“A river reaches places which its source never knows…”

This was a thought in Oswald Chamber’s ‘My Utmost for His Highest’. How true it is.

He wrote on Sept. 6 about the ‘Far-Reaching Rivers of Life’ and started with the verse, “He who believes in Me… out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38).

Oswald continued, “rivers reach places its source never knows. And Jesus said that, if we have received His fulness, ‘rivers of living water’ will flow out of us, reaching in blessing even ‘to the end of the earth’ (Acts 1:8) regardless of how small the visible effects of our lives may appear to be. We have nothing to do with the outflow – ‘This is the work of God, that you believe…’ John 6:29.”

I think of my dear friend Jenny, whom I have shared with you. At this time she lays alone on a hospital bed, unable to do anything in room 609 paralyzed from the neck down. O, but she BELIEVES God! Even in her moments of doubt, she believes deep down. “There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.” Ps. 46:4,5.

This river of life in her, the Spirit of God that dwells in her, flows with full vigor even though her own body has none. I think of God’s word: “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” 1 Cor. 6:19. This river has been a most powerful source and has sustained her these 51/2 years!

So I am reminded again of John 7:38, ‘This is the work of God that you believe’.  God is working and is working still, ‘this is the work of God that you believe!’

Jenny  BELIEVES God, (and I write all caps to emphasize that her faith is greater than the average person) and her life is reaching in blessing, I believe beyond what we can know. ‘Regardless of how small the visible effects of our lives may appear to be…’, and to Jenny, there are no visible effects, in her body

but there are visible effects in and through her and those she touches with her faith!  After she was in the hospital room for 3 1/2 weeks already, (and most of us would have been beside ourselves after 3 days), Jenny’s first words to me when I walked in the room were, “God is answering prayer.”

Yes, God is answering prayer! As the body of Christ prays, “O Lord God, give me more patience!” Perhaps God is quieting our impatient spirits when we think of our sister in Christ. Or, what about loneliness, when it creeps in and we want to fill it with other things instead of giving  God first place in our lives? This woman has suffered rejection from significant others, but God is her all and all. She is an example to us all in perseverance! Yes, this river is reaching places which its source never knows!

God has done an amazing work in this willing vessel. This river may be blocked at times by obstacles, but it just keeps on flowing with great perseverance with thoughts of truth, “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?'” (Heb 13:5,6).

And as we pray and ‘remember Jenny’, God is doing a work of ‘believing in our hearts as well. God has given us an example of one who has no other choice than to keep her eyes on the Source. And there is healing and there are ‘far-reaching rivers developing and nourishing themselves in all our souls’ as we seek Him and believe Him for who He is.

Jenny is right, “God is answering prayer,” as she said. He is doing a work in each of our hearts – to believe Him! And God has given me a song today,

“I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me. Makes the lame to walk and the blind to see. Opens prison doors sets the captives free, I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me. Spring up O well, and fill my soul. Spring up O well, and make me whole, Spring up O well, and give to me, that life abundantly!”

“…weep with those who weep.” Rom. 12:15, a prayer for Jenny.

May I encourage, prayer warriors to intercede, once again, and perhaps without ceasing for my friend, Jenny. I have written about her in a blog titled, “Therefore we also,…”

We might have some very difficult challenges to face, even this day, but many of us can at least sigh and bring a sip of water to our lips. And there are those who do not have the ability to use their arms at all but perhaps they can use their feet to push a button or sound an alarm.

My dear Jenny, paralyzed from the neck down, for over 5 years now, she can’t even push a button. But at home, when Jenny had her health care nurse and her health care helpers, she had the freedom to be home and to watch her beautiful girls go about the house and be a part of their day and their lives.

Jenny has been in room 609 at the local hospital now for over 5 weeks – waiting for social workers who are trying to help her get things together so she can be home. She is not sick, she is just handicapped.  So she waits, without the sunshine coming from her windows at home, without the sound of her girls and the mobility she has with her chair. She prays for her husband, and her children and for her healing. But now,

Jenny is weeping my dear friends. And I am weeping with her.

