“But Paul shook the snake off into the fire

and suffered no ill effects”

—Acts 28:5

 

Soon after the Apostle Paul was shipwrecked, it says that “Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, ‘This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live.’ But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead, but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god” (Acts 28:3–6).

This is a great story of the Bible that has so much meaning. In this chapter, I hope to use this as a picture to understand the principle of how we must act when something comes in to kill our miracle.

We all know that the “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I [Jesus] came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Since we can be easy prey to the enemy and his schemes, we often miss out on abundance when we are not wise. “I am sending you like lambs into a pack of wolves. So be as wise as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). We need to heed the warning as the Message Bible says, “Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don’t call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove.”

The best way for me to help you to understand, and then to apply this principle, is to share with you a few short testimonies. The first involves my son’s soon-to-be mother-in-law.

Just before the wedding shower that she and I were organizing, while bending over to empty her dishwasher, she pulled her back out. When I heard what happened, I immediately spoke to my Husband (remember, He’s also the Physician), asking Him to heal her. Each day I heard that she was “trusting the Lord” for her recovery.  Then while she was praying, she sensed she should visit my chiropractor, who her daughter had been seeing— who just happens to be an awesome young Christian, who speaks often about God’s ability to heal us.

A few days later, there she was up and walking around, slowly, but walking. No matter how many people encouraged her to go to the doctor (even the chiropractor said it was serious and she should go), she just kept saying that she knew that God would heal her. Let me stop here and tell you that none of us is against doctors. Nevertheless, all of us (in the testimony) believe that we need to seek the Lord, our Physician, allowing Him to lead us to know what to do. It’s when we “put our faith in our doctor” and run to him or her, that we are doomed. No one can be first in our lives—God says to put Him first and as His bride how could we dare trust anyone else!

The day before the wedding shower we were at her house for a meeting with a wedding coordinator. A few minutes before she arrived, a close friend of both of ours showed up. The conversation turned to how she’d thrown her back out but God was healing her, to which our friend was quick to say, “You’re gonna need surgery! I know, I have the same thing. No chiropractor’s gonna help. Nope, you’re gonna need surgery!” Wow, talk about fear getting a hold of you!! Just like that viper—it jumped on her, yet THANK YOU, my DARLING—she shook it off!!

My son’s soon-to-be mother-in-law said, kindly, but convincingly, “But I am already healing and so much better!! On Monday I couldn’t walk, then each day I got better and better…see?” as she got up and walked across the room. Had she agreed with the lie, and began to allow that viper fear to get a hold of her, I believe she would have been headed for surgery. Instead, she is now, just weeks later, walking around perfectly healed and completely whole!

Now, another example was my son. In the last chapter I told you how a viper tried to come take hold of my son’s miracle (when my son began trusting His Father and get ongoing business) but I said that I would share the details with you in this chapter.

My son had already begun to benefit from the newly formed team by working a couple of days, but then on the first day they called to apologize saying they only had a lesser position open, but my son rejoiced, and excitedly said, “Hey, that’s fine.” When he told me about it, I told him he would be blessed for having the right heart and positive response since it proved he continued to trust his Father.

Mothers, can I stop for a moment and share something with you? Do you know that when you speak you can speak blessings into your children’s lives? It is so true, the principle says, “With the fruit of a man's mouth his stomach will be satisfied; He will be satisfied with the product of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:20-22). “One who guards his mouth preserves his life; one who opens it comes to ruin” (Proverbs 13:3). I know that I will write more about this in the sequel to this book that I am excited to begin that I am entitling, Moving Mountains, but for right now, simply pay close attention to what you say, making sure it’s positive. However, you will probably find, as I did, that it is always easier to see something in someone else rather than seeing a fault in ourselves. So watch what other people around you say (good and faithful statements versus dread and fearful statements) and what happens as a result. Now back to my story…

When my son got home that evening he told me excitedly that when he got to the job, after excitedly accepting the lesser position, they told him that a key position just opened up, but he would only get the lower pay rate. Again he told me he was really excited to accept the position, which resulted in them being blown away by his God-given, heavily volunteered, abilities and talents. Yahoo! “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4). Due to his positive acceptance at each turn, the very next day they told him he’d would be paid the higher rate with the higher position, which he praised God openly for that led to a surprise—an extra day of work that no one else got!

