Today a band of believers from Lifegate Church in Villa Rica, Ga embark on a time of fasting and prayer for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. I tell you this not to brag about our church; I am writing about this because when I last blogged, I had no idea that this was in the works. I also would like to invite you to join us in prayer for those suffering and persecuted. My last blog was motivated by the realization that 21 had been murdered because of their belief in Christ and the very day it posted another forty plus Christians were burned to death. Learning this was heart wrenching. The internet is a huge resource to find out about this topic. I will share a few links here:
Over the years I have learned just how powerful a thing prayer is. Prayer is also very personal, at least in my thinking. The Word of God is very clear that we are to go into our ‘prayer closet’ and pray.
When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.…Matthew 6:5-7
Maybe you can imagine my surprise, even angst, this morning as I prayed when I felt the tugging of the Holy Spirit nudging me as I finished my time of prayer. I felt Him guiding me to blog about this subject again and to include my morning prayer for His people. “But Lord, what about Matthew 6?” was my response…the nudge was stronger still… so here goes, we just talked about little acts of obedience in our small group last night. Perhaps someone is wondering how they can pray for those who are suffering for their faith and that is His reason for asking me to share; or perhaps it is for someone out there who is being persecuted for their faith to find and be encouraged that people care and God is leading us to pray for them. Also, before I begin, let me share with you the link we are using where there are additional suggestions to pray if you are interested:
You are my Lord and I praise you and lift up Your Holy Name. Father, I thank You for Your love, mercy, grace and forgiveness; Your salvation, provision and watch care! Today Lord, we begin a time of prayer and fasting for the persecuted church around the world. Your Word says in the last days this will happen and it will increase.. More and more people around the world are suffering for their faith; men, women, and even children.. Lord, I pray for their strength; to hold fast to their faith. I pray Lord that they will actually grow even deeper in their faith and trust in You, and in Your love for them and in their love for You. I pray for their release Lord, but if not I pray for a supernatural move of God upon this planet. I pray that Your Spirit will be poured out and visions and dreams will visit those who are responsible for the torture and death of Your children I pray that the reverential fear of the Lord will come on people like never before! I pray Father that you will raise up prayer warriors all over the world to pray like never before and that our united voices for these precious people will make a difference; that they will know that they are remembered and loved. May revival start one by one in and through Your people, Your church and spread all across this planet. May Your people awaken too what is going on and rise up in prayer. May Your Holy Spirit rule and reign in each heart that follows You and may He rule and reign across this earth. May revival break out as we take a stand on our knees!! May Your Spirit penetrate to the farthest nations around the globe and be poured out on every person spreading the love of Christ, His saving power and HIs love and grace. Spirit of Truth, I pray for revelation of every false god and every spirit of darkness and evil to be seen for what it truly is. I pray for increased wisdom and understanding for all Your people. Reveal things that help us know how to pray so that we can move to deeper levels of prayer and intercession for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Father, I pray that the yokes of bondage be broken off and Your people set free. I ask that those responsible will be set free from the kingdom of darkness and come into the knowledge of truth. May they come to know the true God of Creation and His Mighty and loving Son. I pray that You raise up Your children in the spirit of 2 Chronicles 7:14, humbling ourselves and uniting in prayer before You crying out for forgiveness, both personal and for our nations; seeking Your face; Your leadership; Your will;; lifting up those being tortured and killed and lifting up each other. One by one as we seek You, may revival come and people be saved, delivered, set free and healed. May lives be forever changed as You move and answer our prayers. May we be Your humble and obedient servants. In the mighty Name of Jesus te Name that is above all others I pray, Amen
Can I just be honest with you today? My heart is weighed down and burdened as I begin this day. More people are being martyred today than ever before in history. It is all over the headlines; all over social media. Men, women and children, yes children are being murdered consistently because of their faith. Astoundingly, searching the internet for estimates, I found the estimates for those martyred per year because of their faith ranging from 100,000 in older articles to 159,960 in more recent articles. Some stats say more have been martyred in the last century than in all other centuries combined. One sight estimates as many as one person every five minutes is martyred for their faith yet until recently we have heard very little about this in news outlets.