I would just like you all to join me and  continue to pray for this very, very precious sister in Christ.

Perhaps God is increasing all of our faith at this time. Perhaps God is rebuking us in a way for complaining about anything, thinking about Jenny really makes us quiet our tongues when  we are about to complain about ‘petty’ things, and even bigger things.  Perhaps God is purifying His bride at this time.

Oh, how she loves Jesus so much.How she loves her husband and her children. How she waits on Him. But she is weary.

“Jesus, we come in Your name. We ask that You would bring complete healing in Jenny’s body. She smiles when she thinks of herself as ‘a prisoner of hope’, (Zech 9:12). And over and over again she ‘returns to the stronghold’ which is You Jesus. Oh, how she longs to be with her girls and her husband. Her eyes are on You. But she has fears in the hospital and her voice can’t even be heard with her call and she is even unable to push a button. We seek You Lord, as Your word tells us to ‘cast all our cares upon You because You care for us’. Mercy Lord Jesus. We worship You. Give Jenny all she needs this minute to keep her eyes on You, and help us to pray. In Jesus’ Name, Amen”

“Return to the stronghold, You prisoners of hope. Even today I declare that I will restore double to you.” Zech. 9:12.

“”So I will strengthen them in the LORD, And they shall walk up and down in His name,” Says, the LORD. Zech:10:12.

These must be their words from heaven -the hymn,”Beulah Land”

“I’ve reached the land of joy divine, And all its beauty now is mine, Here shines undimmed one blissful day, For all my night has passed away. O Beulah Land, sweet Beulah Land, As on thy highest mount I stand, I look away across the sea, Where mansions are prepared for me, And view the shining glory shore, My heav’n, my home forever more!”

Everlasting life, in the heavens above; can we hear their words? I believe if we speak in this hymn we can hear their  very heart beat.

These words have been penned by a man named Edgar P. Stites in the hymn Beulah Land. The word ‘Beulah’ is a Hebrew word that means, ‘to marry.’ Beulah land is a land that is loved, Beulah land represents heaven.

And Edgar Stites is quoted about the writing of this hymn, “I could write only two verses and the chorus, when I was overcome and fell on my face. That was one Sunday. On the following Sunday I wrote the third and fourth verses, and again I was so influenced by emotion that I could only pray and weep.” ( excerpt from Then Sings My Soul Book 2, Robert J. Morgan).

“Here shines undimmed one blissful day, For all my night has passed away.”

And for some, ‘night’ was long, and lonely and with great pain. But ‘night’ has passed away, and also death. I remember so wonderfully in a C.H. Spurgeon book, reading these words, ‘Death is the end of all death.’ It’s almost as if that statement needs a ‘Selah’ after it.

“Here shines undimmed one blissful day...” I can almost see it because of the words in Rev. 21:3,

“And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.”

Just the words, ‘and God Himself will be with them’ reminds me of a beautiful, blissful wedding day when the bride is joined to her groom. And to think that the meaning of the word ‘Beulah’  is ‘to marry’!

These are the words of their heart now,  “Here shines undimmed one blissful day, For all my night has passed away.”

‘For all my night has passed away!’

And we know this is true. It is written,  “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”(Rev. 21:4).

“Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”(Rev. 21:5).

So we think and wonder what heaven is like, and would love to hear what the saints say. But it’s here, it’s written, I am convinced in the hymn called ‘Beulah Land’:

“The Savior comes and walks with me, And sweet communion here have we, He gently leads me with His hand, for this is heaven’s borderland.”

Is this why God wants us to speak in hymns? To brighten up our sad broken hearts. The words lift a spirit that is heavy. They fill an emptiness …

with love. “O Beulah Land, sweet Beulah Land, As on thy highest mount I stand, I look away across the sea, Where mansions are prepared for me, And view the shining glory shore, My heav’n,

my home forever more!”

Verse 3. A sweet perfume upon the breeze, Is borne from ever vrnal trees, And flowers that never fading grow Where streams of life forever flow.

