Do I Fit the Ephesian’s Pattern?

Paul stayed with the church in Ephesus for three years, teaching them all about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, during a time when most believers only had an apostle or disciple come to teach the way of salvation for weeks or a few months at most. History says that John the beloved disciple stayed at Ephesus for an equally long time. What a privilege! To have two outstanding apostles teaching and preaching for several years, one would think that later the Ephesian church would be a shining example to all others.

Unfortunately, that did not happen. In Acts 20:29-30 (see verses 18-38 for context) Paul warns the leaders of this church about those who would come in to lead the believers away from God. We read in Revelation 2:1-7 the history of the Ephesian church, not that many years after John was there. Christ commends the church for their hard work, patient endurance and not tolerating those who are evil. Then He said, “You don’t love me or each other as you did at first” (verse 4, New Living Translation). Then Christ warns them to turn back and love Him wholeheartedly.

How many of us are in this same position? We’ve had good biblical teaching but suddenly we find ourselves too busy with matters of everyday life? Possibly soon after our salvation, we were excited to share the good news of Jesus’ forgiveness. Possibly we poured over the Bible, eager to learn more; joy filled our heart. Now all that has somehow leaked out and we still go to church, but it’s not as life-giving as it once was. If this fits our situation, be encouraged because our Father always gives us another opportunity to return to loving Him with our whole being. When we determine to turn back to our first love for Christ, we’ll find more blessings than we can imagine.

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Order or Chaos?

As I stopped at an intersection of two highways on my way home from church one Sunday, I noticed that cars from two other directions were also stopped. This light took a long time to change because of its location, and we all sat, waiting. No one moved and I thought how senseless that was: that several cars sat stopped and no one could move. Then the Holy Spirit reminded me of pictures I’d seen on TV of traffic in third world countries where everyone went all the time, cars bumper to bumper. How could you ever turn left, I’d thought? No one gave anyone else an opportunity to do anything, other than follow the car in front of them. What chaos!

Just as I thought of that chaos, the Holy Spirit spoke to me about what chaos occurs in our lives if we don’t allow God to guide us in all we do. He has a plan for our lives and will show us that plan if we give Him time. Often we’re so busy running from one thing to another, we’re exhausted and don’t even finish all we start or need to get done. Following God’s will for our lives brings clarity and order, just as people obeying traffic lights keeps accidents from happening because traffic flow is orderly.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. (Psalm 139:15-16 New Living Translation)

Sometimes since then the thought of order and chaos returns when I’m stopped at a light and waiting while no one moves because there’s no traffic the direction the light is green. Yet, I’d rather sit and enjoy the order traffic lights bring than to experience the chaos of everyone going all the time with no controls.

Am I in chaos or am I allowing the Holy Spirit to bring order to my life?

The Fog

As my car crawled along the road, I tried to keep up with the truck in front of me so I could continue following his lights. That way I could tell better how the road twisted and turned, praying anyone coming from the opposite direction drove carefully and stayed on their side of the highway. While I’ve driven in fog previously, this was thicker than any I’d ever encountered, so I breathed a sigh of relief when that truck pulled out in front of me, giving me guidance by his tail lights.

At times I’ve gone through periods of spiritual fog, hardly able to see the way ahead. The way continued dark for miles, it seemed. God’s voice looked like it had disappeared, and I couldn’t find which direction to go, so I kept doing those things I knew to do even though I wasn’t satisfied. Finally, the light of Jesus came to my rescue, and even though fog still surrounded me, I followed that bit of light to my destination where I could see clearly.

This fog also comes with our emotions. They appear to have become numb or to have died because of heart-break or harm someone has caused us. We simply can’t see our way out of the confusion and pain. “Why did this happen,” we ask. “What did I do wrong,” we continue the self-blame game. Certainly, we had a part to play, but sometimes that part is to get out of a situation that continually harms us. Then we wonder “Am I strong enough to do this? How will I manage by myself?” We feel surrounded by doubts and insufficiency on every side and don’t yet see those lights of Jesus pulling out in front of us to show us the road ahead. That’s when we bow down in surrender and simply tell Jesus we don’t know how to come out of this darkness and depend on His truth to guide us. We must stake our heart on knowing that God’s Word is true and that He loves us beyond measure, trusting Him to lead us back into the light.

Difficult decisions often bring this same foggy effect mentally. We weigh the pros and cons, but both seem to have unintended and unwanted consequences. We don’t know which way to go and again fog surrounds us. That’s when I’ve determined to set aside two or three hours that I’m going to stay in Father’s presence until I get an answer. I don’t do this feeling stubborn or hard-headed but rather surrender myself and agree to submit to God’s will. It takes uninterrupted time, but I’ve always received an answer to my issue of what decision to make.

I’ve learned that when I rush ahead and make my own decision at such times, I later regret it. But when mental, emotional or spiritual fog surrounds me and I surrender to God while waiting for His light to appear, He always shows me the way to a good destination.

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord (James 1:5-7 New Living Translation).

Your own ears will hear Him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left” (Isaiah 30:21 NLT).

Who Am I?

