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My dog struggles with a condition called collapsing trachea. It causes him to gasp for air like he’s choked on a bone or a chunk of food. In bad episodes, he will continue to choke for up to ten minutes. And a few nights ago, he started gasping. So I picked him up and prayed over him, pleading with God to heal him. Well, he kept choking.

I got frustrated, no lie. This may be a dog, but he’s my little friend. I’m very attached to him. I’m laying there, petting my dog, trying to comfort him while he chokes like he’s about to die. And I’m terrified that maybe not this time, but next time he’s going to choke, and choke, and not stop. What if he really does die from this condition? Collapsing trachea has killed dogs. I don’t want to lose mine.

And so I’m praying, and praying, and petting, and kissing, and he’s still choking. Poor thing’s miserable. I’m like, “God! Help, please!” And I start crying. My dog’s going to die and the Healer is ignoring me. Then I start getting mad. “God! You said ask and it will be given. You say nothing is impossible. You say pray. Well, God, I pray for healing, not just for my dog, but others too, and I might as well be talking to a brick wall. You ignore me! In the Bible you healed. For others, you’ve healed. But me? Why not for me?” (I’m half-hysterical, people.)

And my dog is still gasping for every breath. I’m still crying. Lord’s still ignoring.

Or is He?

In the midst of my tears, I hear Him say, “What are you so afraid of?”

And in my mind, I see my dog dying from this thing, leaving me alone and tumbling back into the despair of loneliness and depression from which God has used this dog to help pull me out of.

And God says, “Your dog is not going to die tonight.”

I’m so relieved I remember the need to breathe. Then I remember I’m supposed to be mad at my Abba Father. “You didn’t heal him,” I accuse. “You never heal people when I pray. How am I supposed to operate this gift if You don’t do Your part!”

God; “Fear hinders faith, daughter.”

My frustration sputters to an end like a car that’s run out of gas. All of the sudden I understand. Healing is activated by faith. If there is not faith, there is no healing. If I’m terrified my dog’s going to die, well, I’m not really operating in faith. I’m operating in fear. And therefore, I hinder God’s ability to heal through my faith.

And I’m immediately discouraged. “You might as well count me out of this healing business then, God. I’d hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I don’t think I will ever fully conquer this fear thing.”

This is why I love God so much; He says, “With man, this is impossible. But with Me, all things are possible. Place your faith in Me and I will win your battle.”

My dog is still alive, in case you were wondering J

But I did learn a heavy lesson that night. I can’t expect healing if I’m terrified that it won’t happen. So if I am ever to operate in this area that God is calling me to, then I must overcome the spirit of fear that stalks me, waiting for an opportunity to cripple my faith. However, this cannot be done through my own strength. It must be done through God. He can make this happen in my life. He can transform me to where I am no longer hindered in this way. That is fully within God’s power and might. That I can believe without fear or worry.

And that is how I know that there will come a day when prayers of faith will be raised, and healing shall descend.

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God is asking the church today this question; “Why are you running the race?” He wants to know the motives for your faithfulness. Why? Because if your motives are wrong, you will soon drop the race having wasted a great deal of time.

Listen, children of God, we can’t be in this race for the benefits, for the blessings. We can’t follow God because He makes us feel good and gives us pretty things. For such is an insult to the Almighty. God is about so much more than that, and walking with Him must be about more than all of that.

Our faithfulness is on trial. Things are turning upside down. Nothing is going the way that we feel it should. And it seems like God has gone silent. He’s not answering any prayers. He’s not releasing His usual blessings. Does that sound familiar? God wants to know if we will stay in the race even when the benefits are not in sight.

God is not our sugar daddy. He is not a pimp. And He is not Santa Clause. Don’t get me wrong, He has a strong desire to bless His people. His heart delights in our delights. But He is about much more than free cars, extra cash, and even dashes of joy. He is also about reaching out to broken souls. Reveling in the fellowship of each other. Rejoicing in the delights of nature. Feeding the homeless. Healing the sick. Loving each other.

What does all that add up to? God is about being a blessing to each other, and enjoying life together. That is what this race is truly about, brothers and sisters. That’s the foundation for the gospel. Everything else is a buildup on just how to make that possible. And if that’s not the foundation for our faithfulness, then can we can’t be surprised when our faith falls short when we need it most.

(Inspired by Apostle Jones sermon, My Faith is on Trial)

What is greater than wisdom? Greater than this most sparkling of jewels? We search and search and cannot find the center of peace; the eye of the storm, the tranquility of midnight. What is the foundation of peace but wisdom? How can the first be found without the second? For without wisdom, we shall create our own nightmares, devastations, and earthquakes.

But with the wisdom of faith – faith in the salvation of God – we can walk on water in the midst of a hurricane, and know no fear.

Wisdom whispers of God’s delivering hand. It speaks by the Spirit of Comfort and Compassion. It knows the boundaries of man, and the boundlessness of the I Am. Wisdom is the fruit of experience. Wisdom is the Words of an Almighty Father, rained down upon unworthy sons and daughters.

Know wisdom. And by wisdom, walk in the footsteps of God.

Silence, oh God, the whispers in my head. The voices that shame me, beat me, break me. Tear down, oh God, the stronghold of Satan; the bindings that keep me; the chains that restrain me. You say greater is he who is in me than he who is in the world. Oh blessed Lord, my mighty God, my strong tower, and valiant shield, why are these just words to me now? Greater is he. Greater is he. Greater is he. The great darkness overwhelms, majestic Father. The pain drowns me in a sea of torment – an ocean of agony.

Blessed Savior. Blessed Savior! Where are you when I need you? Hear my cry, hear my weeping. Why the silence? Why the never-ending stillness? Where is my breakthrough? Where is my relief? Where is the peace meant to sustain me? Oh God, oh God, where are the Words that break the bindings of the enemy? I am here. I am alone. Mighty Father, I am afraid.

Sweet child, sweet beloved. Where is your faith? I am here. I am with you. I am still the hope that sustains you. Am I a man that I should change? Am I a sinner that I should despise you? Am I limited that I cannot reach you? Am I powerless that I cannot deliver you? You turn this way, you turn that, you search but you cannot find. Foolish child. Deceived beloved. I am not a man that you should see me through the eyes of mankind. Close your eyes and open your spirit.

Though the wind tosses this way and that, I am the hands that help you withstand. And while the sea is turbulent and raging, I am the boat that keeps you from sinking. Dearest little one, love of my heart, while the lightning strikes the ground and illuminates the darkness, while the thunder strikes and trembles the very heavens, while the earth shakes and the ground is cracking, while the clouds spill torrents of rain and sheets of hail, I am the rock that keeps you from falling – falling into the abyss of darkness

Yes, there will be storms that threaten the foundation of your world, but I am the wings that carry you. I am the light that guides you. I am the power that delivers you, restores you, heals you and redeems you, when life has beaten you down. Rest in me, my child, and I will bring you through the storm.