The blessings continued the following week, when he had another high paying job lined up and was enthusiastically sharing his testimony to anyone and everyone—telling everyone of how he was trusting his Father for work. So of course, the viper jumped out of the fire again when he got a call from his close friend who was also part of the upcoming team for the following week and explained that the entire plan for the team, he said, was “just not going to work out” and would be dissolving.

When I came out for breakfast my son told me “the sad news” to which I replied, “Nonsense. Sure, maybe this team is not what your Father has in mind, but He is going to keep blessing your socks off. Never look to anyone, no team, no one, only your Father. The blessings will come through Him, just keep saying that, and be excited—live expectantly.”

The viper had jumped out of another fire, grabbed hold of my son, but thank You, Darling, when I spoke the truth in faith, he agreed with me, which shook that serpent and the curse off his livelihood. It was less than an hour later when I heard my son cheering loudly downstairs! He had a message on his phone saying that he had a week’s worth of work, on a brand-new job that would pay him five times more than he’s ever been paid!!

This is still wordy what do you think?

Oh, joy!! Our Husband, our children’s Father, asks us this question each time someone tells us of the impossibilities coming against us. He says, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?” (Jeremiah 32:27). My son and I answered Him, expressing our love by our responses, which said, “Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! NOTHING is too difficult for You”! (Jeremiah 32:17).

Another testimony I’d like to share concerns my sister who has an awesome testimony that I believe will bless many of you who are concerned about your excess weight and health issues. Though this book focuses primarily on our finances, the poverty mentality can spread over your entire life: touching every area (it can take hold of such as) including your health. And the greater the blessing, the stronger the viper will try to take hold of you and your miracles.

My sister, bless her heart, is well past retirement age—however, she is physically able to function as a young teenager, but emotionally she functions at the age of little girl. Much like Erin’s sister, Aunt Patty Cake, my sister has been a blessing, even though this has been a hard life for her. What I find that’s so wonderful is that my sister, and so many like her, have the faith of a child.   I love being around that. Unlike most of us, my sister doesn’t lack a heavenly Husband, but instead needs a Father (since our father passed away), so like my children, this is Who I’ve encouraged her to look to for her needs.

Due to her age, my sister has begun to suffer from many ailments, so all of us have encouraged her to go up for prayer each week and to keep submitting prayer request, but mostly to keep believing that God can heal her—rather than running to her doctor. It was almost a month ago when she called me with the exciting news. She had documentation from her doctor that God had healed her from high blood pressure AND from diabetes!!

My sister had noticed that her blood sugar stayed the same each time that she checked it—even after she cheated! Just like a little child who breaks the rules, so does my sister. I’d caught her several times when she stayed with me eating all sorts of candy, but even in her naughtiness her Father used it for good to show her how He had healed her!! No one could believe it. It got her much attention throughout the church family that she happily basked in for weeks! Just like a child, she would tell everyone she met how GOD had healed her of high blood pressure and diabetes.

Next she told me that she wanted to lose weight and she was very bold to tell me God would help her lose the weight. I had told her months earlier that she shouldn’t try to do anything, but instead to just keep trusting and believing that God would do it, showing her the verse in the Bible that she marked and read out loud at every meal. “So don't worry about these things, saying, 'What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?' These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs” (Matthew 6:3

It was only a few weeks later my sister called to tell me that the director of her group had contacted her doctor hoping he would prescribe something for her to get rid of her recent nausea. She told me that she never felt like eating and if she did, she could only eat very little before feeling nauseous, and her caretakers were worried about her.

Excitedly I told her that this may be His plan to give her the desires of her heart, to be thin again, and not to try to stop what He might have chosen for “His diet plan” for her. I told her that He accomplishes His plan in different ways, but I felt sure it was God, and to simply not take any more medicine.

