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Aug 14 17

Jesus is Willing

by J. M. Farro

“The Lord is ready to save (deliver) me.”  Isaiah 38:20 AMP

During my quiet time with the Lord one morning, I came across some words of King Hezekiah’s, when he was stricken with a fatal disease, which greatly encouraged my heart.  He said, “The Lord is ready to save (deliver) me.” (Isaiah 38:20 AMP)  If you know the story, then you know that, after the Lord told Hezekiah through the prophet Isaiah that he was going to die, the king prayed for healing, and God restored him to health.  Hezekiah’s prayer, and his faith in God’s willingness to heal him, opened the door to renewed health and long life.

Most Christians will admit that they believe God can do the impossible.  But when you ask them if they believe He is WILLING to do the impossible in their situation, they often falter in their faith.  And this is where a lot of believers miss it.  Believing that God is able is one thing.  Believing that God is willing moves us over into the realm of the miraculous.

Three out of four Gospels give an account of a man with leprosy who approaches Jesus for healing.  He says to the Savior, “Lord, if You are willing, You can heal me and make me clean.”  Jesus responds with, “I am willing.  Be healed!” (Luke 5:12,13 NLT)  If you look up the word “willing” in the dictionary, you will find definitions such as, “To wish, desire, take delight in.”  Some definitions even say that it expresses the idea of being “ready” to do something.  Many times, when I have needed healing in my body, the Spirit of God has reminded me of Jesus’ expression of willingness in the Gospels, and I have begun declaring, “Jesus is willing and able to heal me!”  Often, just reminding myself of the Lord’s willingness to act on my behalf is enough to dispel my doubts, and to enable me to lay hold of the healing that God has in store for me.

In the Parable of the Persistent Widow in Chapter 18 of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells the story about a helpless widow who appeals to an unjust judge for mercy and justice.  As we read this account, we discover that this judge has no fear or respect for God or man, but because of the widow’s bold and persistent appeals, he finally gives in to her demands.  With this parable, Jesus illustrates God’s readiness and willingness to respond to our prayers and cries for help.  If an unrighteous, ungodly judge is willing to answer someone’s pleas for help, how much more will a holy and just God be ready and willing to answer His beloved when they cry out to Him for help!  (Luke 18:1-8)  The Lord not only desires us to call on Him for assistance, but He encourages us, and challenges us, to call on Him with confidence and expectancy.

Today, you can increase your ability to receive from God by making a quality decision to believe that He is willing to act on your behalf in every situation you take to Him in prayer.  Open your spiritual ears, and listen to the Savior saying to you right now, “I am willing…!”

Lord, forgive me for my doubts and my unbelief.  I confess them as sin before You.  Give me the faith to believe that You are not only able, but willing, to help me every time I call on You.  Enable me to cooperate with You for the building of my faith by spending regular time in prayer, praise, and the reading of Your Word.  Thank You that as I place my faith in Your infinite power, goodness, and mercy, I will witness You working wonders on my behalf!

*Join the new J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with mini devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals. You can access this group by clicking here!

*For information on how to purchase J. M. Farro books, click here!

*Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com

Aug 7 17

Help in Our Struggles

by J. M. Farro

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.”  Philippians 2:13 NLT

I can still remember the first time I saw this verse in the Bible.  I had been struggling in my walk with God, and I had become frustrated and discouraged.  I wasn’t satisfied with my spiritual progress, and I was disgusted with my many shortcomings.  God used this verse to reassure me that I was not alone in my struggles.  He showed me that He is always at work in me, giving me the desire and the power to do His will.

I still stand on this promise every day, especially when I am having trouble obeying God, or when the enemy is assailing me with guilt and condemnation.  The apostle Paul wrote:  “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6 NLT)  God has promised that He is not going to abandon us or give up on us.  He will stick with us and work with us each and every day of our lives.

Psalm 23:3 (NKJV) says, “[The Lord] leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”  The Living Bible puts it this way, “He helps me do what honors Him the most.”  Once we have received Christ as our Savior, God is committed to helping us grow in grace and to become increasingly more like Christ.  Philippians 4:13 (TLB) says, “I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and the power.”  God will never ask us to do anything that He won’t empower us to do.  The enemy will try to convince us otherwise, but we must not make the mistake of falling for his lies.

