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Aug 8 21

What Do You Want Me to Do for You?

by J. M. Farro

   “Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to Him.  When he came near, Jesus asked him, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’  ‘Lord, I want to see,’ he replied.  Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.’” Luke 18:40-42 NIV

   There is a phrase spoken by Jesus and recorded in the Gospels that is amazing, but often overlooked.  It’s, “What do you want Me to do for you?” (Luke 18:41; Matthew 20:32; Mark 10:36; Mark 10:51)  I believe that this is a question that the Lord asks all of us on a regular basis, but unfortunately, we rarely recognize it, or respond to it.  In Luke 18, a blind beggar boldly calls out to Jesus and stops Him in His tracks.  When the Savior asks him what he wants, without hesitation, the beggar replies, “Lord, I want to see.”  I think if I had been in this beggar’s place, I probably would have analyzed my situation and my worthiness before I dared to ask for a miracle.  I might have said, “Lord, I would really like my vision restored, but I probably don’t deserve it, so if it’s not Your will, I’ll understand.”  Fortunately, this beggar didn’t make that mistake.  He took a leap of faith and asked Jesus to heal him, and when the Lord did, He told him, “Your faith has healed you.”  The fact of the matter is that it often takes great faith to ask God for His help.  We read promises in the Bible such as John 16:24 (TLB) – “Ask, using My name, and you will receive, and your cup of joy will overflow” – and we think to ourselves, “That’s just too good to be true; it couldn’t possibly be that simple.”  But the truth is that it usually is.

   The apostle Paul wrote: “Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.  And God’s peace shall be yours…” (Philippians 4:6-7 AMP)  The Lord has practical reasons for inviting us to continually make our wants, needs, and desires known to Him.  As we share our thoughts and concerns with Him freely, we are able to let go of our fears and anxieties, and receive His supernatural peace.  How can we enjoy our lives, or touch the lives of others, if we are constantly bound by fear and fretting?  We wouldn’t be much use to God that way, so we really aren’t just being selfish when we approach Him with our wants – we are positioning ourselves to be more fruitful and productive for His glory.

   Peace is not the only thing we need in order to be the most useful to God.  We need to be filled with supernatural joy, too – because the Bible says that this kind of joy is our strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)  Jesus said: “Up to this time you have not asked a [single] thing in My Name [as presenting all that I AM]; but now ask and keep on asking and you will receive, so that your joy (gladness, delight) may be full and complete.” (John 16:24 AMP)  Here again, we see the emphasis on continually requesting the Lord’s help and blessings.  As we do, the Savior says that we will experience the kind of joy that fills up our entire being, and leaves no room for depression or despair.

   One of the reasons why believers often hesitate to tell the Lord what they really want is that they are afraid they will ask for the wrong thing.  They lack confidence in their ability to pray according to God’s will, as the Bible instructs them to. (1 John 5:14-15)  But believers who are devoted to the Lord and His Word don’t have to be timid about asking Him for the desires of their hearts.  As Jesus Himself said: “If you live in Me [abide vitally united to Me] and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.” (John 15:7 AMP)  We simply cannot pray correctly apart from knowing and believing the Word of God.  Having a working knowledge of the Scriptures renews our minds, and helps our thoughts and desires to line up with God’s.  When that happens, we wouldn’t even want anything that wasn’t God’s perfect will for us – so if our prayers weren’t answered, we would trust that it was in our own best interests.

   I believe that this message is for you today, and that Jesus Himself is asking you – “What do you want Me to do for you?”  How are you going to answer Him?

   Lord, teach me how to pray with the confidence and boldness that I know are Your will for me.  Fill me with a love for You and Your Word that will move me to spend time in Your presence and the Scriptures each day.  Thank You that from now on when You ask me – “What do you want Me to do for you?” – I will respond in ways that will bless my life and glorify You!

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

   *For autographed books, check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

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

 

Aug 1 21

Publicly Declare Your Trust in God

by J. M. Farro

   “Oh, how great is Your goodness to those who publicly declare that You will rescue them.  For You have stored up great blessings for those who trust and reverence You.” Psalm 31:19 TLB

   Years ago, when my husband, Joe’s, company announced that they were closing in a few months’ time, most of the employees began to grumble and complain.  And some of them were downright angry.  Although Joe was very disappointed, he decided to keep a good attitude to the very end.  When people asked him what he was going to do about being jobless, my husband would just tell them, “God always takes care of me!”  During that long period of unemployment, Joe had moments of doubt and fear, but they didn’t last long, and he always maintained a deep-down belief that the Lord was going to provide for him.  Eventually, God opened the door to a new job for Joe that was closer to our home than we ever expected, and that offered him more money than he had asked for.  Everyone knew that this new opportunity was a miracle from God, and that Joe’s faith in Him had paid off.

