Tag Archives: pray

Joy in the Storm

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A friend recently asked how I was managing with some challenges and all I could muster was that I was relying on God’s strength.  I said, “All I have is God … and He is more than enough!”  I also said that sometimes you simply keep placing one foot in front of the other.

Of course, my daily devotions spent in the Word of God and prayer are what sustain this weary heart on the difficult days.  Despite the storm clouds that surround, “My anchor holds within the vale.”  I have a deep, wellspring of joy on the inside that is not conditional on my circumstances but is a true gift from God.

It is possible to have peace and joy regardless of the dark clouds that rage.  This world is not our final destination.  During times of struggle, I especially love to listen to some praise and worship music and praise the Lord.  When we worship God, we are inviting His presence into our lives and our situation.  I firmly believe that.  And, how I need Him.

John 16:33 says, “In this world you will have tribulation but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.”

Life continually has its valleys and mountain tops.  We cannot prevent either from happening but we can control our responses to each.  We can determine in our hearts that no matter what happens, we will dig deep in His Word for wisdom, instruction, and comfort.  No matter what, we will pray and praise God for Who He is, not just for what He does for us.

When we focus on our blessings more than our problems, there is a shift in our attitude and perspective.  Whatever we focus on becomes bigger.  What would happen if we focused on God more than our difficulties?

What if we recall the countless times in the past that God has delivered us and answered prayer?  What if we praised Him in advance for all that He has planned for our lives?

What if, even through our storm, others could witness God’s strength and power demonstrated in our lives?

Joy is possible in the darkest of nights.

Peace is available too.

Faith is the seed that makes these a reality in our hearts.

…Instead of searching for the nearest exit during your storm, why not praise God for what He will teach you through the challenging circumstances?  Why not ask Him to shine through your darkness to be a blessing to others around you that they may glorify God?

When we are able to change our perspective, we are able to change our reality.

Trust God.  Pray.  Praise.  Watch Him work in your life as only He can.

Rinse.  Repeat.

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Surgery in T-4 Days…

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The next four days cannot pass soon enough!  I’m focusing on my recovery period more so than the upcoming gall bladder surgery.  (at least that’s what I keep telling myself)  The truth is, no one wants to have surgery, but, in this case, I so want it behind me so I can move toward better health!  I’ve been on bed rest for the last three weeks since my ER visit and this is entirely contrary to my normal routine.  I’m usually very busy, so this little “vacation” of sorts, a miserable one at that, has been very strange.

The nurse called from the hospital yesterday to review my medical history, etc. and really put my mind at ease when we discussed my past vasovagal response.  She noted on my file for them not to place the i.v. in my hand, but in my arm rather.  What a huge answer to prayer this was!!  I really did not want to pass out again in pre-op, like I did previously with another surgery.  This offers a great deal of peace of mind for me and is so comforting to know they will respect my wishes.  Of course, I may have to remind the pre-op nurse of this on the morning of my surgery, but now I feel comfortable making my preference known and knowing they can accommodate it.

It is never a good feeling being out of control and that is exactly what a vasovagal response is.  It’s an involuntary reaction to pain or a situation that your physical body wants to escape.  And so, you pass out – sort of a self-preservation response.  So, I’m very glad to remove this scenario from possibly reoccurring altogether.

I’m so looking forward to feeling better!  I’ve been trying to reassure my kids (16 & 18) that this is a very routine surgery and I may be home the same day, etc.  They’ve been so concerned about me but I think they’re relaxing a little now.  I hope so.  I don’t want them to worry.  First of all, I know ultimately I’m in God’s hands and there is a great peace knowing that!  Secondly, I believe the surgeon is highly skilled and the hospital is very competent.  So, I believe my surgery should go smoothly and I’ll be on the mend very shortly.  This time next week, my body will be in the healing phase! Praise the Lord for that!

Then, I will recover for a couple months and have a hysterectomy.  (glutton for punishment, huh?)  Again, while I’m not looking forward to the surgery itself, I am excited about my recovery.  2016 will be a humdinger of a year but I know that God is walking beside me each step of the way and that gives me great peace!  I also am confident that He is working ALL things together for my good and His glory!  (Romans 8:28)

My husband and kids have been wonderful caretakers of me and I’m grateful for that.  I am, however, looking forward to resuming my normal responsibilities once I recover.

