Can You Hear Them Open?

Revelation 3:7-8 (The Message)

To Philadelphia
Write this to Philadelphia, to the Angel of the church. The Holy, the True—David's key in his hand, opening doors no one can lock, locking doors no one can open—speaks:
"I see what you've done. Now see what I've done. I've opened a door before you that no one can slam shut. You don't have much strength, I know that; you used what you had to keep my Word. You didn't deny me when times were rough.

We serve a God who can open doors that no one can close. You have been faithful during these times of difficulty and trouble. You did not understand why you had to go through what you went through but you still held on. You wanted to let go, give up, and turn back but you kept going. It was go dark at times you could not see the next step, but you held on to God's hand and continued to walk. God is pleased and you are going to enter a season of opportunities you never imagined. You are about to see the answer to prayers you prayed long ago as well as a quick answer to prayers you just prayed.

Can you hear the doors being opened in the spirit? They are opening so quickly. can you feel the breeze? God has been quiet, sometimes silent but now you will begin to see what you couldn't see. Praise Him!

God Bless

Thankful For The Thorns

Sandra felt as low as the heels of her shoes when she pulled open the florist shop door, against a November gust of wind. Her life had been as sweet as a spring breeze and then, in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a "minor" automobile accident stole her joy. This was Thanksgiving week and the time she should have delivered their infant son. She grieved over their loss.

Troubles had multiplied. Her husband's company "threatened" to transfer his job to a new location. Her sister had called to say that she could not come on her long awaited holiday visit. What's worse, Sandra's friend suggested that Sandra's grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer.

"Had she lost a child? She has no idea what I'm feeling," thought Sandra with a shudder. "Thanksgiving? Thankful for what?" she wondered. "For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended her? For an airbag that saved her life, but took her child's?"

"Good afternoon, can I help you?" Sandra was startled by the approach of the shop clerk.

"I.... I need an arrangement," stammered Sandra.

"For Thanksgiving?" Sandra nodded. Do you want the beautiful but ordinary, or would you like to challenge the day with a customer favorite I call the 'Thanksgiving Special'? I'm convinced that flowers tell stories," she continued. "Are you looking for something that conveys 'gratitude' this Thanksgiving?"

"Not exactly!" Sandra blurted out. "In the last five months, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong." Sandra regretted her outburst, and was surprised when the clerk said, "I have the perfect arrangement for you."

Then the bell on the door rang, and the clerk greeted the new customer, "Hi, Barbara... let me get your order." She excused herself and walked back to a small workroom, then quickly reappeared, carrying an arrangement of greenery, bows, and what appeared to be long-stemmed thorny roses. Except the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped: there were no flowers.

"Do you want these in a box?" asked the clerk.

Sandra watched for the customer's response. Was this a joke? Who would want rose stems with no flowers! She waited for laughter, but neither woman laughed. "Yes, please," Barbara replied with an appreciative smile. "You'd think after three years of getting the special, I wouldn't be so moved by its significance, but I can feel it right here, all over again." She said, as she gently tapped her chest.

Sandra stammered, "That lady just left with, uh.... she left with no flowers!"

"That's right, said the clerk. "I cut off the flowers. That's the 'Special'. I call it the Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet."

"Oh, come on! You can't tell me someone is willing to pay for that!" exclaimed Sandra.

"Barbara came into the shop three years ago, feeling much as you do, today," explained the clerk. "She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had just lost her father to cancer; the family business was failing; her son had gotten into drugs; and she was facing major surgery."

"That same year I had lost my husband," continued the clerk. "For the first time in my life, I had to spend the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too much debt to allow any travel."

"So what did you do?" asked Sandra.

"I learned to be thankful for thorns," answered the clerk quietly. "I've always thanked God for the good things in my life and I NEVER questioned Him why those GOOD things happened to me, but when the bad stuff hit, I cried out, "WHY? WHY Me?!" It took time for me to learn that the dark times are important to our faith! I have always enjoyed the 'flowers' of my life, but it took the thorns to show me the beauty of God's comfort! You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we're afflicted, and from His consolation we learn to comfort others."

Sandra sucked in her breath, as she thought about the thought that her friend had tried to tell her. "I guess the truth is, I don't want comfort. I've lost a baby and I'm angry with God."

Just then someone else walked in the shop. "Hey, Phil!" the clerk greeted the balding, rotund man. "My wife sent me in to get our usual Thanksgiving arrangement... twelve thorny, long-stemmed stems!" laughed Phil as the clerk handed him a tissue wrapped arrangement from the refrigerator.