   Whenever I think of this experience, a Scripture in Psalm 31 comes to mind: “Oh, how great is Your goodness to those who publicly declare that You will rescue them.  For You have stored up great blessings for those who trust and reverence You.” (v. 19 TLB)  I believe that when Joe began “publicly declaring” that God would provide for him, he set in motion a divine rescue operation.  I could almost imagine the Lord saying, “Look at My servant, Joe – he is letting everyone know that he is trusting in Me, and that I am going to take care of him!”  As His Word promises, God poured out upon my husband the “great blessings” that He had “stored up” for him, when Joe demonstrated his faith in the Lord to “rescue” him.

   Hebrews 10:23 (EASY) says: “We know that we can trust God to do the things that He had promised.  So, we must continue to expect those things.  We must tell other people that we trust God.  We should not stop doing that.”  If we truly believe that God is true to His Word and promises, we shouldn’t keep that knowledge to ourselves.  May the psalmist’s declaration of faith always be true of you, and of me – “I don’t keep it a secret or hide the truth.  I preach of Your faithfulness and kindness, proclaiming Your extravagant love to the largest crowd I can find!” (Psalm 40:10 TPT)

   Lord, teach me to be more vocal about my faith and trust in You.  Deliver me from all my fears, and fill me with a holy boldness that honors You.  Give me opportunities to impact others, and to draw them to You.  Thank You that as I publicly declare my trust in You, You will bless me with supernatural success, protection, and provision!

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

   *For autographed books, check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro page by clicking here!

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

Jul 25 21

Are You Resisting God’s Peace?

by J. M. Farro

   “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NLT

   I have a beautiful framed painting in my home with a simple verse of Scripture that says, “For He Himself is our peace.” (Ephesians 2:14 NKJV)   It speaks of Christ and the kind of peace that only He can give.  I love the Complete Jewish Bible translation which reads, “For He Himself is our Shalom.”  Hallelujah!

   Jesus told His disciples, “I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart!  And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives.  So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27 TLB)  The Savior gifts all of His followers with the Holy Spirit, who enables the Prince of Peace Himself to dwell on the inside of us continually.  But sometimes we forget that we need to cooperate with the Holy Spirit to walk in the peace of Christ on a moment-by-moment basis.

   One of the best ways to do that is to heed God’s instructions in Psalm 55:22 (AMP): “Cast your burden on the Lord [releasing the weight of it] and He will sustain you; He will never allow the [consistently] righteous to be moved (made to slip, fall, or fail).”  The Lord offers us His unshakeable peace, but we can resist that peace by insisting on carrying our own burdens.  It’s up to us to “release the weight” of them – letting them go, and entrusting them to an all-sufficient God who can carry them and sustain us so that we won’t falter or fail.  This is how we can avoid being crushed by our own burdens, and suffering physically and mentally under a weight that we were never meant to bear.  We can pray, “Lord, I’m giving You this burden.  I surrender it to You, and I ask You to release me from its ability to harm me in any way.”  That’s a prayer that our loving God is more than happy to answer.

   The apostle Paul prayed, “Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance.” (2 Thessalonians 3:16 NASB)  This is a prayer that we can pray for ourselves on a regular basis.  It is a prayer inspired by the Holy Spirit Himself, so it’s one that we know the Lord will answer.  (1 John 5:14-15)  For the same reason, praying the promises of God is supremely powerful.  Scripture says: “For the good man – the blameless, the upright, the man of peace – he has a wonderful future ahead of him.  For him there is a happy ending.” (Psalm 37:37 TLB)  I have seen so many people who didn’t experience “a happy ending” that I have begun earnestly praying for one for myself – and I am determined to be a person of “peace” and to live an “upright” life before God.  Today, ask yourself if you are resisting the peace of Christ, or cooperating with Him all the way!

   Lord, on the basis of Your Word, I ask that You “continually grant me peace in every circumstance.”  Help me to cooperate with Your Spirit by casting all of my cares and burdens upon You, instead of trying to carry them myself.  Remind me not to worry about anything, but to pray about everything – with thanksgiving – so that Your unshakeable peace will guard my heart and mind at all times. (Philippians 4:6-7)  Thank You that as I follow Your Spirit’s leading, You will never allow me to slip, falter, or fail!