Verse 4. The zephyrs seem to float to me, Sweet sounds of heaven’s melody, As angels, with the white-robed throng, Join in the sweet redemption song. O Beulah Land, sweet Beulah Land, As on  the highest mount I stand, I look away across the sea, Where mansions are prepared for me, And view the shining glory shore, My heav’n, my home forevermore!”

The children, they will tell you the stories of Jesus…

Yes, the children know the stories. The children will even draw you pictures. They know even more than some of the professors of this day “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” Mark 10:15.

You see, the heart of a child hears and absorbs everything you tell them about God. They trust, they listen, they WANT to know.  And there are 6 year-olds that have more wisdom than professors in the Universities! (Now, I didn’t say knowledge, but I did say wisdom!

They will tell you of the story of Jesus and the three crosses. They will tell you about the two thieves on each side of Jesus. And they will tell you that the thieves were bad and were supposed to be on their crosses, but Jesus hadn’t done anything to deserve dying on the cross.

He went through all of that for us. Even a 6 year old can tell you all of that!

How we need to remember the story. It is so important for us to remember that in the beginning, both the thieves were cursing and angry, (Mark 15:32), but after a while, one of the thieves realized that Jesus had done nothing wrong.

Maybe he realized that the man on the cross next to him was the man that fed 5,000 people plus children with only 5 loaves and 2 little fish. And, he probably realized that is was this man that had healed everyone that came to him, everyone – even the blind, the deaf, the lame,  and he even brought the dead to life!

So, this thief turned to the other thief and said, “Do you not even fear God?” (Luke 23:40). “For we deserve this punishment but this man has done nothing wrong.” (Luke 23:42). then he said to Jesus,

“Lord remember me when you come into Your kingdom.” (Luke 23:43). And Jesus said to him,

“Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

But do we know that at this moment in time, something incredible happened to the thief who believed? Do we know that until that moment his sins were on himself- they were carried about with him all his life, but the moment he believed in Jesus, his sins were put on Him.

His sins were covered by the blood of the Lamb. His sins were no longer on himself, his life’s sins were put on Jesus that moment that Jesus died on the cross.

There is a  huge difference between one who believes and one who doesn’t believe! Yes, we were ‘all like sheep who went astray, but the Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all.’ Isaiah 53:6.

2Peter2:24, “…who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed.”

A picture is quite powerful though, even more than words,

if you were to have a group of young children draw a picture of 3 crosses, and you  tell them that one of the crosses has a arrow starting from it , but pointing toward the cross that Jesus is on, they can see, this is what happens to a believer’s sin: all his sins are now on Jesus. They are no longer on himself!

But the other cross on the other side, well, his sins simply remain and stay on him. You would just tell them to put an arrow pointing straight down on the top of the cross, pointing down on itself. What a vivid picture of the unbeliever, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” John 8:24. We must remember every day that the other thief, the one that did not believe – his sins remained on himself. There is no covering for his sin, they remain on him all his eternal days.

And if you would ask the children, “Which thief would you want to be?” They all in turn would say, “The thief who believed!” And that is why Jesus says that we need to receive the kingdom of God as a child. Just as the thief on the cross who was given the promise, ‘Today you will be with me in paradise, we can trust that believing on Jesus  will change us forever

and ever,

and ever,

you see, our sin was put on Jesus. “For He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Cor. 5:21.

And we are a new creation each and every day, And He took them up in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them.” Mark 10:15,16.

Jesus said ‘let the  children come’ to  tell this unbelieving world that there is a story they need to hear!’  We, God’s children must tell the stories, and draw the pictures! It can mean everlasting life for another child who didn’t know.

It can mean that someone else hears those same words, as the thief, and as we did, from Jesus– “Assuredly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

“and (He) would have passed them by,…”

They were in trouble, they were ‘straining at rowing’, in a very familiar story in the Bible when the disciples were following Jesus and were led into a boat where, by nightfall, the wind was against them.

