Winter is Past? Part 24- Lord, if my winter is over, why am I still so cold?

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It has been a while since I’ve written anything. A lot has happened in the past few months of my life. Just as winter follows spring, summer, and autumn in our seasons, so times of difficulty and change follow easier and happier times in our lives. While I might have thought that my time of winter was past when I was declared cancer-free, the reality is that another winter was around the corner, waiting to trap me in cold and despair. Honestly, I was never naive enough to think that life would hold nothing but sunshine and rainbows for me after the “Winter is Past” revelation I received and blogged about for several weeks; but little did I suspect that everything I learned over the course of my battle with cancer would be training for even bigger challenges. 

This is the way of life. We have a God who loves us and gives us good things; and we have an enemy who wants to steal, kill, and destroy us; and in turn, the Lord defends and protects us. Good follows bad follows good…and so on…

We see this repeated over and over in scripture. Joseph is favored by his father, (good) but is sold by his brothers into slavery, (bad) but finds favor with his captors, (good) but is falsely accused and thrown into the dungeon, (bad) but is, in the end, liberated, vindicated, and exalted, (way good!) 

Ruth is a Moabitess grafted into the family of God when she marries an Israelite, (good) but her husband dies, (bad) still she stays loyal to her mother-in-law, (good) and becomes a destitute in Naomi’s homeland, (bad) but finds favor with her kinsman redeemer, (good) who ultimately marries her, (super good!) 

David is a shepherd boy, (meh) who is anointed to be king of Israel, (awesome) but spends several years serving King Saul, (yuck) while David experiences many victories, including slaying a giant, (yay) which causes Saul to try to kill him, (terrible) until he is finally given the throne, (wow) but his children betray him, the country is taken from him, he commits adultery, his child dies, and ultimately he dies, (what?) yet he is always and forever the Apple of God’s Eye and the Messiah who saves all of us is his descendent, (best ending ever!) 

Spring follows winter, and just as we become accustomed to the warmth, the cold of winter returns. Yet by the grace of God we learn how to stand in faith, confess the promises of the Lord, cling to his Word, claim our abundant life, and little by little, we overcome. 

I am so grateful for the lessons I learned in the winter. I will never forget the Lord’s faithfulness to stay with me, to warm and comfort and strengthen me. And when the first spring flowers begin to poke their heads out from beneath their blanket of snow, I know that, once again, my God has brought me through another winter. He always does.

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I Thessalonians 5:23-24 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

Winter is Past Part 23 - In faith I stand with Joshua and Caleb and declare that I can go in a possess the promise that You have given me.

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It is likely that you are familiar with this story, but let’s summarize it briefly. The Lord has prepared the promised land, a land flowing with milk and honey, for His people that He has just delivered from Egypt. As they approach, they send in twelve spies to scope out the land and give a report to the people. The challenge is to deliver a report that agrees with the report the Lord had already given, that the land was theirs and He would hand it over to them! Instead, ten of the spies return with a report that opposes the report of the Lord. Only Joshua and Caleb stand with the Lord and confidently prepare to enter the land that was promised to them. 

Numbers 13:30 And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.

But the ten said this:

Numbers 13:31-33 Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.”

They are completely unwilling to trust in the Lord’s promise, and choose to believe their own report.

Still Joshua and Caleb plead with the people in Numbers 14:6-9

And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes and said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.” 

But the people choose to disregard the report of the Lord, and choose instead to heed the report of the ten. And it will cost them greatly...it will be forty years and every one of the people except for Joshua and Caleb will die before their descendants will possess the promise. Ouch.

Don’t we do this, though? We hear the report of the Lord - we’ve been studying it for months now! We know that by His stripes we are healed, that His Word was sent to heal us, that He is our salvation, our fortress, our strength, our song! But then the doctor walks in the room and gives us a report that contradicts what the Lord has said. And we despair. And we weep. And we give up.

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We used to sing a song regularly in our church that was written by Ron Kenoly called Whose Report?

Whose report will you believe?

We shall believe the report of the Lord!

His report says I am healed!

His report says I am filled!

His report says I am free!

His report says victory!

The Lord regularly challenges me with this question. Whose report do you believe, Amy? Do you believe the report of the doctors, scientists, and researchers? Or do you believe what I have said is true?

And now I am asking you...whose report do you believe?

Lord, I choose to believe Your report. I choose to believe that You will do what You have said You would do, and that I can do what you say I am able to do! In faith I stand with Joshua and Caleb and declare that I can go in a possess the promise that You have given me.

Winter is Past Part 22 - I claim with confidence Your promise of a great reward!

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Hebrews 10:23, 35-36

23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

35 -36 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. 

It is really easy to read this blog and stand confident in God’s promise to heal you from whatever is afflicting you. It is another thing to hold on the that hope without wavering on the days when you feel poorly, or the moments when you receive a bad report, or the nights when fear whispers doubts in your ear. I think that the writer of Hebrews knew the struggle was real. He knew that there would be times, more often than not, that we would have to cling to this hope with all that is in us. 

