Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 0 comments

I teach at our women’s Bible study every-other Thursday, but since this was my off week I was able to join the rest of the women. We generally open with worship, and as I was standing and singing I felt God prompting me to go and pray over the woman who would be teaching. Now, this is not anything unusual for me since God often prompts me to pray for people. Just a few weeks ago I prayed over the woman who came in to teach at our FaithFULL Women’s conference. Again it was during worship, after God prompted me to do so.

I wish I could say I was immediately obedient, but in both instances this prayer came only after a brief debate. As I look back at the conference, I distinctly remember pointing out to God that I didn’t know this woman well and that she was a seasoned speaker, but regardless of my arguments I continued to feel the urge to pray for her. A similar thing occurred this week. In this case, I knew the woman and was more than willing to pray for her…until I saw that she wasn’t in the back of the room where I expected her to be. She was sitting on the opposite side of the aisle in the front row. Again came the debate. I thought surely God wouldn’t want me to go up to the front row to pray for her, but it became quite clear that He surely did!

I walked along the perimeter of the seating to be less obtrusive, then laid my hand on her shoulder and whispered that I was there to pray for her. I prayed for her out loud-ish since worship was still going on. I had no idea if she heard me or not, but I knew God heard me and that’s what was important. Normally that would be the end of the story – God said “Go,” so I went – but this time I was blessed to hear the rest of the story.

The teacher approached me after she had finished and she thanked me for praying for her. She then proceeded to tell that before I came up to her she had been very nervous; she was short of breath, her heart was pounding, her hands were sweating, and she just couldn’t seem to calm herself down. While I was still praying, it all immediately went away. Her hands were even dry! All her tension was released and the more she taught, the more at peace she felt. Of course, I know that God always has a reason He calls us to pray, but hearing this testimony reminded me that there is also a reason for the timing of His prompting.

Our church will be calling the congregation to fast in the month of November, so I just started reading a book I had purchased last winter - "Fasting" by Jentezen Franklin. In it, he first explained that there are three things that God expects us to do, and when we do them His blessings are unleashed. Jesus presents these in the Sermon on the Mount, which is interesting since our Bible study is currently studying the Beatitudes from that very message. Jesus taught about “when you give” (Matthew 6:2,3), “when you pray” (Matthew 6:5,6,7,9), and “when you fast” (Matthew 6:16, 17). It wasn’t until I sat down to write this that I connected this dramatic answer to prayer with the fact that I had been fasting the day before.

The subtitle of the book is “Opening the door to a deeper, more intimate, more powerful relationship with God.” I’ve never fasted drinking only water before, but the benefits mentioned in the book were so desirable that I didn’t want to wait for November to try it out – and look at what happened! If God will do this as a result of one person fasting one day, I can’t wait to see what He will do when our whole church fasts!

Holy Spirit, I thank you for your promptings. Thank you for helping me to be obedient and for the blessing of hearing the results of that obedience. I pray that everyone reading this will take up the challenge to fast and experience firsthand Your power unleashed!

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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 0 comments

I am so disappointed in myself.

I still can’t believe what I did.

(Heavy sigh)

Yes, I do know better.

No, I did not miss the irony of the fact that on the very day that I was preparing to teach others about being merciful (Matthew 5:7) I was struggling to show mercy myself. Oh, the beauty of God’s timing!

I have spent the last couple years in what has been for me a painful situation. It is not by my choosing, nor is it in my power to do anything about it. I had just heard that things might be changing for the better (and this is why one should never listen to rumors – not even positive ones) and then not a week later saw that my hope was premature. I literally felt like I had been punched in the stomach. All day I prayed and wrestled, wrestled and prayed, trying to follow God’s example and be merciful. I thought I had worked through all this, but evidently not, because here I was struggling again.

And then what did I do the next day? I ran. Not to God. Nope, I ran in the other direction. I ran away. Seriously, do I not know better? I didn’t even realize what I had been doing until late in the day, and even then I could not pull myself back on track.

How did I run? I blew my day, wasted my time. I didn’t spend any time with God; I did everything but that. I did a crossword puzzle, a suduko, and another word puzzle – more than I have in the last several years combined! I even played solitaire on the computer, a habit I had given up over two years ago! I realized that night, when I couldn’t pry myself from the computer, that I had spent my day doing everything that I had given up so I could spend more time with God.