Do you have low self-esteem? Many of us do, and for most of my life I did. Circumstances work to make us feel this way, though our situations may be far different. What changed? I learned who I am as a child of God. I also learned that I need to reinforce the positives in my life and not the negatives because that gives them more power if I think about them most of the time. If you’re in this condition, you might every day look in the mirror and repeat the following:

 When I confess Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead, I am saved from sin and have eternal life with God. (Romans 6:23, 10:9; John 17:3)

 When I confess my sins, they are forgiven by God. (Hebrews 8:12, 10:17; 1 John 1:9)

 All my forgiven sins are far from God’s remembrance. (Psalm 103:12)

 I am a beloved daughter/son of the Lord God Almighty. (Romans 5:8; 1 John 6:10)

 I am worthy because Christ died for me. (Romans 8:32; 1 John 4:10)

 When I feel guilty for past sins after I earnestly confess them, Satan is lying to me because I am no longer condemned by God for them. (Romans 8:1)

 God is for me! (Romans 8:31)

 God has promised me good and not evil, and He works for my good. (Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 8:28)

 God will hear me when I pray to Him. (Jeremiah 29:11; Psalm 66:17-19)

 No one can take me away from God. (John 10:38; Romans 8:38 & 39)

 God knows me intimately. (Psalm 139:1-16)

 God chose me and has a purpose for my life. (Jeremiah 1:5; John 15:16)

 God gave me a spiritual gift to be used to glorify Him and help others. (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:1 & 4-12, 14:1-6; Ephesians 4:11-12)

 I am not worse or below others, but I am not better than others either. (Romans 12:3)

An old saying tells us that the ground is level at the foot of the cross. This means that we are all equal because God has no favorites. He loves everyone the same, and that is what gives us our worth: that He loved us enough to send Jesus to pay the death penalty for our sins. Therefore, we rejoice because we are the beloved daughters and sons of the Lord Most High God, Creator of heaven and earth.

The Children God Seeks

How God’s heart must hurt
As His children misunderstand Him so;
While He reaches out in love,
They go the way of His foe.
 
God seeks children who will
Spend time with Him, wanting to be near;
But who can He find, willing to give Him time?
They are too busy, and His presence they fear.
 
God seeks children to love Him,
To return His love in some small measure;
But His children’s eyes are self-centered,
And they seek to provide their own pleasure.
 
God seeks children committed to Him,
Who — by loving others — give Him glory,
Those who are willing to forget themselves,
To live for God and tell His story.
 
God seeks all over the earth
For children such as these.
Will you be one that He can find,
Give Him time on bended knees?

Poem for Those Who’ve Lost Loved Ones This Year

Several of my friends have lost loved ones this year, and I dedicate this poem to them. Some years ago God gave me this idea of the joy those who know Jesus Christ as their Savior and are children of our Father experience when entering heaven. I cannot say this reality fits all who pass this life, for regrettably they turned their backs on the One who could give them this new life. The Gospel of John tells us much about this decision we must make while still alive.

John calls Satan a thief in John 10:10 and we’re told the different purposes he has in our lives and Jesus has for our lives. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they have life and have [it] abundantly.”

Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and in 1 John 3:8 we read, “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.” Jesus therefore tells us that Satan wants only our harm, but He came to bless us.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me’” in John 14:6. The thick veil in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem being torn apart from top to bottom when Jesus died indicates that the way for us to know God as our Father is no longer through following laws and rituals but through simply recognizing Jesus as the One who makes us clean before God so we can become His children.

“God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Many people recognize John 3:16 probably more than any other verse in the Bible unless it’s Psalm 23:1, “The Lord is my Shepherd.”

We hardly hear, however, of verses 17-18 in John 3 which say, “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

Finally, Ezekiel 18:23 records God saying, “Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord God, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?”

If anyone does not realize that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay for all you’ve done wrong so you can become a child of God, then I ask you to please contact me or talk with someone who is a believer and find out how when you die, you can go to heaven and know the great joy that this poem discusses, plus so much more than words can express.

My Destiny

Joy unspeakable!
How can I describe this blessedness?
So far surpassing all I imagined
The greatest words cannot do it justice.

“What joy,” you ask,
“What brings such rapture?”

The sight of my Jesus’ face!
How can I picture such love
Such compassion, even for me?
What word describes His glory?
The glory of the only begotten Son!

Then I see my Father!
My Daddy-God.
The tears fall down my face
Tears of humility, adoration and love.
I kneel at His feet and worship
Almighty God!

No eye has seen
No ear has heard
No mind has conceived
What God has prepared
For those who love Him.
(1 Corinthians 2:9)

I cannot tell you all this wonder;
Truly, you must see it for yourself!
 

God Became Human!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men….And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:1-4, 14 NASB).

The wonderful message of Christmas in a nutshell is that God became human! Though we may not fully understand it, God is undivided in thought or action, yet is three distinct persons with separate functions: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

The Father did not become incarnate. The Holy Spirit only came to live in people’s hearts after Jesus’ resurrection and ascent into heaven. For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11). Jesus the Son is the one who was born as a baby and lived on earth in a human body, died, was resurrected and ascended into heaven.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God became  human with all the feelings, thoughts and needs we have. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).

God became human! May the wonder and blessing of this thought be with you throughout the Christmas Season.

Joy to the World, the Lord is Come!

Receiving God’s Love

God, I don’t really know how to approach You, but a person told me You loved me. Really loved me so much that You gave up your Son on my behalf. Now that’s really hard to believe! I mean, I’m not a good person, so why would You love me or do anything for me?

I’ve been in a deep, deep pit for most of my life. Wanting out but not even knowing how to try to get out. It seemed the harder I tried, the deeper I went. I can’t imagine anyone doing me any favors. No one ever has, so why should You?

But this person told me Jesus loves me and actually suffered all your hatred of my wrong ways, and now I’m free to have a good life, if I only believe that Jesus did this for me. Not only that, but I can become your child. Seems strange for an adult to become someone’s child, even God’s. I didn’t even know my own parents, and my childhood certainly wasn’t something I’d want anyone else to experience.

God, I don’t quite understand all this, but I’m trying. I do believe what I was told that Jesus suffered all your fury for all the horrible things I’ve done. I want to become a different person, a person who can do good for others. I don’t know how I could do anything good for someone; but the person who told me about you, said that I’d find things I could do that would help others. I’d like to be that way – helping people instead of all the evil I’ve done in the past. God, forgive me for all that stuff!