It takes endurance to hold onto this hope. This speaks to me of running a race. I run quite a bit....I will stop short of saying that I am a runner because I am terribly slow and need to lose a few pounds to get to athlete status, but I run nonetheless. I have participated in many races - several 5k’s, 10k’s, and even 15k’s and a couple of half marathons. One thing I have learned, and I believe any amateur or professional runner will agree with me, is that most of running is mental. OK, so training and conditioning are a huge part of it, too, but truthfully, having a “can do” attitude is well more than half the battle. It never ceases to amaze me how I can outrun people who are in way better shape than I am, simply because I know I can do it, and they think they can’t!

There are those times that I run so slowly, a person can fast walk next to me and nearly keep up, but I’m still running. I am putting one foot in front of the other with determination and dedication. Then there are times what I run intervals, pushing myself at the fastest pace I can handle without passing out, (admittedly, it’s not that fast, but for me, it’s what I can do, so I do it!) At these moments, I time myself, striving to do my best time, counting down the seconds until I can slow down. Often times at around 30 seconds left in my interval, I will get to the point that I just cannot go any longer. At these times my mantra becomes, “I can do anything for 30 seconds!” And I’m right! OK, so maybe not anything. But the point is that I can do more than I think I can. 

This is endurance. Sometimes it requires just plodding along, putting one foot in front of the other. Other times it demands that we push ourselves beyond what we can handle, trusting the Lord to do it for us.

The first half marathon I ran was the most difficult physical experience of my life. Having birthed three children and suffered breast cancer, that is saying something! It was 46 degrees and raining the entirety of the more than 2 and 1/2 hours I ran. My legs seized up and I honestly didn’t think I would be able to finish. I couldn’t walk, let alone run. But my husband and children were waiting at the finish line along with a medal that was my reward for completing the grueling task. I didn’t have a choice but to finish, so I kept going. When I crossed the finish line, I burst into tears as they gave me my medal and my family embraced me. It was a most rewarding experience! The endurance that had sustained me for almost three hours got me to the end, and delivered a great reward!
Now, when I am tired, sick, despairing, worried, I remember that my hope needs endurance too. And as I hope, I am doing the will of God, which is the greatest reward!

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Faithful God,

I stand before you in confidence and confess that I have unwavering hope in Your promises to me. I run the race with supernatural endurance, trusting that you will perform Your will in my life. I claim with confidence Your promise of a great reward!

Winter is Past Part 21 - I will never forget all you have done for me!

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Psalm 103:1-5
Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.
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The hymn “Count Your Blessings,” written in 1897 by Johnson Oatman says this:
When upon life's billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done. 
Refrain:
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.

    It takes work at times, especially in the midst of struggle, to remember all the benefits that we have as children of the Lord and the many blessings He has given us. 

    I remember an elder in my church sharing a testimony once. He said that he was faced with some pretty intense trials, so he went into his bedroom, shut the door and began to cry out to the Lord for His help and intervention. The Lord challenged this man to start out the time of prayer listing the blessings and benefits he had received from the Lord. After several hours of praising God and naming His blessings, the elder could no longer remember what he was seeking the Lord for in the first place! All he could think about were the incredible things Jesus had done in his life!

    When our focus shifts off of our struggles to our successes, off our hardships to our victories, off our trials to our blessings, we are satisfied and our strength is renewed!

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Blessed Lord, 
I will bless your holy name at all times with everything that is within me! You have forgiven me, healed me, redeemed me, crowned me with love and mercy, and satisfied me. I will never forget all you have done for me!

Winter Is Past Part 20 - I praise you that my faith has made me well!

Matthew 9:20-22 (ESV) And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.
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    We can read several accounts in the Gospels of this poor woman and her encounter with Jesus. Mark 5 goes into greater detail than the others. In verses 21-35 we read that Jesus is on his way to the house of a ruler in the Synagogue to heal the ruler’s daughter. A great throng of people surrounded Jesus and pressed into him, hoping to get his attention. It is at this point that the woman enters. She has been bleeding for twelve years. We can imagine what she was suffering; she was anemic, pale, weak. She probably had an odor and maybe even struggled to keep people from seeing her situation on her clothing. She had sought advice from doctors, and they could do nothing for her. It is likely that all of her neighbors and certainly this ruler of the synagogue knew what was going on in her life. 

    According to the Law of Moses, she was unclean as long as she was bleeding. This means that for twelve years, she could not touch anyone or they would also be unclean. She could not go where people were - she certainly could not go to the synagogue and worship the Lord with her neighbors. It is likely she lead a pretty lonely life. 

    So the fact that she dared to enter the throng of people is quite extraordinary! She risked their glares, their avoidance, their outright disdain and anger at her presence. She risked defiling Jesus by touching him. It is entirely possible that she would be called out and embarrassed right there in front of the entire crowd.

    But she pressed in anyway.

    Her faith made her move despite the crowd, despite the situation.

    She knew that she really wasn’t supposed to touch Jesus. He might get angry. The ruler might get angry. But she knew that if she could touch Jesus, she would be healed. 

    And you know what? Jesus said that it was this faith that brought her healing! She was healed that moment! She didn’t have to wait another second. Jesus didn’t have to do anything for her. She was healed! Her faith had made her well!

    I pray for that kind of faith!

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God,
I am like the woman in this story. I have suffered and it seems like the doctors can do nothing for me. But I will press in to you. And as I press in to you, you will heal me. All I need to do is touch the hem of your garments, and I will be healed. I praise you that my faith has made me well!

 

Winter Is Past Part 19 - I take every thought captive to obey Christ!

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II Corinthians 10:4 - 5 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

    After completing the surgeries and treatments to remove any cancerous tumor and cells from my body, the final instruction from my oncologist before I would see her again in a few months was to “be vigilant of my symptoms.” Well, I tell you what...being vigilant of my symptoms meant one thing for sure - I had A LOT of symptoms. 

    Never having been prone to headaches in the past, I suddenly had them daily. I also had rib pain, pain in my chest, and the feeling that there was “something there” in my breast and armpit almost constantly.

    I would cry out to God to take away the pain and the symptoms daily - even minute by minute. And then He finally got my attention long enough to speak II Corinthians 10:4 to me. I’m not supposed to be “vigilant of my symptoms!” I am supposed to take every thought captive and bring them into captivity to obey Christ!

    Now when I get symptoms, which coincidentally come full force about two weeks before I am to see my oncologist for a check-up, I am vigilant to declare the confessions that I have listed in these pages. I proclaim that I shall not die, but live and declare the glory of God! I say that I am healed by the name and the blood of Jesus Christ! I profess that God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid! I look for the symptoms of His promise of abundant life and His good and perfect gifts instead of the devil’s “gift” of death and destruction. 

    I wish I could say that I have perfected the art of taking every thought captive. Sometimes I forget the “through God” part, and I fail because, in my own strength, this is impossible. But God is working in and through me! (Philippians 2:13)

Philippians 2:13 "for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure."

Philippians 2:13 "for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure."

Mighty God, 
You have given me weapons that are not of this world to fight my true enemy, the devil. He would try to exalt himself above you, and he would use my own thoughts and imaginations to do this. But with your might and your weapons, I take every thought captive to obey Christ!

Winter Is Past Part 18 - I declare that my prayers have great power and are working in me to heal!

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James 5:14-16 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

    Calling on the elders of the church to pray for us when we are sick and confessing our sins to brothers and sisters in Christ may not be the first things that jump to mind when we consider how we should combat sickness. It is humbling...sometimes it may feel humiliating. But the Lord, through the writing of James, encourages us to do this. Our prayers have great power to work when we humble ourselves before Him and His people.

    In fact, James goes on to compare this kind of prayer to the prophet Elijah. In verses 17 and 18 he says this:

    Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

    The prophet Elijah had prayed that the Lord would hold back rain from Israel because King Ahab, Queen Jezebel and the people of Israel were behaving wickedly. So for 3 1/2 years, it did not rain! Then he prayed, and it rained. 

    You know what? Elijah was not greater than we are! He was just a man! Do you want that kind of power? Humble yourself; confess your sins; call the elders to pray for you.

    There was a moment in my treatment process where I hit a wall, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I reached out for the Lord and I couldn’t feel Him. All I felt was pain and fear and despair. At the urging of my husband, I went to the elders of my church. I confessed my fears and doubts, and cried out for mercy. The elders prayed that day for me with such fervency, I promise you the building shook. My father (and pastor) came over to me as I wept. He picked me up and held me in his arms. He told me that this was a physical representation of what the Lord was doing in the spirit. 

    I left that time of prayer changed. I wish I could say the fear and doubt left and never came back...that didn’t happen. I continued to fight and confess my sin and pray for forgiveness and healing in the months and years that followed. But I was changed after that. The prayers that day had great power and are working in me to this day!

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Lord, 
I recognize that I am sinner, and it’s by Your grace alone that I have salvation and healing. God, I humble myself before you. I will call on the elders of the church to pray for me and anoint me with oil. I will confess to Godly men and women my faults, and I will be healed. I declare that my prayers have great power and are working in me to heal!

Winter Is Past Part 17 - With joy I will drink deeply from the fountain of Your salvation!

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Isaiah 12:2-3 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.
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    The New Living Translation of the Bible says the verses this way,

Isaiah 12:2 See, God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid.The Lord God is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.” 3 With joy you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation!
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    I love that Isaiah starts this message with, “Behold!” or “See!” It’s as if he is holding up the evidence for everyone to see and saying, “Look over here. I can prove that the Lord is my salvation!” 

    And what is the proof? Well, songs and joy do not usually accompany despair and fear. Songs and joy come with confidence and trust! When we sing and laugh, He becomes our salvation and we prove it to those around us.

    I’m not gonna lie to you...the day after I had a chemotherapy treatment, a gloomy cloud would appear above my head, kinda like Eeyore had over his head. I felt icky, and I wanted everyone to know it. But I quickly learned to combat the gloominess by watching reruns of a popular sit-com. I would laugh out loud and feel better in no time! A merry heart truly does work like medicine! (Proverbs 17:22)

    Unfortunately, this was a short-lived remedy. The sit-com would end, I would go to bed and wake up gloomy again the next day. It wouldn’t last because it wasn’t true joy. It was passing, fleeting, and sometimes even elusive. 

    Nehemiah 8:10 “The joy of the Lord is your strength!”

     In the moments when I would set aside the gloominess and pick up the joy of the Lord, I would be strengthened! I would sing! I would dance! And people around me would notice. More than once, someone said to me, “Wow, this chemo thing doesn’t seem all that bad!”  And they were right! I was supernaturally drinking from the fountain of the Lord with His joy that strengthened me!

Winter Is Past Part 16 - I claim Your promise that You will give me long life and show me Your salvation!

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Psalm 91:1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. 16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

    I shared in a recent post about a beautiful print my sister Kimmy made for me of a quote that encourages me. Also hanging in my home is a painting of Psalm 91 that a friend gave to me when I was first diagnosed with cancer. If you have not committed the entire Psalm to memory, I recommend that you do so. It is a powerful way to combat the lies of the devil, bring peace and comfort to you in any situation, and give glory to Almighty God! The trifecta of power that saves!

    When I was given a scary diagnosis, fear accompanied that diagnosis like a terrifying blanket that wrapped itself around me and sucked every bit of peace, safety, and comfort from me. Night and day the fear plagued me and tried to rob me of the abundant life that Jesus had given me. 

    My sister, Bethany, who is a beautiful dancer and choreographer, took me to her kitchen one day and began to play a worship song called Healer as she danced over me. One of the lines in the song is, “I trust in You! I trust in You! I believe that You’re my healer.” At that point in the music she instructed me to lift my hands in the air as if I were grabbing onto the hand of the Lord. It was a physical representation of what was happening in the spiritual realm. I was holding onto the Lord and trusting Him to hold onto me. 

    From that very powerful moment on, any time that fear seeped its way back into my spirit and soul, I would physically reach my hand in the air and grasp my Lord’s hand. I would imagine myself sitting in His lap in His secret place, in His fortress, and I would find rest in His shadow. And I would say aloud, “Lord, I trust you. I trust that you are my refuge and that you love me. I claim your promise of long life because I am calling upon you, in the name of Jesus!”

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Almighty God, 
I dwell in your secret place. I rest under your shadow. I know that you are my refuge and my fortress. I trust you. And therefore I claim Your promise that You will give me long life and show me Your salvation!

 

Winter is Past Part 15 - I operate in Your authority and I proclaim that nothing will harm, injure or hurt me!

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    Luke 10:19 Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
   Acts 28:3-6 When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand. When the native people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.” He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. They were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw no misfortune come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.

     Paul proved that Jesus’ promise to His disciples in Luke 10:19 would be true for all believers. The Lord gives us the same authority that He gave Jesus while he was on the earth. And with His authority, we can trample on the devil and his power.

    It is really important to both recognize that we have this authority and then begin to walk in it. Let’s look at an encounter that a Roman soldier had with Jesus in Matthew 8:5-10.

    When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.” (ESV)

    The soldier recognized that the reason people had to obey him was not because of who HE was but because of who was in authority over him. He had the backing of the Roman army and Caesar himself. Therefore, people had to obey him.

    It is the same for us! But we have someone much greater than Caesar to back us up!

    As Jesus was preparing to return to heaven, he left his disciples with some pretty hefty jobs to carry out.

    Matthew 28:18-20 - And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (ESV)        

    He recognized that he had been given authority on earth because he was under the authority of his Father in heaven. And he was granting his disciples the same authority to preach and teach and heal and deliver that he had! 

    We need to live UNDER the authority of the Father so that we can operate IN His authority, just as the disciples and Paul did. And “nothing shall by any means hurt us!”

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    Write out a message in oyour journa;l to any illness or struggle you are facing and to the father of that illness, the devil. Take authority over the situation, remembering always to acknowledge whose authority you are under!

Lord of Heaven and Earth,
I accept that authority that you have given me over my enemy, the devil. Nothing can harm me - not insects and animals, not disease or affliction. I operate under and in Your authority and I proclaim that nothing will harm, injure or hurt me!

Winter is Past Part 14 - I shall not die, but live and declare the works of the Lord!

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Psalm 118:17 I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.

   Hanging in my living room wall is a painting that my sister, Kimmy, made for me a few years ago of a favorite quote by Iraneaus,

The glory of God is man fully alive!

    It is the first thing that I see when I walk in the front door, the focal point of the room as I sit on my sofa or at the dining room table, and the last thing that I see as I shut the lights off to go to bed at night. I want it to be a constant reminder to my family and to myself that my purpose in life, my objection for being here, and the reason that I will continue to live and not die, is to bring glory to my Lord.

    Before I was sick I considered this quote a bit differently. I knew that God had created me for a purpose, (He created you for a purpose, too!) and that as I walked in His purpose and plan, I would experience a full life. And it was true! I was operating in my passion - the passion that the Lord had placed in me - and I felt alive.

    But after I was sick, this quote had an added dimension to it. I began to have discussions like this with the Lord,

    “God, my purpose on earth is to bring you glory. I have life for one reason only, to declare your works to people. The devil wants to stop me from proclaiming Your gospel and showing Your love. But he won’t win! When I am fully alive, it brings You glory. Therefore I will not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord!”

    I would proclaim this truth over and over, multiple times a day. I still do! When scary symptoms pop up, when memories inch their way back in, when the devil speaks lies, I say, “I will not die, but live and declare the glory of God!” It stops the mouth of the devil. I’m not kidding. It does! The symptoms dissipate, the memories fade, and I walk in peace, knowing that God is glorified.

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   Get out your journal and answer the following questions:

What makes you fully alive?

 What passions has the Lord placed in your life?

In what ways do you know for certain you bring glory to the Lord?

Write Psalm 118:17 here as a declaration of faith and intention!

Oh Lord, my God, 
There are moments when I am afraid of death. There are moments when my enemies seem to surround me like bees, trying to steal, kill, and destroy me. But I say to them and to you that I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord!

Winter is Past Part 13 - I declare that by Your wounds, I am healed!

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Isaiah 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

    It is very easy for us Christians to accept that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross gave us salvation and eternal life with Him in heaven. But Isaiah’s prophesy concerning the coming Messiah assures us that Jesus would not only sacrifice himself so we could be forgiven of our sins and receive eternal life, he also tells us that Jesus would bring us healing in his torture and death. Yet how often do you think about this when you are sick? We are so quick to recognize his gift of everlasting life, but we skip over the fact that his gift includes abundant life on this earth!

    My body is covered with various scars and wounds. From the cut on my knee that I got when I fell off my bike as a kid, to the acne scars of my teens, to several reminders of the surgeries I have had as an adult, there is almost no place on my body that is free from the effects of life. 

    For a long time I looked at these scars and wounds with regret. I thought they represented some ugly defect that I could never get rid of. In some cases they carry a memory that I wish I could just forget. But I have started to consider them differently....

     Now, when I see the fading purple stretch marks which appeared on my body through three successive pregnancies, I not only remember the pregnancy and its effects on my stomach, but I choose to think about the wound that Christ received when they struck his side with a spear and blood and water flowed out of it. When I look at the jagged scar left from the port that was put near my right clavicle, I not only remember the chemotherapy that was delivered via that port, but I resolve to remember the thorns that scarred my Savior’s forehead when he was tortured. And when I examine the lumpy scar tissue that remains after the mastectomy and the memories of that surgery come flooding back, I decide to focus instead on the 39 lashes my Lord received so that I could be healed.

    Deciding to remember his wounds when I look at my own wounds has slowly begun to replace the many scary memories with beautiful memories! For by his wounds I am healed. And I have the proof of his healing in my own wounds! Praise the Lord!

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    List any scars or wounds you have received on your body in your journal.

    Now look that these scars differently. Choose to identify with your Savior. List the ways that the scars can remind you of the wounds our Lord received so that you could be healed of your wounds.

Lord,
We know that it is because you were crucified that we have salvation. But we also acknowledge that your death, burial and resurrection have given us healing and peace. Just as you gave me salvation when I was dead in my sin, you bring me salvation when I am hurting and sick. I declare that by Your wounds, I am healed!

Winter is Past Part 12 - I will wrestle against the devil with the strength and armor of the Lord!

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Ephesians 6:11 - 18b Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit,

     When we come to terms with the fact that no person, disease or situation is our enemy, but the devil is our enemy, we can then learn how to battle our true foe!

     It starts with the truth! We read the word of truth, memorize and meditate on the truth, confess and declare the truth! We proclaim Romans 10:10 and recognize that we are made righteous and receive salvation through confession and belief. We acknowledge the gospel, that God anointed Jesus to do good works on the earth, (Romans 10:10,) that He died and was raised from the dead by the Holy Spirit, (Romans 8:11,) and that He offers abundant life to those of us who believe. We pick up our sword, the word of God, and do not let it depart from our eyes and keep it in our heart, (Proverbs 4:21,) and we delight ourselves in it always, (Psalm 100:2.) 

     And keeping all this in mind, we pray in the Spirit. Because, after all, we remember that when we cannot find the words to pray, the Spirit will make intercession for us. He knows what we need better than we do.

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Time to put on our armor. Get out your journal and answer the following questions.

Gird your loins with truth: What has the Lord been revealing to you about the truth of your situation?

Put on the breast plate of righteousness: Are you truly the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus? Write out II Corinthians 5:21.

Shod your feet  with the preparation of the Gospel of peace: Recognize that thanksgiving brings peace. Take time to the thank the Lord for all He has done for you. Write Philippians 4:6-7.

Take up the shield of faith: Do you have faith that the Lord can move your mountains? Write Mark 11:23.

Out on the helmet of salvation: Has the Lord saved you? Write your story.

Take up the sword of the spirit: You have been doing this daily as you study and memorize the Word! Keep it up!

And pray!

Do this daily and watch as the enemy is defeated in your life!

Dear God, 
I fully recognize the source of my struggle. It is not men or women; it is not the sickness or disease plaguing me; it is no person or thing on this earth. The source of my struggle is the devil alone. And I will wrestle against him with the strength and armor of the Lord!

Winter is Past Part 11 - I receive in faith Your good and perfect gifts!

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James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (KJV)

    We looked at this verse in the previous post,  but let’s delve a little deeper today.

     I get very upset when I hear people accuse God of bringing bad things into a person’s life. Let’s look at two scriptures:

James 1:7 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (KJV)
John 10:10, The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.(NKJV)

     I ask people all the time, is it good and perfect? Does it bring abundant life? In that case it’s from God so accept it and say, “Thank you!” Does it bring death and destruction? If so, it’s from the devil and you can give it right back and say, “No, thank you!”

      Instead what I see these days is a whole lot of people accepting the devil’s gifts and even claiming them as their own! Pay attention to the people around you. Listen to how often you they claim an illness or difficulty for themselves. Watch a few commercials on TV. In nearly every prescription drug advertisement,  we are encouraged to accept these “gifts” that the devil wants for us. My depression; my asthma; my cancer; my rheumatoid arthritis; my bipolar disorder. Since when do these afflictions define us? Now that I’ve said this, you will start to hear it everywhere. Your grandmother takes blood pressure medication for “her heart condition.” Your father suffers pain in his feet because of “his diabetes.” I tell you what - I am leading a one woman revolution to stop the madness! It is not YOURS! You don’t have to keep it! Send it back to the pit that it came from, and start claiming the perfect gifts of healing and comfort and love and abundant life that the Lord has given to you!

     Now don’t get me wrong. I am in NO WAY encouraging anyone to stop medically treating the illness that they have been diagnosed with. If I did that, I would be a hypocrite indeed, as I treated the tumor that I discovered in my breast with everything available to me. And early along in the process I would say, “My tumor is this size.” Or, “My tumor has these characteristics.” But the Lord pulled me up so short! He challenged me to change my language, and claim His perfect gifts while rejecting the devil’s gift of death.

        Begin to do this yourself. Change your language concerning any illness you are suffering, and see if things don’t begin to change for you!

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       Spend some time in prayer, asking the Lord to reveal the times you have accepted what the devil has given you, instead of rejecting it. Now take the space to write out a confession to the Lord. Repent of this sin, and turn to the Lord. Ask Him for His good and perfect gifts!

Father of Lights,
I praise you that you do not change. I praise you that your gifts are good and perfect. I reject anything that is neither good nor perfect, recognizing that it is not from You, and therefore I do not have to have it. I receive in faith Your good and perfect gifts!

Winter is Past Part 10 - I have abundant life in You!

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John 10:10 - The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

    We have established that God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit offer life and health to us, and we acknowledge that they do not change. So why do we see sickness, disease, infirmities, and death on earth? If God brings life, where does death come from? Well, we do have an enemy, and he has not changed much either since he fell from grace. 

    The devil hates us. His sole purpose on earth is to take from us what the Lord has given to us. He wants to convince us that God does not love us. And if he can make us sick or fearful or worried, and then persuade us that God does not want us to be well, or that He has changed His mind and His ways, then he wins. He has stolen from us. 

    Maybe he hasn’t stolen our life yet, but if we really think about it, for many of us he has stolen our abundant life. Synonyms for this word “abundant” are superior, extraordinary, surpassing, uncommon.” We may still be alive, but our lives are anything but extraordinary. Even when we are well, we may not describe our condition as superior. Many of us are just existing, not thriving - not living the abundant life that the Lord has given us!

    Too many of us blame God for the “gifts” of the devil. It is time that we refuse to accept what the thief has as a replacement for the Lord’s gift of abundant life, and instead receive only the good and perfect gifts that come from the Lord. 

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

    Do you see it? Here it is again - God DOES NOT CHANGE! There is not even a shadow of turning with the Lord. And His gifts are only good and perfect. If it is not good or perfect, give it back to Satan!

