Tag Archive | God

The Filthy Mattress

mattress

Every day on my lunch break I take a walk. I find it’s good to interrupt my otherwise sedentary desk job with a little blood circulation and fresh air. There is a strip mall just down the road from my company so I usually walk to it and go around the back of the plaza before looping around front and back up the street to resume work.

A couple of weeks ago as I was walking around the back of these buildings I saw that someone had thrown a mattress out behind one of the stores. It appeared to be clean and fresh – it looked brand new!  On that particular day, it was warm and sunny with an ever so slight breeze. As I walked by the mattress, it looked so enticing. I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to just lie on a comfy mattress and watch the clouds drift by as the sun warmed my face in the cool breeze? It seemed like the perfect way to enjoy the beautiful weather and rest and relax. Of course not knowing where the mattress came from, I didn’t entertain the thought for long.

Day by day, as my walk took me by this mattress, I began to notice changes. After just a day it started collecting stray dirt kicked up by the wind, and falling leaves from a nearby maple tree. Within a few days, the corners started darkening slightly. After a day of rain, I noticed it had lingering water stains after everything around it had dried. It wasn’t long before the wet, dirty mattress became a breeding ground for all kinds of critters. The edges of the once bright mattress became black with mold and fungus. At some point, an animal evidently ripped a hole in the center and made off with some of the stuffing, the remainders of which lay strewn about the ground beside it. The once enticing mattress quickly fell into a state of filth and decay.

As I walked by this mattress for perhaps the dozenth time, the Lord spoke to my heart and said, “This is what neglect will do”.  You see, the mattress hadn’t done anything “wrong”; it simply sat there as mattresses have a tendency to do. In terms of time, it was still new; only a couple of weeks had passed. But in terms of quality, it was far from what we would describe as “new”. Indeed it now presents itself as used and worn out. Worse than that, it is soiled and repulsive. The problem is that it was neglected and left unprotected in the elements. On that first day, the elements had been friendly and inviting and did not seem to pose a threat to its integrity, but in short-order they destroyed the defenseless mattress. Had the mattress remained inside where it would have been shielded from the wind, dirt, rain, and critters, it likely would have lasted for years. Without protection, it lasted only days.

In that moment the Lord reminded me that it is imperative that I remain under the umbrella of His protection. It might be tempting to go out into the world to find some kind of relaxation, but it is an illusion. What looks inviting at first glance can quickly destroy us if we don’t have the proper guards in place. We must guard our hearts and minds. We must take heed where we go and what we leave exposed to the elements. The Bible asks, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3)? So let us strive not to neglect the things of the Lord. Let us hold them precious and protect them. As we embrace the teachings and safeguards that the Lord has put in place to protect us, He is providing us with shelter and demonstrating His unfailing love.

In His Love,

Rebekah L.

God is Faithful

My faithfulness and My mercy shall be with him: and in My name shall his horn be exalted (Psalm 89:24).

I-am-faithful-to-keep-My-covenant

I came to God in my mid-twenties feeling broken, alone, and hopeless. God did what only He can do and transformed my life. It is through Him that we become whole. In walking with Him we realize we are never alone. And it is in Him that we have hope.

Those early months were such a struggle. I wanted so much to live for God, but I didn’t know how, and I didn’t really think it was possible. I didn’t have faith that I could do it because I had failed so many times before. Then one Sunday the pastor was preaching and he stood at the pulpit and said, “We are not faithful, but God is faithful!” Suddenly the light bulb came on. I had never in my life heard that God is faithful. I had heard many times about faithful people, but never once do I recall ever being told that God is faithful. It seems so obvious to me now, but at the time it was revolutionary; the thought had just never occurred to me. The pastor talked about how we have little faith, faltering faith, inconsistent faith, but that God is constant. That His love for us never fails. That He will never give up on us. That it is through Him that we are transformed. We don’t have to rely on our own abilities because He is faithful. It was an earth-shattering thought. In that very moment I was freed from the burden of having to do it on my own. I was released from the cycle of trying and failing. I didn’t have to do it on my own; I could give it to God. I could let God take care of it because He is faithful!

The Lord is faithful;Great is thy faithfulness He will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one (2 Thessalonians 3:3).

