Jesus’ Example

Sometimes life is interrupted by unannounced tests of faith.

Job’s life was interrupted…

Abraham’s life was interrupted…

With the advantage of reading their stories in their entirety we can see that it was worth the interruption. They learned much about God on the other side of the test. Their faith was refined and strengthened. Their testimonies continue to encourage those going through tests of faith today.

The Bible is filled with stories of tested faith. Even Jesus experienced a testing of faith.

“After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” Matthew 3:16-17

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil.” Matthew 4:1

This verse is similar to the verses in Job where God and Satan both have agendas for mankind:

God desires that tests cause us to draw near to Him, to listen to His voice of truth, and respond in faith, so that we experience His power and love in ways we never have before.

Satan wants to test us so that he can steal, kill, and destroy us. He means for tests to turn us away from God, to leave us feeling alone and unloved so that we believe his lies, and give up on God.

What Satan means for harm, God intends for good.

Spirit led…

Devil tempted…

“If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” Matthew 4:3

Look at the first thing the devil said to Jesus…

“If you are the Son of God.”

Satan twists God’s words to cause doubt of who God says you are…

Are You really His dearly loved Son?

If so, why are You alone and hungry?

You have the power, why don’t You take care of Yourself?

Spirit led…

Devil tempted…

Jesus didn’t fall for the deception. He knew the truth of who He was.

Jesus didn’t allow the devil’s words to bring self-pity. He didn’t focus on His loneliness or hunger.

Though He had the power, Jesus didn’t take things into His own hands and provide for Himself.

Instead He quoted God’s truth…

“But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4

Jesus used God’s word to speak truth into the deception, the temptation,

Truth dispels lies.

The devil enticed the desires of Jesus’ flesh; His hunger, His weariness, His power. Satan had a solution that would solve his physical needs. If only Jesus would take his advice He would feel better. But Jesus’ response spoke to the need beyond the physical; He spoke of the sustaining life found in God’s word. As important as bread is, it’s the words from God’s mouth that give real, satisfying life.

“Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’” Matthew 4:5-6

This time Satan tried using God’s words, those words of truth, of life. But though they were God’s words they were spoken from Satan’s mouth; the father of lies, the deceiver; words meant for harm.

Jesus came to earth to do His Father’s will; to demonstrate God’s power and love. Jesus could have jumped off the highest point of the Temple and proved Himself to all, but it wasn’t according to His Father’s will, and it wasn’t the way God wanted Him to demonstrate His power.

“Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’” Matthew 4:7

When Satan speaks God’s word it is taken out of context, is twisted, and it comes from the motive to counterfeit, confuse, to harm.

Jesus knew His purpose here on earth. He knew He was here to do His Father’s will and He wasn’t going to listen to the voice that tempted him to presume on God. He didn’t assume He could do what Satan told him to do and God would take care of Him.

“Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” Matthew 4:8-9

This time Satan offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world that God had given to him. God cast Satan out of heaven and made him ruler over all the earth. Satan didn’t know the future. He didn’t know all Jesus was going to accomplish here on earth, but he certainly wanted to thwart any plan God had for Him. Satan’s  desire to be worshipped was what got him thrown out of heaven, and this was the motive of his temptation of Jesus, and he continues to offer power to those who will bow down to worship him today.

“Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God
and serve only him.’” Matthew 4:10

Jesus quoted the Greatest Commandment. It is the Greatest because when we obey this verse completely everything else in life will work together for our good.

Jesus gave us the example that we are to recognize whose voice is speaking. We are to know the difference between truth and lies.

Only by studying the truth will we recognize a lie.

Because there are times when deception makes more sense than truth. 

Deception will use human logic…

Deception will use fleshly reason…

Jesus said that His sheep know His voice. Our Good Shepherd is for us, and because His thoughts and His way are not like ours, because they are so much higher than ours, we need to spend time with our Good Shepherd so we become familiar with His voice. We must learn to trust His voice above ours…above our limited logic, our human reasoning. We must lay aside our own understanding and trust in His ways, no matter what.

When the voice of the tempter comes we must learn to perceive the lies, the deception. We must recognize the twisting of scripture, the counterfeit, confusion, and wrong motives.

