Jesus Knew Her Address

"One day, while on a journey through the land of cancer treatments, I was to have a PET scan," wrote my friend Vicki Mitchell in her blog. "This was an expensive test, and any movement on my part would make it potentially unreadable. My arms were positioned above my head and I was to lie as still as possible for 20 minutes. It didn't take long to realize my arms were not going to cooperate. Within minutes, they were 'falling asleep'. Usually, when this happens, you reposition, blood-flow re-vitalizes the affected part and voila-no pain. In this instance though, I was not supposed to move. As the test progressed, I prayed: 'Jesus, with your help we can do this.' 

As the test was nearing the end, in tears I prayed 'Jesus I need a hug today.' The tech helped me move my arms back down to my side. The test was over. I drove home, not thinking any more about my prayer.

"The mail had already come that day and with it, a package for me. I was surprised to find a prayer shawl. Women at a local church crochet them, praying for the recipient while creating these gifts of love. It was a wonderful reminder that I was not alone in this difficult time. What was more astonishing was the note my friend put in the package when she sent it to me.

"'When you wrap this around you--may you feel the arms of Jesus holding you.' I still get tears in my eyes knowing that Jesus knew where I lived and sent my hug straight to my house!"

She concluded with this prayer:

Jesus, only your hugs can refresh us. Thank you for seeing our needs way ahead of time and preparing for them! Bless your Name!

You are our tender Shepherd, who carries us in your arms. Can we ever thank you enough! Our hearts are full of gratitude.

Your Prayer Moves God's Heart

In the first chapter of his book

Growing in Prayer, Mike Bickle tells of a life-changing encounter he had in the summer of 1988. He had been leading a Saturday morning prayer meeting each week for nearly four years. About 20 people regularly attended.

One Saturday he arrived around fifteen minutes early.  The two cars in the parking lot belonged to the guys who ran the sound system.

As he approached the building, he heard loud music that sounded like something from the "Hallelujah Chorus" in Handel's Messiah. It was glorious and beautiful. He thought, "Oh no, the sound techs are playing with the sound system, and they will surely blow out the speakers by having the volume up so loud." 

He ran to open the door and ask them to turn the volume down, but when he opened the door, everything was quiet. He wondered what was going on.

When he entered the sanctuary, he saw that the only two guys there were not in the sound booth but rather at the front of the sanctuary praying together. He was perplexed and wondered what that loud music was he had just heard. Then it dawned on him, with a sense of awe, that he had just heard angelic choirs.

He assumed that that prayer meeting would be the most powerful he had ever attended. Surely hearing angelic voices was a sign they were about to have a breakthrough into God's presence.

The meeting began, but nothing unusual happened. It was as run-of-the-mill as it was on many other Saturdays. In fact, he felt very dull as he prayed.

After the prayer meeting was over, Mike Bickel sat quietly for about 20 minutes after others left and wondered. "Hearing that angelic choir was one of the strangest things that has every happened to me. What did it mean?"

He could not come up with an answer. Then suddenly the Holy Spirit impressed him with this thought: "This is what happens every time a few of My people gather to pray." He understood in that moment that angelic choirs rejoice every time God's people gather to pray, even in a small, seemingly uninspired Saturday morning prayer meeting.

Dear Lord, I'm thankful that Your dependability to hear and answer prayer relies upon Your promises--not our feelings. 

"Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God" (Acts 10:4). (Words spoken to Cornelius who no doubt often prayed out of habit and felt nothing.)

Do I Want to Be a Martha?

A sermon on intimacy with God by Rob McCorkle gave me a new perspective on the sharp contrast between Mary and Martha. 

Mary "sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said" (Luke 10:39). The word "sat" in the Greek is used only this once and means to be pressed up against as though she is leaning in to hear what Jesus was saying.

I like to think of that when I'm reading scripture. I'm listening to every word, and it often means I'm writing down a verse in my notebook that I want to understand better or that I want to remember. By writing, I notice every word and often new insights come as I write.