Now years later I marvel at how such a simple concept was so foreign to me. It seems implausible that I didn’t know that the Lord is faithful, but I truly didn’t know. Thank God for the Word of God and for His anointed messengers!

It’s interesting though because we can know something and believe something and yet sometimes we still need reminding of that thing. Occasionally, I need to be reminded of the faithfulness of God. I shouldn’t need this, for God has proved his faithfulness to me over and over again. Even still, I need to regularly open my Bible and let His Words wash over me, reassuring me that everything in it is true.

His promises are true.His faithfulness continues

His salvation is true.

His mercy is true.

His faithfulness has not wavered!

For the Word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of His unfailing love (Psalm 33:4-5).

Thank you, Lord for the reminder. Thank you for your never-ending patience with me. Thank you for the measure of faith that you have given me to be confident in your faithfulness. I love you, Jesus.

Rebekah L.

Temporary Assignments

Children

For about a year and a half I have been involved in a home missions type church in addition to my regular church. During this time I have been teaching Sunday School to the children that go to the home church. For much of this time, I was spending two and sometimes three days a week with them for several hours at a time so I came to know them much better than the children of my regular church. In this time I have seen these kids grow a tremendous amount. They have grown physically, emotionally and spiritually.

When I first started helping out, most of them had no idea what words like “pray” or “Lord” meant. It was a totally foreign concept to them. Now, these same children join in prayer and regularly report different ways that the Lord has blessed them throughout the preceding week. It has been a lot of hard work, but it has been incredibly rewarding to watch them grow.

My work in this home church will be coming to an end in about six weeks. It has been a tremendous blessing to have been a part of this and yet I also know that my part in this ministry is over. I am thankful that God has made His will clear to me and that I will be able to leave on a positive note with many wonderful memories and learning experiences to take with me.

I am also a little sad. I am going to miss all these beautiful children. I’ve come to think of them as “my” kiddos. I am going to miss watching them grow up and grow in Him. When the horrible tragedy of Sandy Hook Elementary broke the news, it was these kids who came to my mind first. It was only later that I thought of the children from my regular church. The ones I thought of immediately were the kids from the home church. They were the ones I wanted to see and wrap my arms around.

One thing I have come to realize is that most ministry is temporary. God has a certain will for a certain time. I often wonder how many times we prevent ourselves, and our churches, from moving on to the next thing that God is calling us to do because we are unwilling to walk away from what He intended for only a temporary assignment. I have seen people hang on to things for far too long because letting go is too difficult. Even when a ministry is clearly no longer working or when doors shut on every side, they continue to hang on because they say, “But God called me to this!” and indeed He may have, but did God call you to it forever? Perhaps not.

New AssignmentThere are times when you’ve already accomplished everything that God wanted you to do and a ministry will naturally come to an end. God can’t give you a new assignment until you are willing to surrender the previous one. Consider the ministry of John the Baptist. For a time he was the one gathering disciples and teaching them about the remission of sins through the cleansing waters of baptism. But John the Baptist understood that his assignment was temporary. He said, “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:7-8). He knew that there was one coming after him. He also knew that his job was to preach repentance (Matthew 3:1-2) and to baptize people with water, but that someone else would come along who would baptize with the Holy Spirit.

Even Jesus Himself, had a temporary assignment as a man on this earth. His public ministry only lasted three years. What God is calling you to, may be a legitimate calling, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a permanent calling.

When Phillip was preaching in the book of Acts we see something very interesting happen. He is preaching in Samaria to multitudes of people (Acts 8). People are giving their lives to God. Both men and women are getting baptized. It’s a revival and God is clearly in it. Phillip has been called for such a time as this! But guess what happens? God sends an angel and tells Phillip to go to a desert road! He’s in the villages preaching to multitudes and God sends him to a lonely desert road?! His assignment to the multitudes had come to an end because God had a new assignment for him. I can imagine Phillip on this deserted road not seeing a soul in sight and wondering whether he might have heard God wrong. Perhaps he misunderstood the angel. But Phillip was precisely where God wanted him to be. There was a lone Ethiopian eunuch on the road and God had ordained for Phillip to meet him there so that he could hear the gospel. God doesn’t give Phillip the assignment of mentoring and discipling the Ethiopian eunuch either. No, after a quick bible study and baptism, Phillip is whisked away to another assignment.

