Miracles Do Happen!!

Miracles do happen. One of the most powerful examples of this is demonstrated through the lovingkindness of friends in the midst of crisis. Tragedy with loved ones can be so very painful and isolating, but the comfort of people God has  strategically placed in our lives to help us, is nothing short of a God- orchestrated modern day miracle. This story is a perfect example! And for those of you who have lost a loved one, I’m so sorry for your loss and you are not alone. May this story encourage you.

Don Jacobson from It’s a God Thing
Devotionals Daily
God Provides Friends Right When You Need Them
from Don Jacobson and K-LOVE’s It’s a God Thing

Miracles do happen

I believe that God knew my daughter would be taken from me so early on in her life. I believe He knew, and that is why the time we had together was so special. I believe He knew that from the moment I named her Micah, she would be more than just my daughter; she would be my friend.

Micah was such a special girl. Every parent says that, I know, but so much of what she did while she was alive still lives on in our hearts today. Her poetry and her journals are with us, and I never grew tired of hearing her pretty voice. Micah was a unique person, beautifully simple. When a boyfriend would come over, it was normal for her to show up at the door wearing sweatpants and a hoodie, her hair tossed up on her head as if she had just climbed out of bed. That was Micah — down-to-earth though sometimes opinionated, compassionate, and deeply caring about people. We all loved her greatly — me; her dad; her older brother, Jeremy; her family; and her friends.

The story around Micah’s death is one that I always want to be remembered. It is a story that shows God’s amazing love even in the most heartbreaking circumstances of life. It is a story about loss, but it is also a story about hope.

My husband and I were on the cruise of a lifetime to Alaska. On the third of July we departed from Seattle and met our eight tablemates at dinner that evening. Before the main course was served, one of them, a friendly guy named Mike, asked everyone to hold hands and say a prayer. As far as we could tell, we were the only other Christian couple at the table.

We did not get to talk at length to Mike and his wife, Elsie, until the next night. They told us about their prison ministry in New Mexico, and as our conversation flowed, the evening drew to a close and we were the only ones left in the dining room. We told them about our lives, about my husband searching for a new purpose in his work life. We told them about our two children, that Jeremy was twenty-one and Micah was eighteen. We asked them to especially keep our daughter in their prayers because she had just graduated early from high school and had moved to a small town in Nebraska where my husband’s family lives. We told them that Micah now had her own apartment and was trying to figure out what to do next with her life.

I guess that was the point at which we realized that God had put us at the same table as Mike and Elsie for a reason. Mike told us that they were originally scheduled to go on a Christian cruise, but they felt the Lord leading them to our ship, the Oosterdam. They decided to follow what they were feeling and just asked God to put them at a table with people who needed them.

“I think you’re the reason God put us here on this cruise,” said Mike.

I was surprised by what he said, but I figured that we had the rest of the week to learn the deeper reason. Maybe they would be instrumental in helping my husband decide what to do with his life. Maybe their prayers for our daughter would really help.

The night ended, and we went to our staterooms. I fell asleep but woke again at 1:00 a.m. as the phone rang. It was my husband’s brother from Nebraska. Micah had been in a car accident, and they were flying her to the medical center in Scottsbluff. Her heart had already stopped once.

We ran down to the main office and began the process of getting off the ship. We had just left Juneau and were on our way to the next port, and there was a six-hour period when our cell phones were useless. Almost immediately after we received the phone call, my husband asked the staff to please find Mike and Elsie. We knew nothing about them other than their first names and dinner table number. The staff found them, and when Elsie got to us, she was crying.

“Now I know why the Lord wanted us to be on this ship,” she said. We had to agree, and we were so grateful that they both stayed with us and prayed while we waited for 9:00 a.m. to come around and the fishing boat to come alongside the ship.

It paused just long enough for us to climb down a rope ladder and get on board, and then it took us to Yakutat, Alaska. From there we got on an Alaska Airlines jet to Anchorage, and while we were on the plane, we were given a snack tray. Neither of us felt like eating, but we could not help but notice that on the tray was a little card from the airlines with a picture of a sunset and the verse “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1). I just looked at my husband, knowing God was speaking to us.

Thirty-three agonizing hours after that first phone call, we finally made it to Micah’s bedside. They kept her on life support until we got there, so we were able to kiss her and hold her and tell her how much we loved her. And then she left us and joined her Savior in heaven.

