Friday, November 28, 2014

The Place of Joy

Bible Study Fellowship's Women’s Day classes have a preschool program whose schedule includes a Quiet Time during which the children are instructed to and expected to lay down, be still, and be quiet.  The children are assured that this is not a nap time. They can keep their eyes open.  They are told that this is a time to think about God. The Bible in Psalm 46:10 tells us to “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Hold that thought.

Taking time to be in God’s presence is important. For one thing, His presence is the place of joy!

You will show me the path of life;
in Your presence is fullness of joy;
at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalm 16:11 (NKJ)

Stacey Padrick wrote that busyness causes us to “whiz by quiet green pastures of joy where God offers to restore our souls." She added, "…anything that pulls us away from His presence pulls us away from joy.” She called these things "joy snatchers."

Hmm…

In this season of the year, when so much centers on "Joy to the World," we can often find our joy stolen, as Stacey warned. We can get caught up in the preparations and activities that we forget about the Joy-Giver.

Remember Psalm 46:10?  That word “still” is the Hebrew word, raphah.  It is most often is translated as be quiet, be silent, let go, cease striving—to show oneself slack.  God desires us to relax in His presence, to find refuge in Him amidst “life.”  The Living Bible says in Psalm 46:4 that there is a river of joy that flows through God’s home where His presence is. 

We have many reasons to find joy in God’s presence.  He is Emmanuel, God with us, as Isaiah and Matthew wrote—we are not alone.  As we read in Jeremiah, in God we find our purpose and meaning.  Throughout scriptures we find evidence that proves God is good.  We have our sins forgiven through His own sacrifice.  We are assured that there is more to life than this—–eternity exists.  We have a hope that is secure.

These verses also tell us God is our Joy:  1 Chronicles 16:27-33; Nehemiah 8:9-12; Psalm 4:7-8; Psalm 30:1-5, 11-12; Psalm 43:3-5; and Zephaniah 3:17. Why not take a Quiet Time today to read them and meditate on them. Their words will help you think about your Joy and slip away into His presence.

Now, going back to the BSF children's program—

One morning, actually it was last day of class that year, as the two-year old class of children settled into their Quiet Time with their heads on their little cloud mats, all were still and quiet—really—when one little voice started singing "Jesus Loves Me." This little two-year old girl had only attended the last three times. Soon, a little curly-headed boy was singing, too. Then, another little girl, who struggled to lay down at Quiet Time, stopped wiggling and rolled over onto her back to sing with them. These mere babies were having a Quiet Time loving Jesus!

That's exactly what we need to do as praying moms. We need our Quiet Time just to love Jesus…and to let Him love us!

So, don't let the season's busyness steal your joy!



Monday, November 24, 2014

Applause!

What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Try it.

At the most, it is barely a whisper. Definitely it is not applause.

But…

What is the sound of your two hands clapping? Or yours plus your friends?

That is applause that the ears can hear without a doubt.

Thinking of how we Americans come together this week to celebrate and give thanks, I was reminded of what the psalmist wrote of in Psalm 95:2 AMP—"Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise!" (Italics mine.)

We make a joyful noise—applause—to Him because, as the angels around His throne and the elders and others proclaimed in worship, "Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength belong to our God forever and ever! Amen." (Revelation 7:12 NLT)

So, as you come together with your family to give thanks, you might want to reflect on these words written by David in Psalm 22:28-30 (ERV)—

Because the Lord is the King.
He rules all nations.
The people have eaten all they wanted
and bowed down to worship him.
Yes, everyone will bow down to him—
all who are on the way to the grave, unable to hold on to life.
Our descendants will serve him.
Those who are not yet born will be told about him.

May we not leave the King out of our time of thanksgiving. May we tell others about His wondrous rule and give Him the applause that belongs to Him.


 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Just Right

Our eyes often perceive perfection differently.

On a television design show, wood frames were made and given a nice fresh coat of paint. Then, they were placed on the wall to add to the d├ęcor. But, the designer wasn't satisfied.

So, the frames were taken down and the smooth, shiny paint was roughed up with sand paper, even down to the wood in spots. The frames were then replaced on the wall and pronounced just right.