Now that awareness is arising, we are looking for someone to blame for allowing it to happen. Questions are flying. How can governments allow this to happen? Where is the Church, why are they not doing something? Why are they not talking about it more? As awareness arises, all sorts of questions come to the forefront. Emotions run rampant. I can only imagine how our Heavenly Father’s heart must ache at their pain, suffering and loss. In fact, Psalm 94 speaks to this very thing:
O LORD, the God who avenges! O God who avenges, reveal your splendor! Rise up, O judge of the earth! Pay back the proud! O LORD, how long will the wicked, how long will the wicked celebrate? They spew out threats and speak defiantly; all the evildoers boast. O LORD, they crush your people; they oppress the nation that belongs to you. They kill the widow and the one residing outside his native land, and they murder the fatherless. Then they say, “The LORD does not see this; the God of Jacob does not take notice of it.” Take notice of this, you ignorant people! You fools, when will you ever understand? Does the one who makes the human ear not hear? Does the one who forms the human eye not see? Does the one who disciplines the nations not punish? He is the one who imparts knowledge to human beings! The LORD knows that peoples’ thoughts are morally bankrupt. How blessed is the one whom you instruct, O LORD, the one whom you teach from your law, in order to protect him from times of trouble, until the wicked are destroyed. Certainly the LORD does not forsake his people; he does not abandon the nation that belongs to him. For justice will prevail, and all the morally upright will be vindicated. Who will rise up to defend me against the wicked? Who will stand up for me against the evildoers? If the LORD had not helped me, I would have laid down in the silence of death. If I say, “My foot is slipping,” your loyal love, O LORD, supports me. When worries threaten to overwhelm me, your soothing touch makes me happy. Cruel rulers are not your allies, those who make oppressive laws. They conspire against the blameless, and condemn to death the innocent. But the LORD will protect me, and my God will shelter me. He will pay them back for their sin. He will destroy them because of their evil; the LORD our God will destroy them. (Psalms 94:1-23 NET)
Scripture tells us in many places that in the last days these things will increase; evil will rise up and wars, hatred, envy, murder and malice will increase. Yet, I don’t know about you but when it does increase, it still seems to catch me by surprise. I guess that is probably because we get so caught up in life and it’s responsibilities. Then when these things happen we are taken a bit by surprise wondering how this could happen; how it could be allowed. Why isn’t anyone putting a stop to it? Much like I have wondered how the Holocaust could have gone on so long that so many millions were annihilated, I now wonder if or when anything will be done to stop this onslaught of persecution. The thought then comes, what can one person do? Another thought some will express is that it is the job of the government, the military or the Church. Others will be lulled into a false sense of security that it doesn’t have any effect them. The truth is this behavior is spreading just like terrorism is spreading. As much as we would like to believe it won’t happen in our country, it could….
SO, what can we do? We can be informed. We can pray!! Prayer is a powerful thing!! We can pray for our government that powerful leaders will arise, people of character and faith that will lead us well and make good decisions, wise decisions, and even tough decisions in order to keep us safe.. We can pray for those who are in danger currently,, for their protection, their strength, for their faith to be strong, for their safety, for the families of those who have suffered persecution to be comforted, strengthened and find peace for their hearts even in the midst of their struggles. We can ask others to join us in praying for all of these things. We can educate ourselves, research the candidates that are running for office and go and vote according to our conscience. We can educate ourselves on what God’s Word says about the last days because even if we are not yet there, we are closer than we have ever been and we need to equip ourselves to be able to recognize the signs of the times and equip ourselves against the evil in our world.
Ephesians 6:12 (NET Bible)For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.
These things are part of a great spiritual battle and one by one, together we can make a difference!
2 Timothy 2: 1-7 So, my son, throw yourself into this work for Christ. Pass on what you heard from me—the whole congregation saying Amen!—to reliable leaders who are competent to teach others. When the going gets rough, take it on the chin with the rest of us, the way Jesus did. A soldier on duty doesn’t get caught up in making deals at the marketplace. He concentrates on carrying out orders. An athlete who refuses to play by the rules will never get anywhere. It’s the diligent farmer who gets the produce. Think it over. God will make it all plain. ((MSG)
We are the church, may we one by one unite together in love, in prayer and in purpose!!
Grace and Peace to you!
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23 HCSB)
For the last six weeks, a friend and I have been studying the fruit of the Spirit together. We began with an overview of the Book of Galatians and a few a couple of weeks began to study each of the listed fruit, one per week. This weeks fruit: Patience; oh yes,I heard those groans! If only I had a dollar for everyone who has ever told me “Don’t pray for patience; you’ll get it, but it won’t be fun or pretty in the meantime.”! I would be sitting somewhere warm on a sunny beach enjoying the roar of the ocean and the sun beating down on my face as I write instead of looking out at glistening trees, a cold but gentle wind blowing, and a misty rain gently watering them. Oh how I miss the warm sunshine!
Hopefully that provided a little recovery time from the shock of that much dreaded word, patience. We are learning through studying this particular fruit that there are two types of patience mentioned in the New Testament. One is patience through circumstances and the other is patience with people. Patience with people is the type of peace referred to in the fruit of the Spirit. Interestingly, though we are studying this fruit, we first tackled the patience with circumstances and learned that hope is the key to having patience when facing difficult situations; hope coming from the Greek word elpis, meaning hope-the desire of some good with the expectation of getting it. That’s pretty straight forward. As long as we have hope, we tend to be able to press through the less than enjoyable aspects that we sometimes face. Without hope, we find it much more challenging!
The second patience, patience with people can get much more complex, especially in those closest relationships. Hope may be important in these relationships but perhaps mercy is even more important when we endeavor to grow in patience with the people in our circles of influence and with people in general. Mercy or compassion can be a powerful tool especially when it comes to having patience with people.
Just an example from my own life: many years ago, my husband and I were having breakfast in a local restaurant. A customer comes in and is seated across from out table. From the very beginning, nothing went right in her opinion and everyone within a ten table radius was aware. People were getting up and leaving be cause of the scene. We had a birds eye view and could not help but hear as things escalated. This young waitress did not deserve the treatment she was receiving. As we continued to witness this spectacle, I pointed out to my husband that even if she was performing poorly it was no way to treat her. Maybe she broke up with her boyfriend/spouse, had a sick child, a family member sick or dying. We have no idea what people are dealing with in their lives! We went to the register to pay and Kevin gave me his keys. Then he addressed the manager and explained that we had observed everything and the server had done nothing to deserve what was happening. He then asked me to wait in the car (which I did though it was a hard request to follow). He said he then said a quick prayer and with the same compassion and mercy I had expressed for the server; he approached this lady sitting with her two adult daughters. He was very respectful and asked if he could join them for a moment. Then my sweet husband who looked about eighteen with his ‘baby face’, proceeded to ask her with great respect if she’d ever considered that the young server might be struggling with some kind of life trauma or tragedy or had spent the night up with a small child that was sick and sleepless? (We knew this one well as young parents ourselves!) Kevin said her daughters looked so relived and this lady’s whole countenance changed. They all thanked him and he started out to the car. I met him at the door where the manager thanked him…it had been a while and I must admit I was a little concerned and I decided I needed to check on him.
In the end, mercy, compassion and patience triumphs! We may not always see results right away and it is possible we may not see results at all. Nevertheless, it is a seed that is well worth sowing! (Lord, please give me the grace and wisdom to remember this life lesson!) Why? Because even if it does not touch the person benefiting from it, others see. Even if it doesn’t touch the lives of observers, it changes us! It is a sure way to teach us to be more Christ-like by walking in the Spirit and exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit; an intentional though momentary choice to live beyond that moment, beyond our circumstances and beyond our own little world in a place where grace flows freely.
Grace flows freely where love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness and self-control abound. Why Grace Stoppers then? There are also those things which clog and even stop the flow of grace. Let’s list just a few:
- Hate, joylessness, discord, impatience, meanness, doubt, harshness, selfishness
Help us, oh Father God, to lay these down! Help us to walk by the Spirit, in the fruit of the Spirit
and in the Mighty name of Jesus!
Praying you are blessed with His grace, His peace and Fruit that remains!
But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.”(Galatians 5:22-23 MSG)
As I look out the picture window in front of my desk, with a winter vista of leafless trees, a foggy mist just beyond the trees reaching from the ground almost to the tree tops all I can think of is Your beauty Lord! I understand that to many this will seem odd and may I just say myself, it is a bit of an oxymoron to say the least. Yet, it is true! In just a few weeks, before we know it and before my very eyes, the same trees that appear all but dead will break forth in tiny buds and within a couple more weeks will begin to fill with beautiful foliage. As spring begins to break forth, all this deadness will begin to be made new, trees and flowers will start with tiny spots of new life budding and before we barely blink, suddenly new life will be surround us as winter turns to spring… That is how You planned it! What a glorious plan! Just when all seems to be dying, grey, cold and bleak Your cycle begins all over again. Hope springs forth, faith rises, and You make all things new!!
I can’t help but wonder how many of us question the way You choose to operate in our earthly dimension; why You choose to do things the way You do, Lord. Recently a little one asked, “why did God make the devil if He knew that he would do bad things?” Out of the mouth of babes. Oh the innocence of that sweet little guy! Yet even as adults we ask similar questions, and many times we are shaking our fist in frustration or anger rather than asking in child-like innocence. All I could think of when I heard the sweet and innocent question this little one posed was Your Words in Isaiah 55:
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.”This is the Lord’s declaration. “For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For just as rain and snow fall from heaven and do not return there without saturating the earth and making it germinate and sprout, and providing seed to sow and food to eat, so My word that comes from My mouth will not return to Me empty, but it will accomplish what I please and will prosper in what I send it to do.” HCSB
Then my thoughts jumped backwards quite a number of years to a song that at the time was a favorite…”How Would I Know” This song asks a lot of questions and I will use it’s thought process to ask this one…if we never see the bleakness of winter, how can we ever truly enjoy the beauty of spring, the warmth of summer and the beautiful colors of fall. Or perhaps this one, if we experience only good things, will we then take it for granted and no longer see the goodness in those things? I have to believe in God’s sovereignty and His goodness. I am compelled to believe that Isaiah 55 is true and His thoughts and ways are higher and more complex, though I understand that many do not share this belief. I can even understand how to some my faith may seem silly or even as some call it a ‘crutch’. I can tell you with great confidence that it is not, however unless you have walked my path; share in my trials and suffering; experienced my joys and triumphs; and witnessed His hand at work in each of the seasons of my life, you may never truly understand! I can share my stories as vividly and sincerely as I possibly can, still some would not be persuaded. The Christian life is a faith walk that we each must choose or deny for ourself. Jesus provided for our salvation and made it available to anyone, it is a gift of God’s grace to reconcile us to Him but He gives us the choice to accept it by faith or walk away in doubt and denial. My job is not to convince you. That is the work of the Holy Spirit! My job is to be able to “But in your hearts set Christ apart as holy [and acknowledge Him] as Lord. Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully.” 1 Peter 3:15 Amp. Bible
I can share the messes He has seen me through or gotten me out of and every answered prayer. I can tell you He has healed me of an aortic aneurysm and provide copies of the diagnosis report, a second report in which it had decreased a bit, and the latest report in which the aorta measured well within normal limits. Still, you may or may not be persuaded. The best way to experience the faith walk and Christian life is to experience it personally, it is how God intended it to be. Personal, relational, experiential, you can not experience it for me, nor can I experience it for you. Yet when we share our experience with each other, we share encouragement and hope…”As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Proverbs 27:17 (NLT) Hopefully, we learn to love God better, follow Him closer, love those He places in our lives better even when we do not understand their ways or His. He is beautiful and His ways are beautiful!
“Eternal One:My intentions are not always yours, and I do not go about things as you do. My thoughts and My ways are above and beyond you, just as heaven is far from your reach here on earth. For as rain and snow can’t go back once they’ve fallen, but soak into the ground And nourish the plants that grow, providing seed to the farmer and bread for the hungry, so it is when I declare something. My word will go out and not return to Me empty,But it will do what I wanted; it will accomplish what I determined. For you will go out in joy, be led home in peace. And as you go the land itself will break out in cheers; The mountains and the hills will erupt in song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands. Prickly thorns and nasty briers will give way to luxurious shade trees, sweet and good. And they’ll remind you of the Eternal One and how God can be trusted absolutely and forever.” Isaiah 55:8-13 Voice
Lord my God, You have done many things—Your wonderful works and Your plans for us; none can compare with You. If I were to report and speak of them, they are more than can be told. Psalm 40:5
Oh how wondrous that God seeks out opportunities to develop in us an intimate relationship with Him. Have you ever taken a trip through the Bible looking at the back stories of all the ‘heroes’ and ‘heroines’? The one thing they all have in common is that they were totally human; flawed; made mistakes; made dumb decisions; and they had times of doubt! Basically, they were very much like everyone of us. God still sought them out and He loved them greatly. God did not give up on them when they floundered; He remained faithful to them even when they failed! This is proven true from cover to cover both under the old covenant and in the new. His Word, from beginning to end is a great love story. From creation, He has lovingly sought after us, pursued us. We may get lost in all the struggles, battles, history and fail to see the gentle thread of His pursuit of mankind but it is always there weaving it’s love story. Many times we get focused on the story and miss God. Some of us question why God acted as He did; question His motives, His kindness. For example, why did He allow a people group to be destroyed or enslaved? We often fail to be objective or see the whole picture but only see from our human perspective and understanding.
- For example, when I was a fairly young girl my Mom took me to see Gone with the Wind on the big screen. I may have been about seven or eight. First, to be clear, I am in no way comparing any character in the movie to God but my focus for this purpose is how we can get so focused on the story, whether our own or someone else’s, that we fail to see the whole picture. My take away from Gone with the Wind as a small girl was this: Rhett Buttler is a giant monster! He rejected his wife, pushed her down the stairs, hurting her and loosing their baby, and killed his little girl Bonnie Blue. He was a monster and I hated his character. My opinion was framed by my young mind and small understanding. I did not see the big picture, I only saw the most obvious problems and those weren’t seen from a place of understanding. I felt sorry for Scarlet, not seeing the part she played in how her life was going. I was crushed about Bonnie Blue and if he hadn’t bought her the pony and encouraged her in her riding, she would have lived. I loved Melanie’s character, she was so gentle and sweet. Then I watched it on T.V. As a young woman, my perspective changed pretty dramatically. I could see Scarlet’s flaws and how a good bit of the things that happened to her were related to her own behavior. I saw Rhett in a slightly different light and realized he was not all bad. Some of his actions were out of hurt and rejection. I saw his love and dotting with Bonnie Blue. I was able to see that sometimes Melanie’s sweetness and kindness was actually indulgence that in time caused her pain and grief. Some would note it as weakness rather than indulgent love for her friends and family. Everything looks different, when you see it from a different perspective and I bet if I rented it today, my perspective would be different from the last time,
Now, back on topic.
A good example of God’s pursuit of people is Abram (later Abraham). Abram lived in an area where it was the practice to worship false gods, yet Abram did not worship the gods of his family and God was pleased with this. God called Abram to leave his hometown and to go to a place that God would show him. Abram agreed. He set out with blind faith in God and followed His request. Abraham walked in faith with God and is listed as a hero of faith in the book of Hebrews. He listened to God and was very obedient to God. Abraham is well know for his faith in Christianity, among the Jewish culture (his own people) and even in the Muslim culture. Abraham is a famous Bible character; he was also human. He had fears and doubts, at least where man was concerned. Just one example: not once but twice, out of fear he said Sari (Sarah) was his sister, not his wife. Because of this, the king he feared and his people experienced punishment because of the Kings interest in Sarah. My, point? Abraham’s mistakes did not stop God from pursuing him and having a relationship with him. It did not hinder God’s plan or negate God’s promises to Abraham.
- God still made Abraham a great nation!
- God still blessed Abraham!
- God still made Abraham’s name great!
- God still made Abraham a blessing to others!
- God still blesses those who bless Abraham’s descendants!
- God still curses those who curse Abraham’s descendants!
- Jesus was was brought forth through the seed of Abraham!
- Today, in Christ, we are considered the seed of Abraham!
God never failed Abraham or his descendants. God kept every promise! God’s ways are wondrous and so much higher than ours! His love is a pure love that never fails even when we mess up. It is said by some that even our failures and sin cannot disappoint our God because He is all-knowing. Before we were born-before the foundation of the earth, He knew us. All our days were written in His book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139. Wonder of wonders, He desires us, chooses us. He loves us, He forgives us and makes us His own. He is ever faithful. Even when we cannot see or understand His ways and His purposes, He has a plan and it is a good plan. We may question it’s goodness or His goodness because we just can’t see or understand the bigger picture. Lord, we do believe, please help our unbelief! Please give us eyes to see and ears to hear the wonder of wonders, Your amazing love for us!
May His grace, peace, love and joy overwhelm you this Christmas and New Year!
Just a glance at the headlines around the world is enough to strike fear into the heart and cause us like the ostrich to bury our head in the sand! Gaza has been fiercely attacking Israel for years, escalating in 2012 and almost non-stop in 2014; Israel is rightfully defending her land and it’s people; Christians all over the world are being tolerated less and less, in many areas they are put into prison for their beliefs, still others they are being executed. Children being beheaded by ISIS. Threats also from them to kill every Christian they see. Genocide; 250 Nigerian girls abducted; persecution in Ukraine; speculation over Russian bomber flying in U.S. Air space…just to name a few headlines. No wonder so many people today avoid watching the news and many news stations are reporting little more than blips of these stories. Wars, threats of wars, nation rising up against nation and double standards within the national community. Comments like “you should just leave them alone and let them have their land ignoring that they are constantly bombing you.” Yet that very same people group would defend themselves to the hilt!
Interestingly, it sounds a lot like what Jesus said should happen before His return in Matthew 24:
“3 As he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, his disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?” 4 Jesus answered them, “Watch out that no one misleads you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will mislead many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. Make sure that you are not alarmed, for this must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 For nation will rise up in arms against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these things are the beginning of birth pains. 9 “Then they will hand you over to be persecuted and will kill you. You will be hated by all the nations because of My name. 10 Then many will be led into sin, and they will betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will appear and deceive many, 12 and because lawlessness will increase so much, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the person who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole inhabited earth as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
This passage makes it clear, if you read further, that no one knows the time of His coming but we can know the signs and we can be educated and informed. You might wonder if you are like many of us, why be informed and aware because we think there isn’t any thing we can do about it. First let’s look at Revelation 1:3 for a minute…I know we avoid Revelation, it’s hard to understand and scary… But just hang in there this verse isn’t and it is very interesting…”Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy aloud, and blessed are those who hear and obey the things written in it, because the time is near!” Now think about this, whether Jesus return is imminent, twenty years away, or 2,000 more years away; one thing is true. We are closer today than we have ever been and we are not powerless nor helpless. If we are awake, alert and watching we can make a difference in our world today! Jesus Christ did not leave His people here powerless! He armed us with the Holy Spirit and power, with God’s Word and with Spiritual Armor so that we could fight. There is great power in our bending the knee in prayer and petition, interceding on behalf of Christian and Jewish believers around the world and on behalf of our own nation.
“and if My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
Prayer is powerful! Elijah prayed down rain from Heaven, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours; yet he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the land.” James 5:17 and “Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go get something to eat and drink, for I hear a mighty rainstorm coming!” So Ahab went to eat and drink. But Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and bowed low to the ground and prayed with his face between his knees. Then he said to his servant, “Go and look out toward the sea.” The servant went and looked, then returned to Elijah and said, “I didn’t see anything.” Seven times Elijah told him to go and look. Finally the seventh time, his servant told him, “I saw a little cloud about the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea.” Then Elijah shouted, “Hurry to Ahab and tell him, ‘Climb into your chariot and go back home. If you don’t hurry, the rain will stop you!’” And soon the sky was black with clouds. A heavy wind brought a terrific rainstorm, and Ahab left quickly for Jezreel. Then the Lord gave special strength to Elijah. He tucked his cloak into his belt and ran ahead of Ahab’s chariot all the way to the entrance of Jezreel.” 1 Kings 18:41-45.
Many other examples include the prayers of Moses, David, Daniel, Jesus…just to get started. There are many powerful examples of prayer in the Bible and the power of prayer has not diminished in our day! God has also given many promises in His Word that we can hold on to. Let’s just look at one for now. In Leviticus 26, this is His promise to those who were obedient to Him…”
“3 “‘If you walk in My statutes and are sure to obey My commandments, 4 I will give you your rains in their time so that the land will give its yield and the trees of the field will produce their fruit. 5 Threshing season will extend for you until the season for harvesting grapes, and the season for harvesting grapes will extend until sowing season, so you will eat your bread until you are satisfied, and you will live securely in your land. 6 I will grant peace in the land so that you will lie down to sleep without anyone terrifying you. I will remove harmful animals from the land, and no sword of war will pass through your land.7 You will pursue your enemies and they will fall before you by the sword. 8 Five of you will pursue a hundred, and a hundred of you will pursue ten thousand, and your enemies will fall before you by the sword. 9 I will turn to you, make you fruitful, multiply you, and maintain my covenant with you. 10 You will still be eating stored produce from the previous year and will have to clean out what is stored from the previous year to make room for new. 11 “‘I will put my tabernacle in your midst and I will not abhor you. 12 I will walk among you, and I will be your God and you will be my people. 13 I am the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, from being their slaves, and I broke the bars of your yoke and caused you to walk upright.”
Our God has provided everything we need for life and godliness, He has placed within us His Holy Spirit and He will guide us and help us deal with anything that comes our way if we trust Him, hear. His voice, seek His face and learn to surrender our lives to Him. For He is humble and His yoke is easy, His burden is light. If we allow Him, He will direct our prayers, our words, our ways and our paths! I love how The Message words this passage from 2 Corinthians 2:
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Jul 7, 2009 – Uploaded by whitestone84
A Hero comes from the wilderness to cry out to the captives, pleading for them to awaken. This …
Therefore, we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? Remember your leaders who have spoken God’s word to you. As you carefully observe the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Don’t be led astray by various kinds of strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be established by grace and not by foods, since those involved in them have not benefited. Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus — the great Shepherd of the sheep — with the blood of the everlasting covenant, equip you with all that is good to do His will, working in us what is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ. Glory belongs to Him forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:6-9, 20, 21 HCSB)
Whatever situation we find ourselves in, we can call on the The Lord, he is our Helper. I have always had confidence that nothing is too big for God, but there was a time when I never considered praying for the small things. The truth is God loves His sons and daughters and He cares about all things concerning us. I remember a time in my life, probably about twenty years ago now, when several of my joints became suddenly very inflamed and quite painful. Walking was painful and everyday responsibilities of caring for my young families became a challenge for a time. Responsibilities had to be met, laundry, shopping for meals and preparing them. I vividly remember one shopping trip. We had to have groceries and I was struggling that day. Walking was difficult. As I drove through the huge parking lot several times, no close parking could be found. Finally, I felt the nudge to pray. My thought was that is silly, not about something so small and selfish. Again, the word pray came to mind. Ok. I prayed, feeling quite silly but knowing that getting two small children and myself from the far end of the lot to the grocery store would tax my painful joints and shorten my ability to pick up the needed groceries. I then choose to drive around the next aisle and right as I reached the front, a car began to back out in the very first spot! After several similar incidents during that time, I learned God really does care about all things concerning us! He has since brought complete healing and now I gladly park out and walk but the lesson learned has stuck with me…He is my helper and is concerned about all my needs. His grace is sufficient for me in my health and in my challenges!