I love what the apostle Paul says in his letter to the Galatians:  “Have you lost your senses?  After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?” (Galatians 3:3 NLT)  Paul points out that it is God Who saves us and fills us with His Spirit as a result of our believing the message of the Gospel.  And it is God Who, by the power of His Spirit, helps us grow spiritually.  We can’t earn our salvation or become Christlike through our own human efforts.  All we can do is cooperate with God and allow Him to transform us into the likeness of Christ a little at a time.

Sometimes we can feel overwhelmed when we think of how far we are from being like Jesus.  We need to remember that God can’t deal with us about all of our sins at the same time, because it would crush us.  At just the right time, the Holy Spirit will convict us about a particular sin.  That’s when we need to agree with God that we are sinning.  Then we need to ask for God’s forgiveness, and for His help to do His will.  God will show us steps we can take to do our part in the process.  And as we do our part, God does His by giving us the power to obey Him.  Some of our deliverances will come more quickly than others.

One of the most powerful prayers we can ever pray is, “Lord, change me.”  If you will pray like this every day with all your heart, God will do awesome things in and through you.  Most of all, always remember that the Lord sees your heart.  He knows you love Him and want to please Him.  Let me leave you with a promise from God to encourage your heart today:  “May the God of peace Himself make you entirely pure and devoted to God; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept strong and blameless until that day when our Lord Jesus Christ comes back again.  God, who called you to become His child, will do all this for you, just as He promised!”  (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 TLB)

Lord, when I feel overwhelmed by my shortcomings, grant me Your reassurance, and sustain me with Your peace.  Give me the desire and the power to do what pleases You in all things.  Show me how to cooperate with Your plan to make me more like Jesus each day.  Thank You for turning my discouragement and defeat into victory and praise!

*Join the new J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with mini devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals. You can access this group by clicking here!

*For information on how to purchase J. M. Farro books, click here!

*Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com

Jul 31 17

Be Joyful in Hope

by J. M. Farro

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”  Romans 12:12 NIV

One of the purposes of the Word of God is to equip us to be the overcomers that Christ died for us to be.  In Romans 12:12 (NIV), the apostle Paul describes ways of living above our circumstances, no matter what we may be facing.  He says:  “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

“Be joyful in hope.”  This means that, no matter what is going on around us, and no matter where we are at the time, we are constantly looking ahead.  The Living Bible translation says:  “Be glad for all God is planning for you.”  As followers of Christ, we are never without hope.  We know that even if our circumstances seem negative now, brighter days are up ahead for us.  Why?  Because God is a good God, and His love for us is everlasting and unfailing.  The psalmist wrote:  “But, O my soul, don’t be discouraged.  Don’t be upset.  Expect God to act!  For I know that I shall again have plenty of reason to praise Him for all that He will do.  He is my help!  He is my God! (Psalm 42:11 TLB)  When our hope is in the Lord and His goodness, we will experience the supernatural joy that is our inheritance in Christ.

“Patient in Affliction.”  Paul is urging us here to be patient in times of trouble.  This is absolutely essential, because when we become impatient in a situation, we often act unwisely and apart from the leadership of the Holy Spirit, and we rob ourselves of God’s best.  There are some blessings that we can never receive until we have gone through a period of patiently waiting on God for them.  And we have to remind ourselves often that we simply cannot improve on the plans that God has in store for us.  Whenever I am tempted to get ahead of God in a situation, I recall some very wise words that I once heard a godly man say:  “God’s plan is worth the cost of a delay.”  Hebrews 6:12 (NKJV) instructs us to, “Imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”  Be determined to lay hold of your share of the promises of God by exercising patience in times of tension and trouble.

“Faithful in prayer.”  It’s been said that the greatest sin is prayerlessness.  Too often, we miss out on seeing God show up in a situation in a mighty way because we fail to pray about it, or we stop praying about it too soon.  Scripture says:  “One day Jesus told His disciples a story to illustrate their need for constant prayer and to show them that they must keep praying until the answer comes.” (Luke 18:1 TLB)  We live in an “instant” generation.  We demand instant results, and we often get them.  But that’s not God’s way.  He tells us, “Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly].” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 AMP)  Some Christians are worried about praying too hard and long for certain things, because when the answer doesn’t come in a “reasonable” amount of time, they fear that they are out of God’s will.  But more than likely, in most cases, we step out of God’s will when we STOP praying for something that the Lord has put on our heart.  One way that will help us to determine God’s will in a situation is to see how it aligns with God’s Word.  The Bible says that we can be confident that God will answer our prayers when they are in harmony with His will – but it doesn’t say WHEN He will answer them. (1 John 5:14-15)  The Message Bible translation of Romans 12:12 says:  “Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder.”  What circumstances and lives could YOU see changed by following Paul’s formula for success?