"But Martha was distracted" (vs. 40). The word "distracted" in the Greek is also used only this one time. It means "to be dragged around." At times, that describes my thoughts when I sit down to read the Bible. Pressing duties, emails, phone calls to be made, mind wandering of all kinds--all of these can seek to drag my attention away from what I'm reading.

Mary sat quietly at Jesus' feet, while Martha allowed her mind to be distracted. Perhaps Martha could have overheard Jesus as she prepared the meal, but her mind would not have been fully engaged, fully intent on His Words. Her way of listening was unsatisfactory to Jesus. He knew Martha's actions indicated she failed to treasure His Words. 

Dear Jesus, help me to treasure Your Words enough to ignore distractions and sit quietly at Your feet when I open my Bible. 

"I wait quietly before God" (Psalm 62:1 NLT).

"Set your minds on things above" (Colossians 3:1).

Learning to Love Those You Don't Like

Jan Johnson* knew an older woman who found the pastor annoying--so much so that she couldn't stand to listen to his sermons. She wanted to change, so led by God, she started to attend the pastor's weekly Bible study and offered to fix the coffee. Jan noticed that this woman seemed to sleep through most of the study so Jan asked if she was tired. As they talked, she revealed to Jan her problem and the Spirit-suggested solution, saying, "I find myself praying for the pastor during the study. This has helped me see him differently. It was the best thing I could have done." 

She inspired Jan to do some odd things. After a meeting at church, Jan noticed she was parked next to someone she'd found irritating in the meeting. The ash from a recent wild fire covered all of our cars, so she got a duster from her trunk and gently wiped off his car. The movement was a prayer of sorts--one she was too annoyed to have verbalized--and by the time she was done, her heart was right toward him again. 

One day as she was hiking, her thoughts turned to Alice, a church friend who was being unkind and spiteful toward another friend. How could her friend act with such venom? Yet Jan felt guilty about her inability to love her. 

As Jan plopped down on the side of the trail under a willow tree, the phrase "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" came to mind (Matt 5:44).

Alice wasn't her enemy but she certainly didn't love her. She tried to pray for Alice but didn't know what to say, so she borrowed ideas from Philippians 1:9-11: that her love would abound more and more; that her knowledge and discernment would increase. After a few months of praying that (and learning to mean it), Jan began to be able to speak kindly toward her again and to genuinely care about what was happening in her life. 

Thank You, Lord, for giving us Your ideas and the grace we need to love those who annoy us.

"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse" (Rom. 12:14).

*Adapted from her book Invitation to the Jesus Life


Heaven Now!

A lady told me, "I don't know what Heaven will be like, and I don't think much about it, because I'm enjoying Heaven right now." Her comment had nothing to do with her natural circumstances. Her husband left her, her one son seldom calls unless he's in trouble, and she must depend on Jesus for her money from day to day.

What is her secret? She has discovered the joys of living in Christ. Like Paul, she can say, "In all our troubles my joy knows no bounds" (2 Corinthians 7:4). When others would normally be sad, she rejoices with Paul, "through Christ our comfort overflows" (2 Corinthians 1:5). Living in Christ, she has His joy.

Thank You, dear Jesus, that human sorrow can be overcome by joy in the Holy Spirit.

"The joy of the Lord is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10). 

Discover Moments to Worship

When Marvin was directing a youth camp, he called on a minister visiting from England to say grace before a meal. Rather than the usual "Thank You for the food," Rev. James' brief prayer caused them to reflect on his words.

He simply said, "As the sugar hides itself in tea, let us hide ourselves in Thee." 

"It became a moment of worship," Marvin recalled. 

By giving careful thought to those moments we bow our heads before eating, saying grace can become more than a routine. We can sincerely give thanks or voice a longing to Jesus. 

Traditions easily become routines with little meaning, but God notices when we resist allowing a routine prayer to become meaningless. Someone has said, "You have not prayed until your heart has talked," and this is true of praying habitual prayers. Repetitive prayers can be moments that bring our minds back to God. 

Those who seek God with all their hearts find Him. And if our seeking Him includes looking for Him in the routine of our lives, we'll find Him there.

