “This one. She’s special”. There were other words said but I don’t remember them. That was the last coherent conversation we had, before the morphine took over. It was like I got this final blessing from him.

I look forward to seeing my dad again in heaven. I will end with his favorite verse. I Love you Dad!!!

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
 He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
 Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

(NASB)

 

 

 

 

Faith, God, Jesus, Prayer, Uncategorized

My Prayer Closet

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Joshua made this card for me at church when he was seven. I love it because he made it, and because of the misspelling of “Lord”. That makes it all the more beloved. It shows the pureness of his heart. No spellcheck. No concern over spelling errors or perfection. It’s about the message, “Wait for the Lard”….I mean, “Lord”. He handed it to me with pride and joy for Mother’s Day. That’s the stuff that melts a mama’s heart. This precious card sits at the top of the bulletin board in my closet. I see it every single day.

My prayer closet is my actual closet. That sweet card sits among a few other little treasures that encourage me as I kneel and pray. There are pictures of my boys as toddlers, a picture of me and Tom as newlyweds, a few special cards from my husband, and a card or two from friends and family. It’s my hideout where I close the door and talk or cry out to God.

I have been flat on my face in deep pain asking God where He was. I have lifted my hands in praise thanking Him for His faithfulness. I have asked for wisdom, answers, direction, help, mercy, and forgiveness. I have laid on my back with tears streaming down my face. Looking up. Hoping for something from God to relieve the suffering. There’s plenty of room for me to stretch out. It’s all my space since Tom has his own closet.

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:5-8, NIV)

The Greek word tameion means “an inner chamber”. This doesn’t mean we all need to have a prayer closet or special “prayer room”. It means you need to be in a quiet, uninterrupted place. Praying to the Father requires focus and no distractions, if possible. There are plenty of times when we pray in crazy moments of chaos. We can and should pray at all times. “Pray continually,” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, NIV).

It’s important to set aside some time each day to pray. You can use a “prayer closet” if you’ve got the space, or almost anywhere can become that sacred space. When I commuted to work years ago before having children, I would pray in my car. Some people walk and pray. Many times I sit in my living room. Supposedly John Wesley’s (founder of the Methodist movement) mother, Susanna, would pull her apron over her face and pray.  The point is not where, it’s who you’re talking to.

When we first moved to Texas over six years ago we stayed in a hotel. There was no privacy, so I would go into the tiny bathroom to pray. Not pretty, but God knew my heart. He wants our heart. Not perfect, beautiful “prayer rooms” with the right Christian words in our prayers. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:7-8, NIV) Be honest with God when you pray. He already knows what we need and we can be simple and direct in our words with humility.

I have several scraps of paper on my bulletin board in my closet. Each with a Bible verse I scrawled out during our two months in the hotel. They remind me what God has done in the past and what He will do again. That is a nice benefit of having a designated prayer space. You can personalize it with scriptures or whatever is needed to keep focused on God. I also have a list I keep written out of things Tom and I are praying for that’s taped to the wall in my closet. I cross things out as they get answered.

The point to all of this is pray. Pray. Pray. Pray. And then pray some more. When we quiet ourselves before the Lord we have the marvelous opportunity to hear His voice. Listening to God is just as important as talking to Him. Expect an answer in His time. That’s always the hardest part of praying, at least for me it is. I want an immediate answer. We have to wait. Just like Joshua’s card, “Wait for the Lord”. So many times I have been praying for the same thing, and waiting, and waiting. Then I look up and see that card with the faith of a child and I’m encouraged.

Love you all,

Meghan

 

 

 

Bible, Faith, God, Jesus, Uncategorized

You Are God’s Poem

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This beautiful old mansion sits in Galveston. Built in 1859 by a wealthy businessman using only the finest materials. It has withstood many hurricanes. Like this mansion that was constructed with the best of everything, God did His best work when He created each of us. We are the pinnacle of His creation.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10, NASB)

Workmanship in Greek is “poiema“. This is where we get the English word poem. We are God’s poetry. How awesome is that! You are God’s poetry! Never forget that. No one can write a poem like our Heavenly Father. His works are perfect. You are perfectly made. No mistakes.

As I look closer at the old mansion I see rusty wrought iron, broken shingles, and cracks in the mortar. It needs some renovation, like me. God’s in the construction, and renovation business. He will restore the broken places in us.

Do you feel like He doesn’t even see you? He is El Roi, Hebrew for “the God who see’s me”. Haggar used this word after she fled from Sarai where an angel of the Lord met her in the desert (Genesis 16:13-14). God see’s you. He made you and knows everything about you. He loves you.

If you’re like me you might be thinking, “Great. He see’s me and all my issues and all my flaws. There’s no way He can use me.” He uses broken people like me and you. Broken people know we are nothing without Jesus. Broken means we are aware of our sin and we know what Jesus did for us on the cross. We are not worthy of the saving grace of Jesus, but we humbly receive His free gift. He’s looking for the willing and obedient, not perfect.

