It Seems the World Is Always Winning

Sometimes it does seem like the world is winning, that their way is prospering. It can be frustrating to pray and believe and wait on the Lord only to see that what happens is the exact opposite of what we are seeking. And many times those around us seem to understand more what the world is doing than what we are.

When Michael told me that he was leaving me to marry my best friend, I thought that all our friends would be on my side. Both our family and her family were members of the same church. I thought our pastor would be totally against the divorce and would stand with me for healing. Actually, just the opposite happened.

Our pastor told me it was inevitable that our marriage was over and that Michael was going to remarry. He said there really was nothing I could do about it. The biggest shock for me, though, came when our friends began double dating with Michael and his new love. They were invited to dinner at the homes of mutual friends and they frequently went out with couples we had known for years. Many of them told me that I should just let Michael go and stop trying to ruin his life. In a very short amount of time I began to feel alienated in my own church. It was as if I had become the other woman.

All of those experiences were reality, but were they truth? That is what the Lord began to teach me. Truth is what God says – plain and simple. There is a reason that scripture asks, “Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” God says one thing, the world says another. And the world works hard to reinforce what it says and believes. We are constantly surrounded by evidence that seems to prove that the world is right.

Yet God has told us something very different. Where then is the evidence of what He says? Why do we not see it readily all around us and why does it often seem like an uphill battle to experience His truths?

First of all, God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:24) Everything that comes from God originates in the spirit realm. God speaks things before we see them in the natural. Jesus, who was the promised redemption of mankind in the Garden of Eden, came to earth in God’s timing – God’s Word became flesh – what God said came into the natural.

Remember Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” When we begin standing in faith we have God’s word but as yet it is not seen with our natural eyes. Standing in faith means believing before we see it. “… while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

All of this sounds great in sermons, but it is a bit harder when we are walking it out. It is much easier to see earthly things. They are all around us but they are temporary. What really matters and what really will stand permanently is what is not seen.

How well this was illustrated to me when I was standing. The seemingly permanent situation with my husband and his girlfriend eventually passed away and he went on to other women. While that was not very consoling to me, it did illustrate that if we focus on what our natural eyes can see, we will never have a stable place to stand permanently. What God had told me stood and eventually came to pass. What the world told me just passed away.

That is why if you are focusing on what your spouse is doing or saying or what the circumstances around you seem to be dictating, you will always be in turmoil. They are all only temporary and will change frequently. It’s like building your life on shifting sand.

When you begin to focus on what God says, though, you will find greater peace and stability in your life. You may not yet see with your natural eyes what He has said, but you will know that what He says is true and you can trust Him to bring it to pass in His timing.

Remember that the twelve spies all saw the very same things. Ten believed the circumstances and two believed God. Until the day we leave this earth, we will constantly be faced with the same choice. And remember, even the two who believed God still had to obey Him and fight to take the Promised Land. Faith in God gives us the vision and the strength to overcome what we face in the natural.

Even though our pastor and all our friends treated me like the other woman, God recognized me as my husband’s wife. When my husband’s lover flaunted her relationship with my husband openly in our small town, God assured me that I was still the wife of his youth. The two of us were still one, no matter what others thought or said. That gave me standing to pray for my husband as no one else on earth could. So while others believed I was no longer relevant in my husband’s life, I believed God who had made us one. God’s eternal word stood and the world’s temporary words eventually passed away.

Be encouraged today! As you stand, God is at work. His spoken word is going forth, transforming and renewing. Don’t let the temporary that you can see bring fear to your heart. Stand instead firm on what you can’t see. It is eternal and true. Love, Marilyn

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful…” Hebrews 12:28

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” Psalm 37:3

The Road Is the Journey

This morning my grandson was watching the movie Cars and Sally was explaining Route 66 to Lightening McQueen. She shared how the road used to follow the countryside, twisting and turning as it flowed along. Then the freeway was built and it cut through the land, no longer following its contours. She concluded with a statement something like this, “Instead of trying to make time on the road, people used to have a good time on the road.”

That little phrase caught my attention. I thought of how many times we try to find the freeway to get to what we want from the Lord. Our goal is to make time, to cut through, to get answers as fast as we can. Yet many times the Holy Spirit wants to take us on the scenic route.