I’ve been rotten and don’t see how anybody could want me, much less You, God. But that’s what I was told, and something happened in my heart at those words. Somehow, I believed them, and they made me smile. I haven’t smiled in a long, long time. I can’t explain it, but something happened, and all the heaviness, anger and bitterness just melted away. Why, I feel like a new person; almost like a little baby just finding out what’s happening in the world and how to adjust to it. Just learning how to be loved, not by a person, but by You, God. Amazing!

Thank you, God, for doing whatever You did to make me feel this way, to give me this joy and this newfound hope. Thank You that Jesus suffered all your wrath over my evil deeds, so I can become a person who’s able to talk with You, to have a relationship with You. God, You are awesome! I just realized that if I’m your child, then You are my Father. What an amazing idea! I’ve never had a father, and now the God of all the universe is my Father. I’m so thankful for this person who told me about You because You have changed my life. You made me a new person, and I love You. I just discovered that: I love You because of what You have done for me. Thank You, Father! Thank You, Jesus!

Prayer for Those with Debilitating Diseases

(This prayer is for three people close to my heart, but I extend it to others in this situation.)

Father, my heart hurts for people close to me who are enduring debilitating diseases that Satan has inflicted upon them. I know many others face the same or different issues, all of which prove difficult to cure. Only you can touch these loved ones and heal them, Father. Whether you use doctors and medicine or whether You divinely heal them, I pray you touch their lives.

In the meanwhile, give them peace in the journey; comfort them in pain; let them know you stand beside them and your Spirit within them each moment of the day and night.

Father, you know each of their life situations, and I lift those up to you, for you alone know what each one needs at this very moment and in the coming days as they walk through these life-changing challenges. Give them courage, strength, energy, hope and peace. Let them know your very real presence upon them.

Father, if I could, I’d instantly remove each of these illnesses from them; but I can’t. I know you can. That is not a difficult thing for you, Daddy-God! However, sometimes you allow us to walk through these challenges, teaching us more about you along the way. I pray each one learns the lessons you have for them during this time, drawing them ever closer to you, Holy God.

I pray your glory comes out of these situations in whatever way you choose. May you be honored and exalted; and may all these close to me – and others also – have a greater testimony of your mercy and grace in the future than they do presently.

Father, I love and exalt you, for you alone are holy, high and worthy of worship.  You sent Jesus to pay the price for our sins and our healing, as the Bible says in 1 Peter 2:24 (NASB) “He Himself [Jesus] bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, for by His wounds you were healed.” In Jesus’ precious and holy name, I ask for your mercy, Holy God. Amen.

Abba, I Belong to You

As my church sang the song Abba[1], I thought in a way I hadn’t previously – yes, I do belong to my Father. That thought struck deep in my heart. I “BELONG” to my Daddy-God. He sacrificed so very much by sending Jesus to die so I could become His child. They both paid with all they had for my eternal life with them and so that here on earth I can have an intimate relationship with my Father God, Jesus Christ my Savior and the Holy Spirit. I am a daughter loving my Father because He first loved me.

First John 4:18-19 (The Message Bible) reminds us: There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life — fear of death, fear of judgment — is one not yet fully formed in love. We, though, are going to love — love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.

I like to call my heavenly Father Daddy-God. The word Abba means an intimate relationship, as a child might say Daddy today or as an adult might say Father. My earthly dad and I had a very good relationship, so I don’t have the major roadblocks some people do who didn’t know their earthly fathers or had abusive ones. I appreciate the freedom this gives me to relate more easily to God than some can.

Someone might ask who a small child belongs to, meaning their parents. That parent has responsibility to take care of and protect that child; he educates and trains the child, as well as providing food, shelter and clothes for her. In the same way, our heavenly Father takes care me, His child, so I do belong to Him, not including the tremendous price He paid for me.

As I thought more about belonging to my Father, I realized that makes it easier for me to resist any temptation that comes my way. I don’t belong to the devil, so I can stand against him and not give in to whatever he puts in front of me. I count on the blessings of my inheritance as a child of God and don’t need anything that will lead me away from those blessings.

Satan may approach me with wrong thoughts or actions, trying to lure me that way. Some of these God emphasized No to – There are six things which the Lord hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood; a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers. (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Other times my enemy surprises me with those little nagging inclinations that aren’t wrong in themselves but are still activities where I know I need to limit the time I spend with them.

I thought of this verse, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2a NASU.)

I walk along the beach, paying attention to the gulls and other shorebirds. Further down children build sand castles and grab my attention. Suddenly I realize I’ve stepped into a cast net left carelessly behind and my sandals become tangled in it. I almost fall because I wasn’t paying attention.

That’s what the Hebrews verse warns me of – not paying attention when a temptation comes, or I’ll stumble into it without realizing it’s even there. One of those little things that isn’t bad itself but that I have to control is watching too much TV at night instead of studying my Bible or reading godly books. Nothing is wrong with the shows themselves, I just must not let them dominate all my time when I have instructive books to read or a Bible study I didn’t have time for during the day. I like to start my day with Bible reading and prayer, but often don’t have time before breakfast for real study.

Because I belong to Father God, I put on the spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:10-18[2]). This armor covers me from head to toe in front, but safety only comes when I’m fighting. God gives me no protection if I’m running away. Watchful prayer guards me from Satan’s snares so I don’t step into that cast net. I pray with and for others to give and receive mutual support as the body of Christ on earth.

Fortunately, when I do get caught up in temptation, there’s a way back to the loving relationship with my Daddy-God. First John 1:9 (Message) encourages us:  If we admit our sins — make a clean breast of them — he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. My Father doesn’t hold a grudge! He wants our rapport flowing full of love more than I do, so as soon as I honestly turn away from the wrong I’ve done, He’s quick to forgive me and take up where we left off in our relationship.

