notesbynora

Walking by Faith Alone

Archive for April 2012

Encouragement at the right time…

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A Quick Note:

“Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Yesterday one of my dearest friends called me with a word of encouragement. It couldn’t have been a more appropriate time or delivered better. She  is Puerto Rican and has the enthusiasm of 100 cheerleaders. And when she speaks, you know, the spirit of the Lord is in her.

Sometimes God calls on us to be a source of hope, inspiration, and encouragement to others. The question is “are we listening?”

Do you know that for every negative statement made to a person, it takes 10 positive statements to begin to undo the negative? The spirit of God produces “Joy” not despair. When we use our tongues to degrade others; when we overlook someone who is hurting; when we make derogatory statements against each other, what spirit are we representing?

As I sat on my front porch yesterday, praying to the Lord, I asked God for encouragement. My soul felt downcasted and I did not want to lose His ‘joy’. No sooner had I uttered this prayer, then my daughter brought me the phone and I heard her encouraging words.

Someone needs to hear from you today. Be the voice that uplifts and strengthens. Be the person God can count on to deliver hope to His people.

  • Speak words of Belief : God is in control. As David stated in the Psalms, the righteous will not be forsaken. We are children of The King! He will take care of us!
  • Speak words of Help: Offer insight and inspiration to those who struggle. Relate to similar problems in your own life or others. Ask what tangible thing you can do to help.
  • Speak words of Affirmation: God is the same God today, yesterday, and forevermore. Nothing surprises Him. No matter what happens in life, He will turn it for good, if you allow Him to do so.

Live daily the role of “Christian.”

Written by Nora Hatchett Almazan

April 24, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Impeccable timing…

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Sometimes in life, problems, struggles, trials rear their ugly head and we find ourselves in circumstances with no easy solution. I, myself, opened my eyes this morning to the reminder that such is in my life right now. Those mountains we just can’t find a way to climb; the valleys we just can’t figure out how to cross; the pain that just will not go away. If you are facing giants right now, as I am, we’re in good company. Many have before us and many will after us, it’s all in the process.

Esther is a young woman in the Bible who gives me great courage on many occasions of my life. Her story is one of intrigue. She is made the Queen of King Xerxes after the king finds displeasure in his wife Vashti. Esther is a Jew, living with her Uncle Mordecai, in a land where the Jewish people are not favored. Under the direction of her Uncle, Esther withholds the information to the King that she is a Jew.

Haman is a man hungry for power. He has worked his way through the ranks to earn the favor of the king and his hard work and diligence has landed him second in command under King Xerxes. The scary part about Haman is he hates Jews and with the elevation of his rank, he declares that the Jews are to be put to death – a decree unknown to King Xerxes. Mordecai gets word to Esther she must go to the king. She must use her royal position to save her people. The request is dangerous, for a queen cannot go before the king without an invitation. Disobedience is death.

Esther 4:15, “Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: Go gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

On day three, she goes to the king and he happily receives her. She invites the king and Haman to lunch. During lunch the king asks her, “What do you want? For you can have half my kingdom if requested.”

Esther 5:7: “Esther replied, ‘My petition and my request is this: If the king regards me with favor and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for them. Then I will answer the king’s question.”

While this titillating detail leaves us on the edge of our seats, I wonder why? Why the delay? Did she get cold feet? Did God speak to her heart, “Wait Esther!”? Did she sense something none of us can interpret from the reading? I don’t know. But in the middle of the climax…in the midst of the tension and anticipation…the racing pulse…the nearness to solution, God throws in a DELAY.

The answer is there but the timing is not right. God is never late and I can say with certainty, He is never early. Like a Southern lady, He knows just the right time to enter and the perfect moment to leave. Imagine though the Jewish people, fasting, praying, no food, no water, their lives hanging in the balance and Esther has requested another meal? You mean we have to wait another day?

Sometimes, we disrespectfully grab the lapel of God, and pull Him off His thrown, and with anger we shout, “God! Why are you doing this to ME!” As if we have a right, tiny specks of dust, flowers fading in the wind, little beings with NO clue as to the battles of spirituality that rage around us for our soul. Each one of us is desired by God to live in His kingdom for eternity. On the flip side, we are pawns, playing pieces, tokens for Satan to draw into the gates of Hell – we are victory pieces to throw in God’s face by the demon, the archenemy of good. And we question God’s motives, His intent, His solutions?

During the night King Xerxes is striken with insomnia and requests the royal reader to read the Book of Chronicles – accounts of the kingdom. Probably the ideal material to lull a king into dreamland, I would think. In listening to the Chronicles, Xerxes learns of an incident five years ago in which a man name Mordecai helped the king. Xerxes asks what was done for Mordecai and learns that Mordecai was never rewarded.

DELAY…Mordecai uncovered a plot to have the king assassinated by two men of Xerxes’ court. Don’t you know, Mordecai felt a bit put out that he was never rewarded? If he is like most of us, he has probably felt God did not give him validity for doing what was right; God did not give him recognition. “I give and give to that church and this is what I get from you God? I ALWAYS do what’s right and she does what’s WRONG but you recognize her God? I go on mission trips and this is my thank you! What about that time God that I stood up for you and how have you repaid me – are you going to let my enemy win!” Entitlement we scream as we stomp our feet and beat our fists upon the wall. “Who do you think you are?” we shout to God, the Creator of the Universe, the King of kings, and Lord of lords. What are you doing?

