God Provides

It’s easy to say, “God will provide,” but harder to believe it until after it happens.

Yesterday, a local farmer baled our hay. We knew it would rain that night, and hay can’t be rained on or it will be ruined. We planned ahead, told the farmer to push the loads into the barns and we’ll shut the door and stack another day.


His equipment was too tall and the barn doors too low.


Suddenly, we had to stack all the hay that night, or we would lose the entire crop.


I panicked – the task was impossible for the two of us to accomplish alone. Who would help us at such short notice? What if no one came? What if we lost all the hay? We would have paid for hay and gotten nothing, we would have no food for the animals over winter and have to buy hay, we would have to dispose of hundreds of heavy bales of hay that were rained on and useless.

God will provide. He always does.

But I jumped to the worst case instead. I didn’t need to.

An hour after I had my ‘worst case scenario’ moment, a team of six people joined us stacking – some we knew, some were strangers willing to help. We got everything in the barn before the rain, with an hour to spare.

It is easy to look back and say, “Yes, God provided.” Clearly he did!

For me, it was impossible for me to think about what lay ahead and say, “God will provide.”

I didn’t follow Jesus’ words in Luke 12. V22 “…Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life…v25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?”

Jesus says that God clothes the grass in the field which is here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow (or in our case, in the field one day, baled, and stacked in a barn the next), but that we are much more valuable.

Shame on me; I didn’t believe him.

God is full of grace: he provided anyway. Thank goodness he is patient, or he would have given up on me, on all of us, a long time ago.

Do you believe God will provide? How do you act on it?

–Victoria

Peaks and Valleys

Ever notice how life, how faith, is filled with peaks and valleys? When you’re on the peak, you can see the horizon, the air is clear, your world is full of life, and joy imbues every aspect of what you do. When you’re in the valley, its not bright and sunny like the peak. Life crowds in and, at times, threatens to overwhelm you. You seem beset by life and trials. We tend to love the peaks and struggle in the valleys.    

The above truth is true for you and for us. The last Farm Day was awesome. We had a great meal, lots of laughter, enjoyed teaching about Jesus and His love for us, and loved watching people enjoy what God provided. The next day, we were able to meet some friends in Chicago and enjoy the Chicago Art Museum. It was a lot of fun and a great time. This was one of our peaks. Watching our Lord move, resting in what He has given for us to enjoy, worshiping Him with our hearts and hands. 


 The following few weeks though were, have been, and are a struggle. While we were in Chicago, our air conditioner leaked and flooded our bedroom. We ended up with water damage and a mold problem. An old friend passed away. My pug was bitten by a spider and almost died. One of our kittens was killed. Our coop was raided by raccoons and we lost 2 chickens. (Technically though, it happened before the farm day) Then, to add some extra icing to the last couple of weeks, I was injured sending sheep to the butcher and now have to have surgery for a torn rotator cuff. We are exhausted. We feel spent. This is a decent little valley. Full of feeling financial strain, physical pain, frustration, and fear.   

Here’s the deal. It’s easy to watch God when you are on the peak. However, It’s hard to look for Him in the valley. On the peak, we can see Him. Our hearts are aligned with His Heart. Our minds and spirits see Him clearly. In the valley, we get distracted. The unknown grabs us. The hurts, worries, and unknown future call to us. We take our eyes off of God. It’s easy to do. We are all guilty of doing it too. When we put our eyes and hearts on the valley, then we aren’t looking to God. We are looking to ourselves and our ends. It is then that we begin to sink. It is then that we feel the water and waves wash over us. It is then that we fear. 

Oh how much like Peter am I. I feel full of fire…then the trial comes and I realize how much of my fire was from me versus Christ’s flame.

Peter walked on the water. He went out on the waves. He gazed upon our Lord and sank. But when he sank, Jesus was there. When Peter pulled his eyes off of the Son of God, he sank. Yet Jesus was there. When Peter sank, Jesus lifted him up and loved him. Chided him, “Oh you little of faith…why did you doubt?”, and loved him. 

Peter walks on the water

When you are walking hand in hand with Christ, and you exit the valley, you realize it was in the valley that you saw God move. It was in the valley that you tasted God’s goodness, His grace, His mercy. It was in the valley that you learn to lean on Him, trust Him, and replace your sputtering internal fire with His unquenchable flame.

Praise God for the valleys. Relish Him on the peaks and worship Him regardless of where He leads you. God is so good. He will never leave us or forsake us. 

He will never forsake us  

Thank you Lord Jesus for this valley! May it be here that we see You, Hear you, know You, and love You!

 

Sheep Run Amok

Blog for May 26, 2016 


When Jesus says we are like sheep, it’s no compliment.

Scott and I raise sheep and recently built a new paddock for them to graze in. For the first few days everything was great. The sheep had lots of grass, access to shelter and water; life was good.

