He loved us first! We’ve heard that for so long, that it seems like old news but His love for us is alive and vibrant! Has someone ever come up to you and told you that they’ve been watching you and they admire you? All of a sudden you have a connection with this person because you realize they were admiring you when you didn’t know anyone was paying you any attention, and you start paying them attention because you want them to know their admiration was well placed. J When you know they’re in the room you walk a little taller and greet others with more cheerfulness and try and keep a smile on your face, because now you know someone’s watching. God is always watching. And still loves us. I don’t want you to be jealous but I have to tell you how He woke me this morning. While my eyes were still closed, I sensed this presence all around me, loving me, watching me, and I realized it was Him! He was there, waiting for me to wake up. I was in a full glow of warm, beautiful light, although it was 6 am, cloudy & gray outside and only 37 degrees. It surrounded me. He was loving me first. Before my brain could even register a single thought. When I was fully awake and had my prayer time, all I could do was tell him over and over how much I loved Him. In my mind, I said it, shouted it, sang it, and danced it out before Him. He loved me first! It’s so easy to pour love back to someone who’s pouring it out on you. The more you praise Him, the more you open the door to receive from Him, until it’s like one of those water wheels with all the little buckets on it, as some buckets are filling, others are emptying and it keeps the wheel turning round and round. He loved you first. He loves you still. He’s watching you like someone watches a loved one they wish would wake up just so they could talk to them. Let your heart sing to Him with abandonment and unhindered adoration. He loves you!
Now I have a great faith story to tell you! I’m on the board of a recovery meeting called Faith Based Mentoring. We meet on Monday nights, share a meal, and have a message with people who’ve been in trouble with the law and/or drugs. One of the young men who attends has been on a program called Hope Probation. It’s a good program but because of the number of classes it requires the participants to be in, it can interfere with their ability to hold a full-time job. This young man had an excellent full-time job opportunity come up and decided to go ask the judge to let him off the program two months early. While waiting for the court session to start, he ran into two of the male mentors from Faith Based Mentoring. At the same time his probation officer came down the hall and asked what he was doing there and told him that he had absolutely no chance of speaking to the judge or of getting off early. The mentors, seeing how dejected he was, prayed with him about the situation. He went into the courtroom and sat down. At the end of the day, all the cases had been called and the spectator seats were empty, except for this young man. The judge had turned off the court clock. A lawyer was at the bench talking with her. The prosecutor was gathering his things and talking with one of the mentors. It looked as though the young man was going to walk away empty handed. Yet he still sat there. The judge happened to look around the attorney she was talking to and seeing him sitting there, called the young man forward. As he presented his request to her, the judge asked the two men from Faith Based Mentoring if the young man had been faithful in his attendance, to which they responded, “Absolutely.” She granted the young man’s request. He had already spoken with the employer, prior to coming to court, and had asked them if he could start his new job the next day. He dared to believe God!
God is no respecter of persons! Whether you’ve been a Christian 20 years or are a new Christian on probation, (not with God, but with men. Hmmm, if God had us on a probation period, what would that look like? Maybe we all are on probation…… this is going to require some thought!) He is the answer to your dilemma! What I love about this, is that this young man made plans as if God had already answered. What a great example of James 2:22, “Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?” Or like my dad used to say, “Even a mosquito doesn’t get a slap on the back until he starts working.” There are times when God will unexpectedly bless us when we are sitting perfectly still, but what a blessing to step out and find Him already waiting for you when you get there.
On TCT (Totally Christian Television) there was a testimony of a young man who was in prison, walking by the chapel and seen a movie was playing inside. He went in. It was The Passion of the Christ. He was an active heroin user there in prison and was in a gang, head shaved, tattooed all over, looking like the last candidate on earth to ever become a Christian. God touched him during that movie. As tears rolled down his face, he quietly asked Christ to become his Savior. He is now out of prison, married, and has a ministry helping street people. The power of God is alive & well! It never diminishes!
