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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 0 comments

"I'm thankful that God doesn't always give me what I want, but always gives me what He knows I need. Given the opportunity, I'd choose the easy route every time and God knows this. Twelve years ago I began having pain so incredible I couldn't imagine living through it. A doctor at the pain clinic told me I'd be fortunate if I could become functional. I'm still dealing with the remnants of pain and the effects of a closed-head injury nine years ago. People have told me if I'd claim healing, I'd have it, which really makes me angry because a) I must be "doing it wrong" and b) they're discounting the very thing that God has used to form me more into the image of His Son. Without the suffering I've been through, I'd be running around, crazy-busy and concerned for only myself. Instead, I'm teaching Bible study for 100+ women and getting ready for our fourth trip to Kenya. Who but God would choose someone with physical limitations and memory issues to represent Him in a country half-way around the world? I even memorized the entire book of James this summer - me, who can leave a seminar and not be able to tell you one thing said without looking at my notes! There's no way I'd want to go through what I did again, but I'm thankful that God didn't let me take the easy way out. I wouldn't trade my life now for anything. The benefits of walking with the Lord outweighs everything it took to get me here."

A pastor preparing his Thanksgiving sermon asked what people were thankful for and above is my reply. Though I did not ask for any respose, when I posted it I felt that someone would respond to it. For some reason I thought it would be a positive response, but I was mistaken. Sure enough, I did receive an unsolicited response, which in a nutshell said a) I'm "doing it wrong" and b) discounted the very thing that God has used to form me more into the image of His Son. I guess I should've seen it coming. I think this must be what it feels like to get beat over the head with a Bible. I can't say I like it much. In fact, it makes me angry. People are healed according to God's will and timing, not man's. Anything said to the contrary is a lie and very hurtful to those in the midst of suffering, which is why I decided to address some of the statements made. (These statements are in italics.)

First, I was challenged to "find any place in the New Testament where Jesus said, "No, I'm not going to heal you." Lazarus comes to mind. While his sisters wanted Jesus to come right away and heal him, Jesus deliberately stayed away until Lazarus was dead. Jesus did not heal Lazarus in the manner his sisters desired, but allowed him to die so that people might believe (John 11:14-15). Jesus was often surrounded by crowds of people wanting to be healed, and there are many, many examples of Jesus healing, but I don't think Scriputure says Jesus always healed everyone. Luke 5:15-16 says, "Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." (Matthew 4:24-5:1 and Mark 3:10-13 tell similar stories.) Jesus did not stay until everyone left satisfied. Time with the Father was a priority in Jesus' life and He didn't let people's expectations take away from their fellowhip.

It was pointed out that Isaiah 53:5 says "by his (Jesus') wounds we are healed." Do I believe God can heal? Absolutely! Do I believe He heals everyone who asks for it in the way they think it should be? No. I believe God always does what is best for us, but we don't always know what that is; we just think we do.

I was reminded that I myself quote Jeremiah 29:11, where God says that His plans are "not to harm you," and then was told, "The God I serve would never, ever use bad to have good...he don't [sic] need to." While I'm certain that He doesn't "need to," I think there are many times in Scripture when God does "use bad to have good," starting one verse back with Jeremiah 29:10. "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place." Yes, God had great plans for the Israelite's future, but first they would have to endure seventy years of hardship as captives in Babylon.

Romans 8:28 says, "we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him." I think this verse says that God does indeed use bad to bring good, and I find that to be very comforting. In God's great economy, nothing is wasted. Knowing that God will bring good out of each and every situation is what keeps me going every day. Who would want to suffer for nothing?

I was asked, "If you say God made you sick or allowed it...how can you believe Him to get you well?" My answer: He did it with Job. My question is, "If God did not cause it or allow it, who do you think is in control?" Job was blameless (Job 1:1) and yet God allowed satan to test him and set the parameters for that testing (Job 1:8-12, 2:3-6). Job stood firm in his faith and ultimately was healed (Job 42:10-17). In fact, God rebuked Job's so-called "friends" who told him he was "doing it wrong." "I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has" (Job 42:7).

I was told, "your healing is according to your faith," and while Jesus often says, "your faith has healed you," I do not believe faith is a prerequisite to healing, although I do believe lack of faith can be an obstacle. There is no mention of the faith of the invalid healed at Bethesda (John 5:1-9); he didn't even say he wanted to be healed!

God does not promise that we will be happy or healthy, His goal is to make us holy. While I'll never reach perfection this side of glory, I'm a lot closer than I would have been, had I been left to my own devices.

Yahweh Rophe, the Lord who heals, thank you for the healing you'ver brought to my life. Thank you for not letting me take the easy way out, but instead doing what You knew would be best for me. I hope I grow up to be just like you. Love, Lisa

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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 0 comments

Thanksgiving should be a way of life, not something relegated to just one day a year. By giving thanks every day and remembering even the little the things God has done for us, we realize just how much we have to be thankful for.

