HOW and WHO

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miracles We May Be Missing

Miracles? With all the news we hear about the COVID19 pandemic, how can I mention miracles? Because miracles are happening! There are unseen miracles all around us! Pandemic refers to something that is prevalent over a whole country or the world. So, let’s declare a pandemic of miracles!

I want to share three situations in which we can see miracles if we are willing to look for them.

1. As highly contagious as the coronavirus is, it is a miracle there are not more people who have contracted the disease. Statistics change by the second. However there continues to be more births than deaths. Remember, COVID-19 may be contagious but so is hope.

2. It is a miracle how many people have recovered from this deadly disease. Let’s share the positive statistics rather than the negative death toll.

3. As believers, the greatest miracle is eternal life after physical life. John 17:3 says, “Now this is eternal life: that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent. I John 5:5&11 declares, “Who then overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. . . Whoever has the Son has life.” Last Sunday, we celebrated Jesus’ resurrection. Think about the resurrections being experienced by believers who have died.

Yes, we serve a miracle working God. But, how strong is your faith today? Do not be discouraged if you are asking questions. The Bible is full of stories of individuals who grew in faith through trials. Use this time to allow God to deepen your faith.

In Mark 5:21-43, we have the account of Jairus asking Jesus to heal his daughter. The verse that jumps out at me is verse 36. Don’t be afraid; just believe. God is speaking these words to us today. Hear these words as a challenge – not a command. God knows our human tendency to be afraid. Feel Him tenderly draw you into His arms. Hear Him whisper in your ear that He loves you. He is offering you a solution to your feelings. He is extending you faith to replace your fear.

Are you struggling to believe Him wholeheartedly? Think about the story in Mark 9:14-29. A father and Jesus are talking about faith. Listen to verses 23 and 24. If You can?” echoed Jesus. “All things are possible to him who believes!” Immediately the boy’s father cried out, I do believe; help my unbelief!” Is this where you are today? You believe, but you feel like your faith is being shaken. You want more faith. Sometimes we have to realize what we lack before we can receive more. God will use this time of uncertainly to increase the certainty of our faith.

We are reminded in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.II Corinthians 5:7 says, “For we live by faith, not by sight.” Both scriptures stress that sight is not a part of faith.

Beth Moore has written, “Attempting to exercise you faith according to what we can see cancels out that very faith. . . . Our faith must rest on God’s identity, not His activity. . . . When you don’t know what God is doing, you can find stability in Who He is.”

Let us strive to fulfill II Corinthians 4:18. “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” The unseen miracles that are happening around us will only be visible through our spiritual eyes. I remember a chorus we used to sing. “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. Open the eyes of my heart. I want to see You. I want to see You!”

Max Lucado writes, “Feed your faith, not your fears. If you feed your faith, your fears will starve.” Lucado also points out that the critical principle for seeing the unseen is to ignore what people say. Believe what God says. Look for the positive. Don’t just listen to the negative.

Matthew 12:20 tells us, “A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out.” If you feel like your faith’s flame is flickering, don’t give in to fear. Remember what took place in Acts 2. The disciples couldn’t figure out what was happening after Jesus left them. Then the Holy Spirit descended upon them like tongues of fire and set their faith ablaze. Jesus promised in John 14:26, “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.” The Holy ‘Spirit is our teacher and helper. God does not expect us to develop a deeper faith on our own. He helps us. II Timothy 1:6 tells us to fan the flame. Allow the fire of the Holy Spirit to fan faith’s flame in you.

Because of COVID19, we may identify with Paul in II Corinthians 1:9. “Indeed we felt we had received the sentence o death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.If this is your feeling, please remember Romans 8:28. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” The growth of our faith may be unseen at the present time – just like the unseen miracles around us. However, God is at work. When we are honest with Him about our faith and feelings, He will not desert us. Psalm 145:18 says, The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.

Currently, Waymaker is one of my favorite songs. I am reminded of one particular line. “Even when I can’t see it, You’re working!”

Think about Joseph and all he endured because of his brothers. (see Genesis 37) Yet later in life, he said to his brothers in Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” I believe the day will come when we can declare this verse relating to the coronavirus. It was meant to harm us, but God will use this difficulty for His glory.

Is your faith growing? Jesus says in Matthew 17:20, If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Even a tiny bit of faith is powerful with God. I recently read online, If a tiny virus can do this much damage, imagine what mustard seed size faith can do.”