Abba, I belong to You – now and forever!

____________________
[1] Abba (Arms of a Father)
>Jonathan David & Melissa Helser

You’re more real than the ground I’m standing on
You’re more real than the wind in my lungs
Your thoughts define me
You’re inside me
You’re my reality

Abba, I belong to You 

You’re closer than the skin on my bones
You’re closer than the song on my tongue
You came running down my prodigal road
You came running with a ring and a robe
Grace is the collision on the way back home
With the arms of a Father who won’t let go

Songwriters: Ed Cash / Jonathan David Helser
Abba (Arms of a Father) lyrics © Bethel Music Publishing

 

 

[2] Ephesians 6:10-18: And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. 11 So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. 12 This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.

13 Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. 14 Truth, righteousness, 15 peace, 16 faith, 17 and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. 18 In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

(from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)

 

God’s Word in My Heart

Father, I pray that you open my eyes to see your Word in new and fresh ways; help me understand exactly what You’d have me apply to my life today. Give me wisdom as I read this precious gift carefully and thoughtfully. I know I have much to learn from You, but I don’t always take the time to dwell on what I read and fully apply it to my life. Sometimes I read and appreciate what the Bible says; but then my busy day starts, and I never get back to thinking more about it. My mind always finds other things, even TV or other trivial matters to consider, forgetting what You said to me that morning.

Lord, I know that Psalm 19:11 (NASB*) says, “Your word have I treasured in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Therefore, I must consider the Bible as precious and not read it quickly, just to get the job done. That’s no way to consider what You say to me; no, I must treat it as a very special message.

Other versions say, “I have hidden your word” or “I have stored up your word.” I learned the KJV* of “Thy word have I hid in my heart,” and through the years I have hidden much of it there. But the NASB* says, “I have treasured your word,” which makes me more fully realize the importance of not only reading, or even understanding, God’s Word but seeking it as a rich treasure and then putting it in a vault in my heart so no one can steal it. I also like the “stored up” version. That makes me think of what I meditate on one day I add to what I’ve processed in the past. I don’t simply read the Bible one day and forget it before the next reading; I add to my knowledge and love of God’s Word each time I hear or read it.

That’s the importance I need to give your Word as I read it daily. Father, how wonderful, to be able to access this great gift wherever I am, even on my phone or computer! Different translations help me better understand what the original languages meant to people long ago, so I can apply them today. Although customs are far different, love is still love, and our greatest two commandments still say to love God and love others. Cruel treatment of another remains wrong, even though the types of cruelty differ. Putting someone or something above You qualifies as idolatry, even though we don’t make gold or silver images.

Teach me, Lord God, to treasure to a new depth your holy Word. Though it, You instruct me to apply your principles today so I live a more fulfilled life, no matter what age I am. Thank you, heavenly Father, for the precious gift of the Bible.
_______

* KJV: King James Version; NASB: New American Standard Bible.

Psalm 139

Psalm 139
(The Passion Translation)

As I read this Psalm this morning, I was again touched with the love of our heavenly Father for each one of us. How intimately He knows us, far better than we know ourselves. Read Psalm 139 for yourself and rejoice in your Daddy-God’s immense love. Read it slowly and thoughtfully; let it sink into your spirit and chew on it awhile.

In the description of a baby’s formation, allow the words to help you grasp how precious your whole life remains in God’s thoughts. His perfect plan for your life continues, even though you’ve made mistakes in the past. That’s what I find amazing: In spite of the long detours I’ve taken, my Daddy-God still guides my path to bring me into his will for me. I realize that’s where I’ll be most fulfilled. As the Psalm closes, let the Holy Spirit examine your heart and see if there’s anything that doesn’t fit with God’s perfect plan for your life. Let Him enable you to turn from that and seek Him with your whole heart, soul, mind and body. Then you’ll know God’s full love and joy for you. You’ll find fulfillment and joy in being the whole person your Father created you to be.

I pray God’s rich blessings of realizing how vital to your heavenly Father you are and of finding His love and joy in your life. Amen.

Title: “You Know All about Me”
For the Pure and Shining One
King David’s poetic song

1 Lord, you know everything there is to know about me.

2 You perceive every movement of my heart and soul, and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind.

3-4 You are so intimately aware of me, Lord. You read my heart like an open book, and you know all the words I’m about to speak before I even start a sentence! You know every step I will take before my journey even begins.

5 You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way, and in kindness you follow behind me to spare me from the harm of my past. With your hand of love upon my life, you impart a blessing to me.

6 This is just too wonderful, deep and incomprehensible! Your understanding of me brings me wonder and strength.

7 Where could I go from your Spirit? Where could I run and hide from your face?

8 If I go up to heaven, you’re there! If I go down to the realm of the dead, you’re there too!

9 If I fly with wings into the shining dawn, you’re there! If I fly into the radiant sunset, you’re there waiting!

10 Wherever I go, your hand will guide me; your strength will empower me.

11 It’s impossible to disappear from you or to ask the darkness to hide me, for your presence is everywhere, bringing light into my night.

12 There is no such thing as darkness with you. The night, to you, is as bright as the day; there no difference between the two.

13 You formed my innermost being, shaping my delicate inside and my intricate outside, and wove them all together in my mother’s womb.

14 I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex! Everything you do is marvelously breathtaking. It simply amazes me to think about it! How thoroughly you know me, Lord!

15 You even formed every bone in my body when you created me in the secret place, carefully, skillfully shaping me from nothing to something.

16 You saw who you created me to be before I became me! Before I’d ever seen the light of day, the number of days you planned for me were already recorded in your book.

17-18 Every single moment you are thinking of me! How precious and wonderful to consider that you cherish me constantly in your every thought! O God, your desires toward me are more than the grains of sand on every shore! When I awake each morning, you’re still with me.

