He Will Restore

Listen to this blog post on my podcast Seeking God, Loving Others.

I have been stuck in the book of 2 Kings with the Shunammite woman for months now. I suppose “stuck” is not the best choice of words. Stuck has a negative connotation and implies that someone is in a place they’d rather not be. So I’ll say that I’ve been “stationed” in the book of 2 Kings. There is a purpose, a responsibility assumed when someone is stationed, like in the palace guard or in the army. I feel like I can’t move on from this story because God keeps showing me more things the longer I stay there. (That’s a whole different message!)

As I get ready to leave the land of Shunem, I wonder where God will take me next. The final installment of this series ends with the last event recorded from the Shunammite woman’s life. In 2 Kings 8:1-6, the Shunammite finds herself in need of one last miracle from God. 

The Shunimmate woman was instructed by Elisha to go and find somewhere to live because there was going to be a famine lasting seven years. So the woman listened, went with her family and they stayed in the land of the Philistines for seven years.

When the seven years were over she came back to her home and land and found that it had been seized. We don’t know a lot about why her land was taken but theologians think that during times of famine, when many houses and land were abandoned the king would often seize land and use it for whatever he needed. 

Also, in the book the 1 Samuel when Israel first asked for a king, Samuel warned them against it because a king could do whatever he wanted. He could take their children, their animals, and their land so this was also just one of the consequences of having a king rule over Israel instead of allowing God to be their king. 

When the Shunammite returns to find her land has been taken, she decides to go to the king to beg for her house and land to be returned to her.

Have you ever listened to God’s instructions and things got worse? Don’t kick me out of the church yet? I have. And if you’re honest, you probably have experienced this too. But let me assure you, obedience to God is always the best option, no matter the outcome.

God will not ask us to obey in an area where he does not already have a plan. We sometimes think that everything is always linear but regardless of the ups and downs, God is always working things out for our good. We don’t obey God simply to get blessed even though that is a reward for obedience.

1 John 5:3 says,In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands.” We obey God because we love him. When I ask my kids to do something for me, they don’t wait to see what I will do for them first. They just do it. I may not reward them for days or weeks! I may even have to fuss at them later that day, but their obedience is not based on what they expect to receive but on their love and respect for me.

The Shunammite woman could have been upset that her land was taken from her but she had an experience of God always meeting her needs so I have to think she knew he could do it again.

As the woman is making her way to the king, the king is watching TV. Not really. He was having Gehazi, Elisha’s servant, tell him about all the things that Elisha had done. So he was listening to a podcast. Gehazi was telling him about the time that Elisha raised the Shunammite’s son back to life, when in the middle of the story, she walks in the door.

Unbeknownst to Gehazi, he was acting as an intercessor for the Shunammite. He was opening a door for her to receive favor from the king. Doors are being opened that you know nothing about.

The Shunammite didn’t know that she had an intercessor. She had someone that was already preparing the groundwork for her to come in and make her request. And we have someone interceding for us. 

“Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” (Romans 8:34)

Jesus is always already putting things in motion for us. He’s moving some people out of the way and putting others where they need to be.

I think about the story of Daniel when he was fasting and praying for 21 days. In Daniel 10:12, the angel tells Daniel “Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.”

The answer to your prayers are already on the way. You may not see them, you may not know them, you may not know where they’re coming from. But they are already on the way. God has great things in store for you and he wants to bless you in ways that you haven’t even imagined.

When the Shunammite finished telling her story, the king assigned an official to her case and told him to give her back everything that belonged to her. She didn’t have to beg or plead or cry. All she had to do was show up. 

The things you are begging for God wants to bless you with (and more). Not only did the king return her home and her land to her, he gave her all the income made from the land for the last seven years. She got more than she was planning to beg for! God knows how to bless his children. He knows what we need and how to get it to us.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20)

Building the Temple: Pt 3 Take Care to Prepare

Listen to this blog post on my podcast Seeking God, Loving Others.

My mom just flew in to visit the kids after Christmas. I had to buy some new sheets for the room she sleeps in because the old ones were well, old. Aside from this, I didn’t do much to prepare for her visit. Now, if I’m honest, I don’t ever take a lot of time preparing for her to come. She visits sooo much! And I’m glad.. she’s my kids’ best friend. She comes so much that she has a library card here!

But typically when someone comes to visit my home, I take some time preparing for them. Washing sheets and towels and probably doing extra cleaning that I don’t normally do, as if they’re going to under the shelf in my pantry! I stock up on groceries and coffee and try to have an idea of what to do for entertainment. If you’re like me, you make a list of everything that needs to get done before guests arrive. It becomes a part time job!

If we do all of this preparing for guests to stay in our homes for 3 or 4 days, how much more preparation should we make for the 365 days that each year brings? Now that the holiday season is winding down, we have a great opportunity to prepare our lives for the new year. Whether you have gigantic, almost impossible goals or smaller, more practical ones, I guarantee you will be more likely to succeed if you take some time to prepare.

