1 Corinthians 12:31b (NAS)

And I show you a still more excellent way.
1Corinthians 12:31b (NAS)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Prayer of Openness

Open my mind that I may know the truth,
discerning good and evil,
and choosing to walk in your holy way. 

Open my eyes that I may see,
your presence and power with me right here,
teaching and leading me to follow you.

Open my mouth that I may speak,
of your wonders and mighty acts,
sharing boldly with everyone I meet.

Open my hands that I may give freely,
from the abundance that you have given me,
blessing and sharing with others.

Open my heart that now belongs to you,
write upon it your words of eternal life,
that I may be a living testimony to thee.

in everything by prayer.....

Do you pray about everything?  I mean e-v-e-r-y thing.  We have been instructed to do so in Philippians 4:6.  We read, "Be careful for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God". 

My experience has been that I pray when trouble comes knocking on my door, like when a friend is hurting, or my child is sick, or there is conflict in a relationship.  It's during these times that I call out to God for help.

I pray at mealtime, at bedtime, and in the morning at the start of the day.  I pray at church or when I am with other believers.

I pray when I receive a prayer request or when someone asks for prayer.

If I were to take a poll of my peers, they would probably say that their prayer life is similar to mine, involving a few minutes of prayer, here and there, throughout the day. 

But, when I look at Paul's words in Philippians 4:6, I get the feeling that prayer is more than what I have made it.  Prayer should proceed, cover, and follow every part of my day.  Would you like to hear it said another way?  Thanks to BibleGateway.com we can read it in no less than 29 English translations.
  • Don't worry about anything, instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done.  (New Living Translation)  
  • Do not worry.  Learn to pray about everything.  Give thanks to God as you ask him for what you need.  (New Life Version)
  • Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.  (Amplified Bible)
  • Don't be anxious about anything, rather bring up all your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks.  (Common English Bible)

What then, do we pray about?  Everything!  Your lost keys, what to eat for breakfast, the project you are working on, the lost person who lives next door, your mom & dad's failing health, which college to attend, how much of your income to tithe, you name it - that's what we should be praying about - "everything". 

Isn't it wonderful that God cares about our "everything".  He wants us to tell him about it, and when we talk to God about the things that concern us, we are growing closer to  him in our personal relationship with him.  Think how much time you spend talking with your family; your children, your spouse, your siblings, your parents.  These are the people you are closest to and it stands to reason, if you spend time talking to God, you will grow closer to him. 

Hannah called from school, looking for her homework; thought she may have left it at the house, - in everything by prayer.  Melanie is traveling down to Louisiana to visit with her kids this weekend, - in everything by prayer.  Daddy had a PET scan on Wednesday; we are still waiting on the results, - in everything by prayer.  Andy has been unemployed for several months, - in everything by prayer.  Do you pray about everything?  You can. 

    Monday, September 19, 2011

    Parenting 101

    I have a new favorite author.  Her name is Elizabeth George.  I heard her speak at the Living with Passion and Purpose Conference at our church last weekend.  She is a grandmother, like myself, who has written over 60 books on various topics; marriage, spiritual growth, time management, and parenting just to name a few.  She is a precious saint who shared from her heart her own experiences and what God had taught her through them. 

    From her book table, I purchased a book for myself, Raising a Daughter After God's Own Heart, and one for Hannah, A Young Woman's Guide  to Making Right Choices.  In her books she cuts right to the chase when it comes to living a life of passion and purpose.  I have been challenged this week after reading Chapter One of Raising a Daughter After God's Own Heart, to be the "Bell Sheep" for my daughter,  Hannah.  Which means that I am to lead by my example. This is just the first of many roles of moms that she discusses in her book.  She presents the information in such a way that I felt excited and motivated to put it into practice.  Even though I have been a mom for over 40 years, I still have a lot to learn about raising a daughter after God's own heart. 

    I have committed  Deuteronomy 6:4-7 to memory because these verses are foundational for parents; to love God with all your heart, soul, and might, to have his word in your heart, and to teach his word diligently to your children.  You might ask, how are we to teach our children?  Verses six and seven tell us how we are to teach them; it is by talking to them.  We talk to our children all day long, in our houses or when we are in the car.  And if we have his word in our hearts, it will be easy to interject it into your daily conversations.  Simple, practical advise to make teaching our children a part of our daily lives.  These verses from Deuteronomy have made my approach to parenting more purposeful and hopefully, more effective.

