Month: April 2015

Streams in the Desert Devotion for April 17th

The hand of the Lord has done this. (Job 12:9)

A number of years ago the most magnificent diamond in the history of the world was found in an African mine. It was then presented to the king of England to embellish his crown of state.
The king sent it to Amsterdam to be cut by an expert stone-
cutter. Can you imagine what he did with it?

He took this gem of priceless value and cut a notch in it.
Then he struck it one hard time with his hammer, and the
majestic jewel fell into his hand, broken in two.What reckless-
ness! What wastefulness! What criminal carelessness!

Actually, that is not the case at all. For you see, that one blow
with the hammer had been studied and planned for days, and even
weeks. Drawings and models had been made of the gem. Its qual-
ity, defects, and possible lines along which it would split had all
been studied to the smallest detail. And the man to whom it was
entrusted was one of the most skilled stonecutters in the world.

Now do you believe that blow was a mistake? No, it was the
capstone and the culmination of the stonecutter’s skill.When he
struck that blow,he did the one thing that would bring that gem
to its most perfect shape, radiance, and jeweled splendor. The blow
that seemed to be the ruin of the majestic precious stone was actu-
ally its perfect redemption, for from the halves were fashioned two
magnificent gems. Only the skilled eye of the expert stonecut-
ter could have seen the beauty of two diamonds hidden in the
rough, uncut stone as it came from the mine.

Sometimes, in the same way, God lets a stinging blow fall
on your life.You bleed, feeling the pain, and your soul cries out
in agony.At first you think the blow is an appalling mistake.
But it is not, for you are the most precious jewel in the world
to God. And He is the most skilled stonecutter in the universe.

Someday you are to be a jewel adorning the crown of the
King. As you lie in His hand now, He knows just how to deal
with you.Not one blow will be permitted to fall on your appre-
hensive soul except what the love of God allows. And you may
be assured that from the depths of the experience, you will see
untold blessings,and spiritual enrichment you have never before
J. H. M. 

He let them hunger…

Deuteronomy 8:2-3 (ESV) And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.

What if I said that I was going to not feed my son for a whole day, because I wanted to teach him what true hunger was, to appreciate food, and understand how most of the world’s population lives? Well, I’d get thrown in jail for child neglect, that’s what! However, that’s how God parents. He doesn’t just meet superficial needs, although they are still needs. He’s looking to instill more in us…eternal perspectives. 

We wonder why God makes us wait. Think about the manna. God could’ve provided it before the Israelites even got hungry, but He didn’t. He made them wait. He made them feel hunger. God can do anything with a thought, but His timing is just as divine. God could’ve healed our marriage long before JW ever left, but He didn’t. If God never let us experience the pain of a broken marriage, then we’d never know the full value of a covenant marriage. We wouldn’t fully appreciate the existence of two beautiful, precious babies who Satan came so close to stealing before they were ever born. We wouldn’t have seen the miracles of God that we have. 

So many want to blame God because bad things happen to us: hunger, poverty, war, sickness, death. However, I’ve decided that it’s not God’s punishment that brings us to these points, but His everlasting mercy. For His mercy brings us to the end of ourselves, so that we may find a life which begins with Him. We just have to accept that God allows us to feel hunger, to make us more eternally minded. 

What’s in a name?

Proverbs 22:1 (NKJV) A [good] name is to be chosen rather than great riches, Loving favor rather than silver and gold.

Because of all that we experienced, we wanted to give names to our children that glorified The Great I Am. After 10 years of infertility, God told me I was pregnant almost a month after JW came back home! I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true. I was journaling when I heard the Holy Spirit say I was pregnant. I stopped writing thinking I was imagining things. As I looked up, my eyes fell on a scripture I had posted on the doorpost:

Psalms 37:5 (KJV) 5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring [it] to pass.

It stunned me, but I ignored it and kept writing. But the feeling wouldn’t let me go. So, I looked up again and my eyes fell on another verse:

Psalms 37:4 (KJV) 4 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

This was the desire of my heart, and I knew God was speaking to me, but of course I was doubtful this was actually happening. I had started journaling everything that was taking place at that moment, still questioning, when my eyes fell on one more verse:

Luke 1:45 (NKJV) “Blessed [is] she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”

Wow! By this point, I nearly fell out of the chair! I told God, “OK, I believe You.” Most would say here, “The rest is history,” but it’s not. Lol. Two weeks later I started cramping for days, but nothing happened. I took home pregnancy tests everyday and every result was negative! I didn’t understand. I believed I was pregnant, but there was no evidence. Finally, JW convinced me to go to the doctor for a blood test. As I sat in the doctor’s office awaiting results, I remembered a dream God gave me while JW was still in the Far Country. In the dream I found out I was pregnant in the doctor’s office! When I awoke I couldn’t understand why I had to find out from the doctor when we have pregnancy tests! Lol. 

