The Miracle Mushrooms

Two teenage girls felt God call them to travel to a remote Chinese Province where people did not know Jesus.* They went without financial support or return tickets. After arriving, their hearts were filled with compassion for the people, but when they tried to tell them about Jesus, the local women opposed them. They were forced to sleep wherever they could find shelter.

One day they heard about a cave the locals avoided because they believed it to be haunted by ghosts. The girls prayed against any unclean spirits and claimed it as their new home. The girls prayed for many hours asking the Lord to help them. 

One night they were particularly discouraged and hungry. They felt unless God did a miracle, they would die. They prayed until they fell asleep. In the morning they discovered that during the night mushroom had sprouted right outside the entrance of their cave! They boiled them and praised God for their nutritious meal.

The next morning they woke to discover more mushrooms had grown up again during the night! This continued every morning for about a year. Even in winter these miraculous mushrooms never failed to appear, poking their heads up through the snow outside the cave. They learned to enjoy them boiled, fried, and steamed. This miraculous provision of God always tasted delicious to them.

Gradually the two young women started to be accepted by the local community and were able to lead some to Christ. A small church was established for the first time in that area. 

After about a year one of the young women secured a job washing dishes at a local restaurant. The very same day she began work the mushrooms stopped appearing outside the cave! 

For many years, the "haunted" cave has been used as a Bible training center for new believers. Now hundreds of people have come to Christ in that area.

Thank You, Lord, for those who take the Good News to those who have never heard.

"And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'" (Romans 10:15).
*Told in Asia Harvest, October 2011

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The Prayer God Stopped

One man told of praying for a fellow pastor by saying, "O God, You know that brother, how cold...."

Immediately the Holy Spirit stopped him and rebuked Him for judging. His role was not to accuse his Christian brother. Satan is the accuser. (Revelation 12:10)

While confessing his sin of judging, he remembered the verse, "If there be any praise, think on these things." He began to praise God for the man's hard work, his tact, his faithfulness. Later he learned that while he had been praising, God gave his friend great spiritual help.

We tend to judge ourselves by our motives but others by their deeds. Yet, unless we allow ourselves to be under the revealing gaze of the Holy Spirit, we often don't even know our true motives. 

Often our prayers need a divine editing. If a small percentage of self fills our requests, our subtle pride or a critical or unsubmissive spirit hinders our faith. Malachi promises that there is a great Purifier of all our selfish motives. "He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then shall the pleasant unto the Lord" (Malachi 3:3, 4). 

God was giving this wonderful promise through Malachi: "I'll give you the ability to give an offering and pray prayers that are one hundred percent pleasing to Me."

Thank You, Jesus, for teaching me to allow You to purify my motives as I pray for others.

"When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures" (James 4:3).

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God's Favorite Use of His Power

Astronomers estimate that there are probably one billion galaxies within two billion light years of the sun. That is only as far as they can see with their instruments, and what is beyond that they do not know. 

The earth is whirling around the sun at eighteen and one half miles per second. Scientists have determined that it would take a steel bar five thousand miles in diameter to resist the force of the earth's weight and the centrifugal force that would throw it away from the sun. And yet God "spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing" (Job 26:7).

Could it be that it gave God pleasure to create because of His love for those who would enjoy His created beauty?

What you have just read is adapted from chapter 9 of my book Behold His Glory. I'll share what God did behind the scenes as I was working on that chapter.

As I wrote, it occurred to me that an additional source for some of the astronomy observations would be helpful, but I hated to spend a day at the library trying to find the perfect reference. During this time, I accompanied my husband on a business trip. One night we returned to our hotel room and found a gift-wrapped present on our bed, courtesy of the company that had sponsored our trip. We unwrapped it, and to my amazed delight, discovered a Time-Life Book: The Nature Company Guide: Sky Watching. It was exactly what I needed!

I could almost hear God saying, "Yes, I do have all power, and My favorite expression of that power is to delight you with the desires of your heart."

Thank You, Almighty Father, for using Your infinite power in ways that express Your love.

"You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created everything, and it is for your pleasure that they exist and were created" (Revelation 4:11 NLT).

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A Secret to Great Faith

In 1991 Ruth Shinness' husband suffered brain damage during an operation. For the next four years until his death, she was his caregiver. During this time, she spent hours in prayer and a promise from Mark 11:24 began to fill her mind: "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." 

She had never believed that she actually received her answer when she prayed. She concluded that if she believed she already had what she prayed for, then the very least she should do was to thank the Lord for what she had. She took the Scriptures and wrote them into prayers that voiced confidence God was answering.

For instance, Isaiah 44:3 promises, "I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants." She would boldly pray, "You, God, have poured Your spirit upon my children and Your blessing upon my offspring."

As soon as she began to pray this way, she sensed the Lord's presence helping her to believe. She says it was as if God were saying, "At last, someone believes that I hear when she prays."

Superficially, it may seem this type of praying is a shortcut to effective prayer; yet Ruth Shinness calls such praying warfare. Faith is the victory that overcomes (1 John 5:4), and praise increases our faith. Boldness in stating we believe terrifies our already defeated enemy.

Amazingly, Ruth began seeing answers more quickly. Family members reported receiving blessings she recognized as specific answers to Scriptural prayers she had prayed with thanksgiving.

Dear Lord, teach us to pray with confidence using Your words.

"So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it" (Isaiah 55:11 NKJV).

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Open to God

The early church fathers wanted to understand the Trinity. How could Jesus have been both God and man? How could He be fully human and fully God? Was He more than a man but not quite God? They came up with a word to explain the Father and Son's relationship as being one and yet they each retained their own identity. 

They used the word perichoresis to describe the relationship of the three members of the Trinity. They also used it to describe the relationship between the human nature and divine nature in Jesus. 

It seems that the main characteristic of perichoresis is openness. Jesus enjoyed this perichoretic life by being always open to the Father. The result? Jesus was given the Spirit without limit.

Jesus used the analogy of the vine and branches. The branches are to be continually open to receive their life from the vine. For us to remain in Christ is for us to receive His life as continuously as a branch draws sap from the vine. Just as Christ continually draws life from the Father, so we can continually draw life from Christ. As long as the branches stay connected to the vine, the sap constantly flows into these branches. Andrew Murray taught that the sap represents the Holy Spirit. 

When we are filled with the Spirit, we become part of this perichoretic life. It is as we continue to draw life from Him that we live. As we go through our day, we look to Christ trusting Him and being open to receive His thoughts and His attitudes.

Dear Father, help us to be continually open to the flow of Your Spirit within us.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).

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