So if God gives you an assignment that seems smaller than your last one or if He gives you one that seems smaller than wThe assignmenthat you think you should be doing, you should remember that our Sovereign Lord knows and sees all. He makes no mistakes. He is the assignment giver and He is the one that decides what assignment you should be on and for how long. When a ministry comes to an end, don’t lament the end of that ministry, rejoice that you were blessed to be a part of it. Don’t cling to an assignment that has ended because in doing so you will miss the next assignment that God has for you. In order to accomplish His will you need to move on to the next thing He has ordained for you. No matter where or when you are sent, above all remember that it isn’t about you, it’s about bringing Him glory!

The Bible says, “We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). We are on temporary assignment and we need to keep our focus on the eternal. Always seeking after Him, always seeking to be in His will.

Choosing to Believe

The Great Commision

“I believe; help my unbelief!” –Mark 9:24b

Happy New Year Everyone!!

I have some exciting news from my personal life to share with you. The company I work for runs a charity that works with impoverished people all over the world. Its primary function is a micro-lending institution that gives small dollar amount loans to help people make a business for themselves and to empower them to lift themselves out of poverty. Other functions include sending volunteers to work on farms, teach literacy skills, train them in job skills etc.

Several months ago I was nominated to apply to go on one of their volunteer opportunities because of the work I have done teaching English to some of our English Language Learners here at the location where I work. The trip I was nominated to apply for is a program in India.

We had three montapplicationhs to complete the application process. For the first two+ months of this time, I did absolutely nothing. I didn’t work on my application at all, partly because I didn’t think I’d be accepted, partly because of fear and partly because I don’t feel a particular call and burden to India. Please don’t misunderstand me, I think India is a fascinating place and I love the Indian people. One of the very first people who ever witnessed to me about Christ was a former Hindu from India and I am forever grateful to him for it. I am thankful for the many people that God has called to India. It’s just that I have a very strong burden for the Chinese. It has been prophesied to me multiple times that I would work with Chinese and that at some point I would go overseas to minister to them in some capacity. I have struggled to believe and accept this. I am a very introverted person and the idea of going overseas and speaking on His behalf (especially in a foreign language and culture) is extremely intimidating to me.

Anyway, I didn’t do much with my application because I kept thinking, “Why India?” India after all didn’t fit in with the prophesy so it didn’t seem like something I needed to pursue. However, God later got a hold of me and I felt like He told me that I was ignoring an opportunity that He was putting in front of me. So I applied.

When God Opens a Door

Fast forward a few months later. Yesterday I got a phone call from the director of the program. He asked me if I had had my heart set on India and whether I would be really upset if I didn’t get to go there. I was a little thrown off by his question because normally if you’re rejecting someone you just say “We’ve decided to go with another candidate” or something like that. So I said I might be a little disappointed, but I wouldn’t be upset because I prayed that if it was God’s will for me to be in the program that He would open the door and that if it wasn’t His will that He wouldn’t. The guy paused a second (and I started inwardly freaking out a little that I had just violated the unwritten rule of never bringing up God in a work situation), but then he said, “So if God opened a different door, you would go, right?” He went on to tell me that they hadn’t chosen me for the India program because they had another opportunity he wanted to discuss with me. He explained that they are putting together a pilot program to visit three of their projects in countries where they’ve never sent volunteers before. He said the three projects are in the Philippines, China, and Taiwan and then he said, “We really hope you will go”. So crazy! I definitely didn’t expect this. I almost didn’t apply because the location didn’t make sense to me, but God had a plan all along. Two out of three of these locations are Chinese speaking countries. Actually, even the third recognizes Chinese as a minority language.

Granted, this is a program through work and not an actual missions opportunity, but I know that God has put this together. No one at work knows about the prophesies I’ve received or about my burden for the Chinese.  The first time I was told I would go overseas was before I even knew Jesus when I was only about ten years old. Then shortly after I was saved in 2004 a prophesy came that I would be a missionary to Asia. That was nine years ago. Since that time a few other prophesies have come my way which made it clear that the focus would be on Chinese people. Even though this will only be a short trip, I see this as the beginning of the prophesies being fulfilled in my life. It’s humbling to watch God put things together.help my unbelief

I feel ashamed of my doubt. I have doubted for so long. I have struggled to believe the words that were spoken over me even though they matched the burden within me. I have felt too inadequate; I have told God to send someone else. I have focused on my own lack rather than on His ability. I have seen the years slip by without any indication that any of it would come to pass.