Thank You, Jesus, for noticing every little effort I make to draw near You.

"Come near to God and he will come near to you" (James 4:8).

The Impossible-to-Answer Prayer

I saw an article titled "How Do You Pray for the Impossible?" I didn't read the article but since seeing that headline, I've wondered what the impossible could be. God didn't accept the idea of the impossible. 

In Genesis, God asked Abraham, "Is anything too hard for the LORD?" (18:14). In the Hebrew, a negative answer is implied.

Then Jeremiah prayed, "Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you" (Jeremiah 32:17). 

Gabriel assured Mary, "Nothing is impossible with God" (Luke 1:37).

God had another way of stating His unlimited power when Moses was unable to comprehend how God could provide meat in the desert for 600,000 men for an entire month. "Is the LORD's arm too short?" 

Again in Isaiah, God said, "Was my arm too short to ransom you?" and "Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save" (50:2; 59:1).

In Genesis 17:1 God speaks to 99-year-old Abraham who has been promised a child by God. By this time his body is "as good as dead" (see Romans 4:19-22). In the face of all his very understandable doubts, God reassures him by calling himself El Shaddai, which means Almighty God. It was God's way of saying, "Don't look at yourself, Abraham. Look at me. If I say you're going to have a son, it's going to happen. I am Almighty God."

Thank You, our Father, for making a way where there seems to be no way.

"I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it would move. Nothing would be impossible" (Matthew 17:20).

Why Be Faithful in Prayer?

George Watson, in his book A Pot of Oil, says the will, more than any other part of our nature, expresses the depth of our character in the sight of God. When prayer seems dry and we can't concentrate, we must deliberately choose--set our will--to pray anyway. Such praying may seem very unsatisfactory to us, but it is very pleasing to God. He knows that our prayers are rising from a deep determination. 

In fact, much of our true spiritual development come during the dry and hard times.

When I was a little girl, one of the good men in our church testified that he had had a dry spell in his praying. He kept going to his regular prayer time, but nothing seemed to happen. Then one day, once again God's presence was there, and it was as though God said to him, "I saw all of those times you were faithful. I heard you even when you had no spirit of prayer."

Cornelius prayed faithfully, and he often may have seemed to be only saying repetitious words. But one day God sent an angel to give him this message: "Your prayers...have come up as a remembrance before God" (Acts 10:1-4). God remembered all those faithful prayers, even those prayed more out of routine and duty than inspiration. 

"You armed me with strength for battle," King David prayed in one of his final prayers (II Samuel 22:40). Some days we don't have strength for prayer--the will power, the strong desire that enables us to keep our minds on petitioning. So we can take heart to learn that even David had to pray not only for victory in battle but also for the strength to enter it. 

Dear Lord, help us to be "followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises" (Hebrews 6:12).

"A faithful man shall abound with blessings" (Proverbs 28:20). 

Nate Saint's Reward

Nate Saint was one of the five missionaries martyred by the Auca Indians in Ecuador in 1956. His son Steve remembers standing on the bank of dirt as a young boy and watching his dad take off to fly in the jungle each morning, and then anxiously waiting for his return. 

Steve was nearly five years old the day his mother told him that his father would never return. 

Steve made his first trip with his aunt to live with that tribe when he was nine years old. He learned about living in the jungle, and also developed relationships with many members of the tribe. In June 1965, he was baptized by two of his father's killers who had since converted to Christianity. 

Steve eventually learned that the man who delivered the spear that ultimately killed his father was Mincaye. Today Steve and Mincaye consider themselves family. Steve harbors no resentment. 

Steve says he has never forgotten the pain and heartache of losing his dad. "But I can't imagine not loving Mincaye, a man who has adopted me as his own." 

He believes that all of the men died as part of God's plan. "I know that might offend some," says Steve. "But I don't think what happened to my dad and his four friends caught God by surprise." 

The Israelites believed the ultimate success was to be blessed in their children. So perhaps the greatest blessing God could give to Nate Saint for paying the ultimate price, was to bless his son Steve. God blessed Steve with a spirit of forgiveness and a passion to help them. Today Steve is still caring for these people who brutally killed his father. 

