Monday, May 25, 2015

“But I am Prayer”

David wrote Psalm 109 as a plea to the Lord for help. But, early in the Psalm, verse 4b, he writes, “…but I give myself to prayer.” The Hebrew here, according to the ESV translators, literally means, “…but I am prayer.”
 
It struck me—can I say this?
 
Can I say that in every circumstance, every life situation that I face or that my children face, “I am prayer”?
 
Or, do my hands and feet get ahead of my mouth? Do I try to be the fixer before I gain the mind of Christ through prayer?
 
If “I am prayer,” then I will be already in the correct place to receive help from the Fixer who isn’t just about repairs but is the Restorer and Redeemer. In fact, I think I prefer to be restored and redeemed and definitely prefer that for my children.
 
May we each be able to say, “…but I am prayer.”
 
 
Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
I am the Lord your God, Who teaches you to profit,
Who leads you in the way that you should go.
Isaiah 48:17 (AMP)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Tuned Ears

The main road from town to our home, which is near the city limits, is four lanes, two in each direction. I usually stay in the far right lane knowing that I will have to turn right on our road. But, often when a car or cars are in front of me, I sense the need to change lanes. I can’t always say I listen, but either way, I quickly find out that the car in front of me all of sudden slows down to turn right. Recently, I sensed that, so I moved my car into the left lane, and watched as both of the cars in front of me slowed down, one right after the other to turn right into different driveways.
 
Have you ever sensed something familiar?
 
I thought, this really isn’t a big thing. But it reminds me that the Living God who indwells me through His Spirit knows where I am and knows about every detail of my life…and He cares. Changing lanes to avoid being slowed down really is only a very small thing in the scheme of life. But it is certainly a huge reminder that this is true of the big things. I just need to keep my ear tuned to hear and my heart ready to obey.
 
And that makes me think of how mightily the Spirit works in this world, even in the lives of those He does not indwell. Scripture tells us—
 
He will convict and convince the world and bring demonstration to it about sin and about righteousness (uprightness of heart and right standing with God) and about judgment
John 16:8 (AMP)
 
But we who have Him indwelling us have a part to play—prayer.
 
That is why we must never give up praying for our children no matter their age or their circumstances. It is the Spirit of God that works to move them from one path to another—just as He moves us.

 
Lord God, we come before You with hands held out to plead for our children. May Your Holy Spirit speak into their lives. May their ears be tuned to hear sweet words behind them: “Go this way. There is your path; this is how you should go” whenever they must decide whether to turn to the right or the left. (from Isaiah 30:21 VOICE). In the Name of our Living Savior, Jesus, amen.

 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Tirelessness in Prayer

The warm spring days we’ve had recently are good times to watch the critters outside our living room window as they enjoy their changing environment. Birds, mostly starlings, one afternoon were rummaging in the grass while a squirrel was traversing the high wire up above. He was heading back from probably our oak tree to the huge maples in the neighbor’s yard. Suddenly, not far from the first tree, he was almost knocked off the wire by a starling’s attack! I’d never seen a starling do this before. The squirrel quickly recovered and had continued on his way when the starling repeated the attack. This time, the squirrel jumped from the wire to the center of the maple tree only to have the starling, again on the attack, follow him right onto the tree! It was like the bird took on squirrel attributes as it “ran” over the tree limb. Both disappeared from my sight.
 
This whole interaction made me think of how even when we are traveling on a good path, the enemy is still after us. Persistently, he tries to knock us off the path. And when we get off, his attack intensifies to make it difficult for us to get back on.
 
The enemy is tireless. So, praying moms, we must be tireless in prayer. Because even when we think our kids are on the safe path, more prayer is needed. Their enemy will, without a doubt, try to knock them off with repeated attacks. And, if he succeeds, he will make even more effort to keep them from getting back on.
 
We need to follow Jesus’ example when Satan was after Peter. In fact, the Amplified Bible takes this deeper to say that Satan was after all the disciples, not just Peter—
 
Simon, Simon (Peter), listen! Satan has asked excessively that [all of] you be given up to him [out of the power and keeping of God], that he might sift [all of] you like grain,
Luke 22:31 (AMP)
 
We see Jesus’ example of intercession as Luke goes on to write one of those “but God” verses—
 
But I have prayed especially for you [Peter], that your [own] faith may not fail; and when you yourself have turned again, strengthen and establish your brethren.
Luke 22:32 (AMP)
 
May we follow the example of Jesus. Peter was on the path, following Jesus, yet the enemy was on attack. Similarly, it is often when we think our children are “safe” that they really are most vulnerable. Our children need the backup of our prayers to not only keep them on the path but also to restore them when they are knocked off.
 
May we keep praying until Jesus comes. May we “be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly]” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 AMP)

 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Servants of VICTORY

Victory does not happen to us while we passively wait …
a victorious Christian is deliberately and personally involved
in a process that leads to victory.
If you are to achieve your goals, you must be involved to the maximum extent.
Charles Swindoll

Proverbs 21:31 tells us that "the horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord." And Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:57 in agreement that it is "God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
 
Yet, John wrote in 1 John 5:4 that "everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith."
 
So, how does what Charles Swindoll wrote reconcile with these and other scriptures?
 
What it all boils down to is this—
 
If you want victory, you have to surrender.
 
Because faith—the victory that has overcome—equals surrender. Thus, it is our active involved choice of surrender in faith—believing, trusting, and relying upon the Lord, not ourselves—that allows our God, then, to do the work in and through us that leads to victory.
 
In that choice of faith, we surrender our own desires and will to those of our Father God, just as Christ did. (Philippians 2:5-8, Luke 22:42) Jesus, our example, humbly surrendered His will to His Father’s will. He chose to be His Father’s servant and was involved to the maximum extent in the process of accomplishing His Father’s goal—even to death. And the result? Victory!
 
If victory is really our desire, we, too, must humbly surrender our will and be involved to the maximum extent. That will mean death to ourselves.
 
The reality is, then, praying moms, surrender is what has to happen if we are to be prayer warriors for our children. Because, honestly, what keeps us from prayer? Isn’t it ourselves?
 
We may place the blame on this or that, but the truth is we choose what we do with our time. Even if the demands of others are involved, we still choose.
 
It’s a peculiarity of the Christian life—surrender brings victory. So, my prayer for us is that we will each make the choice of surrendered faith to be involved to the maximum extent and be servants of victory.


How we thank God for all of this! It is he who makes us victorious
through Jesus Christ our Lord!
1 Corinthians 15:57 (TLB

Friday, April 10, 2015

Hope Gives Peace

I was reading 1 Samuel 1 recently, and this passage about Hannah made me think about what it means when another comes alongside you to agree with you in prayer before the Lord. It means hope. Hannah's response to Eli's words, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to Him.” (1 Samuel 1:17, ESV) was, "Let your servant find favor in your eyes." And then she "went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad." 1 Samuel 1:18 (ESV)
 
Think about it. Someone, though, not at first, agreed with her sorrowful pleas before the Lord.
 
Her husband's other wife didn't. Instead, she “provoked her grievously to irritate her.”
 
Even her husband didn’t. He said, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?” Logical and reasonable questions, but just not coming alongside.
 
Although Eli at first questioned her, thinking she was drunk, after hearing her heart, he came alongside her.
 
That’s what I love about praying with other moms. They hear my heart as I pray for my child. AND then they come alongside me in prayer.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Heaven

Lots of stories are being told about heaven these days. One popular story was recently admitted to be false by its adolescent storyteller. But, the truth about heaven is available to every person in Bible.

In fact, Jesus told one story that gives us just a glimpse of what is in store for people when they pass from this land of the living into eternity albeit this story was told by Jesus prior to His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension.

Take a moment to read His story out loud to yourself from Luke 16:19-31 in the Voice—