I know this is just a work trip and I don’t know what God’s plan is, or how many more years will pass between now and the true fulfillment of that plan, but I repent of my doubt. I don’t know how or when or why, but what He has spoken over my life will come to pass, every word of it.

I want to encourage our readers. If God has given you a calling or a burden, or if things have been prophesied over your life, trust God to bring them to pass! We don’t know how long it will take, but if God has told you something, hang on to it! All things are in His hands and in His timing!

May you be blessed in 2013!

In His Love,

Rebekah L.

His Love Never Fails

Praise-the-Lord-He-is

Yesterday was my parents’ wedding anniversary. Was. They’ve been divorced for over sixteen years now. Their marriage was a terrible one. I never remember a time when they were happy in it. It was painfully obvious to us children that they had no love for each other. I remember as a young child, hoping, wishing, praying that they would get divorced. Yet, when it finally happened, I still grieved over it.

A small piece of that sadness hung over me yesterday. December 3rd is a reminder of a failed covenant. People promise things all the time. People lie. They cheat, they steal, they change their minds, they hurt each other.

But God.

God’s love never fails. He never lies. He will never leave us or forsake us. When He makes a covenant, you can count on Him to keep His side of the agreement. Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? Or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?”  Joshua told us that not one thing has failed of all the good things which God said, all of them come to pass (Joshua 23:14). God loved us when we were unlovable. He loved us enough to die for us. We don’t ever have to fear that He will fall out of love with us. It doesn’t matter how many times we fail Him, He never gives up on us. He keeps reaching, reaching.

God entered a personal covenant with me on February 29th 2004, the day He sealed me with that Holy Spirit of promise (Ephesians 1:13). I can choose to walk away from Him if I want to, but He will never walk away from me. I may fall from time to time, but He will always be willing to help me back up. His love never fails.

  Jesus,
  Thank you for your never failing love.
~Rebekah L.
 
 
 

Overcoming the Carnal Mind

Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” –Matthew 26:41

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Awhile ago I found myself dealing with a bit of a problem with someone I know. When I inquired to God as to what had brought this on, God showed me something I had done months earlier that had started the chain reaction of events that led me to the point I found myself in. I realized had I followed the Lord’s principles as laid out in the Scriptures, I would not have had to suffer the way I was. I repented and told God that if a similar situation ever presented itself, I would not make the same mistake twice. I would say no to the temptation.

A couple of nights ago I had a dream that the very situation I had dealt with before presented itself again. In the dream I was very tempted to repeat my prior error, but then I remembered my vow to the Lord. I reminded myself that following after God is the most important thing. There is no temporary fulfillment of the flesh that is worth sacrificing eternity. I said no to the temptation.

But then as sImageometimes happens in dreams, I suddenly became aware that I was dreaming! Once I realized I was dreaming, I revisited the temptation. I reasoned within myself that since I was dreaming that meant none of this was really happening so it wouldn’t be so bad to give in to the temptation; to give in to sin. It wasn’t even real I told myself. When I wake up, I will go on as before and no one will ever know. I’m not sure if I went through with my intention to sin as the dream seems to have ended at that point, but I woke up clearly remembering how I was justifying my desire to sin for the simple reason that I knew it wasn’t real. Our flesh will do as much as it can get away with!

 “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” –Romans 7:18

Our thought life is important to God. The things in our hearts are important to God. While I may not have been completely conscious of my activities, and though I was “only” dreaming, the dream revealed the state of the inner man. My flesh was rising up. Somewhere deep down, that desire for sin is within. The carnal mind is enmity against God (Romans 8:7). My flesh is weak. I know that the wages of sin is death. I know that nothing good can come of it, and yet I was so quick to go down that road because I could get away with it since it wasn’t “real”. The trouble is that the unconscious mind that brought me to that place in my dream is real. The dream came from somewhere and it revealed an area in my life that I need to deal with. So what’s the solution to this problem?