Satan’s temptations seem logical to your flesh…

Satan’s words make sense to your human reasoning…

“Tell these stones to become bread.”

I’m starved! I’m alone! I’m weary!

Does God see me out here, does He care about me, does He love me?

I have the power! I can take care of myself!

What voice did I hear on the phone that day when the nurse called about my blood test results? It was a voice that told me what was true… my numbers were way too high and I needed to call my doctor right away.

My response?

I gave into fear.

I didn’t quiet my heart and pray. I didn’t seek first the Kingdom of God. I didn’t take time to listen to the voice of my Good Shepherd.

In fear I relied on logic…

Wow, that is a huge number! I need to call my doctor right away and get back on medication.

In fear I reasoned…

Even though I feel fine, even though I believed I was healed, I guess I was wrong.

Relying on logic and reason, and reacting in fear I immediately called my doctor and scheduled an appointment.

“Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.” Matthew 4:11

Jesus didn’t respond with logic, reason, or in fear. His words of truth sent the enemy away.

And in the absence of the tempter, of logic, reason, and fear, God sent His ministering angels to take care of Jesus’ physical needs.

So, in hindsight, I wish I had responded differently when I received that phone call.

But, it was part of my faith being refined and strengthened.

Because, what the enemy means for harm, God intends for good!

 

Faith Tested

When I heard what the results of the blood test I didn’t know it at the time, but my faith was about to be tested…

“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:7

Faith is tested to be refined and strengthened.

The refining and strengthening of faith is meant to bring glory and honor to God.

Job’s faith was tested…

Job was a blameless man, a man of integrity who feared God and stayed away from evil.

One day God asked Satan if he had noticed the integrity of Job. Satan responded that it was no wonder that Job feared God because God put a wall of protection around him and caused him to prosper greatly.

Satan was convinced that if Job lost everything he would no longer fear God. God gave Satan permission to test Job.

When Job lost everything he didn’t curse God, but trusted and worshipped Him.

Now when Satan went back to talk to God, God reminded him that Job still feared Him. Satan said that possessions were one thing, but if his health was affected he would surely curse God.

God gave him permission to touch Job’s health, but didn’t allow Satan to kill Job.

Even when stricken with boils over his entire body, Job continued to trust God.

Job’s friends thought they knew why this happened to Job. They tried to convince him it was because of his sin and that he needed to repent.

After they all took turns trying to convince Job they knew the reasons that he was going through all this loss and pain, Job cried out to God to hear what He had to say. God began to challenge Job, and for several chapters gave example after example of His creative power and might.

God’s answers left Job with this response…

“I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me. You said, ‘Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’ I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.” Job 42:2-6

God used what the enemy meant for harm against Job; what was meant to cause him to curse God and die, to get Job’s attention and to show Job His mighty power. When Job heard all God had to say he realized he thought he knew God, but now he had seen Him in ways he had never seen Him before. Job was left sitting in dust and ashes, repenting for his doubt and unbelief.

His repentance was the refining of his faith.

The new revelation of God was the strengthening of his faith.

Though the loss of Job’s children and of all he owned brought much pain and suffering to Job, it wasn’t so much about the external things, or even his health.

God’s purpose for tests is to expose the lies in our hearts and to reveal the truth of who He is.

Going into a test we can say that we have heard of God, but if we trust God and choose to fear Him through the test we will come out the other side having seen God!

Abraham’s faith was tested…

One day God asked Abraham to sacrifice the very fulfillment of His promise; the son that Abraham waited twenty-five years for. The son born from his and Sarah’s “dead” bodies. Now, God was asking him to put to death the very life He promised and brought forth.

Foolishness?

Faith?

“For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.” Romans 4:16-17

Abraham’s faith enabled him to get up early the next day and take his son on a three day journey to mount Moriah.

Abraham’s faith enabled him to climb the mountain with his son, the wood, the fire, and the knife, for the sacrifice.

Abraham’s faith enabled him to answer his son’s question as to where the sacrifice was… “God will provide.”

Abrahams’s faith enabled him to tie his son to the altar, and to raise his hand with the knife over his son’s body.