So much for our idea about ‘follow Jesus and you can sing songs like, “Everything’s going my way!” Those ideas are like an old Irish proverb that many of us have hanging somewhere in the house:

“May the road rise to meet you, May the wind be always at your back, May the sun shine warm upon your face; The rains fall soft upon your fields and, Until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.”

This old Irish proverb  is filled with a lot of ‘warm and fuzzies’ but there is really only one portion of it that remains true, ‘May God hold you in the palm of His hand.’

Following Jesus is not to be confused with a life filled with all ‘warm and fuzzies’! Yes, we will have ‘moments’ like this old Irish proverb, but many of us know that many, many a day the road does not rise to meet us, especially those that have been led to  walk through the wilderness for some time. And many know the harsh winds that threaten to destroy, especially fighting disease when there is not one ounce of strength, not one. And it happens when the sun is hidden behind clouds so  dark and thick that it is hard to remember the warmth of the Son…

This is a time when we forget  what’s true. But , we can KNOW that God is watching and He knows all that is going on, that He actually has us in the ‘palm of His hand’.  But we can’t know just by thinking of an old Bible story we heard back when. NO. We can only know when we open His word and actually read the story, and God shows us things we didn’t even know were there:

“Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent the multitude away. And when He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray. (Mark 6:45).

Now when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea; and He was alone on the land.“Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them.” Mark 6:48.

He sees us ‘straining at rowing’ while we are on the boat that He had us get into!

“And about the fourth watch of the night “…(all I know is that this seems real late – the fourth watch! God is reminding us, that He is NOT in a hurry, even though He knows we are!)

He came to them, walking on the sea,” Everyone knows that He came to them walking on the sea, this is totally familiar, but not what comes next:

“and would have passed by …Mark 6:48.

I think over and over again on these words, ‘and would have passed by’,

He would have passed by? Oh my, that is crazy to me, but I think this is very important for us to  see. How could a God of love simply ‘pass by’ while we are ‘straining at rowing’ in the storm He allowed for us?

But He is so clear in His word, He is there, and He would have passed by, but WHY didn’t He?

“…and would have passed them by But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost, and cried out…” Mark 6:49.

!They didn’t know it was Jesus, but they knew it was time to ‘cry out!’.

Do you think that before they got on this boat they might have been a little puffed up being part of God’s huge miracle where they fed the 5,000 and even took up 12 baskets full of leftovers? We don’t know, but we DO know that Jesus waited to meet them ‘about the fourth watch of the night’. And they were tired. So when they cried out, there was no more self-sufficiency in them, there was no pride, there was simply TOTAL DEPENDANCE on their Savior at that moment! I wish I could have seen this moment,

“For they all saw Him and were troubled.” Mark 6:50. I am sure they were!

But just by knowing about the story, we can miss these next words that speak so powerfully,

“And immediately He talked with them and said to them,…”Mark 6:50.  He was about to pass them by, but they cried out and NOW He is talking with them, immediately.

And immediately Jesus talked with them. We can’t know that unless we open the Bible and turn to Mark chapter 6 and on a day when you can’t even see which way is up, and we are simply a miserable mess- but just call out His name – Jesus-

And He talks. And His words are just for me, today, right now,

“Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”Mark 6:50.

How many times do we simply pass our Bible by?

“…and (He) would have passed them by. But when they saw Him walking on the sea”,

We don’t think He’s watching, but He is. He’s waiting for us to respond to His presence. He is love, remember? He so much wants us to respond to His love. He so much wants us to know that are sufficiency is …

in Him.

“Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled.” Mark 6:51.

‘Be still my soul, thy Best and Heavenly Friend, through thorny ways, leads to a joyful end.’  And I think that the joyful end is knowing that yes, God’s got me in His hand. We don’t know that by having some Irish proverb hanging somewhere in our house, we KNOW it by calling out to Him and hearing Him talk to us in His word!

What if there was a publication entitled, ‘Blessed, Happy, Fortunate’?

