Surprise Blessings

December 4, 2017

Friends,
I had the sweetest surprise blessing last Friday. On a whim, on my way home from my parents’ house, I decided to run into Aldi to get a few groceries and when I was standing in line with my cart of at least 20 items, a lovely-looking blonde woman about my age came up and got in line behind me. Since she only had milk in her hand, I invited her to go ahead of me. She declined, but I insisted, so she took me up on it. I asked her if she’d had a good day and she said she had. She then said I’d see why she had hesitated to go ahead of me. I didn’t know what she was talking about so I just smiled confused-like and said “Oh” and continued putting my groceries from my cart onto the belt. I didn’t notice anything more about her or even when she left, maybe because I’d turned my attention to a young man in line behind me who was buying only one item also —some kind of salsa.

“You have only one item,” I said to him. “So go ahead of me.”

“No thanks,” the guy said.

“Please do,” I insisted, but he absolutely would not, said that he was in no hurry, and went to viewing his iPhone.

So, the cashier rang up my items. But when I was about to pay, she said, “Wait a minute. I have to deduct $18.50 from your cost because the woman ahead of you paid that toward your bill.”

I was shocked and deeply moved, for I realized it was the Lord who had determined to bless me, and this in spite of the fact that the odds were against me being the recipient. I mean, the woman’s hesitation to go ahead of me must have meant I didn’t look the part of who she had planned to bless, and then, on my part, I’d tried to get the young man to go ahead of me also.

“Wow, that was a sweet blessing!” I said aloud. Then pointing at the young man, I said, “If you’d gone ahead of me, you’d have received that $18.50!” The guy just shrugged like he could care less, which seemed weird in itself. But I was happy. “I sure wish I could have thanked her,” I said to the cashier.

The cashier told me that the woman had told her that she planned to do the same thing for a stranger every day this month and hoped the spirit of giving would transfer and multiply. I told the cashier that I would definitely help spread the giving spirit and that my mom and I had actually bought some things earlier that day for the treat bags we hand out downtown at the bus stops.

Speaking of the bus stops, I had another very special blessing the day before (on Thursday) while evangelizing with my signs and tracts. Truly, I had many very wonderful conversations and encounters, but one was truly an extra, extra special one directly from the Lord. I’d been down there about four hours and figured it was about time to go, and I happened to see a guy talking to another guy (Matthew) who I’d spoken with earlier. “That sure looks like Darrell,” I thought. Right then he looked at me, but then, surprisingly, he just went back to talking to Matthew, so I decided it couldn’t be Darrell or he’d have recognized me.

After a bit I went across the tracks to check the street clock, but deciding I had a bit more time, I came back. A few minutes later I suddenly saw Darrell approaching me. “Darrell, is that you?” I asked. It was him and he came over and gave me a hug and we were so excited to see each other. He said he thought that might be me, but then I’d disappeared from the corner and then reappeared. We laughed and we were so glad that the Lord hadn’t let us miss talking with each other, since it’d been about five years or more since we’d last seen each other.

“It is always such an extra special blessing to see you,” I told Darrell. “I mean you being the very first person I ever witnessed to down here.”

“Yeah, when was that?” Darrell asked.

“January of 1996,” I answered. “And I didn’t use anything —no signs, or tracts, or even a Bible.”

Darrell and I talked for a while about that day we first met, trying to figure out if it’d been two or three or four other times that we’d seen each other since, and about the Lord and His Word. I encouraged him with several Scripture verses and one thing he said that gave me a surprise blessing was his words, “You seem much stronger in the Lord now. And you’re quoting all these Bible verses.”

I took it as a compliment. I don’t feel any stronger than in January of 1996, but I hope I am, because we should, definitely, always be progressing. I took the compliment as coming from the Lord, and I took the blessing of seeing Darrell as God affirming that my ministry work has indeed been His will, that it’s been for His glory, and that it is a privilege to partner with God in what He is doing in people to bring them deliverance and salvation.