Thank you, Lord, that You reward faithfulness by blessing our children.

"Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands. His children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed" (Psalm 112:1-2).

Expect the Spirit to Guide Your Praying

We often see our immediate situation and think we know what we want Jesus to do for us. Perhaps He listens to our request and thinks, She means well, but she doesn't see the whole picture.

A story borrowed from Dan Millman demonstrates that we often cannot judge things as being good or bad because we do not have access to all the information. 

One day a man bought a stallion, and his friends said, "That's good." The next day the stallion ran away, and his friends said, "That's bad." Two weeks later the stallion returned with a herd of mares. His friends said, "That's good." 

The next day his son broke his shoulder when the stallion threw him off. The friends said, "That's bad." The next month war broke out. Because the boy was injured, he could not go to war. The friends said, "That's good." (Told in Jesus CEO by Laurie Beth Jones).

This story could go on and on with people incorrectly judging events as being bad or good. Our prayers, when not guided by the Holy Spirit, can be equally short-sighted. We would quickly surrender our ideas of what we want if we could see the final outcome of some of our requests.

We have the Holy Spirit living within us, and He is the Spirit of truth. If we are quiet before Him, He will guide us into praying what He knows is the best request. Then our Father who sends, through the Spirit, what He wants us to ask, will answer the prayer He inspired.

Andrew Murray wrote, "Prayer is just the breathing of the Spirit in us. When we quietly believe that the Holy Spirit as a Spirit of supplication is dwelling within us, for the very purpose of enabling us to pray...our hearts will be filled with hope.

Thank You, Father, for guiding our praying so we will receive what You see is best.

"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert" (Ephesians 6:18).

You're a Treasured Possession

God declares that you are special to Him. "The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be...his treasured possession" (Deuteronomy 7:6). The term "treasured possession" refers to a priceless piece of jewelry that is of exquisite beauty and one in which the owner takes great delight. After a lady was divorced, she told a friend, "What I miss is being special to someone." God knows we have this need, and He repeatedly used the term "treasured possession" to describe His people.

God thinks upon us infinitely. "Were I to count them [your thoughts about me], they would outnumber the grains of sand" (Psalm 139:18). There is a limit to the number of sands but not to the thoughts of God for us. We may at times be unimportant in our own sight, but never in the eyes of the Almighty.

The psalmist prayed, "Keep me as the apple of your eye" (Psalm 17:8). To keep as "the apple of the eye" is an expression describing the tenderest care. The apple of the eye is most carefully preserved. We are so near Him that it is as though our image is always in the great eye of God. 

Perhaps the psalmist wrote that because He knew God had used that phrase to describe His care of the Israelites: "In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye" (Deuteronomy 32:10). It was in the place of the most horrible howling of wild beasts that the Lord surrounded His people. The Hebrew word for "guarded" means to surround with love and care, not merely to protect.

Dear Father, if only I could comprehend Your tender care for me, I would never have a worry.

"Surely, LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield" (Psalm 5:12).

How Long, O Lord?

A friend had gone to many interviews looking for a job. One day, after months of looking, she was again turned down. "If God had given me a job with a salary paying many thousands," she commented, "we would have said, 'Isn't God good!' But God is just as good when He asks me to wait."

When we hang on to faith during disappointment, our faith deepens. If God always answered our prayers quickly, we would be short-changed. The benefits of waiting-of holding on to our confident expectation that God is faithful-are so profitable to us that God, in His grace and mercy, often delays answers to our prayers.

The psalmist said, "My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him" (Psalm 62:5 KJV). "It is comparatively easy," said E. M. Bounds, "to wait upon God; but to wait upon Him only, is, I suspect, a difficult and rare attainment."

If I am truly waiting on God...

-I don't feel alarmed if my expectations are not met.

-I'm at peace although it appears that God is not attending to my need.

-I don't get upset if my plans are changed.

-I don't look to anyone but God to remedy the situation. 

