Pearl 294: Roots

TOPIC: Faith and Endurance

"Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away" - Luke 8:13.

It is possible to lose faith when times of testing come, not your saving faith, but faith to receive something or in your ability to do something. Your faith will be tested, usually requiring you to walk in the truth of your promise while circumstances and time seem to indicate that it--the fulfilled promise--will never happen.Are you being tested in your faith to believe God for something to happen in your life? Are you being true to the promise, working toward making it happen, or succumbing to the negative circumstances? Are you putting down roots of faith, or can your faith be yanked up like a weed with shallow roots?

Lord, I don't want to have weed faith that can be lost or easily removed in times of testing. I want to have deep roots of faith that can sustain dry or difficult seasons. Therefore, help me focus on You and the promise and not the circumstances. Remind me I may be just one phone call or meeting away from seeing the results of my faith dream so as not to give up.

Upako Checks in With Thanks

Here is the update I received from Pastor Francis after I gave him $1000 toward feeding his orphans and a folder of letters to send to our little Mary:

New Mary 1Dr. J,

I hope you had a blessed visit to Kenya. You had a very busy schedule but you blessed many. I want to send our gratitude as Upako Centre for the money you brought for feeding the orphans. We say this from the bottom of our hearts. Had it not been for your continuous help, the children could have been in the streets hopless. God bless you Dr., and we are praying for all those who contributed New Mary 2towards our help. Mary missed to see you but she was happy when she received the letters and photos you brought her. She is doing well and very active.

Your leadership is not only seen when you come but even when you are gone.Those who come in contact with you are left with a mark of generosity and love...why?  We didn't know Pauline your tour guide until you brought her to us. But since that time she has been helping the girls a lot, even the candidates with sanitary towels and learning materials. Last term she offered to take one girl to high school and am amazed at what your presence in the life of Upako Project is doing.

New UpakoThere is a crisis in Kenya for feminine products for the young girls, who are not used to using such items or simply cannot afford them (a distribution is going on at left - click to enlarge). We contributed $200 toward that need, but I know the need is much greater. I am grateful to Pauline, the best travel agent in Kenya, for getting involved along with many other women. And of course you can see how well Mary looks and is doing.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your work and help as we seek to make a difference in Kenya

Pearl 293: The Blessing of Faith

TOPIC: Faith and Promises    

"'Blessed is she who has believed
that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!'" - Luke 1:45.

This is what the angel Gabriel said to Mary when she responded positively and in faith to his announcement of her pregnancy. That is how God works: He promises and then expects you to trust Him to fulfill His promises before You ever see the results. Your faith response is what holds the blessing, for it enables you to see and savor the promise long before the results are evident to others. Has the Lord made any promises to you? What are they? Have you received them in faith? Are you living in the blessing of those promises every day, even though you don't see when or how they can come about?

Lord, I read Your word and listen for Your voice, and I see and hear Your promises. Today, I understand that I am blessed when I receive them in faith, not just when I ultimately receive the end result of those promises. Thank You for Your faithfulness that allows me to live in the blessing of faith every day.

Pearl 292: Ask and Give Thanks

TOPIC: Faith and Prayer

"Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours" - Mark 11:24.

What Jesus said in this verse has caused no small amount of controversy, misunderstanding, and misapplication. Some would probably wish He had not uttered this, for it has raised the expectations of many who have not received that for which they asked. Yet Jesus did speak these words, so they must be true but wrongly applied for them not to work. It seems we are simply to "ask and give thanks, ask and give thanks," rather than repeating our petitions with no idea whether or not God has heard. What is your application of these words to your prayer life? Why don't you receive more answers to prayer? What role does faith play in this transaction Jesus described? Is this simply "name it and claim it" or does it contain an important truth for your walk with the Lord?

Lord, I shy away from these words of Yours so that I don't misapply them or make a mistake. Yet in shying away, my prayer life has been anemic. Help me to have a vision for my petition, and to see the answer so clearly that I can thank You now for what is yet to come, believing I already have it.

Pearl 291: Perfect Faith

TOPIC: Faith and Doubt

"Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, 'I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!'" - Mark 9:24.

The father in this story wanted his son to be healed and had faith, but it wasn't perfect faith. He cried out for God to help him and Jesus granted his desire and healed his son. This is certainly good news for you. Your faith doesn't have to be perfect and doubt-free for it to be effective. You simply have to wrestle with the imperfections and not allow them to rule the day. Do you let your doubts disturb your faith? Do your doubts keep you from moving in faith? Does the fact that you have doubts cause you to think that your faith is ruined and inoperative?