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

   *For autographed books, check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro page by clicking here!

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

Jul 18 21

Let God Turn Your Enemies into Allies

by J. M. Farro

   “When a person’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, He causes even his enemies to make peace with him.” Proverbs 16:7 NASB

   Yesterday, my husband, Joe, was telling me about how he was helping our next-door neighbor with his lawn tractor problems.  That may not sound like anything special to you, but to me, it was nothing short of a miracle.  You see, when we moved here 30+ years ago, we began having serious problems with our neighbors as soon as we stopped allowing our sons to play with the neighborhood children.  It hadn’t taken us long to realize that many of the kids in our community were troublemakers, and that they were having a negative effect on our sons.  As the neighborhood gang began targeting us, and doing serious damage to our home and property – and their parents took their side instead of ours – we took them to court.  But that did no good at all because all of our neighbors refused to tell the truth.  One night, we caught the kids red-handed doing damage to our house, and when the police arrived in response to our call, my husband did something amazing.  He forgave the troublemakers and refused to file charges against them.  The police warned my husband that he was making a big mistake, but since that night, we have lived here in peace.  Today, we have a great relationship with the parents of those former troublemakers.

   One of the promises of God that I was earnestly praying and standing on all those years of trouble and turmoil was Proverbs 16:7 (NASB): “When a person’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, He causes even his enemies to make peace with him.”  Being angry with our neighbors – even though we had good reason to be – just made the situation worse.  However, when we began doing things God’s way – and following His promptings to forgive our neighbors – He literally caused our enemies to “make peace” with us.  Suddenly, our enemies became our allies.

   The Bible says: “People who work for peace in a peaceful way get the blessings that come from right living.” (James 3:18 ERV)  Working for peace is not easy.  It’s hard work, and it often involves us humbling ourselves before God and others.  Scripture tells us: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18 NIV)  There are some people in this world that we will never get along with because they are just plain toxic, and they will do us more harm than good.  But in many cases, it will be possible for us to get along with others as we “work for peace in peaceful ways.”

   Today, let us take to heart God’s promise from the Message Bible, which says – “You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.” (James 3:18 MSG)  Amen!

   Lord, work in my heart and make me the peacemaker You want me to be.  Grant me a spirit of humility, and help me to do the hard work of getting along with others.  Give me the discernment to recognize those who would do me more harm than good.  Thank You that as I strive to please You in all my ways, You will turn my enemies into allies!

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

   *For autographed books, check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro page by clicking here!

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

Jul 11 21

Guard Your Mouth and Your Life

by J. M. Farro

   “The one who guards his mouth [thinking before he speaks] protects his life; the one who opens his lips wide [and chatters without thinking] comes to ruin.”  Proverbs 13:3 AMP

     After my husband, Joe, and I had finished grocery shopping the other day, we headed for our SUV in the store parking lot.  Joe got to the car before I did, and as he finished loading our groceries, he went to close the hatch.  Unfortunately, I came around to the back of the car just as Joe was pulling the door down, and it struck me on the head.  As I felt a sudden explosion of intense pain inside my head, in a split second of time, the Spirit of God reminded me of a powerful teaching that I had heard years before.  It said that the very first words that come out of our mouth when trouble strikes can greatly affect our outcome.  So the first words that I spoke in that instant were, “Nothing shall by any means injure me,” based on Jesus’ promise in Luke 10:19.  And I began thanking God for His faithfulness to His Word.  My husband immediately began blaming himself and apologizing for hurting me, but I reassured him that I was fine, and that it was in no way his fault.  I knew that it was important for me to avoid getting into strife, and to only speak words of life.  As soon as we arrived home, I put ice on my head, and by the end of the night, I felt fine.  But I knew that the outcome could have been so much worse if I hadn’t bridled my tongue when the accident first happened. 

   The Bible cautions: “The one who guards his mouth [thinking before he speaks] protects his life; the one who opens his lips wide [and chatters without thinking] comes to ruin.” (Proverbs 13:3 AMP)  Thinking before we speak can protect our health and our lives.  When we speak without thinking, we can literally do ourselves harm.  Proverbs 21:23 says, “Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.”  Why are our words so powerful?  Because we are created in the image of God, and our words have authority on this earth.  The Bible reveals this truth over and over.  Scripture says, “You will also declare a thing, and it will be established for you.” (Job 22:28 NKJV)  This principle is true in the negative, as well as in the positive sense.  When trouble strikes and we declare something like, “This will be the end of me!” we could be “establishing” our own demise.