The hospital asked us to consider donating her organs, which we did. Later, at her wake, a friend from high school told us that during a unit in health class on organ donation, Micah had said she would definitely want to donate if she was ever in that situation. Hearing something like that helped us so much, as did knowing who Micah was a donor for: a sixty-three-year-old male, a fifty-two-year-old male, and a fifty-seven-year-old female. I have written to them all. We were able to meet the fifty-two-year-old, Micah’s liver recipient, and he is doing well.

Micah’s left kidney recipient wrote back to tell us how he had become ill exactly one year before Micah died. He had been on a cruise when it happened, in Alaska, on a ship called the Oosterdam. He had required an emergency evacuation, just like us. We do not believe in coincidences. I am amazed at how God used him as one of the recipients, especially as he and his wife had also lost a child twenty years earlier in an accident. They knew how we felt.

Micah was such a huge part of our lives, and our hearts are still broken. But our faith remains strong. We believe in a God who loved us so much that he sent Mike and Elsie to us so we would not be alone when we first learned of Micah’s accident. And we know that God’s hand was mightily at work when, as the cruise carried on after we left, Mike and Elsie helped other couples at our table accept Jesus as their Savior.

And we know God was at work in the lives of the two Muslim ship workers who helped us off the ship and who also came to faith as a result.

God works in ways we cannot even begin to comprehend. He has been so faithful, even in this heartbreaking time in our lives.

We miss Micah so much and think of her constantly, but we also know that God is a great God. He gives eternal life to anyone who will confess he is a sinner and accepts salvation through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus. Our God, who placed the stars into space yet knows our names, calls His children home eventually. When it is our turn, we know that we will see Micah and never again have to say good-bye.

— Kris Heckman, contributed to It’s a God Thing

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Excerpted with permission by publisher Thomas Nelson from It’s a God Thing, copyright 2014 Donald C. Jacobson.

Your Turn

God provides friends right when we need them! Have you ever known when God specifically placed people in your life just when you needed them the most? Someone who encouraged you during one of your lowest moments? Someone who gave you wisdom during a time of great confusion? We would love to hear from you! Join the conversation today on our blog! We’d love to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily

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Created by Don Jacobson and K-LOVE

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What People Are Saying About It’s a God Thing:

“With their new book, It’s a God Thing, I believe K-LOVE and my friend Don Jacobson will call friends of Jesus everywhere to look for His capers around the world! Do you know why God involves Himself in our lives? Because God is love and love does!” — Bob Goff, author of the New York Times bestseller Love Does

“Every day we all are faced with stress, situations we can’t control and often the fear that we really are all alone. . . . These stories give us courage in times of peril and strengthen us when we feel helpless.” —TobyMac, top Christian artist and Grammy Award winner

“There is so much going on around us that we never see. Life is all about perspective, and when that lines up with the hand of God, it is remarkable to witness. This book and collection of stories from my friends at K-LOVE will inspire and encourage you greatly!” — Andy Andrews, New York Times best-selling author, The Noticer and The Traveler’s Gift

“Sometimes I’m guilty of looking so hard for God that I miss Him right in front of me. May we all be reminded through It’s a God Thing that some of the simplest moments in life can quite possibly be some of God’s greatest miracles.” — Bart Millard, lead singer of MercyMe

About the Book

Miracles are not reserved for the characters in the Old and New Testaments; they happen to everyday people.

Series creators Don Jacobson and K-LOVE Radio have joined together to produce one of the most remarkable collections of modern-day miracles ever compiled. From angel appearances in hospital rooms to a mother saved from a would-be assailant in Hyde Park, from a young autistic girl becoming a beautiful ballerina overnight to a young backpacker who walked away from a terrorist attack, It’s a God Thing presents some of the most amazing stories of God’s hand on our lives.

Be motivated as never before to look for and witness the incredible ways that God is interacting in your life and the lives of those around you.

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More incredible stories of God’s intervention!

Some things in life have no earthly explanation. It’s just a God thing.

Series creators Don Jacobson and K-LOVE Radio Network (14 million listeners) have joined together once again to produce a remarkable collection of modern-day miracles.