"Those are for your wife?" asked Sandra incredulously. "Do you mind telling me why she wants a bouquet that looks like that?"

"No... I'm glad you asked," Phil replied. "Four years ago, my wife and I nearly divorced. After forty years, we were in a real mess, but with the Lord's grace and guidance, we trudged through problem after problem. The Lord rescued our marriage. Jenny (the clerk) told me she kept a vase of rose stems to remind her of what she had learned from "thorny" times. That was good enough for me. I took home some of those stems. My wife and I decided to label each one for a specific "problem" and give thanks for what that problem taught us." As Phil paid the clerk, he said to Sandra, "I highly recommend the Special!"

"I don't know if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life." Sandra said to the clerk. "It's all too... fresh."

"Well," the clerk replied carefully, "my experience has shown me that the thorns make the roses more precious. We treasure God's providential care more during trouble than at any other time. Remember that it was a crown of thorns that Jesus wore so we might know His love. Don't resent the thorns."

Tears rolled down Sandra's cheeks. For the first time since the accident, she loosened her grip on her resentment. "I'll take those twelve long-stemmed thorns, please," she managed to choke out.

"I hoped you would," said the clerk gently. "I'll have them ready in a minute."

"Thank you. What do I owe you?"

"Nothing. Nothing but a promise to allow God to heal your heart. The first year's arrangement is always on me." The clerk smiled and handed a card to Sandra. "I'll attach this card to your arrangement, but maybe you would like to read it first."

It read:

My God, I have never thanked You for my thorns. I have thanked You a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns. Teach me the glory of the cross I bear; teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed closer to You along the path of pain. Show me that, through my tears, the colors of Your rainbow look much more brilliant."

Praise Him for the roses; thank Him for the thorns.

Author Unknown

Praise Him in Advance

Thank Him

Dear GOD:

I want to thank You for what you have already done.

I am not going to wait until I see results or receive rewards, I am thanking you right now.

I am not going to wait until I feel better or things look better, I am thanking you right now.

I am not going to wait until people say they are sorry or until they stop talking about me, I am thanking you right now.

I am not going to wait until the pain in my body disappears , I am thanking you right now.

I am not going to wait until my financial situation improves, I am going to thank you right now.

I am not going to wait until the children are asleep and the house is quiet, I am going to thank you right now.

I am not going to wait until I get promoted at work or until I get the job, I am going to thank you right now.

I am not going to wait until I understand every experience in my life that has caused me pain or grief, I am going to thank you right now.

I am not going to wait until the journey gets easier or the challenges are removed.

I am thanking you right now.

I am thanking you because I am alive.

I am thanking you because I made it through the day's difficulties.

I am thanking you because I have walked around the obstacles.

I am thanking you because I have the ability and the opportunity to do more and do better.

I'm thanking you because FATHER, YOU haven't given up on me.

God is just so good, and He's good all the time. THANK HIM.

Thankful for the Journey

1 Thessalonians 5:18 Amplified Bible

Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will].

This morning I was reflecting on this holiday season. In about 5 weeks or so, we will enter into 2009. This is Thanksgiving week, so I asked myself what am I thankful for. Of course, I thank God for my daughter, parents, family, friends, and all my needs being met. I also thank Him for my refinement. My expectation of 2008 was different from what the reality was. My new beginning was in the form of a lot of doors closing. God must close some doors for others to open. For a long time, I fought to open the doors He closed. I kept pulling on them but He closes doors that no one can open...not even me. That was a lesson. I pride myself on being a strong person but my strength does not compare to His. I am most thankful to God for the journey. This year I had to lean on God like never before. In the past, I could lean on my parents. I still can (God blessed me with wonderful parents) but they have their own issues to deal with.Even though my circumstances are not what I would like them to be, I am giving Him thanks in the midst. I believe 2009 will be a year of deliverance and manifestation.

I found out that refinement is an ongoing process. There is always something in us all that God loving removes. He knows how hot to allow the fire to get to expose and remove impurities. I thank God for all of you.

"Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks]"

God Bless

I Long for Him

Job 23:8-9 (New International Version)

8 "But if I go to the east, he is not there;
if I go to the west, I do not find him.