By both of these stories we can see that honestly God can save the whole world all by Himself. He moved on one young man to believe Him for a miracle and moved on another to make Him Lord of His life. Our involvement is a privilege. And definitely for our benefit! God loves us so much that He lets us in on it! Has it ever taken your breath seeing someone get their answer from God? Or being there when they first realize how much He loves them? It’s soooo beautiful! Hallmark is great for anyone who likes a tearjerker, but there is nothing like the amazing power of the Holy Spirit when He washes over someone and brings the brokenhearted back into right relationship with their Creator.
The Lord gave us an unexpected treat at our weekend with the men at the Blackford County Jail. We had a good turnout Friday evening and the ministry went very well. When we went back in Saturday morning, an officer came to us and said there were some men in isolation cells who were saying it wasn’t fair that they couldn’t come to the service. The officer explained that they couldn’t be mixed in with the other inmates and wanted to know if there was any way we could minister to them. I told her to bring them on in to the gym. There were only 3 of them. We gave them the whole show, snacks, music, preaching, as if it were an auditorium full of people. At the end, we had a unique opportunity to minister to them individually. The Lord would have showed up even if it had only been one of them. We can’t ever get caught up in numbers when it comes to ministry. When Jesus rescued me, it was only me, sitting in a chair in the living room by myself. It didn’t bother Him a bit that there wasn’t a whole building full of people to see how He moved, and it felt like He stopped the whole world just to speak to my heart. Don’t you love that about Him! We did get to minister to the rest of the men for a short time that morning after those 3 were taken back to their cells, and for a couple of hours in the afternoon. It simply shifted our agenda and reminded us Who’s really in charge.
The following weekend we were able to go into Westville with Sue and Dick Brooks for a weekend of ministry. We were so blessed to be able to join this faithful couple in kingdom work. Their humble steadfast dedication is in inspiration to all who have the privilege of seeing them in action. My best guess is that there were between 160-180 inmates who attended. My favorite part was the Sunday morning worship. You cannot help but be inspired when you see so many men in prison uniforms raising their hands unashamedly to praise the One who came for them. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Despite their living conditions, the fact that all their earthly possessions have been stripped away from them, and they are separated from family, they find hope in Jesus. It reminds you what really matters. When nothing else is left, He remains.
Now that I’ve went on way too long, I may as well tell you a story I heard on the radio today. It was about a middle-aged woman who was having surgery and died on the table. She seen God and asked Him if this was it for her. He said no, He was sending her back for 42 more years. When she came out of the anesthesia, she was totally healed of her condition. So excited about the new life God had for her, before leaving the hospital, she’d consulted with some specialists and had a face lift, liposuction, and a tummy tuck and even had her hair dyed. As she was leaving the parking lot and going across the parking lot, an ambulance came roaring in, hit and killed her. When she found herself so unexpectedly in heaven, she asked the Lord what happened to the 42 years she’d been promised. He answered that to be honest, when she was crossing that parking lot, He didn’t recognize her! J While you’re shaking your head, just know I truly did hear this on the radio today.
While reading through the Old Testament, I keep noticing in 2 Chronicles that when someone new was made king, many times God mentions who their mother was. Why was that significant? I don’t know either. J But since this is the month of May it’s a good reminder that if moms were significant to Him, they should be significant to us also. Like the little boy trying to pull in this fish that is obviously too big for him, he should have listened to his mom when she said don’t bite off more than you can chew. He’s probably wishing he’d of eaten his vegetables like she told him so he was stronger, but he won’t dare complain about struggling because she might ask him if he wants a little cheese with that whine. He’s probably thinking he should of brushed his teeth and worn clean underwear in case this ends up being the accident she’s always talking about. As he keeps holding on, he’s trying not to let his eyes cross, because she did say they’d get stuck that way. Is this what she meant when she said, “put that down, you don’t know where it’s been?” But no matter how hard it is, he knows it can’t be as hard as when she had to walk two miles to school in the winter with no coat and shoes that had holes in them. If only he’d of held onto his horses and not ran out of the house with ants in his pants. Why? Simply because she said so. Moms, what would we do without them! All you moms, have a blessed Mother’s Day!
“For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be the glory forever, Amen.” Romans 11:36