Almost daily my sister would call excitedly to tell me she was in a smaller size, and then the viper struck! I got a call from the director of her group home who was very angry and told me my sister was trying to “starve herself.” She told me she refused to eat and how unhealthy it was to do it that way.

Thankfully, I decided to be as bold as my sister, but lovingly told her that this was not the truth. That my sister was not “trying to starve herself” but that in fact she was trusting God to lose the weight she had put on after moving to her group home. That her lack of appetite (the nausea was no longer there) was a blessing she had trusted God for, and that my sister told me that she only ate when she was hungry, chose better food than the junk she was eating and felt great!

Nevertheless the viper just wouldn’t let go, as the director continued yelling at me that it was simply not healthy to lose weight that fast, to which I voiced the truth. I lovingly said that that being overweight was also not healthy, and the speed of her weight loss was all God’s doing. She went on to tell me that “God’s plan for losing weight” was in a book she had given my sister, and that this is how my sister needed to go about properly losing her weight. With a final shake, I told her that God’s plan is to simply trust Him.

Not only did my sister lose all the weight that she’d hope to lose, but God blessed her with a new dress to wear to her nephew’s wedding. When she first got it she said she couldn’t zip it up, so I told her I would find her something else to wear, but God stopped me with a reminder of my past. Years earlier I had gotten a pair of pajamas that I could not even pull up past my knees because they were so tight, but when I went to return them, I heard my Husband say I shouldn’t. That’s when, inside my spirit, it hit me that He was telling me I would be thin again! So I told her my testimony and said that she should do the same thing—to just hang the dress out where she could see it and each time thank her Father for when it would fit. Within a couple of weeks she called to say, “My dress fits and I look beautiful!!”

Dear bride, whether the viper is holding on to you regarding your health, weight, finances, or a relationship, shake it off. Speak the word of truth, in faith due to your love for Him, and watch your miracle appear!

In the book of Revelation God tells us that we will overcome the wicked one by His blood and by the word of each other’s testimonies. Let me then end this chapter with another testimony of my own.

My Eleventh of Many Financial Testimonies

“Believing for Big Things”

It’s on the eve of this chapter being posted on the Encouraging Women website that I just had to share with you a testimony follow up and to say that none of us has any idea just how our Husband longs to bless us when we simply believe Him for bigger things as it says in Ephesians 3:20 TLB, “Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.”

Funny how it is not until we turn to Him, often due to some sort of struggle we have, that brings us to the place of speaking to Him about those bigger, grander desires. Can you relate?

The vacation I shared about in the last chapter got a bit longer due to feeling just a bit more exhausted than vacations usually make us. Getting too little sleep on the last night of our stay convinced me that what I sensed He was telling me to do was to drive only half way home. However, I was in a difficult position since I hadn’t brought any maps with me (and this was before you could just pull up a map on your phone)— so I wasn’t sure just where the halfway point was! Later I reflected that not bringing my maps was part of His plan too.

While still in my room, the Lord led me to book a hotel online in a city I wasn’t sure was even on my way home. Booking online at the last minute is no big deal; it was doing it without seeing a map that made the task of booking a room just about impossible for me.

May I say that my Husband is doing a new thing in my life, to encourage me to live even more abundantly, by having Him lead me (for the most part) blindfolded through some impossible tasks?

My first blindfolded impossible task began when I did my taxes just last week—taxes are something that is personally impossible for me to do. Rewinding, our taxes have always been difficult, due mainly to our complicated situation and were a feat that my ex-husband never attempted and he was good at things like that, so he always turned them over to the professionals. Yet, here I was, me, the “fool” doing them—and in just one day—even though they have proved challenging for professionals who’d taken weeks to do them—blindfolded (since I had no clue what I was doing) got them done!

The day after I mailed my taxes I know that my Husband was up to something, because not only are these feats a way to encourage others, He will also use them to help bring us to a place of remembering those feats to help us to do more with Him. Just a week later, He reminded me of doing my taxes blindfolded, something that was simply impossible for me to do, when He led me to book a hotel blindfolded without knowing where it was.