In fact, my husband and I had the privilege today to help another downtown friend. He is living in a tent in someone’s back yard and we brought him blankets and a week bus pass to help him launch his rededication to walking victorious in Christ’s will. We are interceding for him as he begins this new chapter and I ask others to please, please pray for him as well.

So, God has given me many sweet surprise blessings just in the last week, but I can’t go on and on right now. Suffice it to say, when we work for the Lord, He is never lax in sending us all sorts of things to bless and amaze us.

Sincerely,
With love,
Rachel

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Friends,
The Lord has counseled us and equipped us in how to stay calm and strong, including in the storm. If we heed Him, then when the torpedoes come, we are already shielded and they have minimal, if any, negative impact on us.

Here are some specifics we should be practicing daily:

~~taking every thought captive to be obedient to Christ. This comes from 2 Cor. 10:5. Upon waking, before even getting out of bed, we should do this, for where our thoughts go, there go we. Verses 3 and 4 tell us that we have available to us, for waging war against evil, weapons that have divine power to demolish strongholds. That would include the stronghold of anxiety which many seem to be bearing lately.

More of these weapons are:

~~quoting the Scripture (Mt. 4:4 // Heb. 4:12)

~~putting on the armor of God. (Eph. 6:12-17) I do this by just stating, “I put on the… [I mention each piece], all in the name of Jesus.” These are excellent for victory in the war.

~~focusing on the Lord and His love and faithfulness (Isa. 26:3,4) and setting our hearts and minds on things above where Christ, who is our life, is seated in power. (Col. 3:1-4) Thus we have power –and victory!

~~praising the Lord (we can read a praise psalm aloud or read a verse like Rev. 7:12 aloud). The evil realm hates to hear praise (worship and thanksgiving) to God, so they leave. If they return, we should immediately begin praising God again, yes, staying in a mode of praise all day, but increasing it any time they attempt to return until they give up trying to bother us at all. Praise to God defeats the work of the enemy in our lives (Ps. 50:14,15,23) and in those we are interceding for.

~~submitting our whole selves to the Lord –our heart, mind, will, emotions, decisions, affections, etc. –all our thoughts, words, and actions.

~~praying in the Spirit. (Eph. 6:18 // Jude 1:20) This is praying prayers led by the Spirit of God, through a heart and mind and life that is in submission to Him.

~~singing in the Spirit. (2 Chron. 20:21,22 // Eph. 5:18-20) Singing spontaneous new songs to the Lord (Ps. 96:1-4), which will come from Him (40:3) if we open our mouths to do it. (81:10)

~~eating (meditating on) the Word of God so that Christ’s Spirit is filling our spirit and giving us Life. (John 6:53-57) This is necessary for abiding in Christ (v. 56) and for walking in Life (v. 53), meaning in eternal life and abundant (peaceful, joyful, purpose-filled, etc.) life (v. 54,63 & 10:10) and blessing. (Ps. 1:1-3)

~~applying the Word of God / putting the Word into practice. We can’t just know what it says, we have to believe it and do what it says. (Mt. 7:24-27 // Ja. 1:21,22)

~~rejecting being influenced by human philosophies, worldly wisdom, unbiblical doctrines, and ungodly people. (Ps. 1:1 // 1 Cor. 1:19,20 & 3:18-20 & 15:33)

~~being very careful about getting help from anyone other than the Lord and who He, Himself, sends to us to help us. (Ps. 118:8,9 // Isa. 31:1)

~~believing we have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16) and believing we have Christ’s divine power for everything we need to live victorious and godly every day. (Eph. 3:20 // 2 Pe. 1:3,4)

~~continuing to have faith in the Lord and His Word (2 Chron. 20:20), waiting in patience and expectation for His perfect timing (Ps. 130:5,6), and remembering that we need not be afraid with God as our Helper and Refuge. (71:3)

Doing any of these things daily will set us on the road of strength. But certainly putting all of them into practice daily will make us spiritual Olympians –strong servants of God, who, in spite of the crooked and depraved generation in which we live (Phil. 2:15), “shine like stars in the universe” (same verse) with joy, gentleness, and blamelessness. (Same verse & 4:4,5)

May we utilize all that God has made available to us to make it so. –For our own benefit, for the benefit of others, and for the honor of Christ Jesus and His Gospel, in front of a watching world.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

God’s Tender Voice

April 12, 2016

Friends,
The Lord does so many things to let us know He is thinking about us, caring for us, assuring us that He is right there with us. Yes, many things. It may be a kind word from a loved one, an encouragement from someone we encouraged, a warm smile from a stranger, or an extra-special brilliance from something in His incredible creation.