Lord, when a loved one or I are faced with dark or difficult times, remind me to be joyful in hope.  Give me the patience I need to wait for Your timing and Your best.  And teach me to persevere in prayer “until the answer comes.”  Thank You for the victories and rewards that will be mine as I follow Your Spirit’s lead!

*Join the new J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with mini devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals. You can access this group by clicking here!

*For information on how to purchase J. M. Farro books, click here!

*Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com

Jul 24 17

Refuse to Worry

by J. M. Farro

“Refuse to worry and keep your body healthy.”  Ecclesiastes 11:10 NLT

God gave me this Word after my husband, Joe, began talking to me at length about his retirement.  He said that he wasn’t exactly sure when he would retire, only that we should start thinking seriously about it, because it could be within the next few years.  Joe mentioned that when the time came, we would have to curtail our spending, and we might even have to move to a more affordable area.  As I listened, I could feel the fear and anxiety welling up inside of me.

When I got alone with the Lord later that day with an open Bible, I asked Him for His perspective on the conversation with my husband, and that’s when I read, “Refuse to worry and keep your body healthy.” (Ecclesiastes 11:10 NLT)  As I meditated on this verse, God showed me that it was crucial for me to refuse to become anxious or fearful by putting my wholehearted trust in Him for the future.  The Lord reminded me that while He has plans to do us good, and to prosper us (Jeremiah 29:11), Satan and his dark forces have plans to do us harm.  (John 10:10)  When we are living by faith, we hook up with God’s good plans for us.  And when we live in fear, we risk opening the door to the devil and his evil plans for us.  Since worry is rooted in fear, the Lord expects us to resist it with all the power He provides us with through His indwelling Spirit. (2 Timothy 1:7)  He also expects us to take Him at His word when He says that He will supply all of our needs, and He will never leave us, nor forsake us. (Philippians 4:19; Hebrews 13:5)

The Lord also expected me to do my part to keep my body healthy by doing my best to eat well, exercise, and get the proper rest.  But while these things are all important, they are no substitute for living a life of faith.  The Bible says:  “Train yourself to be godly.  For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:7-8 NIV)  I work out almost every day, but I also spend time with the Lord each morning in prayer and Scripture reading.  I have lived long enough to know that those who spend their time and energy focusing on their physical health alone, often die sooner than believers who are more focused on their relationship with the Lord.  Because I really want to enjoy my “golden years,” I am determined to follow God’s instructions for living, and to give Him first place in my life.

Whether or not you are facing retirement soon, I believe that if you will take this Word from the Lord to heart, it will not only extend your life, but it will make your life worth living.  So refuse to worry.  Protect your health.  And live the abundant life that belongs to you in Christ!

   Lord, I want to fulfill my God-given purpose and potential, so teach me how to rely on Your Spirit to live without fear, dread, or worry.  Help me to keep my body healthy by getting the proper rest and exercise, and practicing good eating and drinking habits.  Empower me to live a disciplined lifestyle, and to look to You for all of my needs.  Thank You that as I keep my trust in You and Your promises, I will experience life at its very best!

*Join the new J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with mini devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals. You can access this group by clicking here!

*For information on how to purchase J. M. Farro books, click here!

*Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com

Jul 17 17

Take the Limits Off

by J. M. Farro

   “Is the Lord’s power limited?  Now you shall see whether My word will come true for you or not.” Numbers 11:23 NASB

   I have a sign on my office wall that says, “Don’t Limit God.”  It reminds me that if I want to receive all that the Lord has in store for me, I can’t afford to allow myself to doubt His power, goodness, or love – in any situation.  When I’m faced with adversity, and my faith begins to waver, I often think of the Israelites, and how their lack of faith robbed them of God’s best.  They had witnessed the awesome power of God when He delivered them out of captivity in Egypt.  When He parted the Red Sea.  When He went before them in a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night.  And when He split the rocks in the desert and gave them water to drink.  Yet when the Lord tried to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land, they rebelled against Him.

