Category Archives: Faith

The Touch of His Hand

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This past week has been one long blur, resulting in a combination of medicines and my body’s need for healing sleep.  At times, I was so miserable that all I could do is lay still trying to avoid my progressively worsening cough.  I couldn’t breathe.  Literally, I couldn’t get the air I was in taking to filter to my lungs.  The Dr. said I had asthma induced bronchitis.  Nice to know, I guess, but I just wanted to feel better.  From experience, I knew that it would not take long until the miracle of modern medicine would work it’s magic and I would soon be back to good health.  I did let my mind wander to the days of pre-medicine though, and tried to imagine what it would have been like for many who, experiencing the same type of sickness I have just suffered, had no hope for cure. Perhaps they had access to medicinal herbs or lived close to one of the major cities where some sort of medical knowledge might have been helpful, but for the most part, there was no known cure for many of today’s common illnesses.

I then let my mind journey even farther back through time, to the days when the streets of Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jerusalem and Judea were nothing but tired and worn trails of dust. They were also the only way that the cities of Israel were connected to each other. More than likely, caravans carrying wares to be sold in the market along with travelers making their way throughout the countryside could be seen on these streets on any given day. Another guaranteed sight, if one were to be walking the streets outside of any of the cities of Israel when Herod reigned in Judea on behalf of Rome, would be the various people for whom illness had driven them outside the city gates. In order to keep the greater populace living inside the confines of the city walls safe and healthy, those people having contracted leprosy, tuberculosis or other forms of highly contagious diseases were forced to find refuge along the highway or catacombs outside the city. The chronically ill were additionally forced to cry the word ‘unclean’ to passerbys so that no one might mistakenly come in contact with them. Think of this existence. These poor people were already feeling miserable, had been forced from their homes – in most cases, alone – they had to rely on charity for food, and if that wasn’t enough, also had to announce their uncleanness and unworthiness to all who might pass by them. The physical, mental and emotional toll on these individuals must have been overwhelming.

At some point, during this time period, word of unusual events started spreading throughout the country. For this small window in time, there lived One who might actually be able to help these ostracized folks. Eager to share what they had seen, men, women and children ran from city to neighboring city yelling and crying out the name of Jesus. This name, the wonderfully, powerful name of Jesus fell on the ears of the sick, laying outside the city. Maybe they felt hope and the possibility for a real life again. Maybe they had become so hardened that skepticism was the only emotion they could feel. Regardless of their reception of the news, the fact that something unusual was taking place in Israel could not be escaped. The documented love that Jesus had for the sick can be found in the New Testament eyewitness accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. John even ends his writings by saying in John 21:25, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”

I let my mind wrap around the incredible surge of feeling that might have been felt by those who experienced the actual, physical touch of Jesus. For the outcast living outside the city, this touch meant even more as they had not experienced a touch from anyone in a very long time. No hugs, no handshakes, no pat on the back in passing, they were unclean and unable to be touched. The touch of Jesus not only healed these people permanently from their illness, but it radically changed the course of their life. Take a moment, let your mind roll around the opportunities that presented themselves to the sick through just that one touch by Jesus. As I lay trying to recuperate this past week, I savored the thought of feeling Jesus heal me of my cough. I stand in awe of His power and can only imagine what His personal touch felt like.

I will testify though, that I am better today and I give the credit for my health to only God. The prayers of a few close friends, availed much and I am confident that I felt the touch of God. We do not live during the time that God opened the doorway from heaven and allowed His Son, Jesus, to physically walk the earth. We do, however, live in a time when we, who believe and accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, have His Spirit living in us. Jesus is not here, in person, to minister to the lost and sick, so it is up to us as His ambassadors to take his message to those outside the city gates. If the city is represented by the Church, in our times, then we must leave the safety and confinements of the church and go where the sick, unwanted and unloved live – outside the city gates. As Christians, we can bring the life changing, healing touch of the Master to those who truly need it but have no idea how or where to find Jesus. So many people wander outside the gate. They may not shout the word, ‘unclean,’ but they undoubtably feel unclean. Only those who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb, can ever feel clean and whole.

The world needs the Healing Touch of Jesus! Will you be the hands He uses?
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Two Words

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There are two words that I’ve really grown to dislike. I might even go as far as to say that I detest and resent them. Used separately they are fine and normal words, but combined they convey restrictions that God never intended to be placed upon man.