Sarah Young writes as the voice of Jesus in Jesus Always for March 26. “Seek to see Me in the midst of your circumstances. Look for signs of My unseen Presence as you walk along the path of Life. Gratefulness opens not only your heart but also your eyes. When you know Me intimately, you can find Me in myriad tiny details as well as in the big picture of your life. Take time to notice all My blessings – small and large – and to thank Me for them. This practice will help you enjoy My many gifts. . . . Also ask Me to train you in trusting Me more consistently. Well-developed trust enables you to go across treacherous terrain without grumbling. The more challenging your journey, the more frequently you need to voice your confidence in Me.”

My Reader, join me in repeating Psalm 34:3-5.Magnify the LORD with me; let us exalt His name together. I sought the LORD, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant with joy; their faces shall never be ashamed.Let’s stop giving COVID-19 so much power. Let’s magnify the Lord who has all power and authority! 

Are you ready to embrace the words of Joshua 1:9? “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Yes, God promises to be with us even when we do not understand – even when doubts creep into our thoughts. Remember the instructions we are given in Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Yes, we serve a miracle working God! However, I do not want to demean any of you who are currently suffering in any way from this horrible virus. You are in my prayers! Psalm 86:15 says, “But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.You may not see it yet, but God has some unseen miracles for you as well. I do not know the answers to all the physical and spiritual questions being asked. However, I want to believe for more of the miraculous for all of us.

Little Boy in Big Boots

I want to begin by sharing an experience our granddaughter recently had at work. Grace wrote the following story.

“I know this picture is sort of silly and very random but I think it holds such a precious little story within its borders.
This is a two year old boy wearing my boots while asking to go outside.
I think a lot of times we can ask for something but we do not quite understand how to get there. This little boy wanted so badly to go outside. I hadn’t gotten him his own shoes yet, so he took things into his own hands. And although he looked adorable and made me laugh, as soon as he took two steps he toppled over. He couldn’t keep his balance. Very slowly he tried to get where he wanted. He was repetitively tripping and getting frustrated.
Why is it that when we want something so badly we take matters into our own hands? We sometimes tell God what we want and where we want to go. But instead of waiting for Him to put our pieces together and “grab us our shoes”, we put on someone else’s shoes and/or things that don’t quite fit and start the journey. This leads us to tripping and falling. We must turn back for help and probably will need to start over again.
If this two year old had only waited a little while longer. Then he would have known I had his shoes in hand and was about to step down to his level and place his shoes upon him. This would have allowed him to run freely and be stable.”

I want to support Grace’s comments with a few specific scriptures.

We often forget Psalm 31:15. “My times are in your hands.”

We take situations into our own hands. This toddler put his feet into his situation. Hands or feet – similar results. Like the little lad, we want to do things our way in our timing. Let us remember Isaiah 55:8-9. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” The little boy was anxious (excited) to go outside. We tend to become anxious (worried) about serious situations. Which ever definition we choose, being anxious can be detrimental.

The two-year-old thought Grace was being very slow. He wanted outside NOW! He did not realize she was in the process of fulfilling his desires. We can identify with this boy when it concerns God answering our prayers. We want answers NOW! We must realize God is at work. II Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” Grace was not being slow. God is never slow. God is more concerned about the souls of people than the boy was about the soles of his boots.

The boy just needed to be patient and trust Grace. We need to be patient and trust God. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” The little lad would not have tripped and fallen if he had waited for Grace to put the right sized boots on his feet. Throughout our spiritual journey, we will trip and fall when we do not trust the Lord.

Psalm 37:4 tells us, “Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” If this little boy was going to be delighted by going outside, then the proper preparations had been made. God often needs to make preparations and adjustments in our hearts. When we praise (delight ourselves in) the Lord, our desires come into agreement with His desires. How delightful it is when our desires and God’s desires are the same!

Beth Moore has written, “Our attitude toward timing may shed light on the desires of our hearts. If our heart’s desire is the will of God, we will wait for His timing even when the pause is long and uncomfortable.” Like the two-year-old, we gain nothing by running ahead of God. We will be displeased with the results. We will become frustrated. Beth Moore adds, “Do we truly believe God knows what is best for us? Then we can also believe God knows when is best for us.”

Grace loves this little boy. God loves us. Isaiah 40:31 NKJV promises, “But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” This verse is applicable whether it is a little boy running and playing outside or our running the race of life.