God used Gideon powerfully, and he was in no way perfect, or brave. Things were very bad for the Israelites. They had once again done evil in the eyes of the Lord, so He hands them over to the Midianites (Judges 6:1). They destroyed the Israelites crops, and animals, and impoverished them (Judges 6:3-6). An angel of the Lord shows up where Gideon is threshing wheat. Gideon is terrified of the Midianites and is threshing wheat in a wine press. Ancient wine presses were large pits dug in the ground and they were no place to thresh wheat. Gideon was hiding. The angel says to Gideon, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior,” (Judges 6:12, NIV). 

Say what? Gideon is called a mighty warrior and he’s hiding. Ultimately God uses Gideon to defeat the Midianites (Judges 7). What is God calling you to do? He sees a great warrior in you too. Gideon was terrified and hiding, yet God used him greatly. He can use you and me too.

God does not look at us the way we see ourselves. He sees us as we should be. He knows how the story ends. He wrote it.

“I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” (Isiah 46:10, NIV)

To get us to where we need to be, we go through trials, and pain, and suffering. God is making us like Jesus. But we must surrender to His work in us. If everything was peachy keen hunky-dory we would remain selfish, terrible people. We are created to need God. We can do nothing apart from Jesus (John 15:5).

Maybe you’ve had things spoken over you and you believed the words. “You’re not smart, you’re not pretty, you’re not handsome, you’re not strong, you’re a waste, you’re a mistake.” Lies! All lies! Let’s just bring the truth into this. It’s time for change and freedom.

You are loved. “We love because he first loved us.”  1 John 4:19

You are chosen. “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” Ephesians 1:4

You belong to God. “Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” Psalm 100:3

You are God’s perfect creation. “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14

You are set apart. “But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace.” Galatians 1:15

God is not mad at you. God loves you, and you are His beautiful, perfect creation. You are God’s poem! There is only one person like you in all of history. God wants to use you for His Kingdom purposes. God loves you. God chose you. Take some time and ask Him what He see’s when He looks at you.

If you don’t know Jesus as your Lord and Savior today would be a great day to change that. “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6, NKJV) Jesus is the only way to God, your creator. Sin separates us from God until Jesus takes up residence in us. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23, NIV) Please leave me a message if you want to know more about how to get saved and what that means.

 

 

Dear Lord,

Thank you for your overwhelming love! You are perfect and all your works are perfect. Let all those who don’t feel your love, begin to feel that love now. Remind each of us every day that we are your poem. Shut out the lies of the enemy and bring truth to the broken places. We humbly receive your amazing love.

In Jesus mighty name,

Amen

 

 

Love you all,

Meghan

Bible, Faith, God, Jesus, Trials, Uncategorized

The Storm

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August 24, 2017 we were dropping our oldest son off at college, about 5 and half hours north of our home. I was eating breakfast at the hotel and the news was on. I saw weather maps, and the words “hurricane” and “Houston” got my attention. Wait a minute, that’s where I live. “This is real?” I thought to myself. Everything quickly changed from focusing on getting Dylan settled in his dorm, to focusing on buying water and supplies to survive the impending storm, before we left his little college town. I hated saying goodbye to my son but knew he was in God’s hands. We had to get back home and prepare for a historic hurricane. My first ever. There were large lit up signs along the freeway, “Avoid the Texas Gulf Coast”. Unavoidable for us. We live in the Gulf Coast Region. We were headed straight for the storm.

The storms we face in life can be unexpected or we can see them coming from miles away. It doesn’t seem to matter how much warning we get before life’s storms, they still can cause so much pain as the winds and rains beat down on us. When will it end? How much damage will we experience? Why God? Have you forgot about us? Do you hear our cries for help?

     “That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

    He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

     He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

      They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

(Mark 4:35-41, NIV)

The disciples and I have more in common than I would have thought; Fear and doubt at times. I am surprised that the disciples, who had already at this point witnessed many miracles by Jesus, were so terrified. He healed many sick, diseased, and demon-possessed people, (Matthew 4:23-24). A leper was healed by Jesus, (Matthew 8:1-4), and he healed the Centurion’s servant, (Matthew 8:5-13).  A paralytic man was healed by Jesus, (Luke 5:17-26), a widow’s son was brought back to life by Jesus, (Luke 7:11-17). The disciples were with Jesus when he was performing all these miracles. They must have had amnesia when the storm hit their boat.

A squall comes down on the lake and it’s frighting for these guys. The waves are coming up over the boat and they may have thought, “This is it. We are all going to die.” Things were looking pretty bad. The boat is filling with water and about to sink, or so they thought.

Jesus was not afraid. He is never afraid. He was sound asleep on a cushion, in the stern of the ship. That’s not the picture of a worried, stressed out person. He knows who is in control and He knows there is no need to fear the storm.

The disciples aren’t too happy that Jesus is sleeping through the storm. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” (Mark 4:38). They are in full blown panic mode and assume that Jesus doesn’t care what happens to them.