   If we are wise, we will always remember that our words have consequences.  Proverbs 18:21 (AMP) bears this out when it says: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words.”  Today, and every day, let us pray as David the shepherd-king did: “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips”!  (Psalm 141:3 NKJV)

   Lord, guard me from speaking without thinking, and help me to always speak words of life, health, and well-being.  When trouble strikes, remind me that the first words out of my mouth can greatly affect my outcome, and help me to resist speaking negatively about my situation.  Thank You that as I choose my words carefully, and declare good things over my life, Your blessings will be established for me!

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

   *For autographed books, check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro page by clicking here!

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

Jul 4 21

Nothing Can Hinder the Lord from Saving

by J. M. Farro

   “Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.” 1 Samuel 14:6 NIV

   In the Bible, in First Samuel 14, there’s an inspiring account involving Jonathan, the eldest son of King Saul.  As the Israeli army is poised to engage the Philistines in battle, Jonathan decides to break away from his father’s army, and attack a Philistine outpost with only the young man bearing his armor to assist him.  Scripture tells us that Jonathan turns to his young armor-bearer and says: “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men.  Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf.  Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.” (1 Samuel 14:6 NIV)  In verse 14, we discover that these two brave young men “killed some twenty men in all, and their bodies were scattered over about half an acre.” (v. 14 NLT)  This one act of faith and courage puts the Philistines on the run, and inspires the Israeli army to advance to victory.

   Throughout the ages, Jonathan’s faith-filled words – “Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving” – have inspired God’s people facing overwhelming odds in all kinds of situations.  Do you have loved ones who are far from the Lord?  Believe and declare that nothing can hinder the Lord from saving them.  Are you or a loved one in need of healing?  Begin confessing right now, in the face of daunting symptoms, that nothing can hinder the Lord from healing.  Does it look like your financial situation will never improve?  Believe and say that nothing can hinder the Lord from delivering you from debt and lack.

   You are not being selfish when you believe God for success in every area of your life.  Your testimony will inspire countless others to put their faith in the Lord, and it will bring Him great glory.  So trust God for the victory today!

   Lord, whenever I am faced with overwhelming odds, help me to truly believe that nothing can hinder Your miracle-working power.  Deliver me from all my fears as I seek Your face in prayer. (Psalm 34:4)  Teach me how to continually feed on Your Word, which is able to build and edify my faith.  (Romans 10:17; Acts 20:32)  Thank You that as I believe You for the victory in every situation, others will be inspired, and You will be glorified!

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

   *For autographed books, check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro page by clicking here!

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

 

Jun 27 21

Let God Use Your Pain

by J. M. Farro

   “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.”  Genesis 50:20 NLT

    I saw a movie years ago with a tough character who had a military background.  He and a civilian in the film were engaged in a fierce battle against enemy forces.  At a critical point in the fight, the civilian suddenly visualized a scene that claimed the life of a cherished family member years before.  As he froze in fear and dread, the soldier barked out to him, “Use it!”

   The Holy Spirit has brought this lesson to my mind many times when I’ve been in some of my own battles with the enemy of our souls, Satan, and when I have focused on my hurt and hardship, becoming paralyzed with fear and doubt.  I’ve discovered that if I rely on God’s strength and guidance, and if I refuse to become bitter or overcome with fear, He will mightily use my pain to benefit me and others.

   Ever notice how it encourages us when we hear a powerful testimony of victory from someone who has already been through what we are experiencing ourselves?  Knowing that these folks have walked in our shoes, and hearing how the Lord came through for them, can gladden our hearts and fill us with a fresh sense of hope.

   Remember the story of Joseph in the Bible, who was sold into slavery by his brothers, and thrown into prison for a crime he didn’t commit?  Through years of agonizing mistreatment and injustice, Joseph never lost his faith in God.  When he was finally able to confront his brothers after becoming the prime minister of Egypt, he told them: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.” (Genesis 50:20 NLT)  We can say the same thing to Satan whenever he comes against us, knowing that God has promised to work all things together for our good. (Romans 8:28)

   If you have walked through periods of suffering and hard times – relying on God’s grace and guidance, and refusing to become bitter or filled with self-pity – then you have the potential for powerful ministry.  If you will ask God to turn your misery into ministry – and if you will cooperate with Him by being sensitive and obedient to His Spirit’s leading in the process – He will enable you to reach and impact a hurting world for Christ!

