Monday, January 26, 2015

Pitch Black

Have you ever been in a cave? My two younger children and I visited one in North Carolina and there were lights strung through out the cave, at one time during the tour the guide shut the lights off. I finally understood what pitch black meant. I could not see the hand in front of my face. It was a bit scary as I was grasping for Nathanael and Jessica who one second I could see and the next they were gone. I was relieved when the lights came back on.

Exodus 10:21-23 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness spreads over Egypt—darkness that can be felt.” So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days. No one could see anyone else or move about for three days. Yet all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived.

The above verses come from the story of Moses and Pharaoh, one of the plagues God put on Egypt. Take time to read it. So for 3 days the Egyptians could not see the hand in front of their face. They saw nothing, notta no one. Can you imagine what that was like? Go there for just a minute in your mind so you can appreciate the severity of it. Pitch black, light less, somber. The Bible says they could feel the darkness. Can you remember a time in  your life when you could feel the darkness?

Do you realize that people today without Jesus in their lives live in that same kind of darkness. A darkness called hopelessness (without hopedespairing that is an emotion many live with daily.

Too often when we are around Christians more than non believers we forget about this darkness because believers will encourage each other with words like, God is in control, Jesus will never leave you, I'll pray for you.
All good responses but what if the person your talking to doesn't believe in Jesus. Then, as the Bible says, our words are foolishness.

As you know I am new to TN and in my search for companionship I found this website called Meet Up. I decided to join one and drove to a park where I met up with about 15 people to go hiking.
It was a beautiful day and I had a fun 3 hour hike. Each time we stopped you would end up walking next to a new person, and if you know me I love to talk to new people. After one stop I was talking to a man that told me he used to live in Franklin which is where I live.
He went on to tell me how much he missed it and how he wished he could live there again. I asked him why he moved and he said after he retired he didn't think he could afford his house so he sold it. He then started asking me questions like what brought me to TN and where do I work. I told him I felt the Lord brought me here and that I wasn't working yet. He of course gave me the usual look, whether you're a believer or not, the "oh you're one of those crazy people" looks. I was obviously talking foolishness to him.
I told him the Lord would help me find a job and Gems the look on his face spoke a thousand words as he sighed and said “good luck with that.” I then told him that the journey was part of the adventure to which he gave another despairing response. I could feel his darkness.
It was at that moment I was reminded what it looks like to be in the dark without Jesus, to have no hope for anything other than what you can do.
I'm used to being around people who don't know Jesus that are struggling with things like homelessness or addictions but this was a well adjusted, intelligent, self sufficient man. I'm not trying to sound stereo typical here don't get caught up in that, I have met plenty of people struggling with those issues who love the Lord. 
I'm saying I saw a man who had NO idea what I was talking about when I said God would take care of me. Someone who appeared to know light but didn't.
Here we were hiking in the beauty of God's creation and this man shared how he was involved in other hiking groups and kayaking groups so he enjoys nature but He has no relationship with the one who made it. 
The Bible tells us that the Egyptians couldn't leave their place because they could see nothing. People who don't know the hope of Jesus can't leave the place where they are stuck either because they can't see their way around.

v23 BUT the Israelites had light in the places where they lived. 

Listen Gems I don't think God continued to make Pharaoh's heart hard and hit the Egyptians with all these plagues just to get the Isrealites out of Egypt. He could have done that with out any plagues. He did it so not just Israel but all nations would know that He is God!
Exodus 9:16 “But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show my power in you, and that my name may be declared in all the earth.”
When people have no hope, living in darkness, it can be paralyzing and they usually live in misery and tend to use people instead of loving them. We have all heard the saying “hurt people hurt people.”

At the beginning of the story, Exodus 5:2 Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go.”
At the end of the story Pharaoh calls to Moses and request:
Exodus 12: “And also Bless me”
Gems we have to be a people today who don't focus on all the negative and gloom. I'm not saying we should live in a denial bubble hoping it won't pop, but to remember it was the mercy of God and the power of the Holy Spirit that He brought each one of us out of our darkness and despair. We have the power and obligation to share our hope with a lost world.
Too many of us share such a small amount of that light because we are still so wrapped up in our own worlds.
The Bible said that although the Egyptians were in total darkness the Israelite's still had light where they lived. Even the places that are hard for us, we still have light. Like Pharaoh who after experiencing the power of God wanted to be blessed by Him, people should want to receive God's blessing after they meet us. God still wants to show His power through you and me.