“He got up, rebuked the wind, and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm,” (Mark 4:39). Only Jesus can do this. Only Jesus can calm wind, waves, and raging seas with His words. He is God. Infinite in power.

“He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40). Jesus knows our hearts. He knew they were doubting what He could do even after seeing so many miracles before they ever got on that boat. He still loved them. Just like He still loves us when we have doubts. He patiently teaches us and shows us who He is and what He can do.

Ultimately the disciples are so scared at what just happened they don’t know what to think. “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:41). I can relate to them. I have times where I forget what God has done in my life and the storm is raging. “Don’t you care Lord?” I have asked. But my God always, always is faithful. He always shows up, always makes a way. He either stops the storm or He gives me peace in the storm.

As Christ followers we belong fully to Jesus. That means He promises to take care of us and all of our needs. “So we say with confidence, The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6).  Storms will rage and sometimes we will have losses, and sometimes He will calm our storms. There is a bigger purpose in our storms. He wants us to grow in our faith, just like the disciples. And the only way we grow is through struggle. We need Jesus to get through the storms in life.

When I look at the satellite image of Hurricane Harvey it’s menacing. It appears to want to swallow up all of Texas. When we focus on the size of our storm and how much damage can possibly take place we will stay afraid. If we focus on Jesus and that He is bigger than the biggest hurricane, our faith grows and the storm gets smaller.

We can’t control the storms but we can control how we respond to them. Who is Lord of your life? If it’s Jesus then give it all to Him. Write down every time God has taken care of you in the hard times or when He has stopped the storm completely. When the rains and the wind are coming down remember His faithfulness.

 

 

Dear Lord,

Thank you for your faithfulness. You are perfect and your power is unlimited. You’re love for us is overwhelming. I lift up all those who are in the middle of storms. Remind them that they are not forgotten by you. Give them peace and calm their storms, and may their faith grow. Comfort them, protect them, and provide for their every need.

In Jesus mighty name,

Amen

 

 

Love you all,

Meghan

 

 

Bible, Faith, God, Uncategorized

Holy Fear

1

“The fear of God is the death of every other fear. Like a mighty lion, it chases all other fears before it.”

Charles Spurgeon

 

Copperheads, Cottonmouths, Rattlesnakes, and Coral Snakes make their home in Southeast Texas, which is also my home. And yes, we’ve got alligators. You’d think with the danger of  venomous snakes and alligators I’d never leave my house. My husband loves alligators so we tend to go searching those out. I’ve learned to respect the gators since I usually see them from a safe distance. I really don’t want to encounter a snake though. Every time I am working in my yard I pray that God will protect me from snakes and any other scary creature or enormous insect.

It’s one thing to be afraid of snakes and alligators, and all sorts of other things, but what about the fear of God? Is God just waiting to take us out? Should we all run and hide and fear his wrath? Should we live in constant terror just waiting for lightning to strike us? No! To fear God is to show respect, reverence, awe. The Hebrew word “yir’ah” means fear, terror, or fearing. It also means reverence, respect, holy wonder, or awe.

At least 300 times the Bible mentions the fear of God.

“Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord,” (Joshua 24:14). 

“But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you,” (1 Samuel 12:24).

“In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil,” (Job 1:1). 

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise,” (Psalm 111:10). 

“The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love,” (Psalm 147:11).

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline,” (Proverbs 1:7).

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding,” (Proverbs 9:10). 

“A wise man fears the Lord and shuns evil, but a fool is hotheaded and reckless,” (Proverbs 14:16). 

“His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation,” (Luke 1:50).

“Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers , fear God, honor the King,” (1 Peter 2:17).

“Then a voice came from the throne, saying: “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, both small and great!” (Revelation 19:5).

There are many more verses on fearing God. I think you get the picture of just how important the fear of the Lord is. But What does it really mean to fear God? It means He is on the throne. God is Lord over all. There is none higher than God. There is no equal to God. Satan and God are not battling it out for control. They are not counterparts. God has no counterpart.

Fear of God means I know what God is capable of. I know He rules over all. I know I deserve death and hell, but He saved my life. And yes, God does have wrath. Read Revelation. Those of us in Christ, are saved from that wrath because of Jesus taking our place on the cross. Jesus died for all and paid the price for our sins.

When I fear God, I humbly bow to the one who holds it all in His mighty hands. It keeps me in my place and reminds me that God is always in His place, on the throne. Then as a daughter to The King I can come boldly to His throne of grace. “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need,” (Hebrews 4:16). 

I don’t have to shudder in fear that God will strike me down any time He’s not pleased with me. I’m covered in the blood of Jesus and I’m a co-heir with Christ. “Now if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if we indeed share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory,” (Romans 8:17). 

The one true God loves you and loves me. He wants a relationship with us and we get that privilege because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. So don’t cower in fear but come humbly to the cross. Give God the praise He deserves. Let’s worship Him, and thank Him daily for who He is. Awesome, Holy God.

Love you all,

Meghan

 

All scripture is from the New International Version © 1978.