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Remember the fameous Oakland Fire Storm a few years ago? We almost had another one today, which would have swept through my neighborhood this time. I live on top of a hill in one of the nicer parts of Oakland, overlooking the Bay.
Anyhow, about 11:00 this morning, 4 kids were playing with matches at the base of the hill and started a fire. The fire shot up the hill, bee-lining for the houses at the top (including mine). I was not home at the time, I was at work.
But I talked to some of my neighbors. The flames were shooting straight up into the air, as tall as the two story houses they were approaching. It was a six alarm fire. There were more firetrucks on my street than I've ever seen in one place before, and they also dumped water on the fire from helecoptors. It was a pure miracle that none of the houses in my neighborhood burned down. The firefighers were very proud of their efforts, but said that it was just shy of a miracle that the whole neighborhood did not get burned, even with all their efforts. Aparently, the miraculous part was that there was absolutely no wind. This is very unusual for my neighborhood any time of year, and this tends to be the windy season. But during the time of the fire, it was perfectly calm and that was what made it possible to contain this huge fire. One house had some minor dammage, but no other houses were effected. This is pretty awesome, since the flames shot up the hill so fast and since they were as tall as the houses at some points.
I did not know about this fire until I was coming home from work this evening. I got to the base of the hill I live on and was stopped by a policeman at a road-block. I had to park my car near the bottom of the hill and walk about 3/4 of a mile up a very steep hill to get to my house. As I was walking through all the maze of fire trucks and fire fighters (still watering the ground so that sparks did not rekindle), the Lord started to speak to me.
He reminded me of how, in the beginning of June, I had been praying about finances for our Church. The Lord had told me to put my money where my mouth (and prayers) were. He instructed me to give 10 times my normal weekly tithe as a freewill offering, over and above my regular tithes. I considered it an intercessory act. It was a fair piece of money to me, but I had it in the bank, so I obeyed. Two days later, I received an unexpected bonus at work for about 2 times what I'd given in my offering. The Lord also spoke to me that I was to teach His people that they needed to be financially right with Him -- that He wanted to be Lord of their finances. He told me that He was egar to prove His faithfulness in His financial principles, but that we had to step out and obey. He even opened up a neat opportunity for me to share this at my Church, in front of the whole 600+ person congregation. And all sorts of other financial gracelets kept coming my way.
I felt like I had this incredible financial testamony. Then, about a month ago, we had an emergency on our property that required a $25,000.00 construction job to fix it. This was a really big hit to me. I kept looking to the Lord to part the Red Sea (figuratively). I expected the problem to go away or the finances to miracously arrive to pay this expense. Instead, I ended up depleting a good portion of my savings account to pay off the construction costs. This made me feel like I no longer had a financial testamony. I never felt upset that God did not protect me from this financial problem, but I didn't feel all that confident to share my testamony of His faithfulness in His financial principles any more. So I mostly kept my mouth shut and watched and waited to see what He was doing.
Last Sunday, He had me revisit the passage in Malachi 3, and seemed to call special attention to verse 11, about rebuking the devourer for our sakes. I found myself praying this quite a bit these last few days, asking God to rebuke the devourer for my sake. I didn't even know why I was praying this.
As I was walking up the hillside, passing all of the fire trucks, the Lord spoke to me. He said, "See, I have rebuked the devourer for your sake. That is why your neighborhood was not damaged by this fire."
Praise Him for His faithfulness and goodness!!!
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