Foolishness?

Faith?

It didn’t make sense.

It didn’t line up with the promises God already gave him.

What do we do when God tells us to do something that doesn’t make sense?

What do we do with a word from God that seems contradictory to the very promise He gave?

Tests are how our faith is refined. When we hear a word from the Lord and choose to obey; by stepping out in faith when it looks foolish and goes against everything that makes sense…

That’s where we are stripped of ourselves.

Tests strip us of our feelings and emotions that keep us focused on ourselves.

The flesh of our own understanding dies.

Tests kill off our trust in our own thoughts and past experiences that keep us in doubt and unbelief.

Our faith goes beyond the natural realm and relies on the supernatural.

Tests give us the opportunity to believe for what we don’t yet see, and to call forth what doesn’t yet exist.

This is the test of refining that God wants us to pass so that we are in position for our faith to be strengthened.

When Abraham stood with his hand raised, holding the knife above his son’s body, his faith was proved. Abraham passed the test of refining. He didn’t allow his feelings and emotions to keep him focused on his own desires for his son. He didn’t allow his own understanding to cause doubt and unbelief. He looked past the natural realm and believed for the impossible. This refining gave him the faith to be willing to kill the very life God miraculously brought to him, the fulfillment of a twenty-five year promise.

When God saw Abraham’s refined faith, God provided another life, another sacrifice, to replace the one used as a test.

When we pass the test of refined faith we position ourselves for the miraculous.

When our refined faith is proved we experience the miraculous and our faith is made even stronger.

 

 

 

Are Fears more Deadly than Toxins?

“Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “Listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.” Matthew 15:8-11

…read more, just click on Are Fears more Deadly than Toxins? on the sidebar… for a word about what goes into your mouth, and what comes out…

“God, You Alone Know”

I want to be like Ezekiel when faced with impossible situations. I want to be able to answer, “God, You alone know,” and then trust Him to tell me how to respond. I don’t want to rely on my own understanding and take things into my own hands. I don’t want to rely on man’s report, or the ways of the world. I want to wait on God, trust in His words, and respond in obedience to His will.

Fifteen years ago I faced a situation that I never even considered what God had to say. I didn’t seek God first. I didn’t ask Him what I should do. I relied on my own understanding. I did what man said I should do. I have regrets, but God has been gracious and has taught me many things on this journey through the years.

It was a normal check up. The doctor was pressing on my neck and spending some time poking around my throat. I had no idea at the time that he was checking the size of my thyroid. He finally stood up and said that my thyroid seemed to be enlarged. I didn’t really know what that meant, but I did remember that my father’s relatives had some thyroid issues and I told the doctor that it was “in the family.” He then listed some symptoms asking if I had any of them. Yes, now that he mentioned them, many of them were true of how I felt. He gave me the name of an endocrinologist and I scheduled an appointment. Sure enough, he diagnosed me with hypothyroidism due to Hashimoto’s disease. Okay, I had never heard of that disease, but I had heard of hypothyroidism and I knew it was a condition that  would never get better and that I would need to be on medication the rest of my life. I was given a prescription, took the medication, and had my levels checked until the correct dose was reached. I do remember, however, soon after I was diagnosed thinking to myself, “Some day I believe I will be healed.”

Several years went by and one evening Kayla and I were coming home from visiting my parents in Pennsylvania. Kayla was young so we stopped for dinner at a Mc Donald’s that had a play area. While we were eating I noticed a mother of several young boys at the table beside us. They also prayed before they ate and when Kayla ran off to play the same time her boys did, she and I began to talk. I don’t remember many details of our conversation, but I do remember we talked for over two hours and for being complete strangers we discussed some deep, personal topics. One of them being my thyroid disease. I found her very fascinating and as part of her job with counseling she believed that many diseases had spiritual roots. I heard that before and I personally had been diagnosed with arthritis that was healed instantly when I confessed a root of bitterness. So when she said that holding in emotion, especially anger, is often the root cause for thyroid disease it made a lot of sense. I knew I held my emotions in, I never really learned how to express emotion. Was this causing my disease? I left Mc Donald’s that night knowing that I just experienced a divine encounter. But, I didn’t know what to do with what I had just heard. All I knew to do was to ask God to show me more about it and wait on Him.

