This morning the Lord brought me back to a favorite account in the Old Testament for a fresh Word of encouragement.  The account of Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, has been a long standing favorite, but I’ve not thought of its application to recent days until He brought it to mind this morning.  The specific account is found in 2 Chronicles 20:1-30.  I encourage you to read it in its entirety  and assure you will be blessed.

“Now it came about after this that the sons of Moab and the sons of Ammon, together with some of the Meunites, came to make war against Jehoshaphat.  Then some came and reported to Jehoshaphat, saying, “A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, out of Aram and behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar (that is Engedi).” Jehoshaphat was afraid and turned his attention to seek the Lord…” 2 Ch 20:1-3a

Jehoshaphat was afraid.  I can relate, I must admit I’ve been battling a spirit of fear as I look at the bleak prospects of our current national state and future. In the same sentence though, we find Jehoshaphat immediately turned his attention to seek the Lord.  I find this convicting.  While I have offered up prayers that God bring revival and heal our land, I must admit I’ve spent much more time reading the gloom and doom of new tax implications, fraud accusations and political strife and scandal in general.

“…and [Jehoshaphat] proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.  So Judah gathered together to seek help from the Lord; they even came from all the cities of Judah to seek the Lord. 2 Ch 20:3b

“All Judah was standing before the Lord, with their infants, their wives and their children.” 2 Ch 20:13

God’s people followed Jehoshaphat’s lead, fasting and seeking God together.  I can see them standing there, fearful, babies in arms and children hanging on to their legs.  They came together and cried out to God in one voice. Oh, how we need to do the same.  The cry they lifted to God rings of what I believe ours should as well.

“For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” 2 Ch 20:12b

As I read the choices our nation has voted in favor of, the decisions our elected leaders are making and implementing, I recognize I am powerless to change it.  I’ve voted, I’ve spoken truth and taken stands where appropriate, but beyond that I am powerless.  My powerlessness does not equal hopelessness, though.  Like the people of Judah, let us fix our eyes on God.

God answered when the people of Judah sought him.

 “Listen, all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s.  Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the valley in front of the wilderness of Jeruel.  You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face them, for the Lord is with you.” 2 Ch 20:15-17

The decisions being made in our nation are against God and His ways.  Like Judah, we are called to stand, which many of us have done and are doing.  But the encouragement comes in knowing ultimately the battle is not ours, but the Lord’s.

Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah took God at His word.  Their response to His word was to immediately bow, worship and praise God.  Early the next morning they left for the desert, this is my favorite part of the account:

“Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, O Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, put your trust in the Lord your God and you will be established. Put your trust in His prophets and succeed.”21 When he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who sang to the Lord and those who praised Him in holy attire, as they went out before the army and said, “Give thanks to the Lord, for His loving kindness is everlasting.” 2 Ch 20b-21

That gives me goose bumps every time!  Jehoshaphat and the people chose to put the choir in front of the army! Ahead of the army the choir is marching and singing “Give thanks to the Lord, for His loving kindness is everlasting.” Awesome, powerful, moving faith.  It gets even better, though:

“When they began singing and praising, the Lord set ambushes against the sons of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; so they were routed.  For the sons of Ammon and Moab rose up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir destroyingthem completely; and when they had finished with the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

When Judah came to the lookout of the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude, and behold, they were corpses lying on the ground, and no one had escaped.” 2 Ch 20:22-24

While the people were praising God, He was fighting the battle for them.  Victory was theirs as they stood and praised Him.

God has already assured us the victory as well, we have victory through the blood of Christ Jesus.  The battle is already won!  Though circumstances in our nation may change, we stand secure knowing we are His. God has already answered our cries, before we even asked.  The entire Bible stands as His Word of encouragement for us.  Now after we’ve humbled ourselves before Him, seeking His face, all we have to do is stand firm.  As Jehoshaphat and Judah have shown us, praising as you stand makes it even better!

“Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.  By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.”  1 Cor 15:1-2

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Cor 15:58

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.  Do everything in love.” 1 Cor 16:13-14

” Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us,  set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” 2 Cor 1:21-22

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Eph 6:13

“You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” James 5:8

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1 Peter 5:8-9

Just a thought to share for today… Reading through Acts this morning, I was struck afresh by a familiar verse, Acts 4:13.

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

It struck me that what astonished the rulers, elders and teachers of the law in Jerusalem was not Peter and John’s eloquence of speech, their impressive articulation of theology or any other quality these men of stature would generally find impressive.  It was, rather, their courage.  Peter and John had absolute confidence and faith in Christ which gave them courageous spirits as they testified to The Truth.  They were unschooled, ordinary men sold out for Jesus and boldly proclaiming His truths.

How I long for people to see Jesus in me.  May I leave them thinking, “she has been with Jesus.”  Like Moses, may my countenance reflect His glory in radiance from basking in His presence (Ex. 34:29).  When I am called to testify for my Lord, may I answer like Peter and John, that I “cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”  On this journey with Him, I have seen His mighty and gentle hand at work and heard His voice time and again, may I never cease to share Him, His ways and His wonders.

13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. 14 Do everything in love. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity,  but a spirit of power,  of love and of self-discipline.

8 So do not be ashamed   to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner.   But join with me in suffering for the gospel,   by the power of God, 9 who has saved  us and called  us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done  but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,” 2 Timothy 1:8-9

13 We know   that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify   that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,   God lives in him and he in God.  1 John 4:13-15

Though I thought this blog was a thing of the past, I am so moved by the simple truth the Lord struck me with this morning, I am compelled to share it.  As I read through Luke 22, a previously unhighlighted (i.e. unappreciated) verse leapt off the page at me.

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32

Recalling the story of Job, and knowing that Satan our adversary is as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8), I was not surprised by Satan’s asking to sift Peter. What struck me so profoundly was Jesus’ statement, “but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.” (vs. 32). Jesus, our eternal Lord and Savior prayed for Simon Peter by name. He knew Simon Peter was going to stumble and He was interceding on his behalf, that his faith would be strengthened. The simple yet profound truth that our precious Jesus intercedes for me personally as I struggle to follow Him in obedience overwhelmed me this morning. Immediately more of His Word flooded my heart and mind, affirming its truth.

 “but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.  Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” Hebrews 7:24-25

He always, perpetually, continually, consistently, constantly, eternally lives to intercede for you and me, what an awesome blessed truth!  As I struggle with discouragement as I regularly stumble and fall while seeking to walk with Him, he is praying for continual strengthening of my faith, ensuring the success of my journey with Him.

Just as He told Peter, I am also reminded of our responsibility to be transparent with one another, sharing with, testifying to and encouraging one another for mutual strengthening. Jesus instructed Peter, “And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (vs 32). Our testimony of Christ’s redemption and restoration from our failures is to be used for the strengthening of our brothers and sisters.

What a blessed truth to start this week with, Jesus prays for me! I pray you are equally blessed by that truth today.

23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:23-25

I’m studying through Genesis again and once again I’ve been captivated by the unfolding of His word.  I’ve read the account of Leah countless times and missed it every time, that is until this morning.  The Holy Spirit turned it as a precious gem revealing yet another facet.

Jacob has just worked seven years to earn the right to marry Laban’s beautiful daughter, Rachel.   After the wedding night he discovers he was given Leah, the older, presumably less attractive sister of Rachel.    Seven days later he is given Rachel as well.   The compassionate heart aches for Leah as she’s seen married through trickery and unloved by her husband.  It is quickly revealed that our surpassingly compassionate Father is not unaware of her plight:

 When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.  Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the LORD has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”  Genesis 29:31-32

Leah, longing for the affection of her husband, is hopeful the birth of a son will win it but she is undoubtedly soon to be disappointed.  Leah longs to be loved, and still it is withheld from her.  A second and third time she is hopeful that through giving him sons Jacob’s heart will be turned to her.

She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Because the LORD heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon.  Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” So he was named Levi.  Genesis 29:33-34

At this point something very interesting happens, it’s the facet I’ve missed every other time:

She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the LORD.” So she named him Judah.  Then she stopped having children.  Genesis 29:35

Leah’s focus has changed, she’s shifted from pining for the affection of her husband to praising her God.  Pay close attention to who this son is, “Judah.”  Lest you miss it, remember our Lord and savior is the “Lion of Judah” born from the line of Judah.  Jacob didn’t choose Leah, but God chose Leah for an awesome blessing.  Her earthly eyes didn’t see it’s fulfillment, but I’m certain her heavenly eyes have.  Through her we are given our precious Savior.  Her focus shifted from her earthly desires to her heavenly Father and she is found in a place of honor, loved by her Father and playing a role to usher in the Savior of the World.   

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.   For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Lord I thank you for the unfolding of your Word, for your faithfulness to meet us every day and teach us through the guiding of your Holy Spirit.  Thank you for recording and preserving this beautiful account of your unchanging character and love.  May my focus always be set on you, that you may use me for your glory. 

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;
       he rises to show you compassion.
       For the LORD is a God of justice.
       Blessed are all who wait for him!  Isaiah 30:18 

Counted Worthy

After a lengthy sabbatical from blogging my quiet times, I’m compelled to blog this morning’s.  I’m in Acts now, taking a break from my Old Testament study and journeying through the New Testament once again for the past few months.  This morning I’m in Chapter 5, I was so stirred by the familiar words of verse 41, that I couldn’t resist the urge to blog them.

  “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.”  Acts 5:41

Prior to this verse the apostles had been flogged for proclaiming the name of Jesus, now we find them rejoicing over the hardship they’ve just endured.  In previous years this verse hasn’t resonated in quite the way it does presently.  Watching the political and cultural shifts in our nation is understatedly alarming.  While we’re not yet at the point of being flogged for our faith (by officials), we are very much at the point of being told not to speak of our Savior.  I’ve watched the unfolding decline of our nation with a heavy heart.  But, in recent days, I’ve become very convicted that these are the days our testimony speaks.  When it costs something to stand up for Jesus, people will listen.  When we pay a price to stand up for Jesus our faith is forged as we experience His sustaining grace through the trial.  The days ahead will be days of refining, lukewarm will no longer be an option.  In preparation, we must heed the words of Joshua:

   14 “Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”  Joshua 24:14-15.

If we are truly His, when ordered not to speak of Him, like the apostles we must proclaim :

 18Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. 20For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”   Acts 4:18-20

 May my soul pant for him, that I may be fully committed to Him, surrendered in spirit that I may act in obedience, without delay, doing whatever He calls me to do.  When I have obeyed, may I have a spirit that rejoices over having had the opportunity to serve no matter the cost.  May I be counted worthy.

 13″Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” 15But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”  1 Peter 3:13-17

Recently several friends have asked me to share my understanding of election.  I have been very tentative in doing so, and will very cautiously attempt to provide a brief outline of my beliefs here.  I find it very difficult to discuss election alone, so I will include aspects of depravity, grace and atonement as well.  Bear in mind, I do not claim to be a theologian nor an eloquent author; just a simple woman seeking to know Him better. 

For a clearer understanding from a theologian’s presentation, read the statement of beliefs on Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s website here.

This is neither intended to persuade nor ignite heated debate; it is purely a brief statement of my beliefs for those who have asked.  Disclaimers in place, here it goes…

I believe our elect status is determined by our position in Christ.  For example, looking at Ephesians 1: 3-8

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

 We are chosen “in Him” – that is through our relationship with Jesus Christ.   Our Sovereign God, omniscient and unbound by time – seeing the end from the beginning, knew before the creation of the world that man as He created Him, a free moral agent, would choose disobedience, sin and ultimately death.  So, before the foundation of the world He chose His Son, Jesus Christ, to be the perfect sacrificial lamb to atone for the sins of the world (1 Peter 1:20).  At that time God predestined that all who turn and believe in the Son unto salvation would receive the gift of new life through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit granted by God’s grace.  God freely offers this gift to all mankind, drawing all to him through Holy Spirit conviction, and the presentation of the gospel message from the Living Word of God (John 12:32; John16:8-11; Romans 1:16-17). Just as in the Old Testament, He sets before each of us life and death, and tells us to choose accordingly (Deuteronomy 30:15-20).  As Charles Stanley often says, “What will you do with Jesus?”  Your answer to Jesus is your choice of life or death.  Accept or reject, it’s up to you to decide (John 5:24; John 3:35-36).   Salvation is by grace, through faith, not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9).  The”work” that brings salvation is believing (John 6:29).  “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?'” John 11:25-26

 While I do believe He calls all men unto Himself, I also believe a person’s unbelief and repeated rejection of His offer may result in spiritual hardening (Hebrews 3:7-19).  The hardened unbeliever may be spiritually blinded by Satan. (2 Corinthinas 4:4). If they die spiritually blinded, they will indeed perish, but it is the result of their unbelief and willful rejection of Him (2 Thessalonians 2:10-11).  I take courage and persist in praying passionately for our unsaved loved ones, knowing that “the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)  We know that it is His desire that none should perish, and that everyone would come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).  So, we may approach His throne boldly, praying within His will, and on their behalf that He will orchestrate circumstances to bring them to a place of brokenness, and that He will open their blinded eyes so that they may see The Way and repent (John 15:22-24).   

In the New Testament it is clear that man’s final condemnation unto death is the result of his rejection of Jesus Christ. Knowing that God’s character is unchanging, and He Himself proclaims His kindness, justice, and righteousness (Jeremiah 9:23-24), it certainly seems a contradiction to damn much of mankind for not believing in a plan they were never given the ability to believe in.   If men are so blinded by their total depravity that only through a regenerating work of God can they see their need for Him and call upon the name of Jesus, certainly those who remain blind because they were not given the ability to see would not be found guilty.  Christ himself says in John 9:39-41:

Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”  Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”  Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.

And similarly in John15:22-24:

 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father.

Another contradiction arises when we look at the efficacy of the sin of Adam in comparison to redemption through Christ.  Why would sin enter through Adam condemning all, but the blood of Jesus be spilled and not atone for all?  Examining Romans 5:18-19, it doesn’t fit to say that salvation is only available to a select few individuals specifically chosen in advance. 

Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. Romans 5:18-19

It seems very clear here, just as sin entered through Adam, bringing condemnation for all; so also life is made available to all through Christ.  It clearly states that Christ’s death, being the one act of righteousness, brings life for all men. Meaning all men are given the right to life, and the opportunity to become son’s of God, being made righteous through belief in Christ (John 1:12).  Not all are made righteous, because not all choose Him, but many will be made righteous through faith in Him.

I stand in awe of His plan for us, the elect, the chosen, the redeemed children of God.  I rejoice in  knowing there is room for all at the foot of the cross, if only they will believe.  As I look at my precious children, I am confident their fate is not predetermined.  It is certainly foreknown by Him, but not predetermined by Him.  I will raise them as He has instructed me, training them in the admonition of Him, we will discuss Him and His ways throughout the day (Deuteronomy 11).  I praise Him that I can have full confidence that Christ paid their sin debt, enabling them to be reconciled to Him, our Holy God, if only they will believe.  Prayers of this mother will rise daily, that He will draw them in, revealing Himself clearly to them so they will choose to cling to Him alone.  In the end if they reject Him, I’m left knowing He gave them every opportunity to receive salvation.  His Word clearly tells me He loves them, draws them and has predestined that if they believe in Christ they have the right to become sons (and daughters) of God.

There are many more passages that could be quoted and arguments that could be made.  I’ve presented a few that are most prominent in my mind, answering the original question as to what I believe.  Having acknowledged the disagreement on election, I will also acknowledge my choice to respect those who are committed to a belief in Unconditional Election.  They are certainly able to argue their perspective, and I believe time has proven we won’t agree on the correct interpretation this side of heaven.  So from here, the best thing we can do is agree to disagree.  As passionately as I am convicted on this issue, I am mortified by the attitudes I see displayed on blogs all across the internet.  This is a critical doctrine, worthy of much discussion and debate, but it must always be done in love and with respect.  Jesus’ parting words to us include the following:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  John 13:34-35

May our words always reflect our love for one another, that the world may see His love in us and know that we are His.

I love reading the book of Esther, my favorite verse is the climax where Mordecai charges Esther with the following statement:

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

Through the book of Esther we watch Esther transition from being an orphan in the care of her cousin, to the royal position of queen.  Through this well known story, and Mordecai’s challenge, we are reminded that God raises people up to certain positions to be used through obedience for His purposes and glory. 

We see a similar theme in the life of Joseph, as the favored son of his father, we see Joseph betrayed by his own brothers, sold into slavery and travelling a road wrought with hardship.  Eventually he, too, winds up in a royal position, all the while being used through obedience for God’s puposes and glory.  He reminds his brothers of this 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.

God has us here for such a time as this.  He has a plan, and divine appointments for us, if only we will seek Him and His will (Ephesians 5:15-17).  Ours may not be a royal position or the dramatic saving of lives, but it will undoubtedly be for His glory. 

I’m reminded of a precious woman whom God placed in my life in a “for such a time as this” moment.  I will cautiously preface the following testimony by saying it was God’s will for us individually to homeschool our family, in no way do I believe it to be His will for all Christians.  I wrestled at length with His conviction and my husband’s urging to homeschool my children.  I had reluctantly agreed, but was so discouraged at the thought of it.  It certainly was not my heart’s desire at the time, but rather an act of obedience to God’s prompting and my husband’s urging.  That morning I cried out to God, broken in spirit and overwhelmed with the task at hand.  I pleaded with Him for a physical touch, for affirmation of His instruction and encouragement as I sought to be obedient.  I was to meet my husband for lunch that afternoon, arriving slightly early I went into Dollar Tree to browse.  As I was kneeling looking at a display, a woman came and stood over me.  She struck up a conversation, and not long into it, it was clear she was my physical touch.  God sent her to affirm His plan for me, to encourage me in obedience to His will, and to bless me beyond words.  She probably has no idea how she was used that day; but I know from what she shared, she had been seeking Him and He had used her for such a time as that.

The appointment may be noble like Esther’s and Joseph’s, or ignoble like that of the precious saint in my Dollar Tree encounter. But the end result is ultimately the same – God’s glory.  From a worldly view it might seem of little importance that she encouraged me that day.  But from my vantage point, it was a direct touch from God.   Her obedience profoundly impacted me as a testimony of my Father’s faithfulness, and solidified my obedience in the matter.

How I pray that I will always be available to be used by Him for every opportunity.  May I always be seeking Him and fully surrendered so that my eyes will be open to every appointment, be it noble or ignoble .  Let me not be set on determining my steps, but let me seek the direction He would have me go (Jeremiah 10:23).  As I seek Him through His word, I pray that He will grant me His wisdom so that I may make the most of every opportunity He sets before me, and be used for such a time as this (Ephesians 5:15-17; Colossians 4:5). 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  Hebrews 12:1-3