Saturday, September 17, 2016

How to Have the Favor of God in Your Life

When I was in medical school, there was a mantra about the learning technique of medical education. Those six frightening words pushed us to work harder.

"See one. Do one. Teach one." 

Admittedly, we were a group of thoroughly Type A self-starters from the beginning. Because we knew that we would be doing a procedure not long after we first saw it done, we paid even closer attention. We practiced it in our heads, going over ever step in a kind of mental rehearsal. 

Because the "do one" would be done on a living, breathing person, we wanted to be ready. And we were.

It was serious business, and we knew it.

In a way, it was a good learning tool, too. To teach a procedure effectively, you have to know how to do it. Thorough understanding of the principles and steps involved is essential, as is experience.

There's another an old saying that you're probably more familiar with. "Practice what you preach.". It's an important principle, too. Don't just tell people what to do. Do it yourself first. The truth, however, is that our lives will preach what we practice, whether we want them to, or not.

Ezra tells us that he, too, understood the benefit of the medical education training style. 

"For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord, and to practice it, and to teach His statues and ordinances in Israel." Ezra 7:10 nasb

We never really know a thing, at the core of our hearts, until we know it well enough to teach it. To truly understand the law of God requires study with the fervor of one who knows he (or she) will do and teach before long. It also requires putting that study into practice. 

Ezra knew the word of God just that well. If we backtrack a little, we'll find a series of "for" sentences that show how those years of study and practice affected Ezra. The section begins with "and the king granted him all he requested because the hand of the Lord his God was upon him." (Ezra 7:6)

In a nutshell, the king granted Ezra everything he asked. The king did this because the hand of God was upon him. The favor of God was on Ezra because of the way he studied and obeyed and transmitted the word of God.

It's impossible to obey what we don't know, so study is essential. It's just hearing but not doing if we never put what we've studied into practice, though. We have to learn and obey. 

We don't study for learning's sake. We study to know God better and do what He wants us to do.

Do you want the favor of God to rest on your life? Do what Ezra did. Study hard, then do what you've learned. It's as simple as that.

See it. Do it. Teach it.

Those six frightening words helped turn inexperienced students into excellent doctors. They can turn us from new believers into dedicated disciples, too. If we'll follow them.

Today, let's study with fresh resolve. Fresh fervor. Fresh dedication. When we do, we'll know Him. Serve Him. Teach His word.
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: The Kairos Moment
Here's the link to the prayer guide: The Prayer List
Here's the link to my Global Outreach page: Leanna Hollis MD

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Kairos Moment

Wednesday night, Pastor Scooter talked about time. Because God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, He lives in a constant state of "now". There are two Greek words used for "now" in the New Testament. 

Chronos indicates a sequence of moments and is a linear expression of quantitative time. 

Kairos, on the other hand, is an expression of qualitative time. It indicates a moment of opportunity, the "right time". Blue Letter Bible defines it like this: "the time when things are brought to crisis, the decisive epoch waited for."

Kairos moments don't always look like we expect. I had a kairos moment when my marriage ended. It wasn't a time I wanted, but it was a crisis of opportunity that allowed me to let God heal and change me. I'm better for it.

A young friend of mine is going through a very rigorous course of training. It's a kairos moment for him. He's learning that he has the stamina to endure the most painful hardships in order to complete what God has called him to do. He's persevering, despite experiencing a significant injury at the beginning of his training. He's allowed God to use the kairos moment in ways that make my heart soar with joy.

The daughter of a friend is going through a heartbreaking experience. It's a kairos moment for her. Some days, all she can do is cry, but, on the other side of her pain, she'll be stronger and more like Jesus than she was at the start.

I have several friends going through the death of dearly loved family members. They, too, are experiencing kairos moments. On the other side of grief, they'll understand the hope of eternity and the comfort of God in a deeper way. 

How? Because all these people are praying that their pain and suffering not be wasted. They're praying they will learn all God has for them in the midst of their trial. That's a prayer that's sure to be answered in a way that leaves them stronger and more like Jesus.

Those kairos moments are easy to recognize, but what about the kind of kairos moment that's less noticeable? 

If God is in the now, and He is, He fills our days with kairos moments, opportunities to share Christ and His love, that we can easily miss. The problem with missing kairos moments is that they may never come again. 