Lord, I have faith! I know You can do anything and I pray to You regularly. Today I am set free. I realize that my faith does not have to be perfect, but it has to be dominant over all other considerations. From this point, I know You will help me overcome my unbelief as I stand firm on the faith I have. Thank You!

Pearl 290: Jesus is Listening

TOPIC: Faith and Speech

"Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, 'Don’t be afraid; just believe'" - Mark 5:36.

Out of your heart, your mouth speaks. What's more, Jesus is listening to what you say. Therefore, it's important that you align your words with your faith level, or perhaps you should listen to your words to determine where your faith level is at. What's more, fear is the opposite of faith, so you want to determine if your speech expresses fear, things like "I can't do that," or "I don't have the money,' instead of "I can do all things" or "God will provide." As Jesus listens to your conversations, what would He have to say about your faith? Do you speak hopeful, expectant words of faith, or pessimistic words indicating you don't really expect much to happen beyond what you consider normal? Should faith maintain the ordinary or take you to the extraordinary?

Lord, I know You've been listening to my words, and they haven't been full of faith these days. Forgive me for my negativity and lack of trust. I've been hesitant to speak faith for fear I would be criticized as one who's trying to 'name it and claim it,' and also for fear of being disappointed when I don't achieve the end result of my faith. Forgive me.

Pearl 289: Free

TOPIC: Faith and Provision

"If that is how God clothes the grass of the field,
which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into
the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you
of little faith!" - Luke 12:28.

Your preoccupation with money, career and benefits can greatly impact your pursuit of purpose and goals. God has always taken care of you, and isn't about to stop now. So you can seek His will without being overly concerned with your provision. Where has worry about clothes and other necessities taken your focus away from doing God's will?  Are you anxious about those things? What has this anxiety cost you in terms of joy and creativity?  Are you living the life you want to live or feel you have to live to earn money?

Lord, You are a good provider and have never failed me or my family. Forgive me for when I have been worried and anxious about things beyong my control, and help me to focus on Your will for my life. I commit to trust You for the basics of life so I am free to pursue Your will and work for my life.

Pearl 288: Use What You Have

TOPIC: Faith and Increase

"The apostles said to the Lord, 'Increase our faith!'" - Luke 17:5.

When Jesus taught that we should forgive our brothers seven times a day if need be, the apostles asked for more faith. Jesus responded by telling them that if they had faith as small as a mustard seed, it would be enough to get any job done. In other words, they were to use the faith they had and God would work with them. The same is true for you. You will increase your faith by exercising whatever faith you have right now, no matter how little. Are you operating in the faith you have, or are you waiting for more? Are you asking for faith when the Lord is requiring obedience? Do you see the way to increase your faith is to use the faith you have today?

Lord, I have been content for too long waiting for You to do what only I can do. I have been waiting for You to increase my faith, but You have been waiting for me to use the faith I have and obey You. You win! I will use my faith today so I can have more faith tomorrow due to the testimony that will emerge from today's faith action.

Pearl 287: Answer the Question

TOPIC: Faith and Focus

“'Where is your faith?' he asked his disciples.
In fear and amazement they asked one another,
'Who is this? He commands even the winds and
the water, and they obey him'" - Luke 8:25.

That's a good question: Where is your faith? The winds and storms seem so uncontrollable and threatening to us, but they are under God's control. If God can control the weather, He can control anything. So that goes back to Jesus' question: Where is your faith? Are the storms raging in your life?  Where is your faith? Is your business or ministry struggling? Where is your faith?  Having a relational problem? Where is your faith?

Lord, You are asking me this question, and You want an answer. My answer is that my faith is in You, not in the circumstances I am encountering at present.  I choose today to put my focus squarely on You and not on the things You are allowing to test and prove my faith.

Pearl 286: The Lie

TOPIC: Faith and Perseverance

“'Have faith in God,' Jesus answered" - Mark 11:22.

Jesus answer to your woes is the same as this verse: Have faith in God. When all else is going wrong, when it seems like God is far away, when it seems like serving God is not worth it, when it seems like you have sown and haven't reaped, when you feel like everyone is against you and no one is standing up for you, have faith in God. When a lying voice inside you whispers that God is not good or faithful or loving, that is all the more reason to have faith in God. Are you wavering in your faith in God? Are circumstances ganging up on you so that your faith is weakened? Have you believed a lie that God has not been faithful to you?

Lord, I have believed the lie at times - the lie being that You are distant and don't care. I have taken my eyes off You and put them on the circumstances around me, and that has caused me to doubt. Forgive me, Lord, and today and every day henceforth I choose to do what You commanded: Have faith in God!