   Moses had sent twelve spies from among them to scout out the land, and to come back with a full report of what they found there.  Ten of the men came back with a negative report, while two of them – Joshua and Caleb – expressed faith in God’s promise of victory.  The naysayers basically said, “There are giants in the land, and we felt like grasshoppers next to them!  If only we had died in Egypt!”  But Caleb declared:  “Do not rebel against the Lord.  And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up.  Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us.  Do not be afraid of them.” (Numbers 14:9 NIV)  To their shame, the majority of the community believed the evil report, and God condemned all of the adults in that generation to wander and die in the desert.  Out of the twelve original spies, only Caleb and Joshua survived and eventually entered the Promised Land.  The Lord singles out Caleb as especially honored in His sight when He says:  “Because My servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.” (Numbers 14:24 NIV)  Glory to God!

   When the majority of the spies saw only giants, Caleb saw God.  He didn’t deny that there were giants, he just looked beyond them – to the Lord and His promise.  He didn’t put limits on God.  And the Lord honored His faith.  Why does God honor faith?  Because faith honors God.  Scripture tells us:  “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6 NIV)  God loves to reward His faith-filled children.  Read through the Gospels, and you will discover how many times Jesus richly rewarded those who expressed their faith in Him, His power, and His goodness.  He often pointed to their faith as the reason for His extraordinary answers to their requests for help.  When two blind men came to Him for healing, Jesus asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”  When the men replied, “Yes,” He told them:  “According to your faith will it be done to you.” (Matthew 9:28-29 NIV)  Before the Savior restored their sight, He wanted them to know that it was their faith that moved Him to act on their behalf.  As I heard one man of God put it – “There is power in believing!”

   If you doubt that you and I can put limits on God, then read the passage in Mark’s Gospel that talks of Jesus’ arrival in His hometown of Nazareth.  The Scripture says:  “He could not do any miracles there, except lay His hands on a few sick people and heal them.  He was amazed at their lack of faith.” (Mark 6:5-6 NIV)  It wasn’t that Jesus didn’t have the power to help these doubt-filled people, but it was the fact that they were limiting the Savior’s miracle-working power on their behalf by their lack of faith.  And this “amazed” Jesus because He couldn’t imagine why anyone would doubt the power and goodness of God.

   There could be things that God wants to do in, for, and through you right now, that He can’t do until you take the limits off of Him.  Today, I challenge you to believe and receive ALL that God has for you!

   Lord, forgive me for the times that my lack of faith has prevented You from demonstrating Your power in my life, and in the lives of my loved ones.  Help me to cooperate with You for the building of my faith through prayer, praise, and the study of Your Word.  Thank You that as I refuse to put limits on You, I will witness Your unlimited power working on my behalf!

*Join the new J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with mini devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals. You can access this group by clicking here!

*For information on how to purchase J. M. Farro books, click here!

*Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com

Jul 10 17

Do Not Fear Bad News

by J. M. Farro

   “They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.  They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly.”  Psalm 112:7-8 NLT

   My daughter-in-law, Amy, is an operating room nurse in a nearby hospital.  She didn’t start out in the OR, however.  She was originally a nurse in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit.  Here, she would care for patients who had undergone surgery for life-threatening conditions.  When we would get together, I would ask Amy about her work, and we would chat about the patients she had tended to, as well as those who were cared for by her coworkers.  She would also tell me about the families of her patients, and how she would pray for them, and do her best to comfort and encourage them.  Amy’s heart would break every time a patient in her unit would die, especially after she had earnestly prayed for their recovery.  Year after year, I would listen to details of my daughter-in-law’s heart-wrenching experiences as an ICU nurse, and I would do my best to lift her spirits and pray for her.  Eventually, Amy felt that for her own sanity and well-being, she needed to transfer out of the ICU, and she felt led by the Lord to go work in the hospital’s operating room.  She has been there for several years now, and she is really enjoying it.

   When my husband, Joe, found out that he needed open-heart surgery to repair a failing heart valve, we were stunned.  At first, my husband absolutely refused to have the surgery.  But after being told by all of his doctors that he would die without it, he reluctantly agreed.  Initially, Amy was totally against the idea.  She had seen too many patients in her unit die after cardiac surgery, and she wasn’t about to see that happen to her father-in-law.  After we all talked about it together, however, and earnestly prayed about it, we all agreed that open-heart surgery was my husband’s only option.