With some extra time to ‘kill’ in the local bookstore, what if there was a publication entitled, ‘Blessed, Happy, Fortunate’? would it be a top seller? Maybe from the title, people out of curiosity would pick it up, and read the first words,

‘Be blessed, happy and fortunate by being upright, and truly sincere, and blameless in the way of the revealed will of God.’ (Ps. 119:1, Amplified). Would the publication stay in the hands of the reader? This is hard stuff.

There is no fluff in these words, they give a kick that is not to the human heart’s liking. But by chance the publication remained in the hands of the reader, with the words, ‘Blessed, Happy, Fortunate, [to be envied] (even) at the top of the page, with continuing remarks,

‘Those who keep God’s commandments and who seek, inquire for and of Him with the whole heart,’ they are the blessed, happy, fortunate and to be envied. ‘(Ps. 119:2, Amplified).

OK, one of two things happens at this point, the publication is closed and put back on the shelf with the thoughts of the reader being, “I need a lot more than God at this time!”

Or,  there has been allowed a time to  thirst, and to hunger  that has not been able to be satisfied, where the theme song for their life seems to be, ‘I can’t get no satisfaction!’ so the publication of ‘Blessed, Happy, Fortunate‘ remains in hand of the reader.

‘ Yes, they do no unrighteousness – no willful wondering from His precepts; they walk in His ways!’ (Ps. 119: 3).

“That’s impossible!” responds the heart of  recipient, “There’s no way then.  How can anyone keep God’s commandments and the next sentence even says, ‘to observe them diligently!’ There is no hope for me to be ‘blessed, happy, fortunate! I just can’t do this! It’s a closed door for me.”

But all of a sudden, words went through the heart of the one despairing and searching, “I am the Door.” John 10:9.

These were words learned years before  as a child. These were the words of Jesus. The words were sweeter than honey at this present time.

And the hunger and the thirst were so severe, that the heart of the one with the words in his hands, cried out the similar words as the Psalm writer, ‘O God, don’t give up on me. Can my feet be directed to walk through the Door, that my ears could hear You and receive from You , is there hope that I can love and obey You? I feel I am in a prison. I can’t get out.’

And as the cry escaped the unspoken words of a broken and starving heart, words came back to mind that were known long ago, “the thief comes only in order that he may steal and may kill and may destroy.” John 10:10. Then rushing water began to flood the thirsty soul, with words learned long ago,“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10,11.

In only picking up a few words of the  publication, ‘Blessed, Happy, Fortunate‘ the reader is changed. What is going on?  And now there is a willingness to read on, disappointment has now grown into hope. There’s a renewing, somehow, of  something that was dead.

‘Then shall I not be put to shame [by failing to inherit Your promises], when I have respect to all Your commandments.’ (Ps. 119:6).

Truth be known, the heart of the reader was still doubtful about the ability to do all of this but other words caught his eye, “How can a young man cleanse his way?”

And read on he does, but these are not just words, these seem to be… answers to the despair and hopelessness and darkness. “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed and keeping watch [on himself] according to Your word [conforming his life to it].” Psalm 119:9.

So, in those few moments used to ‘kill’ some time, this publication of ‘Blessed, Happy, Fortunate’ had inspired one to remember the One who offers abundant life in Himself.  “That’s what I need, I need more of God’s word. I need more of God in my days.” And as he closed the publication to put it down on the shelf, he remembered even more from years gone by,

words of Jesus, “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” John 15:3.

His final response, “I think I can find everything I need to be blessed, happy, and fortunate if I go and get myself one of those Bibles over there. It might my first step toward the Door, from miserable to blessed.”

“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.  The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.” John 10:9-11.

“Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, Who seek Him with the whole heart!” Ps. 119:2.

‘His name is Jesus. Sad hearts weep no more. He has healed the broken-hearted, opened wide the prison doors, He is able to deliver evermore!’

A time to be silent, and a time to speak about why we homeschooled…

I have been silent, (and my heart inwardly grieves) because  my older children truly believe that we homeschooled simply for protection and control. I feel in my heart, that I need to put down in black and white the true and real reasons that I invested 21 years of my life to educate my children, and why parents make a sacrificial choice to do  just that.