In my studies I read that the greatest illustration of showing mercy in Scripture was that of the “Good Samaritan” in Luke 10, verses 30-37. Respectfully, I beg to differ. While I agree that most of us are not very good at setting aside our agenda to attend to the needs someone else, I think it is much easier to show mercy to a stranger than it is to be merciful to someone who has hurt you deeply. In my opinion, the greatest illustration of mercy is found in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). This son had wished his father dead, took his inheritance and used it to live a wild life in a place far away. Imagine how the father must have felt: puzzled at why this was happening; confused as he searched the past trying to find what he had done wrong and make some sense of the situation; crushed with the pain of loss; fearful for the fate of his son; sorrowful thinking of the ungodly way his child was living; desperate as he searched the horizon for him every day.

The father could have built up a wall around his heart to keep away the pain, but he did not. He could have turned away, but he did not. He could have kept a list of wrongs to hurl at his son should he ever return, but he did not. Instead, he kept the door of his heart open, searching for his son on the horizon every day. When he spotted his son, he ran to him with open arms. He did not curse his son, he blessed him. Somehow the father was able to separate the actions from the person and love him unconditionally.

Day 1 – wrestle and pray.
Day 2 – run away.
Day 3 – return.

I realize that I am the prodigal. Instead of staying and working this out with God, I ran away. I wasted my time on what is meaningless. Even though it was only a day, my Father was scanning the horizon for me, ready to welcome me with open arms. Having been shown this great mercy, how can I not do likewise?

Father, I am so sorry for running away from you when I should have stayed. Forgive me for wasting precious time that could have been spent with you. I mourn the loss. Thank you for welcoming me back with open arms. Please, show me how you do it, because when I grow up I want to be just like you!
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 0 comments

It is wonderful to be in the place that God has designed me for! I love learning, and one of my favorite things about teaching is that I get to share with others what it is that I have learned. I know there is always at least one person who comes away knowing something she didn’t before because that person is me! It never ceases to amaze me that I can read the same Scripture over and over and then suddenly see or understand something that I had missed all those times before, or read a passage and think, “I never knew that was in Scripture!”

This session of the women’s Journey Bible Study we are studying the Beatitudes, and the first thing I learned was that Beatitude is spelled with only one “t” following the “a,” not two (thank you spell check!) As I studied the first Beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” (Matthew 5:3) I wondered what exactly this “kingdom of heaven” is that the poor in spirit are to be blessed with.

A clerk at Baker Book House informed me that a book by Dallas Willard called “The Divine Conspiracy” had a great chapter on the Beatitudes, so I began to study it. I have to admit, I thought the Beatitudes were pretty straightforward and that I understood them pretty well. After reading that one chapter, panic set in as it was revealed to me that I knew nothing! Since I had started my reading at chapter four, the one focused on the Beatitudes, the first thing I did was go back and start over at chapter one. Then I read it again, and again, and again, until finally it made sense!

Willard defined the “kingdom of God” as the place where God reigns, where what He says, goes. One might think this is everywhere, and it is, but with one big exception – the human heart. Since He has given us all free will, He does not intrude where He is not invited. God only reigns in the hearts of those who invited Him in. This is why society and the political system are so far from God; these realms consist of human hearts, the majority of which have not submitted to God.

“The kingdom of heaven” is where God is present. Willard gave an illustration that helped me immensely in understanding where God is. God is a spiritual being, and since we are created in His image, we too are spiritual beings. That is why, when we see a man walking down the hallway, we can say, “There’s John,” but when we see that exact same physical body lying in a casket we say, “That’s not John. He’s not there anymore.” We can say that because his spirit, what makes him who he is, is no longer present.

Our spirit can’t be pinpointed as occupying any particular part of our body or be visibly seen, yet it is aware of everything that affects our body. For example, if I step on a nail, I am immediately aware of it and that experience will likely cause me to change my habit of walking barefoot in a construction area.

God occupies space the way that our spirit occupies our body. Think about that for a moment. Just as our spirit is in our body, so God occupies space, which means He is everywhere and aware of everything. He is not only far off on a throne somewhere, as we read in Isaiah and Revelation, among other places…

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. ~ Isaiah 6:1

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. ~ Revelation 20:11

…He is also in the space surrounding me, and you. Paul was speaking literally when he said,

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. `For in him we live and move and have our being.” ~ Acts 17:24-28

We are surrounded by God like a submerged bottle is surrounded by the ocean. He is not far from us, He is here, with us, surrounding us. Just as the bottle will be filled with ocean as well as surrounded by it when the cork is removed, so we will be filled with God’s Spirit, as well as surrounded by Him, when we removed the blockage from our heart and allow Him to fill us. This is where the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven collide; God filling us and God surrounding us.

Father, I thank you for truly being with me wherever I am, surrounding me and filling me. Thank you for giving me the ability to understand this truth and help me to live in a way that makes it evident to all. Your loving daughter, Lisa
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