   For weeks before Joe’s surgery, I took my husband for test after test at the hospital to prepare for his operation.  And all those weeks, I had plenty of time to think about all of the “horror stories” of Amy’s that I had listened to for years when she worked in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit.  I knew that I had to spend extra long “quiet times” with the Lord each day, praying and reading His Word, and getting His will and perspective in the matter.  There was no question that this surgery was God’s will for my husband.  But what was NOT His will was for me to become fearful or fretful at any time before, during, or after Joe’s surgery.  I had already spent years memorizing and meditating on God’s promises of peace in the midst of trouble and turmoil.  But this surgery would be my greatest challenge to date.

   I must confess that nothing could prepare me for what I saw when a nurse ushered me into the Intensive Care Unit after my husband’s surgery.  Joe was hooked up to more tubes, hoses, wires, and machines than I had ever seen in my life.  And he was connected to a ventilator to help him breathe.  The first time a team of doctors and nurses tried to remove the tube from Joe’s throat, my husband failed to breathe on his own.  I suddenly began to see mental images of my husband being hooked up to a ventilator for the rest of his life.  I immediately left the ICU and went out into the hallway, where I called upon the Lord and claimed His promise which says, “I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from ALL my fears.” (Psalm 34:4 NIV)  Then, on the authority of the Word of God, and in the name of Jesus, I took authority over the fear coming against me, and I boldly declared, “God has NOT given me a spirit of fear, but a Spirit of power, love, and a sound mind!” (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV)  As peace flooded my soul, I was able to pray focused, fervent prayers for my husband, as well as for those who were trying to help him.  The next time the hospital team tried to remove Joe from the ventilator, their efforts succeeded, and from then on, Joe’s health steadily improved.

   All those weeks leading up to my husband’s open-heart surgery, when I was tempted to allow my memories from conversations with Amy to torment me, the Holy Spirit reminded me again and again of God’s promises to His righteous ones:  “They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.  They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly.” (Psalm 112:7-8 NLT)  As I made a quality decision to take God at His Word, the Lord did His part by making me “confident and fearless” in facing the enemy of our souls who “comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” (John 10:10 NIV)  Today, no matter what you are facing, refuse to fear bad news, put your trust in the living God, and prepare to come out of your troubles “triumphantly”!

   Lord, on the basis of Your Word, and in the name of Jesus, I ask that You deliver me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4 NIV)  Help me to cooperate with You in the process by diligently seeking You through undistracted, unhurried prayer and Scripture reading.  Teach me how to act wisely about what I watch and listen to, so that I won’t ever feed my fears.  Thank You that as I keep my mind stayed on You and trust in You, You will keep me in perfect peace!  (Isaiah 26:3 NKJV)

*Join the new J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with mini devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals. You can access this group by clicking here!

*For information on how to purchase J. M. Farro books, click here!

*Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com

Jul 3 17

Living Without Fear or Dread

by J. M. Farro

“Do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it.”  Isaiah 8:12 NIV

I recently had a dental appointment that I was dreading going to.  Even though I was praying about it regularly, and committing it to the Lord, I was fretting and worrying about it constantly.  By the time I arrived at my dentist’s office, I had spent so much energy dreading the visit, that I was too exhausted to use my faith to believe God for a positive outcome.  That evening, I heard a godly woman talking about the draining effects that dread can have on us, and I knew firsthand just how right she was.  I decided to get serious about resisting all feelings of dread from then on, and to call upon God for the wisdom and grace to stand against it.

If you look up the definition of “dread” in the dictionary, you will find words like “fear,” “anxiety,” and “uneasiness.”  Since we know that the source of fear is Satan, the enemy of our souls, we can be certain that resisting dread is God’s will.  We can also be confident that the Lord has equipped us with Holy Spirit power to overcome it.  As we go about our daily lives, we are all going to have to regularly face unpleasant situations that threaten to rob us of our peace and joy.  But as believers, we have the ability to maintain a good attitude right in the midst of adverse circumstances.  In fact, when we rely on God’s grace, we can actually enjoy situations and tasks that others never could.

For instance, I don’t care much for grocery shopping, but it’s something that I need to do regularly.  For years, I dreaded going to the supermarket, and I just accepted the fact that I was going to hate it every time.  But once I got the revelation that God wanted me to enjoy every aspect of my life, I began praying and using my faith to adopt a right attitude about it.  I still don’t like it very much, but I have learned to take some practical steps that help me not to yield to those old, familiar feelings of dread that steal my joy and energy.