Stories include:

A man who was mysteriously pulled from a broken truck as it sailed over a ravine
A young boy who made a full recovery after being trapped under water for seven minutes
A young girl who defied all medical prognoses and survived after her vehicle was hit by a train
A mother, compelled to drive across town, who found her nine-year-old son stranded and alone at a busy intersection
Experiences like these are far more common than one may realize. From more than 1,000 occurrences, these more than 50 stories were chosen for their ability to amaze, encourage, and inspire all who live each day with both faith and doubt, victory and despair. Each day, the sunrise itself is a sign of God’s miraculous hand, and these stories prove that it’s only the beginning.

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God’s Invitation!!

FB Friends….Jesus taught that God welcomed sinners no matter their past. He spoke of forgiveness of sins, forgiveness not found in good works but a simple cry and surrender from the heart of the lost, to be found.
God welcome sinners no matter their past. — Sherri Gragg from Arms Open Wide
Devotionals Daily

When Jesus Said, “Follow Me”
by Sherri Gragg, from Arms Open Wide

“I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,” declares the LORD, “because you are called an outcast, Zion for whom no one cares.” — Jeremiah 30:17

For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgement of God rather than burnt offerings. — Hosea 6:6

Today’s Reading: Mark 2:13-17 and Matthew 9:9-12

Matthew reached above his head to adjust the tarp over his customs booth to keep the sun out of his eyes. Then he settled back into his seat to watch as a crowd gathered around the Prophet from Nazareth. Soon Jesus began teaching them, and although Matthew pretended to review his accounts, he was intently listening to every word the Man from Galilee said.

Matthew had been observing Jesus for some time from his booth in Capernaum. Jesus frequently taught large crowds near the sea, and Matthew’s customs booth gave him a front-row seat. He had seen Jesus heal the sick and cast out demons as well. Sometimes on the Sabbath, but not often, Matthew even slipped in the back of the synagogue to listen as Jesus taught. Matthew knew he wasn’t exactly welcome there.

According to rabbinical teachings, tax collectors, or publicans, were the most sinful of sinners. And Matthew was the worst kind of publican.

There were two basic categories. A Gabbai, (gab-bah’ee) was a despised general tax collector.

But Matthew was a Mokhes, a customhouse official, and that position was even worse. While both groups reported to the Romans and were therefore considered traitors to their own people, Mokhes were especially despised for their seemingly endless opportunities for harassment and extortion. A Mokhes could charge all manner of taxes in addition to duties on imports and exports. There were bridge tolls, road tolls, and harbor dues too. There were possible taxes on wheels, pack animals, axles, and pedestrians. The list was as limitless as a Mokhes’ imagination.

Furthermore, the Mokhes also had the authority to intercept travelers and require them to completely unload their pack animals for inspection down to the tiniest package and most personal scroll. Of course such inconveniences could be avoided… for a fee.

According to everything Matthew had ever learned about God, there was no hope for a Mokhes like him. Repentance meant turning oneself around, cleaning up, doing right. It meant making restitution above and beyond one’s sin.

As the rabbis said, “For herdsmen, tax collectors, and publicans is repentance hard.” (Babylonian Talmud, Baba kamma, 94b Barita)

The path to God was just too steep for a tax collector. So Matthew had given up on the idea of ever becoming anything more than what he was.

But then the Prophet from Nazareth came to town.

For a while, Matthew had enjoyed a front-row seat to Jesus’ ministry and plenty of time to ponder quietly all he witnessed. The message Jesus preached about the kingdom of God was unlike any Matthew had ever heard.

Jesus taught that God welcomed sinners no matter their past.

Jesus spoke of forgiveness of sins, actual forgiveness. Jesus swept away the impossible path of repentance that His contemporaries had paved with good works, and he redefined it as a simple willingness of the lost to be found. This message was the antithesis of all Matthew had ever been taught about God.

And no one could deny Jesus’ authority. He had healed a paralytic man right there in Capernaum. At this Rabbi’s touch, the blind saw, the lame walked, and the mute spoke. Even the demons obeyed Him.

Day after day, month after month, Matthew watched and listened until, somewhere deep in his heart, a spark of faith ignited.

If God were willing to receive him, Matthew was willing to be brought home.

But he still couldn’t bring himself to approach Jesus. He was still a Mokhes, and the weight of public scorn was too heavy. So Matthew believed and hoped quietly from his customs booth, unsure of what to do next.