"And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. He said to the Israelites, "In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, `What do these stones mean?' tell them, `Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.' For the LORD your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over...He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God." ~ Joshua 4:20-24

We had a great Thanksgiving service at Corinth, and in it we were asked some very thought-provoking questions, which I wanted to take the time to answer.

"How has God been your Rock?": I like order and routine. I mean, I REALLY like it, but lately I've been surrounded by a lot of chaos. I used to descend into a panic as I tried to figure out how to fix everything, but God has reminded me that He is the One in control of everything and He will take care of whatever needs taking care of. It's amazing the peace I feel while in the very circumstances that used to cause me to panic. No God, no peace. Know God, know peace. "The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." ~ Philippians 4:7

"How has the Truth brought hope and encouragement?": I'm falling more and more in love with Scripture every day. No matter what the topic, I always find Scripture that addresses it perfectly. More and more I find myself thinking, "Wow! I didn't know that was in there!" "You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry." ~ Psalm 10:17

"How has God brought comfort to your heart?": In the past, when a situation came up, I'd try to think up all possible scenarios and pray specifically for them. Not that God ever seemed to choose one of my solutions, but I wanted to keep my bases covered. We're in a situation now that we don't want to be in, but it's totally out of our control. I have know idea how this is supposed to work out, if it's supposed to work out, but I've come to realize that I don't need to have all the answers (or even the right questions). Rather than pray over random scenarios that I come up with, I've learned to pray blessings for those involved. When God answers those prayers, that those involved would live a life of love (Gal 5:25), love justice (Ps 11:7), be merciful (Lk 6:36), show respect (1 Pet 2:17), etc, the situation will be resolved. That keeps my focus on God rather than all the things that "might happen." "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things...And the God of peace will be with you." ~ Philippians 4:8-9

"How has God brought answers to your prayers this year?": He continues to open my eyes to see how He is working in my life, answering not only the "big" prayers, but the small ones as well. "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" ~ Matthew 6:26

"How has God brought light (direction, wisdom and insight)?": The greatest blessings this year have come from memorizing Scripture. The fact that I could even do this amazes me - because of a closed head injury, my short-term memory is often nil. Yet I felt God calling me to memorize the book of James and I did. It meant months of nothing but James, but I did it! I'd be going over a verse for the twentieth, fiftieth, or even the hundredth time, and suddenly I'd have a new understanding of it, or a situation would arise and just the right verse would come to mind. I found I could be preparing to teach anytime and anywhere because I was always carrying the Scripture with me. If I can do it, anyone can! "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17

"How has God enabled you to persevere?": God has always spoken to me through Jeremiah 29:11-14. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity." However, it was many years before he brought verse 10 to my attention: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place." God has great plans for me, but I have some unpleasant things to go through first. Just knowing there is an end to the trials and that the One who is in control has a plan enables me to keep going.
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 0 comments

"I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil--this is the gift of God." ~ Ecclesiastes 3:12

I don't remember there being a time growing up when the TV wasn't on. While I've cut back considerably, I do like watching a good show on those occasions when I want to "check out" for a while. One of my favorite shows is Monk. Maybe it's because I've liked detective stories since those childhood Saturdays curled up in my bedroom with a volume of Nancy Drew, or maybe it's because I could very easily be Monk; I definitely share his love for details, order and routine.

Adrian Monk worked as a detective with the San Francisco Police Force until he suffered a breakdown following the murder of his wife, Trudy. For the last eight seasons, obsessive-compulsive Monk has been recovering from his trauma, overcoming his fears, and working with the force as a consultant. His greatest desire, next to finding Trudy's killer, was to have his badge returned and be reinstated to the police force. This desire became reality in this week's episode. While initially happy to be back on the force, Monk found himself encumbered by all the rules and regulations he now had to follow. While discussing his frustration with his long-time assistant Natalie, he realizes receiving his badge back did not make him happy. In fact, it was just the opposite.

Monk said, "I was happy before! Why didn't you tell me I was happy?"

Isn't that just like us? We decide what we want and chase after it, only to learn we were actually better off before. Then, rather than taking responsibility for our own actions, we look around for someone else to blame.

Why is it that we, with our limited understanding, think we have to figure things out for ourselves? Why do we think we're capable of figuring things out for ourselves?

"I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea." ~ Isaiah 48:17-18

Lord, forgive me for all the time I've wasted chasing after what I thought I wanted rather than looking to You to guide me in the way I should go. I want to follow Your ways and be filled with Your peace. Help me to set aside my own futile plans and learn from You what is best for me. Love, Lisa
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