   Lord, whenever I go through painful trials, don’t let my pain go to waste.  Help me to cooperate with You as You bring great good out of every difficulty, hardship, and heartache.  Remind me to ask You continually for comfort and strength.  Fill me with Your joy to sustain me every moment of every day.  Guard me from discouragement and despair.  Thank You that as I keep my eyes on You and Your promises, You will bless me and use me in new and exciting ways for Your glory!

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

   *For autographed books, check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro page by clicking here!

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

Jun 20 21

You Have a Job to Do!

by J. M. Farro

    “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 NIV

   If you have received salvation through faith in Christ, then this verse applies to you, and you need never again wonder if you were created for a purpose.  You are God’s masterpiece, re-created in Christ, to do good deeds and accomplish great things for God’s glory.  These acts and achievements were prepared by God in advance, before you were even born.  You have a God-given purpose.  If anyone tells you otherwise, they are dead wrong.  Satan himself will try to convince you that you have no real purpose in life.  He may even use other people to do it.  But if you fall for that lie, you will live a meaningless, purposeless life.  But you don’t have to!  Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) says: “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.”

   When Jesus told the Parable of the Talents, He was letting us know that each of us has a special purpose in life, and God expects us to cooperate with Him so that it is fulfilled. (Matthew 25:14-30)  All three servants in the parable are given various talents, which represent the individual’s gifts and resources.  The servants who put their gifts to good use, and were productive, were rewarded by the master.  They were given more resources and greater responsibility.  But one of the servants was so fearful and self-centered that he buried his talent, and was totally unfruitful for the master.  Jesus calls him a “worthless servant.” (v. 30)

   If you are a child of God, He has blessed you with special gifts that He expects you to use for His glory.  If you don’t know what they are, ask Him to reveal them to you.  Ephesians 5:15-16 (AMP) says that we should “live purposefully…making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil.”

   You have a job to do!  There may be people in this world right now who will never receive God’s precious gift of salvation unless you take your place in the Body of Christ.  It’s my heartfelt prayer that you will make a decision today to cooperate with God’s plans for your life, and align your will with His.  If you do, God’s promise in Psalm 138:8 (NIV) belongs to you – “The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me”!

   Lord, today I commit to You all that I am, and all that I have, and I ask that You fulfill Your purpose for my life.  Show me what my gifts are, and help me to use them for Your glory.  Use me to lead others to You.  The next time I doubt that my life has a special purpose, remind me of the truth.  Thank You that You will fulfill Your purpose for me, and You will be glorified!

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

   *For autographed books, check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro page by clicking here!

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

Jun 13 21

God is Doing Something New!

by J. M. Farro

   “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”  Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV

    The promise above has a special place in my heart.  God has used it countless times to encourage me when I have experienced times of difficulty, disappointment, and despair.  It has never failed to fill me with a fresh sense of hope whenever I read or hear it.  Because of that, I often share it with people who write me for prayer and encouragement.  These folks are usually looking for some glimmer of hope in a seemingly hopeless situation.  Many times, they are hurting over some kind of heartbreak or loss, and they can’t help but “dwell on the past” – what mistakes they might have made, and what they might have done differently to cause a better outcome.  And even if the Lord is trying to do something new and wonderful in their lives or circumstances, they can’t “perceive it” because they can’t get past their past.

   I had this very same problem myself over 40 years ago, when I experienced the first heartbreak of my young life.  After being in a relationship with my high school sweetheart for more than three years, the relationship ended badly, and I felt the sting of rejection and betrayal.  What I didn’t realize at the time was that God wanted to do “a new thing” in my life, but He couldn’t do that unless I got into agreement with Him.  As I look back, I marvel at the great lengths the Lord went to, in order to convince me that He had new plans for me that were better and brighter than I ever imagined. 

   First, He put my future husband, Joe, in the same college class with me in the Fall of 1973.  And when months went by without Joe and I saying a word to each other, God had our professor put us in a skit together, so that we had to spend time with each other and work on our shared project.  At the same time, the Lord arranged for Joe to buy a brand new Pontiac LeMans, knowing that my family and I always had Pontiacs, and that I wouldn’t dream of saying ‘no’ when Joe offered to give me a ride in it.  That day I rode in Joe’s new car for the first time, he took me to lunch, and I told him my entire life story, even though I was usually a very private person.  We had such a good time together that we both called our families and told them that we wouldn’t be home for dinner that evening because we had other plans.  After sharing another meal together that day, Joe declared that he was going to marry me.  I laughed because it was so unexpected, but inwardly, his spontaneous expression of affection was exactly what my hurting heart needed – and the Lord knew it.

