Revive Me #49–See God at Work

Revive Me, Week 49–A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

See God at Work

I love the idea of keeping a prayer journal.  At ladies’ Bible class this past week, Anthea Carelse shared how she does hers.  I thought it was so great that I plan to do the same thing.  Instead of coming up with New Year’s resolutions, Anthea spends time creating her prayer journal for the year.  She thinks of and writes down her list of major prayer requests/ concerns.  She adds to it throughout the year.  She said that her favorite part is looking back a few weeks or months later and seeing how many she can cross off the list.  Anthea said that at the end of the year, she looks back over her prayer journal and can clearly see how most of her prayers were answered or in the process of being answered.  How faith building!

Anthea’s idea is a great one because it’s a reminder to see God at work.  When we do that, we will be more thankful for His love and attention.  We can always grow in our faith and in our gratitude.  Acknowledging answered prayers is an easy way to do that.

And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him.

–1 John 5:14,15

“Leave it all in the Hands that were wounded for you”

(Elisabeth Elliot)

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Purchase a spiral bound notebook or pretty journal and be thinking about the specific prayer requests/ concerns you’d like to write down on January 1st.
  2.  Besides building faith and growing gratitude, keeping track of God’s work in your life can also keep complaining and the martyr complex at bay.  What other benefits can you think of that will come from acknowledging answered prayers?
  3.  Read the following verses and note the conditions mentioned for answered prayer:

1 John 5:14,15-

John 15:7-

Matt. 7:7-

Psalm 37:4-

James 5:16-

Luke 18:1-

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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Image cred: Huffington Post

 

 

Revive Me #34–Pray for the People of God

Revive Me, Week 34– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Pray for the People of God

I’m at Polishing the Pulpit this week and was able to attend a powerful lecture by John Moore (of Dripping Springs, TX) on the subject of prayer.  He said if our prayer life is like the apostle Paul’s, then:

  1.  We will place a high value on prayer- Eph. 6:18
  2.  We will speak and talk about prayer with others- Phil. 1:3-11
  3.  We will be constant in prayer- 1 Thess. 3:9-13
  4.  We will extol the nature of God (“extol” means “to speak in a positive way about enthusiastically”)- 2 Thess. 1:3-12
  5.  We will center ourselves upon the Christ of God- Col. 1:13-20
  6.  We will concern ourselves with the people of God (see verses below)

It is this last point that I want to share with you.  Brother Moore pointed out the different ways in which Paul prayed for God’s people.

Let us concern ourselves with the people of God.  Let us pray that…

  • They will be filled (Col. 1:9)
  • They will walk worthy, pleasing God and bearing fruit (Col. 1:9,10)
  • They will increase in the knowledge of God (Col. 1:10)
  • They will be strengthened with all power (Col. 1:11)
  • They will give thanks (Col. 1:12)
  • They will not do anything wrong (2 Cor. 13:7)
  • Their faith will be perfected (2 Cor. 13:9)
  • They will have wisdom that they may know hope and the greatness of God’s power (Eph. 1:18-22)

As Brother Moore said, “Satan doesn’t want Christians to see these things!”  Imagine the impact we can have on strengthening the Lord’s church if we all began praying these same things.  Oh how we need to unite and stand strong in our current culture!

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Pray these things for God’s people every day.
  2.  Pray these things for your family every day.
  3.  Look up the Scripture references and read Paul’s original prayers.

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(Photo borrowed from Bear Valley Bible Institute collection)

Revive Me #15–Call on the Lord

Revive Me, Week 15–A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Call on the Lord

“The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.”

(Psalm 145:18)

The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous.”

(Prov. 15:29)

I almost want you to skip to the end of this post and read the Homer Hailey quote.  It’s powerful and will renew your gratitude and awe over the blessing of prayer.  Can you imagine your life without prayer?

A “Revive Me” series would be incomplete without a emphasis on prayer.  Every healthy relationship requires two sided communication.  God speaks to us through His Word (1 Thess. 2:13)  and He has given us the avenue of prayer as a way to speak to Him (1 John 5:14,15).  This week consider your prayer life.  Is it weak or is it strong?

