BY DONNA CHURCHILL
“He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.”
(1 John 2:6)
About 12 years ago I was diagnosed with spinal stenosis (degenerative disk disease). By the mercy of God, chiropractic care and monthly massages, I have managed to be very nearly pain free for all these years. But last August, I started to have some problems with my left leg and one morning I woke up and was not able to walk from my bedroom to the next room. The pain in my left leg was excruciating. It was a Saturday, so I was not able to see the chiropractor until Monday, and even then he couldn’t do anything for me, the pain and inflammation was too intense. He suggested a doctor’s visit for some prednisone. To make a long story short, after two rounds of prednisone, I still could not walk or stand for longer than a minute because of intense pain. My quality of life became greatly diminished.
During this time, I started to seek the Lord regarding this matter. He spoke to me very quietly and graciously about my “walk” with Him. He gave me the Scripture quoted above. I started asking Him – how am I not walking “even as he walked?” The Lord answered that question and began showing me areas in my life where I was not walking as He walked.
The Greek word for walk or walked in this verse is peripateo and it means “to tread all around; walk at large; live; be occupied with.” Basically, it means how you live your life, how you walk out your life daily. Is it in His presence or apart from His presence? I began asking the Lord to help me walk as Jesus walked; to help me live as Jesus lived.
The Lord started revealing areas of pride in my heart and a lack of humility. The pain in my heart became much greater than any pain I had felt in my leg.
The Word says, “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. James 4:6, 10
And just in case we missed it the first time, He pretty much repeats it again in 1 Peter 5:5-7 - “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”
Don’t miss this – “God resisteth the proud…” I’m sure you remember - pride is what got Lucifer kicked out of heaven! This is no small thing. I remember saying something to the Lord to the effect – “God, I’m 71 years old and I have been a Christian for 47 years; how did I miss this?”
Looking back, I don’t think I completely missed this. I just think God was taking me around the same old mountain because there was so much more I needed to learn!
Shortly after this, the Lord placed a small book in my hands, appropriately titled, Humbled, Welcoming the Uncomfortable Work of God.
An uncomfortable work it truly is! But I don’t want to be in a position for very long where God is actively resisting me.
I am learning that humility is the essential ingredient in relationships – with the Lord and with people. Scripture speaks extensively about “preferring one another in the Lord,” “esteeming one another as better than ourselves,” and more, but I think you get the picture.
When Adam and Eve ate the fruit, all of a sudden they realized they were naked; their sin was exposed – the sin of pride. Satan had tempted them with the promise that they could be like God. “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5
And God continues to this day to reveal our sin, my sin, of pride because of the damage it does to relationship! Adam and Eve’s awareness of their sin caused them to hide from God and the sin of pride still does that to us today. It separates us from God and effectively separates us from others, too, in the process.
I thank God He is making me more aware of how this sin affects my daily life. This is a life-long school I’m enrolled in. I thank God that He hasn’t left me in that place of pride and I thank Him that because of Jesus “the goodness of God…. leadeth thee to repentance.” (Romans 2:4)
My heart’s desire is to “walk even as He walked.” And just exactly how did Jesus walk?
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:” Philippians 2:5-9
There it is right there – the very fulfillment of the Scriptures we read in James and 1 Peter. He is our greatest example.
One of my humorous responses when someone is trying to teach me or show me something new is, “You can teach an old dog new tricks – it just takes a little longer!”
I thank God He’s willing to spend my life teaching me.
BY JOYCE PELLETIER
Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
Our life experiences bring us to so many different places. Nature has a way of giving me a new perspective when things start causing me a new challenge.
I just came thorough a vitrectomy surgery on my right eye. The retina was starting to detach. When I looked out my right eye I could see dancing street signs, school bus red blinking lights disappear before my eyes; traffic lights vanishing before me as well. It was kind of funny at first. The dancing street signs made me chuckle. But when I went to the Ophthalmologist, it wasn’t so funny any more. It suddenly became serious. The macular was starting to fail, to where my retina would be in danger of detaching.
The day of the surgery – found me awake during this procedure. I was sedated but not asleep. They said I would not remember anything when it was done. Well, that turned out to be untrue.
I remember looking at the machinery around me and I also could see something uniquely special. It was hard laying there for nearly 2 hours. Normally surgery finds you asleep and then waking up. This was different! I was awake in a totally relaxed state, the whole time.
As they worked on me, I saw visions of something so amazingly beautiful, I could never replicate it. I saw giant clear bubbles become like frosted glass that you see on your window of your car or home. I saw before me something that was being created that was drawn in perfection. Never had I seen something so exquisite being so created right before me. I saw the richest colors of deep turquoise, deep blues, burgundy and yellow. The design was similar to the picture with this blog.