   Looking back, I see now that God was working overtime to get me in agreement with His future plans for me, even where my choice of a lifemate was concerned.  Truly, the similarities between us and our families were striking.  Joe and I were both 100% Italian-American.  All of the children in both families had first names starting with the letter “J”.  Both families had been buying and driving cars made by Pontiac for decades.  Both of our fathers had served in the Air Force working on planes during World War II.  And the list goes on and on.  All of these things were God’s way of trying to get me to stop dwelling on my past pain and disappointment, and to begin perceiving the new things He wanted to do in my life.

   To this day, Joe and I laugh about how we sat in a classroom together for months, without knowing that our future spouse was so close at hand.  And I am telling you all this today in the hope that you will be able to start believing that the “new thing” that God wants to do in YOUR life is closer than you think.  Don’t let how you perceive the past keep you from perceiving the bright and beautiful future that the Lord has for you.  And don’t think that your best days are behind you.  God is still in the miracle-working business, and He loves transforming our troubles into triumphs.  And right now, at this very moment, He’s saying to you – “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history.  Be alert, be present.  I’m about to do something brand-new.  It’s bursting out!  Don’t you see it?  THERE IT IS!”  (Isaiah 43:18-19 MSG)

    Lord, open my eyes to the new and wonderful things You are longing to do in my life right now.  Deliver me from the tendency to dwell on my past in ways that could hinder me from receiving the bright future You have for me.  Cleanse my heart and mind of all bitterness, doubt, pain, and negativity.  Show me signs that will move me to get into agreement with You and Your plans for my life.  Help me to live a Christ-centered life so that I can experience the comfort, strength, and healing that only You can provide.  Thank You that as I keep my hopes high, and my eyes of faith open, the “new things” You have for me will come bursting forth!

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

   *For autographed books, check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro page by clicking here!

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

Jun 6 21

Don’t Let it Enter Your Mind

by J. M. Farro

   “Therefore, I say to you, take no thought about your life, what you will eat, or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food and the body than clothing?”  Matthew 6:25 MEV

   Over the years, I have heard many good teachings based on the words of Jesus above when He says “take no thought.”  This simple but powerful principle has impacted my life in many ways.  One example of this is when my doctor told me that I had to stop drinking coffee.  I was only drinking a cup or two a day, but even that became too much for my heart.  I tried drinking the decaffeinated version, but when I started having stomach problems, my doctor said that I had to quit drinking that, too.  To say that I was miserable would be a gross understatement.  But more than 20 years later, I am totally free from an overwhelming desire for coffee.  What helps me most even today is to “take no thought” of drinking it.  In other words, I don’t even let the thought of me drinking coffee enter my mind.  My husband, Joe, brews it and drinks it several times a day, so I smell it almost constantly in our home.  But I am never tempted to drink it myself because I “take no thought” of doing that.  It’s the same with smoking cigarettes.  I was able to quit this habit many years ago once I learned the art of not allowing it to enter my mind.  In cases like these, where addictions are involved, it does no good to say, “Don’t dwell on that.”  No, because by the time you have decided not to “dwell” on something, you have already allowed that thought to enter your mind.  And that makes it a lot harder to resist what you are trying to resist!

   Scripture says: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 MEV)  If we want to gain the victory over the sins, bondages, and evil addictions that our God wants to deliver us from, we are going to have to win the battle in our minds first.  When a tempting thought comes our way, casting it down with lightning speed at the threshold of our minds is our best hope.  Why?  Because once we entertain that thought for even a split second, it is more likely to take hold in our minds, and lead us to act upon it.  I encourage you to start doing this in your areas of need, and ask the Lord to show you how.  Don’t believe the devil’s lies that you are doomed to stay in bondage.  That is a lie from the pit of hell.  You were born again in Christ so that you could live in freedom right here and right now.  Go to God today and tell Him that you want to be free.  “For you have been called to live in freedom!” (Galatians 5:13 NLT)

   Lord, I want to live a life of freedom in Christ, and I believe that this is Your will for me, too.  Teach me how to “take no thought” that would put me or keep me in bondage to sin or unhealthy habits.  Remind me of Your promise which says that I “have the mind of Christ and do hold the thoughts, feelings, and purposes of His heart.” (1 Corinthians 2:16 AMPC)  Thank You that as I cast down every disobedient thought, I will walk in the freedom that You bought for me on Calvary!

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

   *For autographed books, check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro page by clicking here!

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