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Overcoming Paralyzing Situations

John 5:7-9

“Sir,” the sick man answered, “I don’t have a man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I’m coming, someone goes down ahead of me.”

“Get up,” Jesus told him, “pick up your bedroll and walk!” Instantly, the man got well, picked up his bedroll and started to walk…

The man mentioned here had been paralyzed for 38 years. The pool at Bethesda was known as a healing source for many. They believed an angel would stir the water from time to time, and the first person in the water afterward would be healed. This poor man could not walk and needed someone to help him into the water. Others had always got to the water first and received the healing, causing him to forfeit wholeness.

The paralyzed man was certainly with a disadvantage, yet he still chose to remain close to the waters. If there was a chance, he hoped someone might help him into the water in time. He was waiting for an opportunity should one arise. Without doubt, he faced disappointment after disappointment while he watched someone else become healed.

Perhaps, you’ve been there. You have a need in some area and are dependent upon someone else to help you. You’ve been hopeful and waited a long time, but you’ve yet to see your need fulfilled. You’ve seen others with the same need receive their provision time and time again, but you are still waiting for someone to help you. Jesus’s words to this man can help you, too.  Get up, pick up your bedroll, and walk!

When this man encountered Jesus, he met someone greater than the angel who stirred the water. He met the healer, Himself. He did not need another person to do anything else for him. With Christ as your Savior, you have encountered the provision for every need you have. Simply get up, pick up your bedroll, and walk! Your miracle may not come in the form you expect. It may come as you take one step at a time in the direction Christ leads you.

This man no longer needed someone else to help him when he met Jesus. You don’t need someone or something to happen to make you happy. You simply need to be willing to get up and walk, healed from your former paralyzing situations. If you’ve never encountered Jesus, He is only a prayer away. Ask Him to heal you of the paralyzing situations that prevent you from fully enjoying life. A miracle doesn’t always come in the forms we imagine. They often come as we take one step at a time in obedience to His call. You may be capable of much more than you realize!

Have a blessed day!

Turning Back Our Steps

Psalm 119:59

I thought about my ways and turned my steps back to Your decrees.

To turn our steps back is to repent. We’ve all found ourselves heading down the wrong path at some time or another and having to back-track to find our way to where we should be. While it may seem like a delay in reaching our destination, turning back is crucial to reaching our destination at all. If only we could turn back time, as well as our steps, we might avoid frustration, but would we really gain anything from the wandering?

The first step to repentance is to consider your ways. Are you heading in the right direction? Do your actions match what God has placed in your heart for you? Is your influence increasing or decreasing? Are you servant minded or self-absorbed? Are you consumed with following God’s word or with the world? What needs to change for you to get where you need to be? Carefully consider your ways and determine where you need to turn your steps back to fall in line with God’s word.

If you’ve found yourself wandering, take heart. Turning your steps back to God will lead you straight into the arms of grace, where God can open doors that propel you forward as if no time were lost at all. The important thing is to get on the right track, and just trust where God will take you from there. You can’t get where you need to be if you aren’t heading in the right direction, so taking time to reflect upon your walk and turning back if necessary can only enhance your journey. In this race, you don’t have to finish first; you just have to finish to do well.

Have a blessed day!

Good to be Afflicted

Psalm 119:71

It was good for me to be afflicted so that I could learn your statutes.

Many of us are visual learners, and others are auditory learners. There are some of us, however, who are hands-on learners, and we cannot fully grasp something until we actually do it. Unless we actually encounter the truth of a lesson, we won’t fully understand its meaning. Therefore, God allows us the learning lab of life to experience certain things so they will reveal the truth of His word to us.

When we are afflicted with hard times, the best thing we can do is to sit back and ask ourselves a question: “What is God saying to me through all this?”  He is always teaching us, and He has a message for us in every difficulty. Even if we brought the difficulty on ourselves, He continues to speak to us to carefully guide us through the situation so we don’t make the same mistake again.

