Monthly Archives: October 2013

Do Not Worry

DSC_1286By Judy Villanueva

Philippians 4:6-7
Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I opened my eyes this morning to find a bunch of worries staring back at me! It was like they had been waiting for me to wake up so they could all talk to me at once. Can you relate? I hadn’t even had my coffee! They had my full attention for a couple of hours and before I knew it my tummy hurt and I felt overwhelmed with worry! As I anxiously drove to my first appointment, these words came to mind, “Be anxious for nothing…pray…be at peace…” and I began to talk with God.

What would happen to our worries if, when we prayed, we could physically see the King of Kings sitting across from us listening? How would we feel if, as we told Him all our troubles, we saw the tears well up in His eyes and His head nodding in understanding? These are the questions I asked myself as I laid out my burdens one by one…this is the God I remembered as I made my requests known to Him. And, do you know what happened next? I felt His peace begin to guard my heart!

In prayer God helps me remember “the real Him,” the Father who stoops to hear my voice, who cares about the things that trouble me…the One who is never too busy to listen, and who, by the way, is the most powerful Being in the universe! And, even though nothing in the physical world around me has changed, necessarily, I am able to lean back and exhale because I feel His peace surrounding me and I am reminded that the One who holds all things together, also holds me!

“Father, thank You for loving me. It means everything to me that You hear my prayers and care. I feel so lucky that I can talk to the King of Kings! Thanks for listening today and for calming my heart. Help me to trust You with tomorrow. Amen.”

What about you?

Are you worried about anything today? Are you feeling anxious?

Have you experienced God listening to you? Have you talked to Him about your troubles?

Do you need God’s peace to guard your heart today?

Take some time today and tell God your cares.

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Face Time

DSC_0021.JPGby Judy Villanueva

Isaiah 40:28

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
 He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.

Sometimes, I feel the need to nudge in close to God…to see if I can see His face. Who are you, Father? What are you like? I am drawn by verse 28, “Do you not know? Have you not heard?” It feels like an invitation to know something wonderful! Then, a picture is sketched of the face of God! Everlasting! Creator of the ends of the earth! Never tired and inscrutable in understanding! I take a deep breath and, while I try to take in this picture of God, my dad’s face comes to mind.

My dad has always said to me, “I will love you always…forever and ever.” Every time I see him or talk to him on the phone he says good-bye with these words, “Forever and ever?” And, I say, “Forever and ever!” For as long as I can remember, my dad has loved me. My eyes fill with tears as I consider that, at age 84, he will not always be here to remind me of this blessed reality. He has helped shape a kind image of the Father in me, because of how well he has loved. But, my dad grows weary, and much as I wish it otherwise, he is not everlasting…

In a world when all things eventually come to an end, good and not-so-good, it is reassuring to read that God can not, and will not come to an end. He is everlasting! Think of it! Forever and ever, without end, never ending, this life, next life…always! Pause…take it in…He will always be there for you. He is with you now…and forever!

“Father, I thank you for my dad and the love he has given me for over 50 years of life. He is one of the best gifts You have ever given me. Thank You for another glimpse of Your face this morning and the invitation to know something wonderful…that You are everlasting! Help me to lean against the safety and surety of Your faithful love that is mine…forever and ever. Amen.”

What about you?

Do you feel the need for “facetime” with God? To be invited to know Him better?

Do you know and have you heard that God is everlasting? That He never grows tired?

God loves you and always will…forever and ever. Take time to ponder and receive the reality of this Love that will not end.

momdad

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Watching Bartimaeus Beg

DSC_257By Judy Villanueva

Mark 10:46-52
Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

As I read the story of Bartimaeus I am immediately intrigued by his determination to have an encounter with Jesus…and he doesn’t seem at all self-conscious about begging! I imagine the crowd walking by and he, hearing the commotion, crying out “What’s going on? Someone tell me what’s going on?” And, upon learning that Jesus was coming he yells for mercy! “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!” Can you picture it? Jesus is coming! Hope is passing by!

