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Steve at 4 years old in 1976

 

My family on my paternal side is riddled with alcoholism. I call it the family plague. But this past year I’ve seen the Lord reach down and pull my younger brother up by the scruff of the neck and set him on the road to sobriety.

My 41-year-old brother, Steve, had no time for God. It was too painful to watch his life spiral out of control as he lived only for the next bottle of vodka. But before Steve would ever even think of God, I knew he had to reach bottom. About two years ago I began to pray that he’d reach that point, and reach it fast before all hope was lost.

The Lord answered those prayers. He allowed my brother to go down that long, long, destructive road, and at last he crashed.

He’d already lost two marriages, a home, and the opportunity to be a full-time dad to his two girls. But it wasn’t until he lost the love and respect of his youngest daughter that he finally woke up to what he was doing. It was when his fifteen-year-old Kristen wouldn’t return his phone calls or agree to see him that Steve finally realized he needed help.

That was only the start of the long road back to health. Even then, Steve kept returning to his addiction that held on to him like manacles around his wrists and ankles.  But through prayer we began to see the release of my brother from this strangling hold.

We so often think of prayer as the last resort. But I’ve come to realize that prayer is not just that thing that helps us get things done—as if that were the inspiration behind our abilities and powers of persuasion.

Prayer is the work.

In the Book of Mark, chapter 9:14-29, we read that the Lord’s disciples were trying to release a young man from demon possession. This young man was so much like my brother, throwing himself into the fire.

Jesus had already given his disciples the authority and the training to cast out evil spirits such as afflicted this young man. But nothing they did worked. It didn’t even seem to matter how much faith they had. Jesus Himself was able to cast out the demon and set this young man free.

The passage concludes with Jesus’ words, “This kind can only come out through prayer.”

Prayer isn't the last resort according to Jesus. Prayer is the greatest work.

It is prayer and prayer alone that will cast the alcoholism from my brother. With God all things are possible.

 

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My brother, Steve, with my little girl Lana, when he was 12 in 1982.

 

 

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Donkey2You’ve heard the old adage, ‘cast your bread upon the waters and wait for it to come back to you’.

Well how about the adage, ‘looking for lost donkeys’?

Nope? Never heard of that one?

Lately I’ve been testing the waters to see what direction I should take with my career. Not being independently wealthy I need to bring in an income. I know, I know, who of us does not have financial difficulties? We all have our crosses to bear. Ooops, there’s another well-worn adage.

Thing is, we all have our stresses. And we all reach crossroads at frequent intervals where we have to make decisions—-will I go in that direction . . . or in this direction?

You may be looking for a job. Deciding on what college to attend. Deciding what direction God wants you to take in the writing of your next book, or speaking engagements. Perhaps your issue is health related. 

There’s an incident in the life of Saul that each time I read it, gives me comfort. The young Saul had no idea that God had chosen him to be the first king of Israel. He just figured he was an ordinary guy whose father was a farmer and owned a string of donkeys. One day those donkeys went missing, and Saul’s father sent him out to look for them.

Saul travelled through various areas, the hill country of Ephraim, passed through the land of Shalishah, etc., etc., etc. He looked for ages and all over the place. Saul could not find those donkeys.

I can connect with Saul’s long and unfruitful search for those financially strategic donkeys.

Funny thing is, God used that long and winding search to bring Saul to the prophet Samuel. The Lord had already revealed to Samuel that He had chosen Saul to be that first king. As Samuel unveiled this to Saul, he also told him that the donkeys he was searching for had been found and were already at home, and that God had a totally new direction for his life.

So, when you’re unclear about what direction to take in your life, or it seems that every iron you place in the fire doesn't get hot enough to provide for you, or you’re not sure which direction to cast your bread on the water, remember that God knows exactly where your lost donkeys are. He’ll bring them safely home in the right time.

The story of Saul and the lost donkeys is found in I Samuel 9

Be encouraged.

Christine Lindsay, www.christinelindsay.com

Author of the Award-winning, Shadowed in Silk

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This week I signed two contracts with Harvest House. The first is for a women’s devotional, and the second is for a little book for parents with kids ages 3-8. Did you hear my wahoooo from Canada?

Six years have passed since I signed my last contract with a traditional publisher, and it’s not for lack of trying. I’ve wrestled with disappointment and discouragement in the gap. I’ve questioned my call to write there. And I’ve seen God meet me in this place, using unmistakable ways to encourage me to persevere.