Last night our Bible study leader brought chicken, rice, salad and cupcakes for dinner, which was very thoughtful.  The kids were very excited.  And a couple neighbors have offered to bring dinner post-surgery too.  And our Bible study leader will bring dinner again next week.  We appreciate their kindness so much.  I think the last time we had someone bring us dinner was when our daughter was born – 18 years ago!  We are so accustomed to blessing others that sometimes it’s a little strange being on the receiving end.  Although if there ever was a time when someone needs a blessing – it’s when they’re going to have surgery, I have to say.

If you would, please say a prayer regarding my surgery and for peace for our family.  Thanks so much!  Blessings!

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble…Be still and know that I am God.”  ~ Psalm 46:1,10

 

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When Heaven is Silent

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Have you ever prayed about something near and dear to your heart for a long time and all your spirit hears are crickets?  Yeah, me too.  It’s times like those that it is easy to believe two lies:  1.)  God doesn’t hear us.  or 2.)  God chooses not to answer.

When I’m feeling spiritually weak, I am prone to believe one or both of these lies.

The Bible says that we walk by faith, not by sight, right? I’m so glad our spiritual walk is based on what the Bible says and not on how we feel or what we see.

“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:

And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” ~ I John 5:14-15

Over the course of my life, I have prayed countless prayers.  Some have taken years before I saw the answers come to fruition.  That just makes the answer that much more sweet.  Ah, the delays.  Why the delays?  We may never know this side of heaven but what we do know is that God wants us to pray, expecting that we will receive.

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” ~ Hebrews 4:16

Probably my favorite parable of all is that of the widow and the unjust judge.  She kept beseeching his help and finally because this widow was relentless – She would NOT give up – The judge granted her request!  (lest she weary him)  I love this because it illustrates the power of standing firm in prayer, never giving up – no matter what!  Tenacious praying!

“And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;

Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:

And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.

And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;

Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.

And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.

And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?

I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” ~ Luke 18:1-8

Now, God does not have the attitude of this unjust judge, but rather, Jesus was drawing a contrast to our heavenly Father.  If this was the response of the unjust judge, what do you think the response of our Abba Father would be when one of His children calls?

I recently received a glimpse of the beginnings of an answer to one of my heart’s cries and I was indeed humbled once again.  Humbled because it showed me that despite my faith, maybe sometimes I doubt whether God is working behind the scenes.

Just because we cannot see the manifestation of the object of our prayer does not mean there isn’t movement!

It is possible that some answers to prayer may not be visible or made known to us during our lifetime.  It may be that future realities will be born out of today’s prayer.  And these realities may be birthed long after we are gone.  That should give us cause to pray even more fervently because I do not believe that prayers die.  I believe that God remembers our petitions to throne of grace and that He will cause His perfect will to be accomplished.  But the vehicle for this to be carried out is prayer.  In this regard, I believe prayer is a great legacy.

So, don’t give up on those prayers that are near to your heart, my friend.  God knows.  He hears.  He sees your tears and knows the cry of your heart.

“Rejoice evermore.   Pray without ceasing.  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” ~ I Thessalonians 5:16-18

 

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” ~ James 5:16

 

 

 

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It’s Less About Us & More About Him

The message of the Cross is more about Jesus and less about us (in terms of qualifications or assets we may bring to the table).  The central theme of the Cross is God’s overwhelming and extravagant love for humanity. Hinged on that love, Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice was displayed for all of the world.

The compelling truth regarding the Cross is that you or I do not have to be “good” enough, as if that were even possible, to become sons and daughters of God.  In fact, we know that the Bible says that our righteousness (if there’s anything remotely good about us) is equal to that of filthy rags.  Wow.  Way to deflate the human ego.  But it’s true.  I think most of us already know that, if we are honest with ourselves anyway.

No, the message of the Cross is less about us and all about Jesus.  His character is compassionate, loving, kind, good, thoughtful, patient, longsuffering.

“The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.”  ~ Psalm 103:8

If we can just grasp those attributes and dwell on those for a moment…It’s overwhelming to consider that the Great God of the Universe thinks about you and me … and prays for us daily.  The Bible says He daily makes intercession for us!  (Romans 8:34)  That is a humbling thought right there, my friend.  He has time for me?  Well, the reality is that God transcends time and space.  His reality is not the same as the confines we, humans, operate in.  He is All Powerful and His power knows no limits, no boundaries.  That is something that is difficult for our finite minds to process.  We must simply believe.

The truth is that none of us are qualified to become followers of Jesus Christ.  Equally true, God calls the unqualified.  That right there should be a liberating thought, my friend.  Grace beckons to our soul to receive such an unattainable and unearned gift.  And because of this great gift, we are then able to show others such grace.  Not that we would become hoarders of God’s gift, but a sieve for it to then flow through.