First, I pray and ask the Lord to help me with my shopping.  I even ask Him to help me prepare for it.  Then I take a few steps toward carrying out the task.  I sit down and write out my grocery list, and I start going through the motions of getting ready to leave the house.  Instead of thinking about the actual activity or my feelings about it, I focus on how good I am going to feel when it’s over and done.  I have found that timing certain tasks helps me to keep a proper perspective.  When we are facing an unpleasant activity, we have a tendency to blow it out of proportion.  We say to ourselves things like, “It will take too long.”  But if we actually timed many of these tasks, we would find that they didn’t take as long as we thought.  I also use timing myself to challenge myself to get things done more quickly.  When I am doing something that I dread, I often feel like I am dragging through it.  But if I look at the clock and say to myself, “Okay, let’s try to get in and out of this store in under an hour,” I can feel a sense of urgency and expectation energizing my steps.

If we are not careful, we will allow dread to steal our confidence and faith.  That is why it is essential for us to continually meditate on God’s Word.  When we are faced with an unpleasant appointment or undertaking, we may be tempted to succumb to doubt and fear.  But if we will continually say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13), our spirits will be strengthened, and our faith will soar.  God gave us our emotions, and they can be a blessing to us in many ways.  But He never intended for us to be ruled by our emotions.  If we allow negative feelings like dread and fear to lead us around by the nose, the Lord will never be able to entrust us with all of the privileges and blessings He longs to give us, and we will never fulfill the call of God on our lives.

Do you really want to touch and change lives for the glory of God?  Then let everyone around you see you doing everything with a good attitude, without complaining or arguing.  God has promised that when you do, He will honor you, and use you to impact the lives of others. (Philippians 2:14-16)  Remember, you are anointed by the living God to do difficult and unpleasant things with a holy ease and joy.  So I urge you today to resist those feelings of dread in the power of God’s Spirit, and take hold of the divine enablement that is available to you in Christ!

Lord, forgive me for the times that I have allowed feelings of dread to steal my peace and joy, and to drain my energy.  Teach me how to resist these destructive feelings by relying on Your power and wisdom.  Help me to do everything with a good attitude, so I can be a powerful witness to others, and glorify You.  Thank You that because of Your grace, dread shall no longer rule over me!

*Join the new J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with mini devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals. You can access this group by clicking here!

*For information on how to purchase J. M. Farro books, click here!

*Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com

Jun 25 17

Help from the Lord

by J. M. Farro

   “I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from?   My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.  He will not let your foot slip – He who watches over you will not slumber.”  Psalm 121:1-3 NIV

   If you have ever had computer problems, then you know how frustrating and daunting they can be.  I was reminded of this very fact not too long ago, when my faithful computer of six years crashed.  I immediately cried out to God, and I asked Him to restore my machine, along with everything on it.  He did exactly that, but He impressed upon my heart that it was time to purchase another computer as soon as possible.  My husband, Joe, and I found a good, solid new machine at one of our local stores, and we set about moving all of my documents, emails, and information from my old device to my new one.  That’s when the real problems began, and no matter how we tried, we couldn’t properly transfer all of my “stuff” the way we needed to.

   I began to panic in earnest at this point.  I knew my husband was stumped.  I suggested that Joe start calling people we knew who might be able to help us.  He was reluctant to bother someone else with our problems, and when he did finally call someone, they weren’t available.  As I fretted and became more and more anxious and alarmed, the Holy Spirit brought to my remembrance Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV): “I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from?   My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”  I knew that God was saying to me, “Look to ME for help, not others.  Keep your eyes on ME!”  I realized then that I had lost my spiritual focus.  I had begun looking to my husband and others to solve my problems for me.  While it was true that I was praying and seeking God, at the same time, I had become full of fear and doubt, and I had taken my eyes off the Lord.  I confessed my sin, and I asked God to help me to refocus and get back to looking to HIM for help.

    Later that day, the Lord led me to call my internet service provider, to ask them for assistance in transferring all of my documents and emails from my old computer to my new one.  Half way through the call, I was informed that I was going to lose much of what I had saved on my old machine – including a good amount of my writing over a period of twenty years.  My heart sank, and I whispered a silent plea to the Lord, clinging to His promise in Isaiah 12:2 (NLT): “See, God has come to save me.  I will trust in Him and not be afraid.  The Lord God is my strength and my song; He has given me victory.”  In Jesus’ name, I rebuked the fear coming against me, and I held tight to His Word.  Two hours later, everything was safely on my new machine, and I rejoiced in the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness.