    Those of you who know me, know that I have always been quiet, never been much of a talker.  Therefore, I have the added challenge of breaking an old habit.  Which means that many days, I will have to force myself to "talk"; to ask questions, to be creative and interesting.  But, no matter how hard it may be, it will be worth the effort, because, more than anything, I want to be the "Bell Sheep" for Hannah.  I want to be there to help her when she needs it, to teach her how to cope with all that life will bring.  I want her to be a woman after God's own heart.

    Monday, September 12, 2011

    Hannah's Namesake

    Hannah wanted to know why we chose the name Hannah out of all the names we could have picked for her.  Evidently, it was one of the most popular girls names in 1995, the year that she was born, because every where she goes she meets other Hannah's; at school, at church, at dance competitions, and at swim meets.   At the time, we  did not realize it would be such a popular name.  When we were choosing a name for our soon-to-arrive new daughter, we looked in the Bible to find a biblical name, one that would have spiritual significance.

    Hannah's name means 'Grace' or favored, making her name Grace Grace or double Grace according to Pastor Roy Bryan Moore. He pointed this out when Hannah was dedicated to the Lord years ago.  And God's sovereign grace is found through out the story of Hannah as found in 1Samuel, chapter1.  When we first see Hannah, she is a very sad lady; crying her eyes out, refusing her husbands words of comfort, and grieving to the point of forgetting to eat.  And why is she so sad?  Her sadness is the result of a deep longing, an unmet need, a strong desire to have a child.   In verse 5 we see the reason why she had not been able to have a child, "the Lord had shut up her womb."  But, Hannah does not give up on her dream of being a mother, she turns to God in her grief and prays 'in bitterness of soul'  (verse 10).  She makes a vow to God, that if he will give her a son, then she will give him back to the Lord all the days of his life. 

    All these events, the deep longing for a son, the barren womb, the sadness and grief were part of God's plan for something wonderful that he was about to do.  He was preparing a man to lead the nation of Israel into a period of revival and Hannah's son would be that man.  He would serve as priest and prophet for many years to come and be used by God in a mighty way.  If you haven't guessed it yet, his name was Samuel and Samuel's name means "because I asked him of the Lord". 

    God chose Hannah to be Samuel's mother.  In verse 19, we read, "and the Lord remembered her".  She  exhibited courage and determination in the face of a hopeless situation.  In spite of great opposition, she kept asking and she kept believing until God granted her petition. 

    My prayer for you Hannah is that you will be like your namesake; that you will cling to God and keep asking until he gives you the thing you desire.

    Friday, September 9, 2011


    Have you ever heard one of those exhaustive lists of the names of Jesus?  Every time I hear one the Holy Spirit rises up in me and I feel like 'shoutin'.  The preacher starts in Genesis and goes all the way to Revelation speaking the names used to describe Jesus in the Bible.  This week in our Tuesday morning Bible study we started a study of the book of Hebrews.  One of our exercises was to list all the descriptions of Jesus found in Chapter one.  It is quite an impressive list that the writer of Hebrews gives us to establish the supremacy of Jesus over the angels.  In Hebrews 1: 1-14 we read that Jesus is:
    •  God's son
    • Heir of all things
    • The one who made the worlds
    • The brightness of God's glory
    • The express image of God's person
    • The one who upholds all things
    • The one who purged our sins
    • The one who sits at the right hand of the Majesty on high
    • The one who laid the foundations of the earth
    • The one who made the heavens
    • The one who remains, who is the same, and shall not fail 

    Continuing through the book of Hebrews we find other descriptions of who Jesus is.
    • In Chapter 2 - He is the Captain of their salvation
    • In Chapter 3 - He is the Apostle and High Priest of our profession
    • In Chapter 8 - He is the Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle
    • In Chapter 9 - He is the Mediator of the new testament
    • In Chapter 12 - He is the Author and Finisher of our faith
    • In Chapter 13 - He is the Great Shepherd of the sheep