There is room at the Cross for you today.  It doesn’t matter what your past is.  God can rewrite your life story and create a brand new future for you.  That’s what I love so much about God and the redemptive power of the Cross — It is transformational!

If you fully accept God’s gift of grace, it is impossible to remain the same.  Once you’ve accepted God’s love and understand the sacrifice of His Son, it makes you want to change!

The message of the Cross is all about the love of our Heavenly Father, poured out through Jesus Christ, to reconcile a lost world back to Him.  His message is still the same today.  He is Jehovah, “I Am”, the One Who is the Self-Existent One.  He never changes.  His promises never fail.  When we are faithless, He is faithful.  (Psalm 102)

Rather than focus on your own shortcomings, set your eyes on the unchanging character of God through His Word.  When we study God’s Word, it causes things to fall into the proper perspective.  It sheds light on our darkness.  It gives us wisdom to know which path to pursue.

No, we are not the message of the Cross.  We are merely the objects of God’s unending affection.  In that regard, it makes us kind of special.  But, it’s all about Him.  We are God’s creation and He is the Creator.  May we never allow pride to confuse the two.

“God saved you by His grace when you believed.  And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.  For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”  ~ Ephesians 2:8-9  NLT

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I did 20 Years…and so did he

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A rather persistent, mutual friend insisted that I meet “this guy” that would be just perfect for me.  I brushed her off a couple times as I’d recently come out of a hurtful relationship and besides I preferred things to happen naturally.  Nonetheless, I humored her and agreed that she could give “this guy” my phone number.

He called and in a matter of a few conversations, we fell in love.  We had many subsequent, lengthy phone calls in the evenings after work.  Each of us couldn’t wait for the next time we could speak!  I agreed to attend a Christian concert with him and some other mutual friends.  After the concert, we all went out to eat.  I was starving.  Literally, I could hear the acids in my stomach raging but I was too nervous to eat.  I opted just to have a Coke and upon “this guy’s” insistence, a few of his fries.  I was so hungry, yet I wouldn’t eat.  Ah, young love.  Well, we talked all night and our love story was sealed that June evening.

We were engaged on Christmas Day and married the following June, 20 years ago.

What is the secret of staying married until death do you part?

I like the quote I’ve seen around, “We were born in a time when divorce was not an option.”

or this one:

“I was born in a time when if something was broken, you fixed it.”

There’s something to those sayings.  It’s called removing the option of giving up, of throwing in the proverbial towel, and pushing up your sleeves and working on it.  A little elbow grease.  Effort.

Marriage is hard work.

There are no two ways around it.  But did you ever have a relationship that wasn’t?  We are all enshrined in this flesh called humanity, and as such, we have tendencies of failure.  We also have huge capacities to love.

And in my Bible it says that love conquers all.

Love hopes.  Love keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not boast.  Love places the other before self.

That’s what love looks like.

Yes, love is hugs, kisses and all the physical trappings that accompany the marriage relationship and make it one of the most beautiful unions.

Sometimes life requires more than mere hugs and kisses.

Sometimes it demands forgiveness, forbearance, time, selflessness.

The demands of family, work, finances can be absolutely draining.  And sometimes one can feel like you have nothing left to give.  There are certainly seasons like that, especially when the kids are young.

We are happily at the stage now where our kids are nearly grown.  The two younger ones at home are 16 and 18.  Our oldest left home quite a few years ago and is 27.  So, the physical demands on us are fewer than they were years ago.  But during the years of great demand, that’s when dating your spouse really is important.  Carving out “couple time” is crucial to staying on the same page emotionally.

Twenty years now.  This June it will be 21 years!  God sure has been faithful to us.  We’ve weathered some fierce storms, times when throwing in the towel sure had its appeal.  If we succumbed to giving up, we would have forfeited the most precious love we share today.

When we were newlyweds, our euphoric love seemed incredible – like Fourth of July fireworks!  We thought it couldn’t get any better than this!  We were so young and naive.  Weathering the storms of life together creates an undeniable bond and deeper love than one could have imagined.

Am I thankful for the storms?  Well, maybe I am.  Strange as that sounds.  Without them, I would not have seen the sweet expression of love and care when my husband has brought me soup when I’ve been ill.  Without the challenges, we wouldn’t realize how desperately we needed one another.  Without the adversities, we would not know the grace and mercy of God as displayed through the other.

You know, friends, when we love our spouses, we are honoring God.  And when God is honored, there are blessings!