    This experience was a powerful reminder to me that even though God may send others to help us with our problems, He doesn’t want us focused on them.  Instead, He insists that we keep our eyes on Him alone.  He knows that when our focus begins to wander, we are likely to become fearful and fretful.  Then it’s almost impossible for us to receive the blessings and rewards He has for us in our situation.  The Bible says, “It is better to trust the Lord than to put confidence in people.” (Psalm 118:8 NLT)  Every time that we are faced with adversity, we will have to decide if we are going to put our faith and confidence in God, or in people.  Some of us are so used to relying on other people that we don’t even realize that we’re doing it.  We need financial help, and we look to our jobs, our banks, or someone we know.  We need healing, and we right away reach for a pill, or make an appointment with a doctor.  We feel lonely, and we promptly pick up the phone.  These things are not necessarily wrong or sinful.  But if we do them without praying first – without receiving God’s wisdom, guidance, and counsel – then we could be missing out on the kind of help, relief, and provision that only He can give.

    One evening, when I was going through that difficult time with my computer problems, I remember feeling alone and abandoned when my husband went to bed knowing how much I was hurting.  As I turned to the Lord for consolation, He once again reminded me of His precious promises in Psalm 121: “[The Lord] will not let your foot slip – He who watches over you will not slumber.” (Psalm 121:3 NIV)  I took great comfort in the fact that while my husband slept, God was wide awake and busy working behind the scenes to bring a favorable outcome to pass on my behalf.

    Perhaps you are going through a difficult time of your own today, and you are wondering where your help will come from.  You are not reading this message by mistake today, dear one.  The Lord is saying to you that if you will turn to Him first in your hour of need, and if you will keep your eyes firmly fixed on Him, He will protect and provide for you, and He will do what only He can do!

    Lord, I thank You that You are always willing and able to help me when I am in trouble.  Teach me how to look to You for help first, instead of turning to other people or resources without thinking.  Show me how to cooperate with You in the resolution process, so that I can receive all of the blessings, rewards, and opportunities You have in store for me.  Help me not to hinder Your work on my behalf by becoming angry, fearful, or doubtful.  Thank You that as I follow Your lead in every situation, nothing and no one will be able to keep my victories from me!

*Join the new J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with mini devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals. You can access this group by clicking here!

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Jun 19 17

God’s Antidote for Disappointment

by J. M. Farro

   “I am the Lord; those who hope in Me will not be disappointed.”  Isaiah 49:23 NIV

   I once saw a famous baseball player talking about his faith on television.  He spoke about how placing our confidence in people was a mistake, and how we should only put our hope in God.  In fact, he made a startling statement like, “People will let us down 100 percent of the time, but God will never let us down.”  If I had heard this man talking like this before I became a committed Christian years ago, I might have thought he was being terribly cynical.  But now I know better.  The Bible says, “It is better to trust the Lord than to put confidence in people.” (Psalm 118:8 NLT)  The truth is, whenever we put our confidence in people, or become dependent upon them for our needs, we will be disappointed.  Only God can make the statement – “Those who hope in Me will not be disappointed” – and have it hold true. (Isaiah 49:23 NIV)  Jesus did not have a cynical or suspicious nature, and yet He did not put His confidence in people.  Scripture says:  “But Jesus didn’t trust them, because He knew what people were really like.  No one needed to tell Him about human nature.” (John 2:24-25 NLT)  Jesus loved people enough to die for them, but His faith and hope were in God, not in man.  We need to follow His example. (1 Peter 1:21)

   Years ago, I heard a godly man say that whenever we compromise God’s Word to gain or keep something or someone, we will lose what we are trying to hold on to.  I have learned the hard way that there is a lot of truth to that statement.  If you are involved in a relationship that is not God’s best for you, and you turn your back on the Lord’s will to please this person, you will either watch them slip away from you no matter what you do, or what is sweet between you now will eventually become sour.  Even when we are in God’s perfect will relationship-wise, we will face disappointment regularly.  So why would we want to be involved with a relationship that wasn’t God’s best for us?  If our confidence and hope are properly placed in God, HE will fulfill all our needs and desires.  Even when the Lord uses others to meet some of our needs, we are not to become dependent upon these people, or to place our confidence in them.  While we should appreciate them, we should depend only upon God.