    Don't you just love lists; bullet points that make things clear and concise.  We make shopping lists, to-do lists and we use them for evaluation purposes or in making decisions.  A list can be a useful tool.  I felt that it would be beneficial to make my own list of names for Jesus.  Of course, my list is not all inclusive, but simply descriptions of Jesus that I could recall from memory.  Sweet words because it is like worship, yet powerful because of what they represent.  So here goes!  Jesus is:
    • The Alpha and Omega
    • The Beginning and the End
    • Creator
    • Provider
    • The I AM
    • The Sacrificial Lamb
    • The Captain of the Host
    • The Bread of Heaven
    • The Living Water
    • Savior
    • Redeemer
    • Friend of the Sinner
    • The Great Physician
    • One like a Son of Man
    • The Word of Life
    • The Way, the Truth, and the Life
    • The Light of the world
    • Everlasting Lord
    • Eternal God
    • Begotten, not made
    • The Maker of heaven and earth
    • The Lord God
    • The Suffering Servant
    • The One who takes away the sins of the world
    • The only Hope of mankind
    • The First born from the dead
    • The Head of the church
    • The soon and coming King
    • The Bridegroom
    • The Lion of Judah
    • The Lamb of God
    • Jesus, He  is  Jesus

    Thursday, September 8, 2011

    The Beautiful Sleep

    Beautiful sleep, blessed sleep
    covers tight around my chin
    wrapped in warmth
    enveloped in quiet
    inhale, now exhale
    exhaustion gives way
    afloat on the sea of unconsciousness
    like a babe
    no worries or fear
    escape into nothingness
    sweet dreams
    full of people; babies, and family and friends.

    Toss and turn and twist
    fluff the pillow
    throw off the covers
    no comfort in this bed
    the clock shrieks the time
    waiting, waiting
    longing for the sleep that never comes
    and then to wake with irritation
    and envy
    for those who sleep
    the beautiful sleep.

    Proverbs 3:24 
    When you lie down, you will not be afraid; When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

    Psalm 4: 8
    In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for thou alone, O Lord, dost make me to dwell in safety.

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    He will even use a headache

    God says in his Word that we are to rejoice in trials.  In James 1:2 we read, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds."  Well, I have a headache this morning so I will give thanks to God for this trial.  To do so is not foolish; James goes on to say in verses 3 and 4, "because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."  So, I will give thanks and be joyful, for because of this headache, I must rest quietly in bed, making this an excellent time to pray and meditate on God's Word.  If I had not had a headache, I would be busy with my daily activities, getting ready for work, doing the laundry, etc.  But instead, I have the privilege of spending time with the one who loves me more than I can imagine.  How blessed I am.  He will use something as simple as a headache to say I love you.  He desires to spend time with me and he will interrupt my day, causing me stop and consider and listen to him.  He knows what I need, and what I need is a fresh touch of his presence.

    During his final hours on earth, Jesus prayed for his disciples and for those who would believe in him because of their message, "that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you,  May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me," John 17:21.  Jesus wanted us to be one with him and one with the Father.  How wonderfully, marvelous, that God, the Almighty, the source of all life, would want to be associated with me.  He wants to know me; to be joined or connected with me.  Look again at Jesus prayer.  Why did Jesus pray for us to be one with him and with the Father?  "That the world may believe that you have sent me."  God's plans and purposes are so far-reaching.  My headache is not only a  blessing for me in my personal relationship with Christ, but, it has eternal consequences.  God desires to reach others besides myself; he wants the world to know who Jesus is.  Jesus, the only begotten son of God, who lived a perfect life and died in my place to pay for my sins, and not only mine, but, the sins of the whole world.  That's not all though, he rose again and lives  forever with the Father in heaven and one day he's coming again to receive those who are his. 

    Therefore, I will consider it pure joy that I awoke with a headache.  For, because of it, I have enjoyed sweet fellowship with my God, who everyday loads me with benefits.  My faith has been tried and it is producing patience in me,  and patience will have its perfect work of making me mature and complete, not lacking anything.

