Samaria is Some Area

While our children were growing up, our summer vacation was a trip to Nebraska visiting grandparents. My dad was a retired farmer who was always eager to take his grandchildren to the farm. If he wanted to get there quickly, he went a direct route that took approximately 15 minutes. If he wanted to show us the scenery and look at the crops, he would drive country roads for almost half an hour. He would point out where there formerly was a house on a particular corner. He might comment about who used to farm a specific field. My dad knew every mile of the countryside.

As a teen, our son thought it would be fun to visit Grandpa by himself and explore Nebraska farmland. My husband asked Greg how he would know the route to the farm. His response, “I will take Grandpa, the human map, with me!”

My dad was a living physical map who knew how to get everywhere in Polk County. Sometimes he took a direct route. Other times, he took indirect roads. However, he always got where he wanted to go – and he never got lost.

I believe Jesus is our spiritual map who knows how to get everywhere. Sometimes He leads us by a direct route. Other times, He takes us multiple miles out of the way. However, His goal is always to get us where He wants us to go spiritually – and He never gets lost. According to John 14:6, Jesus is the way.

As believers, we are on a journey physically and spiritually. It began the day we were born and it will end the day we step into eternity. II Corinthians 5:6-7 says, “we walk by faith, not by sight. We must rely upon Jesus, our spiritual map.

John 4:1-42 gives us an example of the type of roads we might travel according to Jesus’ map. Jesus and His disciples were walking from Judea to Galilee. The most direct route took them through Samaria. Not a region the disciples wanted to visit because the Samaritans hated the Jews – and the Jews had similar feelings towards the Samaritans. The travelers could have taken a longer route and avoided Samaria. However, that was not the plan according to Jesus’s map.

I want to borrow terminology used by Steve Furtick of Elevation Church. He uses a play on words and refers to Samaria as “some area”.

My Reader, is there “some area” where Jesus wants to take you that you do not want to go? You may be dragging your feet to travel a specific direction. You would prefer to avoid “some area” of hurt or difficulty or misunderstanding. However, your route may not follow the Lord’s map. Proverbs 16:9 says, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps. You must remember that the Lord assures you in Jeremiah 29:11 that He knows the plans He has for you. His plans are for good and not evil.

According to Hebrews 13:5, you have the assurance that the Lord will never leave or forsake you. You need not be afraid to travel “some area” of Samaria because the Lord travels with you. Declare the words of Psalm 25:4-5. “Make me know Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation. For You I wait all the day.”

Your Samaria may not be the easiest road you ever travel. The disciples did not want to go through Samaria but Jesus included it as part of their itinerary. Romans 8:18 says,I consider that our present sufferings are not comparable to the glory that will be revealed in us.” With Jesus by your side, your will not linger longer than necessary in “some area”. The destination will be good. Romans 8:28 promises, “And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.” This promise includes “some areas” of your life you would like to avoid.

There will be days when you feel like your journey through “some area” will never end. Remember the words of Isaiah 30:21. “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’Continue to listen to the voice of God on your GPS. Your Samaria will not last forever. Isaiah 40:28-31 says, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.

You know your Samaria – “some area” where the Lord wants to meet with you. He wants to travel through this region with you so you can continue your journey. Romans 8:38-39 says, For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. According to Ephesians 3:20 NKJV, the Lord who is traveling with you is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than you could ask or think, according to the power that works in you.

So, grab hold of Jesus, your spiritual map. Be willing to go through your Samaria!


Hosting the Holy Spirit

While our niece and husband were visiting from California, we invited our family for a picnic. We had a wonderful time together. As people left, they thanked us for hosting the evening. We felt hosting was our privilege. We were thrilled to be with family.

I know how to host a family picnic. I prepare a meal and welcome people into our home. However, hosting something or someone can have a spiritual as well as a physical application.

I want to explore the meaning of hosting the Holy Spirit. Bill Johnson describes hosting His presence as carrying the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Johnson has written a book entitled Hosting the Presence and often speaks on this topic. He highlights Jesus as our example of what it means to host the Holy Spirit.