The more I looked at these designing images, the more I realized it was the Master Artist at work to perfection. God took the time to give me these images and I was mesmerized by them. I was in awe at what I saw. They became more intense as I was growing impatient for this procedure on my eye to be done. So much so, I talked to the doctor as he was working on me and had the nerve to ask him if he was nearly done. I told them I was getting more anxious as I lay there. They increased my sedative, yet not enough for me to fall asleep. The images kept coming and during the time of those images, God entertained me and distracted me, which was what I needed.
This was an amazing event that I hope never to forget the amazing design. The image with this blog is close, but not exact. I wanted to share it.
During my seven-day recovery of sleeping on a Face Down Posturing Chair, with many hours of poor sleep, I felt a little trapped. One morning Maurice was having his prayer time and I asked him to read the verses he was reading. They were from Jesus walking on water. When He told the disciples “Do not fear, I am with you,” I started crying realizing God was telling me not to fret.
The next three days that same reading came up and I knew my healing was coming. I felt the presence of God during that week of strange sleeping. I knew I was not alone. I knew God was sitting near me all those nights of restless slumber. I was protected, I was somewhat walking on the water with Peter. I didn’t falter, I didn’t sink, because God was ever present with me during the whole thing.
It's been three weeks since the surgery as I write this blog and my vision has improved so much, I can read my regular Bible again, after buying a large print one.
The visions gave me so much more insight to God and what He wants for my life. It’s hard to describe, but it is something I will never forget. What a blessing this has been! I am also so grateful for all your prayers.
BY JORDAN MAYER
"Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not."
I don't know about you, but when I read the Old Testament, I tend to be quick to judge the Israelites. I question their faith, eye roll their grumbling, and pity their failings. But I realize that I stand from a privileged vantage point. As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20. I have the benefit of both reading the account of Israel's history as well as God's purposes and workings in and through it. Everything seems so obvious when we can see the big picture, but it's much harder to actually live it and walk through it. It requires faith. And then I have my next realization: "Well shoot, I'm more like the Israelites than I thought."
Over the last two years, God has been teaching me a lot about faith and trust, particularly when it comes to my job and career. I enjoy the comfort and security of knowing what's up ahead and what I need to do to get there. I like plans, organization, and structure. The last two years have been the complete opposite of that. I have battled so much frustration and anxiety over not having a clear plan or path ahead, feeling uncomfortable and ill-equipped for my role, and struggling to know whether I was doing a good job or not. And then there's COVID, but we won't go there.
I realize now that what I was really fighting over was control. Boy, do I like to feel in control. The key word there is feel because it is actually quite laughable what we think we have control over.
I recently read through this passage of Scripture where God provides this strange wonder bread called manna. Scripture emphasizes the fact that God instructed the people to gather a day's portion. No sooner had the command been issued than the people disobeyed. Being the more practical, logical, and industrious individuals among them, some Israelites gathered more than they needed and decided to keep a little extra, just to be safe. Of all the times I am prone to judge the Israelites, this isn't one of them. In fact, I am sure I probably would have been one of the individuals who put together a healthy surplus for themselves.
Based on verse 4, we understand that God was not merely providing for the people, He was testing them. Would the people obey God's Word and only take what they needed for the day or would they try to control God's provision? Although there are many examples in the Bible about wise living, careful planning, and hard work; these qualities are all tempered in faith and trust in God. In James, we are encouraged to make plans and think ahead, but to submit them to God and His will (James 4:13-17). When Jesus is teaching the disciples how to pray, He instructs them, "Give us this day our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11). Why not our weekly bread, or our monthly bread, or even our yearly bread?
The supply is not the issue. God gives in abundance and out of an overflow of His goodness. But God's desire is not that we come to Him once in awhile, but daily. In Psalm 71:3, the writer says, "Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come...". But there is a tradeoff. Coming before God means giving up control. It means surrendering our fears, our worries, and our anxieties by entrusting ourselves to Him. The Israelites were called to collect what they needed for the day so that they could wake up the next to see God's wonderful provision yet again. And God calls us to do the same. Surrender your day to Him, trust Him with it, and fill up on His grace. Then return again tomorrow for a fresh supply.
BY DONNA CHURCHILL
“And the two disciples heard him [John the Baptist] speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi (Master), where do you live? He said unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.”
This scripture is one I’ve gone back to time and again over the past several months, maybe even a year. I keep hearing Jesus say to me, “Come and see” at various times and in many different situations.