I don’t know why I feel such a need to speak today, but I feel there is so much misunderstanding, and my own children believe all the outside views. I have children now that are in the public school system and I know they are learning a lot, but there is a lot more to education than mathematics and language arts.

A simple poem, ‘To Be Educated’ by Carolyn Caines says it all for me:

“If I learn my ABC’s, can read 600 words per minute, and can write with perfect penmanship, but have not been shown how to communicate with the Designer of all language,

I have not been educated.

If I can deliver an eloquent speech and persuade you with my stunning logic, but have not been instructed in God’s wisdom,

I have not been educated.

If I have read Shakespeare and John Locke and can discuss their writings with keen insight, but have not read the greater of all books – the Bible – and have no knowledge of its personal importance,

I have not been educated.

If I have memorized addition facts, multiplication tables, and chemical formulas, but have never been disciplined to hide God’s Word in my heart,

I have not been educated.

If I can explain the law of gravity and Eintstein’s theory of relativity, but have never been instructed in the unchangeable laws of the One Who orders our universe,

I have not been educated.

If I can classify animals by their family, genus, and species, and can write a lengthy scientific paper that wins an award, but have not been introduced to the Maker’s purpose for all creation,

I have not been educated.

If I can recite the Gettysburg Address and the Preamble to the Constitution, but have not been informed of the hand of God in the history of our country,

I have not been educated.

If I can play the piano, the violin, six other instruments, and can write music that moves men to tears, but have not been taught to listen to the Director of the universe and worship Him,

I have not been educated.

If I can run cross-country races, star in basketball and do 100 push-ups without stopping, but have never been shown how to bend my spirit to do God’s will,

I have not been educated.

If I can identify a Picasso, describe the style of da Vinci, and even paint a portrait that earns an A+, but have not learned that all harmony and beauty comes from a relationship with God, I have not been educated.”

Kids, this is the reason why we homeschooled! Oh, and it wasn’t a perfect environment, but there was music and drawing and time to listen to wonderful stories written long ago. There were schedules, endless math hours, and writing assignments, and the chore chart, but there were also ski trips on mondays, and close relationships with siblings lots of babies and toddlers to read to and play with, and …

most importantly, a chance to learn about the ‘Designer of all language’, to be ‘instructed in God’s wisdom’, to read the Bible and hide it in your heart, to take time to ‘listen to the Director of the universe and worship Him’,

but that education continues kids. It never ends.

So I pray that we can still be part of the education process in your lives by letting you know that

‘all harmony and beauty comes from a relationship with God’!  I just wanted you to know your mama’s heart. It is because Knowing Him – IS  being educated. Or, perhaps, Knowing HIM is being EDUCATED!

“Let not your heart be troubled…”

“Let not…”

“Let not your heart be troubled.” John 14:1, words of Jesus to His followers.

And these are His words to you and to me, even today. But I have to say, unfortunately, my response is, “Lord, my heart is troubled!”

And the One who loves me most and knows everything about me and my circumstances and my failures and my doubts, says,

“Let not your heart be troubled.”

And He tells me how: “;you believe in God, believe also in Me.” John 14:1.

“God, I believe in you, and in Jesus Christ whom you have sent, give me Your peace, I pray. Could it be that in those plans that You have for me, to prosper and not to harm me and to give me a future and a hope,(Jer.29:11) there is a fire that I must go through first? To melt away all the dross.

Could it be that in this fire of purification, Lord, that You are doing a perfect work in me that could not have been accomplished any other way. Because in the end, You don’t want me to be puffed up with great successes of my own, and You don’t desire that my zeal be known, and it is not Your plan that I make a name for myself – Your plan for me is singular; Your plan and desire for me is that I love, as You have loved me.

That is what you talked to the followers about only hours before You had to face the cross. You told them plainly that You were going away, but it wasn’t time for them to go. You had a greater work for them.

“Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come,’ so now I say to you, “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”John 13:33.

Lord, could it possibly be the solution to ‘letting not our hearts be troubled’ by simply looking out for others. “You believe in God, believe also in Me,” You said. Believing in You means looking at You and seeing what You did – You laid down Your life for…

me.