Then they started to escape.

First a sheep knelt down and crawled under the fence. We caught her and fixed that fence.

Then a sheep stood on the fence to eat leaves off a tree, which smashed the fence to half its original height, and a sheep hopped over. We caught him and fixed that fence.

Then they smashed through the fence and tore it off its post. We caught them all…

…and haven’t fixed the fence yet.  

It is a sobering analogy to our relationship with Jesus. “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures…” (Psalm 23:1-2). When I led my sheep to green pastures, they ran amok and caused me extra work. When Jesus has you lie down in green pastures, do you accept the gift he has given, or do you squander it?

Psalm 23New International Version (NIV)

A psalm of David.

1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,[a] I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me  all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

2 Cor 5:7-For we walk by Faith and not by sight.

I get a daily devotion from the father, and his friend, of a close friend at work.  Al Green and John Kesting.  Al and John put together a great devotion and, often, the devotion speaks directly to our daily life.  With permission, I am posting their devotion from last Thursday.

How often, throughout life, do we believe only that which we can see and touch?  How often, do we eschew anything that speaks of blind faith?  The world tells us that there is no God, that He does not touch our lives, or that He cannot impact the physical.  However, the bible tells us, AND I will tell you that the world is telling you a lie.  It wants to steal your joy, your peace, your deliverance.

My dear sweet wife suffered for years with an “incurable” paralysis of her stomach. She was on a liquid diet for years.  The doctors told us that her disease was incurable and that we should make plans for a feeding tube.  During our darkest times, as we prepared for her death, Satan would whisper “God doesn’t care” or “God can’t heal”.  It was easy to be distracted and to listen to the voices, to surrender to despair.  However, God is light and He doesn’t give up on us.  In Deuteronomy, we are told that God “will never leave us or forsake us”.  He doesn’t.  By God’s hand, and in answer to prayer, He healed Victoria’s stomach and delivered her from a very slow painful death at the hands of gastroparesis.  Don’t sell yourself, or God short.  Trust in Him and walk forward.

Al and John, Thank you.

Scott

 

Saints

‘For we walk by Faith and not by sight.’ 2 cor 5:7

I am painting at my son’s house. He is on the road with his job and is never at home, so my daughter-in-law and my wife have decided , since I am old and retired and have nothing to do, that I could work around her house, getting odd jobs accomplished. I started painting an iron porch railing a week or so ago (a job that would take a professional a 1/2 day is taking me a week). I scraped off old paint off the rail, and sanded with a wire brush. It turned out so nice that I decided to put on a coat, then 2 coats, of primer ( yea, I know, I didn’t need to do all that). So all that took place all this week. But today, I promised, I would finish the job, and actually paint the thing like I should have done a week ago.

But,alas, rain was predicted, but I went ahead anyway. I was about 1/2 done painting with the finish coat, and lo, here comes the sprinkles!! I said ‘Lord, I need about another 1 hr of dry weather to finish this job( latex paint needs about 10 minutes to dry enough as to not run off when wetted). Can you accommodate?’ He said, in my spirit, I did not hear an audible voice, ‘sure, you got it’. So I took Him ( actually his Spirit witnessing to my spirit), at His word, for He HAS NEVER LET ME DOWN BEFORE, and proceeded to continue to finish the job, ignoring what looked like certain rain any minute. And just as I started to paint again, again more sprinkles, this time a little harder. I said, ‘whoa Lord! The winds is picking up from the south west, it sure looks like rain any minute. I better quit’. He said, ‘walk by faith, not by sight’. I said, ‘your the Boss’. So I pressed on. About that time the sun literally came out for a moment and a fine dry wind picked up, drying to touch the paint I had applied. I finished applying, and every thing worked out just fine. I even had time to hit a few touch up places, clean my brush, and put up all my tools . In fact, it still hasn’t started raining yet.

Thank You Lord!

‘Now, really’, one might say, ‘Do you mean to tell me the the Lord of the universe, with all He has to do, took time out and held up the rain just for you?’

Sure, He love me. And He will do the same for you too. In big things, like sickness, depression, fear, apathy – he doesn’t want His children dealing with those things- or small things, He wants us in Faith, believing His promises, of love, joy, peace, strength, power, and blessing – and all for His glory. Just like Jesus told Catherine Marshall, as He appeared to her in answer to her prayer for a cure for her TB, ‘Relax, there is nothing here I cant handle’.

Now, one might also say ‘how does Him holding off the rain just for you glorify Himself?’ Well, I am able to tell you about it, aka witness – aren’t I ? Look what our Lord has done for me, when I stepped out in Faith. And He will do it for you as well. He loves you just like He loves me. He will honor your faith just the same. Praise to you gracious Lord, for you will never leave nor forsake us. AND ALL WHO TRUST IN YOU SHALL NEVER BE DISAPPOINTED. AMEN!