Matthew watched as Jesus finished teaching and then dismissed the crowd. A strong, steady breeze blew in from the Sea of Galilee, and white sails bobbed over the water against the backdrop of a flawless blue sky. Jesus stood and looked across the promenade at Matthew. The tax collector self-consciously averted his gaze and pretended to inspect his accounts again.

But Jesus had been watching Matthew, too, and He had seen the spark of faith in his heart. Jesus walked over to the customs booth, and the Mokhes, so hated by all, turned his eyes up to meet the Savior’s.

Follow Me, Jesus said to him (Mark 2:14).

Matthew smiled. Then he stood and walked away from his booth, his accounts, his gold, his past — and into his new life. The other tax collectors noticed the interaction and followed the two men to Matthew’s house. Matthew threw open his doors and spread the table with food and wine.

Soon his home was crowded with Mokhes and Gabbai, tax collectors and sinners. Jesus sat in the middle of them all, laughing and enjoying the meal.

His presence with them demonstrated a powerful truth about the kingdom of God. In their culture, a meal was never simply a meal. To eat with someone communicated deep and sincere acceptance of that person.

Some local Pharisees heard of the spectacle and dropped in to investigate. Jesus was receiving these sinners? It was outrageous!

The Pharisees cornered some of Jesus’ disciples to question His propriety.

“Why does He eat with tax collectors and sinners?” they demanded. – Mark 2:16

When Jesus lowered His goblet and turned to the Pharisees, the table grew silent.

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick,” He said to them. “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” – Matthew 9:12–13

Jesus turned from the Pharisees and back to the dinner conversation. He had important work to do. He was welcoming sinners into the kingdom of God.

Prayer

Friend of Sinners, Thank You for welcoming me to the Father just as I am. I am so glad to know my salvation does not hinge on my efforts or on my ability to make restitution for all I have done wrong. All I have to do is be willing to be found by You. Amen

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Excerpted with permission Arms Open Wide, by Sherri Gragg, copyright Thomas Nelson.

Your Turn

Doesn’t this move your heart? How amazing it is to know that Jesus looks carefully to find even the worst of the worst sinners who have a spark of faith and aggressively pursues us! Do you relate with Levi/Matthew — watching Jesus and feeling unacceptable to enter into relationship with Him? Do you relate with the Pharisees who are outraged that Jesus made friends with the betrayers of their own people, the thieves! Most of us can see ourselves in that response as well. Join the conversation today on our blog! We would love to hear what Jesus is saying to your heart about Jesus’ wild, counter-culture grace! ~ Devotionals Daily

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Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to witness the life of Jesus firsthand?

Jesus’s life on Earth was a time in history like no other–from His birth, teachings, and healings, to His persecution, death, and resurrection. Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to witness the miraculous healing of a leper? To watch Him walk on water from the very boat in which Peter was traveling? To be in the mind of the thief hanging on the cross next to Jesus?

Part devotional, part fictional narrative, author Sherri Gragg mixes biblical history with scripture, creating a unique devotional experience that transforms you back in time and places you right in Jesus’ presence.

For thirty-four days you’ll walk with the Savior to witness miraculous healings and events, and give fresh insight into His power by thinking and feeling with people whose lives became instantly transformed by His love and grace. You’ll journey with Jesus and His disciples in the most important time in history. With a storyteller’s giftedness, You’ll feel touched, healed, and spiritually blessed by the assurance that the Messiah, the Healer, the Friend is alive and with you now. Experience firsthand the power and devotion of the Savior in your own life. You’ll know Jesus like never before.

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God’s Great Compassion for Us!