I remember traveling across country when I was a little girl. Every summer our family took a trip somewhere to experience more of our land. Back in the dark ages we didn’t have air conditioning in cars so summer travel meant driving with the windows down. The hot air blew throughout the car and by the end of the day everything was covered with dust including our skin and our hair. The roar of the wind made conversation nearly impossible and we didn’t have iPods or earphones or anything else for that matter that made a sound loud enough to hear over the wind. So the whole trip was spent pretty much looking out the windows and watching the countryside.

Sometimes we played games to pass the time. If we were near civilization, we’d play the Alphabet Game and see who would be the fastest to find words starting with each letter of the alphabet. Out in the country, though, games consisted of looking for certain types of vegetation or rock formations.

At some point during the day we would stop to eat, usually a lunch my mom had packed since my folks weren’t big on fast food. My sister and I would run around the park where we stopped to burn up all the pent up energy we had accumulated. Sometimes we’d visit with other travelers and learn where they had been and where they were going.

Then we’d all get back in the car and continue on our journey. I didn’t realize it at the time but those trips left me with a rich appreciation of our wonderful country with its variety of landscapes and climates and delightful people. The journey was so much a part of the experience that actually arriving where we were headed was almost anticlimactic.

Now I often wonder if that isn’t how our Christian walk is to be. I believe sometimes the Holy Spirit loads us into a spiritual car that isn’t air conditioned. It’s not very comfortable and it seems the wind is always blowing. It’s hard to get anyone to hear us when we try to share what is happening in our lives. Occasionally we have wonderful moments of fellowship with other travelers and then it’s back on the road again.

The Holy Spirit never takes us on the freeway. His road is always winding through the twists and turns of life. Our goal is to arrive at our destination, so we want the fastest trip possible. But His goal is the journey, so He is in no hurry. I think the key is we can either complain about the trip or we can look out the window and begin to enjoy the scenery.

Are you seeking answers from the Lord and possibly feeling a little impatient that He isn’t a bit faster? Are you so focused on where you want to be that you aren’t enjoying where you are? Maybe when you get to where you’re going you will need what you’ve learned along the way.

A really interesting study is see in scripture how many things happened to people when they were on a journey. Paul was converted on the road to Damascus. The servants of Cornelius were on a journey to find Peter when he had his rooftop experience to prepare him to go to the Gentiles. Journeys are very important. Maybe today is the day to refocus and begin to see what the Lord wants to show you along the journey. One thing is for sure, He knows where you are going and He knows how to get you there. The important thing is, you need to let Him do the driving. He has a wonderful trip planned. Love,  Marilyn

“By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.”  Exodus 13:21

“As [Paul] neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.”  Acts 9:3

A Great Cloud of Witnesses

There are many who say that the Book of Acts is still being written today. I personally believe so is Hebrews 11.

That chapter begins with, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Then follows a lengthy list of people who stood in faith, despite incredible odds, believing what God had said. The Faith Hall of Fame begins with Abel and includes Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses David, and Samuel, among others. Each one is remembered for standing in faith while facing daunting circumstances. Everyone of them had to put “feet to their faith” by trusting God as they fought battles, faced torture, or just lived day to day while waiting to see the promise of God fulfilled.

Faith is always tested and perfected in the dark. It may be the dark of circumstances, or the dark of loss, or just the dark of not seeing what we want to see. I don’t think faith ever comes easily.

Those who speak glibly of the ease of faith have usually not been tested in it. Sometimes they remind me of my early days as a labor and delivery nurse. I had not yet had a baby of my own and it was easy for me to refer to “discomfort” when talking with a patient about labor. When I had my first child, I discovered the depth of “discomfort” that labor brings. After that I approached labor and delivery quite differently when working with patients. Experience taught me that talk is cheap and easy if we haven’t been tested in an area.

Those who walk in faith through hard times and circumstances come to know the true depth of believing God against all odds. God pours out an amazing grace on those who choose to stand in faith. His grace makes it possible to weather the circumstances and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.

Those who watch do not have that grace. I remember what Corrie ten Boom shared in one of her books. Her family was hiding Jews in their home and she had asked her father how they would be able to face what the Natzis would do to them if they were ever caught. Her father told her that when they rode the train, they always got their ticket just before they got on. He said that God would give them the ticket (the grace) to face it when the time came. Her testimony reflected how very powerful that grace was in the hour it was needed.