9 When he is at work in the north, I do not see him;
when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.

Have you ever been in a dry place where you long to hear from God? I'm sure you have. I know I have. Job understood this feeling too. At times on our Christian journey we experience times when God seems distant. Isn't it funny how those times seem to be when you are in crisis and need Him most? The enemy loves to try to get in and magnify the situation. He loves to say where is your God now? The funny thing about God is, when He seems distant is when He is closest. That is not an easy thing to understand. In our worst times, we fast,pray, and cry out to the Lord. We worship like never before, we praise like we are losing our mind, and nothing! Or so it seems. He don't have the ability to track or track God. But now this, when He doesn't seem to be speaking...He is working things out.

Let me encourage you while I encourage me. God is working out that situation right now. When the enemy brings doubt, hold on and know that He is God. A change is coming soon. It is only a test. In verse 10 of Job 23, it says after the test, you will come forth as pure gold.

God Bless

The Parable of the Fern and the Bamboo

One day, I decided to quit. I wanted to quit my job, to quit my relationships, to quit my spirituality; I even wanted to quit my life. I went to the woods to have one last talk with God. "God", I said. "Can you give me one good reason not to quit?"

His answer surprised me. "Look around", He said. "Do you see the fern and the bamboo?"

"Yes", I replied.

"When I planted the fern and the bamboo seeds, I took very good care of them. I gave them light. I gave them water. The fern quickly grew from the earth. Its brilliant green covered the floor. Yet nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo."

"In the second year the Fern grew more vibrant and plentiful. And again, nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo."

"In the third year there was still nothing from the bamboo seed. But I would not quit."

"In the fourth year, again, there was nothing from the bamboo seed. I would not quit."

"Then. in the fifth year a tiny sprout emerged from the earth. Compared to the fern it was seemingly small and insignificant. But just 6 months later the bamboo rose to over 100 feet tall. It had spent the five years growing roots. Those roots made it strong and gave it what it needed to survive. I would not give any of my creations a challenge they could not handle." He said to me.

"Did you know, my child, that all this time you have been struggling, you have actually been growing roots? I would not quit on the bamboo. I will never quit on you! Don't compare yourself to others. The bamboo had a different purpose than the fern. Yet they both make the forest beautiful. Your time will come," God said to me. "You will rise high".

"How high should I rise?" I asked.

"How high will the bamboo rise?" He asked in return.

"As high as it can?" I questioned.

"Yes." He said, "Give me glory by rising as high as you can. And remember.. I will never leave you, nor forsake you. I will never give up on you. I will never, ever quit on you."

Author Unknown

The Quilt of Holes

As I faced my Maker at the last judgment, I knelt before the Lord along with all the other souls. Before each of us laid our lives like the squares of a quilt in many piles. An angel sat before each of us, sewing our quilt squares together into a tapestry that is our life

As my angel took each piece of cloth off the pile, I noticed how ragged and empty each of my squares were. They were filled with giant holes. Each square was labeled with a part of my life that had been difficult - the challenges and temptations I was faced with in everyday life. I saw hardships that I endured, which were the largest holes of all.

I glanced around me. Nobody else had such squares. Other than a tiny hole here and there, the other tapestries were filled with rich color and the bright hues of worldly fortune.

I gazed upon my own life and was disheartened. My angel was sewing the ragged pieces of cloth together, threadbare and empty, like binding air.

Finally, the time came when each life was to be displayed - held up to the light and the scrutiny of truth. The others rose; each in turn, holding up their tapestries. So filled their lives had been.

My angel looked at me and nodded for me to rise. My gaze dropped to the ground in shame. I hadn't had all the earthly fortunes. I had love in my life, and laughter, but there had also been trials of illness and wealth and false accusations that took from me my world as I knew it.

I had to start over many times. I often struggled with the temptation to quit, only to somehow muster the strength to pick up and begin again. I spent many nights on my knees in prayer, asking for help and guidance in my life. I had often been held up to ridicule, which I endured painfully, each time offering it up to the Father in hopes that I would not melt within my skin beneath the judgmental gaze of those who unfairly judged me.

Now, I had to face the truth. My life was what it was, and I had to accept it for what it was. I rose and slowly lifted the combined squares of my life to the light.

An awe-filled gasp filled the air. I gazed around at the others who stared at me with wide eyes. Then, I looked upon the tapestry before me. Light flooded the many holes, creating an image - the face of Christ. Then our Lord stood before me, with warmth and love in His eyes. He said, "Every time you gave over your life to Me, it became My life, My hardships, and My struggles. Each point of light in your life is when you stepped aside and let Me shine through, until there was more of Me than there was of you."

May all our quilts be threadbare and worn, allowing Christ to shine through!

Author Unknown