Next our verse tells us to fear not! Remember what your leaders have taught you about the Word of God, watch how it looks and works in their lives and mimic their faith because Jesus is the same today as He was in Biblical days. He doesn’t change, His character is reliable. Watch out for strange teaching, let grace establish you. You can see by the fruit in others lives whether or not their teachings have benefited them. Do not hesitate to test the words of those who teach you or advise you. I often listen to wonderful Christian communicators and speakers and I have learned much from their teaching and stories about their lives but I always return to the Word of God, verifying that their teaching is in line with what the Word says because we are warned many times about false teachers. The Lord equips us with all we need to do His will and to do whatever He has called us to do in each season of our lives. He gives us the Holy Spirit as our comforter and teacher and His Spirit is able to guide us and teach us all truth concerning God’s Word. What was once a great mystery to me and hard to understand, has become a delight and joy in my life. Today we are very blessed to have different translations that use everyday English and are easier to understand and we also have wonderful sights online like Youversion.com, Biblegateway.com, and Biblestudytools.com where we can access different versions of the Bible online and don’t have to purchase different versions. Again, check out the versions just like you check the words of your teaches to make sure they are in line with God’s Word. I have seen one or two that seemed very odd. You many have noticed that I have used several different versions in my blog but I always check them against what other versions say for continuity. Grace and blessings to you this day!
Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus — the great Shepherd of the sheep — with the blood of the everlasting covenant, equip you with all that is good to do His will, working in us what is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ. Glory belongs to Him forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20, 21 HCSB)
Like clockwork about three a.m. this morning, completely cooperating with the predictions of weather forecasters over the last four days, the pinging of sleet announced it’s arrival. Most of Georgia is officially in a winter weather warning or watch for either an ice storm or heavy snow. For many this is a normal occurrence during the winter months, but not so for Georgians. I can count on less than two hands the times we have experienced any more than the occasional dusting of snow to possibly an inch or two. Of the few times we have had more generous amounts or actually experience the rare ice storm, 1973 stands out as the worst in my mind. I was barely eleven at the time and it made an impression on me in so very many ways. Many lessons were set before me that are still very precious today.
I will first share a little background about the storm. It began in early January and in a short time there was ice accumulations of up to four inches in some parts of northern Georgia. We lived just outside of Atlanta and not far from Hartsfield Airport. It was not long before the weight of the ice began to cause widespread power outages. There were as many as 300,000 people without power. Our family was without power for a full week, despite living only 20 minutes from downtown Atlanta, some further out in rural areas were without for longer. When I think about that storm, I can still hear those snap, crackle and pops of the ice dangling from those lines and trees. For a child, the glistening ice was beautiful-it looked like a winter wonderland on a postcard. It was also a bit scary, because in the quiet of the night with no street lights, no flood lights or porch lights it seemed that the crackling and popping ice sounded much more ominous as branches and limbs overweighted with ice began to break. As I said above, this storm made a great impression on me in a number of ways, and I am still very grateful for ’til this day for lessons learned!
Lesson one, we were blessed. Lesson two, be prepared. Our family lived in a small suburban home at a time when all-electric homes were becoming more and more popular. Our home was a little older, maybe about thirteen or fourteen years old and we thankfully had a gas stove before pilotless ignition. We also had gas floor furnaces which required absolutely no electricity to run. We had a separate freezer and enough food in it to keep it cold until we could freeze jugs of water to add in to keep it cold and it was cold enough to freeze it outside! We also had lots of quilts, a couple of heaters, camping stoves and several oil lamps and lanterns for camping. We were equipped and were blessed with extra that we could share with a couple of families who had all-electric homes, one of which had recently returned home with their new-born. We were also blessed to have water longer because the floor furnaces kept our pipes warm, many were left with pipes burst and later water lines froze for many between the meters and the houses because of extreme cold.
Lesson three, Philippians 6-7. ” Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life!”. Remember those scary sounds in the night?? They got scarier! The crackling ice, breaking icicles, snapping branches, gave away to a huge snapping sound followed by an enormous thud, not once but twice during the middle of the night. Oh how I prayed that night, not one but two very good size pine trees uprooted completely and came down. Fortunately, neither hit our home or the home of our friends next door and damage was limited to the fence, the bumper of their car and the shell cover on the back of their truck. I was blessed to have learned at an early age to pray and pray I had done all through that night as the sound of falling trees continued throughout the night and throughout the week until the thaw finally came. Thankfully, most were in the woods across the street and caused no property damage. By the way, this possibly made the biggest impression to me as a child. To this day when I hear of a storm coming, I begin to immediately pray! It doesn’t matter if it is ice, thunder, lightening, flooding, tornado or hurricane. Prayer changes things and fear is a waste of time. Be anxious about nothing, pray about everything! The peace of God which passes understanding will come if we stand in faith. Speak to fear telling it to go!! Pray, believe, if necessary pray for help with our unbelief, and STAND!
There were probably many other lessons learned that week such as how to have fun without electricity or t.v., get along with and help others, and it is probably where I began to love reading books and the Word. Reminiscing over it today, I can’t help but to think of how much our world has changed since then we have made some great progress since 1973 but we have also tended to become more busy and less connected. Many of us don’t know our neighbors like we did in previous years but only know them on the surface to say hi, if we even know them at all. We had a park over a block away and there were mommas on that road that knew me and the kids next door and if she saw us at the park she would ask, “do your parents know you are here?” Now we are hard pressed to let kids walk two doors down without us right by their side because we live in a much different world.
Imagine if everyone who has faith even as small as a mustard seed resolved to:
Pray for protection and provision for ALL those in the path all of the storms in life, especially the elderly and children and the many people who are working and on call to keep us safe…police, firemen, military, national guard, coast guard, public safety workers, EMT’s, doctors, nurses, transportation workers, and for their families. What if we did it daily, not just when storms are predicted or overwhelm us in their wake? What if we choose to take a few minutes a day to stand in the gap out of compassion and gratitude and believe without doubt that not only is god willing but God is able! Storms and trials may still come but how much better equipped to weather them would we be? How much easier to face them just knowing we are uplifting each other before, during and following the threats that come?
Ecclesiastes 4:9 Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. 10 For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. 11 Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm? 12 And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.
Ephesians 3:20-21 (AMP) Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]—To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen (so be it).
Today’s Bible reading passage in the plan I am using is Isaiah 54, or at least I thought it was… until I looked later and found I jumped ahead a chapter. Perhaps I was subconsciously eager because it is one of my many favorites in Isaiah. It is right on the heels of another favorite, Isaiah 53 which is the prophecy of the coming Suffering Servant, Jesus Christ. There are great promises for Israel in this chapter, I personally believe there are lessons for the Christian also in these words and perhaps some of the promises apply to us as also. Based on Galatians 3: 13-14 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (because it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree ”) in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles, so that we could receive the promise of the Spirit by faith. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female – for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:13, 14, 27-29 NET).
The first attention getter for me was verse two. It says to enlarge your tents, spread out the wall, stretch your boundaries. Then one translations says don’t hold back; another says spare no effort; and lastly another says spare no expense. It goes on to say lengthen your ropes and pound your steaks deep. Many commentaries agree that this refers to the time after Christ when the gospel would be shared with both Jews and Gentile. As I considered the passage this morning I felt impressed that it could also be very applicable in my life and the lives of others. Maybe for our day, it is saying make room for God and all that He desires to do in our lives. Make space for Him, for the assignment He has for our life, and for the blessings He wants to give us. Be diligent and prepare even when it may seem nothing is actually happening right now. Keep trusting God and being expectant of what He has planned for it will come to pass in His timing. His timing is always perfect and right on time. His plans for us are good, believe and trust He is for us!
Don’t be afraid, for you will not be put to shame! Don’t be intimidated, for you will not be humiliated! You will forget about the shame you experienced in your youth; you will no longer remember the disgrace of your abandonment. (Isaiah 54:4 NET). Trials, troubles from the past that cause shame will no longer haunt you, they will be forgotten was my next big take away. We all have an experience or two in our lives that haunts us, one we want to forget. That is exactly why Jesus came (Isaiah 53 & 61:1-4) to bear our sickness, disease, sin and shame. Also He came to encourage the poor, heal the broken hearted, bring liberty to captives, freedom to prisoners, and relief and joy to those who mourn! We are neither limited nor do we have to be defined by our past, we can move past the things that shamed, intimidated, humiliated and held us back in the past!
Though the mountains move and the hills shake, My love will not be removed from you and My covenant of peace will not be shaken,” says your compassionate Lord. (Isaiah 54:10 HCSB) Our Heavenly Father loves us and nothing can change that. Those In Christ have been given right standing with Him. His love is unwavering and His covenant of peace will not be shaken!
I also love verses thirteen and fourteen, that our children will be taught of The Lord and prosper and that we can live oppression free and far from terror. Followed up by: ‘No weapon forged to be used against you will succeed; you will refute everyone who tries to accuse you. This is what the Lord will do for his servants – I will vindicate them,” says the Lord’.(Isaiah 54:17 NET) I certainly am no theologian, just a simple follower of Jesus. One who, based on many experiences in my own life, has witnessed the goodness of God and His promises in even the toughest of times and the loss of some of the people dearest to me. I can attest to His great love, His mercy and grace in the hard places in life even in the times He seems absent or silent, He is there working, loving and watching over you. May you be blessed this day and may His goodness and mercy follow you!