It’s easy to make a list of what you’d like to see in your life, but the preparation comes in when you figure out HOW you will accomplish this list. “I want to read the Bible more” is a great goal for the new year, but it’s not enough? What time of day do you want to read? What books of the Bible will you read? How many verses will you read? How many chapters? I know it seems like a lot but if you don’t prepare for how you will carry out your plans, you are leaving your success up for chance.

When Solomon started building the temple, he not only followed the plans given to him by his father, David, he made other preparations. He gathered the people of Israel to seek God and gathered horses and chariots and all of the supplies necessary to complete the temple (2 Chronicles 1).

He wasn’t leaving the building of the temple of God up to chance. Look at what he said in 2 Chronicles 2:5. “The temple I am going to build will be great, because our God is greater than all other gods.”

The temple that God has given us (our bodies) should be great. Our families should be great. Our finances should be great. Our relationships should be great. Our churches should be great. Why? Because our God is great! You don’t have to have all of the answers, because you can seek the God who has them. But you can take some time to prepare as best as you can and leave the rest to Him.

Happy New Year!

BOOT CAMP: Wk 2 Bible Study

Check out this week’s podcast @ https://anchor.fm/jasmine-lozano4/episodes/Boot-Camp-The-Importance-of-Bible-Study-evkn6i

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”Hebrews‬ ‭4:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

In November 2019, my family visited Newport State Park in Ellison Bay, Wisconsin. It was one of the most magnificent experiences I have ever had. The park is located on the very tip of the Wisconsin Peninsula.

Because this park is designated as a dark sky location, artificial light is heavily discouraged. They ask that if you must use a flashlight, be sure it’s pointed to the ground. There aren’t even any lights on the bathrooms or in the bathrooms, which made it pretty difficult taking my 6 year old to use the unlit bathroom in 28° weather!

Because the weather was so cold at night, we would go back to the car for a few minutes to warm up, but encountered a major problem. Every time we’d turn on the car, my dim lights would still remain on. We knew there had to be a way to turn these off, but we just didn’t know how.

I’ve always been paranoid about keeping the owner’s manual in the car and with the help of it (and google) we found the way to keep the lights off when we started the car.

The owner’s manual for your car helps you to figure out the details of your car that you don’t know. Most of us know how to put the car in drive and we can figure out how to turn the windshield wipers, but there are some areas of our car that we have no knowledge of.

The same is true in life. For many people, there are areas where they are simply not knowledgeable. Maybe you grew up in a home where finances were never discussed so as an adult you struggled trying to make ends meet, get out of debt, or save money. 

Maybe you grew up eating fast food every meal, and now that you’re in your 30s or 40s, you’re finding out that type of diet is not sustainable. Whatever the case may be, we are privy to a wealth of information. Looking up how to solve almost any problem it’s just a few fingertips away. But there are some problems that go deeper than just a Google search. 

For me, there is no other book that can help me understand my money, help me to flourish in my relationships, help me to raise my kids, help me to change my diet, and a host of other problems that plague many of us. That book is the Bible; the word of God. 

2 Timothy 3:16 says “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 

That means every word of the Bible was inspired by God. There is a point to every book, chapter and verse, even the long, boring ones that seem to go on forever! (I’m sorry if you’re offended I called some of the Bible boring, but if you disagree, you’re lying. Come on, Leviticus!?) But they are there for a reason. 

We’ve been given the word of God as a tool to hear the voice of God and familiarize ourselves with his promises and yes, even his consequences. While we have been redeemed from the curse of the law (Galatians 3), there are still consequences to disobeying the word of God, just as there are benefits to obeying it.  

Isaiah 40:8 says “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” 

We see nature changing all of the time in front of our eyes. We also see culture, trends and opinions change just as frequently. While everything around us is unstable and subject to change, the Bible is the one constant we can rest our faith on.

I challenge you to make reading your Bible everyday a priority this week. Decide beforehand how long you will read, where you will do your reading and what book you will read. Don’t leave your spiritual development up to chance. Be intentional about pursuing God’s word and see the difference it will make in your day.

Let’s chat: What are some obstacles you face when trying to be consistent in your Bible reading?

An Open Book Test

Every year, my husband and I begin the year with 21 days of fasting and prayer. During these times, I’ve seen God answer prayers, give vision and direction, and speak to my heart about a specific promise or assignment. I often come off of the fast with wide eyes and high expectations for the blessings of God to flow through my life in an unprecedented way! But then I’m reminded of Jesus’ experience when he ended his fast and trust me, it’s much different than what I expect at the end of mine!

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.” (Matthew‬ ‭4:1-2‬ ‭ESV)‬‬

In fasting and prayer, where was he taken? He wasn’t led into the city to start “Son of God Christian Church”. He wasn’t led to write a book “How to Save Sinners and Stay Fit”. He was led into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan (I won’t even get started on how it was the Spirit that led him there!).

While I truly believe that God has great and precious promises in store for those who call him Lord (2 Peter 1:4), we will all experience times of trials and testing. And guess what? They aren’t all from the devil!

The times when we feel tested are times when God is able to root out things in us that don’t need to be there. I homeschool my kids right now and every so often, they have tests. The tests aren’t to beat them down or make them upset. They are to show me the areas that they’ve mastered and the areas where more work is needed.

