Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Friends can be such a blessing!

   I received an email from a dear friend this morning that was encouraging, inspiring and for me ~ timely. This was one of those emails that implore you to send it on. I rarely do that, but this is most deserving of being shared. I believe this will truly lift you up.

“It shall come to pass
That before they call, I will answer;
And while they are still speaking, I will hear.
Isaiah 65:24

This is a story written by a doctor who worked in Africa .  

   One night I had worked hard to help a mother in the labor ward; but in spite of all we could do, she died, leaving us with a tiny, premature baby and a crying two-year-old daughter. We would have difficulty keeping the baby alive; as we had no incubator (we had no electricity to run an incubator).

   We also had no special feeding facilities. Although we lived on the equator, nights were often chilly with treacherous drafts. One student midwife went for the box we had for such babies and the cotton wool that the baby would be wrapped in.  

   Another went to stoke up the fire and fill a hot water bottle. She came back shortly in distress to tell me that in filling the bottle, it had burst (rubber perishes easily in tropical climates). 'And it is our last hot water bottle!' she exclaimed. As in the West, it is no good crying over spilled milk, so in  Central Africa  it might be considered no good crying over burst water bottles. They do not grow on trees, and there are no drugstores down forest pathways.

   'All right,' I said, 'put the baby as near the fire as you safely can, and sleep between the baby and the door to keep it free from drafts Your job is to keep the baby warm.'

   The following noon, as I did most days, I went to have prayers with any of the orphanage children who chose to gather with me. I gave the youngsters various suggestions of things to pray about and told them about the tiny baby. I explained our problem about keeping the baby warm enough, mentioning the hot water bottle, and that the baby could so easily die if it got chills. I also told them of the two-year-old sister, crying because her mother had died.

   During prayer time, one ten -year-old girl, Ruth, prayed with the usual blunt conciseness of our African children. 'Please, God,' she prayed, 'send us a hot water bottle today. It'll be no good tomorrow, God, as the baby will be dead, so please send it this afternoon.'
While I gasped inwardly at the audacity of the prayer, she added, 'And while You are about it, would You please send a dolly for the little girl so she'll know You really love her?'

   As often with children's prayers, I was put on the spot. Could I honestly say 'Amen?' I just did not believe that God could do this.

   Oh, yes, I know that He can do everything; the Bible says so. But there are limits, aren't there? The only way God could answer this particular prayer would be by sending me a parcel from the homeland. I had been in   Africa   for almost four years at that time, and I had never, ever, received a parcel from home. Anyway, if anyone did send me a parcel, who would put in a hot water bottle? I lived on the equator!

   Halfway through the afternoon, while I was teaching in the nurses' training school, a message was sent that there was a car at my front door. By the time I reached home, the car had gone, but there on the verandah was a large 22-pound parcel. I felt tears pricking my eyes. I could not open the parcel alone, so I sent for the orphanage children. Together we pulled off the string, carefully undoing each knot. We folded the paper, taking care not to tear it unduly. Excitement was mounting. Some thirty or forty pairs of eyes were focused on the large cardboard box. From the top, I lifted out brightly-colored, knitted jerseys. Eyes sparkled as I gave them out. Then there were the knitted bandages for the leprosy patients, and the children looked a little bored. Then came a box of mixed raisins and sultanas - that would make a batch of buns for the weekend.

   Then, as I put my hand in again, I felt the.....could it really be? I grasped it and pulled it out. Yes, a brand new, rubber hot water bottle. I cried. I had not asked God to send it; I had not truly believed that He could.

   Ruth was in the front row of the children. She rushed forward, crying out, 'If God has sent the bottle, He must have sent the dolly, too!' Rummaging down to the bottom of the box, she pulled out the small, beautifully-dressed dolly. Her eyes shone! She had never doubted! Looking up at me, she asked, 'Can I go over with you and give this dolly to that little girl, so she'll know that Jesus really loves her?' 'Of course,' I replied!

That parcel had been on the way for five whole months, packed up by my former Sunday school class, whose leader had heard and obeyed God's prompting to send a hot water bottle, even to the equator.
And one of the girls had put in a dolly for an African child - five months before, in answer to the believing prayer of a ten-year-old to bring it 'that afternoon.'

'Before they call, I will answer.' Isaiah 65:24 

   Prayer is one of the best free gifts we receive. There is no cost, but a lot of rewards. Let's continue praying for one another.

Heavenly Father, I ask you to bless my friends reading this. I ask You to minister to them. Where there is pain, help them to receive and walk in Your peace and mercy. Where there is self doubting, help them to walk in renewed confidence so You can work through them; where there is tiredness or exhaustion, I ask they seek and receive Your understanding, guidance, and strength. Where there is fear, reveal Your love in a way they can receive the vastness of it, and be of good courage. Thank you for blessing their finances, give them greater vision, and raise up leaders and friends to support and encourage them.  I ask You to do these things in Jesus' name. Amen.

P. S. Passing this on to anyone you consider a friend will bless you both. 
Passing this on to one not considered a friend is something Christ would do.
   As most of you know Jon and I are earnestly seeking God for a decision about our future. In the natural several really good opportunities have presented themselves. We stopped putting square pegs in round holes years ago. We learned that one the hard way, more than once. We had been praying for Him to lead us and show us where He wants us, and what He wants us to be doing.We have been pressing in, taking time in His Word and listening. We are now asking God to show us the desire He has placed in our heart. Recently we have been seeing things in His Word as we have never seen them before; things helpful for seeking God for His plan for your life. We have begun to have some break through there. Reading this email this morning reminded me of three things. 1. God heard our prayer in the beginning, remembers it, and hears our prayer now. 2. We do not need to pray for direction over and over. The answer was on the way when first we prayed Now we need to stay fine tuned to Him and walk closely with Him, simply thanking Him for His plan and that He is showing us. 3. We need to have the expectant faith this young girl had. Walking closely with Him and keeping our eyes and heart fixed on Him will empower us to effortlessly do just that.    

    This was the most timely email I have ever received.

I will close this with my response to the dear friend that sent this on to me.

Oh my darling, Gilly!!! if only you knew how timely this was, this very morning. I don't usually pass on email; this one I will. Thank you for sending this to me. I too want the intimate relationship with God this young girl had. I want to be as keen a vessel as that Sunday School teacher, hearing and obeying my Father. I desperately desire the innocence of trust in Him that pleases Him, unadulterated faith.

Much love,

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A softened heart is a yielded heart, full of peace.

   This past week has been full of wonderful things happening in my family, some stretching things in my family, and for me personally a bit of a stretch in my own life. I have been truly seeking God on a decision I must make, and I can’t seem to get direction. While praying earlier this week I realized I was operating in pride. I had a certain city I thought would be nice to have on my diploma when I graduate next spring, and I am able to attend there. It just so happens I love that particular city and would have no problem doing my Practical end of finishing my degree there. I will need to be on campus and that will require moving. If that is where God would have me to graduate then so be it. If not I do not want to be there; I do not want to be anywhere He does not have in His plan for my life. I was however not being as open to that as I thought I was. Once I realized pride was blocking any direction I would ever get from God, I repented, laid the notion down and pressed into my relationship with, my Father. I had been sensing a lack of peace when considering certain avenues, and knew to stop going down that those thought paths, and have done so. Still overall, I don’t seem to be able to hear what I need to hear, and there is a time frame on this decision. 

   Mark 6:45-52 and Mark 8:8-38, are good passages to refer to if you are having trouble discerning things, remembering things, or hearing from God. We can see in those passages the matter of allowing our heart to be hardened in some way where God is concerned. So, after studying Mark 8 some on Wednesday evening, I took a nice 3 mile, 1 hour walk Thursday morning to sort that out. I thought I would share some of that walk here.

   Friday evening it occurred to me I might be struggling with hearing from God because I was constraining Him to the box we call a calendar. Yesterday morning I realized that was true, but the real box I was putting Him in was the whim of my personal preferences. Breakthrough! I love it when peace flows.

   Had you asked me before this week if my heart were hardened to God I would have have told you my heart was sensitive toward God, and that I did not have a hardened heart. That answer needs modified. I do have a heart that is sensitive toward God. I have had a bent toward the Word of God since I was a young girl. However, there is some hardness in some areas. I was devastated to realize that, but it did not take me too long to see the blessing in it that realization. 

   We all have areas that we have hardened our hearts toward God. Having a heart that has been hardened in some way, or ways, is not always a result of sin. God’s heart is never hardened toward us because of our sin, but our heart is hardened toward Him when we sin. That is pretty self explanatory and there are plenty of opportunities to hear those sermons so I will leave that there. Some hardening comes from another source. There are two accounts of Jesus miraculously feeding a multitude of people with barely enough to feed a handful. I am going to address the one in Mark 6:37-44 where Jesus fed 5,000 men with five fish and two loaves of bread with baskets leftover because I want to use some of  the remaining passage in Mark 6. Mark 6:45-52 happens immediately after this and is the account of Jesus walking on water out to the boat where the disciples were struggling in a storm. In verses 50-52 it says, “50 ...for they all saw Him and were troubled. But immediately He talked with them and said to them, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” 51 Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled. 52 For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened. Let’s take a quick look at those last few verses. “... and they were utterly astonished,...” The disciples had just seen Jesus miraculously feed 5,000 men, who knows how many women and children, and yet “...they were utterly astonished...”. And why was that? The answer is in the last four words of verse 50, “do not be afraid.”, and verse 52, For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened. Fear is not a lack of faith; it is putting faith is something God did not author. Fear is a result of a hardened heart and will keep us from living the life of victory Christians should be enjoying. Verse 52 clearly shows us the crux of the answer. The disciples saw Jesus multiply the fishes and loaves. They knew it was a fact that happened, but they did not consider the spiritual meaning whatsoever. The Amplified Bible records verse 52 as saying, For they failed to consider or understand [the teaching and meaning of the miracle of] the loaves; [in fact] their hearts had grown callous [had become dull and had lost the power of understanding]. To consider means; think upon, deliberate, study, examine, ponder, or meditate on. The disciples did not give any attention to, or focus on, the miracle and the power of that miracle, or the meaning of how Jesus fed the multitude. They knew of the event, they had no understanding of it spiritually. Simply put, a hardened heart is a result of a person thinking more about, and relating better to the natural world than the spiritual world. That heart is a result of thinking about, considering, pondering or meditating more on what the world says about an issue than what God says.

   Hardening of our hearts toward God is a process. It happens one act of disobedience, one thought of doubt, one thought of unbelief at a time. It can be a result of sin, rebellion or in the case of an unbeliever, it can be hatred toward God. Often it is just continuing to see things from a carnal, natural viewpoint. To keep our heart softened from God we must stay focused on Him. Proverbs 23:7 For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. We can know plenty about what the Bible says, we can believe it is God's Word, but it is what we think on that determines whether our hearts are soft or hardened toward God. If you are on the internet looking up any possible disease you think you might have by studying the symptoms and how they may add up to something in your body, that is what you are thinking about ~ even after you get off those web sites. If you are reading what God has to say about disease and sickness in His Word, that is what you will be thinking about. The first venture will layer by layer callous your heart toward what God says about your body. The latter will develop your faith and soften your heart toward what God has to say about your body. That is an across the board principle. You can apply it to business ventures, finances, employment, choosing a field of study in college, a marriage partner... every area of you life. In my case I have been "spinning" about where I will be in the autumn to finish college. After a week of asking God to prune me, I am no longer spinning. I do not have my answer yet but the door of communication is wide open because I am not blocking God with my notions, concerns and whims. I am focusing on, and pressing into my relationship with God, and leaving it there. He will show me exactly what His plans are for me. And, He will speak His will for your life into you, just keep your focus on Him, not the world.

   Are there areas in your life that you think about that you find yourself weighing out all of the tangible and natural potentials. but neglecting, or at best minimizing any input from God? I would love to encourage you to turn that around and enjoy the peace that is so very available to you. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

My pieces of Gold this Saint Patrick's Day!

  Today is day of wearing green, parades, great Irish food, dancing, fun and often some Leprechaun mischief. This day however started out honoring a man that was a missionary to, and a bishop of, Ireland. He was canonized a saint and became the  primary patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick.  This Scottish man’s love for God that was so deep he forgave the Irish Raiders that imprisoned Him, and then took Jesus to their country, Ireland. We do not know when he was born exactly, but it is well recorded that he died on March 17, 461 AD.

Pinterest treat I found, so cute.

   I had been on Pinterest and stumbled onto this cute little treat. I liked the idea and decided to make it for my grandchildren. I did not have the plastic pretzel sleeves and not a lot of time to go where they might have them, so to my grandchildren’s advantage I used treat bags. More sweet treats there! I had fun making these and thought I would share them. For the treats I made the gold is Rolo and milk chocolate Gold Coins, the clouds are miniature white marshmallows, and the rainbows are Fruit Slices.

You can always click a photo to enlarge it.

Gift tags! And a great excuse to get a little stamping in!

The stuff that brings the word Treats into these little gifts.

The Gold!

Depositing the Gold in the bags.

Punching out circles for a little platform between the gold and clouds.

Clouds in.

So far nibbling has not been a problem, but here come those fruit slices!!!

Rainbows in.

All tied up.
Labels attached with ribbon.

A little note from, Nana.

Off to Post!

   On the back of each label I wrote, “name”,  At the end of the rainbow, behind the clouds ~ you are a piece of my Pot of Gold! Nana.  I love putting things together like that for them! You can see the note I sent them by going here. I hope your Saint Patrick’s Day is going well and full of fun!

Happy St. Paddy's Day!!!