And for now, You have given me a new commandment, because I cannot be with You now. There is a day and a time when You will call me home, but until then, You have commanded that I …

have more zeal? No. That I become more dedicated? No.

The harder thing is what You have called me to do, and that is to love.

Lord, help me obey today and not be so concerned with the cares and troubles in my world, and help me perhaps, touch another life that is hurting as well, and simply remind them,

‘Jesus loves you very much. And even if it is hard to believe right now and your heart is troubled, He still loves. And we are just passing through. Jesus told us, “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”John 14:2. So while we wait, He wants us to ‘do the next thing’ and if we don’t know what that is – it is to love, this present moment -to take time to love. And I think it is in that, He takes away our troubled heart. And we will  be able to love knowing His promise,

“I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:3.

Jesus, You are the way, in which my heart has peace. Teach me to love, today.”

“Therefore we also,”… are surrounded by great witnesses!

So the Bible tells us in Hebrews 12:1,”Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, …”

And we have been taught that if there is a ‘therefore’ we need to see what it is ‘there for’. So, in Hebrews 11  there is a great  list of men and women of faith. Hebrews 11 is known as the ‘faith chapter’. It lists Abel and Enoch and Noah and Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses’ parents, Moses Joshua, Rahab, and many other heoes of faith.

But, it is very interesting that Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore we also…”

And I believe that ‘we also’ are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, and we need to learn from them as well and take note of their faith.

So, today, I must share with you my story of Jenny.

You see, over 5 years ago, in February, Jenny became paralyzed from the neck down within a 24 hour period. It is still mysterious as to all the causes of this huge loss in her life. She spent many, many months in the hospital and many more months learning how to ‘live’ in this condition. Our kids were part of the same swim team, so basically I just knew Jenny as a ‘swim mom’.

OK, so in February that same year I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. But I knew this was nothing, compared to Jenny’s trials. The Lord kept Jenny close to my heart and would remind me, “Remember Jenny.”

And I was suffering from other losses, but I knew this was nothing compared to Jenny’s losses. And the Lord kept Jenny close to my heart and would remind me, “Remember Jenny.”

And then I was diagnosed with cancer and had to go through chemo and have surgery. And I thought this was hard, but the Lord kept Jenny close to my heart and He would say, “Remember Jenny.” And I would and I would pray for her and God brought Jenny into my life, not only through the YMCA swim team, but by prayer.

It was near thanksgiving last year, when listening to Christian radio while in the car, and I heard the suggestion, “Is there someone  that has had a huge influence in your life, but does not know it? Maybe this thanksgiving you should let them know.” Well, I knew that I had to get Jenny’s number and it was time that she knew that she had a huge impact on my life!

You see, when I have a hard day and feel the impulse to quit, or be depressed,  I think of Jenny, who lives her life each day willingly  ‘presenting her body  as a living sacrifice to God’, and in that surrender, she lives with hope and she hears His voice and receives His comfort. She believes with every ounce of her being that  God has told her  that He is going to heal her and she will walk again.

Jenny told herself early on that she would do everything she could to get out of bed everyday and be there for her family,( and she was able with 24 home care at her home, however she is waiting for that possibility to be restored, but until then she waits in room 609 of the hospital.)

But Jenny, though she battles doubt at times, she has this  hope burning alive in her every day, she believes that God is going to heal her body and she will walk out of that hospital.

And as she waits, she communes with Him, she rests in Him,  and has His joy in her more than most people that have everything the world has to offer. She prays and believes God. Jenny is Zechariah 9:12, “Return to the stronghold, You prisoners of hope. Even today I declare that I will restore double to you.” Yes, she is a prisoner of hope, but her hope is in God and that is why she is more precious than even the Hope Diamond at the Smithsoneon Museum.

Let me share with you some words from the heart of my friend Jenny:

“I consider it a privilege that God would choose me to go through this, and put me in this chair.” (her special wheelchair). I almost think I should write the word ‘Selah’, meaning ‘pause and think about this’ after this statement. This is Jenny’s heart. She uses the word privilege when talking about being paralyzed from the neck down.