Some questions to consider:

  • Do you know how to pray?  Luke 11:1-13
  • Do you believe God hears your prayers?  Psa. 18:6; 34:17
  • Do you pray in complete faith?  Or does doubt creep in?  James 1:6,7; 5:13-18
  • Does your prayer life consist mostly of routine prayers at meals and bedtime?  Or do you pray throughout the day and make time for fervent prayer?  Eph. 6:18; Col. 4:2
  • Do you pray for others and with others?  1 Tim. 2:1-4
  • Do you pray with worldly motives?  James 4:3
  • In addition to petitions, do your prayers contain praise and thanksgiving?  Matt. 6:9; Psa. 95:1-6

“To the believer prayer is a sacred privilege as well as an obligation.  When he prays, solemn thoughts should fill his soul; for the finite creature is before the infinite creator, ruler, and sustainer of the universe.  He is before the Lord of heaven and earth, communing and talking with Him, seeking His fellowship and casting his anxieties upon Him, believing that He cares for him.  It is indeed a blessed favor bestowed upon us when the eternal God invites us to share a joyous fellowship and communion with Him; this is the glory of prayer.”

–From Prayer and Providence by Homer Hailey

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Study Bible characters (like Hannah, Nehemiah, Daniel, and Jesus) who had a strong prayer life.  When did they pray?  How did it help them?
  2. Look up and write down the blessings that come from prayer:  Phil. 4:6,7; Rom. 8:26; Matt. 26:41; Luke 11:9-13; Psa. 145:18,19; Heb. 4:16
  3. Bible-mark “The Power of Prayer.”
  4. Read a good book about prayer (like “The Begging Place” by Becky Blackmon or “Prayer and Providence” by Homer Hailey).
  5. Set aside time each day for private, fervent prayer.
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Photo credit: Michael Hite

I Said a Little Prayer for You

“I said a little prayer this morning for you to have a great day.”

These simple words by Kristy Huntsman stayed with me for days.  She posted them on my Facebook wall, and the for-no-special-reason encouragement made me smile every time I thought of it.  She prayed to the Father on my behalf!  I felt loved and strengthened.

A little prayer has a lot of power.

  • It brings the peace of God- Phil. 4:6,7
  • It brings God near- Psa. 145:18
  • It brings good gifts- Matt. 7:11
  • It brings the Spirit’s help- Rom. 8:26
  • It brings healing- James 5:16
  • It brings forgiveness- 1 John 1:9
  • It brings mercy and grace- Heb. 4:16

These truths about prayer remind me of a few things.  First, I should never take an offered prayer for granted.  It’s a meaningful and mighty gesture.  Second, I should follow through when I offer to pray for others.  It’s so easy to say, “I’ll pray for you.”  It takes intentional diligence to actually do it.  And third, I should offer to pray more.  There are needs and hurts and fears, and I can definitely pray in those situations.  But I can also offer a prayer on your behalf when there’s no special reason.  What a blessing God has given us!

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy”  (Phil. 1:3,4).

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Managing Stress & Anxiety

I wish I could title this post, “Getting Rid of Stress & Anxiety,” but I don’t think that’s very realistic.  With the exception of perhaps childhood, each new phase in life presents its own unique set of challenges.  Perhaps you find yourself in one of the following situations:

  • New marriage, new baby, new home, new work.  While these are also exciting and wonderful, they also call for stamina and courage and wisdom.
  • Long-term care of an aging parent.  In addition to the physical exhaustion is the emotional turmoil of seeing your loved one suffer.
  • School/ work load.  I know some Bear Valley students right now who are being stretched in more ways than they ever expected.  Perhaps you’re in the midst of a project or job requirement that’s been going on for so long you can’t remember your last decent night of sleep.
  • Poor health.  After months or years of battling whatever is attacking your body, you wonder if you’ll ever simply feel good.
  • Financial worries.  Finding a job, paying your bills, wondering about retirement, health care…whether you’ve accumulated a mound of debt or you just long for financial security, money can be a very real and daily stressor.
  • Rocky relationships.  Perhaps your marriage is just barely hanging on.  Or you’re worried about your grown-up children or a spiritually wayward relative.  Sometimes the people we love most can be a source of great anxiety.

Sometimes stress is temporary and we know it.  We can see the light at the end of the tunnel and we’re just trying to get through it.  Sometimes stress is ever-present and overwhelming, and we find ourselves trying to survive one day at a time.  Whichever we find ourselves facing, there are a few simple, proactive ways to manage stress and anxiety.