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    The Power of a Song

    It's Sunday morning worship time and I'm late.  So now I'm anxious as well as discouraged and tired.  I'm alone, so I slip quietly into the pew and loose myself in the crowd of worshipers that surround me.  The piano plays familiar cords, I relax and say a silent prayer.  I feel safe.  Slowly, the music fills the room and we sing the timeless words of an old hymn.   The words seem written for me and this moment.  God's sweet Holy Spirit washes over me as I surrender, releasing all my fears; bringing cleansing, healing, comfort, and reassurance.  It can happen without warning or maybe I'm riding in the car or at home listening to Christian  radio, when the lyrics of a song speak directly to me and my situation, bringing tears to my eyes and causing my heart to swell with pure joy.  These times like numerous other times, God used a song with its powerful words to minister to my soul.

    Some of the best songs are the old hymns; the ones I learned as a child and sang all my life, like Old Rugged Cross, I will arise and go to Jesus, and Trust and Obey.  These can speak to me wherever I am, no hymn book needed, because they are forever written in my memory.  I start to sing a line or two that I remember and before long I'm singing all the verses and the refrain. 

    Songs can comfort, songs can inspire, songs can convict, songs can heal, songs can encourage.  What about you?  What's your favorilte old hymn?  What song has ministered to your heart at a time when you needed to hear from God?  Hannah says that everytime she hears the David Crowder Band sing How He Loves she remembers the awesome time she had at Student Life.  It was there that she heard for the first time, the story behind the song.  Recently, Jeane shared with me the lyrics to No Matter What by Kerrie Roberts.  The message of the song is to trust God and know that all things are in his hands, no matter what.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=OA3MSqufJP4  Just last week Daddy was working in his garden and he felt moved to sing the old hymn, Have Faith in God and as he sang the words out loud, God's Holy Spirit spoke to his heart reassuring him that God hears his prayers and that God will answer him. 

    So keep singing your songs to the Lord and let that song have it's powerful effect on your soul.  In Psalm 92:1 we read, "It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Thy Name, Oh Most High.

    Saturday, September 3, 2011

    Blessed are the poor....

    I have been reading Angela's Ashes: a memoir, by Frank McCourt who paints a vivid picture of the impoverished lifestyle endured by Irish immigrants who came to America looking for a better life.  They suffered disease and malnutrition, they went without shoes, and lived in unspeakable housing conditions.  The book is a real eye-opener, making one wonder at just how much the human soul can bear because of poverty and misfortune.  Thinking of my own childhood, in comparison, I realize that I was not so poor as the McCourts from Limerick, Ireland.  And even though we had no indoor plumbing in our house, and no central air or heat, we never went hungry and we always had enough clothes to keep us warm.  Lack of proper medical care and poor health and nutrition took the lives of three of the McCourt children.  Ignorance and lack of education are also associated with poverty.  With all the negatives that are associated with being poor, could there be any advantage to being poor or does poverty only have negative effects?

    What does God's Word have to say about being poor?  God has compassion for the poor, we read in Psalm 140:12, "I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and justice for the poor,"  and he expects us to do the same.  See Exodus 22:21-27.  There is no shame in being poor.  In fact, Jesus himself was poor.  His parents were poor; they offered a sacrifice of two turtledoves or two young pigeons, rather than a lamb, when they dedicated their new infant to the Lord.  When Jesus called his disciples to follow him in Luke 9:58 he warned them that, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head."  Discipleship comes at a great cost; those who would follow Christ have to forsake all.  He goes on to say in Matthew 19:24 that, "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

    From these verses we can gather that being poor does have its advantages and maybe poverty is a blessing.  Riches can be a hindrance that keeps us from following Christ; as with the young man in Matthew who asked what he could do to inherit eternal life.  Jesus requires that we give up everything.  If our hearts are entangled with wealth and possessions and things, then our hearts do not belong to him; and we are spoiled and think only of ourselves.  But Jesus said in Matthew 5:3, those who are poor in spirit are blessed, for theirs is the kingdom of God. The poor in spirit are the submissive ones, the ones with humble hearts.  And a humble heart is a heart that will listen and obey; a humble heart is a heart that Christ can use for his glory.  On the other hand, a heart that is filled with pride and self is still holding tightly to the things of this world.

    I thank God that I was born into 'poor' circumstances, and because I was poor, my heart was humble.  I have been blessed through out my life and it has been to my advantage that I grew up in a modest, simple home.  I had fewer temptations and less things to ensnare my heart.  From my childhood beginnings to the end of my journey, it is his grace that covers me and keeps me and will bring me safely to my eternal home.