The first thing that strikes me in this passage is that Jesus turned around and willingly engaged with the disciples. They were just following Him and at that point, had not required anything of Him, had not even spoken to Him, yet He turned around and actively engaged with them. My paraphrase of what He asked them – What do you want? In other words, why are you following me?
It’s also interesting to me that they didn’t directly answer His question. I wonder if perhaps they didn’t know how to answer that question or even know themselves what they wanted from Him or why they were following Him. They didn’t even really know or understand who exactly He was yet. But what they said to Him, instead of answering His question, was another question – “where do you live?” I’ve pondered that a lot. What kind of question is that and why would they want to know? Did where He lived even matter?
But He didn’t seem to find this question strange. He simply said “Come and see.” He invited them to come and see. So not only did He willingly engage with them, He invited them into His world. In our world, we wouldn’t often invite someone we just met into our home, but He did.
Isn’t this the invitation He gives us every day?
Isn’t this what He says to us every day?
Come and see where I live.
Come into my world.
Come and abide with me.
To me, this whole scripture is an invitation to abide with Him and in Him. I think much and pray much about abiding in Him. It’s where I most long to be, but it’s also the place I walk away from more often than not. I usually spend the first part of my day in His presence, praying, reading, seeking and worshipping, but then I leave the “secret place,” walk into the world and find myself sometimes forgetting what I just shared with Him and what He just shared with me. I walk away from Him and into the cares of my world, forgetting that He goes with me.
Yet Jesus continues to invite me to “come and see.” He invites me to come into His world and dwell there with Him. In all situations I face…running errands, doctor’s appointments, luncheon dates, shopping, interacting with people, difficult situations, etc., He invites me into His world as I walk through them. He is with me 24/7 and wants me to be aware of His presence. That’s the key – to be aware. He wants me to abide in Him through all my day so when I deal with difficult people, difficult situations, etc, I’m aware of Him and what He would have me do. I need to be aware that He is right there with me and is helping me via the Holy Spirit to handle all that is placed in my path.
The disciples “came and saw where he dwelt and abode with him.” He wants us to come and see where He lives, where He sits at the right hand of God and dwell with Him, abide in His presence; have an awareness of His presence. He does not just come to us when we ask him; in fact, we have no need to ask Him, because He’s already there right with us, in us. We don’t need to pray or sing to conjure up His presence. His presence is always with us. What we need, what I need, is a continual awareness of that; an abiding awareness. I need to learn to dwell with Him.
“Come and see” with me.
BY MARY SPENCE
I have a favorite coffee cup. I got it from a potter in North Carolina when we were on vacation there with our family. It looks like sand with the surf rolling up on it. It's big and the perfect shape to fit my hands on a cold morning, when full of hot coffee. I absolutely love that mug. I paid $40 for it! Yes $40; for one coffee mug. Every time I used it I could almost feel the warm seaside sun on my face and the ocean wind blowing through my hair. But guess what? It's broken. Chipped in one of its trips through the dishwasher. Please don't tell my artist daughter that I put pottery through the dishwasher. I know, I deserved it. But anyway...I do not love that mug any less for its imperfection. It still fits perfectly in my hand when it's full of hot coffee. I still smile every time I use it, thinking about the memories of frolicking in the ocean surf with my grandchildren.
God is a lot like that. He knows we are cracked, chipped and broken. But He still loves us. In fact, He takes those broken things in us, and uses them to help others who are walking through similar challenges. In my own life I lived through a lot of broken relationships, had many hurts inflicted on me by others, and learned over the last 50 years to put up walls around my heart to protect myself. Walls to keep those who would harm me at arms length. But God needed me to break down those walls and let people in so He could use me as He planned for my life. I had to "unbecome" the person I had grown into, to become who God needed me to be. And I learned that He uses us even with our chips, cracks and dents. Maybe even because of them I guess. I believe that each time He holds us in His hands like my beloved coffee cup, He smiles. It doesn't fix that we are imperfect or blemished, or stubborn or plagued by sin. He loves us.
Remember Ephesians 1:4-6? "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will - to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves".
He loves us so much He made a plan from the beginning in the Garden to be reconciled to us by allowing His son to be crucified for our sin. He created us and knew us before we were born in our mother's womb and there is no sin so large that we can cause separation from our God. So rest assured, my friends, that God loves your cracks and dents. Even if you can no longer hold coffee. There is a place for you. And you are valuable to Him. "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God
prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10 NIV
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for your love for us. You knew us before we even existed and loved us enough to design a way for us to be in relationship with You. Thank you for your grace and your mercy. Nothing we have done in our past is too great for us to bring to you and be forgiven. Please continue to help us repair our broken places and move out of our comfort zone to be who you have designed us to be; living and serving you as you have planned. In your precious son's name. Amen