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   Get with the Lord and ask Him to reveal to you that “gifts” you have accepted from the devil that the Lord never intended for you to have. Now be honest! List them in a column in your journal.

    Now in a second column, find the good and perfect gifts that the Lord offers - the gifts that contradict what the devil has for you - and place them there.

Lord, my Shepherd,
I fully recognize who my enemy is. The devil comes to steal and destroy me. It is he who wants to take my life, but I praise You that You offer abundant life! He will try to take from me what you have given, but he cannot. I proclaim in faith that I have abundant life in You!

 

Winter is Past Part 9 - In faith I declare that Jesus is the same today as He was yesterday, and He is healing me!

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Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
Acts 10:38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

     Did you ever read anywhere in the Gospels a time when Jesus chose not to heal someone who was oppressed by the devil? Or maybe He just wasn’t able to? No? Well, that’s because it never happened. At no time did Jesus decide that he could not nor would not heal someone. Even the times, such as we read about in Mark 9 when the disciples were not prepared to help the young boy, Jesus was able and willing to help. Every single time that Jesus came across someone who needed His help or His healing, He “did good” and healed them. Every. Single. Time.

    I think we can all agree that if we were walking the earth at the time Jesus was alive, and if we were sick at that time, Jesus would have healed us. At what point will we acknowledge that if it was true then, it is true now? 

    As we pointed out in previous posts, God is not a man that He should lie or change His mind. He is the same today as He has always been. And it is the same with Jesus. He does not change. He does not change his mind, and he does not change his actions. You can stand confident in the knowledge that He will heal today as He did yesterday!

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     As we did yesterday, in your quiet time with the Lord today, be sure to read portions of the Gospels. As you come across examples of times that Jesus healed people, record them here. And again, take time to personalize them, remembering that Jesus is the same for you as he was for them!

     Here is an example:

 Luke 17:12-19 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

    Lord, I praise you for healing the ten lepers, and I praise you for healing me! I want to be the one who returns over and over to thank you with a loud voice for everyone to hear! And my faith will make me whole!

Lord, My Helper, 
    I recognize that You have not changed and You will not change. The Jesus who went about doing good and healing everyone who was oppressed by the devil, still heals today. In faith I declare that Jesus is the same today as He was yesterday, and He is healing me!

Winter is Past Part 8 - Your Spirit which dwells in me is making me come alive!

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Romans 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. 26 - 27 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

    We all learned the Pythagorean Theory in high school, right? We were taught that, in a triangle, a squared plus b squared equals c squared. Now don’t panic - there will be no geometry test after this. The point is, that we can reach a similar understanding with the Lord. If God equals Son equals the Holy Spirit, and God doesn’t change and Jesus is the same today as He has always been, then the Holy Spirit, likewise, is the same and does not change! 

     And if we recognize that He is the same for us as He was for Jesus and Paul, who wrote the book of Romans, then we have to acknowledge that those of us who have the Spirit of God dwelling in us are being made alive, (quickened) by the Spirit. 

     When I first found out I had cancer, I will be honest with you, I had trouble praying. It wasn’t because I lacked faith, it was because I lacked the words. My mind was a jumble of medical terms and treatment options - confusion was having a hay day in me! But when I took a step back and allowed the Holy Spirit to make intercession for me, it brought peace to the confusion and life to my infirmities. I knew that the Spirit knew what the will of God was for my life, and I knew He was interceding on my behalf, even when I did not know how to voice the prayer myself.

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    I trust that you have been studying the Word, memorizing and meditating on the Word, personalizing, confessing and praying the Word for the past few weeks. But I bet you may have reached the point where you have no words left to confess or pray. Today, take a moment to journal your feelings and frustrations, and then sit back and pray in the Spirit. Allow the Holy Spirit to make intercession for you. Return to the journal and record your thoughts and feelings you now have.

Prayer, 
Abba Father, 
I know that it was Your Spirit that raised Christ from the dead! And Your Spirit also reigns in my body! I praise You that Your Spirit that brought life to Jesus, brings life to me, too. And I declare that Your Spirit which dwells in me is making me come alive!

Winter is Past Part 7 - You have sent Your Word, and Your Word has healed me

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Psalm 107:1  O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
19-20 Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses. He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.

    Just so there is no mistaking it, the same God who David wrote about in Psalm 107, who saved David over and over, whose Word healed David...this is the same God who has sent His Word to heal YOU! 

Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, so he does not lie.  He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through? (NLT)

    What was true about God and His love and mercy for King David is true for us because God does not lie. He said He sent His Word to heal you, and He does not change His mind. He never fails to deliver you from destruction, and He always carries through on His promise to save you in your trouble. 

    We have established that God can heal you. We have established that He says He will heal. But do you truly believe it? Or do you believe that it is somehow not true for you? Trust Him. Cry unto Him in your troubles. His love and mercy endure forever, and they are for you!