There was this rich man who had everything—purple clothing of fine quality and high fashion, gourmet meals every day, and a large house.  Just outside his front gate lay this poor homeless fellow named Lazarus. Lazarus was covered in ugly skin lesions.  He was so hungry he wished he could scavenge scraps from the rich man’s trash. Dogs would come and lick the sores on his skin.  The poor fellow died and was carried on the arms of the heavenly messengers to the embrace of Abraham. Then the rich fellow died and was buried and found himself in the place of the dead. In his torment, he looked up, and off in the distance he saw Abraham, with Lazarus in his embrace. He shouted out, “Father Abraham! Please show me mercy! Would you send that beggar Lazarus to dip his fingertip in water and cool my tongue? These flames are hot, and I’m in agony!” But Abraham said, “Son, you seem to be forgetting something: your life was full to overflowing with comforts and pleasures, and the life of Lazarus was just as full with suffering and pain. So now is his time of comfort, and now is your time of agony. Besides, a great canyon separates you and us. Nobody can cross over from our side to yours, or from your side to ours.” ”Please, Father Abraham, I beg you,” the formerly rich man continued, “send Lazarus to my father’s house.  I have five brothers there, and they’re on the same path I was on. If Lazarus warns them, they’ll choose another path and won’t end up here in torment.” But Abraham said, “Why send Lazarus? They already have the law of Moses and the writings of the prophets to instruct them. Let your brothers hear them.” “No, Father Abraham,” he said, “they’re already ignoring the law and the prophets. But if someone came back from the dead, then they’d listen for sure; then they’d change their way of life.” Abraham answered, “If they’re not listening to Moses and the prophets, they won’t be convinced even if someone comes back from the dead.”

Though not stated outright, the implication is clear that Lazarus listened to Moses and the prophets and believed and that the rich man did not.

Jesus tells us clearly that when we die, we either go to a place of agony or to a place of comforts and pleasures. The writer of Hebrews echoes this finality, "…it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment." (9:27, NKJ) Between the two places is an impassable canyon of separation. "Nobody can cross over from…"

The decisions we make here, today, will ultimately on our final breath determine our eternal future. Just like the rich man in Jesus' story, there comes a day when we die and all opportunity is ended. As Paul reminds us repeatedly in the book of Hebrews, "Today is the day of salvation." Every day we have is an opportunity to listen and believe. At the end of his life, the thief at the cross chose to do so and was told by Jesus, "Today you will be with Me in paradise." (Luke 23:43, NKJ)

Praying moms, that is why we fight in prayer for our children. That is why we wrestle against the "principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" with our prayers "using the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God." (from Ephesians 6)

That is why we don't give up. That is why we put aside our wants for how to spend our time to join our voices together with other moms for our children and for theirs. The most important thing in a child's life is the decision where he/she will spend eternity. Will that be heaven in the Presence? Prayer is that which makes the difference in the battle.

We must pray, not for ourselves only, but for all saints. Our enemies are mighty, and we are without strength, but our Redeemer is almighty, and in the power of his might we may overcome.
Wherefore we must stir up ourselves.
Matthew Henry


 


 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Change Just Is

An email from a Christian radio station this morning made me think about change. The writer used telephones as an example. Referring to Star Trek and Captain Kirk, he wrote—

Let’s take a trip in the way back machine for a moment, to 1996. Did you have a flip phone?
Matt Stockman

Yes, we did have flip phones. But in 1966, the year Star Trek debuted, no, we didn't. And going back further—remember Dick Tracy?—we didn't have watch phones either. But, now we do. And as Matt pointed out, flip phones can be bought "by the shoebox full at Goodwill."

Change is. It just is.

Change happens all around us every day. It is especially apparent this time of year as the trees go from bare branches to flourishing with leaves.

Change happens in us as well. We grow; then stop growing—well, except our hair and nails. But we are still changing, our bodies getting older. Wrinkles and gray hair become more visible and other things which don't need to be named.

And change happens in us in other ways. As believers we grow from faith to faith as we walk in step with the Spirit in this land of the living.

We can't help, then, to recognize that change is reality. But how often go we overlook that change is necessary in our children, too. Oh, I know we notice their physical changes and their intellectual changes. But do we consider and pray about the changes they will have in life and need to go through to develop into the disciples of Christ that He wants of them?

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
2 Corinthians 3:18 (NLT)

It is often our mom-sense in life to protect our children in such a way that we hinder the change that the Spirit wants to bring about. We want them like our old land line phones, receiver attached to the telephone base with a cord. Or it might be that we want them too soon to become a smart phone and push them into places they are not ready for. Either way, we get in the way of the Spirit whose work is to create the change He desires.

…so we are being transformed, metamorphosed, into His same image
from one radiance of glory to another,
just as the Spirit of the Lord accomplishes it.
2 Corinthians 3:18b

My prayer for us is that we will participate well in the change the Spirit desires to produce in our children.