POLITICALLY CORRECT

These two words have become such a source of irritation to me that I feel the necessity to expose why we should not strive to be politically correct. When someone you know is suffering, shouldn’t you be able to pray with them or express that you are praying for them? Prayer is my first action when I hear of a loved one or friend in need, however my second thought is to make sure the expression of this action might not offend anyone within hearing distance. When a conversation at work turns to a theoretical hopefulness of eternal life, why are we not allowed to simply speak up and assure our co-workers that eternal life is not only a hope but rather a promise if we only believe in the finished work of Jesus Christ? Why are churches feeling the need to change their charters to reflect the belief that marriage is an act between a man and a woman? Why have schools taken prayer and God out of school? Why do we limit and silence the beliefs of many in order to pacify the few?

POLITICAL CORRECTNESS – that’s why. And I’ll take it a step further and say that EVILNESS is a more appropriate answer. All the good and right that God put in place when He created man has either already been or is in the process of being perverted by Satan. The spiritual battle taking place between God and His heavenly armies and Satan and his demons has moved so near and become so intense that humans can almost hear the battle sounds with our limited hearing. The feeling of immense anticipation is so strong that people across the globe are taking note. The Holy Spirit is directing Christians to speak out loudly to friends and family because it won’t be too much longer before the curtain that conceals the supernatural dimension is raised and all hell will literally break loose on earth. Satan is working overtime to move all humans to a global way of thinking. If everyone on earth were to be like minded then political correctness would be political mandate. How close are we to this? You tell me! Read the morning headlines…..we are nano seconds away from universal chaos on all fronts: political, financial, spiritual and physical. Only God’s great love for mankind is delaying this action. He could easily split the heavens wide open and demand that all acknowledge the truth in His thunderous voice yet He has given each one of us a choice to find Him. He has made His presence known throughout all of creation. Everything, seen and unseen, reflects His presence so that no one can claim ignorance of His existence. He has commanded that Christians go into the world and preach His gospel to every person. There should be absolutely no excuse for anyone not to believe, love and worship Almighty God…but for the pervasiveness of POLITICAL CORRECTNESS.

The agenda of the current White House administration is directly opposed to everything that is fundamentally right. Our founding fathers established a nation whose pursuits were life, liberty and happiness. Each day brings the uncovering of a new liberty stripped from American citizens. With rapid fire, the Constitutional Amendments are being shot into the abyss. True and genuine happiness has been replaced by temporal enjoyment of possessions. As long as the average citizen’s lifestyle is not affected, they remain lulled into passivity. Life… The lives of countless thousands American soldiers have been altered either for years or permanently and now we are being pushed into another war. When potus said we won’t be going to ground in Syria, you better know that we are already there. In spite of all of these daily occurrences, the art of POLITICAL CORRECTNESS has silenced the moral majority of this great nation. It is high time that we stand up and speak boldly for Truth – in more ways than one. Shake the liberty tree with patriotic passion and don’t let anyone prevent you from pointing eyes to Jesus. We should not be policed by POLITICAL MANDATE, which is where we are quickly headed. We answer to a Higher Authority, but it’s your choice as to how you choose to use your voice. Choose wisely, because time is running out!

You are There

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In the stillness of the evening, You are there. Lord, You are there. In the rushing of the water, as it rolls on down the stream, You are there. Lord, you are there. In the brightness of the sunshine, and in the twinkling of the stars, in the majesty of mountains, yet in the smallness of my heart – as I look all around me, You are there.

You are there, with Your arms outstretched and open. You are there, just to heal a heart that’s broken. In the center of my life, like a beacon that shines brightly, for now and for always – You are there

imagePhoto credit:  bing nature images

Mean Girls

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“Mean Girls”…. if you haven’t watched the movie, more than likely you’ve heard of it or at least have a good idea what the plot might reference.  For the most part, human behavior follows a predictable pattern.  As a child, a person is typically loving and trusting.  As a teenager, that same person becomes self-centered and critical of others, almost certainly to the point of mean.  Then, usually during college years, a responsible and consistent adult outlook and actions develop.  There are those few, however, who are and will remain – MEAN. In the movie, a group of teenage girls band together to form an elite (at least in their eyes) group.  They proceed to mock and torture anyone else who does not meet their lofty standards.  Predictably, they turn on each other, disband and the process of maturity begins after feelings have been hurt and consequences have been suffered.  In real life, the same plot plays out in every middle school and high school across America.  Basically, it’s a right of passage that every person participates in, whether they want to or not.  Most people outgrow this stage, but there are those few “mean” girls and boys who never manage to grow up.  It’s always disheartening when you have to interact with these people.  Unfortunately, they live and work among us.  It is an unavoidable, unpleasant experience of life.