John the Baptist water baptized Jesus. Matthew 3:16-17 says, “As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water. Suddenly the heavens were opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and resting on Him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased!’ When the Spirit descended upon Him and took up residence, Jesus became the host.

In John 5:19 NKJV Jesus says, “the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. Jesus was able to do what the Father did because He was carrying the Spirit’s anointing.

In John 15:5 NKJV, Jesus goes on to say, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.Johnson points out that just as Jesus had to host the Presence to do what the Father did, we must host the Spirit’s presence if we are to do what the Lord desires us to do.

Jesus informs us in John 14:16 NKJV, “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever. Our Helper is the Holy Spirit.

I Corinthians 6:19 says,Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” The Holy Spirit resides in us. That means we host Him, or carry His anointing.

Paul says in Colossians 1:9, “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives.This knowledge is imparted to us when we host the Spirit’s presence.

Ephesians 3:14-21 is a prayer asking for the Holy Spirit’s power to fill every believer. Or, we can say for every believer to host the Holy Spirit. In Ephesians 3:19, Paul prays for the Ephesians, and us, to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.He continues in verses 16 and 17, “I ask that out of the riches of His glory He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. According to a note in the Spirit Filled Life Bible, to be strengthened with His might literally means to become mighty by His power.

Graham Cooke is another author and speaker who refers to hosting the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Cooke says that our responsibility of hosting His presence is to fulfill the prayer Jesus taught His disciples. In Matthew 6:10 Jesus prays, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.When we host His presence, we bring heaven to earth. Cooke says we must live from heaven to earth if we are to fully glorify God.

In Luke 4:18 NKJV, Jesus declares, The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.When we host the Spirit of the Lord, He is upon us just as He was upon Jesus. This verse emphasizes specific ministries we will be privileged to carry out when we carry the Spirit’s presence.

We also host His presence through praise and worship. Psalm 22:3 says that the Lord inhabits the praises of His people. We can encounter the Lord when we praise Him during personal quiet times. David says in Psalm 16:11, “You (the Lord) make known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand. We can also experience His presence through praise and worship with other believers. The Lord says in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three gather in My name, there am I with them.

I want to conclude with a couple more comments by Cooke and Johnson.

In Coming into Alignment, Graham Cooke quotes Exodus 33:14 where God promises, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.” Cooke encourages us to practice hosting His presence and invest our heart in Him. He says, “Stop pursuing the presence of God and start hosting Him!”

In The Resting Place, Bill Johnson writes, “There is no greater privilege than being a host to God Himself. Neither is there a greater responsibility.” He concludes his book saying, “We have been chosen to be His external dwelling place. We have been chosen to host His Presence.”

The Applause of Nature

The noise of the day had quieted. I relaxed on the deck. I felt a gentle breeze blow across my face. Then I heard it! I heard the sound of nature. The leaves of the trees were swaying with the wind. They were rustling against each other. I heard the trees clapping their hands!

Psalm 47:1 NKJV says, “O clap your hands, all you people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph.

The trees were clapping their hands and shouting triumphant praise. I wanted to follow their example.

I realized the trees were able to clap their hands (their leaves) with the wind’s help. Wind is also a description of the Holy Spirit. I meditated upon my reliance upon the Holy Spirit’s help. Jesus says in John 14:16-17, I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.Because the Holy Spirit nudged me that evening, I was able to perceive God’s glory in my surroundings.

I clapped my hands. My soul shouted praise.

As I remained upon the deck, my eyes glanced towards the western horizon. An awesome sunset was displayed. I paused to applaud. God had created a majestic masterpiece by painting beautiful colors across the sky. I exclaimed my approval by praising Him for His artistic performance.

Once again, I was quiet. I faintly heard another sound. I discerned that it was the voice of the stream flowing near our property line. The water produced audible vibrations as it meandered downstream. Psalm 98:8 begins, “Let the rivers clap their hands.My heartbeat was in rhythm with the water’s claps and slaps.

It was a delightful evening. I experienced the atmosphere’s accolades.