Ishmaels or Isaacs

Ishmael and Isaac were sons of Abraham. Ishmael’s mother was Hagar. Isaac’s mother was Sarah. Ishmael was approximately 13 years older than Isaac. He was a son conceived when matters were taken into human hands. Isaac was a son promised by God.

It all started when God spoke to Abram in Genesis 12:1-2. “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you.

Abram and Sarai were obedient. They left. But, it looked like God was not doing His part. There were no heirs for this great nation.

For the next 10 years, they waited for a son to be born. Finally Sarai had an idea. She suggested that Abram take her maidservant Hagar to conceive a son. (see Genesis 16:1-4) Abram followed Sarai’s advice. The result was the birth of Ishmael.

Abram had a son, but everything was not right.

This plan had not worked. Now what?

About a dozen years after Ishmael was born, God and Abram had another conversation.

God changed Abram’s name to Abraham and Sarai’s to Sarah.

In Genesis 17:6, the Lord assures Abraham, “I will make you exceedingly fruitful.

Although Abraham was 99 years old and Sarah was 90 or a little older, they finally had the son God had promised so many years ago. Abraham named him Isaac. (see Genesis 21:1-3)

Ishmael was born when Abram and Sarai took matters into their own hands. Isaac was born when Abraham and Sarah left things in God’s hands.

Did God move as quickly as Abraham and Sarah expected? No, but God had a time set in history for when He would fulfill His promise. II Peter 3:9 says,The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness.” (There was a lesson for them to learn – and we, too, need to learn it.)

Did everything go the way Abraham and Sarah expected? No, but God had thought through His plan. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.’” (They needed to know this – and we do too.)

Was God’s timing the same as Abraham and Sarah’s? No, but God had His own timetable. II Peter 3:8 reminds us, “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.(They had another lesson to learn – and we, too, should learn it.)

Over the 25 years of waiting, Abraham and Sarah gained many insights. However, I believe the most important thing Abraham and Sarah discovered was the faithfulness of God.

Hebrews 11:11-12 states,By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.

Deuteronomy 7:9 declares, God is faithful to fulfill His promises. Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments.

This, too, is for us. We have the potential to create either an Ishmael or an Isaac. Do we only have confidence in ourselves or do we have faith in God?

Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us,Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Abraham and Sarah lived life and learned lessons. Ishmael and Isaac were conceived. The lives of these men were influenced by Abraham and Sarah’s choices and actions,

Genesis 25:12-18 tells of Ishmael’s 12 sons.

However, it is through the lineage of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that the 12 tribes of Israel emerge. This is the heritage of the great nation promised by God. (see Genesis 35:23-28)

The descendants of Ishmael and Isaac have historically been enemies. The animosity remains to this day.

This will also be true of the Ishmaels and Isaacs we create. Our Ishmaels originate from our fleshly desires. Our Isaacs are born through the help of the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 5:16-17 says, “walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another.

Let us create Isaacs rather than Ishmaels!

God’s Word is Alive!

The Bible. It is not simply words about God – it is the Word of God. It is not just printed ink on a bunch of pages – it is the voice of God in print. Graham Cooke says, “God’s Word is living and active. It contains divine energy, always moving and accomplishing His purposes.”

I quote numerous scriptures in most every blog I post. I use scripture verses to support what I write. Today, I want to share verses that validate the power of God’s Word.

The sum of Your word is truth [the total of the full meaning
of all Your individual precepts]; and every one
of Your righteous decrees endures forever.
Psalms 119:160 AMP

The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.
Isaiah 40:8 AMP

Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass.
I have purposed it; I will also do it.
Isaiah 46:11 NKJV

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

Then said the Lord to me, “You have seen well,
for I am alert and active, watching over My word to perform it.”
Jeremiah 1:12 AMP 

For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God
shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment.
Luke 1:37 AMP

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching,
for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
so that the man of God may be adequate,
equipped for every good work.
II Timothy 3:16-17

For the word of God is alive and active.
Sharper than any double-edged sword,
it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow;
it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12

But the Word of the Lord (divine instruction, the Gospel) endures forever.
And this Word is the good news which was preached to you.
I Peter 1:25 AMP

Do you believe these words from the Word? According to Hebrews 6:8, it is impossible for God to lie. Romans 4:21 reminds us that Abraham was convinced that God could do whatever He promised. We can have the same confidence. II Timothy 2:13 AMP declares, “He remains true (faithful to His Word and His righteous character), for He cannot deny Himself.”

There is no doubt in my mind that God’s Word is true and powerful!