   Some believers compromise their Christian values because they are afraid of being alone.  But those fears are unfounded because God has promised to provide ALL our needs if we let Him, and that includes our social and emotional needs.  Jesus knew better than anyone what it was like to be disappointed and alone.  Just before He went to the cross He said to His disciples:  “The time is coming – in fact, it is already here – when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving Me alone.  Yet I am not alone because the Father is with Me.” (John 16:32 NLT)  Jesus knew that even if all of His loved ones deserted Him, His Heavenly Father would still be there for Him.  That’s a message for all of us to take to heart.  Today, it is my earnest prayer that you will put your wholehearted trust in the only One who can ever truthfully say – “I will never, never fail you nor forsake you!”  (Hebrews 13:15 TLB)

   Lord, right now, I commit myself to You and ask You to bring me into the center of Your will in every area of my life.  Don’t let me compromise my relationship with You to please myself or others.  When others disappointment me, I ask that You comfort me and remind me that Your presence and provision are always available to me.  Thank You that because my hope is in You, I won’t be disappointed!

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Jun 12 17

Intervening Trials

by J. M. Farro

 “When evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.”  Mark 4:35 NKJV

   I first read about the concept of “intervening trials” several years ago, during my daily quiet time with the Lord.  He spoke to my heart about the times when He will point His children in a certain direction, knowing that as we follow His lead, we will run into trouble and heartache, before we reach our destination and place of victory.  There is a passage in Mark 4 that provides a good illustration of this spiritual principle.

   Jesus had just finished a teaching session with the multitudes along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, when He told His disciples, “Let us cross over to the other side.” (Mark 4:35 NKJV)  As their boat headed out across the water, “A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling.” (v. 37)  Where was Jesus while all this was happening?  “He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow.”  As the disciples begin to panic, they rouse Jesus and shout, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (v. 38)  Jesus rises up and rebukes the wind, and then He rebukes His disciples.  “Why are you so fearful?  How is it that you have no faith?” (v. 40)

   When obeying God leads us along the path of adversity, we mustn’t automatically think that we have missed God, or misinterpreted His directions.  The truth is that many times, an “intervening trial” will come between us and the blessing that the Lord has for us “on the other side.”  This is especially true if we have been standing on a promise or word from God.  When Jesus tells the Parable of the Sower, He says that “trouble and persecution comes because of the Word.”  And He goes on to say that as a result, many people will “quickly fall away.” (Mark 4:17 NIV)  The Savior reveals in this parable that it is Satan who comes to stir up trouble in order to get us to turn our backs on God’s Word. (v. 15)  That’s why many times, when God speaks a promise to our hearts, and we receive it and make the decision to lay hold of it, we begin experiencing problems that are meant to discourage us and deter us from standing firm till we gain the victory.  How we respond to these “intervening trials” will determine whether we cross over to the other side to where our blessings are, or sink in a sea of defeat and disappointment.

   Suppose you see in God’s Word that because you have put your faith in Christ and received His precious gift of salvation, your family members will also be saved. (Acts 16:31)  You decide to act on that promise and begin praying and standing on it for your loved ones’ salvation.  But instead of your relatives getting better, they seem to be getting worse.  You try to ignore all the signs that tell you that your loved ones are doomed to destruction, but their behavior is so appalling that you begin to doubt God’s Word.  If you will recognize that it’s very likely that Satan is doing his best to discourage you from continuing to stand in faith for the victory, and if you’ll call upon God for help, and refuse to become offended and doubtful, you will witness the Lord moving mountains to fulfill His promise to you.

   The Lord has extraordinary rewards and blessings “on the other side,” just waiting for you.  Don’t “fall away” when trouble comes, and forfeit the good things God has in store for you.  Start seeing your “intervening trials” as faith-building bumps in the road that God will use to your advantage and for His glory!

   Lord, help me to follow You wholeheartedly wherever You lead me.  When I encounter trouble or heartache, remind me to rely on Your wisdom and strength, and not my own.  Thank You that as I refuse to give up or give in, I will lay hold of all of the rewards, opportunities, and blessings You have in store for me!

*Join the new “J. M. Farro Devotionalsgroup on Facebook!  You can access this group by clicking here!

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*Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com