When we are tested, God can use this time to help us see the areas we have grown in or need maturity. These times cause us to rely on what we know to be true about our position in Christ, which we discover through the Word of God. And the Word of God was exactly what Jesus used during his time of testing.

Satan tried three times to tempt Jesus into worshipping him, but each time, Jesus declared what was already written in God’s Word. We cannot combat the attacks of the enemy without the Word of God. This is why he fights us so hard when we try to read the Bible! Have you ever noticed the amount of interruptions you experience when you’re trying to read the Bible (better yet, how sleepy you get?!)

It’s because our enemy knows the power that the Word of God carries. Don’t forget he lived in heaven! He’s seen the strength and power of God’s word first hand, and if he can’t have it, he will do all he can to stop you from having it! He wants to separate you from God’s word. That’s what he did to Eve in the garden.

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”” (Genesis‬ ‭3:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

Satan successfully employed two tricks he likes to often use to distract us: He wants us alone and he wants us to doubt God’s word. He waited until Eve was alone to attack. During times when you feel alone, that’s when Satan makes his move. He’s after the one sheep that got separated from the other 99. He’s after the young woman who has stopped coming to church regularly and has distanced herself from her friends.

Did you know that God has never been alone? I heard this from an amazing teacher, Jackie-Hill Perry. That our God is a triune God: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. She said we are never more unlike God than when we isolate ourselves. Wow! Let that sink in.

Satan waited for Eve to be alone and then tried to cause her to doubt God’s instruction. And most of us know what happened next: the rest of humanity has been plagued with sin, sickness, shame, lust, lying, deceit, death and a whole slew of other problems (including pain during childbirth!) that can only be overcome by the blood of Jesus Christ. Thanks a lot, Eve!

Thankfully, like Jesus, we are never truly alone. Like our Savior, we have the Word of God and the Spirit of God to strengthen us during times of testing. Not to mention a cloud of witnesses who have gone before us and Jesus Christ himself, at the right hand of God, making intercession for us! That sounds like victory to me.

Unlike many tests in school, we can take our tests with an open book! There are no sweeter words to a student than “This will be an open book test”. A wave of relief and confidence would fill the classroom instantly! Like Jesus, during times of testing, I encourage you to bury yourself in God’s Word. Memorize scriptures, familiarize yourself with stories from the Bible, listen to faith filled messages by Spirit-led teachers. Use the Word of God to sustain you and I promise, you will pass with flying colors.

Having a Full Tank

When I was younger, my mom would frequently take me and my sister on a casual ride around town. We always looked forward to these rides because it meant we were ordering lunch! I now realize they were just a tool to get us out of the house she’d just cleaned.

We would drive around for what felt like hours, and we’d ask my mom, “Are we lost?”. See, I grew up in the days before GPS. We didn’t have Siri telling us to make a left in half a mile or to continue straight (one of the most pointless directions!). We were on our own! My mom would always tell us, “As long as we have a full tank of gas, we’re never lost!”

As an adult, there have been times when I’ve felt lost. Am I going in the right direction for my children? Am I making progress towards my dreams? How do I balance life, work, and family? It’s during those times, I’m reminded of those long drives with my mom: “As long as I have a full tank of gas, I’m never lost.”

It’s when our tank begins to run low that we begin to feel anxious about the journey. When the bank account balance isn’t enough for an unplanned bill; when we suffer an unexpected loss that depletes our joy; when we can’t seem to rebuild a broken relationship. What do we do?

The same thing we do when our cars run low on gas: refuel. I’m horrible about letting my car get to “E”. The gas light pops on, but instead of filling up at the first warning, I wait until the last possible moment (my gas light goes off again after a few miles, then comes back on to give me one last chance to fill up before I’m stranded!).

Honestly, I have the same bad habit when it comes to life. I go and go and go and despite the warnings, red flags, and sputtering, I wait until the last minute to refuel. I wait until I’m snapping at my kids or I give a snarky response to someone at church.

Jesus tells us in John 3:23 that his words are spirit and they are life. Simply put, they are the fuel we need to continue day after day. I’m reminded of the children of Israel in the desert when God provided manna every morning for them. The Israelites asked, “What is it?” which is what manna means. They weren’t sure what it was but they knew it would sustain them. They knew it would give them strength for the tasks of the day.

I’m not sure why we, as believers, allow ourselves to run down when His word has never been more available to us. Sometimes I feel like this unlimited access to every version of the Bible ever written, hundreds of reading plans to choose from, and thousands upon thousands of sermons online can be overwhelming. Don’t get me wrong: I’m thankful for the accessibility that technology has provided when it comes to studying God’s word. But sometimes I end up spending more time searching for content than just sitting in communion (#thatsaword).

I’m striving to live out the words from the prayer Jesus taught his disciples: “give us today our daily bread”. I need fresh fuel every day. I need direction for what I might encounter in the day that I am in and how to handle it. I don’t want to wait until I’m running on fumes and barely make it to my destination.

I don’t want to look up and see that I’ve been driving in the wrong direction for the last 5 miles. I want to be on the path that God has set out for me and enjoy the ride, knowing, that being full of the Spirit of God, I am never lost.