We may cry, "How long, O Lord?" but we still hold on to our confident assurance. The root word for "passive" and "passion" is the same, meaning "to endure." While waiting, our hearts are both passive and passionate. We're refusing to act on our own but passionate in looking to God.

Thank You, Lord, for accepting my patient waiting as faith in Your faithfulness.

"No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame" (Psalm 25:3).

Jehovah Jireh

God gave Abraham a startling command. "Take your promised son and offer him in sacrifice!" So he bound Isaac with cords and laid him upon the altar. Just as Abraham raised his knife to kill his son, an authoritative voice from heaven said, "Do not lay a hand upon the boy." Abraham looked and saw a ram caught by its horns. As a result of these events, Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah Jireh, "the Lord will provide" (Genesis 22:14). 

Jehovah Jireh is not a personal name of God, but rather, the name of a place where God appeared. Still, it is a name that we ascribe to God. The name means God sees to everything beforehand. We never have a need that is not already met. 

The key to discovering God to be our Jehovah Jireh is to pray, "Lord, You know what I want, and You love me better than I love myself. I choose Your provision over my own."

When we give up our right to choose, then we discover that God's provisions are better than we could plan. His provisions always look ahead much further than we can see. If we were allowed to design our blessings, we would ask for blessings prematurely or for blessings too small. God often withholds what we ask because He has higher plans for us than we imagine.

He may lead us through what would seem to be unkind, unfair, and totally unnecessary paths. Suddenly He brings us to a turn in the road where we're allowed to see His beautiful plan, and we glimpse a whole cluster of answered prayers. We then can see that the long and perhaps lonely way God led us was necessary so that He could provide far more blessings than we would have thought to ask for in prayer.

I praise You, Jehovah Jireh, that all Your purposes for every single thing You do for us are the result of infinite, eternal love.

"They that know thy name will put their trust in thee" (Psalm 9:10 KJV).

Our New Well

When I was a little girl on the farm, the well that supplied our house with water frequently went dry, so my dad decided to have a new well dug. He prayed about the exact location of our new well, and when the well-drillers arrived, he announced that they were to drill about thirty feet east of our kitchen door.

After several days of digging, they struck water. "It's an artesian well!" they excitedly announced. The drillers packed up their equipment and left, but I hung around. I wanted to watch. What was an artesian well, I wondered?

For about an hour, I kept running back to look at the pipe the drillers had left sticking up out of the ground. Finally, clear, pure water began to flow out of the pipe and overflowed like a fountain.

From that day, a shortage of water was no longer a problem in our home. Even in the long summer months when others' wells were going dry, we had water.

It is this kind of spiritual well-the overflowing love, joy, and peace that keeps on flowing no matter the circumstances-that the Lord promises to those who dwell in Him. The Spirit-filled life is to be a spiritual artesian well.

As long as we allow His life to flow through us because we are continually trusting and obeying, we will experience a quiet rest and an overflow of the fruit of the Spirit. 

When we're not dwelling in Christ we may be able to be longsuffering and patient-but with joyfulness? The lavish outpouring of the Spirit into our hearts will cause us to overflow with joy, with the grace of giving, with good works, with hope, and with love. 

Thank You, Jesus, that You came so we might have abundant life. 

"The water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life...streams of living water shall flow from within him" (John 4:14; 7:38). 

"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10).

Do We Really Pray in Jesus' Name?

Late one night I began to write a prayer for my son and especially prayed for his business. At the end of the prayer, I wrote, "I am satisfied if you are glorified"--something I often tell the Lord.

The idea came to me to sign Jesus' name to my prayer, and it seemed to be a very powerful, awesome thing to do. I realized I had really prayed in Jesus' name and that He was pleased to have His name below my request. 

The next morning the song "God Will Take Care of You" came to me. I knew it was the Lord's word to me concerning the prayer I had written with His name signed to it. 

Just then my son called. "Mom, did you hear the news?"

"You mean about the tornado in Alabama?"

"It wasn't just Alabama; it was here, too. It barely missed my office."