I’ll always remember the stranger who phoned and said, “Please don’t think I’m a whacko or a groupie. This is the first time I’ve phoned an author. I just want to tell you that I read your book, Moving from Fear to Freedom and it changed my life. Today I feel compelled to tell you, ‘Please keep writing.’”

Tears spilled. “I know why you feel compelled to deliver that message,” I said. “For several months I’ve doubted the worth of my writing efforts and wondered whether God was changing my direction. Six hours ago, I asked Him to send confirmation today if He wanted me to continue. Your call is that confirmation.’”

The woman listened quietly, and then she cried. “I heard His voice correctly!” she said. The experience bolstered her faith, and it cemented my passion and calling.

Perhaps you’ve found yourself in a similar gap. If so, consider this place—painful as it is—as precious. Here are a few suggestions to implement as you linger there:

  • Make quiet time with God your priority. Read the Word daily, and journal what He says.
  • Practice praise, and become an expert at giving thanks no matter what.
  • Rejoice with writers who avoid the gap.
  • Keep writing unless God makes it clear you’re to stop. Attend writers’ conferences. Maintain contacts within the industry. Continue to hone your skill.
  • Be patient. Be diligent. Be faithful. Rest assured that God is sovereign over your circumstances. When His time is right, He’ll move you from the gap.

My time in the six-year gap has given me a new personal favorite Scripture—“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted ” (Job 42:2). Meditating on it brings peace. Pondering it daily brings confidence. God knows what He’s doing. He knows what He wants to accomplish in us and through us. Let’s let Him do His job, even if it means waiting in the gap.

www.gracefox.com

 

 

 

 

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By Janet Perez Eckles

 

“No way,” I said to the lady across the counter at the airport, “that bag has my make-up.

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It's Grace Fox with a devotional thought to start your week.

Sometimes life leaves us baffled or bruised. We wonder if God is as wise as He claims to be, and we question why circumstances don’t happen how and when we wish they would. When I feel this way, I take courage from the Scriptures.

Recently I read about the prophet Samuel’s boyhood. One word—meanwhile—popped up several times in the account. It reminded me that, no matter what life looks like, God’s at work behind the scenes to accomplish His purposes. 

  •  “And the Lord gave Hannah three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, Samuel grew up in the presence of the LORD” (1 Samuel 2:21).
  • Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew taller and grew in favor with the LORD and with the people” (1 Samuel 2:26).
  • Meanwhile, the boy Samuel served the LORD by assisting Eli. Now in those days messages from the LORD were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon” (1 Samuel 3:1).

Events both good and bad unfurled on a daily basis at that time. Meanwhile, God was quietly raising up a prophet who would honor Him and faithfully proclaim His word.

The beauty of meanwhile remains true today. A couple years ago, Stonecroft Ministries asked me to produce a DVD-based Bible study to accompany my book, Moving from Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation. I had no funds and no clue how to do this. The thought of producing such a resource made good sense, but it also unnerved me. And so I prayed: “God, if You want this project done, then You’ll need to bring me a team of skilled people to help. And you’ll need to work out all the details including funding.” 

For the next year, I went about my usual business of writing, speaking, and ministering overseas. Meanwhile, the bi-weekly women’s Bible study that my daughter-in-law organized lost its teacher.  “Can you teach it now, Mom?” asked Cheryl. “Preparations won’t take long if you teach from Moving from Fear to Freedom because you already know the material.” I thought about the DVD study. Using this opportunity as a test run seemed divinely orchestrated, so I agreed and started writing the lessons. 

Meanwhile, I met a man in my church who’d specialized in audio-visual work while a missionary in Africa many years prior. He had a local friend who owned two filming cameras. Both agreed to help. 

Meanwhile, a national women’s ministry set aside money for projects such as this. One day the president handed me an envelope containing a grant application. “Fill out the form and ask for funding,” she said. I applied, and the committee approved. Within a year, the DVD-based Bible study became a reality. 

Perhaps you’re facing a challenge today. You’re not sure what’s goin’ on, and life looks like a puzzle with a few pieces missing. Pray and take courage in the Scriptures, especially in the word meanwhile.

You work. You wait. Meanwhile, God is on the move behind the scenes to fulfill His plan.

 

Visit www.gracefox.com/blog for more devotional thoughts. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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