“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” -Galatians 5:16

Walk in the Spirit! We have two natures, a spiritual nature and a fleshly nature. There is a battle raging between the old man and the new man. Paul said, “I die daily.” We have to crucify the flesh every day. I’ve recently been re-sanctifying parts of my life as I have found I need to do from time to time. I’vImagee started treating my temple better with healthier food and exercise. I’ve started reading my Word regularly again. I’ve deactivated my Facebook account. I’m praying more and allowing time for worship in the privacy of my home instead of just during song service at church. Perhaps, my flesh is rising up in part due to this sanctification process. The flesh doesn’t like the things of the spirit!

I’m doing my best to take up my cross to follow Him, but my flesh is still weak. I must remind myself of this so that I don’t fall into temptation. The Bible says to confess your faults to one another and to pray for one another (James 5:16). We know that sin leads to death yet we are still tempted by the flesh to fall into sin! We must die daily. We must walk in the spirit so that we don’t fulfill the lusts of the flesh.

Lord, Help me to walk after the Spirit and not after my own flesh! Help me to live clean and righteously before You in my thoughts, in my body, and in my spirit. I cannot do it on my own; I need your Holy Spirit directing my every step. Thank you Jesus for your loving kindness and your enduring mercy. I don’t know where I’d be without You.

-Rebekah L

Perfect Peace

 “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” –Isaiah 26:3

Yesterday through Facebook I got a frantic message that a very good friend of mine was in a motorcycle accident. It was a terrifying moment for me. I kept rereading the words and trying to make sense of them. I felt incredibly helpless. This friend lives on the other side of the globe and there was nothing I could do to help him. Or even to get more information.

How did it happen? Was he hurt? Would he be okay? Is he in the hospital?

I had so many questions and so little information. I was scared of losing him. “Please please please let him be okay”, I prayed, feeling the emotion welling up inside me. Irrationally, I considered going to the airport immediately to catch the next plane to get to where he is. There was a time that he and I had planned to get married and I still love him deeply even if the nature of that love has shifted. To consider that he might be seriously injured and I wasn’t with him was more than I knew how to handle. I really did not know what to do with myself. I kept refreshing my Facebook page over and over again, hoping for a new message from his friend. I was desperate for more information. I felt paralyzed. Absolutely helpless. The fear rising up in me was fierce.

Then suddenly it occurred to me that even from half way across the world, there was something I could do for him. I could trust God, and I could pray. My focus then shifted from the situation to God. I remembered that God is the Creator, the Almighty, and our Healer. Everything is in His hands. When I began to meditate on that, I immediately felt peace. I knew God was taking care of the situation. This time when I prayed, I prayed with the assurance that God was in control and no matter what happened He would still be in control. I reminded myself that this man knows the Lord. If the very worst should happen, he is still safe in the Lord’s care. Regardless of how long he has life on this earth, he has the promise of eternal life with the King.

I became completely filled with His peace. It is difficult to even explain it, but every ounce of fear left me. I was able to completely surrender the situation to Him. I continued to pray for my friend for mercy and healing, but it was no longer a prayer out of selfish desperation. It was a prayer based on who the Lord is and knowing what He is capable of doing. Mostly, I just prayed that the Lord’s will be done. I knew without a doubt that it would be.

A few hours later I got the message that my friend will be fine. He is scraped up, bruised up, and has a broken wrist, but he has no internal injuries. He will make a full recovery. The worst of my fears were not even remotely realized. If I had not surrendered to God, I would have spent all the time making myself sick with worry. All of my worry would not have accomplished anything.

I praise God that he is okay! Thank you Jesus for protecting my friend! I know it could have been much worse and the mercy of the Lord has kept him for another day. Thank you, Jesus for your peace in the midst of a storm. Thank you for calming the waves of fear and teaching me once again to trust in you!

Dear Reader, when you feel helpless, when a situation is beyond your control; it is never beyond God. He will give you perfect peace if you trust Him to handle every situation that comes up in life. In scary moments when loved ones may be hurt or in danger, give all of your fears and concerns the Lord. He will carry you through every difficult circumstance in your life if you let Him.

-Rebekah L.