Have you tasted despair? Judas and Peter presentus with the choice between running away from Jesus in despair or returning to him in hope. Judas betrayed Jesus and hanged himself. Peter denied Jesus and returned to him in tears. Sometimes despair seems and attractive choice, solving everything in the negative.  The voice of despair says “I sin over and over again. After endless promises to myself and others to do better next time, I find myself back again in the old dark places. Forget about trying to change. I have tried for years. It didn’t work and it will never work. It is better that I get out of people’s way, be forgotten, no longer around, dead.”   But Jesus came to open our ears to another voice that says, “I am your God, I have molded you with my own hands, and I love what I have made. I love you with a love that has no limits, because I love you as I am loved. Do not run away from me. Come back to me… Not once, not twice, but always again. You are my child. How could you ever doubt that I would embrace you again. I am your God… The God of mercy and compassion, the God of Pardon and love, the God of tenderness and care. Please do not say that I have given up on you and I cannot stand you anymore, that there is no way back. It is not true. I so much want you to be with me.  I so much want you to be close to me. I know all your thoughts. I hear all your words. I see all your actions. And I love you because you are beautiful, made in my own image, an expression of my most intimate love. Do not judge yourself. Do not condemn yourself. Do not reject yourself. Let my love touch the deepest, most hidden corners of your heart and revealed to you your own beauty,  A beauty that you have lost sight of, but which will become visible to you again in the light of my mercy. Come, come, let me wipe away your tears, and let my mouth come close to your ear and say to you, “I love you, I love you, I love you.” This is the voice that Jesus wants us to hear.  It is the voice that calls us always to return to the One who has created us in love and wants to re-create us in mercy Peter heard that voice and trusted it. As he let that voice touch his heart, tears came… tears of sorrow and tears of joy, tears remorse and tears of peace, tears of repentance and tears of gratitude. It is not easy to let the voice of God’s mercy speak to us because it is a voice asking for an always open relationship, one in which sins are acknowledged, forgiveness received, and love renewed. It does not offer us a solution, but a friendship. It does not take away your problems, the promises not to avoid them. It does not tell us where it all will end, but assures us that we will never be alone. A true relationship is hard work because loving is hard work, with many tears and many smiles. But it is God’s work and worth every part of it.

Oh Lord, help me to listen to your voice and choose your mercy today. Thank you for loving me. In Jesus Name. Amen.

The Road to Daybreak by Henri J. M. Nouwen

God has a place for you!

God Has a Place for You

Jericho’s shady lady found God—or better worded, God found Rahab the harlot. He spotted a tender heart in the hard city of Jericho and reached out to save her. He would have saved the entire city, but no one else made the request. Then again, Rahab the harlot had an advantage. She had nothing to lose. She was at the bottom of the rung. She had already lost her reputation. She was at the bottom of the pit.

Perhaps that’s where you are as well. You may or may not sell your body, but you’ve sold your allegiance, affection, attention, and talents. You’ve sold out. Glory days? Perhaps for him or for her. But not for me. I’m too soiled, dirty. I’ve sinned too much. No Glory Days for me!

God’s one-word reply for such doubt? Rahab! God has a place for the Rahabs of the world! He has a place for you!

From Glory Days

Your “Go-To” for Life

Glory Days require an ongoing trust in God’s Word! Wilderness people trust scripture just enough to escape Egypt. Canaan dwellers, on the other hand, make the Bible their “go-to” book for life! God told Joshua in Joshua 1:8 to meditate on God’s Word day and night. The literal translation reads, you shall mutter over this Torah document. It is the image of a person reciting, rehearsing, and reconsidering God’s Word over and over again.

Canaan is loud with enemy voices. The devil megaphones doubt and death into our ears. Take heed to the voice you hear. Begin with a prayer, God, please speak to my heart today as I read. Then with an open heart continue until a message hits you. Keep meditating. Great rewards come to those who do. God promised Joshua, “You will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (Joshua 1:8).

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He did not open his mouth. Isaiah 53:7

What Grace it requires when we are misunderstood yet handle it correctly, or when we are judged unkindly yet receive it in a holy sweetness! Nothing tests our character as a Christian more than having something evil said about us. This kind of grinding test is what exposes whether we are  solid gold or simply gold plated metal. If we could only see the blessings that lie hidden in our trials, we would say like David, “It may be that the Lord will repay me with good for all the cursing I have received today.” 2 Samuel 16:11. Some Christians are easily turned away from the greatness of their life’s calling by pursuing instead their own grievances and enemies. They ultimately turn their lives into one petty whirlwind of warfare. It reminds me of trying to deal with the hornets nest. You may be able to disperse the hornets but you will probably be terribly stung and receive nothing for your pain. May God grant us more of the Spirit of Christ, who, when they hurled insults at him, he did not retaliate. Instead, he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. 1 Peter 2:23 “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:3. Streams in the Desert Devotional; Cowman.