I had a kairos moment this week. I saw a young man for whom I'd been praying, and had a moment to sit down and talk with him. I could have easily stepped away, but I stayed. I listened. I responded. When the time came, I shared Christ. It was one of those sweet and completely unlikely moments when I was able to talk about my faith in a very non-traditional way. I don't know how God will use it, but I'm sure He will.

Today, God will send a variety of kairos moments our way. Let's keep our eyes open and seize those opportunities when they come. We may not know how God uses them, but we can be sure He will.

..."Behold, now is the acceptable time, behold now is the day of salvation." 2 Peter 6:3 nasb
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: The Escrow Account  
Here's the link to the prayer guide: The Prayer List
Here's the link to my Global Outreach page: Leanna Hollis MD

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Escrow Account

If you've read the book of Esther, you know that her uncle Mordecai, was a good man. Once, Mordecai overheard a plot to kill the king. He told his niece, Esther, who told the king. Mordecai's actions saved the king and it was duly noted in the chronicles (or records) of the day. 

Unfortunately, Mordecai had an enemy named Haman who plotted to kill him, as well as all the Jews. When Haman convinced the king to approve his plot and make it law, it appeared that the plot was going to proceed.

It happened, though, that, at just the right time, the king couldn't sleep. He was rambling around in the night and decided to read for a while. (Leanna paraphrase coming up.)

"Bring me the book and records of the kingdom and read them to me," he commanded.

As they read, the story of Mordecai and how he uncovered the plot and saved the king was recounted. 

"What did we do for this good man?" the king asked.

"Not a thing," he was told.

That's when Haman's plan began to unravel. Mordecai received honor and blessings. The Jews were spared. Haman was executed for his tyranny.

In a way, Mordecai's good deed was held in escrow by God. If you've ever bought real estate with a mortgage, you probably know about escrow accounts. The lender establishes an account of funds used to pay for taxes and insurance during the period of the mortgage. 

That's what happened to Mordecai. At the exact moment that the report of his action was most needed, it was revealed, and it became a pivotal point in God's plan.

Peter tells us that, in the time-sense of God, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day. (2 Peter 3:8) He knows all we do, and He responds promptly... in the divine timetable of His that seems so unusual to us.

If you're like me, you've probably had people comment about how something you said months before has stuck with them. How some action touched them and they could still recall it years later. In a way, those words and actions were stored in an escrow account and used by God in just the way He needed, at just the right time.

As we go about our day, let's remember that God's ways are not our ways. He sees everything. Every good deed. Every kind word. Every sacrifice. Even when we forgot, He does not.

Our good words and deeds are all stored in the mind of God and, at just the right time, He'll use them as He sees fit. It may be that He's waiting to reward us "for such a time as this."

So don't hold back. Say the kind words. Do the good deed. Make the big sacrifice. Even if no one ever notices, God does. And He never forgets.

"But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." 2 Peter 3:8 nasb
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: The Biting Cat That Finally Didn't 
Here's the link to the prayer guide: The Prayer List

Here's the link to my Global Outreach page: Leanna Hollis MD

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Biting Cat That Finally Didn't

My cat is finally coming around. 

I haven't written about my cat before because their was nothing good to say, and, if you can't say something nice, it's better to say nothing at all. 

I adopted this cat when he was a kitten with a possibly crippled leg. As it turned out, it wasn't his leg that was crippled, but his attitude. He was supposed to be a barn cat, but he wasn't happy about it. Even when he was a little kitten, he would make his way down the road from the barn to my house. He refused his place.

You would think a cat that wanted to come to the house would be nice. He might even want to snuggle a little, but no. If I picked the cat up, he bit me. Every single time. Then, he jumped out of my arms. It was impossible to hold him.

You might also think that I would stop picking up the biting cat, but no. I was determined to gentle my cat. 

I've had almost no success with my gentling plan. After five years, he still hasn't had his shots because I can't hang on to him long enough to get him to the car, much less to the vet. 

When he bites me, I let him go. Every single time.

That's how we've rolled around here. He meows. I try to pet him. He bites. I can rub my hand down his back while he's standing on the ground, and that's it. If I don't put his feed out promptly, the biting begins. 

This is no way for a cat to act, especially not at my house. I considered trying to find him a new home, but who wants a biting cat? I've offered him to everyone. They've all refused him.

We've had five years of my failed gentling program. Until today.

This morning, I walked outside and he rubbed against my leg but he didn't bite me. "I'll get your food. Don't bite me," I told him. He didn't.