1.  PRAY

Prayer is probably the first reaction when something causes stress, and I don’t think God resents that.  We find many passages reminding us to turn to God in our distress.  We’re told to cast ALL of our cares on Him (1 Pet. 5:7).  Prayer brings peace in the midst of anxiety (Phil. 4:6,7).  When stress is long-term, our prayers can fade or turn sporadic.  A renewed desire for God’s listening ear can go far in calming anxieties.

2.  MEDITATE

I’m not encouraging “getting your Zen on, man,” but rather committing to quality time in Bible study.  I like the quote I ran across the other day– “Meditation is not an emptying of one’s mind, like some religions teach, but a filling of our minds with the truths of God’s Word” (Jen Thorn).  The Scriptures are powerful (Heb. 4:12) and strength-giving (Eph. 6:10-17).  Neglecting this crucial practice only exacerbates stress and anxiety.

3.  BOOST YOUR HEALTH

It’s common knowledge that long-term stress takes a toll on our health.  Is there an area of your physical well-being that’s taking a harder hit?  See if you could make some small changes for overall well-being:

  • Exercise.  It strengthens the heart, clears mind clutter, and boosts stamina and self-esteem.  Take a walk in the morning and try yoga at night.  No one ever regrets making time to get the blood flowing.
  • Water.  The benefits are endless.  How easy it is to replace empty calorie drinks with water.  Add lemon for even more vibrancy.
  • Sleep.  Who hasn’t been robbed of some zzz’s?  Sleep is essential for mental clarity and emotional stability.  Young moms, get over your guilt and take a nap in the middle of the day when the opportunity presents itself.
  • Cleaner eating.  Bad food equals yucky mood.  Studies are now linking a healthy gut to an overall sense of well-being.  The last thing we need when anxiety is churning in our gut is to add processed foods or sugar to the mix.  Seriously, while it may not be fun to talk about, better eating choices are important when it comes to dealing with stress and anxiety.

4.  UNPLUG

We are attached to our devices, aren’t we?  They’re everywhere and in every room.  Unplugging for a while each day will allow us to focus on those around us, re-appreciate moments of quietness, and even remove some additional anxiety (unpleasant posts on social media, disturbing news, etc.).  It’s good to give our eyes a break from any kind of screen.  Unplug and listen for natural sounds instead like the wind blowing, leaves rustling, birds chirping.

5.  UNCLUTTER

Speaking of devices…we can remove some from our sleeping space for a more peaceful and relaxing environment.  Clearing counter tops of paper stacks and junk also helps clear our minds.  Taking the time and trouble to make the bed and straighten up makes it easier to drift off to sleep later.  Messy rooms add to a feeling of anxiety.

6.  UNWIND

Yes, we could probably use that half hour to cross an item off the to-do list, but sometimes the wiser choice would be to intentionally unwind.  Don’t think of a soak in the tub as a luxury but as a way of promoting peace and health.  Discover the calming benefits of chamomile tea.  You might have to develop a taste for it, but consider it an all-natural anti-anxiety medicine.  Light a candle, rub your feet with lotion, and take deep breaths.  Even a few minutes of slowing down makes a big difference in a trying day.

7.  LAUGH

Laughing relieves stress, lifts the mood, and burns calories!  Have you laughed today?

8.  LOVE

Looking for tangible ways to show our love for others will ultimately lead to our own happiness.  Giving feels good.  It allows us to step outside of our cares and focus on bringing joy to others.  In the midst of your crazy schedule, do something even crazier like adding in a visit to a shut-in or making a homemade, unexpected surprise for someone.

Hopefully these ideas for managing stress haven’t added even more stress.  You might be thinking, Who has time for any of THAT?!  Some of the tips can be combined, like sipping tea while studying the Bible.  Or praying while going for a walk.  It’s probably unrealistic to try to hit all 8 tips every single day, but we can be more intentional in handling our anxieties.  It will be good for us and for those around us.  God has given us many ways to combat stress.  We could even add singing, looking for beauty, and counting our blessings.  What tips do you have?

“In the multitude of my anxieties within me, your comforts delight my soul” (Psalm 94:19).