23 God, I invite your searching gaze into my heart. Examine me through and through; find out everything that may be hidden within me. Put me to the test and sift through all my anxious cares.

24 See if there is any path of pain I’m walking on, and lead me back to your glorious, everlasting ways – the path that brings me back to you.

Who Is Jesus to Me?

Recently in church we sang songs talking about who Jesus is: our way maker, miracle worker, promise keeper. You wipe away our tears, mend broken hearts, touch every life, heal our diseases, meet every need. Jesus is the Light in the darkness; his blood transforms my life, brings the dead to life, is sufficient for me. He is the highest power so that I am no longer bound to sin and am free!

The Bible assures us Jesus and now the Holy Spirit working in us, fulfills all these vital roles. But do we really trust Him to do these things? To meet our needs, to heal our diseases, to mend our broken hearts?

In Luke 5:1-11, Jesus tells Simon (later called Peter) to put his fishing net on the other side of the boat. Even though these professional fishermen had fished all night and caught nothing, Simon said he would, and he caught so many fish that his nets almost broke, so he called his partners to help catch all the fish. Am I  as willing to do what Jesus tells me to do, even if it doesn’t make sense to me?

Jesus quotes Isaiah 61:1-2 in Luke 4:18-19 (NASB): The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.

Are we not financially poor but spiritually poverty-stricken because we haven’t heard of the rescue from eternal death that Jesus came to give us, as well as abundancy in this life? Are we bound in captivity to style, pride or insecurity? Do we have physical infirmities? Are we oppressed by addiction, co-dependency or other issues? This is the year of redemption from all that! Jesus wants to set us free from the dominion these conditions have in our lives so that we have heart-peace and joy in our spirits.

We sing songs with joy about Jesus providing all we need and read the Bible with all His miracles, claiming we believe it. But when the test comes, do I really? Do I depend on my Father God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit to keep promises to me? Have I checked first to see if conditions exist to gain those promises? Do I really understand who Jesus wants to be for me? Am I willing to let Him change my life dramatically, so He can be?

We must question ourselves and ask repeatedly, “Who is Jesus to me?” Am I letting Him be all He wants to be? What is holding me back? Investigate this!

My Thanksgiving

Father, I thank You that You have already won all my battles. I praise You for the victories over disease, lost jobs, lack of finances. I thank you for salvations and renewals of love for You. I thank you for new heavenly births.

I thank You for so many blessings You’ve given me. And for the faith to believe You and the rewarding of my tiny faith, growing it into mountain-shaking faith. Father, I thank You that nothing is impossible with You.

I thank You for your amazing love. That love carries me through hardships and good times alike. That love flowing out of me returns double-fold to You, for it teaches me to love You more. That love fills me until it overflows to those around me.

Lord, open their eyes to see Jesus in me, not for my honor but for your glory, Father, so that what they see in me, they will hunger for themselves.

Father, they don’t know your love. They are lonely, fearful, hurting and lost. They need You, holy God. Here I am, Lord, use me to show them your Son. Open their eyes, holy God. Open their eyes, I pray.

My Prayer

Father, I love You, but it’s such a small insignificant amount compared to how You love me. Teach me how to love You more. Give me a fiery, burning love for You that will never lessen or be quenched.

You are so almighty, all-powerful, mountainous, marvelous, without any kind of defect or lessening. You are all-in-all! Nothing and no one compares to You. You were before all and will endure for everlasting. All-powerful Creator of all that exists. You always were; You always will be.

In spite of all your marvelous might, You love me. You cherish me. You forgive me! Even when I miss opportunities to worship You or to magnify your name, your love never fails. You are merciful to me and compassionate. You see my broken heart and bring me peace and joy. You give me strength when I am weak. You direct my steps with your eye. You protect me from the evil one and show me how to stand strong against him. You teach my hands to war against him. You surround me with your love and sing over me.

And Father, what You do for me, You will surely do for another. You have no favorites. You gave your Son to die for each person in the world, so surely You would love them as well. You teach me how to love others as You have loved me. Indeed, without knowing your love for me, it’s difficult to fully love others unselfishly, without an agenda, even when we don’t recognize it.

Father, You amaze me and I thank You. I’m eternally grateful to You. I bow down and worship You and sing your praises. You are my God. Teach me to love You more. Amen.

Our Daddy-God Is Faithful!

 Old Faithful Geyser at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

 Old Faithful Geyser continually erupts every day and night, all year round, never missing a time. Eruptions occur about every 70-90 minutes with park rangers giving an estimate, but only that. A tall gusher reaches close to 200 feet but often follows a shorter one.

My husband and I have watched this fascinating sight many times with a couple of thousand people in late June or have seen it a few times by ourselves in December, always special to behold. The first winter I saw it, while mentally knowing Old Faithful blew all year, surprised me when I realized this great display happened with no one watching. Of course, I knew the Park didn’t turn it on for visitors, but a sudden realization hit me that it doesn’t depend on what people do.

In the same way, I think we often think God’s faithfulness depends on how “good” we are. We’ve read the Bible that says He remains with us at all seasons. During crisis times, however, we might feel like the harsh reality of winter hit and wonder if our loving Father knows our situation, just as I realized afresh that Old Faithful operates with no spectators as well as thousands. These times call for us to draw closer to our Daddy-God so we do realize He’s present. Often we tend to pull away in unbelief, but that hinders our remaining steady during the crisis.

Reviewing God’s Word helps me hold onto my faith in difficult circumstances, and these verses promise our Father’s faithfulness to us forever. All Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible.

Deuteronomy 32:3-4: For I proclaim the name of the Lord; Ascribe greatness to our God! The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.

Psalm 36:5: Your lovingkindness, O Lord, extends to the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

John 14:16-18: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.

Hebrews 13:5-6: He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,” so that we confidently say, “THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?” [Their emphasis.]

You might wonder why I call the Father of Christ-followers “Daddy-God.” In the New Testament, Jesus used this very term of intimacy when He prayed before the crucifixion. Since we are God’s children, He desires us to have this same intimacy with Him. “Abba” translates to our word “Daddy.”

Mark 14:36: And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.”

Romans 8:15-16: For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,

Galatians 4:6-7: Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore, you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.

Yes, circumstances may go from bad to worse, but consider what our loving Father did: He gave his own beloved Son to die for us so we could be his children. Certainly then, He remains faithful to us throughout our lives. Situations make no difference. Our Daddy-God loves us!

 

Independence Day 2018

Picnics, fireworks, family gatherings, friends meeting each other – all these form a part of our usual July 4th activities; yet, they’re only one side. We must always remember the blood of countless men and women from the revolutionary war all through the years. Those lives cost far too great a price to only consider the fun side of this great day. I still believe we live in the greatest country on earth, originally founded primarily on Judeo-Christian principles. The obvious general moral decline of our precious country concerns many of us, but the US still brings many blessings to her people. Therefore, we celebrate and enjoy this wonderful day.

Living in a democracy where we’re free to live as we please makes life abundant. We can live where we want, go where we want, do what we want within reason, and eat what we want. We dress as we please to suit the weather and what we are doing. I see some women covered head to foot, even on scorching hot days.  I realize that is their religion and their right, but I’m thankful for short sleeves in the heat and humidity of my area.

Yes, living independently in our great country provides many huge blessings. But in another way, being dependent brings even greater provisions – if we’re dependent on God as our Father. Learning that takes time but returns wonderful rewards. When we’re dependent on His Holy Spirit guiding us, assurance gives us security in our decisions. He speaks to us throughout the day if we merely stay tuned in. Yes, not in an audible voice but in one we soon learn to recognize as the voice of Truth.

Long ago I discovered this principle when I bought groceries. Since my friend’s husband was out of work at the time, I planned to buy some extra things to give her. Although I hadn’t planned to buy her any coffee, that idea popped into my mind strongly, so I got some. A couple of hours later when I delivered the groceries, the coffee delighted her above all. She usually enjoyed it all day long; and they’d been without coffee for a couple of days because she didn’t have the money to buy anything that wasn’t a necessity.

Another experience in that same era came as I thought a couple of times a day about someone who wasn’t that often in my thoughts, though we did know each other. I’d usually pray for her and her family but not contact her. After this happened several times with the same person, I called her a couple of times when she came to mind so much. Each time she needed prayer. I learned that whenever I’m thinking of someone who usually isn’t on my daily radar to stop and pray for them. That’s the Holy Spirit putting me on alert. At other times, I’ve had someone tell me they prayed for me during a certain period, and I’d needed the prayers then.

I learned that when we depend on the Holy Spirit to guide us, life works better. We don’t have the confusion that can occur otherwise; we become intercessors for others and can offer an encouraging word when someone desperately needs it. Of course, our Father God speaks to us in different ways: the Holy Spirit brings thoughts to our minds that don’t originate with us; the Bible quickens our hearts as we read certain verses or chapters; songs bring messages, as well as our spiritual leaders. We do well to heed these and other ways our Lord guides us.

The first part of Psalm 46:10 says in several translations, “Be still and know that I am God.” We need often stillness to hear God speak to us, though He can speak at other times. We do, however, need to that stillness to know God in the fullness it’s possible for us to know Him. When clutter fills our minds with all the need-to-do things on a particular day, difficulty arises in hearing through all the cacophony of confusion. I like the New American Standard Bible in that case, for it tells us to “Cease striving and know I am God.”

Sometimes we think God may say something to us and we don’t want to hear it. That verse rings true here too. Perhaps our loving Father isn’t saying what we think, but we won’t know until we’re quiet enough to hear that gentle voice whisper in our heart. If He does speak a word that turns against our natural inclination, then He will give us grace to follow whatever His direction is, if we quit fighting.

Even as we celebrate our independence as a country, let’s learn dependence on our loving Father God.

Praises to My God

(A word of explanation: The last couple of weeks at the night services, my church has been giving us time to sit still before God and simply listen to what He says to us.This is what He spoke to me.)

 The Opening

 The mighty rushing wind of your Holy Spirit comes in and sweeps away all fears, all doubts, all hesitancy, all reluctance. That wind sweeps away all but your sweet, gentle voice, and I hear You say, “Come to me, my child. Sit beside me and learn who I am. For I am gentle and loving. I bring you comfort and security. My love for you is boundless.

Praises to My Lord God Almighty

I sing to You because You are beautiful
I sing to You because You are holy
High and lifted up:

Above all that ever was
Above all that is now
Above all that ever will be
Above all the skies
Deeper than the deepest ocean.

That’s less than You are – far less –
But it gives me an idea of just how immensely large You are.
But just an idea.
Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent.
The words ring true for You
But I’m too small to understand them.

Lord, I’m amazed in your presence.
I can’t grasp just who You are
But speak to my spirit
Reveal more of yourself to me.

Open my eyes to better see glimpses of Holy You
Impress on my heart just who You are
Teach me a righteous fear of You.
Teach me of your holiness and glory
Let me see You through the clouds and midst
Give me clear vision.

Holy Lord God Almighty,
Continue to open my eyes more each day
Until I see You completely
In all your glory and holiness.

I sing to You because You are beautiful
I sing to You because You are holy
High and lifted up; glorious beyond compare
I sing to You until I shall see You face to face
And then I’ll bow and worship You as never before!

   
Second Praise 

Oh holy, holy God
I worship and adore You
For You first loved me
You taught me what love is.

You’ve carried me in the night seasons
And rejoiced with me in the joyous times.
Whatever my circumstances
Wherever I’ve been –
You have been there too.