One of the most meaningful things my husband and I do together is pray.  When our hearts are overwhelmed, we invoke God’s presence and power into our lives.  When our hearts are full of thankfulness and joy, we express that, too, in prayer.  God is such a vital part of our relationship and He has always been.  I encourage you to pray with your spouse if possible.  God truly honors the unity of prayer.

Not only that, but I believe there is power in prayer.  Sometimes the most spiritual prayer is – “Help!”   God is close to the brokenhearted, my friend.

My husband and I are testaments of God’s grace and His power at work in our hearts.  The beauty of being married for a while is that before long, you know the other’s heart.  My husband knows what I will and will not do and vice versa.  Our hearts trust the other.

So, love begets trust.  And like a garden.  If left untilled, weeds will grow.  Don’t neglect your most precious relationship.

The grass is not greener on the other side.  There are weeds over there.  Till your own garden and your marriage will flourish.

What you invest in, you will reap the harvest.  Invest well.

 

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Intercessory Prayer

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What is intercessory prayer and why is it important in the Christian’s life?  Intercessory prayer is one that we offer on behalf of another.  It is “standing in the gap”, pounding the gates of heaven in stead for our family, friends, our nation, our leaders, etc.  It is vital for a variety of reasons:

  1. It shifts the focus from your circumstances to another’s.
  2. It allows God to honor the seed (of prayer) that you are sowing to bring a harvest in due time in your own life. (Job 42:10 and James 5:16)
  3. We are to carry each other’s “back packs”. (Romans 15:1)
  4. It is an encouragement to others to know someone else cares enough to pray.

 “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.” ~ Ezekiel 22:30

First of all, we all should pray for our country, those in leadership, that righteousness will be restored and that many will turn to Christ during these last days.  The story of God’s conversation with Noah when he sought for sufficient righteous (those in right living) men comes to mind.  (Genesis 18)  He looked for men who had a heart toward Him so he wouldn’t destroy the land.  Noah repeatedly begged God not to destroy man because of his sin, and they had this “tug of war” of sorts going on.  Oh, that we would rise up and be like Noah, standing in the gap for our land!

“And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” ~ Ecclesiastes 4:12

In Job 42:10 it says, “When Job prayed for his friends, his captivity was turned.”  I have seen this principle work so many times in my own life.  I know it works without a doubt.  Whenever I need healing, I begin to pray for friends who also need healing.  When we spend time in earnest prayer, asking the Great God of the Universe, Who made us and Who holds all things in His hands to intervene on another’s behalf, I believe it moves the heart of God.  I believe it is at that moment we connect with our Abba Father and He is well pleased with us.  When we offer prayers out of compassion and concern for others, I believe it is God’s good pleasure to pour out blessings in our own lives as well.  This is not the sole reason we pray, of course, but it is a by product of intercessory prayer.

“We who are strong [in our convictions and of robust faith] ought to bear with the failings and the frailties and the tender scruples of the weak; [we ought to help carry the doubts and qualms of others] and not to please ourselves.” ~ Romans 15:1 AMP

In the above Scripture the strong are compelled to carry the weak.  How do we do this?  It certainly is not in our own fleshly strength.  No, we must carry their needs to the Lord in prayer and place their concerns at the foot of the Cross.  I love the picture I often view in my mind of a rustic altar at the foot of a huge, wooden Cross.  It is there I bow my knee in prayer and offer to God all the burdens of my heart.  It is there I worship God in the majesty of Who He truly is.  It is there I leave the weight this world so easily bears upon my soul.  And it is there I find rest in place of weariness, peace in place of angst, and hope in place of despondency.

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”  ~ James 5:16

My favorite parable of all time is the “Widow and the Unjust Judge” found in Luke 18.  Here we find a persistent widow who could not be stopped.  She petitioned this judge continually, and, despite the judge’s neutrality of faith, he finally granted her desire…just to shut her up!  The twist in this story is that you and I are that widow, however, we do not serve a God who is unjust.  No, he is ever fair.  (God keeps accurate records.)  We serve a just God and a high priest,  who “is touched with the feelings of our infirmities”. (Hebrews 4:15)  We know that if He hears our prayers (and we know that He does), He will answer.  (I John 5:14-15)  Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes no, and, often times, wait a while.  But, rest assured, the answer will come.

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” ~ Galatians 6:9

God is searching for one who will stand in the gap.  Will it be you?  No special skills required.  Only faith.  Faith the size of a mustard seed will do.  Will it be you?

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