I don't know why I reached down to pick him up, but I did. "I'm gonna pick you up, Cat. Don't bite me." (He has a name, but I've forgotten it in all the aggravation of biting.)

To my surprise, he let me pick him up. For two full seconds, he snuggled against me. He probably wouldn't want me to tell this, but he actually purred for half that time. One second of purring isn't long. I know that. But it's progress. 

My heart soared. I had not only held my cat, but he had purred. 

As I was holding that cat, I had just enough time to think, "I wonder if the prodigal son's father felt like this when he hugged his boy?" The answer to that question, of course, is no. He felt much better. His heart soared. 

In a way, his son was more rebellious and difficult than my cat, but that father didn't give up. He kept waiting. Kept hoping. Kept praying.

One day, all his prayers were answered. A dust cloud in the distance cleared to reveal the figure of a man. As he approached, the figure became a familiar shape. Before long, he knew. It was his boy! 

Oh, how happy that father was as he ran down the road to meet his boy!

It's a long stretch from a biting cat to a returning boy, but there was a time when I thought picking up my cat was an impossibility. Today, I was reminded that there is nothing that is impossible for our God. Not biting cats. Not wandering boys.

If you've waited for God to move in your situation, take heart. Nothing is impossible for God. No matter how hard it seems to us.

"But Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'" Matthew 19:26 esv
PS - yes. I know that's a picture of my dogs, but the cat ran off before I could get his picture. And my dogs are nice, they obey, and they don't bite. Plus, it's a cute picture.

In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: Typos, Miscommunication, and the Doc that Was a Dog.

In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: The House of God in Us
Here's the link to the prayer guide: The Prayer List

Here's the link to my Global Outreach page (where you can support this ministry as God leads): Leanna Hollis MD

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Typos, Miscommunication, and the Doc that was a Dog:

Sam met me at the mailbox as I returned home yesterday. "I've got bad news for you. My dog has started killing your chickens."

"Are you sure? How did that happen?"

"He followed me over to the barn, saw the chickens, and took out running."

"Are you sure? Did you see him with a chicken?"

"No, but I bet he killed one."

"Did you see a dead chicken?"

"No, but I thought he was probably gonna kill one."

I didn't think we should credit the dog with the kill unless we were missing chickens, but Sam was worried. All the chickens were out, so Sam went to the barn and closed the door to the chicken house. I was a few minutes behind him, on my way to fill the feeder and put out fresh water.

"Sam, did you close the door to the chicken house?"

"Yeah. I didn't want the dog to get any more chickens."

"But the chickens are outside. They aren't in the chicken house."

"Them roosters was in there."

I didn't argue. I just sighed, opened the door to the chicken house, and waited for the chickens to go back inside. At dusk, I went back to the barn. I don't know what happened to them for sure, but two chickens were missing.

I texted Ryan (my son). "Looks like Sam's dog killed two of my chickens."

A little while later, Ryan replied. "His doctor killed a chicken? That is so crazy!" He waited a few seconds and replied again. "Is that true?"

Ryan's reply shocked me until I realized that there was a little typo in my text. I thought I had written "dog" but I had typed "doc". I laughed out loud.

Communication is a beautiful experience, until it's confused by miscommunication. One little c in the place of a g made a vast difference in what I meant to say.

In a world that's filled with confusion and misunderstanding, there's one place where clarity and understanding are still available. God's word. Truth, love, and grace reside in the pages of our Bibles. If we want to know what God says, we need look no further than Scripture. 

Today, let's take our questions to the One who has answers. Clear, sensible answers. Let's open our Bibles and study to understand what God wants us to know.

"Thy Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path." Psalm 119:105 esv
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: The House of God in Us
Here's the link to the prayer guide: The Prayer List

Here's the link to my Global Outreach page (where you can support this ministry as God leads): Leanna Hollis MD

Monday, September 12, 2016

The House of God in Us

The temple of God had been partially rebuilt, but construction was stalled. The walls of Jerusalem were still in ruins. There was confusion about whether or not the returning remnant had the authority for their building project, and their efforts were thwarted at every turn.

Things were not good for the motley crew in Jerusalem, and they were a discouraged bunch.

Into that sad setting, God sent a vision to Zechariah to encourage the people. 

Zechariah saw a man with a measuring line in his hand."What are you doing?" Zechariah asked him.

"Measuring the city." 

Another angel in the vision told Zechariah the most surprising news. (Leanna paraphrase) "One day, Jerusalem won't need walls for protection because God Himself will be a wall of fire around her."