About two years later the Ancient Paths Seminar came to our church, the seminar I wrote about in my blog, “Restored.” Looking back this was all part of God’s plan to bring revelation and healing. The restoration God did at that seminar set me free to express my emotion and to speak my convictions.

Then there was the day when I became curious and  began to search for information about Hashimoto’s disease, the disease I knew nothing about.

I started by Googling Hashimoto’s and found…

The Mayo Clinic described… “Hashimoto’s disease is a condition in which your immune system attacks your thyroid, a small gland at the base of your neck below your Adam’s apple.”

I read through many web sights about Hashimoto’s and auto-immune system diseases. While the medical field has no known causes of Hashimoto’s and no known cures, many sights documented that compromised immune systems respond positively to love.

Hummm…God is love…we are created in God’s image! Lord, show me more…

It was during this time that I also discovered Dr. Caroline Leaf. Her faith in God, years of scientific study of the brain, and the ways she communicates the truths of the two, challenged me with the power of my thoughts over my life, over my body. All this research and Dr. Caroline Leaf’s comment that 75-98% of all illness is the result of our thinking, caused me to reconsider my response to my diagnosis.

I began to look at my “dead” thyroid and my compromised immune system differently.

I began to ask God…”Can my thyroid live again?” “Can my compromised immune system become re-aligned?”

I began to realize there may be a different answer than what I believed for many years.

My prayers for healing were being answered, but rather than instant healing, God had some things He wanted me to understand about this disease and the power of my thoughts and the power of my words.

I’m convinced that one of the ways God uses to reveal His truth to us is through the lies of the enemy.  It is through the strategies meant to harm us that God works all things together for our good. Physical pain can be the very thing that brings us to our knees, humbled before our Creator who knows us intimately, loves us unconditionally, and wants to form us into the image of Christ. It can be the very thing that gets our attention so that God can expose the lies of the enemy and replace them with His truth. It is a reminder that my spiritual life and my physical body are inseparable.

“Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones.” Proverbs 3:7-8

It was a Holy Spirit set-up!

All this new revelation of Hashimoto’s disease fresh in my mind and the offense I wrote about in, “Nothing can Separate You from the Love of God,” and “My Shame is Undone” were the “pain” God used to get my full attention. I will never forget that day because not only was my cloak of shame replaced with Christ’s robe of righteousness, but the Lord showed me truths about my thyroid disease.

My spiritual life was renewed when God revealed the lie I believed, that I was no good, and was set free from the bondage to fear, control, comparison, jealousy… shame.

But God also showed me that lie affected my physical body.

Because I saw myself as bad, I attacked myself with wrong thoughts about myself, with wrong words about myself.

So, in my physical body my immune system responded in a similar way. Though there was nothing wrong with my thyroid, my immune system thought it was bad and kept it under attack.

I was amazed! It all made sense! I was undone in God’s revelation!

Could this really be the truth I needed to believe in order to receive the healing I so desperately wanted?

Was this the truth that would give me thoughts of life to think over my body?

Was this the truth that would give me words of life to speak over my body?

I was convinced I was healed…

I don’t recommend this for anyone, but my faith in God’s healing was so strong I stopped taking my medication that very day. I felt fine; I had no typical hypothyroid symptoms. But, as time went by I wanted to know for sure that I was healed. The only way to know for sure is by a blood test. So, about nine months after stopping my medication I saw a sign in Ringwood that a SMAC test was being offered. I decided that would be the way to prove God’s healing. The day after I had the test I received a phone call…

 

Something New!!

Sometimes God shows me something during my time with Him or throughout my day that I find encouraging and just want to write it down and share it with you as well.

So, I have now added Spontaneous Devotions to this web sight. On your computer you’ll find it on the lower left under About. On your phone/ iPod  just click on the three lines in the upper right and scroll to About. 

Hope you enjoy this spontaneous addition to this blog! Please feel free to share your thoughts or God stories so others can be encouraged as well.