Let's help people get out of pitch darkness and into His marvelous light!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

There's An App For That

Keep Your Eyes On The Road
And Your Head Out Of Your Apps

This is an overhead sign you pass on the highways in TN. I love it. It's a reminder to pay attention to your driving and hopefully prevent accidents from texting drivers.
I want to share with you from Psalm 78 (please take the time to read it when you can.) It starts off with the Psalmist telling the Israelite's to share what God has done in the past with their children from one generation to the next so they would know God's commands, His power and miraculous provision.
Psalm 78:6-7 so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God
Verses 12-16 go on to tell the things God did but the people continued to sin and rebel against the Most High God. The Bible says they willfully put God to the test demanding food they craved.
V 19-21 They spoke against God, saying, “Can you spread a table in the desert? When he struck the rock, water gushed out and streams flowed abundantly. BUT can he also give us food? Can he supply meat for the people?” When the Lord heard them he was very angry; his fire broke out against Jacob, and his wrath rose against Israel, for they did not believe in God or trust in his deliverance.
The truth is God had given them the bread of angles! He sent them all the food they could eat. It just wasn't the food they wanted..... hmmm
Sounds like the people had their heads in their apps and weren't keeping their eyes on God. 

At this point in my reading I had to stop because as always these words applied to me. Yea God you did this but can you do THIS?  Seriously I don't know why He even talks to me.  If your a regular Gena's Jewels reader you know when I go down I feel I should take someone with me :)

I felt the Holy Spirit beg the question to me “Gena, why is that even though you know all the ways I have taken care of you and your family, why do you not trust in my deliverance?”
The thing is Gems the problems not that God isn't taking care of things, it's that I don't like the way He's doing it. I don't like His app.

I have my own list of apps I feel can be downloaded and they are way easier. God, just fix it. Don't let it hurt and don't take too long and give me what I want not what I need.

Isaiah 7:9 says if you don't stand firm in your faith you will not stand at all.
We have to go through these situations in life so our faith can grow. Jesus appears to those who need to see Him the most. I don't want people to see me as a person who constantly needs to be delivered from storms but as a person who is always delivered from storms. I want my children to say remember when God ...

The world and some times well meaning Christians will give you all kinds of apps they have used to help their situation or advice on how you should move forward. You can get so many downloads you won't know which way to turn but the truth is we have to continue to believe in God and trust in His deliverance.

Gems I don't know what your facing today but I do know there's an app for every circumstance you may be dealing with today
 it's called the BIBLE.
Remember to share it with your children so the next generation will know, even the children yet to be born and they will tell their children to put their trust in God. Keep your head in His app.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Moved By The Spirit

Luke 2:27 Moved by the Spirit, he went …...
Genesis 45:7 But God sent me ahead of you

These words are just part of the above verses, I didn't write out the whole verse because these words were enough to stop me in my tracks.
I always try and make God's word personal to me.
Gena, moved by the Spirit, she went. Moved by the spirit she went, those words are much easier on paper.
God sent Gena ahead of you. This verse seems to be fitting for me and my family. I seem to go ahead of them and after they have seen God's faithfulness it allows them to move more freely to their own “moved by the spirit he/she went” life.
Before I “went” to Tennessee, Amanda went to Africa, Jessica went to Lakeland, Nathanael, Alex & Ezra went to Tavares and Anthony will make his own move hopefully soon.
I guess the Lord was going to make sure I went to my own spot as all my children were now spread out. My prayer of course is that they all will meet me here at some point :) A mom can hope right?

So let's pick up where I left off. How to pay the rent....
As I shared in my last jewel I was waiting for my start date to my new job.
I had mailed my application for my license to be transferred and called almost daily to see how the paper work was going. I was on a first name basis with the woman who handled these request and I'm sure she was just as anxious for me to have my license as I was to get it.

One night I was reading my Bible and re-read one of my favorite verses.
Matthew 10:27 What I whisper in your ears, proclaim from the housetops! 
I love the thought of the Holy Spirit whispering things to me. You know if your whispering it's a secret. That just excites me to no end, to hear a secret from Heaven. So I prayed Dear Jesus please whisper to me how you plan on paying the rent and I will definitely shout it from the roof top!