When the nurse came back, she started explaining that I had to come back in two days. I stopped her to ask if I was pregnant. She said I was “slightly pregnant.” I didn’t even know that was possible! She explained that my hormone levels had to be checked again to see if they were increasing. So, we waited for 2 more days. JW and I believed so much that I was pregnant, he took off a day of work to go back to the doctor with me. We finally got the call we were waiting for: WE WERE PREGNANT! 😀 (P.S. I really think God has a sense of humor!)

It wasn’t long after that, I realized this child was conceived in forgiveness. JW & I had forgiven each other, and God had forgiven us both. I looked up a name which means “God forgives.” Ian was the only name. It just happened to also be the Gaelic name for John! So, from that day forward I prayed for a son to name “Ian.” And God answered that prayer and blessed us with Ian just two weeks before our 11th anniversary!

Our daughter’s story isn’t as dramatic, but that doesn’t lessen the miracle any bit. We had been praying for more children almost the second Ian was born. After 10 months, the Lord answered that prayer as well. I had been exhausted, and it finally dawned on me to take a pregnancy test. After my experience with Ian, I bought three! Lol. It only took one. WE WERE PREGNANT AGAIN! I got to surprise JW with that one. 😉 

When we discovered we were having a girl, we already knew her name. In the Bible, after God changes people so drastically, he usually changed their names: Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, Paul. I had asked the Lord in 2012 what my name would be.

Isaiah 65:15 (NKJV)
And ye shall leave your name for a curse unto my chosen: for the Lord GOD shall slay thee, and call his servants by another name:

Isaiah 62:2 (NKJV) The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, And all kings your glory. You shall be called by a new name, Which the mouth of the LORD will name.

I knew that I had been forever changed. I was just curious if God had a name for me. It wasn’t long after that question, God showed me Isaiah 29. It talks about Ariel being brought low, but in the end God shows mercy. I discovered that Ariel is the prophetic name of Jerusalem and means “Lion of God.” That was my new name! I smiled and promised God that if He ever blessed me with a daughter, I’d name her Ariel. In December of 2014, God and I both kept our promises! 

2016 Update: We are blessed with another daughter!! We had no clue what to name her, but after much research and God’s leading, we found the perfect name. “Annelise” means “graced by God’s bounty.” We truly have been… 🙂

Double Portion

Zechariah 9:12 (NKJV) 12 Return to the stronghold, You prisoners of hope. Even today I declare That I will restore double to you.

Isaiah 61:7 (KJV) 7 For your shame [ye shall have] double; and [for] confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them.
Today I read Zechariah 9:12 and was reminded of God’s promise to me while JW was in the Far Country. He gave me Isaiah 61:7. It’s similar to my last post about God blessing me with good for all the bad I was experiencing, but more specifically, “double.”

“Double” was something to which I could cling. I vividly remember being in so much pain the day after a distressing conversation with JW that all I could do was lie on the floor of my bedroom. JW had told me the OW was such a blessing, and he was full of so much peace with his decision to leave me for her. (Whew, it’s still painful to type that out after almost 3 years later!) As I lay there crying out to God, I heard Him say, “double.” I honestly thought God was crazy then. I asked, “God, how can You promise ‘double’ when JW isn’t home, or even wants to come home?” Silence. 

That’s where faith has to come in. God doesn’t lay out His divine plans to us step by step. He tells us the outcome, and we either believe or we don’t. I still thought God was crazy, but I chose to believe. You know, that sounds so pious, but really I didn’t have much choice. God showed me that my pain would still follow me even if I chose divorce and my own way. So I believed…I stayed on the floor for a few more days…but I believed. 

So, what is my “double?” When I got pregnant a month after JW came home, I thought it was having JW back and our son. Now we have two beautiful children. They could easily be our double portion after 10 years of infertility. However, we believe the Father will bless us with more children. Then, what is the “double” God promised? I think it’s all that I learned during such a painful journey and the rewards that came from obeying Him. I share this not to brag, but to share hope. If God can do it for me, He will do it for you! Just believe. 

suffering = good

Jeremiah 32:42 (NKJV) “For thus says the LORD: ‘Just as I have brought all this great calamity on this people, so I will bring on them all the good that I have promised them.

I remember God telling me this when JW was in the far country, and I hurt so badly I couldn’t move. I believed that it would be as good in the future as the pain was in the present. It turned out to be even better! When I see the love in my husband’s eyes, when I hold my two beautiful kids, and when we pray together as a family, I see “God’s goodness in the land of the living,” and I know the pain was worth it!
Today, I read Romans 8:18 –

Romans 8:18 (NKJV) For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 

All that happens to us individually and the suffering we’ll experience as Christians in the dark days ahead as Christ’s return draws near will be nothing to the future with Him. But Romans doesn’t have to just reference the glory of heaven, but also the glory found in us after each trial through which we suffer. 

ALMOST makes me long for suffering…