Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Lasting Peace

Since God commands us to "Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples" (Psalm 96:3), I feel impressed to share what He's been up to in this Listening Heart. My recent medical problems are long and boring, but God has been working quiet miracles in the tedious details.

To make a long story short, for Christmas, instead of coal in my stocking, I got rocks in my kidneys. While in the Emergency Room I had a catscan that showed a mysterious spot that the radiologists or doctors could not identify. And during follow up appointments, I found out that the surgery I had last summer caused scar tissue that could only be corrected by a hysterectomy. I was angry and scared. Angry that I had wasted time having that procudure last summer and scared because of this unknown "spot."

I put my prayer warriors to work and asked everyone I knew to pray for me. Through prayer, Jesus gave me his peace that passes understanding. In John 14:27 Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

I had my marching orders, but Satan tried to break in and steal Jesus' precious gift of peace more than once. Like when my Mom spent a week at St. Joseph's Hospital in heart and rhenal failure and when problems with my brother's alcoholism flared up, yet again. The final clencher occured when I saw the reason for my visit on the receipt from the general surgeon that became involved in my case. It said, "pelvic mass."

Seeing it in writing made this supposed mass seem real even though God had given me his peace throughout the whole ordeal. The waters of the underlying flow of peace I had felt since my E.R. visit were troubled. I had to wait for the ripples from that rock thrown in my direction to settle down. With more heartfelt prayer and surrender to God's plan for my life, they finally did.

I am now almost two weeks post-op and am doing great. There was no sign of any mass anywhere (and they explored everywhere) and my surgery a complete success. I have to share the "marvelous deeds" he did for me, because one of you may get (or have) some weird diagnosis one day soon. I feel strongly about how important it is for you to be reminded that you, too, can hold on to Jesus' gift of peace no matter how rough the water gets. God will never leave nor forsake you and he will work his miracles in your life every day, guaranteed.

Hold on tight!! All my love, Susan

Monday, February 4, 2008

Five Simple Steps to Improve Your Time Alone With God

Insight blooms when you follow the master of “face-to-face.” Moses, famous for one on one communication with God, talked with him as one who speaks with a friend. Moses can help us improve our hearing of God’s voice and bring us to a higher level.

Digging into the first eight verses of Exodus 34, treasure abounds. Below you will find Moses five straightforward steps toward enrichment:

1. The Lord told Moses to, “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first one and I will write on them the words that were on the first tables, which you broke” (Exodus 34:1). Since our hearts of stone have been replaced with hearts of flesh (see Ezekiel 36:26), like Moses, we are to prepare our hearts to receive what God desires to write on them. Preparation includes confession and asking God to fill us with his Holy Spirit. Without preparation my time spent alone with God feels like something is missing.

2. “Be ready in the morning, and then come up on Mount Sinai. Present yourself to me there on top of the mountain” (Exodus 34:2). Hearing God’s voice keenly starts with a morning time alone with God in his word, the same way God commanded Moses. During Moses ministry to God’s chosen people he regularly experienced God face-to-face. It works the same way for us when our appointment with God includes our Bible, no matter what time of day it is. There is nothing wrong with praying on the run—in your car or wherever you are. But when I leave out my Bible study, my spiritual nutrition, for too long I become weak. I saw one of those church signs that read, “Seven days without prayer makes one weak.” Maybe, “and study” needs to be added to that quote.

3. “No one is to come with you or be seen anywhere on the mountain” (Exodus 34:3). Jesus said, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen” (Matthew 6:6). Old Testament or new, God’s view on prayer has not changed. A special spot where you can be alone with God brings untold benefits. My chosen place is at my kitchen table, a round oak ball and claw. As a mother of three, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen anyway, making my special prayer “room” all the more significant.

4. “So Moses chiseled out two stone tablets like the first one and went up Mount Sinai early in the morning, as the Lord commanded him” (Exodus 34:4). Basically, Moses obeyed God; we can do the same—meet God on the mountain, prepared and early. Obedience, oh so simple, but oh so tough. It’s hard to adjust priorities and remain disciplined. Accountability partners have to be one of the most beneficial ways to stay on track.

5. After hearing God’s word, “Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshipped” (Exodus 34:8). A leader to be emulated, Moses’ response to God reveals his submissive heart. Our Lord is worthy of all praise and honor at once. I can’t say worship comes at once, sometimes it’s delayed. But when I finally get to praising, my mood elevates and my problems shrink.
God’s commands are for our benefit and protection. When he said, “Present yourself to me there on top of the mountain,” he was speaking to all of us, not just Moses. May each one of us find our mountains and make the trek up regularly. God has lots of things he wants to talk to us about.
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and
unsearchable things you do not know.”
Jeremiah 33:3