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     As part of your daily Bible study, I encourage you to read the Psalms. Over and over the writers of the Psalms ask for and then declare that they have received salvation from the Lord. As you find these examples, return to your journal and record them. Then begin to personalize the verses because, after all, He’s the same God for you that He was for them. 

    Here is an example of another Psalm King David wrote:

    Psalm 27:1 - The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

     Now here is an example of personalization of the scripture:

    Lord, you are my light, my salvation and the strength of my life. Therefore, I have NOTHING to be afraid of! I do not fear sickness, I do not fear disease, I do not fear death - You are my salvation, and I will not be afraid!
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Prayer

Lord, I thank you because You have as much mercy for me as You did for King David, because your mercy endures forever. When I cry to You in my distress, You save me. I praise you for your salvation. I praise you for Your deliverance. I praise you for your healing. I declare that You have sent Your Word, and Your Word has healed me!

Winter is Past Part 6 - You will touch me and I will be clean.

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Mark 1:40-41 And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.

    I remember when I was a kid, I would ask my parents, “Can I do such and such?” And their answer would often be, “Well, you probably CAN do such and such, but that doesn’t mean that you WILL do it!” 

    The truth is that ability and will are two different things. In the last post we established that Jesus is able to heal. He proved it to the father of the young boy. But the question is, will He heal? I know a lot of Christians who believe that God is capable of healing them, but they are completely uncertain if that means that He will.

    Maybe you are in this camp. You pray and ask the Lord to heal you. You believe that if He wants to do it, He can. You hope that you are the lucky one who gets His attention and convinces Him to act on your behalf. Or maybe you hope you’ve done just enough to deserve His healing. 

    But you need to reread the first part of Mark 1:41. Jesus was “moved with compassion” for the man afflicted by leprosy. Do you remember when we said that the ancient Greeks thought that the heart was where thoughts were held and decisions were made? Well, according to the Greek Lexicon, the word used  for ‘compassion’ in this verse actually means ‘to be moved as to one's bowels, hence to be moved with compassion, have compassion (for the bowels were thought to be the seat of love and pity.)’

    Ok, so I am I the only one who thinks this is a bit strange? But the truth is it gives such a great picture of how Jesus felt! Have you ever hurt because someone you loved was hurting? Where did it hurt? Down in the pit of your stomach, right? And I bet you would have done anything that you could to help relieve the hurting, too, right?

    Jesus had that kind of reaction to the afflicted man. He hurt with him, and He was moved to help him. This was not the only time that Jesus felt this way. In fact, regularly when He saw the multitudes of hurting people, Jesus was moved with this compassion - the kind that went down deep into his gut. Why was this His regular reaction to the hurting of others? He loved them...all. And when those He loved hurt, He hurt. 

    Now do you believe that He loves you? If you say yes, you do believe He loves you as much as any of His children, then do you think it is possible that He is moved with compassion for you, too? And if He is moved with compassion for you, gut-wrenching compassion, then WILL He heal you, just as He did all the others He saw? Yes. Believe it. He not only CAN, He WILL.

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 Fill in these blanks:

 Lord, I believe you CAN heal ______________________________. (situation)

 Lord, I believe you WILL heal ______________________________. (situation)

 Repeat this for any struggle in which you need the Lord’s intervention.

Prayer
Lord, 
I believe that you can heal me. I know that you are mighty to save and can make me clean. I also know that you are moved with compassion on my behalf. And so you not only can heal me, you will heal me. I profess in faith that, “You will touch me and I will be clean.”

Winter is Past Part 5 - Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!

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     Mark 9:20-27 And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “ ‘If you can?’ All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. (ESV)

    I completely relate to the contrasting statements made by this father. One moment he is asking Jesus if He is able to heal his son. The next he is declaring his faith that Jesus will heal his son, and the next he is acknowledging that he struggles to keep the faith. 

    There were times when I was being treated for breast cancer that I would experience these dueling emotions multiple times a day - sometimes multiple times in a single moment. I would declare my trust in the Lord and feel His supernatural peace, only to be gripped by paralyzing fear the very next minute. Then I would go back to square one, confessing in faith my belief that He was healing me, and praying that He would perfect this faith in me. 

    Perhaps you can identify with this father and with me. Do you have moments where you wonder if God can heal you? Do you have moments when you wonder if He will heal you? Do you stand confidently in the knowledge that He can and will heal, only to fall into despair and doubt? Jesus will meet you there - wherever you are - every moment. Ask Him to give you what you cannot give yourself - complete faith and trust in Him.

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    In what area of your life do you lack faith to believe that God can move? Take time to write it out in a journal. If you have trouble believing that the impossible is possible, confess that to the Lord.

Lord, 

     I admit that there are times that I want to believe, and I know that you are faithful to make even the impossible possible if I would just believe, but I still struggle occasionally. Nevertheless, Your strength is made perfect in my weakness. Even when I find it difficult to believe, You help me in my unbelief. And at these moments I will say in faith, “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!”