Everyone tells him to “shut-up!” “Stop bothering Jesus!” “Be quiet!” “Go away!” Hope discouragers, people who don’t want Jesus bothered with a beggar. I love that despite the rebuke, Bartimaeus shouts all the more! I’m not sure why this both amuses and confronts me, but it does! This man’s desperation and heart to go after Jesus “all the louder” makes me glad for him, but also, sadly aware of my own reluctance to ask for the things I need.

I love that Jesus hears the beggar’s cry and cares! He is not too busy or bothered to notice “hope” crying out for help! And, Bartimaeus is ready for his healing! He throws off his cloak and jumps up the minute he is told that Jesus is calling! “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asks. “I want to see.” And, Jesus gives sight to the blind man! I love Jesus!

As I watch Bartimaeus beg, I realize that I am out of touch with the fact that I am the beggar. Or, at least, I feel aware that my condition is no less desperate. I need the love of Jesus! I need His healing touch! I am desperate for His notice and never, never, never want to take for granted that, without Him, I lose the most joyous, beautiful, and blessed thing in my life. Watching Bartimaeus beg humbles me and encourages me in my helplessness…he inspires me to shout all the louder for all the healing and life that is found in Jesus.

“Jesus, I confess my pride and reluctance to know my blindness. Help me to cry out for the help I desperately need. Thank You that You call to me daily and ask me to tell You what I want You to do for me. Thank you that You always see me, always stop for me, and always meet me at my exact place of need. Amen.”

What about you?

Do you need Jesus today? Are you aware of what you need from Jesus?

Are you able to ask for what you need? If not, what keeps you from asking?

What is it you want Jesus to do for you?

This is what Jesus was “saying” to me as I read this passage. What is He saying to you?

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One Thing

DSC_1265By Judy Villanueva

Mark 4:36-40

“A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.

Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion.

The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

Someone very dear to me is in the midst of a storm today. As I pray, I frantically scoop out the water that threatens! “Lord!” I cry out, “Where are you? Don’t you care?” That’s how it feels when the rain pounds, the wind whips, and the water rises. It is truly frightening, not to mention disorienting!

So, what is this faith that Jesus speaks of? Faith in what? For what? That we’ll be rescued? That God won’t let us drown? That He’ll provide shelter from the storm? Anyone who has walked with Jesus for more than a season knows that God allows His children to face storms…big ones and small ones. And, quite honestly, it seems perfectly reasonable to be afraid because it is terrifying to be overtaken by a storm! Much as we pray and scoop out water, it can feel like we are at the mercy of unpredictable winds and a sleeping Savior!

So, how was it that Jesus could lay his head down on a pillow and sleep during the storm? How was He not afraid? What faith did He know?

I think it must have been a faith in Love! Jesus trusted in His Father’s love…completely. He could sleep because His trust wasn’t tied to the storm at all! His peace wasn’t contingent on a “quick fix”, a healing or the calming of a storm, necessarily. Jesus fearlessly trusted in God’s Love! He had faith in God’s power and knew that no storm was a match for God, but there is something else! I wonder… could His calm have had anything to do with the fact that Jesus had nothing to lose? Live or die, was there only One thing He really desired, One thing that mattered to Him, One thing that could possibly have stolen His peace… and One thing He knew could never be taken from Him?!!!

From all eternity Jesus knew the Love of the Father! How could anything else possibly compare??? Think of it! Jesus had existed in perfect union with perfect Love for absolutely forever. He knew this Love could not be shaken by any storm, and THAT is all He NEEDED to know! The boat could sink. He could drown… Or not! It wouldn’t change the one anchoring Truth that the love of God would always be His.

“Father, help me to know Your love like Jesus did! How I want to exist in this life convinced that there is only One thing that really matters, One thing that will calm my fears, and One Love that can never be taken from me. And, when I find myself in the midst of the storm, please oh please, draw near and help me to trust in Your amazing love. Amen.”

How about you?

Are you in the midst of a storm? Are you afraid? Do you feel like God doesn’t care?

Do you know the love God? Do you want to know it more? Ask for more.

As you read this passage, watch Jesus. Be a witness to how God’s love impacted Jesus…His freedom from fear, His peace in the midst of the storm.

God loves you and always will.

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Stirring Hope

DSC_0238.JPGBy Judy Villanueva

John 5:-2-9

Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, waiting for the moving of the waters; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted. A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He *said to him, “Do you wish to get well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus *said to him, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.” Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk.