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When Loved Ones Fall Away, Part 3

“RETURN TO ME.”  God repeated this plea over and over when His children turned away from Him.  He told them that He would not be angry with them if they would only acknowledge their sin against Him (Jeremiah 3:12,13).  He promised to heal them if they would return to Him (v. 22).  Perhaps the saddest words of all regarding Israel are found in Jeremiah 3:7.  “And I said, after she had done all these things, ‘Return to Me.’  But she did not return” (emphasis mine).

Are you worried about someone who has yet to return?  Have you spent hours pleading and praying?  God understands.  Remember, He loves the soul of the wayward even more than we do.

Excerpts from the book RETURN TO ME due out in February:

From chapter five, “Keep Praying”–

Prayer is the ultimate litmus test because it is colored by our attitude.  The command to pray in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 is sandwiched between the commands to rejoice and be thankful.  We’re to have a joyful, prayerful, thankful mentality, especially when working with others, “for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (v. 18).  It’s too easy to get caught up in the exact opposite.  Perhaps we feel unable to rejoice because we are filled with anxiety or discouragement.  After praying endlessly for someone without seeing any “results,” it’s tempting to think God no longer hears or cares.  And instead of being thankful, we become resentful.  What can we do?  Rejoice, pray, give thanks anyway.

From chapter six, “Let Go of the Guilt”–

“The soul who sins shall die.  The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son.  The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself” (Ezekiel 18:20).  This entire chapter in Ezekiel is about some confusion the Israelites had about sons bearing the guilt of their fathers and vice versa.  God wanted them to understand that each one will be held accountable for his own actions, and his alone.  Notice also, “When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity…shall he live?  All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die” (v. 24).  The Lord concludes with “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways” (v. 30).  Just as children cannot stand in judgment on the basis of their parents’ goodness, parents will not stand in judgment on the basis of their grown children’s waywardness.  

Chapter seven is entitled “Warn the Wanderer” and deals with what our responsibility is and what our responsibility is not as we reach out to the wayward.  It also covers our objectives, what we hope to accomplish with the warnings.  Excerpt from chapter seven–

The Israelites thought their punishment would be brief.  Their hearts remained hard because they couldn’t believe God would allow them to remain in captivity.  After all, they were His people and He loved them.  Jeremiah, also writing to the Israelites in Babylonian captivity, pointed out their delusion.  He told them to build houses, plant gardens, marry, and have children because they had seventy years of captivity ahead of them (Jeremiah 29:5,6, 10).  But why did the Israelites believe, in the first place, that God would be easy on them?  Because they were deceived by false prophets who simply told them what they wanted to hear (Jeremiah 29:8,9).  How frightening to think that there are those who will tell our wayward loved ones what they want to hear!  They will offer false peace.  The wayward may relax, convinced that God just wants them to be happy, that His grace covers everything.  We must warn the wanderer that there are those whose teaching leads to destruction, whether intentionally or not (2 Peter 2:1,2).  

This concludes the excerpts I’ll be sharing from the book.  Thank you to all who have offered your encouragement!  And to those who have requested prayers for your wayward loved ones, know that I will continue praying for them and for you.

Image credit:  Michael Hite

Image credit: Michael Hite

A “New” Favorite Song

For years my favorite song has been “Living by Faith” because the words remind me not to worry when God is in control.  Another song, however, has been on my heart lately.  It was written in the early 1800’s, but I only learned it a couple of years ago.  The song is “Prince of Peace, Control My Will.”  The words of all four verses resonate with me.  I pray these words for myself and for those I love, so I thought I’d share them with you today in case you’d like to do the same.

Prince of Peace, control my will;
Bid the struggling heart be still;
Bid my fears and doubtings cease,
Hush my spirit into peace.

Thou hast bought me with Thy blood,
Opened wide the gate to God;
Peace I ask, but peace must be,
Lord, in being one with Thee.

May Thy will, not mine, be done;
May Thy will and mine be one;
Chase these doubtings from my heart,
Now Thy perfect peace impart.

Savior, at Thy feet I fall,
Thou my life, my God, my all;
Let Thy happy servant be
One forevermore with Thee!

The words to this song have been attributed to both Mary Barber (1801-1884) and Mary Shindler (1810-1883).  If you are unfamiliar with it, you can click on the link below to hear it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKpiF74_D10

Prayer for Today:  Truly, control my will, Lord.  May it ever be in line with Yours.

Photo credit: ingodsimage.com