Jesus has an underlying motive for answering our prayers. It is to bring the Father glory. "I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father" (John 14:13).

To ask in Jesus' name is to ask with the same longing that is in Jesus' heart. He longs to please the Father and to bring Him glory. Praying in Jesus' name is more than simply saying "In Jesus' name" before we say "Amen." It is to ask with the submissive spirit that longs for God's pleasure and glory more than our own. When His glory is our deepest desire, He hands us amazing authority.

Jesus, I ask You to search my motives when I pray. Please reveal any time I ask for something that would not bring glory to the Father. 

"You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it" (John 14:14).

Roy's Stolen Coffee

When Roy returned from breakfast, he discovered someone had stolen his battery operated razor and a bag of coffee he had just bought from the canteen.* It didn't take much detective work to figure out who the culprit was, so Roy confronted him. He told him he wanted his razor back but he denied taking it. Roy looked at him hard. He knew he was lying and Roy was angry.

This wasn't the first time something of his had been stolen. In the past, however, Roy had turned it over to God and it always turned out for his good. But this time he wanted to give the wrongdoer what he deserved. He was going to pay for stealing from him.

Roy faced the situation. Would he choose his way or God's way? Grace--God's mercy and love--is something for nothing. Roy didn't deserve it, but God's love is so great that He sent His Son to pay the price for him. God forgave Roy and it didn't cost him anything.

Later that day he went back to the thief and told him, "I forgive you." 

He said, "I didn't take your coffee." Roy had not mentioned that his coffee was stolen. 

Roy just smiled and said, "I forgive you." With those words he realized his anger was gone and he had peace. He still wanted his razor and coffee back, but he knew God would replace it.

Git (the thief's nickname) went to the chapel the next Sunday, came forward and accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior. He later told Roy that when he said, "I forgive you," he suddenly felt ashamed. "My life has been such a mess," he said. "I knew I needed Him to forgive me, and to change me.

Roy found himself thanking God for letting Git steal his razor and coffee. "Hey, Git," Roy said with a smile, "want a cup of coffee?"

"Something for nothing?" he said. 

"Yeah!" Roy said and they both laughed.

Thank You, Jesus, for the free gift of grace.

"Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT).

*Adapted from The War Cry, August 4, 2012.


Jealous No More

When Denise married Don, within months jealousy surfaced. She had no power to resist its grip. Envy was always tormenting her and threatening to destroy her marriage.

Her husband often felt unjustly accused, and he, too, lived in fear--fear of doing anything that might put Denise in a jealous rage. Something as simple as his looking in the wrong direction at the wrong time could send her off on a tirade.

During a revival service at her church, God put His finger on her jealousy and she knew she must surrender this sin to Him. As much as she had hated the effects of jealousy in her life, she had never been willing to give it up; it had always felt so justified. But she chose to sacrifice this to God.

Sometimes God delivers people from a sin or habit instantaneously, but that did not happen to Denise. Although it felt more like a temptation at this point than a consuming part of her, she still struggled--and sometimes failed. 

But one day after fighting with her husband about a woman in their church, she finally admitted to God, "I cannot do this, You will have to." 

That must have been what God was waiting for, because since that moment, she has experienced freedom from jealousy. What she was unable to do, He did! She knew that she would have no power over its control; the years of struggle had convinced her of that. The good she had always wanted to do, she could not do. 

When tempted, she would immediately implore God for help; and when she did, He was right there melting the power of temptations. She began resting in God and experiencing His victory. And over the years, no matter what kind of temptation she faced, she began to turn to God for His strength and deliverance. 

The habit of turning to God has helped her experience His abiding presence. As she submitted to God, her husband's expressions of love for her increased. His tenderness helped to bring healing to her emotions. She praises God that she has been free from jealousy for more than 15 years. She is healed!

We praise You, God for being our Deliverer who can provide peace of mind and heart from all our struggles.

"I am the Lord, who heals you" (Exodus 15:26).

How Nellie Overcame Her Addiction

Nellie was well into her forties when she started to drink. It was a difficult time for her. She had family problems, worked at a demanding job, and had constant back pain.