Recently, I had the disappointing misfortune to cross paths with a few of these malcontents.  Human nature takes over during moments like this and propels me to levels of great revenge plotting.  Fantasies of lightning bolts flashing from my eyes to zap and torture these “mean” girls run rampant through my mind.  Alternately, deep and gaping holes in my heart weigh me down and crush my spirit.  At some point, in every person’s life, an experience like this will take you by surprise and will come from someone who should have grown up and from whom you least expect this action.  Catty, infantile, mean, hurtful and juvenile are all words that aptly describe these individuals.  In the last couple of years, a person who becomes prey to a ‘mean’ girl or boy is actually labeled a victim of bullying.  The media has ensured public awareness for this growing problem.  Despite this knowledge and labeling, meanness still exists.  We live in an imperfect world with imperfect people, so the only thing we can do is to choose to respond with love and kindness.  This is completely contrary to my first instinct to plot revenge.  In order to repay hatefulness with love, I have to actively choose to die to myself and let Jesus love through me.  If I react in anger, which is that first human instinct, then I not only do not reflect Jesus and His love, I also become a victim, because anger is a self-consuming emotion.  Anger is an active pursuit.  It is not passive, but rather is a driving force of reaction to something perceived as insulting or damaging.  As a Christian, I am called to a higher standard.  Romans 12:2 says that we are “not to conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds.”  It’s not natural, nor is it easy to react to a negative situation with love.  The only way this becomes possible is to have a mind that is focused on Christ.

Think for a moment about Jesus’ three years of ministry on earth.  We have only been given a small glimpse into the activity that took place during these 1095 days.  Over 60% of our known history of Jesus’ actions is based on His healing of other’s hearts and bodies.  The last verse of John says that if all that Jesus did was to be written down, he supposed that there would not be enough books in the world to hold all His activity. This tells me that Jesus loved and He loved a lot.  It’s one thing to say you love someone, but actions are the proof.  Angry people don’t usually help those to whom their anger is directed.  Conversely, someone filled with love is guaranteed to help all.  In the same way that anger is an active emotion, so is love.  If we are to be like Jesus, then we are to love with our mouths and our actions.

Matthew 5:43-44 ~ 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbors and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”

Mark 12:33 ~ “To love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

These are the verses that I am focusing on to ingrain the spirit of love in my heart (the renewing of my mind) in hopes that my first reaction to meanness will become love.  I am not quite there, and I am not sure that I will ever get to that level of Christianity, but I strive towards that goal.  I can hear the Apostle Paul cheering me as I run the race, pressing toward that mark.  The finish line is still in the distance where Jesus sits with crowns and trophies and is ready to say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”.  I want to be found faithful on that day.  Lord, please help me to love as You have loved me!

You Can’t Outrun the Long Arm of the Lord

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The phrase “Long Arm of the Law” dredges up Marshall Matt Dillon from the ‘Gunsmoke’, Cowboys and Indians and gun fights in the streets of the Wild West.  Wherever the bad guys were (always dressed in black), you were sure to see Marshall Dillon show up to save the day.  The good guys always win, right?  Hi Ho Silver, awaaaay!  Even the Lone Ranger rode in on a white horse to make sure that good prevailed and bad was punished.  The cries of the poor, needy and down-trodden were heard three states away and drew the masked man to come save the day.  Unfortunately, all of this only took place on a Hollywood set for the entertainment of television viewers.  Real life is not fair.  The good don’t always prevail.  The cries of the poor and needy are not heard….or are they?

Psalm 33:18 “But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love” ~NIV

God never sleeps and never tires of reaching out to help those who cry out to Him.  Just like a parent who rushes when they hear their child crying, He is there to help – if only we call on Him.  When my children where little, they sometimes worried that I might not hear them if they cried in the night.  I reassured them that I could sleep through an earthquake, but should they need me, I was awake and alert.  God is better than that because he doesn’t even rest from searching for those who might need Him.

