January 26, 2009

Believe and Do Not Doubt

All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of his covenant. Psalm 25:10

As I plan for good things for my family and friends, I stand on faith. I wouldn't ask if I didn't believe that God loves us and has good in store for us. I can trust Him to heal hurts from my past. I know that He offers a fulfilling life now in the present. I seek His counsel for my future.

Since Christmas, though, each time I pray for blessings for my friends, I keep hearing these words: "Believe and do not doubt." He is teaching me that my prayer requests are taken seriously. He hears. He cares. He alone has the power to deliver these blessings. He is asking me to go a step further than I have gone before. To ask without doubting.

My new role as a prayer partner with my friends is to "not doubt." For me, this means to stand up for them when they are tired. To remind them of what God promised them. To offer perspective and power packed encouragement. I have waited a long time (years) for my prayers to be answered. God did answer. But it aches to wait and wait when we need Him to rescue us. We grow weary. That is why we need other believers to "spur us on." Even when we believe that He is our best hope. We still need to "not doubt."

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:23-24

Mixing in a little doubt with our well toiled faith eventually draws weeds of discouragement into our garden. Our encouragement team can pull weeds (lies from the enemy), water us with God's word, and get us into direct sun for good communication with God.

Who is praying for you today? Who is on your team? If you're reading this, you are not alone in the fight for God's best for you.

With love,
Leigh Ann

January 1, 2009

Let's Trade!

Was 2008 filled with grief or pain of any kind? Are you ready for a trade? On December 30, I met with a precious group in Mobile, and we examined the offer given to us in Isaiah 61:1-3.

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.

We give up our ashes and are given a garland or crown of beauty. My sister in law, Mary Faith, described this picture so perfectly. We are like a fireplace; Jesus cleans out all of the soot and ash and then adorns us with a beautiful garland.

When we are ready to conclude our season of mourning, He will anoint us with the oil of gladness. There is a grief process. When we experience great loss, we need to mourn. But when that season is complete, we can trade. The Holy Spirit will bring the Comforter that we need in order to live a full life again. (John 16:7, John 10:10) We can be glad again. He makes that possible.

The "mantle of praise" is something we can do to fight discouragement. This cloak is something we can wear or put in place in order to discard our spirit of fainting or heaviness. Praise and worship includes singing God's Word, writing about his goodness, or reading a Psalm aloud. We now have a tool to fight the real life grief that we face.

Another thing to remember is that freedom is available whether we are victims or sinners. We can be a captive based on someone else's sin, something we may not have known how to prevent. He sets us free. We may be inprisoned by our sin; He offers us liberty!

I'm ready for a new year. I'm trading my sorrows. I hope you will too.

Blessings on you and yours in '09.
-Leigh Ann