Perhaps, the greatest lesson we learn through the hands-on laboratory of affliction is to trust God. When we can’t do anything for ourselves, we have to trust that He is in the midst of it and will bring us to victory. We may not triumph the way we would prefer, but in the end, we gain something very valuable that we would have never received otherwise.

If you are going through a difficult time, take time to reflect upon what God is saying to you in the midst of it. What big picture do you see emerging from your trial? What is important in the long run, and what is not? What mistakes did you make that you’ve learned never to make again? To whom is God drawing you closer, and whom or what should you let go? Through it all, you will find your trust in God increasing, and your dependence upon yourself decreasing. In the words of John the Baptist, “I must decrease so that He may increase.” (John 3:30)

Have a blessed day!

The LORD Accepts My Prayer

Psalm 6:9

The LORD has heard my plea for help; the LORD accepts my prayer.

This verse is a part of a Psalm David wrote as a song to be played with an instrument. We can certainly sing and praise God today because He hears our pleas for help and accepts our prayers! He has not left us to fend for ourselves. He is an ever present help in time of need.

David knew God accepted His prayer. God would not reject Him, nor does He reject us. He may not always give us what we want, but He listens to us and meets the real need that lies beneath our cry. When my son was young and would ask me for something, it was often because he is bored and needed to be entertained or busy. Rather than just giving him whatever he wanted, I sometimes had to re-direct his interest. God can certainly recognize the greater need within us, and He always has a better solution. We have to submit our prayers to Him and trust Him when we pray.

Praying acknowledges our dependence upon God. We can do nothing in, of, or by ourselves, but we can do all things through Him. In Christ, all things are possible for the one who believes. Crying out to God is never a sign of weakness but a reaching for His strength. As a child is dependent upon a parent for provision, so we are dependent upon Him. Never hesitate to cry out to Him or to rely upon Him fully for any provision you need.

Spend time with God this morning, knowing full well that He accepts your prayer. He has not rejected you. Continue trusting Him and asking Him for the things you need. He is your strength, and He is working on your behalf. He is for you and not against you, and His desire is to increase your faith. Trust in the prayers you have prayed with the assurance that God is at work, even if you can’t see it right now.

Have a blessed day!

The Work of God

John 6:28-29

“What can we do to perform the works of God?” they asked. Jesus replied, “This is the work of God: that you believe in the One He has sent.”

God’s plan, His purpose, His work is that we believe in Jesus Christ. As Jesus explained to His disciples after He fed the 5,000, He is the bread from heaven who gives life to the world (v. 33). Jesus is God’s answer to the world, and we find the solution to every problem we face in Him. This life and all it holds for us is temporary, but we were created to live eternally – somewhere. Jesus paid the price for fallen man to be restored in relationship with God and to live eternally with Him. God has bestowed all glory and honor to Jesus Christ, and we who are in Him will one day rule and reign with Him. Without Christ, we remain in a fallen spiritual state, where we will cater to fallen desires and will live eternally in a fallen kingdom where suffering never ends and we receive just punishment for our sins.

The disciples wanted to know what they had to do to perform the work of God. In other words, how could they earn it or be worthy of it? The work of God in our life, however, is simple: we believe in Jesus Christ, whom God sent. If we simply believe in Christ, we have done the work of God. By believing in Christ, the work of God is done in us – we are forgiven by grace through the substitute Christ made for us on the cross.

Many of us struggle with trying to figure out what God wants us to do with our lives. He wants us to believe in the One He has sent. This belief will create a love in us for others and a desire to serve God because of what Christ did for us. This one belief will lead us to discover how God has equipped us to serve. This one belief will motivate us to believe God’s promises and to increase our faith. This one belief will help us overcome every obstacle the Devil sets in our way. Because Jesus came to earth as the Son of God, lived a sinless life, died as the sacrifice for our sins and took our guilt upon Himself, then rose on the third day by the power of God as a sign of the accepted sacrifice and forgiveness of sin, we have hope for every situation we face. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead now works in us and can reveal the glory of God in our lives – because we believe in the One He has sent.

What problem are you facing today that needs God’s attention? Believe in the One He has sent. What need or longing do you still need fulfilled? Believe in the One He has sent. Where has a besetting sin caused a setback? Believe in the One He has sent. When you do, you will see the work of God in your life. It all starts when you believe.

Have a blessed day!

The Voice that Speaks to You

Acts 22:9

Now those who were with me saw the light, but they did not hear the voice of the One who was speaking to me.

In this passage, Paul described his encounter on the road to Damascus that led to his conversion. It was noon time, and an intense light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” Everyone saw the light, but Paul was the only one who heard the voice.

God still moves in similar ways today. While many around us can see His work in us, we are the only ones who hear His voice to us. God will not speak a word to someone else about something He wants you to do without first telling you. If He tells someone else, it is only to confirm the message to you. His calling for you is as distinct as Paul’s was. Those around you may have no clue about what God is saying to you, so don’t expect them to always understand.

If God is speaking to you, He wants you to do something. I’ve often heard, “Somebody needs to do this, or somebody needs to do that.” If God is showing you what needs to be done, He is speaking to you and not to “Somebody.” I’ve often thought, “Somebody needs to clean my house.”  That “Somebody” must be me. Apparently, no one else is hearing from God about cleaning it!

Expect to hear God’s voice, but don’t expect everyone else to hear Him say what He says only to you. Others may see and affirm God’s work in you, but God will speak directly to you about what He wants you to do. Believe Him, and follow Him. He will never mislead you.

Have a blessed day!

Prayer of the Righteous

James 5:16

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The intense prayer of the righteous is very powerful.

Romans 4:4-5

Now to the one who works, pay is not considered as a gift, but as something owed. But to the one who does not work, but believes on Him who declares righteous the ungodly, his faith is credited for righteousness.

I’m convinced we give up in prayer too easily when we don’t see the answer we need right away. I’m learning to spend more time in prayer than in worry over a matter, but this has not come easy for me since my flesh is inclined to worry. James encourages us in prayer by directing us to God in times of sickness. We are to confess our sins to one another and pray for each other. He reminds us that the intense (effectual, fervent) prayer of the righteous is very powerful and effective. After confessing our sins, however, we may not feel too righteous and lose faith that God will heal. This is where we need Paul’s instruction.

God declares righteous the ungodly through faith. Wherever you have blown it or fallen in life, God declares you righteous through faith in Jesus Christ. He is your sacrifice or payment for sin, and nothing you can do will suffice. God sees the righteousness of Christ when He looks at you, so don’t give up in prayer. If you don’t have an answer yet, just keep praying. God does hear you, and your prayer is much more powerful and effective than you may think.

There may be times when it seems God is just not working in an area at all. Whether you are asking for healing, standing in the gap for a wayward child or friend, or praying for our country, God does hear your prayers. There may be a multitude of reasons why you aren’t seeing an answer right away, but that does not mean God is not working in the situation. He won’t reveal His handiwork in the matter until He is ready to show you. Just keep praying in faith that He is listening and working on your behalf. You are righteous through Christ, and His Word assures us that our intense prayers are very powerful. Believe Him. Keep calm, and pray on!

Have a blessed day!

From Suffering to Resurrection Power

Philippians 3:10-11

My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead.

Paul’s goal was to know Christ and to follow His example so He might know the power of His resurrection. I don’t think most of us can fully grasp the concept of the power of the resurrection. Just what kind of power can make the dead rise to new life, and how may we partake in it? Paul saw knowing this power as his goal, and he realized the secret to gaining this power was found in the person of Jesus Christ.

While it is easy for us to be conformed to this world and to agree to its standards, Paul sought to be conformed to Jesus’s death. Jesus went against the standards and religious systems of the world to do the Father’s will, and He exhibited great power in it. Paul wanted that same power at work in his life. Therefore, he learned to follow the example of Jesus, even if it meant being persecuted by the world. Paul’s letters still speak to us today, and his work is still alive, active, and sharper than any two-edged sword to cut to the very heart of our being. One day, Paul, too, will join in the resurrection when Jesus returns.

This same power is available to us through the Holy Spirit, which lives in us as Christians. The more we know Christ and follow His example, the more we will find the Holy Spirit working in us. The Holy Spirit always points us to Christ as the answer to our needs. As Paul learned, however, part of receiving power strong enough to raise the dead comes from participating in the fellowship of Christ’s suffering and conforming to His death. Jesus voluntarily surrendered to persecution, knowing full well what would happen. He always spoke the truth, even if it meant He would be punished for it.

Our stand as a Christian is becoming increasingly unpopular in this world that celebrates evil as good and calls good evil. To fellowship with Christ in this age means we will partake in His suffering. Do we want resurrection power enough to conform to His death in order to obtain it, or will we choose to live mediocre, unfulfilled, and miserable lives? Choose to know Christ and the power of His resurrection. While it may not be the easy road, it will lead us to the power to overcome this world and the “less than” life it holds for us.

Have a blessed day!

The Gift of the Suffering Servant

Isaiah 53:4-6

Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds. We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the LORD has punished Him for the iniquity of us all.

When we read these verses, we are reminded of Jesus and the sacrifice He made for us. The words bear detail to Jesus’s suffering on the cross. While these words are written in past tense, the crucifixion took place several hundred years after they were penned. Isaiah spoke a prophetic message of the sacrifice of God’s suffering Servant. How powerful a message this becomes for us who live on the finished side of the cross to see the prophecy written in the Old Testament and the details of its fulfillment described in the New Testament. How could Isaiah have made such a chilling, accurate, and sobering prophecy unless he was divinely inspired?

As Christians, we know the prophecy was fulfilled in Christ, but do we really believe all the words are true? He bore our sicknesses and carried our pains, but do we really believe God will heal us? Too often, we believe God has stricken us out of His anger, but this is what He did to Jesus on the cross. If Jesus carried our penalty, why do we still think we must pay for our sins? Indeed, the concept of grace can sometimes seem incomprehensible.

Our God is a healing God. Why do people still die from sickness? We live in a fallen world, where it is appointed unto every man once to die. We were not made for this world; we were made for heaven. God still heals, and we have every reason to believe for healing. In our sicknesses, however, we are neither cursed nor condemned. We are made righteous through the blood of Jesus. Therefore, we have hope.

Take time to thank God for the sacrifice of the suffering Servant today. By His wounds we are healed. God poured out His full wrath upon Jesus on the cross so we might live eternally with Him. Life is not over for any of us. When we die, it is simply a change of address – to a place where we will suffer no more! Whether God heals our physical bodies or takes us to be with Him, we are beneficiaries of His divine grace. We are victorious either way.

Have a blessed day!

This Poor Man

Psalm 34:6

This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him from all his troubles.

Perhaps, the hardest thing for us to admit is that we are poor. Regardless of our income or our savings accounts, we are poor spiritually. Our only source of spiritual wealth is in relationship to the Father through Jesus Christ. When we realize we have nothing to offer and are in need, we are at a point where we can truly understand the grace of God.

I’m guilty of trying to handle my troubles on my own. When I can’t, I cry out to God. In truth, however, any ability I have to handle anything comes from God. My selfish need for independence tries to take charge, and God often sits back and allows it until I come to the end of myself. Then, He hears my cry and goes to work on my behalf.

Accept your poor condition today, and rest fully in the luxurious grace of God. He sees all your troubles and has the ability to lay them at your feet. Whether He decides to strengthen you to endure your trial or to deliver you from it completely, you cannot overcome it on your own. Cry out to Him, and hand it over to Him. Saving us is what God does best, and He gave us the very best He had in His Son. Rely upon the finished work of the cross to see you through whatever hardship you face today. Where you are weak, He is strong, and He hears the cry of the poor.

Have a blessed day!

PHOEBE Connections, Inc. is a 501(c)3 dedicated to enhancing the lives of widows by building relationships and helping them find new identity in Jesus Christ through serving others. We promote an atmosphere of fellowship, where the widow can connect with other widows to develop friendships and supportive relationships.