Psalm 139:1-18

1 You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; 
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways. 
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely. 
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, 
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me, 
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being; 
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful, 
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God! 
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them, 
    they would outnumber the grains of sand —
    when I awake, I am still with you.

This is one of my favorite passages from the Bible!  Where can I possibly go that God can’t find me?  According to these words written by David, there is no where on heaven or earth that He is not already there.  Sometimes I may not want Him to see me because I am ashamed of my actions or I have traveled away from Him, but He will not let me go!  His love for me is so strong that no matter how far I try to run or the dark places that I may try to hide myself in from Him, His eyes are watching.  I am sure you are familiar with the game of Hide and Seek.  Who as a child has not played this favorite game?  I used to have the best hiding places.  One of my favorite things to do was to sneak into the dining room and squeeze myself into one of the side doors in the serving buffet.  I have no idea how I was able to fit into such a small place, but nevertheless I did.  No one could find me in that spot.  I would sit there in silence waiting, but no one would come.  Even in that dark hiding place, I was not alone, for God was there with me.  It is impossible to hide from Him.  In good or bad, He is there.  He rejoices in our happiness and triumphs but he is there to hold us and heal us in our hurts and sorrow.  His presence is not dependent upon our good behavior, thankfully, but is a gift to us because He loves and cares for us.

“Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.” 1 Peter 5:7  ~AMP

Are you lonely, tired or hurt?  Are you excited with good news?  Look to your Heavenly Father, for he waits anxiously for you to call Him.  He is always there!

 

Full Access

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I have a key card or an “access card” that allows me to enter my office building, parking lot and restricted areas.  Without this card I am unable to access these sites.  I become  a person non-grata without my access card.  I can knock as long and and as loud as I want and I will not be able to enter.  I can sit at the gate to the parking lot but never gain access without my access card.  If I forget to bring it with me at any point, I am out of luck.

Aren’t you glad that we have Open Access to our Heavenly Father any time and all the time!  We are privileged to be able to go into His presence for any reason and He encourages us to do so.  We do not need a special key card that we have to carry and present in order to gain His attention.  We have only to believe that His son, Jesus, paid the price required as the penalty for sins by taking our place and dying on the cross.  This gift did not end there or Jesus would have been just like any other person on earth who died and was buried.  Three days after His death, He rose from the grave forever canceling the death penalty required for our sin.  This gave us Open Access as well.

Ephesians 3:12 “In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” ~NIV

In the beginning of the Israelite history, as documented both in the Old and New Testament, only the High Priest would be allowed to speak with God directly in His presence.  The priest could enter into the Holy of Holies inside the Temple in Jerusalem where God resided inside the Ark of the Covenant.  He could do this only once a year.  The Holy of Holies area was separated from the rest of the temple by a veil (curtain) that hung from a very high ceiling. At the exact moment of Jesus’ death on the cross that very veil was ripped in half from the top to the bottom (no human hand could reach that high) thereby exposing God’s presence to all mankind.

Hebrews 10:19-23  “And so, dear brothers and sisters,we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. “

 God gave us this Open Access card to allow us full access to Him.  I want to take every opportunity to use this access and communicate with Him.  Make every moment count in your life for eternity’s sake and get to know the God who made you, who loves you, and whom you will see the minute you awake from death into life and see Him face to face.
Psalms 27:4 “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple.” ~ KJV

Opportunity

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How many opportunities come your way that you miss out on either because you don’t recognize them until it’s too late or because you are too scared to seize the moment?  I was thinking about this very question today.  There have been many times that I have prayed, and prayed for God to show me what He wanted me to do only to hear silence – or so I thought.  Maybe there were answers that I missed because I wasn’t “in tune” with the quiet voice of God.  (I Kings 19:12, “After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” (NIV))  I was waiting for the earthquake and fire to announce my direction and guidance.  I would have settled for a personal suggestion in an audible voice.  I did not receive any of these revelations or occurences, and so I wallowed in indecision and uncertainty.

I have recently been made aware that the more time I spend in quiet reflection and devotion with God, the clearer His answers become.  There is no mysterious secret to hearing His voice because He speaks to you in the quiet of your heart.  All of the good plans He has for you become like neon signs to your soul as you become close to Him.

Tune in to His voice today!  