She also has said, “I always loved God, even from a young age, but since I’ve been ‘in the chair’  God is so close to me. The closeness is indescribable.” And there is huge evidence of this. She describes that in visiting doctors offices she would see such miserable people and she would feel sad for them, even though she knew they were sad for her.

She has something that they need, and that is the ability to live in the presence of God every minute of the day. That is what Jenny has, she is a ‘prisoner of hope’, but her hope is in God and He is ever with her.

She has said, “I know it sounds strange considering the state I am in, but the scripture that speaks to me the most is “Be still and know that I AM God.” And it is evident that God ‘stills and quiets her soul. There is a peace and an inner joy in Jenny. She is a treasure.

And when talking about the struggles in her marriage, she doesn’t complain one bit, she simply asks me, “Have you ever read the book called  ‘The Power of a Praying Wife?’ She is enveloped in His presence. And we have had the privilege to pray some of these prayers together, believing together as ‘prisoners of hope that God will restore double!’

And yes, we have prayed Zechariah 10:12 as well, “So I will strengthen them in the LORD,” and we pray for her muscles and her bones and her lungs and her heart, every inch of her body and we hope – and the rest of the verse in Zechariah 10:12 – “…And they shall walk up and down in His name.” Says the LORD.”

And we will believe with her!

So listen, I do not need to plan a trip to Washington D.C. to visit a Smithsoneon Museum to walk up some stairs to see the Hope Diamond. I can simply visit room 609 in the local hospital. A hope diamond is there. She is an amazing jewel of a witness.

Heb. 12:1. “Therefore  we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

And thank you Jenny for showing me what it looks like to “Look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…”Hebrews 12:2.

“this will turn out for my delvierance through your prayers…”

Can I gather as many brothers and sisters in the Lord together at this time to pray for my friend Jenny?

I know there is so much going on, and we have a lot of directions we are going in, but please can I persuade  you to pray for my friend who is in room 609 at the hospital at this time. You see, Jenny is paralyzed from the neck down. But this did not happen yesterday.

Still a mystery over the causes of her present state, more than 5 years ago, Jenny found herself overnight, paralyzed.

We can spend a lot of time talking about how extremely difficult EVERYTHING became after this moment, (more than 5 years ago!),not only for herself, but her three girls and her husband. But at this time, I would like to share with you her words to me today, as she is now in the hospital because of difficulties finding 24 hr. home-health care nurses for her care.

Jenny said to me today, “I know that all the delay is for God’s purpose. He is going to do something amazing. I believe God is going to heal me and I am going to walk out of this hospital!”

Jenny believes in her heart that God has told her that He is going to heal her and she will walk again!

Here’s the part that includes you and me-

I believe we are to believe with her and to pray. We read today words from Philippians that say Jenny’s heart,

“Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body…” Phil1:18-20.

Other scripture confirmed her heart to me just today as well,

Zechariah 9:12, “Return to the stronghold, O prisoners who have the hope; This very day I am declaring that I will restore double to you.”  And Zechariah 10:12, “And I will strengthen them in the LORD, And in His name they will walk.”

Jenny has always believed that God would heal her. Her muscle tone should have atrophied, but it has not. She has more faith than anyone you have ever met.

Just like in the day of Esther, I feel we need to rally around Jenny’s hope and confidence that God will do this. Shall we pray:

“Lord God, in the name of Jesus we come and we pray for Jenny.  We thank you for giving her the gift of faith in believing You especially at this time for healing of her body.  There is nothing that is impossible with You dear Lord.  We have read of so many testimonies from the Bible of healing and we ask together with like minds that You, who are all power and might, would heal our sister in You.

Have mercy Lord, and bless Jenny with healing. In Jesus name, Amen.”

It is time for our faith to increase, thank you for joining and praying for Jenny. Her eyes are on the Lord and her expectation is in Him and Him alone. Thank you so much for joining me in prayer for my friend.