My New Year’s Prayer for You

Dear friend, I pray that all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit (3 John 2, New Living Translation.)

What an all-encompassing prayer! I wish it for each of you and for my own family as well. Let’s examine quickly just what the prayer does say. Merriam-Webster says that prosper means: To succeed in an enterprise or activity; to achieve economic success; to become strong and flourishing.

I’d also say that includes emotional satisfaction and fulfillment as well as our health. But if we can’t find contentment because that God-shaped hole grows deeper daily, then we can’t truly consider ourselves prospering either. So we need all of these to be completely prosperous.

I really like the fact that John, the beloved disciple and an apostle, prayed that his friend may prosper in every way. I’m glad I can repeat that prayer for others. I’m sure most of us want to prosper also.

When we think of prospering in every way, we often think of finances first. If we’re concerned about unpaid bills that we can’t meet, then we have no prosperity. And naturally we want our families to be happy within their families – for marriages to be good, children to behave in an appropriate manner, for all those relationships within the broader family to be harmonious. We think of prospering in our work as having a job we enjoy and can do competently, as well as being paid a reasonable amount for the skills involved in the job.

John prayed for his friend’s health, and I certainly wish for others, as well as myself to be well in the coming year. Being healthy is something we’d all like to experience. We probably never miss it so much until we don’t have our health and then realize how important it is in all we do. It is difficult to work when we hurt or feel unwell, whether we’re on the job or work at home. Life is simply more enjoyable when we’re healthy.

Then John says he prays Gaius is as healthy physically as he is spiritually. Evidently Gaius was walking the Lord for John to have said that. Oops! Would we want someone to say this to us? Is our spiritual life healthy enough that we’d want our body to be the same way?

That gives us something to think about, doesn’t it? Often people make a new year’s resolution to lose weight. Maybe this year, we need to make a resolution to help our spirits gain weight and to become and stay healthy spiritually. How does my physical health compare to my spiritual health? What do I need to do to become spiritually healthy?

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A Christmas Present for Jesus

How much easier it is to talk the Christian talk than it is to walk the Christian walk. Even moral unbelievers can sometimes pass as Christians if we don’t really know them. Why? Because sometimes Christians don’t appear to live that much differently than the unbelievers.

My husband once worked for a Muslim man from Turkey, who outwardly lived as clean and good a life as any Christian. He was a good husband, father and boss; my husband and others who worked for him respected him for his ability and judgment. He didn’t smoke or drink, curse or talk badly about others. We knew his wife and children, and they all had a good family relationship. He believed in Allah instead of believing in Jesus Christ as his Savior.

How much easier it is to go to church,  give to the church and appear to be a faithful Christ-follower than it is to regularly check out hearts and see if Christ really has first place. Yes, we should and do love our families and care for them. We must give time to our jobs. But no matter what we do, is it for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31)?

Obviously we can’t stop every time before we do something and ask, “Am I doing this to glorify God?” But we can ask ourselves if our life purpose is to live for His honor. We can ask ourselves if anything we do would discredit the fact that we claim to follow Christ. Are we loving? That was Jesus’ most outstanding characteristic, for everything He did came from love for God and people.

The Bible tells us to examine ourselves before we partake of the Lord’s Supper or Communion (1 Corinthians 11:27 but see verses 23-32 for context.) Do we? Merriam Webster Dictionary defines communion as an act or instance of sharing or as intimate fellowship or rapport, besides the way Christians ordinarily mean the word. To me, the Lord’s Supper is all of these and needs to be taken very seriously but joyfully. Paul warns that it must be taken seriously. And why joyfully? Because of all God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son sacrificed for us so we can have intimacy with Them.

In Luke 46-49 Jesus compares a person who calls Him Lord but don’t obey His commands to a person who builds his house on sand, but a flood comes and washes away that house. James says someone who doesn’t obey the Word is like a person who looks in a mirror but then forgets what he looks like as soon as he turns away (1:22-25).

Both these Scriptures discuss how believers need to respond to God’s Word. Whether we’re personally reading the Bible or hearing it read, it should touch our hearts and gradually change us so that we more nearly display some of Christ’s characteristics.

Is there any greater present we can give our Lord this Christmas (or any other time!) than to make our life’s purpose to follow Him more closely?

And so dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice–the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him (Romans 12:1-2 New Living Translation).

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.

The Luxury of Psalm 23

As I sat simply enjoying the presence of the Lord, I felt wrapped in luxury as Psalm 23 came to mind. Repeating that beloved Psalm to myself, I quickly saw the reason it popped up. This word from our heavenly Father assures us of all we need at any time. Let me give you my short interpretation of its wealth of contentment. Twice I have written extensively about this Psalm, going phrase by phrase. One so beloved we continually return to, don’t we? (The endnotes contain Scriptures for my descriptions in the Psalm.) Continue reading

Positive Thoughts for Hard Times

 

Thinking positively isn’t simply trying to fool yourself into believing good is coming instead of evil. Rather, it is a strategy for defeating Satan, who tries to get us to think the worst in every situation. He is the enemy of our souls – our minds, wills and emotions. The Bible tells us the devil comes only to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10). Yet, so often we listen to his lies instead of believing the truth of God’s Word, which says our Father gives us good gifts (Matthew 7:11). James 1:17 even goes so far as to say that “every good and perfect gift” comes from Him. Continue reading

Lingering on Giving Thanks

Even though we are barely in December, let’s linger a little longer at the end of November and consider thanksgiving again – the word not the holiday. Certainly, Christmas brings great reasons to be thankful. First because Jesus was born as a baby so He could grow up to be the perfect human and then pay the price of our sin by His death on the cross. Other than Easter, that’s the greatest reason any month has for being grateful. Continue reading