Yours In Jesus. His Father – Our Father- is a Gooooooooooooood God!

John and Al

PS. Great Daily! Beware of the Amalekites – (http://www.blackaby.net/ Search April 22nd) ‘The Amalekites continually sought to hinder the progress of God’s people and to rob them of God’s blessing’, aka, just like those things that deter us from believing God’s promises and acting in faith on them. They will always try to dissuade you away from faith to thinking and acting ‘practically’!

Psalm 34

1 I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.2 My life makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble and afflicted hear and be glad.3 O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.4 I sought (inquired of) the Lord and required Him [of necessity and on the authority of His Word], and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.5 They looked to Him and were radiant; their faces shall never blush for shame or be confused.6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.7 The Angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him [who revere and worship Him with awe] and each of them He delivers. 8 O taste ( jwk – for yourself…) and see that the Lord [our God] is good! Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man who trusts and takes refuge in Him. 9 O fear the Lord, you His saints [revere and worship Him]! For there is no want to those who truly revere and worship Him with godly fear.

Fear at the unknown

Fear. Terror. Failure. Pain. Vulnerability.  These words, these emotions, resonate within us and around us whenever we start to try something new.  We see it when we start new jobs, move to new towns, start going to new churches, move into new social circles.  Sometimes the fear is palatable.  Sometimes, it is barely there.  This happens to every one of us.  Every single one of us.  No one, ever, has been immune.  Every way, and in each situation, the root is always the same.  The root is doubt and it is as true today as it was thousands of years ago.

Have you ever wondered at the audacity of the ancient Israelites to reject God’s goodness as He urged them into the Promised Land and their absolute terror at what they found?  As a reminder, they had just seen God had perform all sorts of miracles, feed them in the desert from Heaven, deliver them from bondage in Egypt, part the Red Sea, and descend upon Mount Sinai.  They saw wonders imaginable.  Yet, they still shied away from following God.

Let’s set the stage here…the Israelites had just left Egypt in the most spectacular fashion possible. God had delivered them from bondage and the Egyptians had essentially thrown wealth at them when they left.  The Israelites, after a few false starts and bumps (some bumps where kind of big), arrived at the Promised Land.  God told them to send 10 spies in to check the place out.  He had told them that it was theirs and that He would be giving it to them to prosper them.  So, they sent the spies in and when the spies came back, they were carrying grapes so huge they had to sling them on poles carried between 2 men.   The initial report was very promising.  They said the place overflowed with milk and honey.  It was paradise.  Then they dropped the bad news. It was infested with giants.  In their words, “…The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people there are of great size…we seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes and we looked the same to them.” [Numbers 13:32,33]

Numbers tells us that 8 of the spies spread such a bad report that the Israelites were afraid and refused to enter into paradise.  They were so afraid that they didn’t want to enter the Promised Land and God had to send the people into the desert for 40 years so that they would learn to lean on Him.

Every person, but 2, died in the desert without entering the Promised Land because they gave in to their fear and doubted God’s goodness and holiness.

So, what separated the 2 from the rest?  Numbers tells us that Joshua and Caleb stood strong in the Lord and defended His cause.  They TRUSTED God.  Let me re-ask my question.  What happened to these 2 men to make them trust God when their fellows couldn’t?

I think the answer lies in Exodus 33:7-11.  Moses had an aid; Joshua, son of Nun.  Joshua would accompany Moses to the Tent of Meeting, where God would descend into the tent and converse with Moses “as a man speaks with a friend”.  This passage also tells us that Joshua was with Moses during these meetings while the rest of the Israelites stood at the entrance of their tents and worshipped God from afar.

Moses didn’t enter the Promised Land because he failed to uphold Gods holiness before the people.  However, the people didn’t enter the Promised Land because they didn’t trust God.  Except…Joshua.  He entered the Promised Land BECAUSE he trusted God.  I propose that he trusted God because he had firsthand experience with Him. As an aid, he would have talked with Moses and God. He would have observed, and learned, and learned to trust God.  He would have had a personal relationship with God.

So, how do you combat fear?  How do you combat doubt?  With trust. With a relationship with God, with Jesus.  Jesus says that He is the way, the Truth, and the Life, and that no one comes to the Father but through Him.  Jesus is also the Light of the world.  He drives out the darkness of doubt and fear before Him.  Why? Because He loves us.  He wants a personal relationship with each of us.  It is in that personal relationship where we discover that God and Jesus can be trusted and that fear and doubt have no hold over us.

Is there still fear?  YES.  Is God there? YES. Will our doubts and fears win?  If you trust in Jesus, then NO!  He was victorious on the cross and is victorious today.  All you have to do is trust Him.  Will you be like Joshua or the rest of the Israelites?