Nature clapped. And I clapped my hands. I also clasped my hands in prayer. Proverbs 15:8 tells me that the prayer of the upright pleases the Lord. I wanted to fulfill the words of David in Psalm 141:2. “May my prayer be set before You like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.

I experienced the promise of Isaiah 55:12. “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

Growing Hollyhocks and Memories

Hollyhocks. Botanical members of the mallow family. Perennial posies. Multiple flowers unfolding upon each stalk. Majestic floral spires stretching upwards to 9 feet in the air. Trumpet-shaped blossoms attached to strong stalks of greenery.

For me, hollyhocks produce childhood memories as well as flowers. These towering green spears with delicate floral petals offered my cousins and me a Sunday afternoon project. While visiting grandparents, we created hollyhock dolls. We picked some flowers that were blooming as well as as few buds not yet revealing their hidden beauty. One flower in full bloom was placed upside down on our workspace. With a toothpick, we attached a bud to the blossom. Now we had a head connected to a beautiful flowing dress. Another flower was separated into individual petals. One petal was placed upon the bud as a hat – secured with a tiny piece of toothpick. With white hollyhocks, we created brides. With colored blossoms, we fashioned bridesmaids. What a display we designed! Good thing my grandparents’ garden displayed a multitude of hollyhocks!

As I reflect upon our hollyhock dolls, I am reminded of two scriptures. We made brides. In Revelation 21:2, John declares,I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.We fashioned little ladies adorned in beautiful gowns. Isaiah 61:10 says, “For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of His righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

Today, our daughter-in-law grows hollyhocks beside their home. As I gaze upon them, I am reminded of the hollyhocks beside my grandparents’ shed. I share my memories with our granddaughters. I also teach them the art of making hollyhock dolls. Creating memories while sharing memories. The floral hollyhocks for our project grew from seeds planted in the ground. I wonder if I am planting hollyhock memories in the hearts of my granddaughters.

I like the quote, “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” I may not understand how God is working at the moment. However, it is important for me to cherish each moment and allow it to become a memory.

Luke 2 records the birth of Jesus and the shepherds’ visit. Verse 19 says, “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.I treasure and ponder memories of hollyhocks and family. I also desire to fulfill Titus 2:3-5. It says that older women are to teach and encourage younger women and girls. I pray that my time with our granddaughters not only results in fun but also helps some seeds of faith to grow.

One more hollyhocks story. My friend has black hollyhocks in her garden that grew from seeds given to her by her sister. When Debbie first planted the seeds, they did not come up. She thought they just didn’t make it. Then, three or four years later, the hollyhocks bloomed! However, not in the location she expected. They were at least 15 feet from where she had planted the seeds. She learned that we often reap later than when we sow. And, sometimes we reap in a different place than where we originally sowed a seed. All of this happened while they lived in Colorado. Then they moved to New York. Hollyhock seeds traveled with her. Again, she had to wait a few years to enjoy the blossoms of her labors. Last year, she had black hollyhocks in New York. Now she shares her seeds with others. What an incredible gift of hollyhocks and memories! Debbie comments, “We don’t know how God will take what we plant and use it for His glory!”

Mark 4:26-28 supports Debbie’s comments. The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows—how, he himself does not know. The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. Hosea 10:12 is another applicable verse. “Sow with a view to righteousness, reap in accordance with kindness; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord until He comes to rain righteousness on you.

Hollyhocks are short-lived perennial plants. However, they easily reseed themselves. With the help of the wind, the seeds blow in multiple directions resulting in new growth in unexpected locations. Their trumpet-shaped blossoms announce their presence. Mark 4:8 says, “seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop.

May the Holy Spirit be the wind that blows our spiritual seeds into the receptive soil of souls.

Hollyhocks may be considered an old-fashioned flower. Growing hollyhocks is often a goal of gardeners who remember them from their childhood. Hollyhock spires inspire creativity. They produce memories as well as flowers. It has been said that one of the greatest gifts that God has given humanity is the beautiful gift of memory. In a sense, memory allows us to relive a special moment. Both hollyhocks and memories proclaim life. Another quote I like says, “Some memories are unforgettable, remaining ever vivid and heartwarming!” The brilliant colors of hollyhocks and the vivid memories in our minds are like crayons drawing floral and faith images. Psalm 111:2 declares, “Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them.