Thirty-eight years! What a long, long time to hope for healing…to wait for healing! I can only imagine how utterly powerless this man felt…how hopeless. I wonder if he was so tired of hoping that he had, for the most part, given up on the life he’d dreamed of and yet, there he sat waiting by a pool that promised life.

What a beautiful moment that must have been when Jesus “saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition!” It touches my heart even now as I read it! To be seen and known is the soul’s deepest need! I know it is mine! I would guess that to the local people, he was probably like part of the landscape…day after day, lying by the pool, waiting for the waters to stir. And, we read that not only was there no one to help him get into the pool, but others would step in before him. Yuck!

But, not Jesus! “Do you wish to be well?” An odd question to ask a man who has been ill thirty-eight years unless it’s about more than the question…Unless Jesus was stirring a different pool! Can you hear the words? Stir! Can you picture the look on the man’s face? Someone sees him! Someone cares! Stir! Jesus confronts the sick man’s misplaced hope in a pool of water with a question that I think was meant to stir true hope in the true Healer! And, the man answers by telling Jesus about the obstacles that have kept him from entering the pool, to which Jesus responds, “Get up! Pick up your pallet and walk!” I’m trying to imagine what it would feel like to hear Omnipotence say, “Get up!” or Infinite Love say, “Walk!” And, I wonder what it does to a sick man’s soul to be seen, known, and loved by Jesus…or to my own!

“Jesus, I thank You that you see and know me. You don’t cut in ahead of me and you don’t stand back and watch my suffering. You come to me! Stir up faith and revive a hopeful heart in me. Help me to discern where I’ve misplaced hopes in pools of water and let me hear Omnipotence say ‘Get up!’ and Infinite Love say ‘Walk!’ Amen.”


What about you?

Do you want to be well? Do you need God to stir up hope in you?

Have you been discouraged or worn out by a long time illness, trial, or deferred hope?

What is the object of your hope? Are you looking for the ripples in a pool with no power or at the Omnipotent God?

God sees and knows you. He cares about your life. He is with you in your places of need. He is infinite Love and all-powerful Hope.

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The Secret Clue

dornochscotlandBy Judy Villanueva


Psalm 42:1-3
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

“It is not your idea, not your understanding, not your thinking, not your reasoning, not even your profession of faith, that here can quench the thirst. The home-sickness goes out after God Himself…It is not the Name of God but God Himself Whom your soul desires and can not do without.” (Abraham Kuyper, To Be Near unto God)

I love when I get a “secret clue”! When I read this, I thought, “Yes! Soul-quenching rest and here is a secret clue as to how to get it!” Ok, I admit that short cuts and “voila, poof, all done” strategies are part of my prayer life. “Just change me, Lord!”, “Just heal her, Lord!”, “Just fix it, Lord!”, “Just do it, Lord!”. I can’t help it…it’s what comes first. But then, in the waiting and in my annoyance that I have to wait, I eventually settle down and look up. I tucker myself out and finally quiet down enough to feel the movement of God urging me to look at Him.

“Child, look at me. Who am I? I am Wonder. I am Beauty. I am Power. I am Goodness. I am Holy. I am Kindness. I am Love. I am the breeze that just blessed you, the colors in all that surrounds you, the laughter that delights you. I am in all and through all. I AM. Ssshhh, quiet down now, you’re ok…come look at Me.” And, as I sit next to the world that God made, I feel Him draw near…as I listen to His still, small voice and sit up straight in full attention…as I look at Him as best I can, there comes a rest and a joy that fills my thirsty soul.

“Abba Father, help me to quiet down, slow down and notice You in, around, and through all of my life today. You are all that I need every day. Help me to want You more than I do! Thank You that you are the one, true ‘Secret Clue’— the Living God that came to quench my thirst and be my place of rest. Amen.”

What about you?

Do you thirst for God?

Do you ever feel an angst or restlessness that you cannot seem to fill? Can you describe it?

Do you need to slow down, quiet down and look at God? What helps you “look at God”?

Do you know that God desires to be your soul-quencher, your place of rest?

Slow down and, as best you can, notice God in, around, and through your life today?

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