You’ve guided me with your eye
And when I wasn’t paying attention
You guided me with your hand.

Holy, Precious Father!
There is no one like You
I love and adore You
For there’s no one like You.

Father, your love amazes me
It lifts my heart high
Even when I’m down
Your love draws me high.

Your love is secure
You will not fail
Even when I neglect You
Your love continues true.

But Lord, my heart’s desire is to ever draw closer
Closer to your love
Closer to your holiness
Closer to your glory.

Father, I long to reflect my Jesus
Just as the moon reflects the sun
I long to look more like Jesus
And reflect Him to the world.

Amen.

Stir up Your Spiritual Gift!

God gives all His children spiritual gifts, and if we don’t know what they are, we need to ask Him. Someone who knows us well can help also because often they see the gifts before we’re aware of them. Father gives these gifts to bless others so that all the body of Christ grows and matures, but in using them, we’re blessed as well.

Those of you who follow my blog regularly noticed that for a while I didn’t post very often. While doing lots of other things, I had some ideas but simply didn’t spend the time before Father to receive what He wanted me to write. While I didn’t deny time with Him, at that point I needed more and didn’t give it. I didn’t stir up my gifting.

A couple of weeks ago my pastor preached on 2 Timothy 1:6. Paul wrote this letter to Timothy, his disciple who was serving the Lord but perhaps not with his whole heart. Paul recalls how Timothy’s mother and grandmother had great faith and now Timothy lives that same faith, but Paul sees a problem. The New Living Translation writes it this way: This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.

God gives spiritual gifts and often does that when someone prays for us. He doesn’t require it, however. Our Father doesn’t have specific rules and regulations about how he does things so that we won’t say “this must happen for that to occur.” He works as He pleases, but we all do receive gifts.

Sometimes we allow our circumstances to interfere with using our gifts, and that’s what I let happen for a little while. I’d read a couple of meditations about using our gifts, and when my pastor spoke about this topic, I knew God meant me! Perhaps more people needed to hear that sermon, but I knew it hit it’s mark in me.

Notice that Paul tells Timothy to fan into flames the gift. I’d let my gift sit and smolder for a time, just like a fire has coals but needs to be stirred to really do its job. In the same way, Timothy and I had to stop being lazy about what Father gave us and get to work using it.

I don’t call myself a writer, as a precious internet friend told me. She sees herself as a scribe, one who writes what they are given. I’m that same way. I don’t sit at the computer and think about what to write. The Holy Spirit puts an idea in my heart, and I sit and the words flow. Sometimes I think I’m led to write about a subject, and I get part of it done but can’t finish it. I save the draft in case I come back to it in the future; often I don’t. But when I’m writing what the Spirit guides me to write, words flow to the computer. I do edit it, sometimes several times to get it correct, but know this will bless someone the day they read it. That’s using my spiritual gift as Father intends. That what He wants us all to do.

Understanding the Spiritual Armor

When I first put on the spiritual armor, I had trouble remembering the order, so I learned the pieces from head down and used that way for a while. Then one day I wondered why it was listed in such a seemingly disconnected way. That’s when my Father whispered in my mind that He has a reason for that process. As I thought about this, I began to understand that reasoning and have put it on correctly ever since.

God led Paul to write about the spiritual armor in Ephesians 6:10-18 after telling these believers in Jesus Christ how to live a life pleasing to Him. Paul, being a prisoner in Rome, knew he’d never see them again and so wanted to help them as much as possible. Most likely, Paul intended this letter to circulate to all the churches in the area. This and Philippians are my favorite letters of all those Paul wrote. Ephesians tells us in chapter one where our spiritual standing lives and how blessed we are. Stuffed full of golden nuggets, we do well to study this book repeatedly. Chapter six gives us final instructions for living a genuine Christian life and at the end tells us how to fight all Satan throws against us.

Ephesians 6:10-12 (New Living Translation* – NLT)  Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might.  11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world’s rulers of this darkness, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

 Here Paul tells us that our troubles aren’t caused by people but by the spirits and powers ruling those people. When one becomes a Christ-follower, Satan realizes that person is a threat to him and his kingdom, so he starts to attack that one in various ways. That doesn’t mean non-believers don’t have problems also because Satan’s whole aim is to “steal, kill and destroy.” Jesus calls our enemy the thief in John 10:10 and uses these words to describe him. But Jesus goes on to say that He came to give us a satisfying and rich life [not necessarily rich in money or material possessions, though some Christ-followers are] (NLT). That’s what makes following Jesus such a wonderful blessing. Next Paul describes the spiritual armor that protects us from the assaults of Satan. Then, we’re to stand strong even through the assaults. Christians become stronger through the warfare we endure, but our aim centers on standing for Jesus, no matter what. Without this armor, we cannot stand.

 Ephesians 6:13-17 (NLT):   Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Ephesians 6:13-17 (The Message Bible** – MSG):   Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. 14 Truth, righteousness, 15 peace, 16 faith, 17 and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. I really like this version because it’s so succinct, telling us exactly what’s what.

How do we wear the spiritual armor?

We’re to wrap ourselves in the truth of God’s word, which is the first piece of armor we must wear. Why? Because if we don’t know the truth, the other pieces can’t help us. When the Holy Spirit breaks through to our spirit that Jesus really is the Son of God and that His blood shed so long ago will forgive our sins, then we confess them and turn away from them and start on the path as a child of God. (Please note, salvation only begins with this first step; our full salvation continues as we grow closer to the Lord in this life and finds fulfillment when we arrive in heaven.)

The breastplate of righteousness comes in and gives us that right standing before God, so we can enter His presence and talk with Him. This piece goes over our heart and gives us encouragement to live a godly life daily.

We need these and the other pieces of spiritual armor all the way through our lives because the devil will always try to turn us from the truth of God’s Word. That’s not meant at all to be discouraging but simply states the fact that we do have an enemy who doesn’t want us to follow our Lord.

Next we put on the shoes of the peace that comes from knowing and acting on the Word of God. When we become a believer in Jesus Christ, we receive peace from God because all our sins are forgiven. Afterwards, we’ll find that peace disappears if we stray from God’s way, so we must go back and confess that wrong against God and others; then we’ll regain that peace. This peace also helps us be at peace with other people because once we learn of our Father’s great forgiveness towards us, then we’re enabled to forgive others. For more on God’s peace, please read Philippians 4:6-8 below. I think describing this peace with shoes is important because it indicates that this special inward peace goes with us, no matter what circumstances we face. Paul was in prison when he wrote about this wonderful peace and contentment from God that remains always with us (see also Philippians 4:11, 13 and 19.)

Philippians 4:6-8 (NLT):  Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. 8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Graham Cooke, a godly author and speaker, calls negative thinking “the worship language of the devil” because that’s what he wants us to do. Negative thinking gets us depressed and almost giving up on God. That’s why Paul tells us to keep on thinking about all the goodness of our heavenly Father. Not that we deny earthly problems, but  we realize our circumstances are governed by a God who loves us so much that He gave His own Son to die for us. Unless they were fighting in a war for our country, I seriously doubt I’d ever let one of my sons sacrifice his life for someone who didn’t even like us; yet, that’s exactly what God did! Romans 5:8 (NLT):  But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

We take up the shield of faith, which grows larger the more we involve ourselves in Bible study and prayer. Our faith is only enough to believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior when we first become a Christian but as we follow our Lord, it grows. We’ll never not need that faith because Satan will always try to discourage it, as the Word says, by throwing those flaming darts of doubt, confusion and lies. That shield is stronger than he is, though, so we can stand faithful as long as we remember that fact. 1 John 4:4 reminds us that the Holy Spirit who lives within us is greater than the devil who rules the world. The Bible goes on to tell us that without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Faith starts at the beginning of our Christian life and goes through till the end. In Luke 18:8 Jesus asks when He returns, will He find faith on the earth?

The helmet of salvation operates best with all the rest of the armor. We cover our heads (indicating our minds, wills and emotions) guarding them against all doubts and lies Satan and the world in general try to throw at us, but we must know the truth to effectively protect ourselves or others when we’re talking with them. When we’re believers in Jesus Christ, we experience a relationship with Him. Being a good person, joining a church or following a certain religious doctrine doesn’t make us a believer. Christianity isn’t a religion; it’s a relationship with our Lord.

The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. This sword only works if we have an experiential knowledge of the Bible. That means we’ve walked with God and can put His Word into practice. We don’t simply read the Bible as we would another book. Jesus used the sword of the Spirit to defeat Satan when He was tempted in the wilderness (see Matthew 4:1-11) and we’re to do the same thing.

Why is the last piece of the spiritual armor the Word of God? Because everything we think, say or do must be checked by the Bible. It’s the controller of what is and isn’t good for us under God’s leadership. Yes, there are gray areas that aren’t mentioned, things that weren’t even possible during Bible times. For example, television and the internet supplies both spiritual food and spiritual death. Some things remain neutral. When we wear the rest of the armor, we can easily tell which is which. Does what we see build us up spiritually or tear us down? Does it meet the test of Philippians 4:8? If we want to discern the difference, we can. Jesus defeated Satan by using the Word of God and so can we.

James 4:7-10 (MSG):  So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. 8 Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. 9 Hit bottom and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. 10 Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.

The Final Act

 Ephesians 6:18-20 (NLT)  Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. 19 And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike. 20 I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.

Why do we put on and keep on this armor? To protect us from all that the enemy of our souls throws at us. And even more than that, it prepares us to pray as the Holy Spirit leads us to pray not only for ourselves but for other believers – those we know and those around the world. We also pray for those who do not yet know our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.

We must support ourselves and keep our hopes high in the Lord. Likewise, we must support each other because all of us experience days that discourage us and need a special word of encouragement at that time. Long ago, I learned that when someone’s name came to mind, to pray for that person. This happened several times with the same lady, so I started calling her then to see how things were going. Each time, she needed prayer about something. I learned then to always pray, no matter where I was, when I suddenly thought of someone, especially if they weren’t usually on my mind’s radar.

If we keep up with Christian news, we know many believers in numerous countries are persecuted, jailed or killed for being Christians and spreading the gospel.  It’s our responsibility as free people to pray for our brothers and sisters around the world who miss this freedom. We pray for their safety but also their courage and strength to stand strong during persecution. We also pray for the persecutors because they don’t know Jesus as their Savior. We can pray that either by their captive’s witness, through dreams or other ways that they too will accept Christ. Jesus always cared for those who don’t know Him and still does.

Matthew 9:36-38 (NLT   He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. 38 So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”

Thus, it’s our job as believers to protect ourselves from Satan’s attacks and to pray for other believers, whether we know them or not. As well, our duty and privilege call us to pray for those who don’t know Him that they will accept Christ as their Savior. One way Paul mentions he needs prayer is that he will be bold to say exactly what needs to be said. He doesn’t suggest they pray for his quick release, as I probably would, but I’m not sure I’d pray for boldness to witness when it would likely cost me more persecution. Responsibilities come with being a Christian – to others and especially to our Father who loves and gives us so very much. Will we continually wear our spiritual armor and pray for ourselves, for others and for those who don’t yet know our Savior and Lord?

____________

*   Holy Bible, New Living Translation ®, copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.

**  THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. l rights reserved.

***  I use these modern Bible translations because they are easier to understand for people whose first language may not be English because this goes on my blog, with many readers whom I don’t know.