As I drove, and the closer I got to our halfway point, I had to force myself not to think too much and not to worry. The reason is simply, whenever you or I are stressed or concerned, we cannot hear Him well enough, which means we often hear Him incorrectly. I’d say it’s sort of like spiritual interference because His communication is blocked by our fear. Maybe that is why there are 365 times that God tells us not to fear in the Bible.

Even though what He had me do initially was incredible, it was the turn of events that got my attention, and has done so much to help me see just how our Husband wants to bless us—if we simply let go and fully trust Him and tune into His leading us, blindfolded.

Just a few minutes before we were about to arrive at our hotel, the one I booked online, my daughter said she needed to stop to use the restroom. So I immediately pulled off the highway at the very next exit. As I turned off I saw a gas station on the first corner, but I could sense He was leading me to go to another station down the street. And as I drove, I noticed the name of the hotel directly across the street: it was the name of the chain I’d booked online (a hotel chain I was not familiar with). Rather than be excited, fear tried to grip me because it looked a bit seedy [seedy is defined as shabby, dirty-looking, and often disreputable] and certainly not a place I wanted to bring my children.

My fear was not that we would be harmed, but the fear was that I had missed hearing Him correctly. I know that ALL of you can relate. I just wanted to share this with you because I believe that many of you wonder if people like me are ever concerned. The answer is yes; I believe everyone experiences flashes of concern and doubt—especially when we move forward boldly. The enemy will always put those kinds of thoughts in your head, but it’s what you do with these thoughts and fears that will make the ultimate difference in your life for the better or worse.

Immediately when fear tried to reign, I began to simply speak to Him and ask Him to help me to know what to do next. Within two minutes I was walking out of the gas station and noticed one of those throw away magazines that said “coupons” on it. Let me tell you that I always ignore these. Always. But today He led me to pick it up and then without thinking, I simply handed it to my daughter in the back seat of the car.

Again without really thinking (just as He led me to do while doing my taxes) I asked her to look in the magazine for the city where the other hotel was located. As this was happening I sensed how He was leading me step-by-step. She said there were four hotels listed, but since there was traffic, I couldn’t fully listen, which I realize is also part of His plan for me not to think, but to be led by Him.

As I got off the highway on our exit, I could sense the Lord leading me to go to the hotel I had booked, look at it, and then I would know. It took only a tiny peek in the window of one of the rooms for the confirmation that this was not where He wanted us to stay. Turning around, I told the children that after booking He’d also led me to look at the fine print (another thing I never did) saying that I could cancel and not be charged for the room if I canceled before 6 P.M.; it was 5:10. So immediately I pulled over, and called to cancel the reservation.

Exhausted, I asked Him (out loud) to lead me, and pulled into a driveway a half a block down the road, not even knowing what the hotel was, but it looked nice as we drove closer. Then the children noticed an indoor pool and Jacuzzi and began to cheer, so I went inside the lobby.

It was just as I was closing the car door that the Lord prompted me to bring the coupon book that my daughter was holding and I asked her while we walked in if this hotel was in the book. The funny thing is, neither of us noticed the name of the hotel we were walking in to it, yet the minute I stepped up to the desk the lady saw the book in my hand and said, “You know, that book has the most amazing deal in it” and promptly took the book from my hand, cut out the coupon, and asked me if I wanted a room by the pool!

Honestly, I felt like I was in some sort of a dream; I was so tired and couldn’t make sense of what was happening. She told me the room included a delicious all-you-can-eat breakfast (not the continental coffee and donuts that most offer), and when we got to our room we found not just a room—but a huge expansive suite!! The cost?? It was almost half the cost of the seedy hotel that I had booked, then canceled, online!

Dear bride, it takes just one thing to make miracles happen in our lives—it is simply believing our Husband for big things—allowing ourselves to be led by Him!

Let go, stop thinking, and take His hand was He leads you to your next miracle!!

Journal