That is what God does with us. We come fresh, smooth and untested. Through our life circumstances, over which He is sovereign, He roughs us up to make us perfect—just right. God not only does this with us, but He does this with our children.

Praying moms, we need to remember this when we look at our children with a desire for their life situations to be perfect. We must pray that when their times are tough, and even when things look "good" in their lives, that they will come forth "just right"—complete and perfect in the Lord's perception.

Here is a scripture verse written by David's pen that you can pray for your child—

Father, I ask that You will perfect that which concerns ________; Your mercy and loving-kindness, O Lord, endure forever—forsake not the works of Your own hands. (From Psalm 138:8 AMP)


Remember, praying moms, that the same faithful One who guides and directs your paths is the One who hears and answers your prayers to guide and direct the path of your children's life. As you prayer, He will perfect that which concerns them.


 


 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Insignificance for Greatness

We cannot anticipate which of our daily acts of faithfulness will be used by God.
But we can be encouraged by the knowledge that God can
and does use acts of seeming insignificance to accomplish great things.
Upper Room



When we choose to do what God has given us to do and to do it His way, we will not fail because our faithfulness will be used by God.  We may not know our part until we leave this world—or we may actually see the results as did Joseph.

Joseph, a favored son turned slave, had a heart to partner with the Lord. Whether in the pit, in chains, as a household servant, or a prisoner, God went before Joseph. And even though he cried out to his brothers and told Pharaoh's servants to remember him because he was a captive unjustly imprisoned, we never read that Joseph rebelled against where God had placed him. And because of Joseph's faithfulness to Him, the Lord used him not only to save the nation of Egypt but Joseph's own family.

Jack Hayford wrote that God's powerful purpose is to use individuals to make a difference, individuals like Joseph, whose hearts are willing to partner with Him.

Praying moms, through your persevering prayers, you individually partner with the Lord of hosts, the One who rules angel armies. Once spoken, your prayer is before the Throne of the King and becomes an obstacle in the face of the enemy.

Our culture, though, seems more concerned with gaining workers than pray-ers. Spending time in prayer, being seemingly idle, is often given less priority than using hands and feet to serve.

However, in the Kingdom of God, prayer owns priority. That is because prayer brings God's powerful presence into play. It must be the backbone of any "work" done for the Lord, because prayer is how we know our work is not only of the Lord but how we know we are doing it His way.

What you DO is vital to God's kingdom rule on earth. God will use what may seem as insignificant to some to accomplish great things.

I can't help but think of the mom who spent many hours praying for a troubled teen classmate of her child. Time passed, her child graduated, and she didn't hear anymore about this young man. Several years later, though, she actually came across this teen turned adult in a church parking lot. She was there to attend a meeting. She asked what he was doing there thinking perhaps he was a groundskeeper. No, he was the youth pastor!

Never, never let anyone convince you that what you do is insignificant! Your prayers are obstacles to the prince of this world because you have gone over his head to the ear of the King!

We don't become discouraged, since God has given us this ministry through his mercy.
2 Thessalonians 3:13 (GWT)

Monday, November 10, 2014

If God Can…



If God can make wine
            without grapes,
                        then God can make coal,
                                    without plants.

Then God can make oil and natural gas
            without animals or plants.

Then God can make dirt
            without time consuming processes.

Then God can make plants
            without seeds.

Then God can make chickens
            without eggs.

Then God can make stars
            without cosmic bangs.

Then, praying moms, God can make a wondrous work
            out of anything our children face in this universe He created.

This is what our Lord said to the father whose child needed His help—

"If I can?" Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if you have faith.”
Mark 9:23 (TLB)

This is what Matthew Henry wrote concerning this verse—

In dealing with Christ, very much is put upon our believing, and very much promised it.
Canst thou believe? Darest thou believe? Art thou willing to venture thy all in the hands of Christ? To venture all thy spiritual concerns with him, and all thy temporal concerns for him? Canst thou find in thy heart to do this? If so, it is not impossible but that, though thou has been a great sinner, thou mayest be reconciled; though thou art very mean and unworthy, thou mayest get to heaven. If thou canst believe, it is possible that thy hard heart may be softened, thy spiritual diseases may be cured; and that, weak as thou art, thou mayest be able to hold out to the end.