As if the promise of the protection of the ring of fire was not enough, the promise of presence was given to Zechariah.

"Sing for joy and be glad, O daughter of Zion; for behold I am coming and I will dwell in your midst," declares the Lord." Zechariah 2:10 nasb

The people were defeated by edicts that stopped their obedience in rebuilding, but God was saying, "Fear not. I will do that which you cannot do, and do it in a better way than you could ever do. Then, I will do something even better. I'll come and dwell with you again." 

The word translated as "dwell" indicates that God will not be merely passing through, but He will be establishing a residence. He will stay and live among them on a permanent basis. 

And He did. 

The Word became Flesh and dwelt among us, but God didn't stop there. When Jesus ascended back to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to do more than dwell in our midst. He dwells inside us. We have access to our Triune God every minute of every day. 

He abides in us.

How amazing is that?

We no longer need to build with brick and stone in an effort to "house" God. For those of us who are believers, He has moved into our hearts and lives. 

We are the house of God. 

It's more than I can comprehend, but, today, let's take heart that God has not left us alone to do the hard work of life. He is not remote or unapproachable. He's as near as our breath. He is with us, and we serve a God to loves us enough to stay with us until the day He calls us home.
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: Becoming a Person of High Esteem
Here's the link to the prayer guide: The Prayer List

Here's the link to my Global Outreach page (where you can support this ministry as God leads): Leanna Hollis MD

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Becoming a Person of High Esteem

Fasting is not my favorite.

I'm not sure it was Daniel's favorite, either, but he certainly did a lot of it. Daniel 10 records the events that happened toward the end of one season of sacrificial prayer. 

For three weeks he'd fasted tasty food, meat, wine, and ointment. In a way, he'd fasted pleasure... the things that tasted good and felt good.

At the end of the time, Daniel was by the Tigris River and had a vision of a heavenly visitor. (He may have been Jesus Himself.) His appearance was so astounding that Daniel fell on his face on the ground in a "deep sleep." 

The most wonderful thing happened next. The heavenly visitor reached out His hand, touched Daniel, and set him up on his hands and knees. He spoke words that must have thrilled Daniel to his core.

"O, man of high esteem, do not be afraid..." Daniel 10:19 nasb

Daniel was a man of high position and esteem on earth, but that wasn't what the visitor meant. Daniel was also a man of high esteem in the heavenly realm.

After a few moments of talking, the heavenly visitor strengthened Daniel with a second touch, and repeated the phrase. "O man of high esteem..." In Scripture, two is the number of confirmation. In a way, when the phrase was repeated, the visitor was saying, "You are a man of high esteem, and I really mean it."

There's a footnote in my Bible that indicates the word used literally means "desirability or preciousness". Consider the Lord's words to Daniel for a moment.

"Oh, Daniel you are so precious to me. I really mean this, Daniel. You are very precious to me." 

Daniel was so precious to him that he came down from heaven to speak with him.

This morning, I'm in awe of these powerful words, for I realize that we, too, are of great value to our Lord. 

When Jesus came to earth to dwell with us and speak with us, He came because He loved us so much. 

We had a sin debt we could never pay, and He cared enough about it to pay it Himself. This payment did not involve reaching into his pocket and pulling out a few bills. He willingly submitted to torture and death to pay our debt with His flesh and His blood. 

We are loved. 

Despite our sin, the wickedness of our hearts, and the evil we hide inside, God loves us. Every single one of us. No matter how many mistakes we've made. No matter how many times we've failed. He still loves us.

What I want, though, is more than God's love. I want to hear the words Daniel heard. I want to live my life in such a way that, one day, He will say to me, "O, Leanna, you are so very precious to me." 

Don't you want to hear those words, too?

Maybe, if we lived like Daniel lived, if we sacrificed like Daniel sacrificed, if we obeyed with the faithful heart with which Daniel obeyed, we could.

Today, let's commit ourselves anew to faithfulness and obedience. To sacrifice and prayer. To loving the Lord with all our heart, mind, and strength. To loving our neighbor as ourselves.

When we live as Jesus commanded, we, too, can be people of high esteem to God. We, too, can hear those beautiful words, "Well, done, good and faithful servant. You are precious to me. Welcome home."
#faithful #Christian
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: The Debt We Cannot Pay
Here's the link to the prayer guide: The Prayer List

Here's the link to my Global Outreach page (where you can support this ministry as God leads): Leanna Hollis MD