Three little letters of the alphabet: H – O – W
When the letters are placed in alphabetical order, we read the word HOW.
But, if we rearrange the letters, we create WHO.

We have the tendency to want to know HOW more than WHO. That is because we consider ourselves to be the WHO. When we are WHO, we assume we know HOW to do the task before us. However, if we allow God to be WHO, then we do not have to know HOW. The HOW is in God’s hands rather than ours.

Paul says in Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.God is WHO provides us with the HOW. If we think of ourselves as the WHO, we will fail because we will not know HOW to accomplish the task. We are able to be WHO only when we allow God to empower us with the knowledge and ability of HOW.

Jesus says in John 5:19 says, “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” He continues in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.

In John 5, Jesus emphasizes that His Heavenly Father is the WHO through whom He is able to perform the HOW. In John 15, Jesus applies this principle to us. We can become WHO God uses, when we rely upon Him to help us know HOW.

In Matthew 4:19 NKJV, Jesus summons Simon Peter and Andrew, “Come, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They know HOW to fish for fish but have no idea HOW to fish for people. Throughout the next 3 ½ years, Jesus set an example of HOW they could fish for men. After His resurrection and before His ascension, Jesus tells the disciples in Luke 24:49, “And behold, I am sending the promise of My Father upon you. But remain in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” The disciples needed the Holy Spirit, the WHO, in order to do what Jesus was calling them to do. They did not know HOW until they received the WHO. The same is true for us today.

In Luke 11:1, one of the disciples asks Jesus to teach them HOW to pray. Jesus instructs them as recorded in Matthew 6:9-10. “So then, this is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’ In essence, Jesus teaches them to ask for God’s will to be done according to HOW God desired. They also learn WHO to direct their prayers towards. Jesus teaches the disciples to pray because He desired them to be those WHO prayed.

Jesus also wants us to pray. When we are among those WHO pray, we must surrender our pride of thinking we know HOW to do everything. Praying is not our opportunity to tell God HOW to fix the world. II Chronicles 7:14 is good example for HOW we are to pray. “If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.When we pray in this manner, we are reaching out to the One WHO hears and knows HOW to answer.

In Matthew 10:19-20, Jesus warns His disciples about persecution. He says, “But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.They did not need to know HOW ahead of time. They simply needed to know WHO to rely upon.

James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.Throughout life, we will endure trials. We may wonder HOW we are going to endure the difficult times. Timothy gives us some insight in II Timothy 1:2. “That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.” Timothy states that he knows WHO he has placed his faith in. And, he knows that God, as the WHO, will be with him and help him with the HOW. We, too, can be confident WHO will help us. We need not worry about HOW we are going to do it. I John 2:27 NLT says, “For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what He teaches is true—it is not a lie.

God calls us to fulfill His plans and purposes. (“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11)  However, we do not know HOW to do it! We find our assurance in Ephesians 3:20. “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.God is WHO will help us do what we do not know HOW to do. In order to know HOW to fulfill God’s plans, we must rely upon the Holy Spirit’s power. We are not WHO is actually doing the work!

During the past few months, we have found ourselves, our nation and our world in situations no one knows HOW to overcome. Jesus told His disciples, and tells us, in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.If we rely upon ourselves to be WHO resolves the pandemic and the violent riots, we will fail. Only when we turn to God for HOW we are to act and react, will we overcome the evil one behind the turmoil. The Lord says in Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”  

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. When we trust God, He will accomplish what we cannot do in our own strength. The Lord is our WHO and HOW.

When we don’t know HOW, let us rely on the One WHO can do it. Jesus tells us in Matthew 19:26, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.Our situation may be bigger than we are, but it is not bigger than God. He is the One WHO will help us learn HOW. John 14:26 says. “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

God is WHO knows HOW. God is WHO helps us know HOW.