Praying moms, dare to believe and hold out to the end!




Saturday, November 8, 2014

Homothymadon—with One Accord

One of the gifts God has given us as Christians is one accord prayer.

One accord prayer is praying as a body as opposed to individuals in the same room. Since the latter is what many experience in churches and other groups, one accord prayer is something that often believers need to be taught.

Perhaps that is why when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray that He used the pronouns "our," we," and "us." We are meant to reflect the same oneness He has with His Father and with the Holy Spirit. One accord prayer teaches us to pray with oneness.

I learned one accord prayer as a member of Moms in Prayer International. During our prayer hour, we pray subject by subject conversationally covering in one accord each subject as led by the Spirit until that subject has been fully bathed in prayer.

Our intercession step of prayer begins by joining our voices together in one accord prayer to bathe each child one by one in the Word of God. This is so cool because as we do this we moms gain the added benefit of our minds of also being washed in the Word.

One accord prayer reveals the love we have for one another. It means others are listening to our hearts when they agree with us in prayer, waiting till our request has been fully covered before jumping in with theirs. What a blessing it is to hear the passionate prayers of others echoing our own and to know they care that much.

If you still wonder about one accord prayer, you might find this helpful—

"One accord" is a synonym for unity, according to the Online Thesaurus. As per Strong’s, the phrase “one accord” appears in the KJV 13 times: Acts 1:14; 2:1; 2:46: 4:24; 5:12; 7:57; 8:6; 12:20; 15:25; 18:12; 19:29; and Philippians 2:2.

All of the Acts passages use the Greek word homothymadon, which means with one mind, with one accord, with one passion. This Greek word is unique, a compound word meaning to “rush along” and “in unison” with almost a musical image—like a symphony. Picture God as the Conductor and we are the instrument players or chorus—together we accomplish the symphony with such beauty the Conductor smiles!

Philippians 2:2 uses the word sympsychos (its only occurrence), which means of one mind, of one accord. Syn[m] = together with; psychos = soul, self, inner life, or the seat of the feelings, desires, affections. The word refers to being united in spirit or harmonious—one in Christ in all desires!

Oneness is what Jesus prayed we would experience. (John 17:11, 21, 22, 23) And that oneness turns out to be all about the glory of God seen in us so that the world looking on will choose to believe. One accord prayer helps us grow in oneness. And that means it helps us glorify the Lord our God.


 
All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer,
together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
Acts 1:14 (ESV)





Monday, November 3, 2014

Responsibilty of Prayer



Therefore, I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions,
and giving of thanks be made for all men.
1 Timothy 2:1 (NKJ)

Notice the words of this verse that Paul used—supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks.

Supplications: humble and earnest entreaties, petitions.

Prayers: petitions and entreaties to God or communing with God.

Intercessions: interposing (intervening) or pleading to God on behalf of another.

Giving of thanks: expressing gratitude or appreciation; also, oddly, could mean giving of responsibility for or holding responsibility for—in essence, putting others in God's hands.

Essentially, Paul puts these four together as a unit—"first of all." And in concert, they give the sense that coming to God on behalf of others is to put them in His care to do what is best for them, giving over to Him that responsibility.

Praying moms, this is what we do when we arise, cry out, and pour out our hearts like water before the presence of our Lord, when we lift our hands to Him for the lives of our children "who faint for hunger at the head of every street" (Lamentations 2:19). We hand over to our Lord the responsibility for their care. We ask Him to do what is best for them.

Jesus told us to persevere in prayer and not give up (Luke 18:1). When we do, the Lord said God takes that responsibility seriously. Jesus said, ”Yes! He will answer them quickly!" He went on, though, to ask, "But the question is: When I, the Messiah [the Son of Man], return, how many will I find who have faith and are praying?” Luke 18:8 (TLB)

May we remember our first priority—to pray. And may we keep praying remembering God's responsibility—and His promise—to answer our prayers.