The next day, King Xerxes honors Mordecai in the streets, an honor 5 years overdue. Dinner is served by Queen Esther and her petition is brought before the king. When he learns that Haman has sentenced his wife and her people to death, is planning to hang Mordecai, the man who saved his life, Xerxes orders Haman immediately to be executed. God’s perfect timing.

I don’t know what larger than life issues you are facing right now but listen for the wisdom of God in your circumstances. As you walk, believe He is positioning your foot at just the right angle to lead you in the direction He deems right. Sometimes the solution seems so impossible, so out there, we allow abandonment to weigh on our spirits. People discourage us with their ranting and raving, “It will never work! I told you, you should have done this or that. You are doomed!” Remember Christ felt it too, just before He submitted to death questioning Why God had forsaken Him. God’s timing is impeccable. He hasn’t forgotten you. He isn’t surprised. He isn’t throwing His arms up in the air, wondering, “Oh no! What is going to happen to Nora!” He’s got this. What He needs us to do, is believe in Him for the right answer.

Written by Nora Hatchett Almazan

April 23, 2012 at 12:18 pm

He has us covered…

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A quick word:

Yesterday I was reminded of a Bible story from 2 Kings 4:1-7. It is a story of a recently widowed woman who came to Elisha for help. Her husband, who was a man of God, died, owing a debt. She had very little money and the Creditor was coming to take her children to sell into slavery. I can only imagine the terrifying and gripping fear of this dear woman. Many people in today’s economy have lost material things – maybe a house foreclosure, a car repossessed, a business closing, job loss, 401k depletion – but children? Being seized and sold into slavery? I frantically created scenarios of what “I” would do: hide them in a secret room under my house; send them to relatives overseas; cross the border into Mexico. All ridiculous, I know, but I felt her pain.

Elisha asks her what she has and the only thing of value is a little bit of oil. He tells her and her children to go through out the neighborhood and gather jars. When the task is completed, Elisha, through God, begins to pour the oil into the jars. Before her very eyes it multiplies until there are no more jars. She takes the oil, sells it, and has enough to live on the rest of her life. Creditor paid in full!

Sometimes when I am praying I feel God shout out to an angel, “Can you get me a pen? Nora Hatchett’s on her knees again!” Of course I am teasing but oh the problems I bring to God for myself, my children, my friends, the government, world hunger, the military, Israel. I wonder if I give Him a headache.

I ask myself, “Why did Elisha have the power to multiply the oil and save the widow’s children? Is he a super hero? Is he different from me?” And the answer is Elisha and I were created by the same God. We serve the same God. God is the same today, yesterday, and forevermore.

Elisha called upon His God and had the FAITH to know God would prevail.

God knows your burdens. He knows mine. And He cares about every single one of them. What’s missing in our story and Elisha’s? The Faith to know He has us covered.

Written by Nora Hatchett Almazan

April 18, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Are you sharing your lifeboat?

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I grew up hearing about the Titanic. Just as 9-11 stands in our minds, my grandmother, who was 12 years old, remembered vividly where she stood when the news that the “unsinkable” ship had sunk, reached Atlanta, Georgia. Of the 2,228 passengers who boarded the Titanic, only 7o5 survived – 312 were found floating in life jackets, frozen by the below freezing temperatures of the ocean. Tragically, the lifeboats were not utilized to full capacity and many who plunged into the icy waters could have survived if only someone would have made room on their boat. Survivor after survivor echoed the same sentiment, they’ll never forget the cries for help from those floating in the frigid water as they passed them.

It seems ludicrous to imagine that people could literally keep rowing passed mothers, children, fathers, the elderly, young men and women for reasons we may never understand. Maybe the person was of a different “class,” did not have the same education, did not have the same color skin, or spoke a different language. Standing back with an outsider view, we all gasp. How could such exist?

The other day I took a brief walk in Gainesville, Georgia on one of the prettiest spring days I can remember. In the past 10 years of my life, I have been through much. I passed a church with a Prayer Garden. The inviting stoned walkway led me to a cross surrounded by blooming shrubs with a cement bench in front of it for meditation. The gentle wind flowed around me as I sat and thought about how I have come to be who I am. The answer is simple really – God. On every occasion of my life, in my day-to-day walk to the larger than life experiences, I can pinpoint God. There are circumstances I do not understand; events of time that leave me puzzled as to why such could have occurred. Even in my tears before the makeshift cross behind that church, I realized regardless of the tragedy, God has always carried me  safely to the other side. How blessed I am to know God and grateful He is a part of my life. How blessed I am to have been pulled into the life raft.

I thought of the Titanic and the nameless graves holding the bodies of those the other’s passed by in the water. Do we do the same thing? Do we see people who do not have God in their lives – people destined for an eternity of Hell- and pass them by? Do we hear their cries for help but look the other way as our lifeboats row safely to shore? Afterall, we are saved! Heaven Bound! And they look different, smell different, act different, live different, eat different, and speak different. Why would we stop? Let someone else. There’s another lifeboat behind us. Let them deal with it. Do we relive the tragedy daily on a spiritual realm because we are too uncomfortable to save someone destined for destruction?

Jesus’ one request of Peter, “If you love me, feed my sheep.” John 21: 15-17. How many sheep have you fed today?

Written by Nora Hatchett Almazan

April 15, 2012 at 8:49 pm