Safety in the Storm

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I am not a fan of thunderstorms!  I do enjoy a nice, quiet and gentle rain – especially if I get to lay in bed and read a good book while I hear the rain in the background.  Once you add the sound effects of thunder and lightning though, I lose my sense of relaxation.  In fact, I tense up and jump as the thunder snaps.  We had the pleasure of encountering one of these storms the other evening as we were driving.  The sky was alive with electrically charged and vivid displays of white heat as lighting sizzled across the black sky.  This was followed immediately by the loudest sonic booms that I believe I have ever heard.  The highway shook underneath us from the power of this storm (maybe that’s exaggerating a bit, but it very well could have been shaking).  A few minutes later, the rain fall became more forceful until it turned into hail.  This was a severe thunderstorm, in the words of the emergency message that sounded a few minutes later over the radio (thank you, National Weather Alert System!).  As I watched nature’s drama taking place outside the windshield while gripping the seat with white knuckles, my husband said, “relax”.  Huh?  Are you kidding me?  Who could relax in all of this cosmic chaos?  “Relax.  You are in the safest place,” he said again.  Whoa!  I surely did not feel relaxed and I may be slow on the uptake, but what was safe about this situation?   I know that my wide-eyed look of horror must have conveyed this question to him, because he continued, “you are surrounded by rubber tires which grounds you and prevents the lighting’s electricity from harming you.”  That sounded familiar.  I do remember hearing that from childhood and oddly enough, I started to calm down.  My husband has that ability.  He is truly my rock!

I have another Rock!  He is my anchor in a troubled storm.  He gives me peace when chaos is all around me.  “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety.”  Psalm 4:8 (NIV)

Mark 4:35-40 tells the story of a violent storm:     

35 And the same day, when the evening was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. 36 And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. 37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. 38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?

39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

Jesus is our example of how we should live our lives – in every aspect of our daily activities.  I believe that many lessons can be learned from this story but the most obvious truth is plainly spoken by Jesus.  “Why are you so fearful?  Why don’t you have faith?”  Even in His sleep, He was not afraid when everything around Him was swirling with unsettledness and danger.  This is the model by which He shows us how to live.  We are not to be afraid of anything for He holds us in the palm of His hands.  Nothing can harm us for He is our great Defender and Deliverer!  What are you afraid of today?  Give your fears to the Master of the wind and the Maker of the rain.  He will keep you in perfect peace when you are focused on Him!

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.”

 Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)

Out of Stock

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Picture Credit: http://www.cloutlet.com

I’ve been shopping for black pumps.  If you’re a female, you will know what I’m talking about, otherwise you may need a visual…..my husband had no idea what I was talking about when I asked him to help me look for pumps.  This gave me my chuckle (belly laugh) for the day!!!  After explaining that a pump was a close toed (this opened a completely new dialogue) shoe with a heel, we then proceeded to scour the shoe department in search for the perfect black dress pump.  Ladies, you know that of all dress shoes the black pump is the most versatile and standard staple that a girl can have in her closet.  This being the case, we located a multitude of pumps to choose from and the next phase of shoe shopping began.  Out came boxes…and boxes….and yes, more boxes until finally, the “one” arrived.  I knew instantly that this shoe would be the “one”.  It was classic and comfortable but just about a half size too small.  Wouldn’t you know it – the size I needed (and really wanted) was not available, it was out of stock.  All that time spent searching and trying on only to have my good mood shattered.  I started looking at all of the other choices, hoping that there might be one that would work.  Just about that time, the sales person came out with two boxes.  There were two additional styles that were not out on display yet and one of these boxes had the perfect fit.  This shoe far surpassed my first choice.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus,” Philipians 4:19 (NIV)

The blessings God wishes to shower on us are never out of stock.  Just like the boxes of shoes that were not on display, His storehouse is always full and overflowing with the gifts that he has waiting to give us when we ask.  “Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him,” Matthew 6:8 (NIV).  Just as in my shoe shopping experience, the perfect answers to our prayers are just waiting for us.  We need to ask though in order to receive.  You do not have because you do not ask God.”  James 4:2 (NIV)  I could have spent the entire afternoon looking for black pumps in that shoe department and would have never found the hidden shoes.  I needed the wisdom of the sales person who knew what was in stock but out of sight.  If I had not asked for help I would never have been able to receive the shoes that I am so happy to now own.

Don’t hesitate to ask God for what you need.  His love for you is eternal and His desire to see you happy is immense.  Feel free to leave a comment sharing how God has provided for you from his storehouse of blessings.