The next morning my sister and I were talking and she offered to send me my rent money but I said no. I explained to her it wasn't about the money it was about God's faithfulness, He said He would send it, not for me to borrow it. About 5 minutes after our conversation my phone rang with a number I didn't recognize. I answered it and it was a woman calling from an organization I send money to. I heard her mention year end and assumed she was calling for a final 2014 donation. 
I was waiting for her to pause so I could explain I had no money right now but would donate again in the future, but that's not why she called. 
She went on to thank me for my support and was calling to see if I had a prayer request. 
You bet I have a prayer request! I gave her a brief summary of my current situation, the “moved by the Spirit she went” and how I was believing God for my rent. I told her I checked the mailbox daily expecting the money. The only problem was no one actually knew my address yet.
She laughed and began to pray for me in Hebrew. It sounded beautiful. She then began praying in English then suddenly paused. She said she felt the Holy Spirit was whispering something to her. WHAT? Did she just say WHISPERING???
Dear Jesus please don't let my phone quit on me now. I listened intently waiting to hear the secret. She continued I feel the Holy Spirit saying He will send some one directly to your apartment to give you money toward your rent.” She said it would be the start of a new relationship.
This woman was a complete stranger to me yet she took the time to not only pray but listen to what the Holy Spirit had to say specifically to me. I can't tell you how much I NEEDED that word.
Of course for the next few days anyone who walked by my apartment was a possible suspect. I greeted each one with “Hi I'm Gena do you have my money?” No one was safe from my anticipation. When the man came to pick up the trash outside my door I met him with a huge smile on my face and hand extended.
I don't think he had ever seen anyone so happy to have their trash picked up. 
I heard another whisper, "It not him....."

Before the rent money came I got a call from the State Licensing department and it appeared my license that I thought would be here any day was not transferable after all. I would have to go back to school and take the Tennessee state test. Bottom line I would not be starting my new job after all.

Gems, not gonna lie I was freaked out!  It was now December 26th and rent was due in 6 days. I was beside myself, I couldn't understand what was wrong. I began to cry and ask God what I missed. I called my oldest son Anthony and just wept in despair. The thoughts that ran through my head. Oh my gosh I just got this apartment set up and now I have to pack it all up and move. Move where?
Anthony prayed a powerful prayer for me and later I did the only thing I knew to do.
I laid on the floor in fetal position, listened to praise music and cried in desperation.

The verse that came to me was “I will never leave or forsake you.”
The Lord reminded me He had shown me the mountain and just because the fog may roll in and the clouds were low didn't mean the mountain had moved.
The same promise was there. If I would move where He sent me, He would provide.

God why did you let me think I had a job and sign a lease on an apartment?
He said He let me think I had that job so I would sign the lease. He was ready for me to have my home so I could get settled and even rest a bit before the next assignment. If I didn't think I had a job I wouldn't have moved forward. He went ahead of me but I would not have had enough faith to follow, He allowed me to have my sense of false security in a job so I would move. He was right!

I finally settled down and once again had that overwhelming sense of peace that cannot be understood. I was reading a book at the time called Hinds Feet In High Places (if you haven't read it I would suggest it) and this was the page I opened at that moment.

Laying down my own will still continues to be a daily exercise. Doing it with joy and acceptance at times seems impossible. Only God.

Gems I don't know what the Spirit is whispering to you. I don't know where He has moved you by His Spirit or what secret thing He has for you to do, but I know He has gone ahead of you. I know in spite of the circumstances He will never leave or forsake you. I will remind you as Jesus reminded me, just because you don't see the promise doesn't mean the promise isn't still there.
I know the only way to increase your faith is to move beyond your comfort zone.
Yours not mine. Even if it leaves you lying on the floor in a desperate heap for a while it's OK. It's sharing these moments honestly with others, the power of the testimony, going before others so they will have the courage to move too.

Of course the Lord has a way of making everything really personal the next thing he gave me from the book was:

Like I said I made it personal, just changed Hannah to Gena.

Oh by the way, a couple days later I had an unexpected guest show up at my apartment. She stayed the night with me and early the next morning we shared our hearts and our relationship grew to a deeper place. She said “the Lord told me to give you some money toward your rent.”  There it was just like He said a new relationship would be formed and money to my apartment. 
On the 26th Jessica my youngest daughter called to tell me someone gave an anonymous donation toward my rent. I was still about $250.00 short. On December 31st I got a text from a friend saying the Lord told her and her husband to ask me what I needed. There it was the final money.
And of course our God, the more than enough God, had friends send me Christmas cards containing financial blessings which allowed me to pay all the other bills that needed paying like heat, car payment, insurance, phone bill, did I mention HEAT!

So Gems rent is paid and  there is more to the story but you will have to read my next jewel to hear what happened next.

When the Spirit moved she went........ I pray you will go too.