But what about His Word? Does God’s voice and attention not come through to us with special potency when we read His Word? And what about when He confirms the same exact words the same day?

This last Saturday I got up very early so I could head out to the country town where my husband and I had lived for 14 years. A friend’s son, having been sickly for most of his 36 years, had, sadly, died, and I was going to the funeral. However, since I make it a point to spend time with the Lord in His Word before I eat breakfast, do chores, or go anywhere, I opened my Bible and read a few psalms. I came across Ps. 121:7,8 and I was comforted in doing so since these verses are excellent in dispelling fear while traveling. In fact, they are so consoling, that I memorized them several years ago and quote them frequently whenever I feel any uneasiness concerning safety for myself or another.

But, besides these two verses, I felt the Lord prod me to meditate on the whole chapter (the other six verses, as well). They are all about the Lord being our help and care-taker; and being that it’d been almost a year ago to the day that an unlicensed 20 year old girl had rear-ended me (from which I suffered a severe concussion and have had to be on preventative seizure medicine since), I was thankful for the Lord’s special assurance through this chapter.

Well, I had a lovely drive out there, saw a few friends briefly, and then went to the funeral. It was a very nice service, but when someone got up and read Ps. 121, and all its eight verses, I got tears in my eyes and shook my head in wonder at God’s sweetness to me. I certainly had not known anything about the content of the funeral I’d be attending when I’d read the chapter several hours earlier. But God knew; and He wanted me to remember that He always has His mind on me. –Just as He has His mind on everyone, particularly those who seek His help. Yet how often do people miss those assurances He gives? We miss them if we’re not listening, and if we don’t follow His lead. His lead is good. He walks a peace-filled path. Even if there is pain, or sorrow, or uncertainty, with Christ being the Shepherd, deep inner peace is still ours. Because we have His fellowship. Fellowship with the God of the universe, the Almighty, our Rock and our Comforter.

It may seem a small thing to some –hearing God’s voice of assurance through the Ps. 121 confirmation on Saturday. But it wasn’t to me. And it never is. It is always amazing, always special, always a wonderment and joy to me when God speaks, and when He speaks directly to me through His Spirit. –His Spirit who speaks through Creation and circumstances, and definitely when confirming His Word.

The Lord is truly a kind and caring God. And, to those who seek His voice and listen, a very tender God.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
For many years now, the Lord has, through different circumstances and conversations, shown me just how true Ps. ch. 133 is. It has only three verses, and this is the part I have memorized: “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! For there the LORD bestows His blessing, even life forevermore.”

Truly it is interesting how it works that “the living together in unity” comes ahead of “the blessing of the Lord”. Indeed, when someone approaches another person with hostility, jealousy, or a lie, the stage is set for disunity.  Even a complaint, a criticism, or a disagreement can do the same, unless, of course, both people are being led by the Spirit to help one another come into full Truth.

But what happens when someone approaches another person with agreement, encouragement, aid, or thankfulness? There is unity. And once that stage is set, and especially if both people are in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit, there is even greater good that comes flooding in so that kindness and peace, being nurtured, bloom and grow. The Lord, seeing the individuals choosing to walk in what is good and right and true, what is Christ-like and Christ-honoring, then brings His presence down in an even greater degree, thus causing the blessings of Life (such as peace, wisdom, love, self-control, and joy) to fill the whole area and situation.