Too many people today believe that grace gives us the freedom to do what we want. They remind us that we are under grace and not the law when they choose to do something contrary to the Word of God. I believe that grace gives us the courage and ability to do what is required of us, even when it is not easy. Grace enables us to follow the Word of God and trust the Lord in the darkest of circumstances.

Those who watch you stand and believe God for the healing of your marriage do not have the grace to do what you are doing. They may tell you to forget about your spouse and just get on with your life. This counsel probably comes out of their love for you or because they feel sorry for you. They see only the painful circumstances and want to spare you the hurt.

You cannot expect them to understand what you know in your heart. Understand that they love you and just love them back. Don’t be discouraged by their desire to remove you from a place of faith. Hebrews 12 begins with this amazing statement, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…” That cloud of witnesses is all those who have gone before us and stood in faith! All those listed in Hebrews 11 are witnesses to what you are doing in this hour. Just think of that. Abraham, Sarah, Moses, and David are watching you and cheering you on in faith!

Hebrews 12 continues, “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Not only do you have a great cloud of witnesses cheering you on, but you have Jesus as your example. He endured the cross with all its shame and pain because of the joy that was set before Him. He now sits at the right Hand of God, encouraging you through pain and shame to see the joy that is now set before you.

There is a joy that comes from knowing what God wants to do. Remember that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. When you can see it in the spirit long before you see it in the natural, joy will follow. And God’s grace will carry you through the dark times. Love,  Marilyn

“Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. ” Hebrews 12:12

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:11

He Won’t Let You Down

Times are tough. There’s no way around it. Prices are up and even essentials are a challenge to buy. Our children are grown now and sometimes when I am in the grocery store realizing how much we spend for just two people, I wonder how people with children can even afford to feed them.

What do you do when there seems to be no provision for you or your family? How do you pray? What do you believe God to do?

One day while we were praying over some things the Lord had spoken to us in the ministry, God began to speak to us about the word provision. The prefix pro means for so provision means for the vision. The Lord began to show us that He provides specifically to fulfill the visions He gives. We began to realize that day why without a vision, the people perish. If you have no vision, you have no way of seeking provision. If you have a vision, then you pray specifically for what is needed to see it come to pass.

Do you have a vision of your future? Are you just moving from day to day or do you know what God has spoken to you about the future? When God has spoken His vision to you, the provision follows the vision.

Is your mind cluttered with fear of disaster? Do you fear what tomorrow may bring? Do you envision the very worst? Is that what you are praying for God to bless? Or have you spent time with the Lord and know you can trust Him to care for you and your family? Do you know what He plans for you? Do you trust Jeremiah 29:11? Are you waiting for your spouse to provide for you or do you know the Lord will do it?

One day years ago I was reading Genesis 24 when Abraham sent out his servant to find a bride for his son Isaac. When the servant arrived in the city of Nahor, he prayed that the Lord would send a woman to offer him a drink and then offer to water his camels. Rebekah was the young woman who did just that. Then, after offering water to the servant, she watered all his camels.

Now camels that have been on a long journey are very thirsty. Rebekah had a pitcher with which she filled the trough from which the camels drank. Can you imagine how many trips that took and how much water she must have poured out for those camels?

God blessed Rebekah for her efforts. The servant gave her beautiful jewelry and took her back with him to become Isaac’s wife. She became part of the lineage of Jesus. She was faithful and God gave her what she needed. What if He had blessed her back with what she gave out? Just think of all the water that would have poured into her life!

But Rebekah didn’t need water. God knew what she needed and He provided for her. Many times God asks us to pour out into the lives of others in an area where we have absolutely no need and then He pours back into our lives in the area where our need exists.

What if Rebekah had been praying for a husband and that day instead of going to the well, she had stayed home concentrating on her own need. By focusing on herself she would have missed the answer to her prayer.

God is responsible to meet your needs. He has promised He would. (Philippians 4:19) What you are responsible to do is to minister to others in His name. If you put your life on hold and focus only on what you need, you may miss the provision of the Lord.

In the early days of the ministry we were just learning to step out and obey the Lord. A woman who was standing for her marriage asked us to go to her home to pray with her. We had no money and were glad we had enough gas in our car that we didn’t have to buy any. We spent several hours with her and watched the Lord take her from the depths of despair to a place of hope and joy. She was moving to another city the next week and as we were leaving her home that day, she asked us if we could use some groceries that she couldn’t take with her. Little did she know we had nothing in our cupboards and her offer was a true miracle to us!

But the miracle really happened when she opened a door that led to a large pantry with every shelf filled with groceries. “Please take it all, if you can,” she said to us. “I can’t move any of it and I will just be throwing it out if you don’t take it.”

She began to bring us grocery bags and we filled every one of them. That night as we drove home we were alternately crying and laughing and praising God the whole way. We had gone beyond ourselves to meet someone else’s needs and God had poured His provision into our lives.
I don’t know what God has planned for you or how He is going to do it in your life. I do know, though, that He can be trusted to care for you and your family. The more you can look beyond yourself and into the needs of others, the more you will see His blessing pour out into your life. The holidays are a good time to reach out to others in acts of service and love. What can you do to bless others at this time? What can you teach your children about serving others? These days may be tough, but they may also provide some of the precious lessons they will learn. Love, Marilyn

“I will abundantly bless her provision;I will satisfy her poor with bread. Psalm 132:15

“But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses…” 2 Corinthians 6:4

What Do You Do When You Think It’s Your Fault

Sometimes individuals who want to stand for their marriage wonder if they can because of something they have done. Perhaps they have committed adultery or filed for divorce or been the abuser. Maybe that was you. And now the Lord has changed your heart and your life and you want to stand in the gap for your marriage. Yet since you blame yourself, you aren’t sure if you can truly stand.

If you think about it, that’s kind of like shooting yourself in the foot and then wondering if you can get medical care. Wouldn’t it be sad to sit home and bleed to death because you felt you weren’t qualified to ask for help?

That’s how we are with the Lord sometimes. We make mistakes and then convince ourselves that what we have done disqualifies us from asking God for help. In fact, those are the very times when we most need to run to Him and cry out for His grace and mercy.

That’s why we need Jesus. If we could fix things ourselves or if we never made mistakes or if we always did the right thing today so that tomorrow would have no problems, we wouldn’t need His redemptive love and power. As it is, though, we take a lot of wrong turns in life and far too often only hindsight is 20/20.

The thief on the cross said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” That is God’s standard. Those who seek forgiveness, are granted full pardon. There is no longer any debt due to sin.

Are there still consequences in this world? Of course there are. You may be walking through some of the consequences of past decisions and actions right now. That doesn’t mean, though, that you can’t make good decisions today that God will honor.

So if you made poor choices in the past, if you said or did things that you now regret, there is one simple solution. Repent! Ask God to forgive you and then repent also to those who were affected by what you said or did.

I remember when I was standing every time I lost my temper or did anything that was contrary to the Lord’s direction for me, He would remind me to repent. That meant not only asking the Lord for forgiveness, but also going to Michael and asking his forgiveness. There were many times when I struggled with that. I had a hard time asking forgiveness of someone who said he didn’t love me, didn’t want me around, and was in open adultery with other women. I felt like my “little” sin wasn’t much by comparison.

On top of that, Michael never received my repentance with any kind of loving acceptance. He would either make fun of me or just laugh in my face. I used to wonder why on earth the Lord would have me do something that seemed so lacking in meaning to my husband.

It wasn’t until years later that Michael shared with me what happened to his heart every time I repented. He said it was the one thing that would break through his hard heart and cause him to feel sorrow. Although his outward reaction was always negative, each time I asked for his forgiveness, the Lord softened his heart a bit more. One day Michael was finally able to repent and receive the forgiveness of the Lord for his own life.

So no matter what you did yesterday or even today, the important thing is that you repent and receive the forgiveness of the Lord. He will then direct you as to what you need to do regarding others. Repentance keeps your heart soft and malleable on the potter’s wheel. It also demonstrates the love and kindness of God to others. And it takes away the condemnation the enemy tries to bring when you stand strong in faith.

So the next time the enemy reminds you of what you have done, just remind him of what Jesus has done. Then stand firm on the Word of God and believe He will do what He has promised! Love, Marilyn

“But go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Matthew 9:13

“I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.” Luke 15:7