She had gone to church all of her life and considered herself a solid Christian although she seldom read her Bible or prayed. She started searching for ways to fill the ever-expanding, black hole in her life. Drinking seemed to offer a respite.

For years she could take it or leave it. But eventually she began drinking heavily and resorted to "closet drinking." She blamed everyone but herself for what was happening to her. She convinced herself that drinking was no different from taking sedatives or other medication. "I don't really have a problem," she reasoned. "I can quit anytime I choose. Besides, I'm not hurting anyone."

But as her drinking increased, God began to convict her. The guilt was so oppressive that she constantly felt like a miserable failure. She began to tearfully beg Him to help her overcome her desire to drink. "It's not enough for you to just want to stop," He seemed to gently whisper. "You must get rid of the alcohol. Pour it all out!"

Nellie fought this conviction for weeks. Then one day images began to float through her mind of being estranged from her family because of her addition. At last she admitted that she was becoming an alcoholic and was filled with alarm.

Weeping, she hurried to the cupboard, and before she could change her mind, grabbed the bottle and poured the amber poison down the drain.

Nellie says, "What a difference has been made in my life! I feel better spiritually, mentally, and physically. I found that I get through the day quite well without fortifying myself with alcohol. It's been two years since I've touched any. I'm sometimes tempted to buy a bottle, but I think, No, I won't let myself fall into that trap again."

Dear Lord, help us to remember that only You can fill the emptiness in our lives.

"Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise" (Proverbs 20:1).


Jesus Finds No Flaw

Someone had offended my friend, and for three days she could not get past her irritation. She said, "I didn't feel like talking to God or even hearing from Him. I was miserable feeling that way, but that is how it was. I was driving home from work when suddenly I looked at the license plate on the car in front of me. It said my name and then 4511. As soon as I got home, I looked up Psalm 45:11 and read, 'The king is enthralled by your beauty.' My heart melted before Him."

How like Jesus to send a message of love when she felt unworthy! Knowing He loves us changes us.

In Song of Songs, Jesus says to His beloved, "You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride; you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace" (4:9). But He is more than a Bridegroom to her. "Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!" (Matthew 12:50). He delights in every relationship He has with us.

The maiden's acceptance [in earlier verses] of His invitation to go with Him to seek and to rescue the perishing has ravished His heart. How incredible that we are able to delight His heart by simply saying "Yes" to Him. Our passionate Bridegroom cherishes us and sees us as beautiful each time we desire to do any small thing for Him. 

Another translation says, "You have captured my heart" (NLT). We steal His heart with just one loving thought, one heartfelt thank you, one loving act we do thinking, "This is just for You, Jesus!" Each look of devotion, every prayer, each whisper of love moves His heart.

Dear Jesus, how can I not love You with all my heart in return for Your love for me? 


God Provides Seeds

One night during the early days of my home Bible studies, I was in my husband's study while the rest of the family was asleep. I felt drawn to read Isaiah 55:11 that promises God's Word won't return void. My eyes drifted to verse 10 that promises His Word would be seed to the sower and bread to the eater. That verse became my promise. All I needed to do was sow the seed by giving the words He gave me. God would provide the miracle of turning the seeds into bread.

Many times before class I'd go to the Lord and intercede for bread for each one coming. In the Old Testament tabernacle, there was always to be bread on the table for those who entered, and I felt that it was God's will for the Holy Spirit to minister to each lady every time she came. "Dear Lord, please provide me with seeds to sow," became my prayer. 

One day one of the ladies in the class called and wanted to tell me about the help God was giving her. She said, "Remember that seed you planted several months ago?" She had no idea what that phrase meant to me, but she shared how the Lord had used something I said to give her victory in an area in her life.

This concept of God providing us with the seeds and His turning it into bread took the pressure off me to produce spiritual maturity in the women. My part was to pray until I was trusting God. I may never know how He answered, but as I trusted Him, He promised to provide for the women.

Dear Jesus, help me to keep my eyes on You rather than on the results.

"I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them" (John 17:8).