Today a woman came up to me, a sweet smile on her face. I greeted her and said it was good to see her again, though I actually didn’t remember the details of our last meeting. She reminded me about it and told me that she and her niece had been so blessed that I had hugged them and prayed for them when they had told me about the grief they’d been experiencing. As I talked with this woman today and tried to encourage her some more by using God’s Word and His Truth, she was in complete agreement with me, adding Scriptures herself. I noticed that the more we talked about the goodness of the Lord, the more the presence of the Lord filled us, our words, and even the vicinity around us, made more apparent as someone nearby joined us in giving God honor.

Those who fear, love, and honor the Lord do speak often of Him to each other. (Mal. 3:16) And when we do, doing so in order to honor and thank the Lord, and in order to edify one another, the Lord will listen, be pleased, and grant Holy Spirit unity. This is exceedingly good and pleasant, and in this place the Lord is able to bestow on us His Life, which means all the blessings involved with abiding in His Life.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

An Email I Will Cherish

July 31, 2014

Friends,
This evening I received one of the most edifying emails I’ve ever gotten. It’s from someone I hear from very rarely, maybe about once every other year, and who I do not think reads my blog, so she would not have known that my post yesterday spoke about the importance of building one another up. Maybe she does read it, I don’t know, but either way, it was incredibly kind of her to write what she did. I hope she doesn’t mind (as I’m leaving her name anonymous), but I just have to share, and save here for myself, these words which brought happy tears to my eyes. In fact, each time I read it, I get a lump in my throat. Maybe it’s because I loved her and cared about her very much (and still do) and truly feared for her about the other man she was engaged to. Hearing how well and happy her life has been, and still is, makes me deeply grateful to the Lord.

It certainly is a big encouragement and blessing when we get to hear that our efforts and/or counsel has affected another for good. It makes us glad that we ourselves listened to the Lord as He taught us and as He led us to do, or speak, or give, or go, or help in whatever way we did.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel
Here is her precious email to me:

Hi Rachel,

I was just thinking about you this morning and wanted to thank you for intervening in my life at a critical time years ago when I was blinded in a bad relationship. Talking to you was really the turning point for me and I am so thankful to you and to God that I walked away from that relationship and that I have been blessed with a wonderful husband and great marriage for the past 8 years.

I frequently think about the conversation we had and just wanted you to know that all these years later, I still remember what you said and I am so thankful God used you in my life. It really saved me. Thank you, Rachel!

I hope you are doing well!
You are a blessing. Keep up the good work serving HIM!
love,
_______

Friends,
One of the encounters I had downtown last Friday was with a guy who came up to me and handed me a flyer about the miracle God has done in and with his life. I noticed right away this guy’s twinkling eyes, his soft expression, and also… the scars. We talked less than a minute, but I immediately took note of the cordial and gentle way in which he spoke. The man’s name is Demetrius P. Guyton. Photos can be seen, and his story read as well as viewed through video, here:

http://dpguyton.com

For anyone who feels they have been hurt beyond repair, or who despises their own appearance, or who struggles to forgive, Demetrius’ story and attitude will certainly bring inspiration, hope, healing, and even excitement regarding the miracles God can do in and through any willing heart.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
What an encouraging post Israeliteindeed writes today for those whom God has called to preach His Word! Here it is:

http://israeliteindeed.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/gods-witnesses-their-commission-their-deliverance/#comment-2403

I think too of Moses when the Lord called him to be the one to deliver a whole nation out of slavery. Because he felt inadequate, he asked God to choose someone else. But God insisted that Moses was the man He had commissioned, though He did add to help him, his brother Aaron. Moses then went, and not only did he deliver the Israelites out of Egypt, but he was given a rave review for all mankind to read in Dt. 34:10-12.

Another man I think of who did not feel adequate or courageous enough to do an important task God commissioned him to do –to deliver the Lord’s people out of enemy bondage– is Gideon. But Gideon did go, he did break down the idols, and he did lead a (tiny) army to great victory. They defeated their oppressors miraculously.

If God has commissioned us to do work for Him, then, as Israeliteindeed says, we must do it, we must never give up, and we must go forward in spite of all obstacles. This we can do –by the power of the Spirit and because God has called and sent us to do it.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel